It’s easy to get into a rut with your baby, playing with them in the same spot with the same toys in the same ways. That makes sense: when you find a way to keep your baby content and happy, you tend to want to stick with it. The problem with this sameness is that it goes against neuroscientific research.
Particularly during the first 7 months of life, your baby has an adaptive drive that compels them to seek new information about how the world works. Studies have shown that when babies are presented with a particular object for a long time, they lose interest and look away. If they’re shown the same thing alongside a new one, they are clearly more interested in the one they’ve never seen before.
Your baby’s preference for newness doesn’t mean you have to buy a bunch of new toys. The novelty concept is subtle at this age and has more to do with real-life experiences.
5 easy ways to meet your baby’s need for newness
- Tear paper and clink silverware. When sorting mail, take a minute to slowly tear open an envelope in your baby’s view. Make a snack and clink two pieces of silverware together in front of your baby’s face, or lightly tap a glass.
- Light a candle or shine a flashlight. You can put a blanket down in any room of your home and give them a new view. You can also change the lighting. Turn out the lights, light a candle and let them watch it flicker (supervised and out of reach of your baby). Shine a flashlight on different parts of a darkened room.
- Face them forward. Take your baby on a walk and give them a clear view, facing forward from the stroller or carrier. You could also put a blanket on the ground. Clouds or trees moving overhead, the contrast of buildings against the sky, and a breeze against their skin all give your baby new sensory information.
- Show your baby new foods. Take your baby to the grocery store and introduce them to the foods you put in the cart: ‘This is a pomegranate—it’s red and smooth, but has a prickly little crown on the top.’
- Put some toys away for a month or 2. Put your baby’s prior toys away for a month or two, then take them out again. Familiar toys can be played in new ways and present new learning as your baby’s skills develop.
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