We live in a world of plugged-in people . Walk down the street, ride an elevator, or jump on the subway and look at the people around you. Everyone seems to have their earbuds in place, engaged in something. And it never ends. This endless electronic stimulation leaves little space for contemplation, reflection and creativity—or boredom, for that matter.
For babies, this is not good. It's healthy and critical for them to have scheduled unscheduled downtimes when they are allowed to play alone, without structure.Charles Dickens, one of the greatest and most productive writers in the English language, had a habit of working from 9 am. till 2 pm and then venturing off on his own downtime, which took the form of long walks through the streets of London. He once wrote, "If I couldn't walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish." It was during these long walks that Dickens's creativity was ignited and his books were "written."
Giving babies this kind of quiet time to reflect and play alone, even though it may not appear to be productive, is extremely valuable. It allows them to ponder through and consolidate the activities of the day and allows them time to discover their environment without distraction.
You are your baby's enrichment programMommies and daddies who spend time with their children doing normal, everyday, mundane things are their children's enrichment program! Engaging and sharing with your children the routines of daily living and enlivening their five senses to the wonders that are in our world is all your children need during the first formative year of life. So have fun and embrace the everyday moments of life. Take a lesson from Moses by teaching your child how to live "when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Here's how I paraphrase Moses's advice to the parents of my patients: "Put your kid in your back pocket and take them with you wherever you go!" Instruct them about how life is really lived by including them in all the mundane events that each day brings, and as they watch you go about your daily tasks, take heart knowing that you are helping your baby learn and grow in the best possible way!
From 7 SECRETS OF THE NEWBORN: Secrets and (Happy) Surprises of the First Year by Robert C. Hamilton, M.D. with Sally Collings, copyright © 2018 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press. On sale September 4, 2018.