Bonding With Your New Grandbaby
There are many ways to interact with your new grandbaby that are both fun and promote healthy development.
My oldest daughter’s first trip to the zoo was at the tender age of four months old. As I held her up to the glass wall of the primates’ habitat, I explained to her what the monkeys were doing, what they ate and the location of their natural habitat. A man walked up to me and rather brusquely informed me, “You know she doesn’t understand a word you’re saying.” For once I found the right words at the right time and replied, “I choose to give her the benefit of the doubt, and I believe she does!”
As grandparents, we may be a little rusty in our interactions with infants, and some grandparents may even feel a little awkward and unsure what to do with a young baby that is not yet talking. Even though you may be as skeptical as my zoo critic, the experts say it is never too early to be talking, reading and singing to your grandchild. From day one, babies are little sponges soaking up your words and learning the rhythm of language. Everything is brand new for them, and as grandparents, we have a great opportunity to introduce them to the wonders of the world! Here are some ideas for interacting with your new grandbabies:
From the very beginning, it’s important to read to children. A book a day is a minimal goal to strive for. You may feel a little silly reading to a newborn but the love of reading forms strong roots early. They may not understand your words, but they listen to the flow of language and begin the concept of sounds having meanings. Pick simple, easy books. Dr. Seuss books are time-proven successes with their pleasing rhyming verses.
I have a very off-key voice, but my kids never seemed to mind and so far, neither does my grandson. Babies are often comforted by singing, thus the tradition of lullabies. Don’t worry if your repertoire is limited—repetition is actually a good thing for young brains.
This one is easy (some may say a little too easy) for me. As the campaign says, talking is teaching! Explain things you are doing, everyday activities, name things you see, say their name frequently. One of my passions that I hope to pass on to my grandson is my love of swimming, so we’ve already had many discussions of proper backstroke technique in his three weeks of life.
Infants need touch and lots of it. Research shows that physical touch soothes infants and helps them sleep better, helps with emotional engagement and may even facilitate brain development. Who can argue with the mutually beneficial value and joy in lots of baby snuggles?
One of the activities I did with my children and have already started with my grandson is a daily routine of crossover exercises. Utilizing the knowledge that exercises that cross the midline of the body help connect the synapses in the brain, I put together a series of fun exercises to do with my baby while I sang the same two songs. This was a twice daily ritual that only took about two minutes each time and my babies seemed to enjoy. Even if it didn’t make them smarter, it was a bonding ritual, so how can you go wrong with that? Callister (my grandson) already seems to enjoy the movements and the songs!
You might develop your own rituals or activities with your grandchild. Most importantly, enjoy spending time with your grandkids. Kids, especially babies, don’t care about expensive gifts. What they really want and need from their grandparents is time and attention. That’s a gift that benefits both of you!