On episode 11 of Next of Kin Parents Podcast I was joined by the very lovely Steph from Tots Play Dubai. I had written Steph down as dream guest months ago because, firstly, I really enjoyed her classes, but mainly because I remember in the early month with my own baby, wanting to play with her, support her development and find activities to fill our day but not really knowing what to door where to start.
Steph's has a background as an early years teacher and is passionate about child and baby development. In her baby classes in Dubai she includes baby yoga, sign language, dancing, singing and sensory play. She really is an expert on all things play so I am so glad that I was able to ask Steph these questions about how to play with and support the development of our babies.
1. What is baby yoga?
Helping the baby's brain development, muscle tone and strength, through a variety of relaxing poses and stretches. A small stretch can be hard work for a little baby so that combined with the relaxing nature of the yoga, you might find that it helps them to sleep that day.
2. Why do you teach baby sign language?
Babies are always trying to communicate with you, so by introducing baby sign language before they can talk your baby can start to communicate with you using simple signs for things like 'milk' 'nappy' 'more' and 'all done'. Not only does this reduce frustration, research has shown that it can also help them to talk earlier too.
3. Tummy time. I hear about it constantly but what if my baby doesn't like doing it?
Don't get too stressed about it. Tummy time does really help with strengthening the muscles needed to crawl etc but there are lots of ways to do it. My first tip is to try to put a mirror in front of them, babies love to look at themselves. But, tummy time doesn't have to just be on a mat on the floor, it can be on you. You can lay them on their front on your chest and encourage them to raise their head to look up at you, this counts as tummy time as well!
4. What are your favourite baby books?
I love the 'That's Not My...' series, it's a classic now with so many different books. You can teach them words as you go but babies really enjoy feeling the different textures. You might even notice that your baby has a favourite texture!
5. What toys do you recommend for newborns?
You do not need expensive toys! You can make your own treasure basket of sensory toys from common items around the house. Perhaps a scouring sponge or a shiny ladle. Sheer scarves are great fun for playing peekaboo!