Babies love to explore. For babies the home environment is their playground. Family are their favourite playmates and items in their home are the props.
It’s not a surprise then that recent research suggests that the humble household items could affect your baby’s physical and mental development.
Professor Priscila Caçola from the University of Texas studied the effects of household items on babies' motor skills development.
Fine motor skills, also called dexterity, is the coordination of small muscle movements of the hand and fingers and the synchronization with the eyes.
Development of gross motor skills affect your baby's IQ. This is because being mobile allows your baby to explore a wider world. Your baby has now to make assessments of risk and remember to apply what he has learned before.
Fine motor skills show the ability to put thoughts into action and are also linked to mental development.
This is what Professor Caçola says about motor skills:
The development of motor skills occurs from the top down - first neck, then arms, then legs. And from the centre out - first neck, then shoulders, then elbows and wrists, then fingers.
It is true that genetic factors affect motor skills acquisition. All babies develop at a speed that is pre-determined by biological factors such as ethnicity, birth weight and size.
It is your baby’s genes which determine how quickly he loses body fat and gains muscle mass and how fast parts of his body develop. These factors therefore influence when your baby is ready to acquire any motor skills.
But besides the genetic predisposition, the environment provides the opportunities to develop the motor skills that your baby is capable of. A stimulating home environment will allow your baby to reach his full potential.
It can encourage your baby to engage in independent play.
Don’t underestimate household items. A home environment which provides space for physical development will also enhance the IQ.
The latest research highlights that many parents are unaware of the impact of the home environment. The lead scientist says: "When parents buy toys, they're rarely thinking 'I wonder if this is going to be great for my child's fine or gross motor skills”.
But the study found that particularly providing enough space for the baby in the home to play or move around freely is of importance.
Ideally there should be a special space for toys where the child can choose what to play with and get it without help.
But parental involvement is also required. The study showed the positive influence parents exhibited, that regularly played games with their baby. Games included clapping hands, waving and singing action songs like “heads, shoulders, knees and toes”. These activities helped practice movements and stimulated gross motor skills.
We thought it would be useful to compile a list of household items and the way they can be used to support your baby’s motor skills.
Simple household items can provide lots of stimulation for your baby.