Tuesday, 29 May 2012

learning to play

In keeping with his untininess I put Skittle on his playmat for the first time yesterday. Wasn't really sure when you're supposed to start using those things but we'd put it up before he arrived home and it's been on the nursery room floor awaiting it's debut ever since. 

My brother and his wife had a baby (born exactly on her due date!) 6 days before Skittle was delivered. Here they are looking particularly gorgeous...

I cried all day the day she was born, but that's a story for another day. Anyhow, although they live in America they're proving rather useful for me to ask daft questions, like when did Pretty go on her playmat? 6 weeks apparently. So seeing as Skittle is now 6 weeks corrected I thought we'd give it a whirl. 

He. Was. So. Cute.

Not sure what to do with his arms or legs but quite keen on hubby and I shaking the little rattly things near him and after a few minutes of "warming up" he had a good kick around!

It got me thinking though, how do babies learn how to play? And what can I do to help?

Playing seems to initially be tied up in two packages, milestones and sight.

Now as a premmy mum I'm doing my best not to get too bothered with milestones, we'll get there at whatever speed Skittle so chooses. The tortoise wins the race, right? But to some extent there is at least an order in which babies will do things based on development. And that has a lot more to do with sight, so I've been doing my research. I started researching a while before Skittle was born, not knowing my research time would be cut short by 10 weeks!

Exhausted with very red eyes after ROP test.
Once Skittle had been transferred to SCBU he had a couple of eye tests to rule out retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). The process was awful. The mum next to me said she'd been advised to leave the room because the test was so unpleasant to watch and the babies found it so distressing. Uh oh. I decided to stay. He had two sets of eye drops but then the Dr was late and the effects had worn off so he had to have it done again. Twice in the same day! Poor Skittle. I refused to let her use clips on his eyelids so I had to force them open myself while she did her poking and prodding. He was so anaemic he didn't have the energy to cry.

There is a great little video on the ladybird website about how infant sight develops. And I found this article from babycentre really helpful. I noticed from fairly early on that the only thing Skittle was particularly bothered about was our fireplace! It's a black square on a white wall so everything I'd read about babies only seeing in black and white to start with was obviously true.

I got a bit carried away researching baby toys that are best for sight development and spent a tad too much money on amazon getting plenty things that resembled zebras. I especially likes the Lamaze range and they have a good explanation on their website about awakening the senses, it's all a bit wordy but it makes sense.

Having said I'm not too bothered about milestones, I'm concerned that there's no way I would have been this interested in the type of toys Skittle was playing with had he arrived a little less suddenly. But still I suppose it's no bad thing to be aware of what will be stimulating to him and what is of no use for a few more months at least.

Fact remains, at some point he'll just be interested in a card board box and an upside-down saucepan with a wooden spoon!

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