You just walked in the door after a long day at work. You’re exhausted.
But your little one tugs at your shirt, asking you to play.
You’re tired, but you drop to the floor and stack blocks anyhow.
That’s exactly what you’re supposed to do, said Amanda Setlak, a licensed psychologist with Boys Town’s Center for Behavioral Health.
Setlak encourages parents to give children positive attention at a early age. It’s when they need it most.
Parent-infant interaction has been shown to have a positive effect on a child’s physical development, cognitive development and psychosocial development. It is important to promote healthy growth and build a sense of trust as an infant matures.
“Parent involvement is extremely important,” Setlak said. “It’s that interaction . . . it’s how kids learn about their world.”
Setlak said toys with all of their flashing lights — including the educational ones — entertain children but don’t engage them as a parent would or could.
“Just be a positive person,” she said. “Get down on the floor, smile and talk with them.”
Creating that bond with your child early on will help, especially later when you have to say “no.”
Following are 10 ways to do it.
Take mother-child yoga classes
It’s the perfect exercise for new moms with infants. The Yoga Path, 7641 Pacific St., makes yoga available to mothers who want to build healthy habits and promote fitness to their children. For a class schedule, visit omahayogapath.com or call 402-905-2295.
Discover the great outdoors
Baby nature programs are a great way to bring adventure into a child’s life. Fontenelle Forest, 1111 N. Bellevue Blvd. in Bellevue, offers “Mud Pies” play dates (for children 5 and younger) from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday and May 22.
Each week, different natural science topics are introduced through interactive stations within Fontenelle’s “Habitat Hollow” learning center. For more information, visit fontenelleforest.org or call 402-731-3140.
Get moving — together
Parents with an interest in training for 5Ks and other runs can join running groups such as the Omaha Running Club’s “Step Into Running” at two Peak Performance locations — 519 N. 78th St. and 563 N. 155th Plaza. Bring your youngster along in a jogging stroller to get a workout with baby.
Stroll past great art
Join a stroller tour at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St. The museum offers monthly classes for moms, dads and caregivers who want to look at and talk about art with other adults while in the company of their little ones. The next stroller tour is May 22. Gather at 9:15 a.m. in Joslyn’s atrium. Activities, which start at 10 a.m., feature a docent-guided stroller tour of new installations. Tandem strollers and crying babies are welcome.
The cost of the event is included with regular admission of $8 for adults; free for children. (Beginning Memorial Day weekend, general admission to the museum will be free.) For additional future dates, visit www.joslyn.org or call 402-342-3300.
Establish a healthy lifestyle
Parents can learn about baby-food basics, purees, mashes and the best finger foods for baby at Whole Foods Market, 10020 Regency Circle. For a list of classes, which are geared toward specific age groups, visit www.wholefoodsmarket.com or call 402-393-1200.
Schedule a baby massage
For baby, massages can improve brain and muscle development. For both parent and child, massages can promote bonding and the ability to pick up on nonverbal cues. During class, parents will learn more about the benefits and techniques of baby
massages. For more information, visit www.infantmassageomaha.com or call 402-933-7944.
Take baby shopping
Yes, shopping does become more difficult once your newborn arrives. But the good news is that a little planning can make your shopping experience efficient — and even enjoyable — once again.
Use a snap-and-go stroller to get in and out of places quickly. Do not schedule shopping trips around nap or meal times (no one likes a cranky baby).
Hang dangling toys from a portable infant car seat to help occupy your child. Take breaks to give baby your full attention.
If you really want to focus on baby, check out the latest high-end fashions for little ones. See spring styles at She.la boutique in Countryside Village, 8733 Countryside Plaza, or visit a kid’s store at the mall.
Who doesn’t love shopping for an adorable baby?
Teach baby about music
Researchers have documented that exposure to music in early childhood — the earlier the better — has a positive effect on the brain.
Baby Maestro, at 10804 Prairie Hills Drive, offers early childhood music education programs called Music Pups for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years as a way to stimulate learning through play. Class size ranges from seven to 12 children. Songs are designed to expose children to a variety
It’s possible to attend a class for free before signing up for the program. The fee is $150 for a 10-week series offered in spring, fall and winter and $120 for a six-week summer series. For more information, visit www.babymaestro.com or call 402-614-0068.
Make a splash
Swimming classes for infants and toddlers are about more than having fun in the water. They are designed to contribute to motor development and encourage more concentration and alertness.
Baby-friendly classes are available at multiple locations around town, including YMCA branches; Swimtastic, 2920 N. 118th St.; and DiVentures, 4303 S. 121st Plaza. For a list of classes, visit metroymca.org, www.swimtastic.com or www.diventures.net.
Get on the floor and play
Ideally, playthings shouldn’t be electronic because that means the toy is likely doing the work for the babies. Turn off the TV and pull out the dolls, cars, balls and bubbles.
Following are some simple and inexpensive toys and their developmental benefits.
» Blocks promote motor skills.
» Bubbles promote visual tracking.
» Dolls promote pretend play.
» Boxes prompt imagination and
» Kitchen spoons and bowls prompt auditory stimulation and demonstrate cause and effect.
Now, get out there and play!
– Compiled by Chelsea Flynn
Make sure you get a copy of the Babies! special section in Sunday’s World-Herald. Below are the 94 babies featured in it! Cute.
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