FAQ's & Research
How will I find time for stimulation as well? Coping with a new-born is already so hard!
First of all, doing the activities will not take a lot of time:
This stimulation programs is mostly high in frequency but short in duration. The number of individual items may seem large, but when you look at how briefly each item is done it is actually quite easy. If for example you choose to do the first activity of stimulating the light reflex 10x daily for 60 seconds each time, you will spend just 10 minutes a day doing it. Alternatively, if you do the first auditory activity of stimulating your baby’s hearing reflex 5x daily for 10 seconds long, it will take you less than a minute per day. Activating the grasping reflex 5x daily for between 30 -60 seconds each time will cost you another 3 to 5 minutes. Giving baby tummy time for opportunity to crawl on a flat track will not take any time of yours, as will some of the other activities like placing baby underneath the cot mobile or next to the checkerboard on the wall or the outline cards in the cot bumper.
Secondly, the program will actually save you valuable time:
We went the extra mile in presenting you the different activities in a comprehensive, balanced and easy–to-use format. We recommend sticking the appropriate activity poster to the wall above your nappy station. It will only take you a few seconds during every nappy change to spot a different activity to do in the next hour or two, or to be reminded about the ones you have already chosen for the day. This will save you hours of doing research about stimulation yourself, reading books about it, taking notes or looking for what you have already read but cannot remember well anymore.
We also went the extra mile to present you with a ready, compact and easy-to-use toolkit, to save you hours in sourcing or making the material yourself.
By actually saving you time with a ready-to-use program and toolkit for the stimulation of your baby in just a few minutes a day, you will be empowered to play smart for your baby’s kick start.
What are the different areas we will be focus on?
We will focus on the 6 functions of the brain which are unique to man, and for which your baby is already “equipped” with the necessary “tools”, right from birth:
- Vision: Only humans can see in such a way as to read…Your baby is born with a Light Reflex (contraction of the pupils when flooded with bright light). This will be the first building block for the eventual visual competency of reading.
- Auditory Perception and Language: Only humans speak in symbolic language that conveys ideas and feelings. Only humans can hear in such a way to understand that symbolic spoken language. Your baby is born with a Startle Reflex for sudden, loud noises, eventually culminating in auditory competence to understand words and sentences spoken. The Birth Cry will be the first building block for eventual spoken language.
- Tactile: Only humans can feel a complex object and identify it by touch alone. For this your baby is equipped at birth with the Babinski Reflex (the toes fanning outward when the outer side of the foot’s sole is scratched).
- Eye-hand-coordination and Manuel Competence: Only human beings can oppose thumb to forefinger and write in symbolic language. It will all starts with the Grasp Reflex at birth.
- Large muscle and Mobility: Large motor skills concern the development of larger muscle movements that are responsible for running and jumping. In infancy, crawling, lifting one's head, rolling over, and sitting up are examples of gross motor development. The stepping reflex can be seen when a baby is held upright or when the baby's feet are touching the ground. It is prevalent from birth but gradually disappears by the time the baby has reached 2 to 3 months. Only human beings will eventually walk with two legs in perfect cross-pattern together with coordinated arm-movement.
- Balance: The Moro Reflex is also known as the startle response because it is triggered by a an unexpected change in body position. You have probably seen your baby startle and spread their arms when falling backwards, suggesting that they feel that they are falling. They will then bring their arms back to their body with the elbows bent into a fetal position. Eventually this little human being will display the unique attribute of walking upright, with the necessary balance.
The interaction between 2 babies’ genes and environmental stimulation, can result in an age gap of up to 108 months (9 years) between them, regarding the maturation of competencies (Superior:36 months/3 years; Average; 72 months/6 years; Slow 144 months/12 years) (Glen Doman). By stimulating all of above 6 areas in a balanced way, starting with your baby’s reflexes, you will play smart for your baby’s kick start!
What does the program consist of and how will I use it?
The Milestone Chart and the bigger picture (One pager):
The milestone chart can be used to monitor your child’s overall development. Stick it somewhere to the wall where you can often have a quick look at it. The milestones are mentioned at the earliest time possible and grouped together in the same categories and sequence as on the activity sheets. By ticking the milestones off whenever your child reaches it, you will be able to make sure some milestones are not lagging behind. You will also be able to notice in which areas they are lagging behind.
The goals at the top of each group of stimulation activities, will tell you what you would be working towards in that specific month(s). It will also help to give you the long-term goal to which you are working. Knowing what you are doing and why you are doing it, as well as how your child will be benefiting from it, will be a far more enriching experience. You will feel more valuable and will enjoy spending the time, playing with your little person, so much more. You will know why you are playing smart, for your baby’s kick-start!
The activity sheets: having fun!
The 4 different fun-activity sheets will provide you with lots of activities to stimulate your baby’s development in all major areas, during the first year. We recommend that you stick the appropriate activity sheet to the wall above your diaper changing station. It will only take you a few seconds during every nappy change to spot a different activity to do in the next hour or two, or to be reminded about the ones you have already chosen for the day. Choose a different activity from each (or as many as possible) area, every day and repeat it as many times possible during that day. We tried to keep it as flexible possible, avoiding lists of set activities in a certain sequence. Keep it fun! Adapt activities to your own schedule and program. Never feel obligated: 30 seconds well spend is better than nothing at all. Skipping a few days when you or baby is not feeling well and energetic, will happen. Do not feel guilty! The emphasis is always on having fun, making the most of the time available and adding another, enriched dimension to parenthood. When you know how to play smart with joy and love, you will give your baby an extra kick-start!
The activity sheets: having fun in a balanced way:
With the help of the activity sheets, you can accommodate your baby’s potential by moving on to “smart-up” activities or activities prescribed for older babies on the next poster, in areas where your child is talented. You can move back to previous age-groups in problem areas (just keep the previous poster as well on the wall), or keep on doing current activities, till you feel satisfied with your baby’s progress. In this way weaknesses will be overcome before they become problem areas (and save you the expense of having to address them later on with remedial help). You will also be able to identify your baby’s special gifts. You will in a balanced way, be able to play smart for your baby’s kick start.
The products in our toolkit are durable and baby-safe. We designed and sourced the products with the requirements needed for the optimal stimulation of your baby, in mind. Each toy was also developed or sourced with specific functions in mind, but also to be as versatile possible by catering for as many needs possible. By buying the whole set, you will almost not need any extra toys for the activities up to six months. Many of the activities will make use of some ordinary household items, while other activities will not need any other apparatus, but yourself. If you already possess some similar items, you will not need to buy the whole toolkit. You can also choose to source some of the toys/apparatus needed for the activities yourself, or to make some of them yourself. But buying the whole toolkit will save you money from spending it on unused toys or more expensive products of the same quality. It will save you time from having to make them, or from not being able to find similar items in the local shops at all.
Why does the kit include a carry-cot? Do I need to buy that as well?
Our unique 4-in-one carry bag/bassinet, presents all the material needed for the day’s stimulation, in a compact and user-friendly manner, just ready at hand, to be used.
The idea of the carry cot was inspired by the “Box Baby” campaign in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Their tradition of a maternity package (a big box with a mattress and other baby goodies as a gift from government) dates back to the 1930’s. The campaign was initiated to lower amongst others, the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). By providing a clean, safe space for baby to sleep, a country such as Finland manged to drop their infant mortality rate from 89 out of 1000 babies in 1942, to 2 out of 1000 babies in 2010 (one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world). In South-Africa, there are still about 23 000 babies dying in the first month of their life. New statistics say room-sharing can lower the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. It's easier to keep an eye on your baby, comfort, and feed him/her. But your baby needs his/her own safe space: We thought to took the “box”-idea and just adapt it to incorporate the use of all the stimulation material with ease.
The carry cot/bag can be used in the following different ways:
- The compact carry bag offers enough space in the x-large 5 side-pockets, to easily carry around the needed stimulation material, to be readily at hand for use.
- It can easily be converted into a safe, clean space for baby to sleep during the first few weeks, or as a snuggle nest between parents if they so wish. The side can be folded open for easy breastfeeding at night.
- When travelling it can be used as a portable bassinet or opened up to be used as a convenient portable diaper station.
- During daytime, you will be able to easily carry baby, together with the stimulation material needed, with you from room to room, while keeping an eye on baby and talking/interacting with baby. The cot mobile and bumper are designed to fit snuggly inside.
- When baby starts crawling, the cot can be converted into a tunnel, inviting baby to crawl through it.
The carry bag, holding all your material together, will become your stimulation “machine” (as one client called it), to play easily smart, for your baby’s kick start.
Is your product save for my baby to use?
Our Carry Cot & Mattress, together with all the toys are certified as non-toxic:
All toys have embroidered faces with NO buttons that can get swallowed by baby,
No prohibited phthalates, No ozone depleters, No mercury, lead or heavy metals
Do I really need a PROGRAM?
Allow us to ask you a few questions back; do you know the different areas that need to be stimulated and which will eventually be tested to see whether your child is school ready? Do you know how to practically do it? Do you know how to do it in a balanced way, without neglecting some of the areas? (We can often testify to the latter ourselves: some of us suffered with maths, others did really not like reading, while others always wished they were better at sport)?
Times have changed from when you as a parent grew up. The demands of our education system and competition as well as entry levels into the world of study and work are much different. Parents need to consciously and deliberately provide opportunities for their children to develop all the skills needed for school readiness. These skills are interdependent. When you improve one function of the brain you improve all functions of the brain to some degree, e.g. a child with more mobility will move around and see and learn more. Unluckily the opposite is also true: weakness in one area will negatively affect other areas, e.g. a blind child cannot run as well as the sighted child. Parents are often at a loss to know how to prevent this from happening and to ensure that all milestones are reached at their child’s best level and in the correct sequence. By using our step-by-step program from early on, we believe you will become conscious of and it will become a natural thing to you, to focus on the different areas in a balanced manner, for the rest of your baby’s childhood. Stimulating your baby this way with loads of love, will be the single most important thing that you will ever do with your live. You will be able to play smart and give your baby a kick-start!
Why is everything in black, white and red?
New-borns can see from birth, just not as clearly as an older child or adult. Until your child is about six months of age, he will respond best to bold, contrasting colours and graphics. That’s why it’s important to provide your baby with toys or stimulation material that are the visual extremes of black, white and red. These high-contrast colours will captivate and hold baby’s attention, encouraging visual development as well as physical activity – like grabbing, wiggling, kicking, and arm waving.
Why the fuss about the FIRST 12 months? Is this period really that important?
Most of the brain’s cells are formed before birth, but most of the connections among the cells are made during infancy and early childhood. The more a brain cell is used, the better it functions by forming more connections and a thicker outer sheath. From birth the brain is rapidly creating synaptic connections. It is estimated that by 3 years of age, it has already formed about 1000 trillion connections. When connections or synapses are fired repeatedly it become stronger and more permanent. If not used at all, or not often enough the connections are unlikely to survive. In this way brain development is truly a “use it or lose it” process. A child who is not well stimulated will therefore have difficulty mastering the skills later on (UNICEF, CHIP reportno8, 2002). Yanghee Lee, Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, noted that about 80% of the human brain is already developed by the age of 5. This is why Dr Nicholas Alipui called the first 3 years of a child’s life not only a critical window of opportunity, but a golden one. UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Blake noted that the earliest moments of childhood are the most critical for achieving sustainable, equitable development: “so much depends on those moments and months, it is up to all of us…to make the most of them” (UNICEF House, New York, 14 October 2010). This is why all of us at WePlaySmart take those first year’s moments very seriously and want to change each precious moment you have available for your child, into a golden window of opportunity…for your baby’s kick start!
Is there any prove that the most brain development is in the first year of life?
There is a lot of research available, but perhaps the most fascinating to us is a recent MRI study about the robust growth of the human brain in the first two years of life. The total brain volume increased on average by 101% in the first year, with a 15% increase in the second year. Only the cerebellum’s volume alone increased on average by 240% during the first year. This confirmed to the researchers that the first year of life is a critical period during which disruption of developmental processes may have a long-lasting effect on brain structure and function. They concluded that this may also be a period in which therapeutic interventions would have the greatest positive effect (J Neurosci. 2008 Nov 19; 28(47): 12176-12182. A Structural MRI Study of Human Brain Development from Birth to 2 years). This is why we focus our program on the first year of life to play smart for your baby’s kick-start.
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Is there any proof about the effect of stimulation on brain growth? Is it not just all genetically predetermined? Is it really worth the effort?
We believe in the plasticity of the brain. Since the critical period of brain growth is in the first 2 years, it is clear that the earlier we provide baby with stimulation and opportunity, the more he/she will be able to take it in and use the opportunity to the fullest. Sadly, the world has tended to look at brain growth as if it were predestined and unchangeable. The truth is that brain growth is a dynamic and ever-changing process. It is a process that can be stopped, as with brain injury. Or it can be slowed, as with an environment that does not provide the child with opportunities to explore and discover it by seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling or moving around. But most important, it is a process that can be enhanced and accelerated by an environment with an abundance of opportunities to use and grow the brain. We believe and know from our own experience that babies are a product of their environment, they have NO ACCOUNTABILITY nor CHOICE in taking control over development... if you do not USE the BRAIN, they will LOSE the brain: "The WAR is WON by ONE!"
There is a lot of research available, but we find the following two classical experiments still fascinating in confirming the huge impact of early stimulation on brain development:
Experiment done by Dr David Krech, a world famous neuro-physiologist for his time, at Berkeley.
- Two sets of infant rats were raised by him,
- The one group were raised in an environment of sensory enrichment where there was a great deal to see and hear and feel.
- The other set lived in an environment of sensory deprivation,
- Their intelligence were tested by putting food in mazes and dissecting their brains afterwards.
- RESULTS: The stimulated rats found the food easily and quickly, the deprived rats found it with difficulty or not at all. The deprived rats “have small, stupid underdeveloped brains, while the rats which have been raised in sensory enrichment have large, intelligent, highly developed brains.
- He then stated; “It would be scientifically unjustifiable to conclude that because this is true in rats that it is also true in people” He added “ and it would be socially criminal to conclude that it is not true in people”
At WePlaySmart, we feel it will be a social crime, not to empower parents on how to play smart for their baby’s kick start!
Research: Our research span over 15 years on a qualitative and quantitative level. Our team consist of an educationist, psychologist, Neurologist, Bio-kinetesist and a business manager.
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