Hesperian Health Guides

Birth to 3 months old

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Blind > Chapter 5: Activities for the Young Baby (Birth to 6 Months) > Birth to 3 months old


The activities in this chapter are divided into 2 parts: for babies from birth to 3 months old and for babies 4 to 6 months old. These are the ages when babies can begin to work on the skills described here. But remember that it can take months for a baby to learn a new skill. So you may want to work on a few skills at a time. And remember that each baby will learn at her own pace. In the first 3 months of life, a baby can learn to:

  • recognize familiar voices and sounds
  • make noises other than crying
  • discover her hands and feet
  • lift her head
  • tell the difference between smells
  • touch and hold objects
  • enjoy different kinds of touch
  • help calm herself down

To help your baby learn to trust people and her surroundings

A baby who can see soon learns that certain sounds, touches, and smells come from different people or objects. This helps her make sense of the world, feel secure in it, and want to explore it. But sounds, touches, and smells can frighten a blind baby because they seem to come from nowhere. She needs extra help to understand and feel secure in her surroundings.

a man speaking as he helps a baby to touch his face.
Yes, it’s your Papa! Do you feel my moustache?

You can help her understand where sounds and things that feel different come from. Help her know that learning about them can be fun.

Since your baby may not see what is about to happen, she needs you to let her know what will happen next. For example:

a woman speaking to a baby.
Rina, I’m going to take your wet diaper off now.

Touch her leg gently before changing her diaper (nappy). Tell her what you are about to do. Soon she will know what to expect when she feels the touch on her leg.
a man speaking to a baby.
Celia, I’m going to pick you up.
Touch her shoulder gently before picking her up. Tell her what you are about to do. Soon she will know what your touch means.

To encourage your baby to respond to people and to sounds

a woman speaking to a baby on her back as she works in a field.
Radha, hear that noise? I’m cutting wheat.

Keep your baby near you when she is awake. Speak to her often to let her know you are near. She will learn to recognize your voice and respond to it.

an older child speaking to a baby who sits in a wash basin.
Next I’ll wash your arm, Alba.

Encourage family members to talk with her about what they are doing. If the same person always does the same activity — like giving the baby a bath — she will begin to recognize members of the family by what they do.

a man speaking to a baby he holds in his lap.
Who’s my little sweet girl?

Encourage your baby to smile by talking to her. She may smile again if you blow softly on her belly or play with her toes.

a man playing a flute next to a baby.
Sing and play music for your baby. If she makes sounds, imitate them to encourage
her to use her voice.
a man speaking while placing a baby's hand on his mouth.

When your baby begins to make sounds, play with her by putting her hands on your mouth and throat while you repeat the sounds. This also helps her learn where sounds come from.

To help your baby become aware of her hands and legs,
and to use her hands to hold objects

a woman singing to a baby while breastfeeding.
Ya ya me la la...

When feeding your baby, gently push upward on your baby’s arm so that she puts her hand on your breast. This helps her get ready to hold objects. Feeding is also a good time to talk or sing to your baby.

Try tying a toy that makes noise -
like a small bell, seed pod, or
bracelet - on her wrist or ankle.
She will try to find the sound with
her other hand and play with it.
Put your baby on her side
with a cloth behind her back
for support. She will
naturally bring her hands
together to play.
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Remember, since small objects can choke a baby, you should stop her if she tries to put small toys or objects all the way into her mouth.
a girl holding a string of beads while a baby pulls on it.
Carmen, try to pull.
Be careful she does not choke on the beads or swallow them.

Give her things to hold that will feel different from each other when she touches them, like a piece of smooth, silky cloth and a rough cloth. You can also encourage her to pull on objects like a strong string of beads or a knotted cord. If you pull back slightly, she may pull harder.

a woman speaking as she gives a baby a massage.
First, I’ll rub your chest, Bina.

Try giving her a gentle massage all over, using vegetable oil or just your hands. Start with her chest and move outward to her hands. Then move back to her bottom and down her legs.

After she gets used to your massage, try using cloths with different textures to gently rub her body. Afterward, encourage her to touch different parts of her body - for example, to touch her hand to her legs.

a woman speaking to a baby she holds in her lap.
Yes, these are your toes!

Touch her hands and feet when you play together. Pat them or blow lightly on them and name them.