Experts say that babies (newborn to 12 months) generally absorb more information per day than adults. Babies’ brains are blank slates and information is being written on them rapidly as babies learn everything from scratch. Many parents, seeking to tap the tremendous potential of this period of rapid learning, enroll themselves and their babies in baby-and-me classes. Below is some basic information on such classes.
- music (i.e., music appreciation, playing musical instruments such as infant-appropriate percussive instruments, and singing),
- gym (i.e., basic and fun exercise, dance, gymnastics, yoga, and swimming),
- art (i.e., non-toxic finger painting), and language skills (i.e., English, second languages, and sign language).
Music appreciation classes affect brain development and mood management for babies; studies have shown that regularly exposing babies to music can increase babies’ subsequent ability to develop math and language skills. Learning to play musical instruments helps babies strengthen their muscles, enhance their motor skills and coordination, and develop rhythm; as noted above, early and regular exposure to music can positively affect babies’ subsequent development of math and language skills.
Singing helps babies develop language skills, rhythm, and vocal and respiratory muscles; also, see above for the benefits of early and regular exposure to music.
Gym classes (starting with simple exercises that strengthen core, neck, and back muscles, progressing to crawling through fun obstacles courses and swimming, and further advancing as the babies’ abilities develop) help babies strengthen their muscles, develop motor skills and coordination, and, in cases such as dance and gymnastics, may foster development of rhythm.
Art classes help babies strengthen their muscles, enhance their motor skills and coordination, and can positively affect babies’ brain development.
Language classes (including sign language, through which babies can communicate even in their pre-verbal period, reading aloud to babies age-appropriate books, speaking to babies in primary and secondary languages, and using picture-based flash cards to learn words for common objects) help babies learn communication skills and can even aid in mood management (i.e., helping babies communicate what they want, thus preventing them from getting frustrated and fussy from not being able to express and receive what they want).