It may be hard to believe, but healthy living actually begins before birth. Creating a healthy lifestyle starts with what a pregnant woman eats, how much exercise she gets, and her overall health when she is pregnant. Once your baby is born, you can continue to help him develop a healthy lifestyle that includes nutritious foods and plenty of activity. Good nutrition contributes to how your baby’s brain develops, so starting from the beginning will give him a head start for a lifetime of good health.
Good Health Starts Nutrition at Birth
So, you’ve had a healthy pregnancy and your newborn baby is thriving. How do you continue to keep him on that path? The first experiences your baby will have are ones with you, his mother. You can choose to continue giving him excellent nutrition by nursing. Breast milk is the purest form of a baby’s first food. The nutrients you give him through breastfeeding will help his brain develop properly and even prevent diseases in both of you later on in life.
When you eat a well-balanced diet (the Mediterranean diet is one that is often recommended for its rich olive oils, vitamins from fish, and plenty of fruits and vegetables) and you nurse your baby, you are ultimately giving him a great diet, too. A mother’s direct involvement in her baby’s first diet is a key factor in creating and promoting a healthier lifestyle.
Developing a Sense of Touch
Your baby first gets his sense of touch when you hold him and cradle him in your arms. Babies love to be held because it makes them feel safe, secure and warm. Touching your baby also helps him learn how things feel against his skin physically.
As he grows, he will explore touch on his own. You can give him plush toys with different textures so he can experience different sensations. Or, even a teether for example, feels soothing on baby’s sore gums.
Read to Your Baby
Read books to your infant even before he can understand. He will hear your voice and begin learning the sounds of your native language that he will later put together to develop his speech. As he develops, he will begin to look at the colorful pictures as he listens to your voice – both of which can be very soothing.
Play with Your Baby
As your baby grows, get down on the floor and play with him. Playing with your baby teaches him socialization and communication skills as well as helping him to develop motor skills. Before long he will be able to grasp at toys and bring them to his mouth to taste for further inspection. This is all part of the process of how your little one learns about the world around him.
To encourage playtime and discovery, be sure to provide plenty of age-appropriate toys including rattles and teethers. Rattles or toys such as Bright Starts baby rattles and teethers that make a pleasant sound encourage a baby to shake or pull at them to get the desired reaction – making the sound they want to hear. As he learns what each toy does, he will develop hand-eye coordination and communication skills.
As your infant grows, continuing to play with him at all stages of his life will encourage and promote an active lifestyle. That is another key factor in helping him develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
All of these factors are things that you, as parents, can directly impact your children in a positive way. Perhaps giving them a great start to life, physically and emotionally, is the greatest gift you can give your babies.
Lisa Coleman shares just how early implementing health and exercise can be done with our children, and ways to encourage it.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/familymwr/4997853213/