Right from birth: skin-on-skin with mum
In the first few months, your baby has an overwhelming need for contact with you. To reassure them, you can set aside a few moments of every day for some skin-on-skin time with them: in a warm room, place your baby naked (or in nappies) against your bare chest, and cover them with a soft blanket. Make sure you place their head against your heart, so that they can hear it beating, reminding them of the time they spent in the womb. The benefits of skin-on-skin time for new-born babies are widely acknowledged by scientists nowadays, and you yourself will quickly see how much it soothes and relaxes them.
Right from birth: gentle rocking
With your baby lying in your arms, walk around, gently rocking them and humming a nursery rhyme or a lullaby in a soft voice. Such regular movements are extremely soothing for new-born babies – they remind them of the gentle rocking that they experienced in the womb. By turning your baby over so that their stomach is against your arm, gently rocking them can also help you relieve any tummy aches they may have.
From 3 months: whistle like a chaffinch
Sit down opposite your child, close to their face, then let out a short whistle: your baby will certainly be surprised by this unusual sound. Do it again, but this time produce a different whistle, a little longer. Then do it again and again until you are whistling a proper tune. Babies are fascinated by the sounds that adults make with their mouths, and they also like watching the movements you make with your mouth. Your child may try to imitate you, by pursing their lips!
From 3 months: playing with reflections
Give your baby a mirror and allow them to contemplate their reflection: at that age, they won't realize that they are looking at themselves, but their curiosity will be aroused by the baby’s face they see in front of them! Do this on a regular basis, sitting next your baby so that they can see your face in the mirror as you grimace and make funny faces… Gradually, they will get used to this object and they will realize that they are a person in their own right, independent of their mom.
From 6 month: angels’ breath
Place your baby, wearing nappies, on a large bed or a soft mat, in a well heated room so that they are comfortable. Blow very gently, following the curves of their body – the feet, legs, stomach and neck. If your baby doesn't mind it, continue up to their face: blow on their cheeks, forehead, hair, ears, etc. This unusual contact will be very amusing for your baby and will help them realize where the limits of their body are. To keep them interested, you can also use a feather to stroke them instead of your breath.
From 6 months: the talking toilet roll
Babies are fascinated by all the variations in human voices. Get hold of a toilet roll, hold the end of it against your child's ear and whisper something to them, or just make some random noises: "ah", "ouh", "ooom"... Your baby will certainly be very surprised by how deep your voice sounds through this ad hoc loudspeaker! Let them examine the toilet roll in their own time: they may try to gurgle through it.
From 9 month: the treasure chest
Find a basket and put a number of different objects inside it, all with different textures and sounds, such as: a little bell, a securely closed jam jar half filled with lentils, a little spoon, maracas, a range of different wooden rattles, a security blanket made of rustling material, a little rain stick, a plastic bottle with its top on, etc. Give your baby your treasure chest and let them take their time, gradually discovering all of the surprises inside it, talking to them about each of the objects. Wonderment guaranteed!
From 9 month: where’s my toy gone?
Here's a little game that will help your child understand the concepts of appearing and then disappearing. Get hold of a sock or a flannel and a small ball or a little cube. Show both of these objects to your baby, then make the ball disappear inside the sock. Ask your little one: “where's the toy gone?" Let them search for a little while, then if they can't find the ball themselves, take it out of the sock. Miracle upon miracles, the toy has reappeared – to their great joy! Do it several times: your baby will find it even more fun if you repeat it.
9 months to 1 year: imitating animals
Well before they know how to speak, your baby can learn to imitate noises, particularly the sounds that animals make. Give them a little picture book with photos of animals that they know. Go through it together and with each photo, say what the animal is called and imitate the noise it makes: "cat: meow meow, dog: woof woof, duck: quack quack". Right from the first time you do it, your child will certainly be very intrigued by these unusual noises. And if you do this on a regular basis, they will soon start to imitate the noise that each animal makes with you!
9 months to 1 year: the pleasures of water
One day when the weather is nice, take your baby outside or onto the balcony (or your kitchen or bathroom if you don't have a balcony) with a large basin filled with warm water. Place several objects inside the basin: bath toys, a plastic bottle without its top, beakers, a sieve, etc. and let your baby splash around joyfully. They will probably end up all wet, but what fun it is for them to play with water, pour water from one container into another, or to splash anybody who comes anywhere near them!