Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dance Baby Dance

Babies love movement. Movement can be soothing, fun, and distracting. It can help your preemie learn how to use his/her body and it's a great way to connect with your preemie. You can dance with your preemie at any age. Don't worry - you need to be good at it. Your preemie will just enjoy the time spent with you. And dancing is fun and good exercise - a win, win.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

1) For very young preemies - start with music that is soft and mellow. Even lullabies work. Hold your preemie in close and gently rock back and forth with the music. Your preemie will start to associate the movement with the music which is an important connection.

2) Once your preemie is strong enough to support his/her own head - make your movements bigger and more purposeful. You can start to choose music that has more of a beat. If your preemie likes it - spin around in circles. Jump up and down (lightly) and really get those hips moving. Anything that allows your little one to really feel the movement.

3) Encourage your preemie's own dancing. Help your preemie move his/her own body to the music. Our daughter started "rockin' out" as soon as she could sit up. Personally I think she was born in the wrong era as her head banging skills are quite good. As soon as she hears music her eyes light up and she starts swaying. I love watching her.

Some Dancing Tips (of the non-technique variety):
- When you introduce music to your little ones, be sure to pick songs that you can stand listening to over and over again. Over and Over. My daughter will only dance to certain songs. If I try and get her to dance to something new she wants nothing to do with it. Currently her favorites are songs from High School Musical. I have only myself to blame as I'm the one who let my son watch the movies with me (much to my husband's chagrin) and then put some of the songs on my iPod.
- Looking for some lullabies that don't make you cringe? Try RockABye Baby! Records They sell lullaby versions of songs from popular bands including the Beatles, Bob Marley, No Doubt, Green Day, etc. I really like them.
- Sing along. Singing with your preemie is also a great way to encourage language development. Sing with the songs and encourage your preemie to "sing" too.
- Feeling stressed? Tired? Cranky? Put on some music and dance (with or without your preemie). We have been stuck inside due to the rain and the late afternoon often brings the cabin fever blues so we have been dancing quite a bit this week.
- If your preemie loves music and/or dancing - use it as an opportunity to teach him/her the sign for music. I'll do a post on the sign later this week.

Happy Dancing!!

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