Visual Stimulation Cards for Preemies and Infants

All babies, but preemies especially, are inveterate problem solvers and they are bored. Watching the movement of their eyes, gives clues and strong understanding to what their brains are doing as, at first, they seek out bold and well defined shapes. They outline the shape and then begin to compare it’s parts. Within this framework, you can invent games to interest and challenge them.

The second 2 cards, part of the Ross set, were designed by a pediatrician, Dr. julio C. Guerra, and provide preemies with hours of fascination. Watch as the baby outlines each part of the round design and then compares it to the reversed color. Then, when the baby is asleep, turn the card so it’s now slanted and watch his eyes when he wakes and first sees it. We are all born with the same facial expressions and these babies do the classic ‘double take’, frowning, tilting the head, chin out to get closer… Watching hundreds of preemies, (some not supposed to be born for another 3 months). I began to time their concentration and was astonished to find it lasting from 12 to 28 minutes.

Make up your own games with these cards but keep them as simple as you can. Get colored stickers of dots and, while the baby is asleep, put one on the checkerboard card. Later, add another colored dot partially covering the first. Then watch.

It’s important that the cards be positioned straight up and down. Tipping them or turning them to the side will add the element of perspective which would change the experience.

The third and fourth cards below are part of a pack that Ross Labs, makers of Enfamil formulas gave to NICUs long ago. These cards were a huge gift to the  babies, A HUGE GIFT  but were discontinued for some reason.  

Please write to Ross Labs to reinstate their pack of cards, preemies need their intellectual stimulation. They were the very best and should be easily available for all babies.

Why are preemies problem solvers to a greater degree than full term newborns? It’s because they quickly become super alert survivors in extremely complex, annoying and stressful circumstances, and act in their own best interest like all of us, going toward pleasure and away from pain. The full term baby is comforted with basic needs met and soft human connections made and never has to develop skills to mitigate stress.

Open fullsize and print

Open fullsize and print

© Brie Widmeyer, CCRN

Open fullsize and print

Open fullsize and print

© Julio C. Gurrea, MD