Babies love a ceiling fan. It’s true. Go ahead and Google for it. I’ll wait. Not really. Little meta-humor there for you.

We have a ceiling fan in the center of our bedroom, which just so happens to be where Joshua spends all his nighttime minutes that aren’t spent sleeping in his crib in the nursery. When he wakes in the middle of the night, Janelle brings him into our room, changes him in the designated corner at the bottom of the mattress (designated by the bath towel he lays on – makes for a good poop guard in case of an overzealous rectum [this is the name of my band, by the way, Overzealous Rectum]), and then feeds him sitting propped up on her side of the bed.

Laying on the bed while being changed or while waiting for Janelle to get herself all situated, Joshua has a perfect view of the fan just above him, and he is mesmerized. He smiles at the fan almost more than he smiles at us. The people that GAVE HIM LIFE. Even if he’s upset, the fan is often enough to distract him for just the right amount of time that we can calm him down. We hear similar stories from our friends who have a 20-month-old (or thereabouts) who has always loved ceiling fans and who, now that she is old enough to talk a bit, will wake everyone up in the morning with her rally cry to bring in the day: “Fan! Fan! Fan!”

I mostly wanted to write this post just to point out that little detail, but it does bring to light some actual useful information to impart (outside of, “make your baby look at a fan”). Your baby enjoys looking at things. It’s important to stimulate them visually, because it’s basically the only thing that they can do: look at things. However, keep in mind a few things. Babies don’t really see color for at least the first month. Stick to high contrast items. Also, don’t make the items too complex at first. If you don’t know what anything at all is, you don’t want to kick it off by staring at a Dali painting. Go for bold, straight lines. Fits well with the high-contrast part, conveniently. Movement is another good thing. Not too fast, but making your baby work to track an item is helping improve his vision. Lastly, don’t be all up in your baby’s grill for too long. It’s easy for a baby to get overloaded, so a picture waved six inches in front of his face for any length of time is likely going to be just too damn much info to process. Babies look away from things when they get overwhelmed, and will often look at something with their peripheral vision so they can study it without taking in too heavy a flood of stimulus. Putting something too close to their face removes a baby’s option to escape from an info onslaught.

A fan hits all that criteria very well. It’s located a fair distance away, is usually a contrasting item (assuming you have a dark fan and light ceiling), moves around in a very regular fashion and, moving fast enough, is fairly hypnotic.

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