Babies begin learning from the moment of birth. The most important keys to promoting your baby’s optimum brain development are being attentive to his needs and providing a stimulating environment within an atmosphere of love. Here are few more simple ways you can stimulate your baby’s development during your routine daily care and activities. See tips 1 - 4 on my earlier blog post about infant stimulation
Read part one of this post for tips 1 - 4 about infant stimulation >>
- Signing. In the latter half of the first year, babies begin using symbolic gestures to communicate, such as turning their head away from an approaching spoon to signal they are full, waving bye-bye, raising their arms when they want to be picked up, or shaking their head as a sign of refusal. When your baby is around 7 or 8 months of age, you can begin using simple gestures for words, actions, and emotions. Babies can learn to use simple hand gestures to convey what they want instead of crying, pointing, or pulling you toward something. Start with mealtime signs--like eat, more, milk and juice,--and always use the sign and word together. Signing is easier for a baby to imitate than spoken words, and helps an infant to grasp basic concepts of language structure. Check your community calendar for baby-signing classes or look for baby-signing Web sites, books and DVDs.
- Reading. Begin in early infancy to read to your baby and expose him to books to help him learn about communication. Point to the pictures and name what you see. Your baby will enjoy your attention and the sound of your voice, even though he will not yet understand the words you read. As he develops, “reading” and learning about books will include exploring them with his mouth and manipulating them with his hands. As he begins to talk, ask him to name familiar objects pictured in the book. Reading to your baby helps him acquire the building blocks of speech and develop a life-long love of reading. Great early choices for books are cloth, vinyl and board books and pages with textures, pop-ups, or moving parts that allow your baby to use multiple senses in learning to enjoy books. Keep one or more books in your diaper bag or backpack.
- Music. Exposing your baby to music builds brain connections that will assist your child in various tasks later in life. Use music a few times each day for special activities. Pull the cord of a musical toy during diaper changes or before bedtime. Sing to your baby and slow dance with her in your arms. Slow classical music is ideal for inducing sleep and calming babies and their parents. Speaking in rhythm and melody helps keep your baby’s attention and expand her vocabulary. You can create your own rhymes to easy little tunes, like "Twinkle, twinkle, little star."
- What to Avoid. Never toss your baby in the air to amuse him; a baby easily can be dropped and injured. Don’t overwhelm your baby with too much stimulation. If he tires of playing a game, stop before he becomes annoyed. Do not try to teach advanced skills at an early age in an attempt to create a “superbaby.” You can’t rush your child’s development, and the excess pressure can disrupt the essential process of joyful learning at his unique pace. Avoid television viewing for children under the age of two years. Although certain programming is targeted to this age group, babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with their care givers to ensure healthy brain development and appropriate social, emotional, and intellectual skills.