As a parent, it’s normal to wonder if you’re doing all you can to help your infant’s learning and development. Are you buying the right toys? Telling the right stories? Spending enough time together? Don’t worry! There are a number of ways you can jumpstart your infant’s brain while still creating a strong, emotional attachment with them. Here are the top five ways to jumpstart your infant’s brain:
#1: Once upon a time…
Creating a routine of reading your child a bedtime story is crucial to your infant’s intellectual growth. Not only does listening to stories help with language and thought development, depending on the content of the story, infants begin to learn how to deal with problems and fears in everyday life. Making a bedtime story a nightly ritual is a way for parents to bond with their child, providing a sense of security and deepening your bond. Also, hearing classic children’s stories can help an infant’s brain learn how to use their imagination by creating images in their heads of the words you read to them. Instead of scouring the book store aisles, get free, unique stories sent to you via email every night through the website www.bedtimeshortstory.com.
#2: See Spot run
Many parents may be wary of bringing an animal into their home with an infant, but pets are actually beneficial to infant’s brain development. Interacting with pets can help infants build their social skills and learn appropriate behaviors. Dogs more so than cats can help infants pick up on important social cues and understand how expressions and emotions are displayed. If a pet is already present in the home, introduce the pet to your infant slowly and of course, always monitor interactions.
#3: Choose appropriate toys
Buy toys for your infant that will not only entertain, but also educate. This doesn’t mean toys have to be complex and expensive! Simple, classic toys like building blocks can help infants use their imagination to create something using the individual pieces. Although a jack-in-the-box may seem like a simple, out-dated toy, infants start to understand the “if-then” relationship, meaning “if I wind up this box, then jack will pop up”. Don’t throw out old toys, either! Find new, brain-stimulating ways to use existing toys. All of those old stuffed animals your baby used to cuddle? Now, encourage your infant to use these animals in pretend play.
#4: Encourage creativity
Parents may be used to cleaning up spills all day, but there’s a time and place to encourage a little messy behavior with your infant. Set your infant up with different crayons, markers, finger paints and paper and let them have at it! Have them explore what happens when they use the materials together and allow them to use this opportunity to express themselves, even if it ends up being a colorful scribble! Of course it is important to develop infants’ language and problem-solving skills, but fostering their creativity is vital for intellectual growth.
#5: Label their surroundings
When communicating with your infant, make sure to point out objects around you and clearly state the objects’ names. Wait for a baby to follow your gaze or point and use phrases like “see the dog?” “look at the moon!” and “isn’t this a pretty flower?” This will help your infant’s brain begin to understand and familiarize themselves with their surroundings. Hearing a large variety of words on a regular basis will spark word learning and speed up their language development.
How many of these top five ways to jumpstart your infant’s brain do you already practice? What kind of activities do you do to help your infant’s development? Tell us in the comments below!