Once parents become accustomed to taking care of their baby, they often want to find activities that can help can help encourage their infant’s development. Although there are many products on the market that claim to create a smarter baby, the best things you can do with your baby are simply talking, singing and playing with him.
Reading with Your Baby
Although many parents read a bedtime story, try to also read several books to your baby throughout the day. Select board books with simple pictures. Many parents are familiar with the classic books, such as "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown and "Pat the Bunny" by Dorothy Kunhardt. Some other favorite are "Jamberry" by Bruce Degen, "Snuggle Puppy" by Sandra Boynton and "Counting Kisses" by Karen Katz. Once your baby is interested in lift-the-flap books, she may like "Tails" by Mathew Van Fleet and "Where’s Spot?" by Eric Hill.
Talking to Your Infant
A simple way to encourage your baby’s receptive language and speech development is to talk with your baby throughout the day. When you are changing a diaper or dressing your baby, talk about what you are doing and name the parts of her body. While you walk through the house, point out items and name them. When you take your baby on a walk, talk about the things you see.
Once your baby is about 2 months old and is holding her head up, place her on her tummy for 10 to 20 minutes at least once during the day while she is awake. Be sure to always place your baby on her back when she is going to sleep. Tummy time will help your baby increase neck and back strength, which are important for milestones such as rolling, sitting and crawling. Many infants are not fond of tummy time, but there are ways to make tummy time fun for your baby. If your baby seems bored during tummy time, place your baby on a mat with toys, such as the Tummy Time Fun Lady Bug Activity Mat by Tiny Love. You can also prop your baby’s chest on a small pillow and place rattles in front of her. Another idea is to get on the floor and talk to her during tummy time.
Another way to increase your child’s vocabulary and speech development is to sing to your baby. You can sing soothing songs while trying to calm your baby. Nursery rhymes and action songs are fun ways to interact with you baby during playtime. Songs with movements, such as "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and "If You’re Happy and You Know It" will help your infant learn to imitate motions. Once your baby is about 9 months old, give her a set of infant toy musical instruments and show her how to play the instruments while you sing.
Once your baby is sitting up, you can play together on the floor. Stack up some soft blocks and show her how to knock them over. When the blocks fall, say "Fall Down," and as build them tell her "Up, up, up." You can also put her toys in a small container and show her how to dump them out. Another fun game is to make her stuffed animals talk and move while she watches. By playing together, you will be showing her how to play with her toys, increasing her verbal skills and making memories.
Take pictures and make a family album to show your baby all the people in your family. It’s great to give to a care-taker too, so that the baby starts to recognize and identify who the most important people in her life are.