Whether you’re a first-time mother or a father of four, learning what you can do to stimulate your baby’s development should be a priority.
The Human Face
The symmetry, movement and contrast of your baby’s favorite faces offer much to observe and learn from. Spend plenty of face-to-face time smiling, opening and closing your eyes and sticking out your tongue. Your baby will watch at first, and then try to imitate you—a fun game for everybody.
Conversations with Baby
Talking to your baby as you go about your daily chores, explaining what you’re doing and giving a play-by-play of your routines engages your child in the world around her and exposes her to language. This interaction provides early steps to talking and eventually reading.
Take your baby to the grocery store, parks, museums, malls and just outside for walks. As babies engage in the world, the new experiences give them a framework to create order and make sense of what they see. The more they see and experience, the easier it will be to provide structure.
You can’t overestimate the value of reading to your child. Not only does your baby benefit from hearing your voice and being close to you, reading also stimulates communication skills that will eventually develop a stronger vocabulary. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading every day to your child, starting at 6 months to kick-start these benefits. Reading before 6 months provides wonderful bonding experiences for you and your baby.
The Mozart Effect
This theory states that listening to classical music enhances mental functioning, and it has also been touted as a way to stimulate your baby’s brain. Music itself—classical or not—helps babies see patterns, organize thoughts and make order out of the world. Many schools now use ETM—Education Through Music—to provide kids with different ways to engage in learning with much success; they also may derive enjoyment out of simply listening and eventually singing
A Nurturing Environment
The single best thing you can do to stimulate your baby’s development is to provide her with a nurturing environment that is rich with opportunities to explore and engage. Babies must investigate the world around them while knowing they are loved and safe, and that their needs will be met. Given these opportunities, your baby will thrive.
About the Author
Lara Alspaugh is a freelance writer living in Michigan. She is a Registered Nurse and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Michigan State University. Her writing has been found in parenting and fitness magazines nationwide and the Internet, addressing health and fitness as well as wellness concerns of families.