Great news for tired moms: you don’t need flash cards or expensive classes to teach your baby. Everyday routines and activities are all ripe with opportunities to stimulate and bond with your child.
Here are some easy—and free!—ways to develop your baby’s language, social and motor skills. You’ll also find great parenting tips on how to squeeze this right into your schedule.
Parenting tip # 1: Keep talking!
This is the easiest way to build your baby’s vocabulary. Just keep a steady narration as you go through everyday routines: bath, meal times, walks in the park. Remember to use simple words, and to pause between sentences, just to give your baby a sense of how a conversation goes. You can even ‘interpret’ her coos and gurgles. ‘Yum, it’s carrots for lunch? Do you like carrots? (Pause.) Yes, you do! One more bite? Yes?’
Parenting tip # 2: Use all your senses.
Don’t just comment on the carrot’s taste. Talk about the color, the shape. And when you see something—whether it be a leaf on the ground or a stuffed toy—think of ways that your baby can use all her senses, too. ‘The leaf is green. It feels smooth. It’s small. What does it smell like? Let’s try.’ This will help develop your child’s curiosity and teach concepts, too.
Parenting tip # 3: Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Babies love the familiarity of reading the same book, or going through the same routines. Plus, this helps builds neural connections. Your child will learn to associate words with pictures, or actions with routines. ‘It’s time for our walk! Let’s get your shoes. Now, give me your foot.’ Knowing what to do next also builds her confidence. ‘Yes, I can do it! I know what to do!’
Parenting tip # 4: Change perspectives.
Move your baby’s play pen to another part of the room. Turn the high chair to give a different view of the kitchen.
Parenting tip # 5: Play body games.
Play ‘bicycle’ with her legs. Raise her arms over her head. Sing ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.’ Play patty-cake. All these give her a sense of body-awareness and help develop gross motor skills. Baby massage is also very helpful–and a great game to play right before her nap. Get tips in our article on how to do baby massage.
Parenting tip # 6: Schedule quiet time.
You don’t need to keep stimulating your baby. Your child also needs quiet time, and the chance to play on her own. Keeping quiet will help her regulate her emotional state and work through the influx of new information.
Parenting tip # 7: Make silly faces.
Your baby will love this! Smacking your lips, making funny animal noises, or playing peekaboo encourages your baby to imitate you, which will help develop concentration and focus. It will also work her facial muscles, which are important for language.
Playing games is just one way to develop your baby’s potential. Get more parenting tips in our article on how to build your baby’s brain
Photo from thechefalliance.com