Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Day 135 - Raising a Smarter Baby Part 1


Part 1 of the Raising a Smarter Baby series

Today's Tip - Luckily, the things that'll help your baby develop are also the things that are the easiest

Between the Baby Einstein toys and the educational videos, it's pretty easy to feel like you aren't doing enough to give your baby every single advantage. But there are plenty of things you can do without having to spend all that money.

Talk, talk, talk to your baby
There's nothing that can capture the attention of an infant like the sound of mom and dad's voice. Our son locks on to us whenever we talk. It's great for bonding, and it encourages him to vocalize as well. Feel like there's nothing to talk about with someone who can't reciprocate? That's actually the beauty of it. You can talk about how you agonized over the choice between wheat and white bread and your baby will think you're the coolest thing since, well, sliced bread. It's also good to mimic their sounds and get them excited about trying out their own vocal chords.

Give them all sorts of sensations
Babies have no idea what is out in the world. And the only way to learn is through experience, right? Make their lives a feast for the senses as they get older. Play all kinds of music. Sing to them in your own voice, no matter how bad it is. Our son loves hearing us sing, and we're more like Willem Hung than Barry White. Let them touch cold things, warm things, smooth things, rough things, fuzzy things and smooth things. Hold anything that's colorful up in front of them to take in. Eat all sorts of different smelling and tasting foods yourself. They'll get all the smells and if you're breastfeeding, your milk will taste slightly different.

Exploration
Encourage your baby to find out things for his own. Give him tummy time, time sitting up, time on his own two feet. Let him roll around. Put him in a "jumparoo". Exploration is great because they get time to figure things out at their own pace, and it teaches them to be creative as well. And of course, structured play with you is good stuff too.

Interact
This can be anything from making eye contact, to talking back and forth, to sticking your tongue out at them. It's more fun to do something with somebody else, so play peek-a-boo, read a book, cuddle and be affectionate.

Give it a Rest
Just like its important to guide your infant when he's playing and active, it's just as important to just relax together for a bit. Lie on the ground together, look at clouds, listen to some soft music, and generally just take it easy after a good playing session. You won't overstimulate your kid and this time is just as good for bonding.

Part 2 Tomorrow - Developing Motor Skills

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