Are you the parent of a baby between the ages zero to three? Now’s the time to make sure you are doing everything you can to foster brain development in your child. The good news is that no special training or equipment is required: your relationship with your baby shapes their development. Positive and supportive experiences with adults help your child’s brain grow strong and flexible.
Babies and toddlers are naturally attuned to other humans. They would rather listen and learn directly from you and other caretakers, not a video or a screen. Young children learn best through play and everyday life experiences. Language learning is fundamental to other forms of learning at this age, so verbal interaction is key. Below, you can learn some simple ways to improve outcomes and foster early brain development in your child.
What You Can Do Right Now:
- Play with your child as much as possible. Manipulative toys, like blocks or stacking rings are helpful, or just use safe everyday household objects, such as plastic cups or bowls. Make sure any play environment is free from danger to allow her to explore her environment.
- Speak directly to your baby at every opportunity. Narrate your day, explain what you are doing and point out objects. Let him “answer” you back and respond to his early attempts at speaking. Young children who are spoken to frequently demonstrate more linguistic skills later in life.
- Demonstrate doing something and let your child copy you. Babies are natural imitators. Show your baby a simple skill (pressing a button, picking up an item) and then give her time to try to do it also. This teaches cause-and-effect and builds self-assurance.
- Sing songs with your baby. You can choose your favorite tunes or sing along to child-friendly music. Babies find singing naturally engaging, and songs help them learn language.
- When you take your child out of the house, discuss what you are doing, where you are going, the things you see. Even if he can’t answer you back, point out things in your environment for him to watch.
- Read aloud to your baby. It’s more about verbal stimuli rather than teaching letters and fluency. Stop if your child shows an interest in a particular page, and feel free to repeat sections or read the book entirely out of order--just make sure she’s interested and engaged.
- Share these tips with your child’s caretaker and encourage these behaviors in anyone spending quality time with your baby.
As a parent, you play a crucial role in the early development of your child. You can nurture your baby’s healthy growth through positive and loving everyday situations. What your child experiences, and how you respond, shapes his development in ways that last a lifetime.