The early wiring of your baby’s brain sets the stage for future development. Experiences during the first three years have a deep and lasting impact. The brain controls how your baby’s body works. It also controls thinking, feeling, learning and memory. Interacting with your baby helps his brain grow and develop—from showing him how to shake a rattle or reach for a stuffed bear to helping him make new sounds. Talking to and playing with your baby will make a difference in how his brain develops.
Tips to help your baby learn
- Give your baby things to play with. Babies like to hold things and put them in their mouths. Offer him a variety of new toys and objects to play with, making sure whatever objects you give your baby are safe.
- Give your baby things to look at. Bright objects and images help the development of a baby’s vision. Hang a colourful mobile over your baby’s crib, just high enough so it can’t be pulled down. Show your baby coloured illustrations or photographs of faces.
- Talk to your baby and read to your baby. Babies learn by imitation. Talking to your baby helps him learn to talk. Speak gently and say lots of different words. Point out objects and say their names (Look, here’s a spoon. Can you see the spoon?).
- Respond when your baby cries. Acknowledging your baby’s cry helps him learn that he can communicate to make his needs known.
- Expose your baby to new things. Take your baby to different places, and let him see and experience new objects and environments.
- Touch your baby and cuddle him. Touching your baby and talking in a soft and calm voice reassures and soothes him and makes him know that you love him.
Adapted from Healthy Start, Grow Smart, a publication of the US Department of Education