A baby is a work in progress even after they are born. Parts of their little body are still growing and developing, and will continue for quite awhile. So when he or she arrives there will seem to be a million things that need to be done to help both mother and child adapt to their new surroundings.
Although mom’ll be busy taking care of their physical needs, she’ll also spend time getting to know her bundle of joy and one of those ways is by communicating helping increase their brain activity. A baby’s brain is still developing and growing. The brain’s neurons are brain cells that interact and connect with each other to help our brain function when exposed to lights, sounds, smells, touch and movement.
When a baby’s brain is stimulated early, their chances of becoming more aware of their surroundings, boosting their intellectual and physical growth increases. Babies that are exposed to an increase in brain stimulation early are more alert, have better muscle coordination and have a better chance of excelling intellectually during the first years of school.
Parents can do a number of things to help stimulate their brain development just by communicating with them often throughout the day. Just by spending valuable time with their little one not only helps the bonding process, it also helps their brain advance. Many activities are simple ones that can take place while parents are feeding or bathing them. Here are 15 ways parents can stimulate their infant’s brain development.
15 Stimulate Their Vision
A baby’s vision is still developing after their birth working to recognize objects, shapes and people. You can help stimulate their vision by making constant eye contact with them. Looking directly into their eyes helps them focus better. It also helps them recognize your face and builds their memory. Give their eyes time to focus.
Use different facial expressions while making eye contact with them. These movements help stimulate their eyesight. Slowly move a toy from side to side or up and down. This helps eye coordination develop. Use brightly colored and different shaped toys to help them recognize different colors and shapes.
Give your baby a tour of the house and show her the different colors, patterns and sizes of furniture or accessories. Allow them time to really focus on the patterns, colors and sizes too. Give them time to focus on each object separately. Making sure they actually see the item.
14 Help Them Imitate
Babies learn by watching and mimicking. One way to help their brain develop is to make faces or sounds so they will imitate you. It’s also a great way to communicate and spend time with your little one. Make sure you are close enough to them when performing these actions so they will be able to see better.
Stick out your tongue, raise your eyebrows, smile, frown, wave, wave bye bye, close your eyes, blink, move your head, play peek-a-boo, you can even move your finger from one facial feature to the next to help with their coordination. While doing these movements, give your baby time to imitate each one.
Some of them may take longer for them to mimic but you can focus more on those they can do and add other more complicated ones as they grow. Studies have shown that babies two days old can imitate some of these features.
13 Help Them Learn To Differentiate/Problem Solve
Problem solving is one way to help your baby develop cognitive skills and boost their intellectual skills. Hold up two different shaped items giving them time to focus on each one. Hold up two pictures that are similar but something is missing in one of the pictures. Perhaps one has a person in it and the other doesn’t.
This gives them time to recognize and look at each one. You can hold one item right side up and the other upside down to help them differentiate between the two. You can also hold up two fingers on one hand and one finger on the other hand, allowing them time to look back and forth.
These practices not only help with their eye coordination, but it can help later on in their life with recognizing different features, shapes and sizes, making comparisons, increasing their problem solving capabilities, and even understanding certain situations that don’t appear or seem right or proper.
12 Listen To Music
We all love music and babies are no exception. It also soothes the unborn baby to sleep. The same effect takes place after they are born. You can play slow music to put your baby to sleep but music can be used to stimulate the baby’s brain too. Some research has shown that singing helps them learn math.
It helps them learn words and the older they get they are more likely to try and sing along with you which helps their language skills. Help them to learn certain words by doing something that places emphasis on that word. Sing “this is the way we count our toes” and on the word “toes” raise your baby slightly up in the air.
That helps them remember a specific word. Teach your baby coordination or how to dance later on in life by playing music and dancing with them slowly and smoothly. Don’t use loud or overbearing music.
11 Teach Them To Hold And Grasp
This activity helps with their coordination skills. Babies will start to grab for things the older they get but you can teach them early in their life to reach for things. Make sure it’s something they can grasp. And of course, make sure it’s nothing that can harm or small enough for them to stick in their mouth.
Place a small toy in their hand so they can close their fingers around it. Let them drop it because this too helps with their coordination skills the older they get when they reach to pick it up. If they can grab it after they drop it, hand it back to them. Be sure to talk to them each time you place the toy in their hand.
You can say “toy” each time you place it back in their hand. Hang things in their crib to help them reach out and grab a hold of items.
10 Explore With Them
Once they can grasp a hold of items between the ages of 3 to 6 months, place safe and soft items large enough items within their reach. Items like soft toys or clothes, rubber toys, or plastic cups and keys are good too. Place toys on their crib or hanging from their crib that allow them to reach and grab.
To help improve their ability to hold onto things, place items in their reach that allows them to grasp firmly. This can also help their sense of touch helping them to learn the difference between different feels and different items. When they are between the ages of 8 to 10 weeks, place items at a short distance to help them reach and touch.
This too helps them coordinate between what they feel and see. It also helps them to learn how to move on their own and coordinate body parts.
9 Talk, Talk, Talk
Talk constantly to your little one. Even though they can’t talk back to you yet, this helps them hear your voice and mimic what you are saying. You’ll notice eventually they will make sounds in an attempt to talk back to you. Don’t just use simple “cooing” talk either. Speak in sentences. Speak slowly and pronounce the words clearly.
This will help your baby with pronunciation. It will also help them distinguish between words the more you talk and hold conversation with them. It also gets them more familiar with your voice. This is a good idea for other family members to do too. The baby is already fairly familiar with the mother’s name, hearing it for nine months while in the womb.
So they recognize their mother’s voice quicker and are more comfortable with it. Other family members should talk often to the baby so they can become more familiar and comfortable with them.
8 Help Them Get Physical
Help your baby get physical through exercises which will help them with their coordination skills. Teach them how to roll over by themselves, which doesn’t take a lot of prodding once they are physically ready. To help them roll over when they’re ready simply sit behind their head while they’re lying on their back, place a toy above their head and slowly move it to one side.
Make sure your baby’s eyes are focused on the toy. When they start to reach for the toy, continue to move the toy to the side getting them to slowly turn their body that direction. Most babies will wiggle and move their legs and arms by themselves. However you can help them really move those arms and legs in synch by gently moving their arms and legs in a bicycle motion.
They will copy this movement on their own eventually. This bicycle movement helps baby coordinate their legs and arms.
7 Help Them With Their Emotions
Understanding emotions is an important part of helping your baby develop and stimulate brain growth. This can be done while you’re talking, reading or singing to your baby. Like everybody else, babies experience bad days. Maybe their stomach is upset, hunger is setting in, they may be sleepy or agitated due to some minor pain or issue.
This will help them cheer up. Simply hold your baby close to you or while they are lying down on their back and smile at that. Eventually your smile will become contagious and your little one will start smiling back at you. While smiling at them go ahead and give them a hug or talk to them in a happy, uplifting manner.
Your smiles and happy talk will temporarily get their mind off of their wants and on your smiles. This process will also help your child strengthen their mouth, chin and jaw muscles too.
6 Read To Them
This is another common exercise doctors will tell pregnant women to do for their unborn baby. Since unborn babies can hear their mother’s voice, it being the most recognizable sound to them, constantly reading to your baby will help them in various ways. Therefore, reading to your infant is one of the most effective ways to develop your child’s language capabilities.
It helps the neutrons in the brain connect and increases cognitive development. You can read to your baby anytime, when it’s nap time, play time or bonding time. Even if you don’t think it necessary, start reading to your baby right after they are born. The fact that you are talking to them in clear and precise words helps stimulate their brain waves.
The older your child gets the more you’ll notice their effort to repeat words you speak to them which helps broaden their vocabulary and strengthens their brain cells.
5 Help Them Reflect
To help your baby recognize themselves or perhaps increase their social skills, place them in front of a mirror and watch them stare at themselves. They’ll think they are seeing another baby which boosts their social skills because they want to reach out and communicate the way babies do or play with their newfound friend.
It also helps them coordinate their arms and facial expressions by smiling and waving or kicking their legs, which will increase their awareness even more since they think the “other” baby is doing the same thing. Try placing a mirror above their crib or bassinet so they can see themselves often.
Although it will take some time for them to realize they are the baby in the mirror, it will keep them entertained and active. Make sure the mirror is close enough for them to see themselves but far enough away to keep them from reaching the mirror.
4 Massage Their Muscles
Like most people, babies love a good massage. Babies love to be touched. It’s pretty much a language in itself for infants who love to be rubbed and massaged. One of the reasons a massage is good for your baby is because it comforts them and stimulates their senses of touch, which in turn, stimulates their brain cells.
Another reason a massage is good for a baby is that it increases their immune functions. This is vital because their immune system or development of their immune system is important in keeping your baby healthy. Their immune system is very weak so anything that can boost it is helpful.
It also improves muscle development which is what your baby needs to increase their strength. A massage helps improve and increase growth hormones which is also essential to your baby’s development. Give your baby a soft massage daily when it’s time for their nap or during their bath time.
3 Boost Their Memory
Boosting their memory helps the growth and stimulation of your baby’s brain. Show them a toy or some item for a brief moment, say a couple of minutes, it doesn’t have to be very long but it shouldn’t be a quick glance either. Then move the toy or item out of their sight for a couple of minutes. Bring the toy back and show it to them again.
Make sure they look at the item. You can try this for awhile or multiple times a day to boost your child’s memory. You can also place the toy down, making sure your baby looks at it and focuses on it. Then move the baby out of the sight of the toy for a couple of minutes.
Bring them back to where the toy is, giving them time to find or notice the toy. Once they find it, hug them to show how happy you are with them.
2 Teach Them Music
This doesn’t mean just listening to music but playing it. Studies have shown when children learn music or learn how to play music it increases their brain development and cognitive skills. It’s also proven to increase their brain activity resulting in higher IQs. There are many toys that allow your baby to pound on to create sounds.
This not only helps them learn the different sounds and tones but it helps their coordination skills. Give them toys that make sounds and let them play with it while music is playing or while you are singing to them. They will start to relate the music to the toy by bouncing the toy to the tune of the music.
The ability to learn music at a young age helps a child learn speech quicker, and it helps babies with their ability to piece together different parts mentally by using spatial-temporal reasoning.
1 Help Them To Learn Language And Counting
Increasing their cognitive skills is a great way to boost your baby’s brain cells and development. Teach your child the alphabet by introducing them to foods or toys or some item that starts with each letter of the alphabet. For example, A for an apple, B for Bed, etc. This not only helps them learn the alphabet but the name of the item as well.
Move on to colors. Point out a red toy for the letter R. Then move on to shapes and sizes by cutting up fruit or snacks into different shapes and label them accordingly based on the corresponding letter. For example, the letter A is for foods cut up in a circle. You can then focus on numbers the same way.
You can start counting everything - count the steps, count their fingers and toes, count the different clothes, count the chairs, etc. Make sure you say the number and letter out loud and repetitively.