To raise a smart baby, it doesn’t take a genius parent. In fact, your baby’s brain is already developing through the love and nurturing he’s already receiving from you. While genetics and environmental factors do play a role in his intelligence, there is one thing you can control to boost your baby’s brain power -- the quality time you give him. Aside from love, he requires brain-stimulating activities to further develop skills in language, attention and reasoning. Here are some things you can do to advance your baby’s intelligence.
Talk to Your Baby
Engaging in conversation this young is sure to feel more like a monologue, but it is one of the most enriching experiences you can give him. Your one-sided conversations are what develop his future speech, language and cognitive abilities. Remember that how you talk to him has a profound effect on his development.
Here are some additional tips you can follow when talking to baby to help him absorb the communication:
- Use exaggerated facial expressions
- Use drawn-out vowels and syllables
- Keep your subjects simple, talk about his favorite toy for example
- If he attempts to communicate back, elaborate on it. Using the previous example talking about his toy, “Oh, you want your toy back.”
Indulge in Storytime
Reading a book to your baby not only has language and literacy benefits, it’s a great way to bond with him. Picture books will help him see new things and places he has yet to explore. If you’re able to re-read the same book twice in a row, this will help him with his memory skills, especially if you point to each picture. Your baby will also love poems and nursery rhymes, and don’t be afraid to sing and make them more catchy and exciting. When you have those days where all you want to do is catch up on a good book or magazine article of your own, don’t hesitate to read those aloud to baby either to keep him engaged in new vocabulary.
Other helpful storytime tips include:
- Make noises that correspond with the characters or storyline of the book
- Read the story in different voices giving life and personality to the characters
- Share in baby’s delightful reaction when coming across certain pictures or part of the book
Choose the Right Toys
While that teddy bear grandma brought over for her grandson is cute as can be, you also want to choose toys for your baby that help him explore and interact. Of course you want to choose toys that are safe and age appropriate, but you also want toys that encourage imaginative play rather than those that “do” something on their own to entertain him. They should also stimulate as many senses as possible so he can explore while seeing, touching and hearing. Choose toys with bright, primary colors and contrasting shapes and textures.
Here are some toy options to boost baby’s development:
- Building blocks
- Unbreakable mirrors
- Toy rings
- Toy telephones
- Squeeze and squeak toys
Babies learn about their world through play. Playing games with him that involve your hands are some of the best because they teach him how to physically interact with the world. Activities that we remember from childhood like Patty-Cake, Peek-a-Boo, This Little Piggy engage and even hand puppets capture his attention and help him start making smart connections.
Other helpful tips when playing games:
- Watch him play to learn what he is thinking about. By sharing and observing you can learn about the decision-making and problem-solving processes going on in your baby’s developing mind
- Use facial expressions and mirror his if possible. When you and your baby participate in mirroring, it increases his self-awareness
- Whether playing together with a toy or just a simple game of Peek-a-Boo, give him a rest when he needs one, don’t over-stimulate him
Other Baby Brain Boosters to Consider:
- Studies show breastfed babies are smarter. The longer you breastfeed, the better the brain boosting power
- Responding to baby’s cues helps build important brain connections
- It’s easy to spoil him, but it’s the interactions, not stuff, that builds a brighter brain