During the first 2 years, babies not grow physically, but also cognitively (mentally). On a daily basis when they interact with their environment, new pathways and connections are created within their brains and bodies. Cognitive development refers to the way your little one learns to remember, imagine, think, develop judgment and solve problems.
Newborns interact with their surroundings through reflexive behavior and follow their instincts to get what they need: food and attention. As they grow, they engage the world around them with their senses and goal-directed behaviors.
The question is how can you help fast track your child’s cognitive development? Babies are curious active learners, who learn mostly through exploratory play experiences, particularly back-and-forth interactions. For instance, a game of peek-a-boo can help your child learn that when mom disappears, she comes back too. Moreover, your baby learns the meanings of the words “Hi” and “Bye”.
Here are some other simple activities that can amp up your baby’s brainpower during the first year:
1. Read To Your Baby
Hearing sentences aloud helps build a rich network of words in your child’s brain. Children whose parents read to them more often have shown to know more words than kids who haven’t been read to.
Recite nursery rhymes and repeat the same songs over and over again—repetition is one of the best ways your baby learns. Moreover, reading books with attractive colors and images also helps introduce concepts of letters, numbers, shapes, and colors.
2. Tell Your Little One about Your Day
Engage your baby in conversation from the very beginning and make sure to maintain lots of eye contact and hand gestures. Narrate the day to your little one as it goes by, “I’m now going to wash your hands and feet,” “The water is warm isn’t it?” “Let’s dry you up with a towel.” Talking to your baby not only promotes language development but it also stimulates your child’s brain and helps them connect words with actions and emotions.
When describing a big red truck in your child’s book, say, “The truck is sooo big” while lifting up your hands in the air. Eventually, your baby will learn to lift their arms up in imitation.
3. Baby in the Mirror
Place an unbreakable mirror in front of your baby and point to their body parts—nose, eyes, mouths and arms. Move the mirror away and ask, “Where did Sarah go?” Move the mirror back in front and say, “There’s Sarah!” Hide-and-seek games build on your baby’s sense of body awareness.
4. Sound It Out
Gather toys that make noises. Tap, shake or jingle each one for your little one and let them explore it with their hands. Your baby not only learns cause of effect of playing with particular toys to hear pleasant sounds, but it’ll also enhance their fine muscle development.
Furthermore, an infant daycare center is a great way to expose your child to a sensory environment that improves their cognitive development.
The teachers at the Whole Child Development Center in Lenexa, Kansas, understand the importance of a nurturing environment and engage infants in activities that stimulate their early brain development. Schedule a tour or get in touch with them here!