These straightforward, commonplace activities will support your child’s brain development by fostering the development of language, science, arithmetic, and organising skills.
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For infants, learning new things is simple. Simple, commonplace games can help your baby’s brain develop, supporting the formation of language, science, arithmetic, and organisational skills (known as executive functions), as well as social and emotional learning, according to studies and child development specialists.
According to Sarah R. Lytle, Ph.D., director of outreach and education for the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington, babies learn about themselves, others, and their environment as they play. “These natural scientists are babies. They frequently engage in experiments disguised as games. A baby is learning about their world and how it functions every time they drop their spoon over the high chair.
Here’s how to help your little scientist: From birth until age 1, introduce games that promote cognitive development.
List of 10 Brain-Building Games to Play With Baby
Back and forth
Cognitive development in general depends on loving caregiver interactions, which include things like reacting to babies’ coos and screams, staring into their eyes, and making comical faces. You want to observe a parent and child having a genuine back-and-forth conversation during a high-quality contact. According to Lytle, when the baby babbles, the parent reacts as if they are conversing.
Where’s the cup?
Babies start to develop object permanence, or the understanding that something still exists even when it is not visible, between the ages of 4 and 7 months. Your baby can reach this memory milestone with simple activities like moving a cup just out of sight and asking, “Where’s the cup?”
You are not required to bring your infant to spin class. However, exercise, including tummy time, crawling, scooting, practising walking, or parent-child swimming, can promote brain development. Canadian researchers discovered that children from birth to age five who engage in physical activity enhance cognitive development, particularly in terms of executive processes and language abilities.
Why, thank you!
According to Lytle, when your baby delivers you a toy and gives you an expectant gaze, they are starting a game that fosters social and emotional intelligence. Play along by saying “Thank you so much!” and waiting a beat before returning the toy. As long as your baby is still engaged, continue the back-and-forth conversation.
Bust a move
According to Lytle, exposing infants to music fosters the sense of rhythm, which improves mathematical abilities. Encourage this learning by holding your infant while you dance for 5 to 10 minutes to the beat of familiar tunes as early as the newborn stage (of course).
Reading rhymed tales to your child, like “The Cat in the Hat,” aids in the development of phonological awareness, a crucial skill for language and reading, according to Lytle. “Books are a good tool for this as parents typically don’t speak in rhymes. And we frequently go into language ruts and repeat the same phrases. Babies are exposed to words and rhymes in books that you might not ordinarily use.
It seems that looking at faces helps babies’ cognitive and visual development. Within hours of birth, newborns begin to enjoy staring at faces. According to study from Stanford University, babies’ facial recognition abilities are on par with those of adults by the age of four months and are more advanced than other cognitive skills. Babies can practise this crucial skill by playing a simple game where you put your face 10–12 inches from your baby’s face, then switch with another person or even a stuffed animal and wait for your baby to respond.
According to Lytle, the shape-sorting toy you might have gotten at your baby shower is wonderful for fostering spatial awareness and mathematical skills. When infants are a little older, building blocks can aid in fostering further growth. With blocks, she claims, babies investigate their surroundings and truly delve into more complex mathematical ideas like volume, distance, and how structures function.
“Parents occasionally believe that they need to ‘fill their baby’s bucket’ with a lot of words in order to develop language skills,” adds Lytle. But what actually promotes cognitive development is the back-and-forth conversation. Try grinning heartily, squealing, or making an amazed expression in response to your infant’s early coos and first utterances. The funnier the better, as newborns frequently find these reactions to be hilarious and are more eager to continue the interaction.
I got it.
By assisting your child in understanding and processing emotions, playing together can aid your child’s social and emotional development, according to Lytle. “Talking to your child about their feelings is crucial when they become frustrated. A crucial social and emotional idea is scaffolded [or supported] when parents respond, “I understand why that made you sad.”
According to Lytle, the optimal interactions for brain development are those that involve focused, loving caregivers. By turning out their phone and other distractions while playing with their kid, caregivers can make the experience even more beneficial. It’s critical to be fully present and give your child your whole attention in order to develop a high-quality engagement.