"The brain is the only unfinished organ at birth" (Schiller, n.d.). While secure, nurturing relationships are the cornerstone of healthy brain development, there are a number of other playful activities that parents can do with their infants as well.
Cause and Effect
Babies learn a lot through their interactions with things in their world. Set up activities that allow your infant to experiment with cause and effect.
This is a wonderful time to expose your infant to a variety of music. Classical, jazz, ethnic, contemporary... make time to play music for your infant. Observe his face as he hear the tunes. You can also dance with him or play along with his favourite rattles.
Read. Read. Read.
I can not over-emphasize the importance of reading to young children. This key component of brain development applies to babies as well! Short, repetitive stories are wonderful for infants. A list of my favourite Board Books can be found HERE.
Allow your infant to interact with books too! Babies learn so much by touching and putting things in their mouths! My favourite books are the "Indestructible Books". The manufacturers claim that these books are "chew proof, tear proof, non-toxic and washable". I also love that the nursery rhyme stories show interesting, worldly "twists" on the rhymes.
Mary Had a Little Lamb takes place in Africa!
Hickory Dickory Dock takes place in London and the clock is none other than Big Ben!
Humpty Dumpty falls off the Great Wall of China!
Old MacDonald Has a Farm takes place on a farm in Bolivia.
Frere Jacques our favourite French baker, dreams of delicious treats in Paris, France.
Hey, Diddle Diddle involves a slick cat from New Orleans who likes to jam on his fiddle!
Rhymes and Songs
Words are a big part of your infant's brain development. Sing to your infant... any simple song will do! You don't even have to be a good singer... your baby doesn't care if you can carry a tune. Simply make eye contact with your baby and belt out those tunes. Simple classics like Mary Had A Little Lamb, The Wheels On The Bus and the Itsy, Witsy Spider will surely delight your infant.
Infants learn about their world through their senses. Expose your infant to a variety of sensory experiences. Set up an environment which is "safe" for them to explore, taste and touch.
What baby doesn't love Peek-A-Boo? You can also cover baby's favourite toy with a piece of fabric or a bowl, then unveil it... now you see it, now you don't!
Talk. Talk. Talk.
Your baby loves you and your voice delights him/her in ways you can't even imagine. You are his world! Talk to your baby frequently.
These are special, precious moments . It is such a privilege to watch our babies learn and grow. I hope you find these activity ideas useful. If you have any other ideas to contribute, please feel free to share.
Schiller, P. (n.d.). Brain research and implications for early childhood programs. Retrieved January 19, 2012 from, http://www.teamcnionline.com/company-login/TrainingExchange/pdf/Ear....
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