Baby Brain Boosters*
Yes, we’re grateful for healthy, happy babies. But don’t we all want our kids to be brilliant too? As it turns out, parents and grandparents have a hand in making this happen, and not just in the genes we pass along. Here are some wonderful tips to enrich your grandchildren’s lives…
WHEN YOU’RE OUT AND ABOUT…
Play tour guide!
Narrating your day helps baby pair words with what he’s seeing, says Kathy Gruhn, a speech-language pathologist and author of My Baby Compass. Speak slowly, simply, and in that higher-pitched “child-directed speech” that slips out naturally.
Help him take it all in.
If you’re on a walk and hear a dog, ask your baby, “Dog. Bark. Ruff! Ruff!” Do this every time you encounter a barking dog and your child will probably start answering with the sound (Ruff! Ruff!) says Gruhn. Eventually he’ll refine his response to “dog”. Try a similar approach to teach him about physical sensations. If it starts drizzling while you’re out, before you run for cover, let him experience the mist on his face. He won’t melt. Say, “Feel the rain? Rain. Wet.” Then cover the stroller and hustle home.
Be polite and engage in smiling
Smiling and waving to the man bagging your groceries not only teaches baby cause and effect (he smiles and waves back). It also helps develop baby’s social IQ. “Children watch you for cues on how to interpret a situation,” says Claire Lerner, director of Parenting Resources for Zero to Three.
Keep some things constant
Babies’ brains process new information most efficiently when they’re in familiar surroundings. Then, the brain can go into autopilot and take in only the new details. Try variations on common themes. For instance, go for a walk everyday at the same time but switch up your route.
AT SNACK TIME…
Initiate a two-way conversation
Giving your child a chance to respond- even with a smile- is important. “What a child gets from that is, wow what I have to say is important.”
Hands on, hands off
Show baby how a toy works, then back off. “When you see your child struggling, resist the urge to fix the situation,” says Mendel Klein, a pediatric occupational therapist in New York City and father of a preschooler. “Eventually, he’ll figure out that the cup is smaller than the pot. He’ll also learn that, with effort, he can also solve problems.”
*Article reprinted (and edited) from: www.babytalk.com, September 2011, pages 43-48.