May 24th, 2010
You’re probably well aware that learning starts before your baby is even born. But did you know that there are many things you can do to help nurse and nurture your baby’s educational development? We’ve collected 100 things you can do to make your baby as smart as it can be.
Teach your baby how to eat food with the help of these tips.
- Introduce a sippy cup: As soon as your baby can grasp objects with both hands, try using a sippy cup.
- Eat the food yourself: When your baby is exploring an unfamiliar food, take a bite of the food yourself and show how much you enjoy it.
- Start a handwashing ritual: Wash your hands, and your baby’s along with them to start a healthy habit.
- Encourage imitation: Put a spoon or fork in your baby’s hand and encourage him to copy you.
- Buy unbreakable items: Put your baby’s food on a special plate that can be dropped and played with.
- Let your baby try solids as early as you think she’s ready: Your child may be ready for solids earlier than 6 months.
- Use baby utensils: Give your child forks and spoons made especially for toddler hands.
- Keep feeding times short: Don’t overwhelm your baby with lots of food on her plate.
- Let your child choose his own food: Place food pieces on his plate, and let him pick and choose.
- Be patient: Understand that finishing a meal will take longer when your child is feeding herself.
- Avoid pressure: Don’t force feed food or you could create unhealthy attitudes about eating.
- Spear the food first: Help your child use a fork by spearing food for him first.
- Be ready for a mess: Your child will definitely be making a mess-stock up on plastic mats and large bibs.
- Don’t be surprised by erratic feeding: Your baby may eat solids frequently, or skip them for a while.
Reading & Language
These tips will help you develop an early love of reading, language, and understanding.
- Read to your baby from birth: Pick out a picture book and talk about the pictures.
- Show that books are important: Make your child excited about books by reading to him frequently.
- Use flash cards: Flash words for about 30 seconds, and put them away several times each day.
- Move quickly: Show flash cards for a word about 15 times and then move on, but be sure to review.
- Start early: Start introducing words and letters as soon as your baby can interact with you.
- Speak in “parentese”: Use a higher-pitched, friendly, and exaggerated tone of voice to make your words longer and clearer than normal adult speech.
- Use props and posters: Teach your child letters by repeatedly showing your child items with that letter.
- Describe your baby’s senses: Talk about what your baby is looking at, touching, smelling, and listening to.
- Listen to music: Sing and dance along to music for fun and learning.
- Use many of the same words over and over: Help your baby in the “fast mapping” stage by using the same words frequently.
- Make your speech sow and distinct: Have talks with your little one, and emphasize important words by moving your mouth and tongue slowly and distinctly.
- Ask questions: Younger babies can answer questions by looking.
- Talk to your baby: Speak clearly and look at your baby while you speak, and tell him what you’re doing as you are doing it.
- Repeat speech patterns back: When your baby vocalizes, repeat it back to them, even babbling, to show you heard what they said and understand.
- Praise their accomplishments: Smile and talk joyfully when your baby makes progress in speech.
Use these tips to make playtime learning time.
- Make your child aware of toys: Make sure your baby can see a toy if you want him to play with it.
- Encourage independent play: Leave your child alone with some of her favorite toys for a short period of time, and peek in periodically to give a sense of security.
- Describe toys: Describe toys when you introduce your baby to them.
- Get creative with toys: Pot covers can be just as fun as store bought toys.
- Practice imitation: Show your baby how to play with yours, and encourage her to imitate what you’re doing.
- Use a confined space: If you’re baby can’t sit on his own yet, line a laundry basket with a towel or blanket and put some toys in it.
These tips will help you develop your baby’s motor skills.
- Place your baby stomach down on the floor: Use tummy time to encourage head control development.
- Use puzzles: Get your baby started with jigsaw puzzles.
- Play hide and seek: Peek a boo and other hide and seek games can teach your baby motor skills and hand movements.
- Dangle eye-catching objects over your baby: Give your baby the opportunity to swipe at objects above him.
- Get baby-sized Lego blocks: Teach your baby to fit pieces together with the help of large Lego blocks.
- Use blocks: Play a game of blocks to learn about stacking, arranging, letters, spelling, and colors.
- Place toys within reach: Let your baby grasp at toys while laying on the floor.
- Play with peg and hole toys: These toys can teach shapes, hand/eye coordination, and motor skills.
- Hide and seek: Letting items disappear and reappear in your hand will show your baby that our of sight things can still exist.
- Give your baby lots of space: Encourage rolling over by giving your baby plenty of space to practice.
- Play ball: Sit on the floor and roll your ball back and forth between you.
: Put a mirror or large picture in front of your baby to get her to look up.
Teach your baby colors with the help of these tips.
- Play catch with different colored balls: As you roll or throw balls to your infant, call out the colors of the balls you’re using.
- Stick to one color each week: Pick a color and introduce it to your baby for a whole week.
- Watch cars: Watch cars go by and say the color each time.
- Use cloths in different colors: Teach colors and words with plain color cloths.
- Call out colors in picture books: When you’re reading picture books, say the color of the things you see.
- Gather objects of one color: Put items of all one color in a shoe box and show your baby those items.
- Say the color of grocery items: At the grocery store hold items in front of your baby and say the color.
Take these tips, and encourage your baby to walk.
- Don’t push your child to walk too early: Your baby’s legs may not be ready to support her, so don’t push your baby too early.
- Be sure the floor is not slippery: Your baby may find it difficult to balance on a slippery floor.
- Babyproof: Before teaching your baby to walk, check out your home for sharp corners, ledges, and stairs.
- Make sure there’s furniture for support: Be sure that your child has furniture to hold onto for support.
- Line chairs against a wall: Put a toy at the end of a line of chairs to encourage your baby to hold onto chairs and reach a toy.
- Stay close: Your child will probably only walk one or two steps before looking for support, so be close.
- Pull your baby up into a standing position: When your baby starts crawling, pull her up to the next step of standing.
- Blow bubbles: Give your child something fun to chase by gently blowing bubbles.
- Hold hands: Hold your baby’s hand as it learns balance.
- Avoid shoes inside: Have your child go barefoot to improve balance and coordination.
- Position elbows: Gently draw elbows towards your baby’s body to encourage crawling.
- Give them support: When your child starts to stand on their own, give them support until they are ready to go on their own.
- Put new toys in slightly high places: Motivate a curious baby with toys in places that are out of reach unless standing.
- Stand or kneel with your hands out: Get in front of your child and encourage him to walk to wards you.
- Scoot down the stairs: Teach your baby to scoot down the stairs by showing her how to go feet first.
- Use a hula hoop: Hold a hula hook and guide your baby to step or crawl through it.
- Avoid using a walker: Walkers can be dangerous and cause injuries.
- Use toys that teach pushing and pulling: Give your child toys for pushing and pulling, which encourages walking.
- Encourage exercise: Help your baby develop coordination and balance with physical games and toys.
- Show your baby how to bend knees: Teach your baby how to bend its knees so your baby can sit down without toppling over.
These tips help teach the all-important concept of sharing.
- Offer a bite of your meal: Give your child a bite of your meal and explain that you’re sharing.
- Let your child hide his favorites: Before friends come over, allow your child to pick a few of his most favorite toys that he doesn’t have to share.
- Explain sharing goes two ways: Tell your baby that sharing means you can play with other babies’ toys too, if you share yours as well.
- Take unshared toys away: If your baby won’t share a toy, take it away-no one will play with it.
- Let kids teach your child: Your baby’s friends will let him know how unhappy they are that she’s not sharing.
- Teach bartering: Start a trade process to exchange toys.
- Reinforce “proto-sharing”: Even if your child just shows an object without letting go, praise this big step towards sharing.
- Thank your child for sharing: Encourage good behavior by thanking your child when he shares.
- Say thank you: When your child gives something to you, smile and say thank you, then give it back to her.
- Suggest handing toys over: Suggest to your child that he should pass his toy to a friend.
Explore sign language with your baby using these tips.
- Add new signs quickly: Add new signs, especially visible items.
- Use repetition: Use signs and the word together a few times in a row to reinforce it.
- Make use of picture books: Point out items in picture books while signing.
- Use flash cards: Make flash cards with a sign on one side and the word on the other side.
- Make sign language a part of play: Use playtime to “pretend” emotions and share their signs.
- Make a commitment: Make a firm commitment to stick with sign language so you don’t stop if results don’t happen immediately.
- Use every opportunity to model signs: When your baby wants to get our of the high chair, do the “out” sign, or use the “up” sign when your baby wants to be picked up.
- Believe in it: Believe in what you are doing, and don’t give credit to naysayers.
- Help your baby model the signs: Take your baby’s hands and guide them to do the sign.
- Start with essentials: Start out by teaching your baby essential signs like Mommy, Daddy, milk, and eat.
- Use signs in everyday life: Make signs a part of everyday interaction with your baby.
You can teach your baby to swim using these ideas.
- Make sure your baby can grasp the wall: Give your baby the security of knowing the wall is there, and can be used for safety.
- Don’t use floaties: Floaties provide a false sense of security and can encourage a counterproductive upright position in the water.
- Start slowly: Get started by just getting a little pool water on your baby.
- Show her how to kick her legs: Pull your baby through the water while moving her legs in a kicking motion and verbally telling her to kick.
- Keep lessons short: Control for the natural fatigue with short, frequent lessons.