A lifelong love of learning starts from the earliest moments. Did you know that by age 3, 80% of an infant’s brain is wired? Building your baby’s brain and helping them develop a love of learning doesn’t have to be complicated. You can stimulate your baby’s brain development with simple sensory activities. The more senses your baby can use to learn about an object, the easier it is for your baby to retain information about it. Here are some simple activities you can try with your baby.
First, get a large block of clay from an art store. You can leave it whole or cut in half. Next, put the clay on a sheet of plastic or canvas and add a bit of water. Then, let your baby explore! You might need to show them it’s ok to touch the clay. While they are exploring the clay, you can talk about what is happening, which will help build their vocabulary. “You are touching the clay, and it’s smooth. What do you think about it? Can you poke the clay?”
Touch and Feel Cloth Strips
Cloth strips can be used to weave in and out of a laundry basket, although you might do most of the weaving and your baby most of the removing! Also, you can use cloth strips for a game of peek-a-boo, to fill and dump from a bucket or as something your baby can hold or chew on. You will find that some babies prefer cotton over satin, or fleece over sherpa.
Babies love to hear your voice and they develop a love of math through rhythm and rhyme. While singing with infants, move your head or body to the rhythm, hold the babies and dance with them, clap your hands, pat your legs, etc.
Bounce and Roll Balls
Small balls, bumpy balls, squishy balls, large balls. Any and all balls provide so many opportunities for learning! Even the youngest babies can watch balls roll or bounce. Babies will hold, drop, lick, throw, bounce, and crawl after balls. Balls provide opportunities for new vocabulary and multiple opportunities to talk about math and science—colors, size, what’s in the ball, why does it bounce, why does it roll, etc. You can describe the balls and ask inquiring questions about them.
Connect with You
Infants want to play with YOU! You have fingers, toes, hair, eyes, etc. Babies want to touch you, hear you and play with you. The best thing you can do with your baby is give them attention. Be on your baby’s level, talk with them all day, sing with your baby, take them outside and let them touch the grass, feel the breeze, hear the birds, smell the fresh scent of rain. It may seem silly when they can’t talk back, but there is lots of learning going on in there!
What are some of your favorite activities to do with your baby?
Written by Dawn Johnson, Day Early Learning Quality Coach.
Dawn provides coaching to Day Early Learning staff members on how to implement best practices in early childhood – from basic child development, to observation and assessment of children, to professionalism. You will see Dawn observing in classrooms and interacting with children, teachers and administrators as a part of her coaching practice. She brings two decades of work as a teacher and coach, with a focus on infant and toddler best practices and family engagement. Dawn holds a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education from Purdue University with an emphasis in special education.