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Busy Parent's Guide to Smart Babies - Part 3

May 19, 2008
Many leading childhood development experts believe that we all have far greater potential in our early years than society gives us credit for. Waiting until school to begin providing consistent intellectual stimulation to a child is no disaster. But in doing so, we miss a unique window of opportunity for learning.

What can I do after birth?

Above all, now that your baby is finally here, you should enjoy interacting with her as much as possible. Talk, read and sing to your baby. Hug, cuddle and kiss her. Spend time playing with her, following her lead once she is old enough to show you what interests her. Enjoy this special time when your child is small - it will pass by all too quickly!

Besides the essentials above, there's plenty more you can do to engage your baby's brain. Auditory and tactile stimulation remain important, as they were in the womb. You can also help your baby develop his motor skills - and learn to read before he starts school!

Auditory Stimulation

*Play music (see above for suitable genres) around the house. You might also consider playing foreign language CDs from time to time. Your baby will absorb the sounds of a second language subconsciously, helping her to accurately hear and pronounce that language when she's older.
*Talk and sing to your baby as much as you can. When talking, ask questions and avoid baby talk.
*Read a large variety of books to your baby, pointing to every syllable of every word as you read.

Tactile Stimulation

*Regularly massage your baby.

Physical Development

*Your baby's physical and intellectual developments are inseparable. Crawling, for example, can improve your baby's vision, which in turn could affect how easily he learns to read and write.
*Encourage mobility by placing your baby on her tummy at regular intervals. When she's older, give her the freedom to crawl and walk around; don't hem her inside a restricted area such as a playpen, or do so as infrequently as possible.
*Rock and swing your baby to improve his vestibular (balance) system. Turn your baby upside down - he'll love it!

Diet and Feeding

*Do your best to breastfeed - exclusively for the first six months, and with breast milk as your baby's primary source of nutrition up to the age of one. Breastfeeding moms should eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fish.
*When introducing solids, expose your baby to a variety of foods as early as possible. Include plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, as well as fish.

Reading and Math

*You can begin flash card reading and math programs as early as four months. With consistent practice, most babies taught in this way can effortlessly recognize words and perform instant math calculations before kindergarten age.

Joyful Learning

*Avoid putting pressure on your child. Learning should always be a joyful experience.

Playtime

*Prioritize play - babies and children can't learn without it. Make sure your child has plenty of toys that stimulate her to explore and be creative. Take time out on a regular basis to play with your child.
About the Author
Madeleine is the Managing Editor @ Brillbaby.com
Got a question or concern? Email the Editor, who is currently teaching her own baby and blogging about it.
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