Make Learning a Part of Your Baby's Routine
Parents of babies know that having a schedule is essential to keeping infants and toddlers happy and well-adjusted. But sometimes everyday routines can grow stale. If you're feeling challenged to keep your little one engaged and learning while doing the same daily tasks, here are a few suggestions to liven up your baby's day:
Turn bathtime into more than just a dip in the tub. Full of new sensations, your baby's bath is a chance for him to babble and giggle as he splashes his way to clean.
*Sing silly songs and recite water-worthy rhymes such as "Rub-a-dub-dub" to encourage babbling and communication.
*Name body parts as you tweak your little one's nose or count her fingers and toes.
Offer new tastes, textures and colors at mealtime. Whether you're introducing solid foods or trying to get your toddler to eat some veggies, mealtime is more than just an occasion for dining.
*When describing your child's food, use specific words and phrases like "green peas" and "mushy banana" to help build your eager eater's vocabulary.
*While you are preparing the meal, allow your baby to play with ordinary (and safe) kitchen objects such as wooden spoons and plastic containers to help develop his fine motor skills.
Use playtime to explore and discover. Simple activities can help expand your baby's vocabulary and grow her awareness of the world around her.
*Play hide-and-seek games such as peekaboo to help baby realize that people (and objects) exist even when they're out of sight. Games like this can help reassure your little learner that when you leave, you will come back.
*When you are out at the park or taking your baby for a ride in the stroller, engage all of her senses in discovery activities - spot a squirrel, sniff the flowers, listen to the birds and feel the grass. Talk about what you're seeing, smelling, hearing and touching, and give your baby the words to express these sensory delights.
Give your baby a jump start on learning with story time.
*As you read books to your baby, ask him questions about the pictures, such as "Where is the red ball?" Even if your baby is too young to point to the picture, conversing with your little one will help him build language skills.
*Point to the objects in the book as you read. This will help your baby learn the meanings of words.
Remember, your baby is a born learner, so any moment can become a teachable moment - even quiet times spent snuggling. Make the most of this time together!
-Sylvia Barsotti is the Editor of Parenting Content at Highlights for Children. For more thoughts on parenting from Highlights, please visit blog.highlights.com.