There are a lot of options out there when it comes to helping your baby’s development along, including piping Mozart to your child in the womb or teaching her to sign shortly after she’s born. But you’re still giving your baby a great start just by providing her with the building blocks she’ll need to learn to read.
Just about all the important things that modern science suggests when it comes to helping your baby’s brain development have been practiced by parents for millennia. Now as ever, these steps are important:
Sing to your baby. Babies and toddlers love rhyme almost as much as they love the soothing sound of your voice.
Talk to your baby. Even when your baby is tiny, talk to her as if she already understands what you’re saying. Use gestures, body language, and tone of voice to keep her attention and dramatize your message.
Imitate your baby. When she makes those first experimental sounds, make them back to her. Your baby will feel how important she is to you and get excited by the effort of language.
Play “where’s the?” games. Ask your baby, “Where’s your toes?” “Find” her toes and touch them, then switch the playing field to her fingers or nose.
Touch your baby. Whenever possible, hold your baby in your lap and cuddle her while you talk or sing to her. Even when she’s much older, she’ll still associate the warmth and coziness of this early experience with language.
Start out with books. Even as early as six weeks of age, you can start introducing books to your baby. Pick bright, tactile books with clear pictures of things your baby might recognize, like puppies or cribs. Sturdy books they can touch or pet are ideal; look for classic “touch-and-feel” titles like Baby Animal Kisses or Pat the Bunny. The classic fabric “Quiet Book,” with its embroideries, braids, buckles, and buttons, is an unbeatable way to interest a slightly older baby. Cuddle your baby in your lap and read for short periods of time, so it never becomes arduous for either you or her.