Smart And Smiling!

Parents today are bombarded with countless gadgets and gizmos, all promising to boost their baby's brain power. But early education doesn’t need to cost the earth, as your budding Einstein is already equipped with his greatest learning tool -- you.

laughing baby

10

Make eye contact

Take advantage of those precious moments when your newborn's eyes are open -- by looking right into them. Babies love to look at faces, and from as little as 15 hours after birth your baby will be able to distinguish your face from a stranger's. Studies have also shown that from two days old babies, can imitate simple facial movements. So sticking out your tongue or forming your mouth into an "O" of surprise will help teach your baby early problem-solving skills.

2Sing your heart out

Even if you feel you are tone deaf, your baby loves to hear your voice. Singing your favourite songs, verses and rhymes is an enjoyable way to improve your baby's verbal development. Research has even suggested that listening to or making music at a young age may positively impact on your child's mathematic ability in later life.

3Find the fun in your routines

Endless nappy changes may seem dull, but they are the perfect opportunity to teach your baby about his body parts and clothing. Announcing, "I am going to lift your legs up now" just before doing so will teach him about cause and effect. And as you carry your baby from room to room, place his hand on a cool window, a soft cushion, or any other safe object that you happen to pass. Encouraging him to explore his world will help him to develop his natural curiosity and allow him to gather new information through touch.

4Surprise and delight

Making your baby laugh is the first step towards developing his sense of humour. Playing games such as "peek-a-boo" or ticking and blowing softly on his skin from the toes up will teach your baby to anticipate events. Best of all, laughing out loud produces the "happy hormone" serotonin, which will help to regulate his mood and improve his general sense of well-being.

5Make the most of mealtimes

When weaning your baby onto solids, serve foods which vary in colour and texture. Ripe bananas, slices of avocado and sticks of roast butternut squash are all ideal finger foods which will encourage your baby to explore his senses and develop his motor skills.

6Tell a story

Research has shown that children who are read to from an early age have larger vocabularies at two years of age than children who are not. As well as developing your baby's language skills, reading to your baby will help him to feel loved and secure as you lavish him with your undivided attentionn.

7Use touch

Massage is an easy and effective way to interact with your baby, and it has fantastic health benefits for both of you. Studies have shown that baby massage can reduce crying, improve sleep and weight gain, reduce pain from teething, colic and wind, and strengthen respiratory and immune systems. You will also benefit from the enhanced bonding experience and reduced stress levels.

8Take a break

Set aside some time each day to relax with your baby. Lie down on the floor and let him climb, roll and crawl all over you. Not only will it improve his co-ordination and problem-solving skills, it will also give you the chance to recharge your batteries. No loud music, flashing lights or noisy games -- just you and your baby enjoying a peaceful moment together.

More baby development

Explore the science of brain development and language acquisition during crucial early years.

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