It is an established fact that brain development is fastest during the infancy period, up to three years old. Yes, it’s true — babies are intelligent already!
Studies show that a healthy baby is born with 100 billion neurons (twice more than in an adult brain!) at only half the size. It means your child is prepped to learn and soak up a lot of information at birth!
You may think that your baby is too young to appreciate such kind of interaction, but studies show that the earlier you provide teaching opportunities, the better. Take language as an example. We don't confuse babies when we expose them to two languages. In fact, a bilingual toddler learns words faster. And the average Filipino household is already a bilingual nest, given that the parents know of at least two languages, writes Anna Rhea Manuel, a children’s book author with a degree in Language Education, in her article for SmartParenting.com.ph.
How else can you boost your baby's brain? Through play, of course! Here are a few games you can play to fire up your baby's brain:
1. Name body parts with a song.
Singing is a fun way to remember things. Your baby will find it easier to learn the parts of the body if you make up a song while pointing to these parts. It’s no wonder the nursery rhyme My Toes, My Knees, My Shoulders, My Head is so easy to remember! This exercise not only builds your child’s recognition and hand-eye coordination skills, but it’s also a good way to utilize music and rhyme.
2. Push and pull a ball or toy on wheels.
This brain booster game will help develop your baby’s strength and balance, laying the groundwork for gross motor skills. Using a lightweight ball or any toy with wheel, simply push the toy and count one to three. Then, show your baby how it’s done, and encourage him to try it himself. When he has learned how to push, teach him pulling next. As your child grows bigger and stronger, you can try bigger push-pull toys.
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3. Mirror mom’s or dad’s expression.
Several studies in the past have shown that babies a few weeks old are capable of imitating facial expressions. While some later studies refute that, your baby’s mimicking skills will become more voluntary as he grows. Try exaggerating your facial expressions and ask your child to mirror it. Stimulating vision will help make visual connections in your child’s brain, studies suggest.
Did you know that cuddling offers many benefits to your baby? Babies need to be touched to stimulate brain connections. The brain then releases hormones that allow the child to grow physically. In this game, you simply need to gather your child’s stuffed toy. Pick one to cuddle, and let him pick one, too. Then swap toys and cuddle these, too. Finally, hold and cuddle your child and tell him to teach you how he wants to be cuddled.
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5. Doodle with crayons
For older babies, try this: Give your child a crayon and ask him to draw a continuous line on a piece of paper. Observe his drawing and point out the different shapes he may have created with his doodle. Ask him to color or encircle them. Coloring trains eye-hand coordination as well as observations skills. Finger and hand movements have positive effects on the brain. And what child wouldn’t enjoy doodling away with a crayon?
Go ahead and try these! Babies may be small, but never underestimate their brain power—they soak up so much more information than we can imagine.