Is there a trick to raising a smart baby? Today's Parent says yes. And it includes lots of playtime and stories.
If you want your child to be an engaged and enthusiastic learner, help him or her develop through pretend play, especially joyful pretend play. Optimal levels of dopamine in the brain are essential benefits according to child psychotherapist Margot Sunderland, director of the Centre for Child Mental Health in London, England, and author of The Science of Parenting. The way to do that is to have lots of time with eye to eye level play and to using energetic commentary. If your child is smiling and bopping, show enthusiasm with comments such as "Wow! You're jumping so high! Amazing!" If you remain silent, the joyful aspect will not be as evident and levels of dopamine won't be as built up.
Move around with your little one. As Sunderland explains, physical play develops cognitive functioning and helps program the frontal lobes for concentration and attention, and develops new growth in the hippocampus, which is a memory system in the brain. She suggests lap or rocking games and songs like “Roly-Poly,” face-to-face games like peekaboo, hand games like patty cake and flying your little one airplane-style above your head.
Reading to your child from a very young age will help develop a host of skills, including emotional vocabulary and building empathy. Reading together is a great way to bond with your child, reducing aggression and anxiety. When reading together, try labelling the characters’ emotions, which helps kids see things from another person’s perspective. So, if a person or animal in a picture book looks happy, mention it, and then smile at your baby. Take a look at our Meiya & Alvin book!