5. Foster an early passion for books. Choose books with large and colorful pictures, and share your baby’s delight in pointing at certain images or even making noises that correspond with the book — like glub glub when you see a fish. Modulate the tone of your voice, simplify or elaborate on story lines, and encourage toddlers to talk about books . Remember that building your baby’s receptive language (understanding spoken words) is more important than developing his expressive language (speaking) in infancy.
Book Pick: 1, 2, 3 in the Sea Colorful sea creatures including whales and fish star in this vibrant board book, which features gatefolds and a giant pop-up to show children just how fun reading can be.
6. Build your baby’s love of her own body. Stroke her tummy and hair when reading, playing, or even diapering. Studies have shown that babies who are not often touched have brains that are smaller than normal for their age, and interacting with her close-up also helps direct her attention to your speech.
Book Pick: I Love You Through and Through Make reading time extra cuddly and touchy-feely with this classic book, which features a sweet storyline about unconditional love. Bonus: It comes with a soft, snuggly bear for your baby or toddler to hug!
7. Choose toys that allow babies to explore and interact. Toys such as a windup jack-in-the-box or stackable blocks help your baby learn cause-and-effect relationships and “if-then” reasoning. For instance, if a child stacks too many blocks without straightening them, they fall down. If he successfully stacks blocks on top of each other, he “wires in” that information.
Toy Pick: Activity Blocks Make blocks an even greater learning opportunity for your child with this block puzzle set with 32 blocks. Each has upper case printed letters and punctuation marks, two styles of lower case letters in print and script, along with animal pictures, and mosaic patterns.
8. Respond promptly when your baby cries. Soothe, nurture, cuddle, and reassure her so that you build positive brain circuitry in the limbic area of the brain, which is involved in emotions. Your calm holding and cuddling, and your day-to-day engagement with your baby, signal emotional security to the brain.
Toy Pick: Nursery Verse 11” Goose Musical Soothe ruffled feathers with this adorable, soft plush, which plays “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to help comfort an upset little one.