13. Sing those nursery rhyme songs you remember. When you can, add body motions and finger play (like waving your arms during “You Are My Sunshine” or miming rain falling during “Rain, Rain, Go Away”). This helps your baby connect sounds with large and small motor actions. Songs also enhance your child’s learning of rhythms, rhymes, and language patterns.
Book Pick: We Love to Sing Along! With this cheerful padded board book, you and your child can sing along to four classic songs: “You Are My Sunshine,” “The More We Get Together,” “Rain, Rain, Go Away,” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
14. Match your tempo to your child’s temperament. Some children adjust easily to strange situations — some are bold and impulsive, and some are quite shy. Go with the flow as you try to increase a shy child’s courage and comfort level, or help a highly active child safely use her fantastic energy while learning impulse control. Your acceptance will give her the comfort she needs to experiment and learn freely.
Book Pick: I Love You Because You’re You Whether a youngster is feeling bashful or bold, playful or sad, a mother’s love knows no bounds in this warm book about children’s different temperaments and moods.
15. Make meals positive. Say the names of foods out loud as your baby eats. Express pleasure as he learns to feed himself, no matter how messy the initial attempts may be. This will create pleasant associations with mealtime and eating. Battles and nagging about food, on the other hand, can lead to negative brain patterns.
Book Pick: My Very First Book of Food Keep mealtimes positive by showing your child that animals love munching on food, too! In this split-page board book, children can match each animal — from a lion to a squirrel — with the delicious food it eats, such as milk or nuts.
16. Provide clear responses to your baby’s actions. A young, developing brain learns to make sense of the world if you respond to your child’s behavior in predictable, reassuring, and appropriate ways. Be as consistent as possible.
Book Pick: Baby Faces: Hugs & Kisses Also, show your baby an array of expressions through books! Babies are intrigued by other babies, and this photo collection of giggling, yawning, laughing, and smiling babies will capture their attention as they learn about normal emotional responses.
17. Use positive discipline. Create clear consequences without frightening or causing shame to your child. If your toddler acts inappropriately, such as by hitting another child, get down to her eye level, use a low, serious tone of voice, and clearly restate the rule. Keep rules simple, consistent, and reasonable for your child’s age. Expecting a toddling baby not to touch a glass vase on a coffee table is unreasonable, but asking a toddler not to throw sand outside of the sandbox is reasonable.
Activity Pick: Good Citizenship Flash Cards These illustrated cards take a positive, friendly approach to teaching your child that we are all part of a larger community, and that certain responsibilities come with that — from never calling someone names to recycling.