“The best predictor of smart children is smart parents,” said Anatoly Belilovsky, a New York-based paediatrician.
Humans are capable of accomplishing remarkable feats of imagination, creativity and innovation. These achievements would be impossible without learning. As our environment become more dynamic and complex, parents play important roles in their children’s learning opportunities. According to Belilovsky, “Parents should not trust development to intelligence-building toys and tapes.” As parents, you should be the filter in determining what and when your children should learn, and from whom.
Babies are born with 100 billion neurones that pass information between each other via synaptic connections in their brains—smarter people have more connections. Studies show that the prime time to develop these synaptic connections is in the early years of a person’s life. Therefore, parents should start boosting their child’s cognitive prowess from infancy; exposing your child to a rich environment filled with colours, sounds, smells, movements and touches will promote the development of synaptic connections.
Here are some infant-appropriate activities to help you kick-start your own baby brain training program.
- Show your baby that they can place their trust on you by picking them up and holding them lovingly. This trust-building exercise will teach your baby how to build trust with others in the future.
- Teach different facial expressions to your baby by cradling them in your arms so that they can look at you. Look your baby in the eyes, softly speak or sing their name and make different facial expressions. This exercise will provide a left-right brain stimulation for your baby.
- Peek-a-boo is more than just a game. It teaches your baby the concept of continuity by showing them that what goes away can come back.
- Teach your baby to hold things by showing them a small toy and graze it on the inside of their hand. This will trigger their fingers to close around it. Repeat when they drop it while speaking to them encouragingly.
- Since you cannot converse with your baby in the ‘traditional’ way, bond with your baby by giving them infant massages. It also helps improve your baby’s immune functions, muscle development and production of growth hormones.
- Help improve your baby’s memory by showing them a toy and then place it out of their sight. If they look for it, give the toy to them. Encourage this behaviour by giving them a hug.
- Rolling over can be difficult for some babies. Help your baby by sitting behind their head when they are lying on their back. Hold a toy above their face and move it away and towards the side; make sure that your baby is following the toy. When they try to turn over to see or reach it, help them along.
- Improve your baby’s motor skills by moving their legs in a cycling motion while talking and smiling encouragingly at them. Encourage them to move their legs around without help.