Strong and varied relationships
Your relationship with your baby is the foundation for their learning. If your baby feels secure, healthy and loved they will feel free to explore their surroundings and engage with their environment. They will also feel safe to interact with family and friends, increasing their exposure to different tones of voice, body language, faces and vocabulary.
Stimulation creates special connections in your baby’s brain called neural pathways. These allow your baby to build their understanding of the world and to better control their interactions with it. You can help stimulate your baby’s brain development by:
- talking, cooing and singing to them
- reading books with bright pictures
- spending time outdoors in the backyard or in parks
- providing different textures – sand, grass, water
- playing with toys that have diverse parts, movements, shapes and sounds.
Talk to your infant like you would anyone else. Ask questions and pause to let them respond. They will learn when they should respond before they actually can – and eventually they will be able to respond through facial expressions, body language, sign language and sounds.
Numeracy, literacy, writing and drawing
With your help, your infant can lay the groundwork for all of these important life skills.
- Numeracy – you don’t need whiz-bang toys to help your baby start to understand numbers. Simply use household items, pieces of fruit, toys – anything at hand to help your baby make the connection between objects and numbers of objects.
- Literacy– although your baby is probably too young to develop a deep understanding of literacy, helping to develop their speech is a good first step. Read picture and word books and play with the first letters of the words – practice the sounds they make and emphasise how your lips move.
- Writing and drawing – older babies will have developed some of the fine motor skills required to paint or draw. Their strokes and scribblings are essential in learning to write within the next few years, and important for their expression too. You can help your baby to make the connection between the objects they see and the objects they draw by making your own sketches with them.
Remember that every child learns and develops at a different rate. However if you do have concerns about your baby’s development, you should raise these with your child health nurse or speak to a medical specialist.