Intellectual Development

For Infants

Environment & the Brain

The number of connections in an infant's developing brain can be increased by a stimulating environment

Stimulate Infant Brain Development

  1. Keep it simple and natural- everyday experiences, such as changing a diaper or giving a bath, build the pathways between neurons when combined with cuddling, talking, or singing to the baby. Experts urge parents to give children an environment rich with positive interaction and talking.

  • Make eye contact. Take advantage of those brief moments when your newborn's eyes are open, and look right into them. Infants recognize faces early on -- and yours is the most important! Each time he stares at you, he's building his memory.

  • Stick out your tongue. Studies show that newborns as young as 2 days old can imitate simple facial movements -- it's a sign of very early problem solving.

  • Let him reflect. Have your baby stare at himself in the mirror. At first, he may think he's just eyeing another cute kid, but he'll love making the "other" baby wave his arms and smile.

2. Match experiences to the child's mental abilities- babies need physical experiences. This is how they learn. It is important to provide experiences at their level of understanding. For example, a safe interactive toy can help infants learn. However, flashcards are too advanced for a three-month-old.

  • Water games
  • Play with toys
  • Crawl through things
  • Peek-a-Boo

3. Practice makes perfect- The more repetition, the stronger the connections between neurons become. Establish routines with the baby so the baby learns what to expect. Include reading a bedtime story, even when the baby cannot read. An infant will learn that sitting down with you and a book is important.

  • tracking eating and sleeping habits and adjusting to the same time everyday.
  • not always spot on everyday
  • repeat everything

4. Actively involve the baby- provide experiences in which the child takes part. Children of all ages learn best by doing.

  • play outside with them
  • playing with different people
  • bring them places with you

5. Provide variety, but avoid overload- some parents try to expose their baby to as many different experiences as possible to enhance brain development. Babies do benefit from a variety of experiences, but too many can overwhelm them.

  • paint
  • picnic
  • listen to music
  • talk to animals-play in nature

6. Avoid pushing the child- Children learn better if they are interested in what hey are doing. Look for clues as to whether the child shows interest in the activity. If not, do not pursue it.