Creative ways to enrich your baby’s world

Babies learn in a variety of ways.  Research shows that those who grow up in stimulating environments learn more easily and become more well-rounded individuals. This blog aims to share ideas that will help you train up your child in ways that will develop a strong sense of self esteem, teach him/her to love others, spark creativity, express feelings, develop listening and understanding, encourage responding, and more.

Napping at Galveston Beach
Napping on Galveston Beach

Spend time outdoors. An NC State University study found that proximity to, views of, and daily exposure to natural outdoor settings increases children’s ability to focus and enhances cognitive abilities. Expose your baby to daily walks, naps at the beach, and some some fresh air.

Observe the brightly-colored flowers. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, outdoor time improves eyesight. More time spent outdoors is related to reduced rates of nearsightedness, also known as myopia, in children. 

Talk to baby in a second language. Learn simple phrases and repeat them to baby. For example, greet baby each morning with “Buenos días,” (Good morning) or “Te amo,” (I love you).

Cover a small blanket with “noisy toys” such as empty plastic bottles. Allow baby to crawl over the blanket. As he crawls over and crushes one of the plastic bottles watch for a reaction to to the noise. Respond with “surprised” smiles and laughter. This activity helps develop listening and understanding.

IMG_20150706_172642Blow up several balloons in bright colors. Allow baby to crawl, touch, bump, and watch them float in the air.

Babies love bubbles
Babies love bubbles

Blow bubbles. No, not spit bubbles, the ones from a bottle. Blow them close enough so baby can see them float through the air

Turn on the music.  Babies will respond to music they’ve heard in the womb.  Allow your baby to listen to a variety of great music. Zydeco is lively and fun. Classical is soothing. Feel free to mix it up. Just be careful that it’s not too loud though!

Experience new friends of various cultures.  Join parent groups with a diverse membership that represents individuals from of a variety of races and cultures. As we all know, racism is learned. Combat prejudice by sharing diverse opportunities and friendships made with people who look different than you and your baby.

Play dress up. Tie a colorful scarf around your head. Put on a pair of over sized sunglasses. Pop on a red nose or a pair of gigantic ears. Allow baby to touch, explore, and even remove the items.

Paper plate tambourine
Paper plate tambourine

Play with bells, maracas, and other musical instruments. A simple tambourine made with paper plates and bells becomes a great musical toys for you to tap and chant for baby to enjoy. For more noise, make tambourine with aluminum pie pans. Sit on  the floor facing baby. As you tap the tambourine or shake the maracas, say “Shake, shake, shake,” or “Shh, shh, shh.” The repetition helps baby respond to sound and rhythm.

Make giant blocks from a variety of covered boxes. Re-purpose your old cereal and shoe boxes by covering them with solid colored wrapping paper.  Stack them and allow baby to knock them down. Careful don’t let them fall on baby’s head.

Talk with exaggerated movements.  Open your mouth wide , stick out your tougue, move your head from side to side, and smile to encourage positive reactions such as smiling, babbling, and wriggling.

Say, “Please” and “Thank you.”  Good manners are learned at home.

Clap your hands. Clapping games help develop baby’s concentration. Try syllable clapping by clapping out each syllable as you say baby’s name or short phrases such as “Hell-o – to – you.”

Cover your face with sheer fabric (like a small curtain sheer). Make sure that the fabric is sheer enough to see through so you don’t frighten baby. Allow baby to pull the fabric off. When he does, say, “Hello _____________,” (baby’s name) or “Mommy loves _______________” (baby’s name). Young babies have poor vision, but they learn to recognize their parent’s faces very quickly. This game instills confidence and bonding.

Stroke her hair or face. Babies love soft touches that reinforce gentleness and your love for them.

Sleep in a tent. A tent with a window is a fun way to play “Peek a boo” with older babies.

Wild and wacky family time
Wild and wacky family time

Involve baby in family activities. Try not to confine baby to a play pen or crib during family time. Last Easter, the cousins included Duke in the Easter egg hunt and even cracked a confetti egg over his head.

Play Peek-a-boo. Cover your eyes. Then uncover them and say, “Peek a boo.”

Play with mud.  Buy some clean, disease and bug free free soil and allow baby to feel the contrast between dry soil and wet, muddy soil.

Make some Texas clay shapes. Here in Houston, Texas, we have beautiful red clay soil that we can dig up and make clay balls for baby to touch and hold.

Stick out your tongue. Blink your eyes. Turn your head from side to side. Wriggle your nose. Pull your ears. Contact with you and watching your face is an important first step towards learning to talk.

Laugh. Babies love to laugh. Reinforce that behavior. Be silly. Laugh along for no reason.

Sing to baby.  How about, “Jesus loves you, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves you. Yes, Jesus loves you. Yes, Jesus loves you. The Bible tells me so.”

let it shine! Line the bottom of a flat box with shiny, reflective paper. Aluminum foil works well.  Fill the box with an assortment of brightly colored objects. Allow baby to explore and play.

Cover an unbreakable mirror with strips of duct tape in contrasting colors. Babies recognize patterns made from objects that have sharp contrasts. Use black/white or blue/yellow tape and create a pattern of colorful strips.

Make a paper plate puppet.  Use a white paper plate or cardboard and use a black marker to draw a face. Glue on a chopstick or pencil for a handle. Hold the puppet about 8″-10″ from baby’s face. Talk to your baby. Move the puppet slowly from side to side. Move slowly enough so that baby’s eyes can follow. If baby reaches for the puppet, guide her hand to it and allow her to touch it. This game helps baby recognize facial movement.

Hold her close. Let him hear your heartbeat.

Breathe on the mirror and create a steamy fog cover. Guide baby’s finger through the mist. This helps baby learn to use his fingers and create imprints.

Buy some houseplants. Studies show that green plants reduce stress. If you don’t have a green thumb, here is yet another reason to spends lots of time outside.  Grassy areas or vistas with green plants and trees and greener views show significant results in reducredreducing stress in high-stressed children.

Exercise together. Facilitate developing movements with simple exercises. Lay baby on his back. Help him twist left, twist, right, and roll over. Exercise his legs. Help her stand up and sit down. While she is laying on her back, bend her knees. Or, gently push his knees towards his chest.

Massage baby’s shoulders, hands, legs, neck, and back.  Enhance the experience with soothing music. Remember, the sense of touch is very important to babies. Introduce healthy, positive touches.

20150422_124823

Go to the beach. Let baby twinkle his toes in the water. Take a nap in the ocean air.

Make “pat mats” for baby to explore different textures . Fill Ziploc bags with different items such as brightly-colored paint, cotton balls, sand, or fruit slices. These “pat mats” encourage the use of baby’s arms and help her develop her muscles and control her hands and arms which will be useful as she learns to write.

Let baby climb in the laundry basket. A floppy, plastic laundry basket is a great place for baby to crawl and explore as you load the washing machine.

Watch TV together.

Read. Read. Read. This activity increases sensitivity to word sounds and the sound of your voice encourages bonding.

Give your baby a board book and let him explore the colorful words and pictures.

Pray for your baby everyday. Speak God’s Word over your baby.  Allow baby to hear you speak scriptures and positive affirmations from the Bible.

Begin and end each day with a kiss.

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