What You Can Do to Encourage Your Baby’s Thinking Skills from 0 to 12 Months
- Offer interesting objects to explore—fabrics of various textures, a ball of sticky masking tape, a wooden spoon and a metal one, smooth balls and bumpy balls.
- Respond to her efforts to communicate. Use words to describe what she is experiencing: I see you looking at that ball on the shelf. Let me get that for you.
- Delight in your child's discoveries. You found your hands! Look what they can do. You can use them to reach that red ball.
- Provide the help your child needs to solve problems, such as showing your baby how to get the lid off the container so she can reach the blocks inside. Give her a chance, though, to see if she can do it by herself first.
- Play disappearing and reappearing games. Play peek-a-boo. Make a simple game of hiding objects to find. This helps develop your child’s memory and teaches him about object permanence.
- Encourage your child to explore objects and toys in different ways. Touching, banging, shaking, and rolling help children learn about how things work. Talk with your child about what he is doing. You got the truck to move by pulling the string!
- Provide support for reaching goals. Watch your baby carefully. See what she is trying to make happen and help her solve the problem. If she is trying to roll over to reach an interesting object, encourage her to go as far as she can and then bring it close enough that she can get it and explore it.
- Model problem-solving. Take the top off the container and take the blocks out. Then put them back in and let her have a try. Young children learn a lot through imitation.
- Take “touching” walks. On your walks together, hold your baby’s hands up to a bumpy tree trunk. Crinkle a leaf and let her listen. Give her a flower petal to touch, or run her hand over tickly grass. Stop and listen together to the cars going by. Talk about what you are seeing and doing.
- Make the most of daily routines. Let your baby help drop clothing into the washing machine. Hand her groceries she can put on the conveyer belt. Sing a song about body parts as you change her diaper. These routine activities are not-so-routine for your growing baby, as she learns how things work and begins to imitate the activities of the people she loves.
- Give your child some everyday “toys”. See how a wooden spoon and a whisk make very different sounds when tapped on a pot lid. Pull a scarf through a cardboard paper towel tube to make the scarf appear and disappear. Let your child feel the difference between the brush used on her hair, and the spiny teeth of the comb. Activities like this give your child the chance to discover the properties and functions of objects, an important part of problem-solving
Share Your Activities With Us
The most important thing about the activities you do with your baby is that they’re fun for both of you. But sometimes these activities can also help babies learn new things. Are there any games or songs that your baby loves, and that also help him build on his growing thinking skills? Please share them with us! We’d love to post a few of our visitors’ ideas on this site.