What Every Child Needs to Thrive
Studies show that children who grow up in an enriched environment—where they are presented with new experiences that engage their senses—have larger, more active brains than those who grow up without adequate sensory stimulation.
*Provide a variety of toys and other objects.
*Sing the lyrics to your favorite lullabies.
*Play interactive games such as peek-a-boo and pattycake.
*Go on walks and shopping trips together.
*Let your baby meet new people.
Even your simplest daily activities will stimulate your baby's brain development.
It's also important to give your child room to roam. To develop strong muscles, good balance and coordination, babies need plenty of space to crawl, cruise and eventually walk. They'll also benefit from safe spaces where they can explore their surroundings without hearing "no" or "don't touch."
Encourage new challenges
It's important not to frustrate your child with toys and activities that are way beyond his abilities, but a little struggling goes a long way toward self-improvement. When an activity doesn't come easily to your baby, they have to figure out a new way to accomplish the task. That type of problem-solving is the stuff better brains are made of.
Take care of yourself
Parents who are depressed or upset are often unable to respond swiftly and sensitively to their child's needs. One study found that children whose mothers were chronically and clinically depressed had abnormal patterns of brain activity, suggesting that the children also suffered from depression. Seek advice about coping with postpartum depression, and talk with your caregiver any time you think you may be struggling with depression. If you're feeling drained, find ways to divide the household and parenting responsibilities with your partner. If you're a single parent, surround yourself with people who can offer you help and support. And don't forget to treat yourself to some time alone once in a while.
Find good childcare
If you work, a quality childcare provider is essential to your baby's healthy development. You'll want to find someone who can do all the things mentioned above when you're not around. Whether your childcare provider is a nanny, a relative or a daycare worker, she should be experienced, caring and reputable, with love and energy to help your baby thrive.