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Infants » Learning Songs and Games

Games Babies Play

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Hi, I am Dr. Susan Turben and welcome to our site featuring developmental information about how babies, toddlers and preschoolers learn. This information is not only free, but high quality good information on child and family development! We don't just talk...we do home visits! Let’s go visit real families raising their children. Tourney, a 2 month-old baby girl and her mom are our first visit.

Learning begins at home. Parents are the best teachers. Establish a feeding and eating schedule. Tourney’s mom encourages her to look for sounds, to see bright objects. Dr. Susan says, remember to laugh, to smile and talk. Even unborn and brand-new babies control their bodies using reflexes from head to foot, from the trunk of the body to the arms and legs as they exercise all by themselves! Tourney’s mom does repetitive actions over and over and over again, because it feels good. Tourney is comfortable and feels secure in her environment. She rarely cries.  Isn’t her mom lucky. Crying is the way infants communicate. Crying at any level should not be ignored. Pick up a crying baby, move her around, change positions, clean up and feed, knowing that every cry has meaning and should be tended to.

We are off to Matthew's house. He uses his mouth and eyes, ears, fingers and toes and mouth to pay attention to objects. People qualify as objects too! Matthew repeatedly looks at his outstretched hand while he is expanding his chest. He breathes deeply, concentrating eye and hand movements, stretching, wiggling, reaching, staring, sucking, crying and making sounds. When he uses his body parts in different positions, he is actually teaching himself to remember faces, smells, and objects. Babies are born ready to learn, so teach them! Start from the beginning to exercise your baby's mental muscles as well as those physical ones, even during a diaper change.

Matthew’s mother puts her face close to his, whispering, splubbering, giggling, but most of all using words and talking. Matthew takes turns listening and talking through social play with his mom.

Matthew’s mother repeats all the sounds he makes like squeaking, shrieking, crying, gulping, hiccupping, or hissing. When adults and infants take turns vocalizing, babies feel calm and social; yes, social! Babies learn to enjoy the company of other people.

When Matthew was born his father commented to a nurse that,  “I thought babies just laid around cried and got fed, I can’t really believe they think!” The truth is actually the opposite: infant thought and mental development is expressed by actions, even before birth. Yes, babies literally double their brain size in the first three years of life! Babies have highly organized sensory areas of the brain, enriched by direct experiences through touch, smell, sound, and sight. "Babies sense warmth or hunger, express their thoughts through actions and cries and when they are uncomfortable babies stare at or look away, frown or smile, and respond differently to shapes and light.”

Creating Positive Experience With Babies

At home or at childcare settings, there are many easy ways to encourage positive behavior in young babies. It’s a fact that infants like to roam and explore. They definitely do not like to sit and do what they’re told. So parents need to set up toys and materials and equipment that are clean safe and interesting, toys that vary in shape and size. Arrange to turn older babies loose in a specific area of a room where untouchables and unsafe objects have been removed. Arrange pieces of equipment away from corners or sharp edges. Give your baby freedom and do not over protect them. Let him do the work. Never do for a baby what he can do for himself. Babies will figure out how to use push toys. Toddlers need to have a measure of control over their own actions. Use low sets of open shelves for infants, which contain lots of clean objects so that the creepers and crawlers can choose their own play toys. Babies who have these positive experiences are resourceful and happy and less irritable.

Most of us cannot do this job without support and help. Your community has the resources to help you make that job easier. All cities have educational, social, health human services, preschools, nursery schools, church schools, head start, parent education programs, mental health centers, well baby clinics, associations for education of young children, public library’s, community colleges, counseling services, domestic relations court, cooperative extensions services, home health care services and information and referral hotlines. Contact your child’s librarian for resources that you might need.


I am Doctor Susan Turben take care of yourself and take care of your children.

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