Solutions For Parents

Infants » Newborn Development

Here are the best ideas to encourage older babies and toddlers to develop their potential and show how smart they are!

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Two-to-go: Set up mini-kits (trays are nice because they are easy to see into and around) of two objects, and place them on the floor as locations to go to, always two or more! This is called a "paired response," and allows babies to make decisions and choices, which then clues in their caregivers to what they are thinking. Always offer two objects.

Spaces for faces: Arrange lookout posts for babies and toddlers where they can pull up or stand and look out at interesting spaces.

Location, location, location: Wash, change and rearrange temporary shelving to varying heights, widths and colors and place "toys that teach" on these shelves on the floor. Toys that can be sorted matched (paired), dumped, poured, caught, thrown, or otherwise manipulated so that the location is changed on purpose is the point.

Conversational talk-teach: Learn to use a conversational tone of voice for most play times and learn to sing as an alternative to the spoken word to calm babies and toddlers down. Read stories and tell stories at the same time you feed or at times when babies feed themselves. Babies are simultaneous thinkers and can do two things at once.

Babies have three hands-- two with fingers and one with a tongue: Babies use their mouths as a third hand and develop language skills fast when they get good at this trick.

Follow the pathway of the bouncing ball: Babies love to track objects on the floor according to their exact path, preferring to use detours and discover their directional skills in this way-no direct movement for them! Their eyes and hands are the drivers, directing their legs to get where they are going.

Look and listen: In rooms, in chairs, in beds, in cars, in life, and especially in the arms of caregivers, babies get pleasure from "place holding." "Place holding" means they look at an object, they turn toward another source of interest, and then they return to the original object with renewed interest. Simultaneous looking and listening is easy for babies, and arranging spaces for them to see and hear at the same time is important.

Conduct daily room tours: Babies need to be taken and toddlers need to be guided to make a room tour every day to give them the lay of the land in their rooms. Remind them of their sleeping place, their play place, and their fresh air place. Changes of light, air and temperature are their sensory guideposts to different familiar and unfamiliar spaces, as much as food smells, and body smells are.

Ask Dr. Susan