7 Ways to Make Your Child Smarter
Increase your kid’s brain power — no expensive toys needed!
From birth, your child is a sensory sponge, taking in the world with the five senses of vision, hearing smell, touch and taste. And the quality of these experiences has a deep effect on the development of a baby’s brain. But while you may feel obligated to constantly entertain your child, or buy complicated toys that seemingly guarantee rich sensory experiences, experts say that simple, thoughtful, consistent interaction is all a child needs to develop his senses and mind.
Joshua Sparrow, M.D. a psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School and co-author, with parenting authority T. Berry Brazelton, of Touchpoint—Birth to 3, recommends that parents help their child discover the world through his senses “ not by necessarily doing a whole lot but by following their lead. [With a] 4-month old who is looking to reach, you might move the object a little closer to them when they look like they’re going to give up.” You can also go easy on buying electronic toys with a lot of bells and whistles (and expensive price tags to boot). Experts say this kind of toy tends to be one-way interactive, with the toy “talking” at the child.
Instead, take advantage of natural opportunities to sharpen your child’s senses and brain:
Go for a walk. For many moms, walks are a great way to soothe a baby and a gentle way to get in shape after delivery. But they’re also an excellent opportunity to help your child engage her senses. For instance, if you stop to smell the roses on your stroll, your baby will not only understand that flower’s scent, but can touch the petals (look for thorns!), see the pretty colors and hear your description of what you’re doing.
Do the laundry. It may be monotonous for you, but for your child, the laundry is a sensory adventure. “A toddler helping fold laundry fresh from the dryer is using her senses to process information, and we help them understand that information when we talk about the experiences. ‘Aren’t these towels warm? Don’t your PJs smell good? Feel how soft this sweater is!’” suggests Jeff Johnson, founder of the Iowa-based Explorations Early Learning, LLC and author of Babies In The Rain: Promoting Play, Exploration, and Discovery with Infants and Toddlers.