Babies are curious, intelligent creatures with the ability to learn and discover new things at lightning speed. While you might think it’s challenging to keep them busy with one or two activities, you’ll be blown away by how many great ways there are to engage your baby & promote sensory and overall brain development.
All of these activities will help your child develop into an intelligent human being later in life! Here are fifteen great ways to do that will improve their brain & sensory development.
0-3 months old
This is a great way to help them relax and catch some naps. Simply massage their belly in slow, circular motions. You can make it more fun by saying “tickles” when you are moving your hands; this will encourage them to chuckle and make it more exciting. Also, you can use a baby massage oil or lotion and gently massage their limbs in the same way.
You can also try to play the music you know they like and see if they have a soft spot for it more when you are massaging them. Massaging the baby helps to improve their sensory development and sense of security.
Lullabies are a great way to help your baby get ready for sleep. However, they are also a great way to help increase their emotional development. By singing to your baby, you show them that they are important enough to spend time with them & this will help them feel secure, which is essential for their self-esteem as they get older.
Simply choose a few lullabies that your baby seems to like (twinkle twinkle, baba black ship etc) , and sing them to your baby while they are in their cot or crib. You can make it more fun by adding a twist to the song.
Simply incorporating some of your own words or by changing the words to the song is enough. This will help increase their vocabulary and encourage them to babble more, which is an early sign of language development.
Snuggling The Baby
While snuggling may seem behind the curve developmentally, it’s certainly a major league to increase your baby’s emotional and social development. Try and find ways to snuggle your baby that are not uncomfortable. Simply snuggle them close while they are in their cot or crib.
You’ll notice they increase their trust in you, which is an essential part of their development. It also shows that you care about them, which will help develop their self-esteem because It decreases any separation anxiety you and your baby might have, which is very common for some babies.
Smelling New Things
As the old saw goes, “smell is the most powerful sense, ” which is especially true for babies. You can use this to your advantage by encouraging your baby to explore new smells or scents.
For example, when you see them smelling something, say, yes, that’s the smell of a banana-banana.
This will help to reinforce the scent of banana along with the fruit itself and will basically make up for their overall cognitive development. You can also try to give them a small number of fruit samples such as an apple slice or something they don’t recognize and see if they are interested in trying out the scent.
Making funny faces
You probably remember making funny faces when you were a baby. It’s something that we all did from time to time without thinking about it. However, when you make funny faces to your baby to create a more interactive scene. Simply make a funny face that will crack them up then encourage them to make funny faces back to you.
This will help improve their social development and encourage them to read emotions, which is necessary for emotional development.
3-6 months old
Pointing Out Colors
You’ve probably noticed that your baby seems to be obsessed with pointing at random things everyday. They seem to be head over heel in love to point at everything from the walls to your face. It’s genuinely an exciting part of their development, and you can grab this chance to help them learn about colors! It’s a plain sailing task, simply when you see them pointing at something, say, “yes, that’s the red shirt.”
This is a fun & flawless way to teach them that colors are a great beginning of a lifelong love of colors.
If you haven’t already, you can try clapping your hands to see if they give way to it. Perhaps when watching a Tv show, you can Say “good job” or “well done” as both of you clap.
The goal here is to improve their fine motor skills as well as social skills. You can make it more fun by saying “let’s clap our hands together”; that way, it’s more interactive and exciting for them.
Although babies at this age are still too young to talk if they make a sound, they’re likely getting ready to try. Most occasionally they will say something like “mama or papa”. If you hear your baby say”mama” or “dada”, say “yes, that’s right, that’s a mama!” This will help bolster their verbal communication skills. Also, try to pay attention to the noises they make when they are unwell or hungry.
This will help you to recognize their well being & will also help you when they need something.
Exploring Different Textures
You can use a variety of different textured items to explore together. We want to help the baby increase their curiosity, which is an integral part of their development. You can use plastic balls, rubber balls, soft cloth, and various other items.
Start by holding them in front of your baby to show them what they are, then let them have a feel. Again, this alone can increase their tactile awareness, which is also essential for their development. While using these items, you can try out funny faces and say “peek a boo” but the whole point is to make it a fun experience for the baby’s learning process.
Playing With Bubbles
You can’t get any more hale & hearty sensory activity than blowing bubbles! Not only are bubbles entertaining, but they are also a great way to improve your child’s motor skills and even their overall brain development.
Start with helping your baby blow bubbles by showing them how to use the bubble wand. Then, if they seem interested, encourage them to grab the wand and try to blow a bubble. After they’ve had a go, it’s time for them to blow more giant bubbles, which is more jollity!
You can help increase your baby’s physical and cognitive development by swinging them around. For example, Swing them in the air from a low to a high position or swing them circularly.
Be careful not to overdo it as over-swinging could be dangerous and lead to dizziness or head injury. Some babies may enjoy it, but it may not be the most suitable activity.
Reading Baby Books
Books are a great way to encourage your baby’s cognitive (language development, creativity, imagination) and social development. You can choose appropriate books for your baby’s developmental level and read them out to them daily.
This will help increase their vocabulary and encourage them to babble more, which is an early sign of language development. Also, try to choose books with bright colors and lots of images. This will encourage their visual development.
Stacking cups are a great way to improve your baby’s sensory development and problem skills. Start by showing them how to stack a few small cups on top of each other, then once they seem interested, encourage them to try to stack more smaller cups on top of each other.
You can make it more fun by saying “put on top” or “stack” when encouraging them to stack cups. This will help improve their cognitive development and encourage them to talk about what they are doing.
Bouncing A Ball
You can engage the baby in bouncing a ball to help improve their gross motor skills, attention span, social skills, and cognitive development. In practice, bouncing a ball increases their brain activity which subsequently releases endorphins, which will help improve their mood.
Simply bounce the ball at the same speed, height and rhythm as you would if you were bouncing a basketball. Then encourage them to repeat the same.
Another great way to help increase your baby’s cognitive development is through rhyme time. Rhyme time is the process of making up funny rhymes that you sing to your baby.
For example, papa, banana, dodo, cocoa. Choose the rhymes that you think the baby will have babbling. Add more words to the rhyme list as they get older and watch their vocabulary advance.
Peekaboo is a fun game you can play with your baby. Simply lay your baby on the floor in front of you and then hide behind a chair or large block of wood. You can then say “peekaboo” and then slowly move away from the baby, which will encourage them to watch you. Alternatively, you can do the same but say “boo” and then move towards the baby, encouraging them to make funny faces or burst into laughter.
This will help to increase their attention span, social skills, memory, and problem solving skills which are all integral parts of their development.
Sorting Out Items
Sorting out items is a great way to help build your baby’s cognitive skills and encourage social and motor skills. Start by giving them different coloured items such as baby toys, balls toys, and blocks of varying shapes, sizes and textures.
You can then place the items in different ways to encourage them to sort them by color, size, shape or texture. Add in some vocabulary by saying “this is red”, “this is blue”, and finally “this is yellow”. If done correctly it will help increase their cognitive skills while simultaneously helping to encourage their social development. If they seem confused, you can help them sort the items.
Although coloring may not be the most appropriate activity for your baby at this age, it is undoubtedly a great way to encourage their cognitive development while also encouraging motor and social skills. Choose a few different colour pencils and have your baby try to hold the pencil.
You can then encourage them to copy the colours you have painted by asking them, “can you paint like this?” “can you paint like that?” or “how can I paint like this?”. The goal is to encourage them to use their sense of sight & to build their creativity.
You can also help increase your baby’s cognitive development by being involved in flashcard activities. For example, you can make flashcards with different words on them and then hold them up for your baby to see. You can then ask them to say the words, which will help them to increase their vocabulary and literacy skills.
You can also try making some flashcards to teach them colors and animals.If you have time, you can also make flashcards with shapes on them and then ask your baby to identify the shapes. This will speed up their awareness long before they join kindergarten.
Toss & Catch Game
This one is a walk in the park, simply toss a rubber ball back and forth with your baby. Don’t worry about how far apart you are or if they can really catch it, just toss the ball back and forth. You can make it more fun by saying “catch” or “throw” when you toss the ball.
This will encourage your baby to understand basic instructions, talk and be more of a well rounded social being. If you are on the fence about the idea of throwing each other the ball, you can throw the ball into a bucket instead. Try to get your baby to throw the ball into the bucket, then see how far both of you can get the ball in the basket
Being involved in your baby’s daily life and encouraging their development is one of the most important things you can do to help them reach their full potential, both cognitively and socially. As you can see, there are many activities you can use to help the child’s development.
Don’t feel pressured to do everything at once. Try to identify which activities your baby enjoys most and focus on those. Happy parenting!