If you're a typical new mom or dad, you're probably anxious to give your little bundle of joy every opportunity to reach his or her full potential. Your child may even be a future genius. So what can you do to help your baby along? According to experts, the best way to give your child their best chance for success is to first give them lots of loving attention. "Human interaction is probably the most important way (to help babies learn)," says Andrea McCoy, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Parents are often tempted to buy lots of educational toys, but the following one-on-one games are also excellent ways to help infants reach their developmental milestones:
Here's Looking At You "Babies want faces and voices," says Dr. McCoy, so spend time with them looking at their reflection in a non-breakable mirror. Playfully point out their nose, ears, eyes, and mouth to help develop facial recognition.
Sing to Me ! Snuggle with your little one and sing simple nursery rhymes, or let them listen to your favorite songs. Dr. McCoy is a big believer in music, any type of music. Songs help infants develop their sense of rhythm.
Tummy Time "Back to Sleep" is an important slogan to remember, but do not forget about the second part of the phrase, "Tummy to Play." When babies are awake, let them play on their stomachs (under your watchful eye). They may look like they're just squirming, but they'll actually be exercising their neck muscles, shoulders, and upper arms, says Dr. McCoy. This in turn helps them learn to crawl.
While the latest learning toys are nice, nothing beats time spent with your child to help give them a smart start.