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With competition growing tougher by the day, parents need to be focused on raising smart kids… right from birth! Brain power is a very essential skill for your child to have, as it dictates everything else in his life, including how fast he learns things, his memory, his relationships with other people, and his future career. And guess what, it is never too early to get serious about your child’s overall growth and development.
We have brought you some scientifically proven ways to boost the cognitive development of your baby. These are simple things you and your family members can do at home to make your baby’s brain sharp and strong!
1. Naps for Memory
What you have to do: Put your baby down for a nap just after teaching her something new. This could be anything from teaching her to play with a new toy, showing her how to roll over, or practising a simple hand movement. Doing this will actually help her remember it better as sleeping helps her little brain absorb the new learning and imbibe it. In fact, this has also been shown to help babies develop a stronger memory over time.
Why this works: As per a recent study published in the National Academy of Sciences journal, babies who slept remembered things much better than those who didn’t. The study involved showing some babies the working of a device built of a puppet, a mitten, and a bell. Then, the babies were divided into two groups. One group was allowed to sleep, while the other was not. And the group that slept showed a remarkable ability to remember the details!
Now you might think that maybe the babies who were not allowed to sleep were just tired and hence couldn’t remember. But the authors of the study actually have reason to believe that the actual act of sleeping played a role in the babies remembering the device mechanism. Please note that this does not work if the sleep is disturbed, or if the baby is uncomfortable while sleeping. It is very important to choose the correct bedding for a comfortable snooze and ensure that your little one is relaxed.
2. Language for Problem Solving
What you have to do: Around the age of 11-months, which is the average age at which babies start talking, start conversing with the baby in more than one language. If you and your husband speak different Indian languages, you can put them both to use. English and your mother tongue are also good options to use together. Don’t worry that this will confuse your baby; babies are very smart and quick learners!
Why this works: The reason is simple. Languages help develop the executive function of the brain – or the brain’s central control room – and this deals primarily with the brain’s problem solving capacity! It is also linked to learning abilities and memory. Check out the amazing findings of a study conducted by the University of Washington in Seattle: they suggest that babies growing in multilingual households grow up to become people with far greater problem-solving skills! The study showed that the executive function was much better developed in babies who grew up in bilingual households.
Did you know that most Alzheimer’s patients showing early symptoms are asked to learn new languages and solve puzzles to keep their brain from deteriorating? Our guess is – this is probably also why Indian children are so smart! The average Indian knows at least 2 languages, and some know upto 5 or more even!
3. Exercise for Vocabulary
What you have to do: Very simple! Depending on your baby’s age, just make sure he gets some exercise every day! For young babies, rolling over, practising hand movements and muscle stretching exercises work very well. If your little one can now crawl and be mobile, guide him along to move his hands and legs and take baby steps to exercise.
Why this works: This trick has been proved to work without doubt. Several studies have indicated that exercising on a regular basis will definitely help your child build his vocabulary better. This is mainly because physical activity improves blood circulation and your little one is fresher and more alert. This is why picking up newer words is 20% faster after you’ve just had a run, or spent some time on the field. Apart from this, there are a lot of other reasons too, to indulge in regular physical activity with your child. Exercising helps fight most common infections and health ailments, makes the muscles and bones strong, and also ensures emotional well-being.
Watch what exercises you can do to help your baby’s brain development below:
4. Music for Pattern Recognition and Speech
What you have to do: You just have to ensure that your child spends some time being exposed to music every day. A great way to do this is to invest in a few music-CDs for kids and play them to your child every once in a while. You can also encourage your baby to play with musical toys that make sounds when moved. And yes, that lullaby you sing to him at bed time is also excellent for brain power!
Why this works: Speech and language have a certain pattern. And music is also a collection of sounds made with periodicity. This is why being exposed to music helps develop better speech and communication skills in the baby. A study was recently carried out by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. This was carried out in two groups: one group of babies was given music classes, where parents sat with the babies and played a simple instrument like a drum, to the particular pattern and beat of a song. The other group of babies was given a similar social exposure and experience – but no music. When the brains of the babies in the music group were scanned, they showed better brain responses as compared to the other group! This clearly suggests that music helps babies get better at recognising patterns. Pattern recognition is a key skill that helps your little one’s brain get sharper.
5. Diapering for Brain’s Emotional Quotient
What you have to do: Emotional quotient is one thing that many parents tend to overlook when it comes to brain development. But surprisingly, one of the activities that you can use to develop emotional quotient of your baby is diapering! While changing your baby’s diaper, simply engage in activities that promote a healthy and positive self-image. Stroke your baby’s hair, plant kisses on their cheeks… you may even blow raspberries on his tummy!
Why this works: Research indicates that the brains of babies who are not cuddled often or enough tend to remain smaller in size than the average brain size corresponding with their age! When you engage in this activity, your baby feels love and secure. This emotional development eventually helps his brain development. It also helps your baby grow up to be a loving, emotionally sound adult.
6. The Right Praise For Quick Learning
What you have to do: This brain boosting trick is completely in your hands. As a parent, you need to build your baby’s brain as well as his heart. And to do this, you need to talk to him and praise him in a positive manner. While it may seem too early to start practicing this with a baby, truth is – the initial conversations you have with your child become integral to their self-dialogue. The things you say to children, become their inner voice.
It is thus never too early to seed your child with positive reinforcements in order to raise truly confident children. So, every day, have positive conversations with your baby and say little things about how good he was at bath-time and how he helped mom change his diapers. As your little one grows up to become a toddler, make sure you use a lot of positive reinforcement for his accomplishments, and not his abilities. For example, if you say to a child ‘You are so smart!’, the child is more like to feel frustrated and discouraged when he is not able to do something. In contrast, if you say to a child ‘You solved that puzzle on your own! Well done!’ the child is more like to be encouraged to take on more activities. The aim should be to place incentive on accomplishing tasks, rather than simply ‘being’ smart or intelligent or confident.
Why this works: Research has proven that kids who are praised for their accomplishments and not their abilities eventually grow up to be smarter and more confident. When you praise children for their abilities, it can in fact serve to demotivate them if they eventually fail to do well at something. This starts right from the time they are little as even babies are known to be very intuitive in figuring out when mom is happy with them.
As science makes more and more progress, we will keep on discovering new things about ourselves and our children. These little tricks are proactive steps that you should take towards the brain development of your baby. In no time, you will see him emerge into a successful person who also has his heart in the right place!