July 21, 2021
The first few years of your child’s life are critical for their brain development. In fact, during their first three years, your baby will have up to twice as many neural connections as an adult, and their brain will have reached about 80% of its adult volume!
That being said, engaging them in brain stimulating activities early on is important. But don’t fear — you don’t need to spend money on high-tech sensory toys or lots of time brainstorming the most creative activities. Even the simplest play activities will make a world of a difference in your infant’s brain development.
If you’re looking for some simple brain development activities for your infant, here are five of our favorites:
1. Singing Songs
Singing simple songs and nursery rhymes to your baby will help build their emotional and communication skills. It can also help improve concentration skills. Children often end up remembering some of their favorite lullabies and play songs throughout their entire lives.
While singing, try to throw in some body and finger motions that go along with the song. This helps your baby connect sounds and words with various motor actions. For example, twinkle your fingers downwards to represent the rain falling in “Rain, Rain Go Away.”
2. Looking in the Mirror
When your baby looks at themselves in the mirror, they’re making social and emotional connections. At first, they won’t know who is looking back at them, but encouraging them to smile and coo at the mirror will develop their social communication skills.
Eventually, looking in the mirror may lead them to self-discovery. Once they realize that the face in the mirror is their own, it’s a great opportunity to start describing what they might be seeing in the mirror. This helps them to become aware of their body and what it is capable of.
3. Sensory Toys
Sensory toys are made to stimulate one or more of your baby’s senses. Although nowadays there are many great play gyms and fidgets, even the simplest rattles, bells, teethers, and balls can have the same effect. Also, by placing the toys around your baby, you can encourage them to move or crawl towards them.
Sensory stimulation can also be done during mealtime. Yes, you may not like to hear it, but it’s actually a good thing when your baby gets their dinner all over them! It’s a great way for them to enhance brain connections through touch, taste, and smell.
Peekaboo is a classic brain development activity for infants. You might notice that your baby is a little mesmerized by people’s faces. During peekaboo, they’ll love the anticipation and excitement when they are surprised by various facial expressions.
Peekaboo teaches your baby cause and effect, but most importantly it teaches them object permanence. Within just a few months, your baby will know that even though they can’t see you, you’re still there.
5. Infant Massage
Infant massage is a great way to promote your baby’s physical health and emotional development. Use a light, organic oil (e.g. olive oil, avocado oil) to make your hands smooth and gently massage your baby’s arms, legs, feet, chest, tummy, head and back. As you rub, talk to your baby in a soft voice, telling them what you are doing when you are doing it.
When done as part of their daily routine, infant massage can improve your baby’s sleep, motor skill development, growth hormone stimulation, gastrointestinal tract functioning, and attachment. It can also reduce stress — both for your baby and you!
About Play believes that a lifetime of learning begins with play! Give these easy brain development activities a try with your infant, and see what great results they can have. For more help with your infant's brain development, get in touch with our team online or by phone.