Boosting baby brain development

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Have you been playing Mozart in the general direction of your womb 24/7? Do you own stacks of educational DVDs and computer games? Try these simple tricks to help boost your baby’s IQ instead.

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  1. Eat fish during pregnancy. No, you probably shouldn’t be chowing down on sushi during those nine months (although most of it is considered safe, there is still a risk factor associated with raw meat and seafood), but feel free to load up your plate with salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids found in certain types of fish, as well as plant foods such as walnuts or flaxseeds, are thought to help foster brain development. You can also add ground flaxseed to homemade baby food when the child arrives. It’s virtually tasteless and disappears into any puree.

  1. Let your baby move around. Learning doesn’t just happen while sitting down with a book. Baby’s need to crawl, touch and taste things in order to understand them. The tactile world provides valuable brain stimulation and makes a big difference in their overall development. Try to limit how much time your baby spends in car seats, strollers or anything that restricts movement.

  1. Talk to them (a lot). Human brains are wired to seek out patterns—it’s how we learn language in the first place. In other words, the more you talk to your baby, even about repetitive topics, the faster they’ll pick up language. Try simply narrating your day. It might feel strange at first talking to someone who can’t talk back, but you’ll expose them to all sorts of new vocabulary words. Varying the tone of your voice will help them learn. Just steer clear of “baby talk.” You don’t want your toddler spewing out phrases like “Does my widdle fwend wanna cupcake?” Their kindergarten teachers won’t think it’s cute.

  1. Remember that there’s no substitute for face time. Making silly faces at babies isn’t just fun; it’s actually a valuable learning technique. Infants learn a whole lot just by experiencing daily human interaction. They start recognizing their parent’s facial expressions in the first three to four months. By seven months, most can already pick up emotions on strangers’ or animals’ faces as well. This is an essential part of learning how to interact and communicate with other humans.

  1. Make home a safe, comforting space. Babies are a lot like adults; when they’re stressed out, they don’t learn very well. They can also register the emotions around them, even if they may not fully comprehend them. In other words, if you’ve been having a particularly rough day or a rather heated argument about whose turn it is to change that dirty diaper, try not to show it in front of your child. Lots of skin-to-skin contact also helps establish a bond between parent and child, making your baby feel more secure.

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  1. Play games instead of watching the tube. Sure, there are loads of television programs out there that market themselves as being child-friendly or educational. Unfortunately, the general medical consensus at the moment is that most of them don’t do a whole lot of good. Even if your kids are watching Sesame Street instead of Nickelodeon, they’re mostly passively absorbing entertainment rather than actively processing information. Pull out the puzzles, physical toys and age-appropriate problem-solving games instead. Not only will your baby or toddler have to think on their own, they’ll also gain valuable tactile experience.

Read to your kids. This one is said so often that it’s almost an old cliché, but it’s incredibly important. Reading to your children provides important bonding time and is far more interactive than watching a movie. Start with simple books with lots of colorful pictures when they’re young, then graduate to more complex stories as they get older. You’ll foster a love of reading that they’ll hopefully carry the rest of their lives.

Photo Credit: charlywkarl via Compfight cc

ExpectingExpats.com

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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