What you can do After Birth
Now that your baby is finally here, you should enjoy interacting with her as much as possible.
Talk, read and sing to your baby. Hug, cuddle and kiss her. Spend time playing with her, following her lead once she is old enough to show you what interests her. Enjoy this special time when your child is small - it will pass by all too quickly!
Besides the essentials above, there's plenty more you can do to engage your baby's brain. Auditory and tactile stimulation remain important, as they were in the womb. You can also help your baby develop his motor skills - as well as teach your baby to read before he starts school!
Play music (see previous page for suitable genres) around the house. You might also consider playing foreign language CDs from time to time. Your baby will absorb the sounds of a second language subconsciously, helping her to accurately hear and pronounce that language when she's older.
Talk and sing to your baby as much as you can. When talking, ask questions and avoid baby talk.
Read a large variety of books to your baby, pointing to every syllable of every word as you read.
Use infant stimulation cards in highly contrasting colors. The development of a newborn's eyes - the structures of the retina that perceive color - haven't matured enough to perceive the values and intensities of red, blue, pink, yellow, purple and green. Black and white are the easiest for babies to perceive and interest in these starkly contrasting colors will pave the way for your baby's brain development. Show your baby these cards one at a time, allowing her eyes to adjust to the different patterns on each card. Click here to download free infant stimulation cards.
Decorate your child's immediate surroundings with images which will stimulate her. Now that you know the secret to infant visual stimulation, feel free to create your own infant stimulation tools such as black and white crib sheets, posters, and even infant mobiles!
Regularly massage your baby.
Allow your baby to explore objects with different textures - rough and smooth, hard and soft - and temperatures.
Your baby's physical and intellectual development are inseparable. Crawling, for example, can improve your baby's vision, which in turn could affect how easily he learns to read and write.
Encourage mobility by placing your baby on her tummy at regular intervals. When she's older, give her the freedom to crawl and walk around; don't hem her inside a restricted area such as a playpen, or do so as infrequently as possible.
Rock and swing your baby to improve his vestibular (balance) system. Turn your baby upside down - he'll love it!
Diet and feeding
Mom, do your best to breastfeed - exclusively for the first 6 months, and with breast milk as your baby's primary source of nutrition up to the age of one. Breastfeeding moms should eat a healthy, varied diet that includes plenty of fish. This will ensure that the baby's milk is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote brain development. For vegetarians, another excellent source of omega-3 is flax seed (also known as linseed).
When introducing solids, expose your baby to a variety of foods as early as possible. Include fresh vegetables and fruit, fish, meat and whole grains. Dairy products should be full-fat up to age two.
Reading and math
You can begin teaching your baby reading and math from as early as 4 months. With consistent practice, many children taught as babies can effortlessly recognize words and perform instant math calculations before kindergarten age.
Avoid putting pressure on your child. Learning should always be a joyful experience.
Prioritize play - babies and children can't learn without it. Make sure your child has plenty of toys that stimulate her to explore and be creative. Take time out on a regular basis to play with your child.