You can pass on the expensive educational toys. And forget the custom apps. You don’t need them to boost your baby’s creativity, because she already comes equipped with everything she needs to be creative—her natural instincts and you. “Parents are the most important things in a baby’s environment. Nothing is more effective for stimulating creativity than playtime with a parent,” says Mona Delahooke, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist.
Engaging your baby creatively builds a solid foundation for her future growth and brain development. The key? Tapping into her senses, which is an important part of how infants learn. When babies have multiple opportunities to explore through their senses, they view exploration as fun and that helps them become even more creative later on.
Try these simple ways to boost your baby’s creativity.
Play her way
Letting her reactions dictate activities during playtime is one smart way to boost baby’s creativity. If she’s smiling, cooing or giggling, give her more of what she’s enjoying. “When babies are having fun, they are most in that window of creativity and learning,” explains Delahooke. But don’t overdo it: Your little one needs a rest if she turns her head away or starts wrinkling her forehead.
Think multisensory nursery
Try engaging all of baby’s senses by decorating differently. Forget traditional pastels. Babies can’t see color until they’re between 4 and 6 months old. Choose black and white stripes or patterns with light and dark contrasting colors. Research shows that a baby’s brain gets strong visual signals from black and white contrasts—and those signals boost brain power. You can encourage touch, too, by incorporating silky and soft, furry textures.
“The best toy for a baby is the human face.” Delahooke says. You can engage your newborn in playful face time by imitating and exaggerating her facial expressions. Just make sure you’re close enough. Infants can only see a distance of 8-10 inches. If baby turns her eyes away or arches her back during play, it’s an indication that she’s overstimulated and needs a break.
Experiment with music
You may cringe at the sound of your singing voice, but it really is music to baby’s ears. To boost your baby’s creativity, sing her favorite tunes and change up the pitch and tone to see how she reacts to the surprise. Most babies like classical music, but if yours doesn’t, offer up something that you enjoy. Always let baby’s positive reactions lead you, if she raises her head or turns her eyes toward you that means she likes your choice.
Schedule exploration time
“All parents are busy, but time is the greatest gift you can give your baby if you want creativity to develop,” affirms Delahooke. Set aside one hour per day, when baby is quiet and alert, to participate in exploration time with her. Gather objects with different textures, colors, and sounds and then let her choose what looks intriguing. By following your little one’s curiosity and natural interests, you’ll help her creativity and imagination soar.