How Infants Learn

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For the first few months, it might not seem like your infant does much besides eat, sleep, poop, and occasionally make adorable cooing sounds. But even though there’s not much action happening on the outside, her brain is taking all kinds of new information on the inside.

Despite what it might look like, your baby is aware of all the activity buzzing around her, especially when it involves you. And watching their surroundings is an important part of how infants learn. “Babies see something they want to emulate and they focus on it,” says Van Koinis, D.O., pediatrician in Evergreen Park, Illinois.

You can boost your baby’s ability to absorb her surroundings even more by showing interest and excitement over the things that catch her attention. That means being positive and energetic, like describing what you’re doing or pointing out something interesting in a happy, lively voice. Here’s more ways to interact with your baby to enhance how she learns.

Make visual connections

Bright, colorful toys will make your baby smile, but they do more than just entertain. Seeing and manipulating objects that are stimulating to her senses (like a musical mobile) will help hone your baby’s ability to focus (and eventually perfect her hand-eye coordination). You can use her developing visual recognition as a chance to for interactive play: Introduce a toy with exciting functions, like a rattle that shakes and plays music. Sit close to your baby as you show her what the toy does, then pass it to her so she can make the connection for herself.

Say yes to baby talk

Your baby is too young to understand what words mean, but by six months, she’s already in the early stages of learning language. You can help increase her language absorption and ability to learn the sounds of consonants and vowels with sing-song language or baby talk, since the positive, energetic tones are more stimulating to her.

Trial and error

Babies are a determined bunch, and when it comes to mastering new motor skills, they keep trying until they succeed—no matter how many times it takes. You’ll want to protect her from bumps and bruises, but as long as she’s in a safe spot, it’s best to give your baby some room to figure things out on her own. Let her keep practicing trying to roll over, and give her encouragement by setting a desirable object just out of reach (a favorite toy always works, but babies seem to love cell phones, too!). She’ll be determined to scooch, roll, and reach for it—all of which will strengthen her thinking and problem-solving skills, self-esteem, and muscle development.

Your baby’s brain is like a sponge. Here’s how infants learn and what you can do to give yourself an extra boost.

By Nicole Pelletiere

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