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Infants : Smarter Baby
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Baby Toys for a 6-Month-Old


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December 16, 2008


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By the time babies reach the age of 6 months, they are ready to develop skills beyond listening, crying and sleeping. Infant development toys can teach these babies to use basic motor skills, increase communication abilities and improve hand-eye coordination as they learn to balance and touch different objects. Colorful toys with different textures and puzzle games are among the most appropriate toys for a 6-month-old. You’ll need toys that stimulate all the senses and encourage your baby to play for extended periods. Here are a few ideas to add to your 6-month-old’s toy chest.

Colorful Mobile: Mobiles are a must for newborns and infants at every stage of development because they simultaneously provide mental and sensory stimulation. Mobiles made with simple, bold images can help babies to distinguish between different shapes and improve their vision skills. Babies love to watch patterns and colors, so this toy can keep them occupied for a long time.

Caterpillar—Plush or on Wheels:
The classic caterpillar toy is a longtime favorite for toddlers and young children and gives your 6-month-old a chance to play with different noises, buttons and textures. A colorful plush caterpillar designed with Velcro straps and shoelaces will help babies develop important motor skills, while the caterpillar on wheels can help them develop hand-eye coordination and navigation skills as they begin to move on their own.

Water Mat: Water mats are typically filled with gel-like substances, swirling toys, glitter and other objects that may keep your 6-month-old mesmerized for hours. Water mats can help babies distinguish between different shapes and colors while helping them develop their tactual skills as they learn to press and push certain areas of the mat to create different effects.

Bottle Sets: From soda bottles to shampoo and bath collections, a set of different-sized bottles can develop your baby’s matching skills and improve manual dexterity. Give your baby large, smooth bottles so that she can develop her natural grip and become comfortable with holding and carrying objects. Remove the lids and thoroughly clean and rinse the bottles before giving them to your baby.

Plush Picnic Basket and Food Sets: Toys designed to imitate food and other everyday objects can help babies become familiar and comfortable with the world around them, and plush picnic baskets filled with imitation food and picnic supplies are great toys to start with. Your baby can learn to distinguish between different shapes, textures and colors while engaging in creative play.
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Sabah Karimi is an experienced freelance writer who enjoys writing about lifestyle, parenting, and childhood education topics. Sabah runs a web copywriting and marketing consultancy business in Orlando, Florida.


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What to Read to Make a Baby Smart


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December 16, 2008


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It’s no secret that reading to your baby is good for her. Reading early on fosters a love of books and stimulates early language development and the beginnings of speech. Reading time becomes a special bonding experience, and babies enjoy the close time with their parents. But what do you read to make your baby smart? Babies have different needs as they grow.

Birth to 3 Months—Anything Goes: When reading to an infant before the age of 3 months, it doesn’t matter what you read! Read the “Wall Street Journal” or “People” magazine—your baby won’t care. Babies not able to follow the plot or action in a book. They are simply listening to your cadence and the rhythm of your voice and enjoying being close.

Board Books: By 4 months of age, your baby will begin to reach for and grasp objects—including books! Use board books with repetitive language structure and bright, meaningful illustrations and pictures. Babies can feel free to put their hands and mouths on these books.

Nursery Rhymes, Melodies and Repetition:
As babies grow, they become more responsive to the sounds of language. Reading books with interesting rhythms, melodies and repetition and patterned language are just right for them. Babies love familiar words, and books with phrases that repeat will delight them. Babies are also becoming attuned to facial expressions and features and love if you “act out” your stories with voice inflections and expressions. Young babies also love to see objects they encounter in their daily lives—teddy bears, ducks, beds and dogs are all favorites. Nursery rhymes are great starters since they incorporate all of these ideas.

Baby’s Favorites:
As your baby grows, you may find he picks a few favorites. Read them—again and again! Using the same voice each time you read the familiar words will provide the repetition your baby craves. Babies learn from repetition, so while you may be bored, your baby is learning and soaking it all in.

Your Favorites:
Read some of your old favorites. What’s most important at this stage is exposure to books, language, words and the special time that comes from reading together. By the time your baby reaches 12 months of age, she may begin to turn pages for you, point out her favorite objects and pictures and even imitate sounds and expressions you’ve made along the way. What is really important is that you’re reading—not necessarily what you’re reading.
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Lara Alspaugh is a freelance writer living in Michigan. She is a Registered Nurse and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Michigan State University. Her writing has been found in parenting and fitness magazines nationwide and the Internet, addressing health and fitness as well as wellness concerns of families.


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Parent Information for Sending a Baby to Day Care


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December 16, 2008


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Difficulty Rating: Moderately Easy
Introduction
You’ve done your homework, researching and investigating day care centers until you found the right one for your baby. Now comes the hard part: going back to work and leaving her in the hands of someone else. Preparing for the big day can go a long way in relieving the anxiety—yours and your baby’s. And since babies feed off their parents’ emotions, the calmer and more self-assured you are, the happier and less stressed your baby will be.

Things You’ll Need
Well-stocked diaper bag: diapers, change of clothes, extra bottles, diaper rash cream, sunscreen
Baby’s comfort items, like a favorite toy, pacifier or blanket
Parent contact information and an emergency contact

Steps
Step 1
Get your baby used to the day care center. Before you return to work, go to the center with your baby. Show her the facility, the toys and the caregivers. Leave her for an hour, then 2 or 3, gradually increasing your time away.

Step 2
Keep things loud at home. Day care centers are not quiet places; get your baby used to napping with noise by playing music or TV while she sleeps.

Step 3
Make sure your baby’s immunizations are up to date. Day care centers can be breeding grounds for germs and disease.

Step 4
Request a certain caregiver if your baby (or you) seems to have a preference for that person.

Step 5
Give the center a list detailing your baby’s habits and schedule—for example, when she eats or sleeps and what she likes to play with.

Tips
Make your good-bye short and sweet—a quick kiss and hug—and then be out the door, even if your baby cries. Prolonged partings can be stressful for both you and your child.

Warnings
The bigger the day care setting, the greater the chance your baby will get sick. The more kids there are in one place, the more germs there are floating around.
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Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others. Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines. She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her husband and two children.


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The Importance of Nutrition in a Babys Intelligence


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December 16, 2008


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It’s a no-brainer: your baby’s body—from her head to her toes—is fueled by the food you put in it. Give her brain development a head start by offering the kind of healthy foods she needs to get and stay smart.
Facts: In the first few months of life, your baby will subsist on milk, be it breast milk or formula. So giving him the most nutritious milk available is key. If you’re breast-feeding, make sure your diet is rich in proteins (for example, lean meats, milk and eggs), essential fatty acids (like omega-3s, found in salmon and fortified eggs), iron (good sources are meats and iron-fortified cereals) and carbohydrates, like whole grains. If you’re formula-feeding your baby, choose an iron-fortified one. Once he’s on solid foods, look for iron-fortified baby cereals and baby foods with pureed meats, vegetables and fruits. Low-iron diets in kids have been associated with slower learning.
Time Frame: Most of your baby’s brain development takes place in the first 3 years of her life. While good nutrition will be important her whole life, the early years are an especially critical time.
Theories/Speculation: In terms of nutritional value, breast milk is considered optimal to formula. Breast milk naturally contains the essential fatty acids DHA and ARA—important for brain development. In one study published in the “Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Maternal,” children breast-fed for 8 months or longer scored 6 points higher on verbal IQ tests than those who weren’t breast-fed.
Misconceptions: While you may prefer to feed your baby organic baby foods to reduce his exposure to pesticides and chemical additives, be aware that the American Academy of Pediatrics has not found organic baby food to be better for babies than regular baby food.
Resources
http://www.pregnancyandbaby.com: She Knows: Pregnancy and Baby for more information on nutrition and its relationship to intelligence
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov: Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
————

Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others. Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines. She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her husband and two children.


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Important Foods for a Babys Brain Development


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December 16, 2008


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Your baby relies on you for just about everything—including proper nutrition. Since the brain is only a fraction of its size at birth (in fact, its size triples in the first year of life), what you choose to feed your infant can have a huge impact on how her brain grows, develops and works. While your baby’s pediatrician is your best source on nutritional guidelines for a growing infant, here is some food for thought.

List:
Breast Milk: Opt to breast-feed your baby if possible—the longer, the better. Breast milk contains the perfect balance of calories, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Fortified infant formulas are good, but breast is still best. In a study published in the “Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Maternal,” babies who were breast-fed for at least 8 months had verbal IQ scores 6 points higher than nonbreast-fed infants.

Fats: The brain is about 60 percent fat, and the better, higher-quality fats you feed it, the better it will develop. Make sure your baby has a diet rich in fats like DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, found in breast milk, fortified formulas, meat, eggs, soy products and seafood. Your pediatrician can give you information on which fish to avoid, due to mercury content.

Complex Carbohydrates: Your baby’s brain will need energy to get up and running. Feed her complex carbohydrates—which release sugar slowly into the bloodstream—like whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables to keep her brain powered.

Iron: Iron is essential for carrying oxygen to the blood, where it then circulates to all parts of the body, including the brain. While babies are generally born with iron stores that last through the first 6 months of life, they’ll need to get iron from their diets or supplements after that. Iron-fortified baby cereals are a great way to get the nutrient into your baby as you introduce solid foods. Also look for iron in meats, eggs, leafy greens, tuna, salmon and tofu.

————
Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others. Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines. She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her husband and two children.


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How to Prepare a Baby for Day Care


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December 16, 2008


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You’ve done your homework, researching and investigating daycare centers until you found the right one for your baby. Now comes the hard part: going back to work and leaving her in the hands of someone else. Preparing for the big day can go a long way in relieving anxiety—yours and your baby’s. And since babies feed off their parents’ emotions, the calmer and more self-assured you are, the happier and less stressed your baby will be.
Difficulty Rating: Moderately Easy
Things You’ll Need
Well-stocked diaper bag: diapers, change of clothes, extra bottles, diaper rash cream, sunscreen
Baby’s comfort items, like a favorite toy, pacifier or blanket
Parent contact information and an emergency contact

Step 1: Get your baby used to the daycare center. Before you return to work, go to the center with your baby. Show her the facility, the toys and the caregivers. Leave her for an hour, then 2 or 3, gradually increasing your time away.

Step 2: Keep things loud at home. Daycare centers are not quiet places; get your baby used to napping with noise by playing music or TV while she sleeps.

Step 3: Make sure your baby’s immunizations are up to date. Daycare centers can be breeding grounds for germs and disease.

Step 4: Request a certain caregiver if your baby (or you) seems to have a preference for that person.

Step 5: Give the center a list detailing your baby’s habits and schedule—for example, when she eats or sleeps and what she likes to play with.

Tips
Make your good-bye short and sweet—a quick kiss and hug—and then be out the door, even if your baby cries. Prolonged partings can be stressful for both you and your child.
Warnings
The bigger the daycare setting, the greater the chance your baby will get sick. That’s because the more kids there are in one place, the more germs there are floating around.
————
Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others. Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines. She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her husband and two children.


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How to Play Music for Your Baby While Pregnant


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December 16, 2008


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Playing music for your unborn baby is an amazing way for you to bond with him. Music can stimulates babies and delivers positive effects through the mothers’ pleasant emotions. When a mother listens to music and relaxes, she releases endorphins into her bloodstream that bathe the baby in positive and happy feelings. Babies also are likely to recognize the tune, if you play it often enough, even after they are born.

Step 1: Crank up the radio. By 20 weeks, your baby’s hearing is developed enough to hear sounds other than your voice. Playing music that you enjoy can relax and engage your baby in special bonding time.

Step 2: Use headphones. Resting headphones against your belly is an easy way to play music for your baby without disturbing anyone else. However, you don’t have to raise the volume for the baby to hear it. The amniotic fluid is a good conducer of sound, so loud music is not necessarily better. Playing loud noise may actually irritate your baby instead of relaxing him.

Step 3: Buy a Bebe Sounds machine. This machine brings music to your baby through two fetal speakers that attach to a special maternity belt. You connect the speakers to your own cassette or CD player and play the Mozart music tape. It also has a headphone adapter so you and your baby can listen to the tunes at the same time. Unlike headphones, you don’t have to hold the device, and the maternity belt provides support for your back.

Step 4: Play your own music and sing. A baby loves the sound of her mother’s voice. If you can combine an instrument, such as a piano or violin, and your voice, you’ll create a combination your baby will love.

Step 5: Choose a variety of tunes to play for your baby, such as jazz, classical, relaxing or white noise tunes. You don’t have to stay with just one particular sound. Expose your baby to different sounds, tempos and rhythms.

Tips
Limit music exposure to an hour or two per day. Playing music more often may overstimulate the baby.

Warnings
Don’t play excessively loud music. If you can’t talk over the music, it’s too loud for you and the baby.
Stay away from playing drums, cymbals and other loud instruments for an extended period.

Resources:
http://www.bebesounds.com/products_prenatalgiftsets_description.asp BeBe Sounds Machine
————

Heidi Gonzales is a midwife, childbirth educator, doula, American Heart Association BLS instructor, author and editor for the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association e-mag.
She has attended over 60 births in Louisiana and has helped over 150 families through birth consultations. She volunteers as a childbirth educator at a pregnancy crisis center in Louisiana and also as an online career mentor.


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How to Choose Baby Music CDs


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December 16, 2008


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With literally hundreds of baby music CDs available, there is a great variety to choose from, including instrumental music, classic nursery rhymes, adapted classical, jazz and white noise. You even can make your own mix of songs. Any CD you buy should come from a reputable company, have great-quality sound and be age-appropriate.

Step 1: Consider your baby’s personality. If your baby is playful and enjoys upbeat music, such as pop and country, choose a music CD that contains nursery rhymes and riddles set to catchy, upbeat tunes. However, if your baby is easy-going, he may enjoy the adapted classical and jazz music that isn’t so verbally stimulating.

Step 2: Choose something that is consistent and repetitive. Babies love music and word repetition, and this repetition helps them learn. They also will be more attentive if the music is consistent, with little breaks between songs or words.

Step 3: Choose a music CD that both you and your baby will enjoy. Listening to music together is a great bonding experience. Choose something that you will enjoy listening to over and over, and preferably one that you find relaxing. Also, babies love to watch your mouth and hear your voice, so sing along in front of your baby.

Step 4: Keep it simple. Your baby will most likely enjoy music with simple styles, rhythms and melodies. Look for music that keeps the tempo down as well.

Step 5: Read the reviews about any CD before you buy it. Parental reviews can help you make a smart decision about whether or not a particular music CD is worth your money.

Step 6: Ask for recommendations. If you just aren’t sure about what you want, join a parenting group or mothering board and ask other parents what they recommend.

Tips:

Some children’s CDs contain white noise, such as the sound of a vacuum cleaner or washing machine. Many babies prefer white noise over music.
Watch your baby’s reactions. If the music seems to disturb him, turn it off.
Make sure that you choose an age-appropriate CD. The label should indicate for which age group the CD is recommended.

Warnings:
Do not play the music too loud. Studies show that loud sounds can harm babies’ ears. If you can’t talk over the music, it’s too loud.

References:
http://www.lovelybabycd.com/ Lovely Baby Music
http://www.sleeplullabies.com/ Sleep Lullabies
http://www.slumbersounds.com/baby-sleep-help.htm Slumber Sounds
————

Heidi Gonzales is a midwife, childbirth educator, doula, American Heart Association BLS instructor, author and editor for the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association e-mag.
She has attended over 60 births in Louisiana and has helped over 150 families through birth consultations. She volunteers as a childbirth educator at a pregnancy crisis center in Louisiana and also as an online career mentor.


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Baby Stimulation Games


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December 12, 2008


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Games and activities that encourage infants to use several senses at once can develop fundamental listening, communication, social and creative skills. Infant stimulation activities such as playing music, introducing new colors and shapes and playing with toys that make different sounds and noises can pique an infant’s interest and encourage him to interact with his environment. Stimulating games encourage healthy learning and development. Here are some activities and games that introduce learning and education in the early stages of life.

Baby Massage
Babies are incredibly sensitive to touch, and a massage will help them become relaxed and comfortable in their environment. Infant massage also can improve body awareness and bond them with the parent or caregiver giving the massage. Over time, this activity may improve social interaction and help babies develop basic communication skills.

Playing With Puppets
Introducing colorful sock puppets and other toys that “talk” can develop an infant’s focus and tracking skills and may also distract him from crying or fussy periods. Puppets can improve social interactions and encourage babies to practice different facial expressions. Adding music or funny voices and sounds to the activity develops an infant’s listening skills.

Reading at Bath Time
Playing with bath books and colorful, waterproof toys while bathing can develop a baby’s body awareness and improve his listening and language skills. Bath time can be a fun and stimulating activity, but it also relaxes the baby for a good night’s rest. Introducing different toys to the tub and encouraging your baby to interact with you in various activities also improves communication and social skills.

Color and Light Activities
A nightlight that emits colorful images onto the wall and plays soothing music encourages the baby to become comfortable with different sights and sounds in his environment, and may also increase his natural curiosity. Nightlights that play scenes from a storybook or that feature animated characters with whom the baby is familiar can stimulate memory and learning.

Playing With Colorful Blocks
Soft blocks and other toys in different colors and patterns can improve visual skills and encourage the infant to interact with new and interesting objects. Blocks can be stacked on top of each other as a building activity, which can help baby understand space and structure, or the blocks may be held and passed around to encourage social interaction. As the infant develops motor skills, she may be able to match same-color blocks and build her own miniature walls and structures.


Warning: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Warning: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Baby Learning Games


Warning: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
December 12, 2008


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Introducing infants to stimulating activities and educational games can develop language, communication, social and motor skills and also stimulate learning and creativity. Babies who are exposed to various games and activities at an early age also may develop a stronger memory, improve hand-eye coordination skills and establish healthy bonds with family members and siblings. Interacting with different toys and becoming comfortable with a wide range of sensory experiences can help infants mature at a healthy rate. Playing simple games with your baby can enhance learning.

Playing With Balls
Squishy, plush and fuzzy toys, such as balls and small pillows, can strengthen important muscles and build several motor skills. Balls can be rolled back and forth across the floor, tossed around the baby’s crib or just held in a baby’s hands as a fun and educational activity.

Music and Sound Games
Singing, dancing and clapping to music are activities that increase motor development and develop acute auditory and listening skills. Babies typically are receptive to new sounds, rhythms and voices, and they can imitate certain movements at an early age. Singing silly songs and nursery rhymes, clapping to music on the radio and listening to a soothing CD effectively encourage healthy development.

Peek-a-Boo
This simple activity can teach infants to understand that certain objects still exist even when they are not visible. This fundamental concept develops babies’ awareness in their surroundings and teaches them to respond to social cues. Babies also may be able to differentiate between different expressions with this game, and they may laugh or giggle during the activity while establishing an emotional bond with their playmates.

Word Games
Repetition is the best way for babies to learn new sounds and to recognize words that describe certain objects. Using a playful voice to point out different objects in the environment will help the infant remember those objects and develop language and speech early in their toddler years. The repetition of words and sounds also makes babies more comfortable in their surroundings.

Pop-up Books and Puppet Games
Reading a pop-up book gives the baby a chance to listen to a parent or caregiver’s soothing voice as she tells the story. The baby also will be entertained by the colorful pictures and objects throughout the book. Puppet games that also tell a story encourage playful interaction and shared emotional expressions. They also help the infant become more attentive and responsive to stimuli.

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