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Learning : Smarter Baby
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How to Do Yoga With a Baby


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December 16, 2008


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Babies reap the same health benefits from yoga—improved balance, increased flexibility, deeper relaxation, better sleep and fewer digestive problems—as adults do. And when you do yoga with your pint-sized Buddha, you’re also establishing a physical and emotional bond that both parents and babies crave.

But don’t expect your 3-month-old to be striking her own downward-facing dog pose. When you take a yoga class with your baby, expect some deep-breathing exercises (for you), baby-massage techniques (for the diaper set), a few stretching and balancing poses (some incorporating your baby and some not) and a chance to meet with other new parents and enjoy some time interacting with your baby.

Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Things You’ll Need
Comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
Yoga mat, blanket or towel

Step 1:
Create a calm, relaxing environment. Dim the lights; play soothing music.

Step 2:
Say some chants softly, holding your baby near as you do.

Step 3: Hold your baby close to your body and take some deep breaths, inhaling by filling up your belly and then slowly exhaling. Since babies naturally belly-breathe, you can even place your hand on your baby’s belly and mimic her breathing rhythm.

Step 4:
Place your baby on her back and bend her knees up to her chest, then let go. You can also perform a cycling motion with her legs. This promotes digestion and prevents constipation.


Step 5:
Stretch your baby’s arms and legs, even tracing her fingers and toes with your fingertips. This relieves muscle tension and encourages relaxation.

Step 6: Place your baby to your side and concentrate on some poses that will help you get your body back in shape. Roll your shoulders forward and backward to relieve tension. Tilt your pelvis off the floor as you lie on your back to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.

Tips

Don’t worry if your baby starts acting up. Yoga is supposed to give you peace and relaxation—not create angst. Just go with the flow and remember yours is not the first baby to interrupt a class.
Check out yoga and baby exercise tapes at bookstores; for classes, call health club centers, visit your local Y or even inquire with your obstetrician, pediatrician or local hospital.

Warnings
Get your doctor’s approval before beginning any postpartum exercise regimen.
Check with your pediatrician to find out if your baby is old enough to start baby yoga.

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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Newborn Baby Stimulation


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December 16, 2008


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Your baby’s brain development is shaped by her genes—and her environment, interactions and experiences. Give her brain power a boost by engaging her in the world around her—talk to her, touch her, look at her. By stimulating every sense, you will encourage your baby to make the kind of associations that make learning possible.

Facts: Your baby’s brain triples in size from birth to her first birthday. She goes from being completely helpless at birth to walking, talking and eating solid foods by around 12 months. Regular sensory stimulation promotes her learning.

Significance: Think of your baby’s brain as a blank slate. What you expose her to is what she will learn.

Types: You can stimulate your baby in a variety of ways. Give her a change of scenery by moving her crib or bouncy seat. Keep her in the kitchen while you make dinner; it can fire up her visual and olfactory senses. Hold her close and sing to her; you’ll be creating a great bonding experience, and you’ll also be exposing your baby to language. Place her on her belly for some play time; she gets a different vantage point of her surroundings while strengthening her neck and head muscles.

Time Frame:
While brain development occurs all through life, most of it takes place in the first 3 years after birth. Make the most of your baby’s waking time by engaging her in the world around her.

Warnings:
Pick up on your baby’s cues to learn. The perfect time for one-on-one stimulation is when she’s quiet and alert. If she’s fussy, hungry or tired, wait for another time to engage her.

Resources
http://www.pregnancyandbaby.com: She Knows: Pregnancy and Baby
http://www.kidshealth.org: Kids Health for more ideas on how to stimulate your baby
————
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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Infant Milestones


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December 16, 2008


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Your baby’s first year of life is a remarkable journey of development—physical, visual, verbal and emotional. She enters the world barely knowing how to suck, sleep and cry. Yet by the time her first birthday rolls around, chances are she’s crawling—maybe even walking—chomping away at finger foods and not just recognizing her caregivers but even calling them by name. While all babies progress at different rates, here are some milestones worth mentioning.

By 3 Months of Age: Baby holds a rattle and shakes it, follows moving objects with eyes (also called “tracking”), smiles and imitates others’ facial expressions and holds chest and upper body up with arms when resting on belly.

By 6 Months of Age: Baby rolls from belly to back, moves objects from one hand to the other, sits with support, laughs and plays peek-a-boo.

By 9 Months of Age: Baby gets fist to mouth, responds to her name, possibly understands simple commands like “No” and stands while holding onto something for support.

By 1 Year Old: Baby crawls, walks by holding on and perhaps even takes a few steps unassisted, puts objects in and takes them out of a container, grasps small objects with forefinger and thumb (aka the pincer grip), communicates by shaking head for yes or no and pointing at objects he wants, responds to simple verbal commands like “Stop,” eats finger food unassisted and starts to develop a preference for particular caregivers—such as his parents over his grandparents.
Resources

http://www.aap.org: American Academy of Pediatricians for more on childhood milestones and development
————
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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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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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
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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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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.


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Baby Learning Games


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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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Music Activities for Babies


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December 12, 2008


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Introducing babies to different sounds, noises and styles of music can develop their auditory skills and improve their attention spans. Infants can recognize different sounds at a very early age, and exposure to music between birth and age 6 can develop a child’s affinity for certain types of music. Musical activities, such as singing, humming and moving around to the beat of various types of music, also can develop basic motor, social and communication skills in infants.

Kindermusik
Kindermusik incorporates music and movement for early childhood development and education, and classes are structured around listening, singing and playing games that involve sound and music. The “Village” class establishes basic listening and movement skills for babies up to 18 months.

Watching a Puppet Performance
Puppet shows and other forms of live entertainment that involve singing, dancing and moving to different music and sounds can introduce a baby to different styles of music. Live shows also provide sensory stimulation, such as bright lights, colors and a new atmosphere. Any shows that encourage the baby to sing along, clap and move to the beat will help the infant become more comfortable with different sensory experiences and develop an appreciation for different types of sounds, noises and rhythms.

Toys That Play Music
Plush toys that make sounds or play a song when pressed, or bedtime toys, such as night lights and globes that play melodies, develop babies’ listening skills and increase their attention spans. Introducing babies to different types of toys that play music develops numerous sensory skills and encourages them to play, socialize and participate to enjoy various sensory experiences.

Making Music
Making sounds and music with toys and musical instruments develops motor skills, hand-eye coordination and the ability to differentiate between different notes. Playing with musical instruments may also develop a sense of cause and effect which helps babies explore new games and activities as they grow.

Watching Television Programs With Music
Educational television programs such as “Sesame Street” and “Blue’s Clues” that involves singing and dancing can introduce different styles of music to the infant’s environment. Programs that encourage babies to participate by clapping their hands to the beat or singing also develop motor and social skills.

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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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

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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

How to Teach a Baby to Read Without Spending a Lot of Money


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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There are several ways to introduce words, sentences and stories into your baby’s life—and do so without spending a lot of money. Creating the right learning environment for your child will encourage him to start recognizing words and letters with ease.

Step 1: Play with coloring books. Many coloring books are actually miniature storybooks that contain words or short sentences. Allowing your infant to color in these books will help him recognize words and letters, and you can read along while he colors so he can start saying the words out loud.

Step 2: Use reading software. Software programs that tell short stories or animated clips with subtitles can help your infant learn new words and practice them in a specific sequence. You can find reading software at your local library for free or purchase it from a store or online.

Step 3: Play reading games online. There are dozens of websites that offer free reading lessons and interactive puzzles that can help your baby recognize sounds and words. Sit in front of the computer with your infant and work through the lessons together as you read out loud or listen to narratives.

Step 4: Join a storytelling session at your local bookstore or library. Follow along with your own copy of the book or just watch the storyteller read directly from a book and highlight different words. This highly stimulating environment can also help your infant develop important social skills.

Step 5: Use bath books. Bath time is an excellent opportunity to do something creative and encourage learning. Bath books are made with soft, waterproof materials and are relatively cheap. The short stories written with oversized words and designed in attractive colors can encourage learning and help your baby understand new words.

Step 6: Download and print reading lessons from the Web. There are hundreds of educational websites and blogs for parents that feature lesson plans and activity pages. You can download and print these to create your own library of reading activities.

Step 7: Watch “Sesame Street” and other television programs such as “Blue’s Clues.” These shows are designed to teach children to identify words, letters and symbols and develop language. Encourage your infant to watch these programs and read along or sing with the characters so that he learns new words.

Tips
Break up the day into different learning activities so your baby has time to absorb and process new information.
Reading out loud will help your infant understand and recognize new words.

Warnings
Take the time to work through each reading level so your child has a chance to master her skills before moving to the next level.
Don’t put reading and learning on “auto pilot” with television and software; play an active role in your infant’s development as often as possible.

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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