Monday, 10 January 2011

Cost Free Ways to Give Baby's Brain a Work Out

It's an unseasonably wet day today, which means if you are anything like us you will be stuck indoors and looking for lots of different activities to keep your baby occupied.  Belinda Butler, in her 'Brainy Baby' Practical Parenting magazine article shares the following cost free activities that use everyday things found around the home to not only keep baby entertained but also help boost their cognitive skills!

Keep a lid on it!
Raid the kitchen cupboards to find plastic containers of varying size, shape and colour.  Pop some interesting things - such as egg rings, measuring cups and pegs - into the containers and put the lids on, but not too tightly.  Show your baby how the lids can be removed and put back on.  Allow her time to explore the containers on her own.
What are the benefits?
  • Develops problem-solving skills as she matches lids to containers and works out how to remove contents.
  • Helps her understand cause and effect as she opens different containers, takes out the contents, puts them back in, then repeats the task.

Your voice is one of the most powerful learning tools your baby will have access to.  Talk as much and as often as you can about: Body parts, pointing to your baby's nose, ears, eyes, mouth and toes; What you are doing that day; Family and friends you visit; What's for lunch or dinner; Animals and the different noises they make; Toys he likes to play with.
What are the benefits?
  • Language and listening skills are practised
  • Develops knowledge of the world, what things are called and how they work
  • Fosters feelings of being valuable and loved as you take the time to interact with him.

You've got mail
Before you throw the junk mail into the recycling, stop!  Sit your baby on your lap and look through the catalogues toether.  Point to pictures of familiar things such as people, home items, toys or food.  Say, "Look, there's some bread.  We eat bread, don't we? What else can you see?" Encourage her to point to items she recognises and name them for her.
If she doesn't point to anything, she may just be enjoying the sound of your voice and cuddle time, so keep talking and try again later.
What are the benefits?
  • Develops memory as she recalls things she has seen before
  • Builds knowledge of the world as she discovers new items
  • Works on language skills as she puts labels to what she sees
  • Increases self-esteem as she spends some close, quality time with you

Bits and bobs in a box
In a shoebox or a large plastic bowl, place items your baby sees every day - shoes, a toothbrush, a soft hairbrush.  Take each item out one by one, saying, "What is this? It's your brush, isn't it? What do you do with your brush?" Hand it to him and let him do something with the brush.  If he hasn't started to brush his hair himself you could say, "Here you go, you brush your hair." Then, put all the items back into the box and allow him to explore them without any prompting.
What are the benefits?
  • Develops memory skills as he recalls each item's use
  • Problem solving skills are needed to work out how to use each item
  • Develops coordination as he manipulates the objects
  • Builds on his knowledge of the world as he learns about objects he sees everyday
  • Increases self-esteem as he practices and masters new tasks. 
If you have some thrifty game ideas too, we would love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment below.

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