Babies and toddlers are naturally driven to understand the world around them. But just as there are empty calories for a child’s body, there are empty calories for a child’s brain. Child development experts have commented that manufactured “flashing lights and noise” toys are, in most cases, not as helpful to babies and young toddlers in brain development as we parents might think.
If a baby presses a button and witnesses a purple cow pop out, lights flashing, and music playing, they will memorize it, practicing it over and over again to deepen their understanding.
The issue is that nothing in real life really relates to purple cows and flashing lights; the baby builds a deep neural network of associations around something that is irrelevant to real life.
Taking your baby on house tours gives their brain a rich diet of real life objects and situations. Seeing how things work in the everyday world is foundational for a baby’s brain development.
Walk around with your baby while explaining and exploring the many different parts and aspects of where you live. Think about how you’d introduce the concept of ‘what’s in a home’ to someone who hasn’t been in one before. Show them how different things work as you go and explain what you’re doing while you do it.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- If it is dark out, go around the house and turn on the lights together
- Go on a tour to find all the places where there is water in the house—turn the sink, shower, or tub faucet on and off
- Pour laundry soap into a cup or in the washer
- Open and close curtains, cupboards, and doors
- Press the garage door opener together with your hand over theirs
- Turn on the hair dryer and gently blow the warm air for your baby to feel
- Turn on the microwave, garbage disposal, or blender
- Open the window or turn on the ceiling fan and let them feel the air moving
- Turn on music
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