picture of children running

Interacting with your child – The time that you spend in play with your child has a big impact on his development. But interaction happens all day long. He learns while you are dressing him, feeding him, and changing his diaper.

Your Baby’s Amazing Brain – When your baby was born, you counted his fingers and toes. What you could not count was the incredible number of brain cells your new baby had – many billons!

Making Sense of your Baby’s Senses – Your child learns through her senses. As your child’s brain takes in information, it sorts, organizes, and creates responses to it. This happens constantly, even while your child is falling asleep!

Visual Experience Center: Multiple Views – Curiosity and the desire to move around are related. The more your child can move around, the more curious he becomes about exploring things he sees and touches.

Choosing Age-Appropriate Toys for Toddlers – Your child is starting to play with toys in a different way. As a baby, he explored the world with his senses. As a toddler, he uses toys to build, create, represent the real world, and practice new skills.

Harmony in My Home – It is important to plan for the routine and the unexpected. For example, getting clothes ready for the next morning can save stress. It’s also important to have a backup child care plan. For example, who will care your child if the usual provider is closed?



The following information was prepared by Reach Out and Read. You can use it to learn about how children interact with the printed word as their literacy grows.

6-12 MONTHS:

Motor: reaches for book, sits in lap, head steady, turns pages with adult help, book to mouth

Cognitive: looks at pictures, vocalizes, pats pictures, prefers pictures of faces

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO: hold child comfortably; face-to-face gaze, follow baby's cues for"more" and "stop"

12-18 MONTHS:

Motor: sits without support, may carry book, holds book with help, turns board pages, several at a time.

Cognitive: no longer mouths right away, points at pictures with one finger, may make same sound for particular picture (labels), points when asked, "where's....?", turns book right side up, gives book to adult to read

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO: respond to child's prompting to read, let child control the book, be comfortable with toddler's short attention span, ask "where's the...?" and let child point.

18-24 MONTHS:

Motor: turns board book pages easily, one at a time, carries book around the house, may use book as transitional object

Cognitive: names familiar pictures, fills in words in familiar stories, "reads" to dolls or stuffed animals, recites parts of well-known stories, attention span highly variable

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO : relate books to child's experience, use books in routines, bedtimes, ask "what's that?", and give child time to answer, pause and let child complete the sentence

24-36 MONTHS:

Motor: learns to handle paper pages, goes back and forth in books to find favorite pictures

Cognitive: recites whole phrases, sometimes whole stories, coordinates text with picture, protests when adult gets a word wrong in a familiar story, reads familiar books to self

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO: Keep using books in routines, read at bedtime, be willing to read the same story over and over, ask "what's that?", relate books to child's experience, provide crayons and paper.


Motor: competent book handling, turns paper pages one at a time

Cognitive: listens to longer stories, can retell familiar story, understands what text is, moves finger along text, "writes" name, moves toward letter recognition

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO: ask "what's happening?", encourage writing and drawing, let the child tell the story

Article taken from: Building Your Baby's Brain

A Parents Guide to the First Five Years
Diane Trister Dodge & Cate Heroman
U.S. .Department of Education
Copyright August 2000


What Scientist Know

Every time you hold and gently touch your baby, a message is sent to his brain and connection is made between brain cells. The connections between brain cells make it possible for your baby to talk, see, feel, move and learn.

When you touch your newborn baby, you are teaching him that he is loved and wanted. Studies show that gentle touching helps to calm a baby and reduces stress. A baby who is calm can take in the sights, sounds, textures, and smells around him. The more experiences your baby can take in, the greater number of connections can be built in his brain.

What Health Care Providers Are Learning

Many health care providers are discovering that infant massage promotes healing and growth. If your baby was born early or with a low birth weight, regular touching can stimulate his appetite. It enables him to gain weight more rapidly and to grow. If your baby has colic, touching may help ease the pain and make him more comfortable. A baby with special needs, such as a heart problem, may do better if given regular infant massages by an expert. This person can also teach you how to do this kind of massage for your baby.

What You Can Do

Make time each day to spend gently touching your baby. Talk with her as you gently stroke her arms, legs, back, belly, feet and toes. "I'm stroking your legs, now your arms." Touching and talking helps her learn about the parts of her body. Keep in mind that it's equally important for fathers to touch, hold, and cuddle their babies. The more fathers hold and spend time with their babies, the stronger the bond they build and the more comfortable they are with their babies.

Take time to find out wheat your baby likes. Keep in mind that each baby is different. Some are sensitive to touch and may respond better to being wrapped securely in a blanket and rocked. Some babies need to be stroked gently. Others respond better to a firmer touch. Watch and see how your baby to different kinds of touch. What seems to calm her? What makes her smile? What upsets her? Don't be concerned if your baby doesn't respond as you would expect. You will soon discover the kind of touch your baby likes best.

Children never outgrow their need to be touched gently and often. Touching helps your child feel secure and calm so that she can continue to learn and grow. You will also benefit from taking time to hold and hug your child. You will feel a special closeness that comes from showing your love in this way. And you may even find that you feel calmer and healthier yourself.

Gentle touch builds the brain and creates a bond between parents and their children.

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