Baby & Child Mental Health
Research has found that providing children from birth to five with consistent, language-rich experiences — such as talking, reading, and singing — can have important benefits on their brain development and future school success.
The more words, conversations, and stories you share with your child, the better prepared they will be to learn.
But it may not always be easy to talk to babies, especially when they can’t talk back. To help, we’ve pulled fun tips to help you talk, read, and sing with your child every day.
Listen to the sounds your baby makes and repeat them. When they coo, coo back. When they smile, smile back. Do this while holding their hand gently. Your loving touch combined with this mimicking is the first step in talking.
Everywhere you go, talk to your baby about what you see and what they are looking at. "Look at the cute dog." "Wow, I love that yellow flower too!"
As you feed your baby, use words to describe the food. Tell them what it tastes likes, what it feels like, and what it looks like.
Everywhere you go, talk about what you see. The little things like stop signs and trees might seem boring to you, but it is a whole new world to your child.
Start teaching your child math by pointing out shapes around you. Ask your child how many sides a square or a triangle has?
Talk to them about the toys they are playing with during playtime.
Read a book or tell a story to your baby every day starting at birth.
Cuddle with your baby as you share a book. Even newborn babies are learning when their parents read to them.
When reading, point to pictures in the book and describe them. "Look, the dog chases the ball."
Start inspiring a love for books young by reading and telling a story to your child every day.
Point to the pictures, letters, and numbers in books. Ask open-ended questions like, "What do you see? What's your favorite page? What would you do if you were here?"
Get your child used to touching books by letting them turn the book's pages. It's okay if they skip pages.
At bedtime, hold your baby and sing your favorite song. Singing the same song over and over can help your baby feel safe and calm.
Sing silly songs to help get your baby's attention when you are changing their diaper.
It doesn't matter if you don't think you can sing. Your baby will love hearing your voice! To them it is comforting.
Sing during everyday activities like bath time or driving in the car. It can be simple, repetitive songs, like "Rock a bye baby on the tree top."
Help your child learn basic math skills by singing songs that have counting or rhyming patterns. "Five little monkeys jumping on the bed, One fell off and bumped his head."
Your toddler loves getting to do activities with you. Singing together is a great way to have fun together.
Provide toys that engage many senses such as rattles, textured balls, and colorful blocks.
Give your baby different things to look at. For example, you could use books or baby play gyms to show your baby different colors and shapes.
Make faces with your baby. This is a game you can play together from birth. If you stick our your tongue or make an 'O' with your lips, some babies will mimic you and do the same.
Play "I-Spy" at the grocery store. Pick a color and ask your child to point out objects that match the color. Play water games during bath time.
Create an obstacle course by setting up furniture and safe household items to move around. Suggest fun movements like, "Wiggle under the chair, tiptoe around the table."
Play games that encourage conversations. Put a few items on a tray and ask your child to look at them. Then cover the items. Ask your child to name what items are covered. Next, take one item away without your child seeing and ask which item is missing. Switch roles.