How does brain-building work?
During your child's earliest years, their brain makes 1 million neural connections every single second. Positive, supportive experiences with parents and other adults are important to their brain development.
But it’s not about just singing or talking at your baby. Brain-building happens when you and your little one are interacting with each other. It’s about taking a cue from them, and reacting to what they’re doing. You could think of it like a game of tennis – going back and forth between the two of you.
Look at what your baby’s focusing on and how they react
Say what you’re doing and copy the sounds your baby makes
Talking to your baby, or copying when they babble, is an easy way to build their brain throughout the day. Even talking about simple actions as you do them is a great place to start. Try adding silly voices and use expressions to bring your words to life.
Sing along to your favourite tunes or make up your own
You don’t need to be a karaoke champion to pull this one off. Try using familiar tunes and changing the words to describe things you’re doing. It might take some getting used to, but give it a go and find your groove.
Play simple games and see what your child enjoys
You don’t even need toys for this brain-building skill. Try playing peekaboo, mess about with bubble bath, or even turn sorting laundry into a game! Over time, you can add playful moments throughout the day.
Try out these brain-building tips
Get silly while getting clean! Tell your child, "Let's wash your hands!" but start washing their feet. What do the do? Then say: "Oh! Those are your feet! Where are your hands?" As they get older, have them lead, using other parts of their body like elbows, wrists, and ankles.
Your child is using their focus to listen to your words and drawing on what they already know to play this silly game with you, which strenghtens their memory. They're also practising thinking flexibly about opposites, as well as learning new words and what they mean in a fun way.
When your child seems fussy, try singing a rhyme or song. Do they calm down when your voice is quiet, or do they respond to big facial expressions and an enthusiastic voice? Try different rhymes and songs to find their favourites.
When you respond to your child's movements and sounds, you build a trusting relationship that supports future learning. You also teach they ways to deal with stress while building a love of language.
There are things we do every day. Sing the same songs at those moments to explain what you're doing with your child. Examples could be leaving a room, finishing eating, or washing hands. What do you do daily that you could sing about?
Children love traditions. Singing about your shared daily moments adds to the comfort of a known routine. It also helps your child connect these moments and new words. They love learning language from your sing-song voice.
Just you and me
During a quiet moment, sit or lay down near your child face-to-face and be silent for a few seconds. Watch them. Do they look at you? If they make sounds or smile, make sounds or smile back. There's so much you can say to each other with no words at all!
Creating a safe and trusting relationship builds a foundation for your child to feel supported as they learn and grow. When you take the time to watch your baby and get to know their style of communicating, you deepen your connection.
Take a few minutes and look into your child’s eyes. As they look back, smile and talk with them. Do what they do. If they blink, you blink. If they look left, you look left. Let them see your eyes too, and have fun keeping eye contact.
When your child looks at you, and you respond, they’re making new connections in their brain. Children learn best through loving relationships. When you look at each other and react to each other, the bond you have is growing stronger.
Your child loves snuggling and hearing your voice. Get close and cuddle with them while sharing a story or song. Use a calm, quiet, and soothing voice to help them fall asleep quickly. This can become a nightly routine that lets them know it is time for bed.
Creating a trusting relationship, with feelings of closeness and security, sets up an environment for learning. Talk back-and-forth and share words and sounds with them in stories and songs. When you do, you help them become lifelong learners.
Vroom believes all parents want what’s best for their children. Vroom provides science-based tips and tools to inspire families to turn shared, everyday moments into Brain Building Moments®. A global program of the Bezos Family Foundation, Vroom helps parents boost their child's learning during the time they already spend together. Vroom meets parents where they are, through the people they already trust and the places they already go. Since 2015, Vroom has grown to impact nearly 1,500,000 families in 37 states and 6 countries around the world.
You might also be interested in...
Coronavirus advice and support
Whether you're juggling working from home with your kids or supporting children with anxiety due to coronavirus, we've got tips and advice for you.
We're still here for children, and still here to support you. If you're worried about a child or need advice, talk to us.
Family Lives offer a free and confidential helpline service for families. You can talk to them about any aspect of parenting and family life.