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3 Ways To Support Your Child’s Cognitive Development

3 Ways To Support Your Child’s Cognitive Development

As a new parent, the healthy development of your baby is your most important goal. It can also be your biggest source of worry. Is she hitting the right developmental milestones? Should he be able to pick up on facial cues and language by now? Should she be smiling and talking yet? You want to know what you can do to help them develop to their fullest potential. The good news is that, these days, there is a wealth of information on how to help your baby thrive and grow in all areas from speech and language to cognitive development.

Your child’s brain is in the midst of a tremendous period of growth and development from the time he or she is born until about three years old. During this three-year span your child’s brain creates over a million neural connections every single second! Isn’t that just astounding? One of the most important areas where you can help your baby grow is in the realm of cognitive development. 

Cognitive development refers to your baby’s ability to think about and understand the world around them. It refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills and dispositions that help baby think, explore and problem-solve. You can do things to foster your baby’s cognitive development as soon as they are born. In doing so, you’ll provide your child with a strong foundation for lifelong success.

According to the CDA Council, young infants through 8-month olds are beginning to:

  • Imitate facial expressions and gestures of others, like smiling
  • Explore using motor skills, such as turning head, sucking, kicking, grasping
  • Repeat actions to make things happen or to get adults to repeat an action
  • Use gestures, like waving, to communicate

So What Can I Do to Foster My Infant’s Cognitive Development?

There are a variety of cognitive learning activities you can do with your new baby to help support and promote growth in this area. Here are a few ideas of things to do with your new baby.

Read Often and Expressively

You may think new babies are too young for stories, but think again! Reading to your baby is a wonderful way to bond and will help foster cognitive development. Just be sure to read slowly and use a variety of voices for each of the characters. And show your baby the pictures, too!

Talk with Eye Contact

Make sure your baby can see your face and eyes when you talk to them. Be expressive. Speak with a slower cadence. You’ll see them focusing on your mouth as it forms words. This is the first step in how babies learn language so do this as often as possible and encourage other family members to do the same.

Encourage Your Child to Reach and Grasp

We want to make everything easy for our children, but that’s not always the best approach. To support cognitive development, experts recommend placing a few favorite toys just out of your baby’s reach; encouraging them to reach for it. Nora Newcombe, a trusted developmental psychologist of Temple University says “As you interact [with your environment] through grasping and crawling, that propels developmental change.

Get Hello Wunder

Hello Wunder - the first AI parenting platform that is clinically-proven to boost a child’s cognitive & language - has been shown to create a “26% improvement in cognitive development over a 12-week period” in babies. With Hello Wunder, you get personalized activities to stimulate cognitive development and language in your baby.

You want the very best in life for your little one. Encouraging and supporting cognitive development with specific activities is sure to give your child the head start you hoped for.

Want to Raise a Happy Child? Start Doing These Two Things

Want to Raise a Happy Child? Start Doing These Two Things

As a parent, you want an amazing life for your baby. You want your baby to grow up well-adjusted, high-achieving, compassionate and more. But, for most parents, their biggest hope for their baby is to see them happy. Once you become a parent, nothing is better than seeing your child happy, laughing and content with the world. Conversely, few things are as painful as seeing your child crying and unhappy, especially when you can’t help them feel better. In the end, happiness is what we want most for our children. But just how do you go about raising a happy child? In this article we share two things you can start doing right now.

Teach Your Child Emotional Literacy

Although the term emotional literacy may seem complex, it’s actually a simple concept. Emotional literacy is the ability to understand and express feelings and then manage those feelings. For example, if your child feels frustrated, they would notice the feeling, reassure themselves and manage to remain calm. Emotional literacy is a skill that will help your child immensely throughout their life. And it’s a skill you can begin teaching your child at a very young age. The Office of Head Start (the federal program that supports early learning, health, and family well-being) champions the building of emotional literacy in kids. According to this Head Start article, emotionally literate children enjoy many benefits over those who don’t build this critical skill.

Kids with a strong foundation in emotional literacy:

  • Tolerate frustration better
  • Get into fewer fights
  • Engage in less self-destructive behavior
  • Are happier
  • Are healthier
  • Are less lonely
  • Are less impulsive
  • Are more focused
  • Have greater academic achievement

When your child is still a baby or a very young toddler, the foundation for emotional literacy is to simply accept your child’s emotions rather than minimizing them. When we deny a child’s emotion because we don’t like it, we teach them that some feelings are not acceptable or even shameful. This can cause a child to repress their angry or upset feelings which is a recipe for unhappiness. So, rather than denying a feeling, teach your child (from infancy) that they are allowed to have any and all emotions. Tell them that all feelings are normal and part of being human. This doesn’t mean that all actions are acceptable. They are allowed to feel whatever they feel, but they’re not allowed to hurt themselves or others. Be sure to make that important distinction.

According to an article from Edutopia, a trusted foundation transforming K-12 education, the next step to emotional literacy is to teach young children how to label their feelings - and not just the simple mad, sad, glad. They need to be able to recognize nuances in emotion and label feelings like surprised, worried, proud and afraid. How do you go about teaching very young children about feelings? Edutopia (and other) experts recommend using pictures of faces with emotions and ask your child what emotion they see; coaching them if needed. You can check out Wunder's very own Baby Flash Cards with faces. You could use any of your child’s picture books to start this process; asking them to label the feelings they see in the characters. Then, take it a step further - ask them how they know that’s the feeling. They should be able to point out facial features that indicate an emotion such as raised eyebrows or a downturn in the mouth. If they seem stuck, point out the ways in which the person is indicating a feeling. This practice starts the foundation of emotional literacy. 

Be a Happy Person Yourself

In her book Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, Christine Carter, pHd, reveals that your level of happiness dramatically affects how happy and successful your kids are. Dramatically! She reveals that extensive research has established a substantial link between mothers who feel depressed and “negative outcomes” in their children, such as acting out and other behavior problems. According to the author, parental depression appears to cause behavioral problems in kids while also making parenting less effective. If you’re feeling depressed (as many, MANY new parents do) it’s time to work on that. Ignoring your own sadness is not only bad for you, it’s also bad for your child. Talk to your doctor as soon as possible about how you’re feeling and start taking the necessary steps to feel happy again.

If you’re not feeling depressed, it’s time to find ways to get even happier. Take a moment to consider what makes you happy (this may feel weird when you’re a brand new parent consumed with infant duty!). What inspires you? What makes you laugh out loud? What is awesome in your life that you can feel more gratitude for? Now, go do more of these things! And not just one time...on a regular basis. Getting happier needs to be at the top of your To-Do-List from now on because the happiness of your whole family depends on it.

Raising a happy child begins now, and it begins with you. Increasing your own happiness and fostering emotional literacy in your little one are two surefire ways to get the happiness ball rolling.

Does "baby talk" REALLY help your baby's language development?

Does "baby talk" REALLY help your baby's language development?

Using Parentese Baby Talk to Help Your Baby Grasp Language

The way you talk to your infant can have a big impact on their language development. In fact, according to recent research, parental language input is one of the best predictors of children’s language achievement. These days, experts recommend parents use “parentese” rather than traditional baby talk. In this article, we’ll explain parentese, and how to use it to advance your baby’s language skills.

Although still a form of baby talk, parentese differs from traditional baby talk in a few important ways. In traditional baby talk a parent might say “How’s mama’s widdle baby today? Do you want your babaaa?” in a high-pitched, cooing tone of voice. While cute, this type of baby talk employs made-up words and incorrect grammar; neither of which help to develop language skills. So, to summarize, traditional baby talk:

  • Has a higher pitch than adult speech
  • Has same cadence/tempo as adult speech
  • Uses made-up words
  • Uses incorrect grammar

Parentese (sometimes referred to as “motherese”) is a type of back-and-forth baby talk that uses a higher pitch, a slower tempo and more exaggerated intonation than normal language. It is a type of baby talk that encourages a baby to respond (even with just coos and babbles), and has been shown to lead to advances in children’s grasp of language. In parentese, the higher pitch and happy tone of traditional baby talk remain, but the tempo slows down and adult grammar and words are used. So, instead of “How’s mama’s widdle baby today? Do you want you babaaa?” you would say “How is mama’s little baby today? (pause for reaction/response). “Are you hungry?” (pause for reaction/response). “Should mama get you a bottle?!” (pause again). To summarize, parentese:

  • Has a higher pitch than adult speech
  • Has a slower cadence/tempo than adult speech
  • Uses adult words
  • Uses correct grammar
  • Employs pauses to allow for response/reaction

Parentese is essentially proper adult speech delivered in a higher pitch and slower cadence with pauses for response. A recent study showed that babies of parents coached in parentese showed significant gains in conversational turn-taking and vocalizations between 14 to 18 months old. 

Still not sure how to use parentese with your baby? We love this parentese guide created by the Center for Early Literacy Learning. Give their ideas a try and see if your baby shows positive signs like:

  1. Getting excited and making noises in response
  2. Looking intently at your face and mouth
  3. Responding differently than to adult speech

You want the best for you baby (of course!) and adopting parentese early on is a great way to boost language skills; giving your little one a leg up for the future.