A Play Therapist’s Guide on How to Make Your Baby Smarter

A Play Therapist’s Guide on How to Make Your Baby Smarter

There are many people who already show their skills in their early ages and the first years of a child's life are considered as a prime time for learning / Photo by: Romrodphoto via Shutterstock


Not all people learn the same skills at the same time. Some learn more easily than others at certain ages. Infant development experts would say that the first years of a child’s life are considered as a prime time for learning. In terms of brain development, there is also what they call sensitive periods, wherein the brain is ready to create networks of connections as a response to things that the five human senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) absorb.


Brain Development

The University of Georgia has published about the prime times for learning. It said that visual and language development occurs from birth to 12 months, and sensory development and emotional attachment from birth to 18 months. This means that the sensory abilities of a child are developed early. With repeated experience or continued exposure, the brain will eventually strengthen connections for certain abilities. “Early experiences matter,” the university noted. So, for parents who wanted to stimulate their baby during prime times for learning, there are actually different activities meant for their child’s age.

In the baby's brain development, vocal and language development takes a year starting from birth and sensory development has 18 months to develop / Photo by: Oksana Kuzmina via Shutterstock


Cognitive Development and Music

Play therapist Becky Mansfield shared via lifestyle blog Your Modern Family that for babies between six and 12 months, parents can use music to help the infant’s cognitive development or the creation of thought processes, such as problem-solving, decision-making, and remembering. Mansfield stated that there is a link between cognitive development and music. This is why pregnant women are advised to listen to music. From womb to prime years, the baby’s listening-based learning is believed to be at its peak. 

Scientists suggest that music can be used by parents in order to develop the baby's cognitive ability / Photo by: Brian Goodman via Shutterstock


Mansfield cited the baby training app called Nurl. The app was created by Rick Beato when his wife was pregnant with their son Dylan. When he was born, they did not stop the application of the music program. By the time Dylan reached three, they noticed that he already had a “perfect pitch,” something only one in 10,000 people possesses nowadays. Not only that, Beato shared that their son’s hearing is also acute that he could determine music notes even if they are of complex chords. By the time Dylan reached four years old, he was already playing the piano. What’s more surprising is that it wasn’t simple music. Dylan was playing Bach. 

Isabella Ciriello was a former patient at a children's hospital in New York. She stayed in a neonatal intensive care unit for three months after she was born 16 weeks early. While in NICU, she was exposed to Mozart sonatas that were playing inside the incubator. Ciriello’s doctor Jeffrey Perlman have informed Ciriello’s mother that classical music is soothing to premature babies. Now, Ciriello is 12. As reported by British magazine The Week, Ciriello can now play drums, piano, and guitar. She also personally believed that her early exposure to classical music has sparked her interest in playing instruments.

Being Cheerful When Leaving the Baby for a While

Most parents eventually find the need to leave their babies in order to run some errands, resume work, or attend an important event. This is where the test of separation anxiety begins. Mansfield advised parents that they have to be cheerful when they leave their baby behind. For example, they can say “Bye, sweet little girl.” Then, they can remind their child that they will be back soon. The baby may cry but it is only normal. The important thing is that the mother talks in motherese or with exaggerated expressions. Motherese, also called Parentese, or baby talk, is a form of child-directed speech. Studies show that this kind of speech provides children with clues that they also have to develop their own language skills.


The Importance of Reading to Your Toddler

Babies love stories, and they won’t mind hearing the same children’s book repeatedly. Parents can use this chance to talk about things, point to images, and have fun while mimicking the characters. Parents Magazine also recommends that parents should bond with their child at every chance they have. When breastfeeding, for example, mothers can do it for as long as they can while they sing and talk to them. Another way is to take advantage of diaper time to teach the child about the pieces of clothing or about their body parts.

When it comes to playing, the play therapist recommends doing new things with their kids. Ride a boat, play peek-a-boo, go shopping, and enjoy finger plays. The role of the parents is to encourage movement. If the child starts to crawl, parents can add more hurdles like allowing the kid to crawl over the pillows. Then, the moment the child learns to walk, parents should guide them while they are on the other side. Mansfield gives emphasis that the most precious thing parents can give to their child is their attention and time.