Your Child Today: Baby

Help Your Baby Learn

I watched my young son pick up a Cheerio between his index finger and thumb, marveling over his newly discovered ability.

He'd learned so much in a few short months, growing from a helpless, sleepy newborn to an alert, bright-eyed individual.

As soon as your baby is born, he's equipped and ready to learn. In fact, many scientists believe learning begins before birth. Studies have demonstrated that even in the womb, babies can interpret sounds, flavors and vibrations.

After birth, learning and development continue in a gradual, orderly and predictable fashion. For example, babies must master simple whole body movements like rolling before they can learn to pull themselves into a sitting position. As they grow, they become skilled at tasks that require greater finesse. Each accomplishment leads to another, slightly more complicated, skill.

The early weeks and months of a baby's life are critical to his future learning and development. As soon as you bring your baby home, you can begin to stimulate the learning process. Early stimulation of his senses?touch, hearing and sight?will enable your child to become proficient at gathering and interpreting information later on. For example, babies aren't born with 20/20 vision. But with practice, their vision quickly becomes more acute.

Babies learn by doing, by reacting to their surroundings at their own pace. Your baby is instinctively motivated to practice tasks that interest him again and again. He's miraculously and internally programmed to take the logical next step in his development.

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