Whole Parenting Family

Infant Love & Learning: 5 Things to Do with Your Baby

So you have this little beautiful baby, right? And she just looks at you and coos, or maybe she screams a lot. Maybe she just sleeps and makes diapers, with the occasional desperate nursing session. What sorts of developmental things should you be doing to ensure your child is the next Einstein? Or Edith Stein?

I’m no doctor, nor a child developmental specialist, but I am a thinking, reading, interested mother of two who’s knows what has shaped her bright children (of course they’re bright!).

1) Massage.

Infant massage. Touch & talk combined. Double check. Think of it like grooming a horse. You get to know all the creaks and cracks and where the bumps are. This gives you an advantage when something new crops up. You notice it.

Every night after bathtime, or every afternoon before naptime, or every morning after breakfast, find a cosy nest and give your baby a massage. Make eye contact. Sing or talk. Rub all parts of your babe’s body. Use a light oil like grapeseed, or an actual infant massage oil like Do Good Naturals (loooove their product line).

Check out any book or video online. It’s hard to do wrong. Just rub their little muscles, and love them up. Simple and crucial.

2) Read and talk.

I’ve written quite a bit on reading to small children and how it effects their behavior and brain growth, here {Introduce Reading Early: Bring on the Books}, and here {Teaching Your Child Numbers and Letters} and here {Damage of Media Use}.

It teaches so many things, e.g., books are not toys to be eaten, you read left to right, and flip the pages accordingly, books are fun and you can imitate mama later in baby life and read too, mama has funny animal voices, and sitting in mama’s lap is a safe and fun place to be.

Studies have shown again and again that children who are read to by their parents develop the synapsis better between written word-on-page-and-comprehension-of-words. It hardwires your child’s brain differently and in a more orderly fashion than if you give them screen time or audio time more often than reading time.

Just talk. Talk while making eye contact. Talk and stretch out your sounds. Talk and talk and talk. Respond back with the sound she just made. She’ll keep going, and think it’s a conversation. Because it is. Talk talk talk!

3) Sing.

You can have a terrible voice, and your child doesn’t know it. Just sing anything. Christmas tunes, Johnny Cash, Latin hymns, you name it. Sing to your child and exaggerate your voice and facial expressions. By 4-5 months you’ll get lots of delighted laughter out of these antics. Sing and play good brain music–classical music is best for developing minds! Check out my postings on music here {How to Choose Music for Your Child}, here {Music and Its Impact on Your Child’s Heart}, and here {Which Music is Most Popular in Our House}.

4) Wear your baby.

Wearing your baby in the sling or carrier is one of the best things you can do for her. She develops core strength and can hold her own body upright earlier than babies who are always in bouncy seats. She develops balance, and a sense of movement–like being on a boat in the ocean. She sees what you’re doing! She feels the vibrations of your voice and heartbeat. She can smell you. She can easily initiate nursing. She can feel safe. See postings here {Baby Wearing and Carrying: Do It!} and here {Wear Your Baby in a Wrap or Sling} about wearing your baby.

And, extra bonus, she will have lots of good digestion & burps because she’s upright!

5) Snuggle.

Duh! Everyone loves to snuggle with their babies. But especially if she doesn’t share sleep with you, which I love sharing with our little ones, make time to actually lay in bed and snuggle–be it before naptime/bedtime, or if you’re home, during the day, just lay on the floor nest you’ve built for her. Let her have down time with you where there’s no stimulus but your presence, and watch how she reacts. Let her know you’re there for the quiet moments in life too. See sleep section here.

Treasure these moments. SweetPea is almost 6 months already!! Where did the time go? Everyday is another gift with her. 


  1. Andrea on September 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Great list!! I also felt like the best thing I could do for my baby before she was mobile was to wear her (or at least carry her around – she had weeks where she didn’t want to be worn but still wanted to be with me!) because not only would we be close and have all the other benefits you mention under 4 and 5, but I think they can learn/develop more from seeing and experiencing the world with you and at your level than they can from sitting and playing with toys. I think that’s true even as they get older, but maybe not to the same degree when they can start to explore the world by themselves. At any rate, I like to think she still benefits developmentally from me carrying her around and seeing what I do every day.

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 25, 2012 at 7:37 pm

      You’re totally right. Children learn more from people than objects. What a beautiful thing you share with your daughter!!