Baby’s play time plays a powerful role in helping lay the foundation for success in school and later on in life.

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Children’s play time and brain growth go hand in hand. Parents and caregivers serve as a child’s first teacher and a baby’s play time plays a powerful role in helping lay the foundation for success in school and later on in life.

Here are a few simple and no-cost ideas to give a baby’s developing brain a boost.

Reading and talking to babies and toddlers is one of the best ways to create attachment, develop early literacy skills and promote a lifelong love of reading. While reading out loud to a baby, parents and caregivers also can go through picture books and describe scenes, colors and actions of characters.

Singing reinforces attachment for babies and toddlers. Rest assured, your baby loves hearing your voice even if you might sing a little off-key. Sing your heart out to childhood favorites such as “Pat-a-Cake” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and your baby will applaud for an encore. Parents can also help boost brain development by moving baby’s arms and legs with the music.

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Playing with babies is how they learn best. While babies love toys, they love attention and making connections with their parents and caregivers the most. Have an impromptu musical performance with your baby and make “instruments” with items you already have at home. You can craft rhythm shakers by filling beans or rice in a small container and taping up the top; or make a homemade guitar by taking a loaf pan and putting rubber bands around it to create strings.

Spoiling babies too much just cannot happen. Shower love and affection on your child and let others do the same. Trusting relationships are necessary for babies to learn – grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends make great teachers, too. You can suggest family and friends audio or video record stories and then play them for your baby; or Facetime or Skype with relatives who live far away.

Children’s Home Society of Washington helps create a solid foundation for today’s children that will lead to prosperity for all of us in the future.