Think back to the last time you visited a new and exciting place. What did you see, hear, smell, and feel? Were you curious to explore? It’s an exciting feeling, isn’t it? This is what the world is like for your 3- to 6-month-old baby and with a few easy tips, you can use his natural curiosity to stimulate her mind and support his learning and development.
Introducing new experiences and objects to your baby will encourage his curiosity. However, it’s important to make them match his needs, interests, and development.1 At this age, some stimuli are better suited for your little one’s learning than others.
According to Jill Stamm and Paula Spencer in their book “Bright From the Start,” there are a few factors to consider when selecting objects to stimulate your baby’s curiosity:2
- Intensity: Your baby at this age is more able to notice extremes in stimuli, so use high-contrast colors (e.g., black and white or bright colors), bold images, and contrasting high and low sounds.
- Size: Interestingly, he is more likely to notice very large and very small objects, not those in-between.
- Novelty: He is more likely to be interested in exploring new objects rather than old. And once he figures out her new toy, he will quickly move on to the next new item!
- Incongruity: He is more likely to notice things that don’t fit in with other items in a group, such as a ball mixed in with a bunch of blocks.
- Personal Significance: Saying her name, labeling things with her name, or showing her pictures of herself will help your baby develop her self-concept and make her naturally curious about what you are sharing with her.
- Emotion: It is important to make sure that your child is emotionally ready to learn. He should be alert, happy, and relaxed before being introduced to any new experiences. This also goes for your baby’s first time in the Otteroo floatie. First time experiences can be a blast, or not, depending on your mood and that applies to all of us.
With these considerations in place, you can create fun and stimulating learning environments for your baby. Here are a few more ideas for you and your baby to help spur his learning:
- Play together often. Children learn through play! Make sure to have plenty of playtime with him to encourage playful exploration.
- Allow her to explore freely. Create a safe space filled with interesting items and let him explore. Stay close by but instead of grabbing things for him and dictating to him what it is, give him time to look around and make sense of things on his own, at his own pace.
- Place interesting toys just out of reach. Get her attention with an interesting toy, and show her how to use it. After you have done this, place it just out of her reach and encourage her to get it.
- Have a variety of toys and objects to play with on hand, and rotate them frequently.3 Make sure to have a variety of sights, sounds, and textures to play with; and switch up which toys are offered for play so that each remains novel.
1 Gellens, S.R. (2013). Building Brains. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.
2 Stamm, J. & Spencer, P. (2007). Bright from the Start. New York, NY: Gotham Books.
3 Connecticut Department of Social Services. Connecticut’s Guidelines for the Development of Infant and Toddler Early Learning.