5 ways to raise a Smart Baby

Anyone else miss the Starbucks red cups for Christmas? I am currently sipping on a Grande Soy Chai, sitting on a stool at my local Starbucks, watching people scurry in for their daily buzzzz. Anyway, the cup almost looks like a coloring book. Black and white drawings, depicting Christmas, with presents, trees, ornaments sprinkled throughout the cup with pops of red peppered throughout. I kinda like it. Reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas. Which is presents, obvi...........juuuuuuuuust kidding, its togetherness (insert silly face). 

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Yeeeowzaaa, you must be thinking " Okay Marilyn, please move on to the topic of your bloggity blog post".

I receive tons of DMs and messages from new mamas or moms in general wanting to learn more about Mila's learning lessons, and what/how I do them. I keep them quite simple actually and below are the 5 key how-to's.

To START, Here are some FACTS:

(image from Buzz South Africa)

(image from Buzz South Africa)

The first THREE years a child’s brain has up to twice as many synapses as it will have in adulthood. Little neurons are tripling at the most fastest rate ever. Now, I am not an expert in this, however, there are hundreds of supporting research studies that this is true. Knowing all of this, I felt the biggest responsibility in my life to maximize and take advantage of my baby's development and capitalizing on the possibility of raising a brainiac.  A child’s senses report to the brain about her environment and experiences, and this input stimulates neural activity. Speech sounds, for example, stimulate activity in language-related brain regions. If the amount of input increases (if more speech is heard) synapses between neurons in that area will be activated more often. 

1. Talking. I talk to Mila allllllllll daaaaaaay long. But NO BABY TALK, and NO MISPRONOUNCING words to make them sound baby-like. I talk and have talked to Mila like an adult, however, I do use a higher pitched voice, since studies show babies/toddlers respond and listen better to higher pitched voices.  I started this when she was a newborn. What do you talk about you ask? Everything and it starts with every morning. I greet her with an "Hola, buenos Dias hermosa" (Hi, Good morning beautiful). Then, I go and open the window curtains, as I tell her exactly what I am doing. Basically, in summary, I explain everything I am doing and why. Early on in the newborn stage, she just listened and you may think they aren't paying attention, but they are. Now that she is 17 months old. She responds to what I am doing, a "Buenos Dias", is replied by her saying "Hola" as she flops her little hand around in her attempt to wave. Talking, and explaining, "this is a light switch, this is what it does", "We have to feed the dog, he must be so hungry" (examples). 

2. No TV. Hard right? But there are NO benefits to putting your baby/toddler in front of a TV. There isn't. So don't do it. I didn't realize how much I needed the TV on, until I was intentionally trying to keep it off. Look for activities to keep your baby/toddler busy in a pack n' play so they learn independent play and problem solving. Now, yes I am a culprit in turning the TV on for Mila for me to do quick tasks like cleaning up after meal time or answering a quick email, but I set my timer to 15 min. and try to stay in that range. Now that Mila is a little older (17 months), there are a few 15 min educational shows I will let her watch, but we interact with it together so she isn't just plopped in front of the TV. It also keeps me from sitting back and wasting time on social media .  Some of our favorite shows are (Pocoyo, Little Baby Bum (the counting and shapes episodes,  Word Party). 

3. Our hard lessons are only during meal times. We sit together during every meal and eat together. During that time we play music to start off. It has been so funny to observe what kind of music she likes. So far, Despacito is her favorite and we have listened to it so many times, that I have grown to hate it. HA. Her favorite genre though are the 80's, and that fact alone makes me so freaking happy because I cannot get enough of Toto. ANYWAY, I use an iPad for our lessons, and google search images. When we started our lessons, I kicked it off with animals. I would google different animals, click on images, show her the image, say what it was called plus if there is a sound related to it, I would make the sound. I show her 3 different ones and then start again and ask her "What is this", "What noise does it make". I introduce a new category every few weeks depending on how she does and get more creative on how we revisit the category throughout the day and week. So if we are learning about animals, I would make it a goal to go to the zoo, shelter etc. so she can experience it live. The categories we started off with are the following: Body parts, Animals, household items, outdoors (trees, plants, flowers), vehicles, colors, numbers. (still working on colors and numbers). This may feel overwhelming, but it really isn't. Just sit with your baby/toddler during meal times (because that is when you will have their undivided attention and they can't go anywhere). 

4. Know your baby/toddler and capitalize when you notice that they are really into something. For example, several weeks ago, Mila kept saying "Nay, Nay, Caballo" (horse). So I catered our lessons around horses, their colors, we went to a local horse farm, fed them apples etc. Get the picture? Doesn't have to be formal, just make it fun. Listen to your child. There have been a few days where I tried to give her lessons and she flat out said "No, No, NOOOO", with a dramatic head roll and finger waving. So did we do lessons that day? No we didn't. But I did come up with other ways for her to learn. 

5. Have Fun, be creative, and become a kid again. This is the best time of your life. Maximize the little moments you have together, put your phone aside, and let your house get messy and just submerge yourself in the imaginary and big world your child is experiencing right now. Put yourself in their shoes, try to see what they see, feel what they feel and connect with your little one in a way where you both speak the same lingo.

Also, if you are running out of creative play and learning ideas, below are a few pages in IG that I like to reference: @happytoddlerplaytime, @playfullittlelearners, @earlylearning101

Now, I do not claim to be an expert in anything, and kinda winging this motherhood thing. I do know one thing though, and that is the importance of teaching your child through consistent talking and being purposeful and intentional about the time you have together.

I hope you find this helpful and please message me if you have any questions.

Thank you for reading, love your face.

Marilyn