Provide lots of loving attention and touch. Babies don’t get spoiled, so there is no need to hold back on showing love.
Respond to them.
Answer your baby in a loving voice when they make a sound or movement.
Hold your baby close, smile, and make silly sounds or faces. Play games like “peek-a-boo.” Take a break if they seem overwhelmed or try to look away.
Comfort your baby when they get fussy or cry. They might be tired, hungry, or uncomfortable. Try rocking them or singing a lullaby. It will take time to learn what works best.
Have a routine.
Have consistent times and ways of doing daily activities like feeding, bathing, reading, and bedtime. Routines help babies and young children feel safe and know what to expect. They also help adults manage stress.
Hug and cuddle with your toddler so they feel safe and loved.
Be supportive and encouraging when your child tries new things.
Invite your toddler to help with everyday tasks, like handing you clothes for the laundry.
Talk about feelings.
Help your child describe how they feel. Let them know that all feelings are OK, and that you are there for them when they are happy or upset.
Offer choices like what to wear or eat, but give a limited number of options. For example, “It’s time for a snack. Do you want an apple or grapes?”
Set basic limits.
Focus on safety-related rules like not hitting people. Put "No" in front of the thing you don't want your child to do, then distract them with another activity. Use the same rules consistently so your child learns them. Do your best to stay calm.
Talk to your baby from the time they are born during activities like changing, feeding, bathing, and errands. Describe what you are doing.
Use a playful voice.
Smile and look into your baby’s eyes. Exaggerate the sounds of words.
Follow their interests.
Talk about the things your baby looks at or reaches for. Notice which ways of talking or singing seem to interest them the most.
Go back and forth.
When your baby makes a sound, show excitement on your face and in your voice. Respond with words. See how long you can keep the “conversation” going back and forth between the two of you.
Your baby’s favorite songs might be those that repeat words or have rhyming sounds.
Point to objects.
Point to objects and name them—especially the things that seem to interest your baby.
Talk about the everyday things you see and do together. Most things are new and interesting to a toddler!
Use your hands.
Point to the objects you talk about. Encourage your child to point to objects that you name.
Listen and respond.
Show your toddler that you are interested in what they have to say. Respond to their comments and questions. Expand on what your child says. For example, if they point to a dog and say, “Doggie,” you can reply, “Yes, that is a doggie. It’s brown and soft.”
Get your toddler to think. Ask questions that start with "Who...?" "What...?" or "Why...?" For example, "Why do you think the boy is sad?" Show interest in their answers.
Sing songs and recite nursery rhymes from your childhood, from books, or make up new ones. Your toddler may especially enjoy the ones with rhyming sounds or hand motions. Try singing the same song whenever it’s time for a special activity like bath time.
Use any language.
Speak in whatever language you are most comfortable. All languages help children’s development. It’s great if your child grows up speaking more than one language!
Tap your baby’s tummy or clap their hands together to the rhythm of a song. Or rock them as you sing a lullaby.
For example, count and wiggle each of their toes. Or count as you gently bounce them in your lap.
Help your baby explore things that are the same and different. Let them shake containers that make different sounds. Or give them different types of fabrics to touch (like smooth and scratchy). Talk about the differences.
Fill up and dump out.
For example, use a container to scoop and dump water in the bathtub. Use words like “in,” “out,” “full,” and “empty.”
Your baby won’t understand for a while, but that’s fine. They will hear your voice, see the pictures, and develop good feelings about books.
Keep it simple.
Board books with hard covers and thick pages are made especially for babies. Choose books that are short and have simple, bright pictures.
Hold your baby in your lap so they feel cozy and can see the pictures.
Involve them. They might want to hold the book, turn the pages, or pat the pictures. They might even chew on the book. It’s all part of learning!
Describe the pictures.
It’s not important to read all—or any—of the words. Point to the pictures and describe the colors, shapes, and what the characters are doing.
Follow their lead.
When they start to lose interest, try another book or stop. Short periods of reading will work best.
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