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The Best Way to Encourage Your Baby’s Development

Hint: It has very little to do with specific toys or activities.

Babies grow and develop fast. In just a matter of months, they gain a huge number of motor, language, and social skills – from holding up their heads to rolling over or walking, to babbling their first words. (See a list of month-by-month milestones here.)

Most infants don’t require a lot of specific toys or activities to develop. They just need time and attention from their parents and other loved ones.

“I always tell parents they are the best toys a child can have,” says Kristine Tolentino-Plata, MS, Child Development Specialist in the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at UT Southwestern practicing at Children’s Health℠. “Skin-to-skin contact, eye contact, talking to them – any parent-child interaction – is very important beginning at a very young age.”

To encourage infant development, focus on activities that encourage bonding and time together, such as:
• Skin-to-skin contact
• Talking to and playing with baby
• Practicing tummy time
Reading books to baby
Singing songs with baby

If you do want to get toys, Tolentino-Plata recommends colorful toys that are simple to manipulate. She also recommends parents avoid screen time completely for babies.

“It doesn’t matter if it is educational or not,” she says. “We want parent-child interaction or another human being that can give them feedback. Tablets, iPads and electronics should be avoided for infant development.”

As a parent, it is helpful to be mindful of milestones to ensure your baby develops as they should. However, it’s also important to know that each child develops at their own pace. Learn more here.

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