So with that in mind, just what do you need to do to have a wonder baby?
KEEP LISTENING TO MUSIC:
If you didn't read the Getting Started 0 to 4 Month post, check out for a more information on this and the next 3 items.
Seems how your child is getting bigger you may now want to carry them with you every second (or you might and that's awesome). But make sure you still provide contact (even if you're not breastfeeding) a few quick and easy ideas for this are: 1- Message your baby (not only does this give you contact time, but it also can alleviate growing pains and help them relax/sleep). Click Here to learn how to message your baby. 2. Play games such as the Grand Ol Duke of York, London Bridges, Pat A Cake, or I'm A Little Teapot or hundreds of other similar motion songs with them. This gives you contact time, music time, and face time all at the same time! PERFECT. Click on any of the titles of these songs to see them on YouTube (just in case you don't know the words.) You don't need to run out and buy CDs, books or anything! YouTube will guide you though every childhood song you can possibly hope to master!
Tummy time is still crucial to your child's development. See the Getting Started 0 to 4 Months post for even more information on this.
Your child can not start learning to read, and there are tons and tons and tons of options. So let's start with the ABC's! There are again hundreds of programs to teach your child the ABC's but there are two that are absolutely WONDERFUL - the first one is YOU!!! Sing to them! Get a .70 cent package of 3x5 Index cards (or better yet find a sell on them and pay .25 cents) and a Sharpy Marker, with your best hand writing write all 26 letters in upper and lower case. You now have flashcards! Not sure you want to go to that much work? No problem here's a pack for pretty cheep already done up. Also most Wal-Marts, Targets and similar stores have flash cards next to the coloring books in the toy section for anywhere from .99 cents to about $5.00. The second amazing program we've found to teach the ABC's and their sounds is Leap Frog Letter Factory. Now this not only teaches your child their ABC's the sounds, and if you buy the second and third letter factory DVD's it also teaches them how to assemble words, BUT it also gives you a 28 minute brake. You can usually find the first DVD for about $9.00 to $10.00 in any Wal-Mart or on Amazon.com. So congratulations you now have your very first teaching investment to purchase! My daughters both love Tad and his adventures, and have learned a lot!
If you want to jump right into teaching them to read (don't skip the ABC's just do them in conjunction with reading) then the very best pre-assembled program I've found is BrillKids. I've used several now, and non of them are particularly cheep. I love BrillKids it costs me about $18.50 a month, however not everyone has the money to start out with something you have to pay for (or the desire). So if you are someone like that you can simply start by using 3x5 index cards and writing common words and using them as flash cards (hold the card up, read the word out loud and then move to the next card) or you can use Powerpoint to create 5 second slides of words! If you are going to make your own start with 200 words (you can do less but 200 is optimal) and run though at least 25 of them 2's a day. I will be writing and entire blog on great starter words, but optimally use words you think your baby will encounter. Brake up the words you choose into categories do 25 words from "around the house", 25 from "family", 25 from "outside", 25 from "shapes, and colors", etc.
AND AS ALWAYS READ TO YOUR CHILD!
Math... what a nasty word! Actually math really is a lot of fun, and if you had been taught math correctly in school you'd totally agree! Math is a game, that's it. It's a big puzzle and you just have to make it all fit together. KIDS LOVE PUZZLES! So why make math anything other then fun? Okay so now that you know it's fun (and don't think I don't know you don't believe me) where do you get started? Well why not puzzles? After all we just established that's what math was right?
(This is one of my favorite puzzles)
There is also a brillkid program for math (which if you choose to go this rout then get them bundled for $25.00 bucks a month for both programs). These are 3 minute pre-done lessons with nothing for you to do but hit play, and sit back. Making them easy to remember, easy to do, and interactive for your child. Otherwise get out your 3x5 index cards again and write down the numbers 0 to 9 and start doing flash card drills. If you want your kids to pick up on counting quickly... start counting foods! Even if they do nothing but watch you, count out crackers, candies, scoops of formula, etc. The more you do it the faster they'll understand! Count bubbles in the bath, count strokes while brushing their hair etc. So you got all that? Puzzles, Numbers and Counting.
Let your child spend time every week coloring. Give them a crayon, a magnetic board, a piece of side walk chalk, paint, it really doesn't matter. Let them experiment with it (not eat it)! They don't need a coloring book, a fancy easel, or expensive acrylics. A pencil will do (as long as it's not sharp). If you have a box of crayons (you should have a box of crayons) then use this opportunity to introduce colors as well. Hand them one crayon at a time and tell them what color it is. Praise their art work, and if at all possible display it! The only art kids need to learn at this age, is that THEY are manipulating their environment in some way. That knowledge alone will help them though out life!
Oh here's another one that makes parents run and hide in the closet! The response I get most often when I bring this up is "I don't know sign language"... well that is a problem isn't it? You may have heard of a show called SigningTime epic show, but again it's expensive. So how about you start by watching the short clips on YouTube? I've never purchased a SigningTime product and yet both my kids sign. Everything you need for this can easily be found online! Here's how you start... find 3 things your baby wants or needs, now go HERE and look those three things up. Sign them to your baby when you are asking if that's what they want. (Example: do you want a BOTTLE?) when you say bottle, use the sign. Don't go crazy, find three! When you have those down so that saying it and signing it are second nature to you... add three more! Some babies will start signing back as early as 6 months. Let me tell you the day your baby signs "HURTS" instead of cries for hours, you'll cry with joy! If you do want to let your kids watch some entertaining and educational TV SigningTime is an excellent choice, (another option, is to go onto YouTube and make a Play List using about 30 minutes worth of their shorts, and stream it off the internet on your TV).
Okay so again you're thinking this is going to consume your day, I can tell just by the way you are reading this you are overwhelmed. Let's simplify it a little...
Read To Your Child (10 to 20 minutes)
Read WITH Your Child, Flash Cards, BrillKid Program, Powerpoint ETC. (5-7 minutes)
Find A Way To Have Personal Contact With Your Child (If you're nursing you've already done this, if not it can be as little as 5 minutes)
Let Your Child Listen To Music (Do this while you're cleaning, sleeping etc.)
Sign Them The ABC's (2 minutes if you're a slow singer)
Count Their Toes (30 seconds)
Sign "Food", "Bottle" another common desire to them. (2 seconds)
Total Time Spent At The Most :33 Minutes 34 Seconds (that's if you don't multi task any of them!)
Then 2-3 Times A Week:
Find Time For Them To Draw or Color (5 to 10 minutes)
Name Colors To Them, In The Park, Their Crayons, Food etc. (5 Minutes)
Show Them ABC Flash Cards, or A Leap Frog (3-5 Minutes for Flash Cards or 28 Minutes for LeapFrog)
Show Them Numbers Flash Cards or Do A Program Like Brill Kid Math (2-3 Minutes)
Total Time Spent At Most: 46 Minutes (that's if you allow them to watch LeapFrog at which point YOU GET A BRAKE!)
THE BIG DISCLAIMER:
Homework is not a grueling list of tasks for babies! Make sure your child is having fun OR STOP! If your baby just isn't doing it one day DON'T DO IT! If you get half way though the ABC's or just to D and their attention span is gone, STOP! If they get distracted and want to do something else DO IT! You're baby will learn with your consistency and they will surprise you when they come up and ask you to do "reading" with them or "1, 2, 4" with them! If your child is just not paying attention go ahead and continue, they are absorbing things even if it doesn't seem like it. But when they are done, you are both done! This is not a battle, it's a bonding, learning, loving time for you two or three or four to spend together. If your life is busy, you work (from home or outside the home), you have more then one child, or you just don't feel you are organized enough to keep up with this then consider investing the $25.00 a month for the next year to buy BrillKid there you can download all the extras you need FOR FREE to literally do everyone of these things (except tummy time, and contact) for you. You can sit back let it play and enjoy knowing YOU are still teaching your child! Most of all make it fun for both of you!
IF YOU STILL FEEL OVERWHELMED:
Choose two items off the list and do those for one month. Then add one more item. Continue until you feel comfortable doing these activities with your child. This should not overwhelm you if it does your child will feel that and they will become overwhelmed with it too! Think about it this way if you ONLY taught your child to read before their 5th birthday they would already know what 18% off American children graduate high school with out knowing!