The first three years of life are your child’s critical brain-growth period. As a parent or caregiver, you can help boost their brain development during this time.
Don’t worry, it’s not that hard. You just engage with your toddler through games and activities that both of you can enjoy – and of course, consider the bond that will form between the two of you!
Below are 10 ideas on what you can do to boost your toddler’s brain development.
10 Ways to Boost Your Toddler’s Brain Development
I started asking my daughter, Kara, to do small tasks such as “pick up your toy” or “get your water bottle” during her first few months of toddlerhood. By doing this, you can test your toddler if she is able to perform a one-step command.
Afterward, I am testing Kara if she can do two-step commands like “sit down and eat your apples” or “get one diaper and give it to mommy.” You will be amazed once you see your toddler perform this. It’s like a proud moment for you and your child.
2. Simple decision-making
Sometimes, as a mother, you just want to finish the daily routine as quickly as possible. How about slowing down a bit some days? Give your toddler a chance to decide for herself.
For example, Kara has 2 toothbrushes that we use everyday. One is for me to use, and the other one is for her to hold and play while I brush her teeth – just so we won’t argue during toothbrush time. Before we start our toothbrush routine, I ask her which one she would like to use today. Most of the time, she will pick the one with a bear. Sometimes, she wants the panda design.
It may be time-consuming, but this simple thing you’ll do will allow her cognitive skills to develop as early as now.
3. Dumping and sorting
Kara likes to take out all her soiled clothes from the laundry basket. I don’t get mad at her. I just let her do it. Because she looks like she’s having fun emptying the basket. I don’t want to kill her simple joy.
When she’s done, I will ask her to bring all of the clothes back into the basket. Sometimes, she does it willingly. Sometimes, not.
We have this small, transparent, easy to build cabinet-like furniture inside our room. We use one cube as a container for Kara’s toys, and another cube for Kara’s books and puzzles.
When Kara decides to take everything out, I allow her to do so. Later on, I simply ask her to help me sort everything out and put them back in their right containers.
4. Play pretend
Kara has the mobile phone toy that she usually plays with when I ask her to call grandma or daddy while at work.
Another toy that we use for pretend play is the baby doll. I ask her what is she going to do if the baby suddenly cries. (Well, she tries to console the baby doll by carrying it on shoulder hold followed by tapping the baby doll’s back – while I produce a crying baby sound, haha!)
5. Supervised climbing
You may be very scared to let her do furniture climbing or stair climbing on her own. But trust me, you aren’t helping your toddler grow if you are always preventing them from doing these activities on their own.
What you can do is stay by her side and make sure you are on hand to prevent falls. Allowing your toddler to navigate on her own will help her gain confidence and experience.
6. Sing songs together
I have been singing nursery rhymes to Kara since day 1. Now that she is a toddler, I still continue singing with her. Also, we use Alexa Echo Dot to play random nursery rhyme songs. And Kara got an Amazon Fire Tablet (a Christmas gift) to watch and sing Sesame Street songs and Mother Goose Club songs.
Even before she turned one year old, she already knows the hand motions for The Wheels on The Bus and Baby Shark. And since she can do more now, she adds body movements along with those hand actions while singing a song – whether it’s the Freight Train song or A Whole New World.
7. Reading books routinely
Kara and I love reading the books together. You can tell she knows the lines from beginning to end because you will hear her say the last one or two words of each phrase or sentence.
The first time I noticed this, I was stunned. Kara wasn’t even looking at the book. She was staring at her Elmo toy and saying the words like she was talking to Elmo.
Try doing a bedtime routine of reading a book or two. And you will be amazed by how your toddler memorizes those lines they hear from your reading every night!
8. Talk to your toddler, anytime, anywhere
Talking to your toddler – not in a baby talk manner – will help boost her communication skills and intelligence.
Kara is now using the words “water,” “milk,” or “juice” to tell me what specific drink does she want.
It’s going to be difficult for me to understand and might be frustrating for the child if they can’t get what they want because they can’t express themselves correctly. This may happen if you use a single word for any drink that she gets exposed to.
9. Acknowledge their gestures
Their communication is still developing, and they will initially show gestures at first. For example, they may raise their hand if they want to get carried or may point to the food they want to eat.
You should respond to these gestures, so they will feel they were understood. In this way, you are encouraging her communication efforts. Their communication skills will develop, and sooner or later, you will notice words are spoken alongside these gestures.
For example, Kara points to something on the table before. So I figure it out myself which item on the table she is looking at. But now, she points while saying “nacks” (she means snacks, by the way!), and that makes it easier for me to grab that snack she wants to have.
10. Respect the “No”
If Kara doesn’t like the food I am offering, she will say “No,” and I won’t push her to eat it. If she doesn’t want to go to drink water yet, I will respect her decision and offer it again a few minutes after. Believe me, doing this will leave the unnecessary fights between you and your child.
Have you done some of the things listed above? How does it feel when your toddler shows advancement in various activities? Do you have additional ways that you can share with other moms and me?