3 Secrets To Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind from Birth to Age 3

I am sure we have seen advertisements and media hypes about products and toys that promise to "create engaging learning opportunities," "stimulate cognitive development," and "brain-building fun". The business of 'edutainment' is a flourishing sector. Parents are spending a lot of money and energy with the promises offered by the said 'genius baby' tagline. I am sure they are not entirely detrimental to a child's development. But it is definitely misleading to say that purchasing such toys or services for children is the only way of producing smart and intelligent learners.

Neuroscience has advanced drastically over the past decade. We need to equip ourselves with such science backings on learning and human mind. If we don't, it is easy to fall prey to such claims by reputable toy companies and edutainment industry giants. They do use similar neuroscience research backings but what they fail to reveal is, the need of babies and toddlers are much simpler and can be learnt and achieved by parents and caretakers.

Science tells us that babies need more consistency, and they need the '3 Secrets' earlier than we think. In fact, they're as easy as ABC.

The cornerstones of what a bright, happy baby or toddler needs are




Babies don't need flashcards, brainy videos at six months, and baby software at ten months. A very young child's future success depends less on "academics". Instead critical factors such as love and care received from caretakers, how often they hear bedtime stories, and how much time is spent listening to their Dino adventures and outer space quests, forms the foundation to a ready brain (healthy, active, and nurtured brain) that is capable for learning in the future.

So, how do we do this?

I read this book, 'Bright From The Start' by Dr.Jill Stamm during my 1st pregnancy. It was really mind-blowing how she nurtured her daughter, multiply handicapped as a result of severe prematurity, with such grace and the 3 secrets, Attention, Bonding, and Communication.

I am going to share some suggestions from the book on what we as parents can do to promote a bright developing mind.


( ability to use the brain's energy to focus)

Infant: 0-6 months

- deliberately attend to infant with frequent face-to-face time

- using exaggerated facial expressions and mouth movements

- point out objects while labelling objects throughout the day

- use objects/toys/books with high contrast colours( red, black, white, and yellow)

Infant: 6-18 months

- introduce only one variable (concept) at a time so that baby can concentrate on a single variable. For example, group objects by colour only: red socks, red wooden block, red spoon. Name them as babies are handling those objects.

Toddler: 18 months to 3 years

- bring face down to toddler's eye level when wanting to capture their attention

- make direct eye contact

- use objects/people in books to focus on details ( e.g: where did the butterfly go? Is he hiding behind the leaf?)

- sing songs with rhythmic clapping sequences

- play songs that have a sequence to follow

2. Bonding

( Brains Need Hugs)

Infant: 0-6 months

- Deliberately hold the infant. Kiss, hug, and hold infant routinely throughout the day

- Encourage skin-to-skin contact. Massage infant regularly.

- Establish consistent routines for feeding, bathing, and sleeping

Infant: 6-18 months

- Introduce baby to a variety of new 'feels' ( new temperatures, textures)

- provide a variety of objects to feel and explore with hands, mouths, and feet while verbally labelling for baby

Toddler: 18 months to 3 years

- At special times during the day, take the time to hold and hug the toddler.

- Resist temptation to over-schedule toddler's time and slow activity level down periodically- less rushing, calmer atmosphere.

- Begin to label, describe, and model some favourite rituals ( religious, cultural, or family)

- Establish lap reading together

3. Communication

( Development of Language Systems and Language Skills)

Infant: 0-6 months

- Talk frequently all day long, describing actions and objects that are encountered in the daily routine ( changing diapers, feeding)

- Introduce music at different times throughout the day and sing simple songs

- Hang photos for the infant to look at while in a crib, car seat' or on the floor

Infants: 6 to 18 months

- Deliberately label and discuss feelings ( tired, hungry, happy, mad)

- Hold baby and read books daily in order to share new words and repeat reading familiar books that the baby enjoys

- Frequently read rhyming stories

- Provide building blocks for stacking to foster eye-hand coordination needed for writing

- Provide opportunities for the baby to pick up tiny pieces of bread, bananas, for practice with fine motor skills

- Allow baby to turn pages of cardboard book.

- Ask baby to point to real life objects pictures in his favourite books.

- Read the same book over and over.

Toddler: 18 months to 3 years

- Emphasise eye-to-eye contact when talking directly to the toddler to assure understanding

- Hold toddler close while reading

- Ask open-ended questions ( 'What do you think will happen next?')

- Follow toddler's lead. Identify and discuss what toddler talks about. Find and read more books on those subjects.

We practised some of these suggestions with our children and definitely saw a positive outcome, not just academic but the approach to learning in general.

It goes to show that WE as parents are the people with power to positively impact our own child's learning potential. We just need to invest our time and energy to create a loving and nurturing environment in order to have a BRIGHT child.