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Brain Building Tips

Vroom distils early learning research into bite-size activities that support children’s brain growth from birth to age five. With the backing of the Bezos Family Foundation, vroom.org was developed by a group of dedicated scientists, community leaders and trusted brands, with input from community organisations and families, early childhood experts and neuroscientists.

A Changing Conversation

Nappy change

When you’re changing your child, make a funny sound. How does he/she respond? By smiling? Kicking his/her legs? Making a sound? Try a new sound and see what he/she does. Keep adding new ones to the mix!

Back and forth conversations can happen even without words. You are teaching your child about how conversations work. First one person speaks, then the other. This is an early and important lesson about the pleasure and skill of communicating—a skill that’s important in school and in life.

A Tall Tale

Nappy change

At his/her next nappy change, tell your child a silly story about the tallest little child in the world while stretching his/her arms over his/her head.

Your voice is your child's favourite sound. Even though your child can't talk back yet, he/she is already taking in your words and using them to build the foundation for language later on.

Bat It

Nappy change

Hold a small safe toy over your child’s head as he/she lies on his/her back wearing his/her fresh nappy. Make a soft noise and jiggle the toy. Does he/she bat at it with his/her hands? Try to kick it? Answer his/her actions with another sound and gentle jiggle.

As you play this fun game with your child, he/she is learning to pay attention and to pursue a goal: hitting the toy with his/her hands or feet. It’s amazing to think that a baby so young is already developing thinking skills he/she will use the rest of his/her life.

Blowfish

Nappy change

After you change your child, puff up your cheeks like a blowfish and then place his/her feet on your cheeks to push the air out till you go “pop!” What other sounds or faces can you make together—like sticking out your tongue? Can your child copy some of these?

The back and forth game you’re playing with your child when making faces and noises may seem silly, but it’s not! Your child is learning to watch you and respond, which are essential components for the skill of communicating now and in the future.

Changing Chats

Nappy change

When you’re changing your child's nappies, make funny noises and see if you can make him/her giggle or coo, then giggle and coo back at him/her. See how many times you can go back and forth. Follow his/her lead and have a conversation with faces and sounds.

By following your child’s lead and also responding, you’re building the connections his/her brain will need for conversation and language later on.

Changing Steps

Nappy change

When changing your child’s nappy, describe the steps you are taking: “First you lay down. Then we take off your pants. Now I unfasten your nappy.” Pause after each so your child can lift his/her bottom or move his/her legs to help.

Your step-by-step description invites your child to focus on the details of nappy changing. Your pause invites him/her to practice waiting and to control his/her behaviour. These are important thinking skills your child will use to learn in school and life.

High in the Sky

Nappy change

After changing your child, lift him/her up and give him/her a chance to look around. Then safely in your arms, turn around or lift him/her up and down. Let your child enjoy the new view and talk with him/her about what he/she is seeing. Is your child looking at the window or the shelves?

Moving in space will catch your child’s attention and interest as you give him/her time to take in different views of the world. You’re showing your child the pleasure of new discoveries, a step on the path of becoming a lifelong learner.

Mirror Mirror

Nappy change

Does your child wiggle when you change his/her nappies? Do you have an unbreakable mirror or something safe and reflective where your child can see himself/herself Give him/her this to hold and talk about what he/she is looking at: “I see you looking at your nose!”

Babies learn their senses. When your child sees his/her face and you talk about his/her nose and other body parts, he/she is making connections between words and objects, which lays the foundation for reading in the future.

Mirror, Mirror

Nappy change

During changing time, see if there’s something safe and mirror-like to give your child. Point to his/her nose in the mirror and say, “There’s your nose. Can you find your mouth? Your eyes?” Have a conversation about what your child is finding.

Even the most routine tasks, like nappy changing, provide opportunities for your child to explore and learn about the world. Finding parts of his/her face in the mirror and naming them builds concepts and vocabulary, and it’s fun too!

Nappy Song

Nappy change

When you’re changing your child’s nappy, sing about what you’re doing. Watch your child and copy the sounds he/she makes so you can create a song together. Your song plus his/her sounds can become your own nappy Song for changing time!

When your child hears new sounds and he/she sees you respond to the sounds he/she makes, he/she can become focused and engaged. This enables your child to learn new words and sounds that will help him/her learn to talk and read in the future.

Proud Potty

Nappy change

Potty training can be really tough. Try celebrating your child’s successful potty trips. Tell your child a story about what he/she did in a proud tone: “You went to the bathroom in the potty.” Invite him/her to tell a story too. Be matter-of-fact about accidents. And when he/she doesn’t have a successful potty trip, tell him/her, “That’s okay. You’ll do better next time.”

It is hard work to put together the signals that your body is telling you (“I have to go potty”) with the actions of sitting in the right place, the potty, and going. When you praise your child’s effort, “You did it!” he/she will be more willing to take on the challenge.

Singing While You Change

Nappy change

Sing one of your favourite children’s songs to your child while you change him/her, but put their name in the song: “Row, row, row (your child’s name), gently down the stream,” or “Rock-a-bye (your child’s name) in the treetop.” Encourage him/her to sing along too.

Your child is learning new words and sounds when you sing. The more meaningful and playful words he/she hears, the more he/she will appreciate language. This will help your child learn more words to use when he/she begins to talk.