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How Babies Learn (Part 2)

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Dear Debi,
I am a nanny of an 8-month -old boy. He likes to study people and observe. I take him to the park and he just sits and watches, I think he has fun and learns that way. Is he really learning? How exactly do babies learn?
Jessie, Los Angeles, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
Host
  • Consistent responsive care is essential for healthy development and learning
  • Babies learn through all of their senses
  • Be sensitive to each babyís unique needs and personality
Expert Advice
Ann Corwin, Ph. D.
Ann Corwin, Ph. D.
Early childhood development specialist
Many researchers say babies start to learn in utero. Babies can hear language in utero, because the brain is already being wired to hear within the womb. I recommend parents to talk to their babies in utero and continue as soon as they are born.

Newborns will seek out the human face. They can see within a few inches from their face so itís a great opportunity to bond and allow babies to learn by looking at your face. Infants learn to recognize communication before they are born, so itís never too early to read to your baby, talk to him or her, and expose the baby to different sounds. Babies also communicate to their mother by kicking in the womb. This is an important sign of a healthy baby.

A babyís shrill cry is a survival mechanism for them to get people to meet their needs. Infants use these basic forms of communication to signal essential survival needs. Babies will learn to make more sounds and facial expressions when they are interacted with consistently.

Itís important to stimulate a childís senses. Using music can really help babies develop their brains. Giving babies healthy touches, allowing them to do nutritive sucking as well as allowing them to suck on things like their fingers, and other items. Sucking actually helps babies learn how to control impulses.

If a child care provider can form a good bond with the infant Ė through healthy touching, loving conversations, consistency in responding to infants needs Ė the infant will learn from these interactions. The baby will learn how to trust and know they are safe in their care and be open to learning in that environment.

Itís good to make a ritual out of the transition from parent to child care provider. If you establish a routine, such as using the same blanket to take a baby to child care, the infant will learn that itís safe to be with the child care provider, which is crucial. Babies need to feel safe, so that they feel secure and are open to learning.

Remember, babies donít need fancy expensive equipment in order to learn. All they really need is a good, attentive child care provider. If they have consistency with the child care provider, you become their vehicle for learning. Give them opportunities to move about freely and explore. When feeding, take them out of them seat, hold them, touch their cheek when they eat. Our presence and our interaction is the best learning tool for them.
Child Care provider Comments
Darlene
Darlene
Family child care provider for 4 years
I think infants learn from observations, either by watching you or by watching themselves in a mirror. Babies also learn by using all of their senses. When they investigate things, their instinct is to put them into their mouths. They are also very sensitive to auditory stimulation and love sounds that soothe them. You have to remember that they learn from everything around them, so itís easy for them to get over-stimulated. Itís important to make sure their environment doesnít become too overwhelming.
Jo-Ann
Jo-Ann
Family child care provider for 2 years
Babies should be talked to constantly and they should be given toys that are interactive and stimulate them. You should be taking every opportunity to interact with babies individually because they learn by observing you and mimicking. I notice that babies thrive from constant interaction and stimulation. But itís important to balance activities so that they arenít over-stimulated. If they cry or move away, thatís a sign that they have had enough. Itís important to be aware of those cues and accommodate babies accordingly.
Erica
Erica
Child care provider for 8 years
I think that babies learn a lot from healthy physical contact and bonding with a child care provider. I think they learn about positive interactions and are learning about giving and receiving affection. Babies also need to have physical contact with objects because they learn through their senses. So I make sure they are exposed to many different toys and books and other objects that they can explore and learn from. Itís important to remember that babies are constantly learning.

Footprint Painting Featured Activity:
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How Babies Learn Featured Video:
How Babies Learn
Topic: Child Development
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Related Episodes
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Resources
The California Child Care Healthline
1-800-333-3212
Child Care Aware - Rethinking the Brain
Zero to Three: National Center For Infants, Toddlers and Families
California 5 a Day Campaign
La Leche League
(800) 525-3243
Baby Workshop
Nutrition Information
FDA Center for Food Safety and Nutrition
(888) 723-3366
WIC Works
(888) 942-9675
DHADOC.com
 
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