Boost Baby's Brainpower with Play

Enhance the Educational Benefits of Play

Create a positive environment. Latch the medicine cabinet, cover electrical outlets, and put breakables up high to let your little one safely explore her world. This means you spend less time saying "no" and more time saying "yes," Engel-Smothers says. "If a child keeps getting told 'no,' she'll stop exploring and problem solving," she says.

Make activities more memorable. Plopping your babe in front of an educational TV program or computer game isn't as intellectually stimulating as it may seem. To participate in the experience and engage your little one, repeat what is going on in the show and ask questions. "This makes the experience so much more meaningful," Engel-Smothers says.

Know when to stop. Too much play can do more harm than good. "Everyone's brain needs a break," Engel-Smothers says. "If your child is overstressed, there is no time for her brain to make connections and create more growth." Take a breather if your little one avoids your gaze and instead fidgets with his fingers and toes, or if he bursts into tears.

Copyright © 2009 Meredith Corporation.

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