If life with your child sometimes feels like an action-adventure movie, as she crawls from the living room to the dining room and then up the stairs, consider yourself lucky. All that non-stop excitement means she's exercising her body and her mind.

The curious 8-month-old baby who crawls all over the floor and up the stairs will one day become the curious 12-year-old who opens an encyclopedia to read all about India or learn more about algebra.

Babies are continually exposed to new experiences, sights and sounds. Whether it's exploring what's behind the couch or hearing music come from a radio, there's a lot she still needs to figure out.

The more your baby moves and tries new the things, the smarter she gets. The brain grows through experience and stimulation, says pediatrician Brian Orr, M.D. The more positive and safe experiences your baby has, such as going to a grocery store, playing in a park, and being read to, the more her brain will be ready to learn as she grows older.

Stimulate her Brain

For the most part, the brain doesn't grow in size like muscles or lengthen like bones. Instead, new happy experiences create pathways in the brain that encourage intelligence and creativity as time goes on. Being read to, seeing new places and faces, and hearing new words, as well as music, creates a brain that responds positively to the new requests life brings to a child and then an adult.


Even events that seem mundane to you, such as going to the grocery store or taking a walk, are new and exciting to a baby, Orr says. If you can talk to your baby and describe the experience as she goes through it, her brain will develop even more exponentially. In fact, research has shown that babies who hear a more extensive vocabulary will have better speech and vocabulary when they start school years later.

However, try to limit your baby to one or two new experiences a day. Too much stimulation, and your baby will feel overwhelmed. Routines create safety and security in a child, which helps their brain respond positively to the new stuff.

How to Develop her Mind

What follows are some great activities to share with your child to encourage healthy brain development:


  • Exercise with your baby. Sit her on an exercise ball (while you hold her, of course), and roll the ball around a bit. You can lay her on her tummy, too, and do this.

  • Let her watch you cook dinner. Keep her safe from the stove and utensils, of course. As you cook, explain what you're doing. She'll think you're putting on a show, and you'll be a regular Rachael Ray.
  • Dance with your baby. Put all on types of music from country to salsa, and let her feel the different rhythms in your body. Sing with her, too.
  • Keep your baby relaxed. Stressed babies, like adults, produce excess cortisol, which can slow brain development. If you feel tense, your baby will, too, so turn down the lights, speak softly, and try to keep the atmosphere in your house calm.
  • Touch, touch, and more touch. Cuddling and rocking your baby are so good for her emotions and body that her brain will be open to stimulation and be stress-free. Love makes people smart and healthy. Affection stimulates growth.

Finally, surround your baby with friends and family, and let them talk and walk with her, too. The safety they provide, their different ways of expressing themselves and playing, as well as their word choices and expressions, will encourage even more growth. Relatives who speak more than one language, friends who have accents, and people who play peek-a-boo will delight her body and mind.