How Do Infants Learn?
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Infants are Amazing
As soon as they are born, infants start
to learn about the world from their experiences.
Infants can see and hear what is
happening around them and can communicate their needs and interests
Parents can help their babies learn by
playing with them.
Parents can help give infants a strong
start to life.
Infants have the ability to see faces and objects of
different shapes, sizes, and colors. They can tell the difference between the
voices of their parents and others. We’re surprised when they mold their
bodies into our arms or shoulders. We marvel at how they came into the world
able to suck, communicate certain needs by crying, and, at times, calm down on
their own. Most infants can do all of these things as soon as they are born.
Babies need and love to be held and touched. You will never spoil
your baby by showing lots of love and by holding your child
You are your Baby's First
First experiences have a very important effect on
the future. That's why you are so important to your baby's growth
and development. The growth of your baby's brain is affected by the care
and experiences you provide.
Loving attention helps new brain cells connect in
ways that help infants:
Use your face and voice.
Infants love to look at you and hear your voice.
In fact, faces, with all their expressions, usually are more interesting
than toys. Spend time talking, singing, and laughing. Play games of
touching, stroking, and peek-a-boo.
Make faces, sounds, and movements that your baby
can copy. Then you can copy the things that your baby does. This is how
infants learn to communicate.
Repeat things again and
Infants need to practice something until they
are sure of how it works. That's why it's important to do the
same thing over and over again with your baby. Make a game out of repeating
things. Besides learning about how things work, your baby will learn what to
expect of people and situations.
One of the best ways infants learn to talk is
when they are read to or told stories. Make a habit of reading to your baby
every day. Starting good reading habits at this young age will help your
baby continue to learn new things later on.
Since infants sleep more than older children,
you will need to alternate learning activities with rest. Rest time is as
important as being awake. When awake, infants tend to be more alert if they
are approached calmly and if they are in a place without too much noise or
Things to Watch for
Your baby has a different style or personality from
all other babies. It's fun to get to know your baby's likes,
needs, and abilities. Find out how your baby relates to other people and
Some infants like more activity, some like
Some infants are louder when they laugh or
cry, some are quieter by nature.
All infants let us know when they have had enough.
Some ways your baby may tell you that it's time for a nap are:
Take Care of Yourself
Children grow faster in their first year than at any
other time in their lives. This will take a lot of your time and energy. You
need to be healthy and happy to give your child the best start possible.
When you feel good about yourself, you will be
helping your baby feel happy and secure too. This is why you need to find the
time to take care of yourself. Let people know when you need support or help.
After you are rested, you will have more energy and you will be able to have
more fun with your baby.
Others who Care for your
Developing a close bond with parents and family
members is important. It helps infants form positive relationships with
By letting other people hold and talk with
your baby when you are around, your baby learns how to relate to other
When you cannot be with your baby, it is
best if the same few trusted people are the caregivers. Your baby will
learn to expect and enjoy their company and kindness.
If you decide to leave your baby with a
relative, friend, or professional child care provider, visit and stay
for a while the first few times you leave your baby. This way, you will
feel confident about the safe and loving care being provided.
A Strong Start for Life
Infants spend the first year learning to
feel secure about being loved by you.
Love—expressed in the ways
mentioned here, and in many other ways by you—will give your child
the physical strength to fight illness, the emotional strength to feel
confident, and the ability to learn new things.
Being curious is how infants
What looks like just
play—going through drawers, emptying wastebaskets, ransacking kitchen
cabinets—is the way your child finds out how the world works. Infants
are learning about shapes, textures, and sizes. They also are discovering
that some things are safe to eat and others are not. Make sure nothing dangerous goes into your
TV is not recommended for children
younger than age 2 years.
television is not good for early brain
development—even educational TV isn't
good for infants. The brain is developing rapidly at this age. Calmly
watching TV does not help the brain grow. During the first 2 years of life,
children need activities that stimulate their brains.
Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics. All rights reserved.