Your baby is doing so many new things and is becoming a great play partner. You can help promote healthy brain development by understanding what kinds of objects, toys, and interactions are appropriate for your baby. Your baby is developing motor skills that help her play with more toys, more ways, and in more places. 


If not already, she will soon be sitting up, crawling, pulling up, cruising, and learning to walk. Your baby can use her hands better with more controlled movements to pick up toys and bang things together. This means she is on the move and getting all the toys out! It also means she is ready to explore a variety of toys, objects, and spaces in her environment. Create opportunities that encourage your baby to problem solve and try new things. Remember to make play areas safe for baby as she is continues to explore toys with her mouth! 


Brain Science for Your Baby

Dr. Dimitri Christakis from Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute did a study with 175 toddlers (who were ages 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 years old). Eighty-eight children were mailed two sets of building blocks and two newsletters that gave ideas for activities that families could do with the blocks.  The other group of 87 children didn't get any blocks until the study ended.  Parents were told that they were participating in a study of how toddlers used time.  Parents were asked to write down what their children did in a diary on two days (two 24 hour periods) during the study.  Parents completed another questionnaire six months after starting the study that asked about their toddler's language and attention.  Researchers found that 60% of the children who got the two sets of blocks during the study played with blocks as reported by their parents, versus only 13% of those in the other group. And it wasn't only playing with blocks - the study found that the toddlers who got the blocks had higher language scores.  The researchers think that playing with blocks can promote language development! 


Dr. Christakis has also studied the effect of TV and attention problems.  See Dr. Christakis talk about blocks and TV and brain development.
A Baby Buffer Prescription for Your Baby

Create opportunities for problem solving at playtime. Put toys or objects of interest slightly out of baby's reach so she has to figure out how to get them (reach, roll, and crawl). 


Provide (safe) toys or objects that can be used in many ways, such as: stacking cups, blocks, rings, toy bins with a variety of toys, balls, shape sorters, pretend people or animals, books, rattles or crinkle toys.


Help your baby figure out how different cause-effect toys work. Examples include: pop up toys, jack-in-the box, squeak toys, and toys with buttons that make noises, music, or light up.

A Baby Buffer Prescription for You        


Save your money! Create toys out of household objects.   


Kitchen items: Large wooden or plastic spoons for banging or stirring; plastic bowls and measuring cups for stacking, mixing, dumping, and drumming; pots and pans for banging and drumming; clear plastic containers to put something safe inside for shaking, banging, and problem solving how to get it out.


Living room items: Throw pillows for stacking, climbing over or around, and pretend napping; soft ottomans for pulling up to stand, as a surface for playing with toys, and to practice walking; blankets for making forts and moving toys.

What Your Baby Can Do - Developmental Milestones 


Your baby is changing quickly during this period. Know what to look for to make sure your baby is growing and changing in a healthy way.  Click on the links below for information from the CDC on what your baby can do now.  

Gene's Research Tip of the Week
A new study from the journal Science Translational Medicine looked at the microbiome bacteria of placentas, after birth.  The idea was to see who baby TSK was sharing time with, at least very soon before birth.  Now, in the past, we had noted there seemed to be a difference in the microbiome of infants born by C-section vs vaginal delivery, and so assumed this was related to the mother's birth canal bugs.  But this study of about 300 placentas showed that the placentas' bacteria load was most similar to... are you ready?...the mothers' mouth bacteria.  Bet you didn't see that one coming! The researchers didn't, either.  So, if the mom had more bacteria in her mouth that cause cavities, so did her placenta. 

Baby Buffer Blog

Written by Kathy Ellerbeck, MD, MPH, FAAP


During breakfast in the mornings before preschool I admit that we used to let our youngest watch cartoons on TV.  Until we figured out that she couldn't watch TV and chew at the same time!   


There is good evidence that "multitasking" is over-rated...most of us don't multitask very well!  And mealtimes should be about eating and talking...not eating in front of the TV. I think we all know that. But now there is the cell phone in my pocket. At all times. And there's (always) work to be done that I could be doing while eating. Or playing. My cell phone is addictive, a constant temptation...and I think that that's true for lots of parents.


In March of this year there was an article published in Pediatrics about the mobile device use of 55 caregivers of young children eating in a fast food restaurant.   The study was observational, and the caregivers didn't know that they were being observed.   The researchers chose to observe caregivers and children during meals because mealtime is a daily routine in which face-to-face caregiver-child interactions are considered to be a good thing.  Read More

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