Parenting tips for every age

Parenting tips for every early moment milestone, from newborns to toddlers.

UNICEF
Photo provided by Sun Hui

With every hug and every kiss, with every nutritious meal and game you play, you’re helping to build your baby’s brain.

Did you know that up to 75 per cent of each meal goes to build your baby's brain? Or that over 80 per cent of your baby’s brain is formed by the age of 3?*


Sources: Steen, The Evolving Brain: The Known and The Unknown, 2007; Dekaban, Annals of Neurology, 1978.

Parenting tips for newborns

Did you know? Within a few days, babies can start smiling when people smile at them.

  • Provide ways for your baby to see, hear, move freely and touch you. While your baby’s movement will be jerky in the beginning, she/he will eventually learn how to control her/his movements.
  • Look into your baby’s eyes and smile in response to her/his smiles. You should see your baby react positively to your facial expressions, movements and gestures.
  • Talk to your baby in soft tones and ‘baby talk’. Both the father, mother or caregiver should communicate with the newborn. You will notice that he/she can hear and will soon start memorizing and copying your words.
  • Gently change the sound of your voice. Make it slower/quicker, higher/lower, or quieter/louder. You should observe reactions from your baby’s face and body and notice him/her interacting with you.
  • Place your baby on her/his tummy and shake a rattle or bell in front of her/him. Slowly lift the rattle just a little and encourage her/him to lift her/his head and shoulders to watch the rattle move. Doing so helps your baby follow the rattle with her/his eyes, and practice lifting her/his head and shoulders.
  • Gently soothe, stroke and hold your child. You will see your baby comforted, happy to be held and cuddled.
  • Do skin to skin contact. Feeling, hearing and smelling your presence should provide your baby with a sense of calm and security.

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Parenting tips for babies 1-6 months

Did you know? 1-3-month-old babies see things best when they are between 20-30 centimeters away. By 3 months, babies have a greater range of vision.

  • Provide ways for your child to see, hear, feel, move freely and touch you. Your baby will slowly establish trust with you.
  • Slowly move colorful things for your child to see and reach for. A simple, homemade toy, like a rattle, can attract your baby’s interest by the sounds it makes.
  • Smile and laugh with your child. You should soon see your baby smile in return.
  • Talk to your child and copy her/his sounds or gestures. You should see her/him slowly focus on your face and try to imitate you in return.
  • Help your child follow an object. When he sees it, move it slowly from side to side and up and down. You should see her/him try to follow the object with his/her eyes.
  • Encourage your child to reach for a safe object. Try something like a plastic cup. You should see her/him try to grab or touch it.
  • Cut out simple pictures of familiar things, people and animals. Choose pictures that show lots of different colours, textures, scenes and faces. Talk about the pictures as your baby looks at them. You should observe how your baby listens to what you tell her/him and participates in her/his own way.
  • Play a game with your baby. Place your baby on her/his stomach and slowly walk your fingers toward her/him. Then quickly and gently tickle her/him saying something like: “Here come my fingers, here they come, closer and closer, they’ve got you”. To change the game, make your fingers creep slowly or quickly, or vary the amount of time before tickling her/him. You should see your baby show delight by laughing or squealing.

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Parenting tips for babies 6-9 months

Up to 75 per cent of each meal goes toward building your baby’s brain. Did you know? At 6 months, your baby can eat anything except honey which should not be given until she/he is a year old.

  • When asking a question, give plenty of time for your baby to answer. Count to 10 in your head. If no answer is given, then answer the question yourself. Try an easier question the next time.
  • Say your baby’s name as much as possible. She/he will look to see who is speaking and will try to reach out to the person.
  • Don’t speak or sing too loudly, as this may scare your baby.
  • Smile as much as possible to give your baby a sense of comfort and trust.
  • Give your child clean, safe and colourful things to reach for and touch, or bang and drop, such as a wooden spoon or a plastic bowl.
  • Use simple picture books, puzzles, hand puppets and dolls to develop your baby's curiosity and help her/him learn new things. To make a simple puzzle, just glue a picture on a piece of cardboard or other paper material and cut out into sections.

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Parenting tips for babies 9-12 months

Did you know? To increase infants’ self-esteem and confidence, always take a positive approach to your child’s learning process. Try to say “yes”, “good”, “well done” more often, rather than “no”, “bad”, “not good”.

  • Play hide and seek with your infant and see if he can find the objects you hide. You can hide something under a cloth, and say: “Where did it go?”, “Can you find it?”. You should see an increase in your child’s curiosity and willingness to find out what happened to the object.
  • Tell your infant the names of things and people. She should show interest and soon will try to make relationships between words and objects or people.
  • Show your child how to say things with hands, like “bye bye”. Soon your child should try to imitate you and wave “bye-bye” on his own, making a relationship between a movement and a vocal expression.
  • Point to the eyes, nose and mouth on a doll. After showing one part on the doll, touch the same part on yourself and on your baby. Take your baby’s hand and have him touch the eyes, nose and mouth on the doll, you and himself. Slowly, the baby will be able to memorize and identify these different words and relate them to his body parts.

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Parenting tips for toddlers 1-2 years

Did you know? Toddlers are especially happy when they see that they are making the adults around them happy as well.

  • Give your child things to put into containers and take out. She/he will try to take them out and put them back on their own, which is great for the development of eye-hand coordination skills.
  • Give your toddler things to stack up. He/she should try to stack more things on their own and make them fall down, or will stack things up until they fall down.
  • Ask your child simple questions and respond to your child’s attempts to talk. She/he should be willing to interact by responding and/or asking further questions.
  • Try to talk about different things with your infant, such as nature, pictures and things from the surrounding environment. You should see your toddler move around and be willing to explore the environment.
  • Watch what your toddler does and describe it: “You are filling the box.” He/she will be happy to show you what he/she learned and will gain self-esteem.
  • Play with your toddler and offer help: “Let’s do it together. Here are more stones to put into your box.” These discoveries should make her/him happy and more confident.
  • Use every opportunity, such as feeding or bathing times, to engage in a conversation with your child. He/she should soon begin to understand what you are saying and be able to follow simple directions.
  • Turn simple questions into games: “Where is your toe?” or “Where is the bird?”. You can look at pictures and talk about what you see. She/he should show more and more curiosity and willingness to communicate about what she/he sees and hears.

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Parenting tips for toddlers 2+ years

Did you know? Children learn better when they are taught how to behave well instead of being scolded for behaving badly.

  • Ask simple questions and listen to the answers. Encourage your child to talk by asking questions such as: “What is this?”, “Where is the window?”, “Which ball is bigger?”, “Would you like the red cup?”. You should see your child’s becoming more interested in interacting with you and responding to your questions.
  • Read stories to your child and ask questions about what you see in the book. You should notice your child try to memorize and try to repeat what you read.
  • Help your child learn to count by asking “how many?” and by counting things together with them. Your child will make mistakes at first, but will eventually learn after each repetition.
  • Give your child different shapes cut from coloured paper to compare and sort. She/he will enjoy sorting things and will learn how to match and make relationships between different objects, colours and shapes.

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