By Laura Rollán Guilén BSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 10/22/2015

Cognitive development in early childhood depends on both the quantity and the quality of brain-cell connections formed during the early years of the child’s life. The moment in cognitive development at which a human being creates more brain-cell connections is between 0 to 6 years age. That is why it is important that children receive extra incentives during this period.

Increasing a child’s number of brain-cell connections

Parents can increase a child’s number of brain-cell connections. You can read more in a separate article about early childhood intervention activities for babies between 0-6 months age. In any case, here you will learn new early childhood intervention activities which can be practiced with children within their first year of life.

By encouraging your child with different, continuous games you will see how he or she develops a great interest and learns very quickly.

ECI activities by 6-9 months age

  • Lay your baby on his back and gently move his arms up and down, to both sides, fold them across his chest, caress his fingers and, in short, play with him. Repeat these steps with the legs.
  • Sit down your baby in front of a mirror, touch him and mention different parts of the body so that he gets to know them.
  • Touch your baby’s tummy lightly using your fingers so that he tightens and looses it. Then massage his abdominal skin from top to button and making circles.
  • While you are lying on your back, put the baby over your chest and hold him on from the underarm area so that he is sit down. Lift your head off the floor to try getting closer to the baby’s head. Sing or speak simultaneously.
  • In the same position, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, sit down your baby over your knees. While holding him on, swing your baby slowly while you talk, smile, etc.
  • Lay your baby on his back, hold him on and try teaching him to sit down by himself.
  • While your baby is sitting by himself with legs out straight forming a “V” shape, then place his hands over the remaining gap between his legs. Talk to him closely so that your baby looks straight ahead. It can also be done with a toy over the remaining gap between his legs.
  • While your baby is positioned face-down, take off his shoes and place a toy out of his reach, encouraging your baby to go for it. With this activity, you are teaching your child to crawl.
  • While your baby onto a hard surface, hold him on from the underarm area and move him upward and downward.
  • With a scarf or something similar, play an appear-disappear-reappear game with your child while you hide under it. Your baby may try taking it away from you. Help your baby get it.

ECI activities by 9-12 months age

  • Lay your baby on his back and help him turn over on the other side.
  • Crawl together with your baby back and forth and spinning around across an unobstructed area, encouraging him to follow you.
  • Hang on the wall some of his favourite objects and toys so that he tries to stand up and get them.
  • Pull your baby up to a standing position while you hold him on over his hip. Talk, sing, or smile to him, and then give him a toy so that your baby is entertained.
  • When your baby is around 11-12 months age, help him walking while you hold his hands. If he gets tired, let him rest and try again later. Do not force him to do it.
  • While your baby is sit down, give him a toy box so that he puts the toys in and out. Put your child in front of you over a short distance and play tossing a ball, trying that your baby gives it back to you.
  • Teach your baby mimicking facial expressions, closing and opening the eyes widely, closing and opening the mouth, sticking out the tongue, and making guttural speech sounds such as the vowels.
  • Hold him on your arms and show him some household objects while you mention their names.
  • Sit down with him in front of a mirror, hold him on his hand and put it over different parts of his body while you tell him how are they called.
  • Show him cards with drawings of different animals while you imitate each animal’ sound. Do not hesitate to show your baby the real sound if you have any real animal.
  • Give him a children’s tale so that your baby turns the pages as he can. As he turns the pages faster, he will gradually pay more and more attention to the book. Sit him over your knees while you read the tale. Let him interrupt you if he wants to throw it, turn the pages, or turn it around, and then continue reading it.

Start with five-minutes-long sessions and then extend them up to 10 minutes.

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Authors and contributors

 Laura Rollán Guilén
Bachelor's Degree in Biology from the University of Valencia (UV). Specialist in Human Assisted Reproduction. Writer of scientific contents. More information
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