We asked Diana Ragasa, an expert in child development at Tufts
University in Medford, MA, USA to answer some questions about raising a
Q: At what
age should I begin to read to and talk with my baby?
Diana Ragasa: Start reading and talking to
babies as soon as they are born. This helps them learn about communicating
with other people. Children understand what you say even before they learn
to talk. Babies can talk with their hands and their
facial expressions, too.
So pay attention. Your baby may be trying to tell you something.
Q: Should I
play music for my baby?
DR: Yes. Music is excellent for babies. Some
mothers sing to their babies in the
womb. Music is one of the best ways to
learn language. Babies can learn numbers and their letters through the
rhymes and repetition in songs. Children can also learn
rhythm from an early
Q: Which toys
should I give my baby? Is it important to buy expensive dolls and games?
DR: Almost any object can be a toy for a baby.
Colourful objects are best. They keep the baby’s attention. Just make sure
the object is safe. Never give babies something they could
don’t give them anything
too sharp or pointy.
Cardboard boxes, colourful
plastic dishes and containers are safe and entertaining. They make excellent
toys. Give your baby a few dolls or
stuffed animals. These toys
develop the imagination.
Mirrors can be fun for children, too. They help
children learn about themselves.
Rubber balls also make great toys. Balls
teach balance and hand-eye coordination. And they are fun. You don’t need to
spend a lot of money to get good toys for your baby. Just be creative.
Q: Is it bad
to leave my baby in front of the TV?
DR: No, not really. Studies show that
watching TV can be good for a
baby’s mind. The baby will pay attention to
only some sounds and pictures. There are a lot of good programs on TV, but
limit their time with the TV when they get to be about age three.
should I take my baby outside?
DR: Take your child outside
as much as
possible, especially if there is a park near you. But remember to watch your
child carefully in the park. If you don’t have a park in your
you should still take your child
on walks. Hold your child’s hand or use a
stroller. It’s good for a child to see different faces and hear different
children be confused if they hear more than one language spoken frequently
DR: Absolutely not! Young children learn
languages much more easily than adults or even
teenagers. It is second
nature to them to keep different languages separate. If you want your baby
to be bilingual, it is a good idea to let him or her hear both languages
from a very early age.