Want to give your baby a head start then be sure to spend lots of time talking to him or her. I was once asked What are the most high-leverage activities I can do with my 1-2 year old to promote his mental and cognitive development?
It’s a crass way to ask a question that all parents want to know the answer to. As I said to that parent. “The secrets of healthy development aren’t secrets. Most important are a good diet, a rich and varied environment and LOTS of human interaction. Play games with him. Send him to nursery. Laugh and have fun.”
I should also have said “Talk to your baby”. An ever growing body of research is showing that the more words a baby hears the better it does in later years. Watching TV or eavesdropping on adults talking amongst themselves doesn’t have the same effect. As this short film from the Economist explains:
Smart talk: Early language and the brain (economist.com)
Update: Sorry for the autoplaying video. Blame the Economist.