Between social media and the Internet, we live in a sound-bite-filled world. Our attention spans are shrinking. Yet, being able to focus and process information remains an essential skill for all of us, but especially for babies. In order to learn, babies need to be able to focus their attention.
A healthy baby attention span supports better cognition. Babies aren’t born with fully grown attention spans, and these five factors can help develop it.
5 Steps to Help Increase Baby’s Attention Span
- Attention Given
It’s important to emotionally connect with your baby as often as you can. This interaction helps children as young as 9 months engage in “shared attention,” or following an adult’s gaze to look at the same thing. Shared attention is the basis for communicating, collaborating, and learning. By your child’s second year, they’ll show increasing interest in what’s going on around them and follow your gaze. Kids in classrooms use shared attention throughout their school years.
- Nutrition and the Brain
The brain is made up of fats. Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is one type of fatty acid in the brain. It helps with things like vision, a critical part of attention. The retina is rich in DHA. Numerous studies have established a link between nutrition and the development of a strong visual system.
- Unique Interests
When we’re interested in what we’re doing, our attention remains fixed for longer periods. It’s only natural. Same goes for your kiddo. You can use their likes to captivate them. For example, if they like trucks, read books about construction and roadwork. Try pointing out the different colors, shapes, and tools to add engagement. Capitalize on things they like to increase attention span.
- Varied Activities and Routines
A toddler cannot focus longer than 15 minutes on one thing. Even less if it requires concentration. Short bursts of focused activity, followed by physical activity, helps reset their baby attention span. It also helps explain why toddlers don't do well in academic classrooms where school-age kids thrive. Toddlers need a day paced with action, rest, nutrition, and quiet play.
- Age-appropriate Skill Building
Help maximize your child’s focus. Start with what they can already do, and gradually add a challenge as they master it. For example, start with reading board books. Once your child can turn the pages without pulling them out, work up to longer books with paper pages. Doing this builds on one skill at a time.
Your focus is great—you made it to the end of this article. Help your baby have amazing focus, too, with these five approaches. You can also help by supporting your baby’s memory.