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Paula Kashtan

6 Smart Ways to Stimulate Baby's Mind

Looking for ways to entertain baby that don't involve TV? We've got you covered.

When baby gets bored with her toys, it's so easy to pop in a cartoon and let the TV work its magic. Babies get hypnotized by the screen for one simple reason: Animation. The colors, sounds and movement really engage and stimulate little ones—but plopping young ones in front of the TV isn't the best for developing brains. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping baby screen-free until at least 18 months.

So what's a mom to do? Add a little animation into playtime. By playing to baby's senses, you can entertain and educate him—no TV necessary! Need some ideas to get you started? Here are some guaranteed crowd pleasers:

1. Sing Songs

Babies love music, so give your playtime a soundtrack. Turn everyday activities into a sing-along by making up fun songs while you're setting out lunch, folding laundry or cleaning. The more you change the tone and pitch of your voice, the better.

2. Play Music

Whether you're into classical music or The Beatles, listening to music has been linked to better aptitude in math. So play a variety of pleasing rhythms and melodies to stimulate baby and you'll be on the right track to raising a pint-size genius who can really groove!

3. Make Errands Fun

Take baby grocery shopping. The colors and new faces are great stimulation and an interesting change of scenery from your house. Plus, you can cross another item off your to-do list.

4. Become a Storyteller

It's never too early to read to baby. The best storytellers use lots of voice inflections and tone changes. Hey, baby's the only one watching, so why not ham it up and have some fun?

5. Play with Sensory Toys

Find blocks in fun shapes, sizes, colors and even textures—or bring out the pots and pans and let baby channel his inner rock star. You don't need the most expensive toys when baby is content to play with things you can find around the house.

6. Go for a Walk

But not just any walk—stroll near a park or lake to let baby see new things in nature. Fill the walks with the sound of your voice. Chat with your little one throughout your stroll, pointing things out and engaging baby in your surroundings.

Plus, more from The Bump:

The 80 Best Children's Books of All Time

How to Boost Baby's Development With Age-Appropriate Play

How to Help Baby Learn to Speak

PHOTO: Amy Hilbrand