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Stimulation

Lucy, look at the birdy in the tree! He says twee, twee, twee, we’re so pretty! Say ‘My name is Lucy!’ Say ‘Hi, birdies!’ Now say ‘Bye-bye, birdies!’ We’re going to tell daddy we saw some birdies, and we also saw a doggy who said ‘Woof, woof!’ Big doggy, right Lucy? And then we went to the . . .”

Stimulation is important, but you should offer it organically and normally; periods of playing and laughing should alternate naturally with periods of peace and quiet. At the newborn and infant stages, many parents wonder what kind of stimulation they should provide and may even feel uneasy with moments of silence. Some books recommend a kind of forced stimulation to raise IQ levels, but I doubt they do anything more than introduce a kind of unnatural interaction between parents and kids. You want Lucy to be smart? Just be your usual giggly self. And if you don’t feel like giggling, that’s okay too. You don’t have to talk, sing, or entertain constantly. Add a little kissing and hugging to the mix and hope for the best. You want Lucy to be well coordinated? Just tickle her, roll around with her, give her a ride on your shoulders, and have fun. There’s no need to make her raise her back muscles, teach her how to sit just so, and so forth, like some of the books suggest. She’ll learn coordination on her own.

As far as toys for new babies go, you can buy plenty of fancy rattles or mobiles at your local museum gift shop. However, you’ll notice that Lucy can also remain transfixed by your ceiling fan for a full half hour. Those educational videos targeted at babies are fine as long as you remain clear about their purpose: They give you the time to remember that you actually have an IQ, but they probably won’t affect Lucy’s.

If you have extra energy to spare, I suggest you store it preciously for the moments when you’ll have to read her book to her for the fifth time, to run after her for hours, to sing the same song over and over, and to look up the answers to all her many “whys.”