First comes love

Loving your baby isn’t the hard part of parenting—and showing your love helps your children learn and grow in amazing ways.

Activities like laughing, sharing hugs and kisses, making eye contact, and even just giving your time and attention to your children creates a safe, stable world where they can thrive.

The Science

Love makes all the difference!

Children’s brains grow best in a loving environment. From the moment a baby is born, their brains are actively building neural connections that will affect their learning, health, and behavior now and in the future. When kids feel loved, their brains can make those connections better. Your love makes them feel safe and less stressed—the world becomes predictable and understandable. Your children are also very good at sensing your emotions, so make sure your love is what they feel the most.

You can do it!

Showing love is easy!

You can show your love by snuggling, holding, hugging and kissing your baby. Holding a baby close can reduce your stress, too! Make eye contact and smile at your baby. Not only will they feel your love, but they’ll start to understand the back-and-forth of conversation. Listen to your children and ask them about their feelings. Helping your children with even simple tasks and celebrating small victories shows your love. And of course, tell your children you love them all the time.


5b45 + Nutrition

Falling in love with food

The choices you make in planning and feeding your young kids help build healthy habits as they grow older. Your healthy example helps! Try these tips for growing healthy brains.

Infants: For the first six months of life, breast milk is most often the ideal food for babies. Formula is also a great way for babies to get enough nutrients to thrive. Continue to feed them breast milk or formula through at least the first year of life, and longer if desired.

Toddlers and Preschoolers: Picky eaters? Try new foods with favorite foods in the same meal, since it can take up to 10 tries to get kids used to new food. And don’t forget to wash hands before eating!

Ideas for You

Try out these tips to show your love

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Suggested Age Range: 0-1

Vroom Tip #22

Daily Discoveries

What is your child doing? Reaching for a toy? Hitting two blocks together to make a sound? As they discover their world, pay attention, smile, and use words that they will learn someday: “You reached out your fingers and got your toy.”

See how you’re helping your child

When you pay attention to what your child does and share their delight in doing and learning, you start them on the path to become a lifelong learner.

VroomTip #21

Share a Stare

As you hold your child and look into each other’s eyes, make a silly face or sound. How do they respond? With twinkly eyes? A smile? A laugh? Try it again but do something different. This is the beginning of a lifetime of laughs to share together.

See how you’re helping your child

This back and forth game of sharing a laugh is anything but silly. It is an important building block in your child’s ability to enjoy and communicate with other people. It also deepens your relationship with one another—and it’s fun!

Vroom Tip # 86

“Read Your Baby”

While singing, talking, or reading with your child, pay attention to how they react. Try to follow where their eyes look or how they move their body. Describe out loud what they’re doing: “Did you like that song? You’re smiling and clapping!”

See how you’re helping your child

When you watch your child closely and respond to them, you’re developing a trusting relationship where learning can happen. As you share these special moments together, you show your child how fun words, stories, and songs can be.

Suggested Age Range 1-2

Vroom Tip #4

Song Traditions

Sing the same songs daily that explain what you’re doing with your child (for example, leaving the room, shutting the lights, finishing eating, wiping faces and washing hands, changing diapers, or counting fingers and toes).

See how you’re helping your child

Children love traditions. Singing about their daily activities provides the comfort of a known routine. In addition, it helps your child make connections between their experiences and new words. They learn language from your sing-song voice.

Vroom Tip #16

Weather Report

At bedtime, talk to your child about the weather today and how it felt. Were you outside or inside? Were you hot or cold? Stretch the game by pretending and acting out what it feels like outside. If they are old enough, ask them to act out how they felt too.

See how you’re helping your child

Your child loves hearing your voice. Talking about everyday things like the weather helps them learn new words and learn about the world around them.

Vroom Tip #30

Take Time to Watch

Pay attention to what they look at. How do they move? What do they sound like? What are they learning? Even when you’re busy, responding to what they are learning deepens your connection with them.

See how you’re helping your child

When you’re in tune with your child, you’ll be able to pay attention to their needs and interests. This deepens the trust between you. Your child needs this security to reach out into the world to explore, experiment, discover, and learn.

Suggested Age Range: 2-3

Vroom Tip # 147

What’s Next?

Encourage your child’s independence by asking them questions instead of telling them what to do. If you’re getting ready to leave the house, instead of telling them to put shoes on, try saying something like, “I see your socks are on. What comes next?”

See how you’re helping your child

Asking questions encourages them to think before acting instead of just responding automatically. This ability takes focus and self control: your child must stop what they might want to do so they can reach a goal, even something as simple as putting on shoes!

Vroom Tip #139

Slow Talk

Have fun with your child by talking slowly and stretching out words and sounds. Try singing a familiar song very slowly or say hello using their name and stretching out the sound: “Hellooooo!” Encourage them to repeat after you and to respond with their own Slow Talk.

See how you’re helping your child

Your child learns best from playful interactions with you! Playing with words and sounds helps your child learn to love language. Talking slowly also helps your child practice paying attention, listening carefully, and managing their behavior.

Vroom Tip #145

Cleaning Up

Invite your child to be the cleanup helper by giving them special jobs they can do. You can say, “Please help me find what needs to be washed in a washing machine.” Or “Can you help wipe down the table or sweep up the crumbs on the floor?”

See how you’re helping your child

When you help your child find ways they can help around the house, they learn they’re an important part of your family’s everyday routines. It also shows you believe in them, which encourages them to do more things on their own.

Suggested Age Range: 3-4

Vroom Tip # 596

Silly Song Writer

Turn a familiar tune like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” into a silly song. Change the words to something like, “Row, row, row your elephant.” See if your child catches on to the joke. “Can you really row an elephant? What could you row?” Can they take a turn to add a silly verse to this song?

See how you’re helping your child

To play this game, your child must listen closely and use their memory to recall the words to songs. They’re also playing with what’s real and what isn’t—important concepts for understanding how the world works.

Vroom Tip #144


Does your child like to say “no” a lot? You can play No/Yes to turn a negative time into a fun time. If they say no, then you say yes. Go back and forth, saying no/yes, no/yes. For variety, you can say it fast or slow or say yes twice, for them to copy, saying no twice.

See how you’re helping your child

This game can become like a nursery rhyme where your child has to listen and follow the rules. It promotes paying attention, working memory, and self-control while being fun, all at the same time!

Vroom Tip #156

Animals Fast and Slow

Name an animal and ask your child to tell you if it is fast or slow. If you say “Turtle!” they should say “Slow.” Once they get the rules, switch them. When you name an animal, they should say the opposite speed. For example, if you say “Turtle!” they should say “Fast!” Take turns!

See how you’re helping your child

Your child is focusing and using working memory with this game. When you switch the rules to do the opposite, they have to think flexibly, which helps them learn to respond to changing situations.

Suggested Age Range: 4-5

Vroom Tip # 42

Love Connections

Take turns talking to your child about love connections. “I love you as much as a bee loves flowers.” “I love you as much as ants love sugar.” “I love you as much as a car loves gas.” Ask them to come up with one. Keep going back and forth.

See how you’re helping your child

When your child is challenged to find connections and make comparisons, they’re learning new ways to sort and categorize information. These skills are important in math, reading, and science. You’re also promoting creativity and a sense of humor.

Vroom Tip #11

Face Off

Make a face that expresses a feeling. Ask your child to make a face that shows the opposite feeling. If you make a happy face, they should make a sad face. Chat about when they remember people making these faces. Take a selfie or draw a picture together with your goofiest faces to stretch the moment!

See how you’re helping your child

Mirroring the emotions of others helps your child learn empathy. It can also help them express their own feelings. These are essential skills that we use every day as adults!

Vroom Tip #23

Today’s To-Do

Talk back and forth with your child about the plans for the day. Maybe you can chat about what you’re having for breakfast. Where are they going for the day? What might you do together? Or what are you both excited to do today?


See how you’re helping your child

There is no better way to learn how to plan than practicing. Giving your child a chance to think about the day ahead helps them use what they already know in new and flexible ways.

Dig Deeper

Check on your child’s development!

Research shows that children thrive in a nurturing, stable environment with a loving adult. This in combination with a positive self-concept provides a foundation for healthy emotional development and all learning. A developmental screening can help you, as a parent, identify social/emotional milestones and provide ideas to help you further connect with your child. You can complete a developmental screening from your doctor or child care provider or through Help Me Grow Utah.


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