All your baby really needs in the first few months of their life is you. The model and appetite for exploration, discovery and skills that you establish with them now has far-reaching impact on their emotional intelligence and academic success in later life. But there is no need for Beethoven CDs and dull educational flashcards. You already have everything you need. In fact, two of the most natural responses we have as parents in those early weeks and months - singing nursery rhymes and rocking our babies to sleep - are already working hard on your behalf to give them a brilliant start. Nursery rhymes are a great introduction to literacy because they teach your baby early phonic skills, the hearing and manipulating of letter sounds, long before they can talk. Nursery rhymes also introduce your child to pitch, volume and rhythm, laying the foundations for the musicality of everyday speech. Meanwhile, and unlikely as it sounds, when you rock your baby in your arms or bounce them gently in a chair you are giving their eyes a workout. These gentle movements help them achieve an early sense of balance, learning to absorb large amounts of information without it becoming jumbled. This carves out the mental grooves for reading and writing, when they will need to move their eyes rapidly across a page.