How To Stimulate Healthy Brain Development For Babies
28th August 2020
According to zerotothree.org, a childs brain undergoes an amazing period of development from birth to threeproducing more than a million neural connections each second. While the human brain continues to develop and change into adulthood, its these early years that are most sensitive for brain development and where the brain is most malleable in other words, its during this stage of life that the brain is most receptive to learning. The quality of the experiences and interactions that your baby is exposed to during these first three years can therefore have a significant impact on how their brain is shaped, and how they ultimately communicate and relate in the world. Knowing this, parents can be empowered to ensure theyre spending time immersing a baby into constructive experiences and activities that stimulate healthy brain developmentan investment that will shape your baby and their skills for life.
Why is brain development in babies important?
The human brain continues to develop and change into adulthood, however according to the Centres for Disease Control, it is the first 8 years which form the foundation for future learning, health and life success. Your babys future relationships, problem solving abilities as well as emotional control all depend on how the people closest to them interact with your baby on a daily basis.
How do you know your baby’s brain is healthy?
There are a few tell-tale signs that a babys brain is healthy:
Ways To Discover The World Around Them
Research has shown that if you put black and white patterned mittens on your babys hands, they may begin to notice them several weeks earlier than they would otherwise.
Hand discovery is an important step on the path to hand control.
- You can get black and white patterned mittens or make your own by tying a piece of cloth with a black and white design loosely around their palm.
- Lay your baby on a plain blanket with no other high-contrast visuals in view.
- Place the black and white mittens on your babys hands while theyre lying on their back or side, or during tummy time.
- See if they start to notice their hands. If not, you can gently move their hands into their line of sight.
And for breastfeeding parents, one bonus baby brain tip: try to give your baby Vitamin D drops every day, dripping a drop onto your nipple before feeding or onto your babys pacifier .
The Looker Play Kit
How To Raise A Smart Baby
Confused by the sheer number of smart baby toys, books, and videos? Relax. All your baby really needs to boost brainpower is you.
Academic achievement. College scholarship. Presidential aspirations.
These used to be phrases parents tossed around at their kid’s high school graduation.
“Parents have always wanted the best for their babies, but now it seems there really is a much more focused attempt, and more worry and concern about doing the right thing to encourage baby’s growth and development, particularly brain development,” says Nina Sazer O’Donnell, director of National Strategies for Success By 6, a United Way of America learning initiative.
The concerns are not without merit. While a portion of a baby’s 100 billion brain cells are prewired at birth — mostly the ones connected to breathing, heartbeat, and other physiological survival functions — it is during the first five years of life that much of the essential wiring linked to learning is laid down.
While experts say baby brain development is still largely a mystery, what we do know is just how great a role natural parenting instincts can play in putting your baby on the fast track to success.
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What Is ‘serve And Return’ And What Does It Look Like
Serve and return is just like play.
Im getting better!
So this serve and return you get better with practice.
The reason why serve and return accurately describes whats important about the interaction is that it goes in both directions. A baby serves a smile, a coo, a babble, a gesture, and the parent or other adult caring for that child returns a response that is connecting to what the baby did. Baby makes a sound you make the same sound back. A baby points to something you look at that and point at yourself. Thats the key. It goes both ways. The baby can start it. The parent can start it. The key is how you respond.
Serve and return is not necessarily something that works the first time you try it. Bu the more you practice it actually gets easier.
Month To 24 Month Milestones
When he reaches the 18 month to 24 month milestones, he will start putting two to four words together, which means he may start telling you simple stories. Encourage him to explore all his senses by asking questions like, “What do you see? Hear? Taste? Smell? Feel?” Encourage his conversation skills by repeating back what he says in complete sentences: “You are thirsty. Yes, I will get you some milk.” Responding to him in sentences will make him feel like he is a real communicator. Because he is!
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Activities To Help Your Babys Brain Development
When Nancy Costa looks into the face of her adorable two-month-old daughter Bella, she cant help but smile. As Bella stares back, her eyes brighten and her tiny hands begin to fidget. The more Nancy smiles and talks, the more Bella responds. Its a sweet and simple moment between mother and child.
I was never around babies much and didnt know if I had that natural instinct, says first-time mom Nancy, 32, who lives in Burlington, Ont.
Its funny, though, that I really dont even think about what Im doing with her. It just comes naturally.
Its easy to see the loving connection between mother and baby in this moment. What you dont see are the infant brain cells that are growing. Even though Bella is so young, a powerful brain development is occurring as a direct result of this close contact with her mom.
Indeed, her mothers smile is serving a much larger purpose.
Parents typically respond intuitively to cues from their child, picking them up when they cry and talking to them when they fuss. What many parents dont know, however, is that by simply responding to their babys cues, they are helping their newborns brain develop.
The more Nancy interacts with her baby and the closer the connection, the more Bellas brain will grow, says Dr. Jean Clinton, associate clinical professor at Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neuroscience at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.
Boost Your Baby’s Development
The first year of your baby’s life is a busy one for both physical growth and cognitive development. It’s also a crucial time for social, emotional and language skills.
According to Mayo Clinic, from birth to 6 months, you can expect your infant to grow 1/2 to 1 inch a month and gain 5 to 7 ounces a week.1 Your child might double their original birth weight by 5 to 6 months of age.
From 6 to 12 months, your infant might grow 3/8 inch each month and gain 3 to 5 ounces a week. By 12 months, your child might have tripled their original birth weight.
Be Sure Your Infant Is Active
Interactive play in the first few months, which could be nothing more than your baby lying on their stomach, can encourage movement and bonding with your baby, as well as physical and mental development.
In the first month, begin by reading almost anything aloud to your baby. At 3 months, move to brightly colored picture books that show common objects. In later months, create your own picture book with photos of familiar people or items. Your baby might only be interested for a few minutes, but reading books every day will make a difference.
Helping your baby feel secure and engaged has been shown to increase mental aptitude. By 9 to 12 months of age, your inquisitive baby craves your interaction, which further fuels cognitive development.
Help Your Baby Get Enough Rest
Repetition Encourages Self-Confidence
Provide a Variety of Toys and Textures for Your Baby to Feel
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Your Baby’s Brain Development
The human brain has 3 main parts:
Brain stem and cerebellum these connect the brain to the spinal cord and control the body’s breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, balance and reflexes.
Limbic system this sits on top of the brain stem and looks after many different functions including emotion, thirst, hunger, memory, learning, and the body’s daily rhythms.
Cerebral cortex this consists of a left and right hemisphere, and sits on top of the limbic system. The cerebral cortex contains:
- occipital lobe for vision
- temporal lobe for hearing, language and social interaction
- frontal lobe for memory, self-regulation, planning and problem solving
- parietal lobe for bodily sensations like pain, pressure, heat and cold
Diagram showing different parts of the brain.
Your babys brain has been developing since they were in your womb. In the first trimester, nerve connections are built that enable your baby to move around in the womb, while in the second trimester, more nerve connections and brain tissue are formed.
In the third trimester, the cerebral cortex starts to take over from the brain stem, preparing your baby for future learning.
Loving relationships and stimulating experiences are vital for your baby’s development since they give your baby opportunities to communicate, move and learn about their world.
Early Brain Development And Health
The early years of a childs life are very important for later health and development. One of the main reasons is how fast the brain grows starting before birth and continuing into early childhood. Although the brain continues to develop and change into adulthood, the first 8 years can build a foundation for future learning, health and life success.
How well a brain develops depends on many factors in addition to genes, such as:
- Proper nutrition starting in pregnancy
- Exposure to toxins or infections
- The childs experiences with other people and the world
Nurturing and responsive care for the childs body and mind is the key to supporting healthy brain development. Positive or negative experiences can add up to shape a childs development and can have lifelong effects. To nurture their childs body and mind, parents and caregivers need support and the right resources. The right care for children, starting before birth and continuing through childhood, ensures that the childs brain grows well and reaches its full potential. CDC is working to protect children so that their brains have a healthy start.
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Brain Stimulation In Young Babies: 2
As your baby grows and spends more time awake, activities like tummy time will be more fun. Young babies learn so much from interacting with the people and things around them. Youll often find them more interested in a whisk over a baby toy, so dont forget to offer safe household things for your baby to play with.
You can also start reading to young babies, looking at picture books together, and reading short stories. Although they wont necessarily understand what youre saying, they will start to pick up the cadence of speech, which is useful for when they do learn to talk. Sami offers some great tips on Instagram about reading to your baby: occasionally face your baby so that they can see your expression while you read invite them to help you turn pages speak in parentese – vary the pitch and speak slowly.
How Brain Connections Are Built
Starting from birth, children develop brain connections through their everyday experiences. Theyre built through positive interactions with their parents and caregivers and by using their senses to interact with the world. A young childs daily experiences determine which brain connections develop and which will last for a lifetime. The amount and quality of care, stimulation and interaction they receive in their early years makes all the difference.
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About Newborn Play And Cognitive Development
Play is important for your newborns cognitive development that is, your babys developing ability to think, understand, communicate, remember, imagine and work out what might happen next.
This is because newborn play is all about interacting with your baby and responding to your babys cues. These responsive interactions stimulate your babys brain, creating millions of connections.
Through these interactions your baby also learns about the world whether the world is safe and secure, whether theyre loved, who loves them and much more.
When your baby feels safe, secure and loved, your baby is likely to have the confidence to keep exploring and learning. And this lays the foundation for your babys brain and cognitive abilities to keep developing.
Your warm and loving relationship with your baby lays the foundation for all areas of your childs learning and development. This means that your relationship with your baby is critical to development.
Smart Babies: Trust Your Instincts
As society gave birth to a brave new high-tech world, parents everywhere began assuming that high-tech learning was essential if baby was to grow up and prosper.
Turns out, nothing could be further from the truth.
Indeed, one popular form of smart baby technology — learning videos such as Baby Einstein — received low marks in a study designed to evaluate their effectiveness in helping baby brain development. The research, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, showed that not only were these so-called baby brain tools not helpful, they may actually slow word learning.
But experts outside the study say it may not be the videos themselves that lead to these dismal results, but more a matter of what the videos replace: Good old-fashioned one-on-one parent-to-baby contact.
“It may be as simple as the fact that for every minute a baby is in front of a screen, they are not engaged with a loving, familiar caregiver … and infants learn from loving adults,” says Jill Stamm, PhD, author of Bright From The Start: The Simple, Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind From Birth to Age 3.
O’Donnell agrees: “What mattered to babies a thousand years ago is still what matters today: You, the parent, are your baby’s best learning tool.”
Moreover, O’Donnell says that educational TV — shows like Sesame Street or even videos like Baby Einstein — are not necessarily a bad thing, as long as they are in addition to, and not a replacement for, one-on-one contact.
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Exploration Of New Sounds
Around 4 weeks, your baby will likely start to show more interest in a variety of sounds and patterns. Help them build more lasting neural networks by exposing them to sounds from real life, rather than the pre-recorded sounds made by electronic toys. Experiment with sounds that are high-pitched, low-pitched, slow-paced, lively, soft, etc, introducing just one sound at a time.
When your baby is alert and the room is quiet, make simple sounds in their field of vision: tap on the glass, rattle your keys, snap your fingers. These everyday noises are routine for you, but theyre brand new to your baby. Try to involve your baby as much as possible, talking about what youre doing and what theyre seeing, even though they wont understand what youre saying quite yet.
Some sound-exploring ideas to get started:
- Tear or crumple up paper in front of your baby.
- Pour dry pasta into a pan, tap a spoon against a bowl, or make other common cooking noises.
- Turn a doorknob, ring a doorbell, and open or close the blinds or windows.
- Play and dance along to music.
As with other forms of stimulation, be sensitive to your babys reactions. If theyre unhappy, its time to take a break.
Teach Language And Counting
32. Take a cue from Sesame Street. Dedicate each week to a letter of the alphabet. For instance, read books that start with A, eat A foods, cut up snacks into that shape, and write the letter on your sidewalk with chalk.
33. Count everything. Count how many blocks your toddler can stack. Or the number of steps in your house. Or his fingers and toes. Make a habit of counting out loud, and soon he’ll join in.
34. Read books. Again and again! Scientists have found that babies as young as 8 months can learn to recognize the sequence of words in a story when it’s read 2 or 3 times in a row — this is believed to help them learn language.
35. Tell tall tales. Choose her favorite story — replace the main character with her name to make it fun.
36. Go to the library. Take advantage of storytime, puppet shows, and rows and rows of books.
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What Is My Newborn Learning
Play is the chief way that infants learn how to move, communicate, socialize, and understand their surroundings. And during the first month of life, your baby will learn by interacting with you.
The first thing your baby will learn is to connect the feel of your touch, the sound of your voice, and the sight of your face with getting his or her needs for comfort and food met.
Even at this young age, newborns are ready to learn about the world around them. Your newborn loves to look your face. Newborns can recognize and respond to mom or dad’s voice by looking alert and becoming less active. The baby may try to find out where the sound is coming from by looking around and turning his or her head.
Encourage learning with smiles, soothing sounds, and gentle caresses. When you smile and talk to your infant, your face and the sound of your voice will become a familiar source of calm and comfort. Your little one will learn to associate you with nourishment, warmth, and a soothing touch.