When your baby is born, trillions of connections are made in his brain. The first year of your baby’s life is truly a window of opportunity during which early experiences can make a lifelong impact. Your baby’s brain doubles in size in the first year and keeps growing to about 80 percent of adult size by age three, but here’s the thing:The rule for brain wiring is to use it or lose it.
To support your newborn’s growing brain, your baby needs:
1. Your attention - Responding to your crying baby will soothe and reassure him which will allow his brain to focus on making positive connections instead of focusing surviving in a stressful environment.
2. A loving touch - Gently touching and cuddling your baby will lower his stress levels and enhance his feelings of well-being. Studies have shown that babies who are not often touched have brains that are smaller than normal for their age.
3. To hear your voice - Responding to your baby’s coo’s not only soothes them, but the areas of the brain responsible for understanding speech and producing language need your input.
4. Experience gentle movement - Playing games that requires movement helps your baby experience the world around him and develop his gross motor skills all while stretching out after 9 months in your womb. Movements are often combined with a nursery rhyme song, like "patty-cake" or "this little piggy" which supports an understanding of rhythms and language patterns.
5. A routine - You don’t have to watch the clock all day long to follow a strict routine, but rather have a more predictable rhythm to your day. Babies thrive when they know what to expect. A bedtime rhythm is great to make part of your end-of-day routine. Make time, right from birth, to read or just look at pictures in a book after a warm bath and gentle massage.
6. An early passion for books - As adults we know that reading is extremely important to our daily lives. Get your baby excited about books from birth by choosing books with large and colourful pictures. You can even make up your own new story each night!
7. Time outside - There are so many things for your baby to see, smell and hear when you’re out for a walk. Make the most of your daily walks by describing your experience.
8. Time with dad - Men play differently with babies than women. Women tend to be more gentle and cuddle with a baby, while men tend to pick babies up more or hold them out front when they walk with them. Babies benefit from both kinds of play.
9. NOT to have a room full of expensive toys - And if it requires batteries, it's probably not the best toy choice. Your baby needs stimulation and opportunities to hone their budding skills, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to provide a toy for every milestone. Household items and toys that will grow with your baby will provide enough stimulation and fun for years to come.
10. But the most important thing you can give your baby to help grow his brain is your relationship. Positive, loving relationships build healthy brains and protect your baby’s brain from the negative effects of stress. And without stress, your baby can explore and learn all about this wonderful new world.
2 min read
2 min read