From her first day of life, your baby’s brain is constantly developing. Neurons, the interconnecting brain cells that make up your child’s brain, are formed at the rate of 250,000 neurons per minute from very early in pregnancy. By one year of age, her brain will have grown three times its size since birth, but will stop growing at age 18. This is a lot of development over a short period of time for such an important part of the body.
What can you do to help your baby’s brain develop to its full potential?
Luckily, as parents, we usually do exactly what we need to do to help our babies’ brains develop properly. We naturally want to expose our children to many different sights, sounds, tastes and experiences to help them learn to navigate their new world. By providing stimulation that involves all of their senses we help our children learn, grow and build a healthy brain.
Most of our bonding moments are actually very healthy ways in which your little one’s brain is being stimulated. Take for example these five loving moments that you most likely participate in with her every day:
1. Peek-A-Boo – This cute little game that evokes gaggles of giggles from everyone involved is actually helping her learn object permanence, which is a fundamental part of learning early in life. You are helping her learn that even though she may not see, hear, or feel something, it is still in existence.
2. Singing – Every song you sing to your baby is helping her develop language and listening skills. It is through your talking and singing that her language comprehension begins. She will also learn to understand the feelings expressed through song and spoken word.
3. Eye Contact – Yes, gazing lovingly into your daughter’s eyes is also a way to help her develop a healthy brain! You are helping your infant learn how to focus on your face, your own facial expression offers a wide variety of interesting visual stimulation. Eye contact also creates a strong emotional bond between the two of you, which in turn gives her the sense of safety needed to comfortably explore new sensory experiences.
4. Infant Massage – To an infant, touch is most definitely a form of communication. Infant massage has proven to be very beneficial not only for your baby’s central nervous system, but also for her emotional health as well. Massage is a great way to relax your baby, allowing her to enjoy her surroundings in a calm, quiet way and even to fall asleep easier.
5. Cuddle Time – Calm, quiet, non-stimulatory cuddling is also very beneficial to your child. There must be a balance to all this brain stimulation and the quiet repose; safe in a parent’s arms, has been just the thing to do it. Skin-on-skin contact is very soothing to infants. In fact, some research has shown that when preemies were cuddled on a regular basis they had more predictable sleep patterns and better respiratory function.
The fact that you are even worried about the development of your baby’s brain probably means that you are already doing exactly what is needed to ensure her mental, physical and emotional health. Keep playing, cuddling and exploring the world with your baby and enjoy watching her develop into the toddler, adolescent, teen, and adult that she will eventually be.
Till Next Time!
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