Your baby’s amazing brain
March 29, 2008 Leave a comment
Everything you do with your baby helps to develop their brain and helps them to learn. You are the most important first teacher for your child. Forming a loving, strong relationship with your baby helps their brain to develop.
At birth, your baby’s heart, lungs and liver are fully developed. They can already breathe, see shapes and hear, they have a really strong suck, and they startle. The connections for these actions have already been made in their brain before birth.
Your baby’s brain, however, needs stimulation from the environment to form completely. As your baby grows and is stimulated, the connections between the cells (or neurons) in the brain continue to form. These connections form pathways in the brain that are the basis for all learning, thinking, feeling and knowing.
There are so many connections in your baby’s brain that, if an electrician had to solder all the connections between the neurons, it would take millions of years!
To develop properly, the pathways in your baby’s brain need to be covered and protected – this happens with the right diet. This can be either breast milk or correctly made-up formula. Both these foods contain the fat that is absolutely essential for the covering of the neurons – the myelin. The pathways or neurons must be formed properly and covered so that the messages in the brain go to the right places.
You can help to strengthen the connections in your baby’s brain in many ways, such as feeding, holding, touching and talking to your baby. These all send messages to your baby’s brain via their senses. Help build pathways in your baby’s brain by:
- Talking and singing to your baby
- showing them things in their environment
- helping them to build relationships with people in their lives
- repeating learning experiences over and over.
The key to developing and strengthening the connections in your baby’s brain is repetition. Create positive experiences with your baby and repeat these over and over again.
Building your relationship with your baby is the basis for learning and stimulation for their brain that helps them to prepare to walk and talk. This does not mean you need to stimulate your baby every minute of the day to ensure they do well.
- Babies can be stimulated through ordinary experiences and quiet, close times with family.
- Babies learn from having the time and opportunity to find out about their bodies, about stretching and flexing, about how to roll over on purpose. These are the small steps towards controlling their muscles that eventually lead them to lift up off the floor, and start to crawl.
- Chances to repeat the same experience are important – they will prepare your baby for a lifetime of learning.
Right from the beginning, talk to your baby in the language that you speak in your family. This will help them to learn to talk. Use the language you speak at home with your baby to help develop the parts of the brain responsible for language.