Boosting Your Baby’s Brain Power!
A mind is a terrible thing to waste. In fact, the average newborn has a head that accounts for about 25 percent of his total body weight. Did you also know that babies are born with about 100 billion neurons (twice as many as a full-grown adult), and their brains develop most between birth and the age of 3? A lot to take in, right? No worries—by the time you finish reading this article, you’ll be a baby pro! Not only that, you’ll be able to help your baby’s brain develop to its full potential.
So, how does the brain work? The brain can be divided into many, many sections, but for simplicity and understanding, infant and early childhood development touch four basic categories:
- Social emotion and
- Cognition and learning
So while you may think your baby is just sleeping or recovering from a full tummy, he very well may be trying to understand good and bad taste or why you shook the bottle before you handed it over. When trying to help your baby develop movement, encourage new discoveries. Fingers and toes may seem like old news to you, but these wiggling digits are completely mind-boggling to your baby. For your baby, fingers and toes bend and fold in ways he’s never understood before. So, when your baby shows interest in his hands, take it a step further. Gaze in discovery at whatever item he points out. Play patty cake often. This Little Piggy is also a crowd favorite. Name each finger forwards and backwards, touching each finger and leading to the next with excitement.
A baby is born with an impressive sense of hearing. In fact, babies can determine a sound and its direction 10 minutes before even being born, so you can imagine how making meaningful conversation can foster a child’s language and development. Not so big on the goo-goo’s and ga-ga’s? That’s okay; babies have a short attention span, so slow, short, sweet and simple keeps them interested and learning. When talking to your baby, try phrases like “pretty baby,” being sure to pronounce the entire word and enunciating the sounds that each letter makes. This truly can make a difference when teaching your child words. Down the line, this practice also will help your child feel more comfortable expressing himself when learning and developing new and challenging skills, especially other languages.
Social and emotional development, according to CDE.ca.gov, includes a child’s experience, expression and management of emotions and her ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others. So this means you can take diaper changing to a whole new level! Studies have shown that babies who experience physical touch develop at a much better rate than children who have not. So simply stroking your child’s hair or tickling her tummy while changing her diaper can strengthen her later ability to focus, improve her memory and ability to retain what she’s learning.
So there you have it folks: a few tips and tricks, as well as some meaningful insights on how to help your babies and their brains grow!
Jessica Samuel is a St. Louis native who now lives in Kansas City. She is photographer, graduate student and freelance writer.