How can you, as a parent or guardian, help to support your baby with their brain development?
Did you know that a newborn’s brain is a quarter of the size of the adult brain? But by six months old, it will have doubled in weight, and by five years old, a child’s brain will have reached 90% of its adult weight!
We’re joined by a guest expert from Family Corner, the family arm of the Early Years Alliance, who has offered some fascinating facts about baby brain development. Along with some fab advice as to what you as a parent or guardian can do to help support healthy baby brain development. Enjoy
Amazing Facts About Baby Brain Development
Your baby’s brain contains between 100-200 billion cells called neurons. By the age of five, your child’s brain will be nearly adult-sized. This rapid growth is due to more connections being formed between neurons, which means the brain cells are communicating with each other.
Some areas of the brain take longer to develop than others. One of the last areas to fully develop is the front of the brain which is responsible for more complex behaviours such as thinking and problem solving.
When neurons communicate, they start to form pathways in the brain. Strong pathways are needed for healthy development and will support your child to grow, develop, and learn. Neurons which do not communicate with each other will lose their ability to do so.
The Importance Of Healthy Brain Development For A Baby
Healthy brain development in the early years is vital for every aspect of your child’s development.
Babies learn from the behaviours of those around them. The quality of interaction with your baby can make a huge difference to their brain development. Good-quality interactions will also strengthen your bond and support your baby to have healthy relationships with others in the future.
It is important to remember that exposure to highly-stressful experiences can have a negative impact on a baby’s brain. Too many stress hormones over long periods of time can affect the development of pathways within the brain which can harm your baby’s long-term outcomes.
What Can Parents And Carers Do To Support Healthy Brain Development For Their Baby?
1. Be Responsive:
Responding to your baby in appropriate ways will help them to feel safe. Make eye contact when interacting with your baby. If your baby is upset, reassure them by comforting while speaking quietly and calmly. If your baby shows excitement, respond with smiling and use the tone of your voice to show you are excited too.
2. Physical Contact:
Touch releases ‘feel good’ hormones which are important for healthy human relationships. Daily activities such as feeding and washing all include touch. Cuddling, stroking or holding your baby when upset will also help them to feel safe and comforted.
Babies pick up on emotional signals from others. It is important to be calm around your baby. Avoid rushing to get jobs done and build routines which are relaxed – for example, winding down routines before bedtime. Give yourself time to relax and enjoy your precious time together.
share fun activities and time together – for example, playing ‘peek-a-boo’ or singing nursery rhymes with actions. Use the tone of your voice and facial expressions to communicate positive emotions. These shared play activities do not cost money and are important in helping your baby to understand shared feelings.
Talk to your baby lots! This could be counting the objects around you, talking about the weather, or what you will be doing later. Babies’ babbling will soon turn to early words, and the rapid development of language. Talking to your baby involves joint attention, turn-taking and a shared experience which are all crucial to healthy brain development.
Early Years Alliance
For more FREE information, advice and tips on supporting your child’s early learning and development, visit the Early Years Alliance’s Family Corner website. Family Corner is the family arm of the Early Years Alliance, offering expert articles, activity ideas and online learning sessions on key areas of child development such as learning through play, communication, behaviour, health, nutrition and wellbeing.
Want to get out and about, have fun with your baby or toddler, and meet other parents?
Search Happity to find everything that’s happening for the under-5’s in your local area – from music and singing classes, to messy play, arts and crafts, baby massage, gymnastics and more. Simply enter your postcode and child’s age to search, and then book your spot in a few taps. Enjoy dedicated fun time with your little one, watch their skills develop, and make friends at the same time. Mums, dads, grandparents and carers will all find something to love!