Debunking Myths and Stimulating Baby's Brain From Day One
Children’s brains develop rapidly from ages birth through three. Trust me, I know. As a mother to a newly-turned 4 year-old, I can safely say, each of these tips below will definitely help to shape your child’s brain development. Our little babies are like sponges, they absorb everything we do and sadly, sometimes the things we don’t do.
Need more insight on the latter? Let’s jump right into it.
Now, brain development affects all areas of a child’s growth. Many assume that the baby is born with a fully well-developed brain (MYTH!), that the child is too young to be “talked” to (MYTH!), that brain development is a genetic thing (MYTH!) and that really, only educational toys make the cut in stimulating your child’s brain development (again – MYTH!) cause somehow a child’s brain growth development depends on their social background.
Now that we’ve debunked these common misunderstandings surrounding baby’s brain development, let’s relearn and understand the facts that we parents can do to help our babies’ mental growth.
Brain development is part of the cognitive development. The cognitive development is our central information processing system where it describes how a child’s intellect grows. From thinking, learning and problem-solving skills, these skills affect all other areas of development.
Based on Piaget’s theory, there are four main areas of development which are:
1. Motor (Sensorimotor Stage)
This is where the child goes through a dramatic growth period where they learn about the world around them through basic actions such as grasping, observing, listening and sucking to name a few. Acquiring basic reflexes and exploring their senses is what makes this early stage of their life so fundamental throughout their development.
2. Language and Communication (Preoperational Stage)
- This is where the emergence of language makes a stronger foundation in the child’s thought processes. They begin to use words and pictures to help them represent what they want/objects. This is also the stage where pretend play is how children learn the most
3. Social and Emotional (Concrete Preoperational)
- This is the turning point of where children begin to understand logic much better showing that their thinking has matured to be less concrete in their “kid way of thinking” but instead of how it makes other people feel and their opinions too.
4. Cognitive (Formal Operation Stage)
- This final stage where children have greater sense of reasoning and control over their thought processes.
The first three years of a child’s life are critical for learning and development. The best way is to actively engage your child through everyday activities like playing, reading and being there for when he/she feels stress. Creating a stimulating environment that has different types of activities is ideal for engaging the baby to use their brain. Any activity that offers your child the chance to play means a chance to explore and learn. Through these processes, several important skills are exercised such as talking, listening, thinking, moving and the interaction between baby and those they’re with, also allows them to gain social skills.
Creating a warm, loving environment helps your baby feel safe and loved which promotes brain development. Everyday moments, such as having a bath and eating, are great opportunities for you to get to know each other and build your relationship.
Here are ideas to encourage brain development:
Play is a wonderful way to help a baby or toddler’s brain develop. Play might be a game, talking or singing to actively engage your child’s brain. "Peek-a-boo" and holding toys out to watch help a baby’s brain develop. Talk to your baby about what you are doing. For toddlers, sing songs with actions, like “Wheels on the Bus,” encourage pretend play, color and build with blocks and toys. These foster imagination and creativity.
Babies can feel stress. Hold and cuddle your baby. Let him/her know you are there to comfort and help them when they feel stress. Studies show that responsive, loving and supportive care helps babies handle stress better than if care is inconsistent.
Reading is one of the best ways to promote a child’s brain development. Even before he/she can recognize letters or words, reading kick starts language and communication skills. Hearing words and seeing pictures connects the two in a child’s mind. Repeating the same books further builds recognition between the words you speak and the images on the page. As a child grows, ask him/her to point to specific pictures on the page, like “Where is the dog?”
There are many ways you can help (inexpensive too), encourage and support your child’s brain development as he/she grows. Always remember to never underestimate your baby’s growth development. Cut the baby talk and speaking from experience, never underrate the power of holding your baby. Comfort speaks louder than words. Though as parents, we need to draw the line and understand the difference between cuddling and coddling. Do more of one and you’ll find yourself limiting your baby’s growth potential.
Strike a balance between nurture and structure and you’ll find yourself a happy, thriving baby. Join our 24/7 Telegram Mommy Hotline where we share tips, our concerns, milestones and come together to empower other moms out there that we can do it!