Your baby’s brain needs a solid foundation.
Warm, consistent, and positive relationships promote your baby’s brain development and protect it from the negative effects of stress.
Your baby’s daily experiences contribute to his brain development, whether related to daily routines or interactions with people around him.
Your baby’s brain is continuously developing. This growth begins during pregnancy and continues until early adulthood. However, to develop properly, the brain needs a solid foundation.
The brain is made up of several regions that control everything we do: listen, walk, solve problems, or even feel feelings. Each region contains millions of brain cells called “neurons”. These neurons communicate with each other by transmitting chemical messages in tiny spaces called “synapses”. When messages are sent repeatedly, new links are created to form “neural passages”. These passages constitute the “wiring” of the brain. During the first years of a baby’s life, these connections form at an accelerated rate.
But how does this development happen? In fact, parents have an important role to play in promoting the development of their baby’s brain. You don’t need special equipment or toys to do this, and it’s easier than you think!
Did you know…?
At birth, your baby’s brain connections are not yet well established. Still malleable, they can be modified or created depending on what is going on around your baby. It’s everyday experiences like playing, reading, learning, interacting, and reacting that help your baby’s brain develop.
The quality of these connections, and therefore the development of your child’s brain, will affect their ability to acquire language and solve problems, as well as their academic success. Later, this development may influence his physical and emotional health and his relationships with others.
Relationships are essential. Warm, consistent, and positive relationships promote your baby’s brain development and protect it from the negative effects of stress.
Even infants can experience stress when their living or playing environment is frightening or unsafe. “Toxic” stress, much more serious than the temporary stress experienced on a daily basis, can be caused by long-term problems, such as serious family conflicts, poverty, mistreatment, neglect, exposure to violence, abuse by a parent or the presence of untreated mental illness in a parent. This toxic stress harms the development of your baby’s brain. It can cause physical and emotional problems and learning difficulties that appear in childhood and can persist into adulthood. If you’re worried about the situation at home, talk to your doctor or your baby’s doctor.
As his brain develops, your baby needs to:
Live interactive, loving, and positive experiences. Your baby’s daily experiences contribute to his brain development, whether related to daily routines or interactions with people around him. Babies need to live and play in healthy places where they can learn and grow. They need your help to learn to recognize fatigue, stress, hunger, or the desire to be cuddled or cuddled. When you react warmly and predictably to your baby’s signs and set up routines, you help him feel safe. He will then understand that he can trust you when he is sick, sad, or scared. Babies rely on their parents and caregivers to meet their needs in a warm, caring, and consistent manner.
Participate in fun activities. Talking, reading, and singing to your baby is an easy and fun way to support their development. The same goes for simple games like lying on your stomach to play on the floor with your young baby or play cuckoo with your five-month-old baby.
Eat healthy food. If you are able to breastfeed, breast milk is the best food for your baby up to six months of age (and even after, with other foods as well). Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle-feeding, tell yourself that feeding your baby is another opportunity to help your child’s brain develop by providing him with positive experiences.