The stimulation you provide is beneficial to your infant’s mind.
For several years, parents, educators and scientists have focused on the first five years of life as the most vital in the development of a child’s brain. New research conducted at the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia points to the first three years of life as being most critical to your baby’s developing brain. Researchers and physicians agree that stimulating a baby’s brain has a significant impact on his brain’s ability to function.
“It’s critical to nurture a baby and provide the right environment from the beginning. It allows them to fully develop to their potential,” says Kevin Ess, M.D., assistant professor of neurology and pediatrics at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. “All parents want their children to be as smart as possible, and an early start is the key.”
Boosting Brain Development
Researchers at BrainWonders – a collaborative project of Boston University School of Medicine, Erikson Institute and Zero to Three – stress that repetition and consistent stimulation featuring lights, sounds and colors are the most preferred ways to stimulate your baby’s maturing brain cells.
“Our researchers believe that parents should limit young children’s exposure to TV,” says Cherylynne Crowther, director of communications at Talaris Research Institute, located in Seattle, Wash. In 2004, the institute helped develop “Parenting Counts: A Focus on Early Learning” which provides one-minute parenting spots to PBS stations across the nation.
Many parents find toys and games aimed at increasing Baby’s development helpful. Joseph Sparling, M.D., and Isabelle Lewis, M.D., researchers at the University of North Carolina, developed a program called LearningGames – The Abecedarian Curriculum (available at mindnurture.com), which provides a variety of stimulating activities and early logic-building skills.
“In addition to the basics of proper nutrition and lots of love,” adds Ess, “read to your baby and show him the world as much as possible.”
Make sure that your baby’s daily routine allows for periods of quiet play and rest as well as interaction with lights, sounds and peers. “A variety of stimulus is desirable when nurturing a child’s developmental progress, provided it is a well-balanced variety,” says neurologist Mario Taldaga, M.D.
“Parents who are mentally exhausted cannot enjoy the experience of nurturing their child’s development,” Taldaga adds. Allow for moments to clear your mental slate and recharge your own batteries in order to effectively and happily feed your child’s growing mind. Keep in mind, if you are in a healthy, relaxed and happy environment, your baby will benefit both from his surroundings as well as your reaction to his actions.
Gina Roberts-Grey is a freelance writer.
5 easy tips to nurture your baby’s developing brain
- Read to your baby for at least 10 minutes every day
- Respond to your baby’s cries, sounds, needs, etc.
- Provide ample room for your baby to crawl, stretch, play, etc.
- Communicate with your baby through language, eye contact and touch
- Offer a variety of safe textures, aromas and visuals to stimulate your baby’s senses