By Deborah McNelis, M.Ed
Having a new baby is an incredibly special time for new parents. It can also be a time of stress and confusion. However, if you understand what your newborn needs and incorporate simple activities into your routine, you can get connected and feel more confident. You will increase your parent to baby bond and you can be relieved that you will nurture your baby’s brain development. As a result your time together can be much more enjoyable.
While your baby’s brain takes many years to fully mature, the early months are the time for the most rapid amount of growth and development…with 85% of growth by age three. Connecting with your baby creates strong bonds and helps your baby’s brain to develop.
The development of emotional intelligence of course continues throughout life, but it is critically essential that this begins at birth. A wealth of research demonstrates that establishing a secure attachment in infancy can have an impact on the ability to influence the “thinking areas” of the brain. The brain is designed to adapt to whatever type of experiences are repeated most frequently, whether positive or negative.
We are biologically designed for relationships. Through the ideal situation of having someone lovingly and consistently respond to meet our needs in a nurturing way, brain pathways are being created. High functioning brain areas for impulse control, empathy, problem solving, delayed gratification, self-perception, imagination and planning are influenced by early relationships.
Harsh, unpredictable or chaotic experiences contribute to the potential for a brain to be wired quite differently. The stress of these types of experiences if repeated frequently can be toxic and may lead to a brain that is wired to respond more regularly in a fight or flight mode.
Alternately, if an infant is responded to repeatedly and predictably in a caring way, this is going to create the feelings of security, trust and pleasure that the brain craves. This will begin the wiring for crucial life skills for well-being and more happiness in life.
Love Your Baby Brain Development Activities Help You Get Connected With Your Baby
Give me loving kisses whenever you hold me, change my clothes or diapers or pick me up. Hold me in your arms or in a sling more than you carry me in a plastic carrier.
- Brain Insight: Touch is critical to brain growth. Tender physical contact creates the important “feel good” chemicals my brain needs.
What Time Is It?
Develop daily routines for meals, naps, bath and bedtime. It is very comforting to have order in my life. I learn what to expect through a regular pattern which helps make me calmer.
- Brain Insight: If my life is too chaotic it is very confusing. Knowing what is going to happen next helps organize my brain.
Play a game with a stuffed animal. Use the animal to give me a kiss. Make a kissing sound. Next, you give me a kiss. Continue going back and forth.
- Brain Insight: Showing me how much you love me through fun interactions makes connections in the emotional part of my brain. This is a very important area to develop in the first year. It affects relationships and learning in my life.
Jack –In-The Box
Push a stuffed animal into a plastic container or oatmeal box. Put the cover on. Sing a short song and open the lid when the song is over. Make a fun expression. Do it again. I will learn to expect the animal to pop out when the song is over.
- Brain Insight: Because of interactions with you, by the time I am 6 months , I may have already developed 1,000 trillion new connections in my brain.
Activity ideas from the: Love Your Baby Brain Development Activity Packet.
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Deborah McNelis , M.Ed is the founder of Brain Insights, a company successful in creating the awareness and understanding of the critical impact early brain development has on learning, well-being and success in life. She is an award winning author of, The Brain Development Series, international speaker, educator, and parent. Her passion to achieve the best possible outcome for all children through educating and supporting adults on the basics of brain development is contagious. Deborah knows that every child has great potential that can be reached when adults have a real understanding of how the growing brains of children develop best. Her insightful, fun and inspiring presentations, interviews and materials based on scientific research have been well received throughout the world. Her knowledge and enthusiasm lead to the clear realization of the extremely positive difference we can easily make for the benefit of all.
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