Baby's Brain Development

At birth your baby’s brain is approximately 25% of the size of an adult’s brain and by the age of three your child’s brain will be 80% of its full size. As you can see there is a large and rapid brain growth in those precious first few years. How the Brain Develops The brain develops from the inside outwards. The outer layer, the cortex develops last. This is the part of the brain that makes us human. This is the “thinking brain”. At seven months’ gestation neurons begin to develop branches known as dendrites. Each neuron is connected to another at points called synapses. They continue to develop rapidly during the first few years after birth, particularly in the first two years. Every new experience (sight, touch, smell, sound, taste, and movement) will create a new brain connection within your growing baby. Why does it grow so rapidly? Within the first three years of a child’s life the brain does the majority of its growing. A study by the University of Chicago’s Benjamin Bloom concluded that by four most of your child’s IQ is in place and that “general intelligence appears to develop as much from conception to age four as it does during the 14 years from 4-18” During this period major developmental hurdles will be achieved in a young child’s life. It is through opportunity and repetition that these hurdles will be cleared, so it is important that you provide a stimulating environment for your baby or toddler. Visual Development: a newborn baby has limited vision, but by three their vision is almost as sophisticated as an adult’s. This process will see huge brain growth with the development of billions of brain connections. • Try changing your baby's cot’s position frequently and their position within it. • Keep toys within your baby’s focus of about eight to 12 inches. • When out walking or looking out into the garden, tell your baby what you can see and point out things of interest. Ask them questions and wait for a response. Observe where your baby is looking and talk about what they can see. • Continue to encourage crawling; crawling is important in developing eye-hand-foot-body coordination and integration of the left and right side of the body • Roll balls, use tunnels, put toys slightly out of reach to encourage crawling. Gross Motor Development: a reflexive newborn baby with no control over their own body will be running and jumping happily by the time they are three. Their vestibular system will be more mature and their muscle tone well developed. To help their gross motor development give them plenty of opportunity to move: • tummy time, • dancing together, • playing on the swings in the park, • rolling in the garden Fine Motor Skills: the ability to use their hands to manipulate objects is being refined daily. For tiny babies stimulate their fingers by massaging them individually and sing and play finger stretching games such as ‘This little piggy’ or ‘Round and round the garden'. For toddlers, use treasure baskets to help them to learn how to manipulate and feel objects. As they get a older, use threading games and colouring with large crayons to improve their fine motor skills. Language Development – basic biological noises will have been replaced with over 1000 words by the age of three. Your baby will learn most about language through interactions with you and other family members • Smile and coo along with your baby and remember to follow and respond to their cues as this is the beginning of language development and social understanding. • Talk through all your daily tasks: "I am turning on the lights now so that we can see as it gets dark", "let's give the cat some food as she is hungry”. • Look at colourful pictures or books. Talk about what you can see and read the story together - remember to make your voice and your expressions as animated as possible. • Talk about what you have all been doing during the day; this can help with memory skills. Thinking, logic, and problem solving are being developed throughout these three years. This is the process by which the baby begins to become the independent human being. Every day there is something new to be learnt and enjoyed and life is one long adventure. • Play simple games like peek-a-boo, pat-a-cakes, splashing in the bath. • Play some sorting games - it can be as easy as sorting the laundry or socks. Remember to use language such as in or out, full or empty, under or over. • Give them time to explore and discover new things independently (keeping a watchful eye)

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