Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Babies on Track

I just finished watching Babies on Track, a 14-minute video produced by Best Beginnings, Alaska’s Early Childhood Investment, and it was full of interesting information that I wanted to share with all of you. The video focused on brain development in babies and young children and discussed ways that parents and caregivers can stimulate brain growth in their children.
According to the video, there are 100 billion neurons in our brains that form a network. The more interactions a baby/child has, the more connections are made in this network. From birth, these brain connections form at a speed of 700 per second, and most brain development happens in the first 3-5 years (primarily in the first 3 years) of your child’s life. Without stimulation, those connections don’t occur and brain development isn’t as full as it could be. Thus, it’s extremely important to do things to stimulate your little one’s brain, so that it forms those connections.

Do things as simple as telling your child what you’re doing (or why you’re doing it) when you’re performing everyday tasks like giving a bath, making dinner, or folding laundry. For example, during bathtime, you can say: “Okay, first we need to turn on the water. We need to check to make sure the temperature is just right. If it’s too cold, you’d feel chilly in the bath. If it’s too hot, you might get burned, and that would hurt.” Every word you use to a baby is a new one, so it doesn’t matter what you say, just that you’re saying something. They take in everything you’re saying to them, and those interactions have a big impact. The more you talk to your child, the better!

Another tip that the video shared was that when you ask a question, wait for a response, and listen to your child. Kids’ response times are longer than adults’, so we have a tendency to rush them or think that they’re not going to answer. Usually if you wait a little bit, your child will come up with a response. When she does answer you and says something like, “I’m playing with my teddy bear,” you can add to that by saying, “Yes, you’re playing with your brown teddy bear.” When you add words to what she says, it helps her to learn how to add words to something she's describing to you.

These are just a couple of the suggestions the video gave for interacting more with your child. For more information and tips, you can check out Best Beginnings Alaska’s website. It has lots of great information, as well as suggestions for early learning activities that you can do with your child. If nothing else, the main point is just that, especially at a very young age, constant interactions with your little ones are so important. Even if you’re just narrating what you’re doing, it really has a lasting effect on your child’s brain development.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post. It is incredible to think about what is happening in the brain of our little ones! Love your tips and it was a great reminder that even things you have to do that might not seem like an opportunity to interact with your child (laundry and making dinner) can be turned into one if you get in that mindset/habit. I think the one about understanding the delayed response time is a big one for me. I find myself forgetting that too often and looking for an immediate answer. Thanks again for a great post!