The Best Tips for Boosting Brain Development in Your Child
Written by: Jennifer Landis
Children spring up like weeds, it’s true. Though the time you spend raising them feels like it flies by, that doesn’t compare to how quickly they learn.
Up until age three, your child creates a million new neural connections every second that represent the endless potential of the developing brain’s architecture on which health, behavior and learning depend. In these early years, your child shares a “serve and return” interaction with you, also known as contingent reciprocity. When you’re responsive to your child’s needs and are present as a parent, they experience less stress and development risks.
Human development is lifelong, but those first years mark the highest degree of developmental flexibility. Your child’s brain is wide open to enrichment and learning influences, but on the downside, it makes your child extremely susceptible to developmental issues if they aren’t nurtured or are neglected.
Here are five tips for boosting brain development in your child.
1. Cuddle With Your Child
Parents enjoy cuddling with their child, but some may think it’s not as crucial in the early stages or makes them too “needy” as adults. That’s a myth. Touch is intrinsic to the human experience. Not only is cuddling pleasurable for both the parent and child, but it helps your child develop a big, healthy and happy brain. Cuddling alters genetics in babies for years — low contact is linked with slow epigenetic aging, which creates less favorable developmental odds. On the flip side, high contact children show positive marks in their metabolic and immune systems.
2. Follow Your Instincts
When you have your baby, unsolicited advice bombards you from family members, friends and even random people. The internet has it out for you. But remember, your baby makes you the most powerful magnet on the face of the Earth — look out, Magneto!
Follow your instincts first. Read multiple unbiased sources for extra help and information, but your inner voice is the most important since you helped that tiny human grow its tiny fingers and toes! That bond means something on the instinctual level.
3. Music Tunes Them In
Play music to boost your child’s brain development — interaction and music help a child learn language, according to studies. Passive music listening doesn’t have the same impact as interactive listening, in which a parent sings to or dances with the baby. Lullabies assist with premature development, so keep it up!
Don’t forget the power of your voice to soothe your child and help them grow. Sing to your baby, even if you feel like your voice will make the birds drop from the sky.
4. Learn Other Languages Early
Aren’t children under enough pressure without pressing more education from the time they’re out of the womb? Not in this way — learning another language from the beginning provides your child with many benefits now, as well as a brighter future down the road.
Every day, the world grows more multicultural, which is encouraging more people to learn a second language. While learning a language feels complicated, babies are programmed via their DNA to absorb language in general, not just their mother’s voice. They best hear and pronounce particular phonetic sounds up until age three. Children can learn two languages at once and recall both words for a single object, so try singing and speaking a second language with them while they’re young.
5. Play With Your Baby
Let your inner child out to play with your baby. Movement activities assist with development in multiple aspects, such as social-emotional skills like cooperation and self-confidence, and unused synapses in babies will disappear according to studies. Stimulation is vital to maintaining and growing those synapses. Remember, your baby forms one million synapses until age three.
Experts divide playtime into two types: structured and freestyle. Most children engage in structured play, but free play develops social and communication skills, as well as leadership, creative thinking and cooperation. Soon, your child will express their ideas for play, and their thoughts and reflections will astound you.
Remember, play is also exercise that will help your baby’s brain and body develop. The flexibility of your child’s mind will allow them to adapt quickly, and you will really be playing with them. As your child learns new skills, practice positive reinforcement. Even at this stage, your baby seeks your approval, and your engagement with them now sets the stage for lifelong learning and growth. Cuddle your child as a form of positive reinforcement, a reward after they accomplish something new or whenever they just need to be comforted.
The years speed by as your child grows at rapid rates. Interaction and positive engagement with your child right now is vital to their mental and emotional growth. From cuddling to playing with your child, the typical aspects of what it means to parent hold an essential influence on a child’s development — especially up until age three. Don’t let those synapses go unused!