During a baby’s first several years of life, his brain grows at an impressive rate, transforming him from a seemingly responseless — yet adorable — lump to a child capable of communicating and expressing emotion. As you watch your infant make this transition, consider the factors at play within his brain and develop an understanding of what you can do to ensure that his brain develops as effectively as possible.
Brain Building Before Birth
While it may seem next to impossible for a baby’s brain to do much building before the infant even sees the light of day, in truth, much brain building occurs in the womb. As PBS reported in the series “The Secret Life of the Brain,” as early as four weeks into gestation babies begin to develop brain cells. While developing in utero, babies’ rapidly growing brains create neurons at a rate of 250,000 every minute.
When Growth Happens
Most of the brain growth a child experiences in his life occurs before he even enters school. Babies’ brains grow exponentially between birth and six years of age as these infants develop an understanding of the world around them and learn the skills necessary to move, communicate and take in information about the world around them.
Helping Your Baby’s Brain Blossom
Much of the growth that occurs within your baby’s brain happens without intervention; however, these are some things that you can do to foster this development. One of the easiest and most important things that you can do for your infant is to speak to him. Start this process even before he is capable of responding, as doing so helps him get used to speech and gives him a model around which to develop an understanding. As you speak to your baby, touch him and watch for signs of understanding. Although you can never really know if your 4-month-old understood your declaration of love, you may be able to see a spark of understanding in his eye or a reciprocal smile that indicates that he might be taking in more than it appears.
Seek to Understand Your Infant
As Babies Today reports, infants are eager to be understood. When your baby begins to make attempts at communication, try your hardest to interpret the meanings behind these attempts. If you respond positively to these attempts at getting information across, it may encourage this struggling baby to keep working and building communication skills.
What Not to Do
Just as there are things that promote baby brain growth, there are things that stifle it. During these formative years, it is vital that parents not ignore their infant. If selecting a childcare provider, aim to select one that will give your infant the attention that he requires when you are kept from doing so. When speaking to your baby, speak to him as you would an adult. By using baby talk, you model improper speech patterns and make it harder for your baby to replicate adult speech. When your child does begin to attempt to communicate, allow him the time to do so instead of rushing him along or not giving him time to respond to queries you make of him.