Your Child’s brain is not fully developed at birth. But it is during the first five years of life that most of the remaining development happens.
During that time, both the inherited genes (nature) and day-to-day experiences (nurture) play significant roles in shaping your baby’s brain.
Here are the things that can support Your Child’s brain development:
Responsive and positive interactions: During the first few years of life, Your Child’s developing brain is sensitive to external influences as the brain is still building connections with the sense organs. So external stimuli, such as touch, sound, vision, smell, hunger, and taste, are part of the child’s experiences, which shape the developing brain. Interacting and responding warmly to your baby helps Your Child feel safe, loved, and cared for, which register in the brain as positive experiences and allow for optimal development.
Reading to Your Child: Reading is a great way to promote Your Child’s brain development. Even before your baby can recognize words or letters, reading lays the ground for developing language skills. Just by hearing the words and seeing the pictures, Your Child’s brain can connect the two. Reading the same book over and over helps to build memory and gain more in-depth knowledge.
Play: Play is crucial for a healthy brain. Whether you are playing with Your Child or the little one is playing alone, play engages your baby’s brain on multiple dimensions and stimulates the development of critical thinking skills. Peek-a-boo, hide-and-seek, pretend play, and even building and tearing toys help foster imagination, create spatial memory, and promote creative thinking.
Less screen time: Watching TV or other electronic programs is a passive activity and won’t stimulate a baby’s higher cognitive centers. Children need activities that actively engage both their minds and bodies. While some toys may be necessary for Your Child’s play activities, a loving and smiling face does more good to your baby than all the toys in the world.
Adequate nutrition: The brain needs all the essential nutrients to function correctly, so you should make sure that your baby is well-fed and fed with the right kinds of food. Exclusively breastfeeding is also recommended during the first 6 months. When you introduce solid foods, be sure that you’re feeding Your Child with only nutritious foods — no junk or too much sugar.
Adequate health care: It is necessary to take your baby for regular health checks. Discuss with your doctor if you’re concerned about any delay in milestones. More importantly, make sure that your baby’s immunization is up-to-date.
Quality childcare: If, for any reason, you need to be away from your baby, make sure that Your Child is getting the proper care. Your baby’s caregiver should be someone you believe can respond to your baby’s emotional and physical needs.
Ketsupa Jirakarn (Mental health specialist) (31 March 2021)