Babies are born with millions of brain cells, but is not complete at birth; it develops with new and repeated experiences. As the messages are repeated, new connections and pathways are made. The “early years” are a very important time for brain development. How well your baby’s brain develops will affect your child’s ability to learn, solve problems, succeed in school, be happy and get along with others.
You can help your child’s brain develop:
Provide responsive care and new experiences:
- Children need to live, play, and grow in healthy spaces with time to learn.
- Organize and child-proof your home for your child’s development stage. Try to provide a calm, positive mood at home – children learn more when they are not stressed.
- Learn your baby’s cues when they are tired, hungry, hurt, sick or stressed, and respond warmly. This helps your baby to feel safe and learn to trust you.
- Create routines like typical meal and bedtimes so they feel calm and know what to expect.
- Talk to your child, cuddle and hold them, and follow their cues and interests. This helps them to feel confident to explore and learn about their world.
Fun and playtime:
- Talk, sing, and read to your child. Play games like getting down on the floor with your baby during tummy time, or playing peek-a-boo with a six-month old.
- For older children describe things and answer their questions. Try stacking games, counting things, and sorting colours and shapes.
- Children learn with their senses - listen to music, smell and try new foods, and finger-paint to stretch their learning.
- Meal time is brain-building time: make eye contact with your child, smile, and offer healthy food choices. Children love to help in the kitchen.
You are your child’s favourite toy:
- Your child learns the most from the loving, smiling faces of adults who care and interact warmly with them.
- Simple is better: make a cardboard-box fort for fun!
- Television and screen time are not recommended for children under two years of age.
- Visit family programs in your community; playgroups and drop-ins are fun places to meet other families, and for you and your child to try new things.
Learn more on how to help your baby and child’s brain development at Healthy Baby, Healthy Brain (Best Start) and Infant Mental Health Promotion-Parenting Moments.
For more information on child health, parenting and services in Simcoe Muskoka, please contact your health care provider or contact Health Connection by calling 1-705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by email or connect with us wherever you are on Facebook or Twitter.