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Raising Children

Brain development

The “early years” are a very important time for brain development. Babies are born with millions of brain cells, but brain development is not complete at birth. The brain continues to develop with new and repeated experiences.

As neural messages are repeated, new connections and pathways are made. 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. Most brain growth happens by the time a child is three!

However, the brain does not fully mature until the age of 25. The parts of the teen brain which develop first are those which control physical coordination, emotion and motivation. The part that powers the ability to think, plan, solve problems, make decisions and control emotions is one of the last to mature.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Play games like getting down on the floor with your baby during tummy time, or playing peek-a-boo with a six-month old.
  • Talk, sing, and read 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.
  • Create routines like typical meal and bedtimes so they feel calm and know what to expect.
  • Children learn with their senses - listen to music, smell and try new foods, and finger-paint to stretch their learning.
  • For older children describe things and answer their questions.Try stacking games, counting things, and sorting colours and shapes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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