Help Your Baby to Learn
From the moment your baby comes into the world, he or she is biologically prepared to interact with everything in the environment, including (and most importantly) you! At birth, babies can recognise faces, see colours and shapes, hear voices, differentiate sounds, feel different textures, distinguish smells and scents and recognise different tastes.
Your baby's brain is underdeveloped at birth to aid natural birth delivery. They quickly catch-up though and the brain more than doubles in size in the first 3 years of life, more than any other stage in life. For most newborns, the basic brain functions are intact that regulate breathing, heart rate, temperature, digestion, reflexes, etc. But, there are literally billions of neurons (brain cells) that are waiting to be connected. These connections reflect your baby's experiences.
The more often a connection is made, the stronger the pathway. These neural pathways influence your child's behavioural performances (e.g. emotional, social, cognitive). Positive, consistent experiences in the first 3 years lead to healthy brain development with many strong connections. By about age 10, any underused connections are 'pruned.' There are far more potential neuronal connections in the early years of life compared to adult brains. If you want to maximise the chances of developing healthy, positive connections, the early years (especially the first 3) are the 'critical period.'
Crying, gurgling, looks, touch and movements are all ways your baby interacts with the world. They rely on all 5 senses; touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. Pay attention to your baby. Try to be 'tuned-in'. Watch closely. Every single moment in which you interact with your baby you are helping them develop and strengthen the neural connections within the brain. As your baby's brain grows, the behaviour that he or she shows reflects these connections, which in turn reflect the history of learning experiences. These connections, once established, influence your child's behaviour and responses throughout his or her entire lifespan. It can never be understated just how important your providing positive, consistent and supported experiences in the early stages of life are for your child's development and long-term outcomes.
- By the 17th week of pregnancy your unborn child already has 1 billion brain cells more than an adult.
- At 7 months your unborn child has 100 billion brain cells waiting to be connected.
- The brain is underdeveloped at birth, to aid the birthing process.
- At birth, the complex parts of the brain (e.g. social, cognitive) are least developed, and their development is heavily by influenced interactions with the environment.
- By 3 years of age your baby's brain will have more than doubled in size and the brain will be about 90% of its adult size.
- You can lovingly shape your baby's neuronal development by actively providing, positive, consistent and supportive experiences for him or her.
Other information you may find useful
- Dads Needed for Construction Project - explains why it is important for dads to be involved in their baby's life right from the start.
When: 20 Feb, 1:30pm
Birth to 4 months: A 5-week series of workshops for parents with a newborn baby. Each workshop covers a wide range of topics about you and your new baby and provides the opportunity to meet and connect with other new parents in your local area.