Building a Bright Future for Babies
The first few years are critical for a child’s brain development. What happens or doesn’t happen during the early years makes a big difference in a child’s life. A baby’s brain goes through many changes during the first few years. And everything that happens in the brain depends on a baby’s experiences. What the baby sees, hears, touches, smells, and tastes can actually influence the wiring in the baby’s brain and can have dramatic effects on the child’s later development.
Parents and other caregivers can help babies gain the experiences they need for healthy brain development. Here are some ways to help a baby’s brain develop:
- Keep your baby’s world safe and secure. Remove any safety hazards from the environment. Respond lovingly and consistently every time your baby cries. Give her attention. A baby feels stress when the environment is dangerous or when caregivers do not respond. Stress can slow brain development.
- Talk to the baby. When she makes a sound, repeat it. Smile at her. Talk about things you’re doing together. Interacting face-to-face builds the brain connections needed for both language skills and a healthy emotional bond.
- Start reading aloud right away. Hearing adults read helps the brain develop language connections. It also gives parents and babies a chance to spend time together. And reading aloud helps your baby build a lifelong love of books.
- Choose high-quality childcare. Babies need sensitive, loving care, and stimulating experiences, both in and out of the home. Choose a childcare provider who interacts warmly with your baby and spends time with him one-on-one. Look for a safe and clean environment.
Building your baby’s brain doesn’t require expensive materials or complicated activities. What’s most important is the time and energy parents spend nurturing the baby. By reading to her, singing songs, holding her securely, smiling and laughing with her, and responding every time she cries, you are helping her to become a healthy, happy child.