How to Boost Your Child’s Brain Development

From birth to age three, children’s brains develop rapidly. You’ve probably heard these early years referred to as the formative years, and it’s true that brain development affects all areas of a child’s growth. What’s also true, though, is that much of the interaction you’ll naturally have with your child will help this brain development.

  • Brain development starts before birth. When you do your best to have a healthy pregnancy, eating well and avoiding drugs, smoking, and alcohol, you’ll be helping your baby to develop properly. You can also talk to your baby before he or she is born, in order to begin to build both your bond and your child’s vocabulary before birth.
  • Connecting with your baby is sometimes as simple as a smile. Smile at your baby, stick out your tongue, and react to the child’s facial expressions and vocalizations. Interact with your baby in an attentive and focused way, to help build a strong emotional bond. Respond to your baby promptly and consistently.
  • Narrating the world to your baby builds language skills. Talk to your baby as you go about your day, telling him what you’re doing, or pointing out things of interest. Talk back when your baby babbles and coos, fostering communication. Research indicates that the size of a child’s vocabulary at age three is directly related to how many words are spoken in the home.
  • Read to your little one, to foster a love of books. Begin before the baby is even born, and make reading part of your daily routine. Even before your child can recognize letters or words, reading boosts language and communication skills. In fact, reading is one of the best things you can do to promote healthy brain development. As your child grows, ask questions about what’s happening in a book’s pictures, engaging the child while increasing his or her understanding of the story.
  • Children learn through play. Simple games like peek-a-boo, pretend play, and playing with toys are all great ways to help a baby’s brain develop. It’s been said that play is the work of childhood, and when you play with children, you help them build important social skills as well as fostering creativity and imagination. Perhaps even more importantly, you’re building your relationship with your child.
  • Sing to your baby. You don’t have to need a great voice, or even to be able to carry a tune! Songs help your baby learn rhythm, rhymes and language patterns. Sing all the nursy rhymes you can remember, do all the body and hand motions, and dance or bounce along to the rhythm.

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