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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Parental Guide to Understand Baby Brain Growth

By Andrew Loh

Brain research and study is an exciting domain. Brain growth and development starts right at the birth. It might even start before the birth itself. An important organ of the body, you can never ignore its importance nor can you neglect its optimal development. Past and recent research studies have provided a unique vista on brain development among children.

There is much more baby brain development that just genetics and heredity. For a human, the first three years of life are extremely crucial and critical for life. The way and manner in which the brain develops during this period will influence the mode in which the baby experiences his or her life in the later stages. The growing environment within which the baby grows also affects the speed with which the brain grows in the first few years of life. In fact, the brain circuitry depends directly on the quality of the environment.

Learning about baby brain is an exciting and thrilling activity especially for parents who would like to see their children succeed in life. In addition, brain development study will also help them plan and execute strategies and techniques to boost brain development in quick time. It means that brain development study is a prerequisite for finding out techniques that can help children fine-tune their brain based performance and efforts. This two part article series provides a bird's eye view of baby brain development, its facts and details. It also gives you a series of tips and strategies to catalyze brain development.

Brain and its neurons

Brain is a great hub of intense activities. Neurons are like a network of pathways that link to each other in an amazing sequence. Every child who takes its birth will have more than 100 billion neurons in its brain. Neurons are the specialized areas that help perform most basic brain functions like thinking, feeling, watching, observing, seeing, calculating, planning and a series of other activities those are a must for leading a normal life.

Surprisingly, this forms the platform over which all brain functions take place. Most of them die by themselves with age and none of them is reproduced later in the life. Synapses connect these neurons and the efficiency with which different neurons are connected will decide the effectiveness of the brain functions and activities. During the first year in a baby's life, neuron connections occur at an amazing pace. At peak of brain development, a baby may have more than 1000 trillion synapses, all working in a perfect harmony. One of the most significant aspects of brain development is the influence of everyday experiences and stimulation that the child will likely to have.

If you want the synapses to become efficient and permanent, the type and quality of everyday experiences you provide your children should be premium in nature. If the quality of experience is not up to the mark, the brain may discard those synapses without any mercy. Most of the synapses that occur in a child brain are likely to end up in a dustbin! In essence, the child brain develops and streamlines in the following order of priority:

  • Brain stem that is very critical for survival like heartbeat, heart rate, body temperature maintenance etc.

  • More complex part known as the cortex (top layer) that affects activities like reasoning and cognition

Stimulation vs. Baby brain growth

Most of the connections that occur in the first two years of life are almost permanent. The ones that are used prominently and regularly are the ones that are bound and soldered with an uncanny efficiency. However, the act of soldering becomes much more efficient when the child gets better brain stimulation. This stimulation usually comes from parents, caregivers, peers, relatives and teachers. Vision and language skills are the first and primary skills acquired by your baby. It means that you may need to provide the right type of stimulation that actually improves vision and language skills.

Different systems of brain do not form at the same time. Hence, you may want to stimulate different parts of brain at different times. For example, cognition is an important skill that your child acquires during the first two years of life. Hearing, vision and speech are the most basic skills that children acquire within the first six months of life. Speech, vocabulary and listening skills are improved when you provide the right type of stimulations during the first year. Baby talk and singing are the two most simple and basic stimulations that catalyze baby brain for better performance in language.

Brain and emotional development

Emotional development is an important stage of brain development. To succeed in adult life, a child should develop optimal emotional and social skills in the first few years of life. It means that you should provide intimate care and affection to your baby. Proper nurturing and loving touch are the most necessities for a young child. Emotional intelligence is as important and critical as mental intelligence. Emotional and social skills are possible when you allow your young child to mingle and play with other children and young adults.

The role of neglect, trauma and stress

Neglect, trauma and stress may play a negative role in a child's life. They could be very damaging too. Parental abuse and neglect can impede soldering of synapses while trauma and stress may destroy already existing synapses. Under a stressful situation or environment, a chemical called cortisol may affect the regions of the brain that control and manage the emotional side of life. In fact, such regions may become smaller than the neighboring regions. Proper and loving care will help the brain in many ways. With care, both cortex and limbic systems of the brain could catalyze and empower those areas of brain that control thought process and emotional responses.

Here are some more baby brain facts and details:

  • More than 60% of all the energy a baby consumes is concentrated in the brain;

  • The first three of life is the quickest brain growing time;

  • Social and emotional interaction will empower better speed and accuracy of learning;

  • Humans can learn any language in the world;

  • Better cognition occur when children learn more than one language;

  • Human brain is the most complex organ in the body;

  • Excessive trauma, pressure, strain and parental abuse may result in serious disorders like ADHD and Panic syndrome.

Continue to read Boosting Baby Brain Development - Simple Parental Techniques and Methods


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