By Health Visitor Claire Cripps
A dual-qualified nurse, midwife a health visitor with three beautiful children of her own. Currently working as a health visitor, Claire loves working with families. Supporting them and their babies through the good and the hard times.
Understanding Your Baby’s Brain
There is an abundance of information and research around the developing baby brain. It’s fascinating how LOVE is the main ingredient to a happy and healthy start in life. As soon as your baby is born the journey of learning and understanding begins. In the first year of your baby’s life, their brain will double in size. Your baby is born with billions of brain cells. However, these are not activated until they start to experience interactions around them. In your baby’s first year of life being surrounded by soft and positive communication help lay down the foundations for a happy, healthy future. A happy brain will grow. This growth helps to support your baby in making friends, being happy and enjoying family life. It will also support their learning when they reach school age.
READ, TALK, SING and PLAY
It may seem daunting at first, realising that everything you do around your children moulds their future. But, by following a few simple ideas and simply loving your child you will be able to help them grow and thrive. Your baby will love interactions such as reading, talking, singing and playing. Responding and keeping your baby close will elevate their brain development. Touching and cuddling your baby is important, and it’s impossible to spoil your newborn baby by doing this. So, make sure you cuddle, touch and kiss your baby as much as you like.
1. Reading – Fun for everyone
Reading with your baby will support the foundation for healthy growth in your baby’s brain. At first your baby can focus from the crook of your arm to your face. This is the perfect time to start sharing books and reading to them. Your baby will recognise your voice already and this will be reassuring and comforting to them.
Black and white books are recommended to share with your baby as soon as you can. In the first few weeks of your baby’s life the developing eyes are still learning to focus. Black and white books with simple and bold patterns are easier for your baby to see. A black and white book gives your baby a chance to see clearly and experience part of the world. The more you interact early on, the more your baby will thrive as they develop through childhood.
Reading is such a fun activity to share. Before you know it, your baby will be sharing their favourite book with you and reading to you themselves.
2. Talking and Singing – Learning the love of another
Everyone loves to make silly gooey noises and sing to a baby and these actions actually make your baby happy. The various tones and facial expressions help your baby to learn and to have fun. Talking and singing to your baby about your day to day activities and including the baby in your daily life and work will stimulate their development.
It can feel a little silly at first. However, research has shown (that whilst babies may not understand you), the sound of your voice is reassuring and shows them your affection. This helps deepen the bond between you and helps them develop their own communication skills, teaching them language.
Your baby will have the ability to learn very quickly. Talking and singing to your baby using soft, reassuring, encouraging sounds and happy tones will lay down the foundation of crucial early life skills.
3. Playing – Making you smile
The best toy your baby can have is you! Playing games such as “pat-a-cake”, “peekaboo” and “this little piggy” for example, will engage your baby and capture their attention. Whilst using your hands shows your baby how we physically interact with the world. Being hands-on and using simple activities are much more fun for both of you. Getting down on the floor. Pretending to be trains, lions and using your imagination will spark the adventurous side in both of you. Creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Exploring colours, shapes and different textures will also be fun for you and your baby. Loving interactions and nourishment are what will help your baby to make sense of everything around them. Early experiences have a massive impact on the growth and development of your baby’s brain. These experiences influence the way in which your baby’s brain cells connect and what type of person they will become in the future.
Happy Memories, Happy Baby
By following these easy ideas of READ, TALK, SING and PLAY. By using interactive activities – you will help make sure your child’s brain is primed for years of learning ahead. So, make those silly noises; get on the floor and pretend to be a dinosaur; begin to create those special memories that will last a lifetime. All whilst helping your child’s development – this is the best part of becoming a parent.