So this is from a parent’s heart to another parent. I am a mother and have been through a journey of ups and downs throughout my pregnancy and after giving birth as well. And now after a year of having a cute little baby girl in my life, I understand what every parent thinks while conceiving. While a mother is worried about her health and baby’s physical and mental growth, the father is equally worried about the family’s health as well as managing finances. So everything that we do and we think has an effect on our kids. The journey of parenting starts right from the time the mother conceives a child. The fetus starts to develop and take all the required nourishment through her mother.
Do you know what starts to develop first in a fetus? It’s the spinal cord and the nervous system that first starts developing and taking its shape and second comes the heart. Within the first month the brain starts to develop in a fetus. A child’s brain develops rapidly from birth till the age of 8 years. The first three years of a child’s life are critical for learning and development.
How well a brain develops depends on many factors in addition to genes, such as:
- Proper nutrition starting with the pregnancy phase
- Exposure to infections or any toxins
- The child’s experiences with the other people and the world.
Healthy brain development of a child can be taken care by nurturing and having a positive response in daily life. Positive or negative experiences can add up to shape a child’s development and can have lifelong effects. At young age the right side of the brain which is responsible for memorizing music and images is stronger than the left side of the brain which is analytical or logical in nature. Therefore, it is important to use this right brain power at small age to help the child with healthy brain development in future. Many parents ask how they can help their child’s brain develop. The best way is to actively engage your child through everyday activities like playing, reading and being there when he/she feels stress.
Here are some ideas to encourage brain development:
- Comfort: A child can be fussy at times especially during the first 3 months of her life. As there is a lot happening in her body and even more in the world around her, she might feel stressed. It is important to comfort a baby and show the love and care at regular intervals. This helps the child to cool down and accept the changes that are happening around her world. Studies show that responsive, loving and supportive care helps babies handle stress better than being inconsistent.
- Play: Playing is a wonderful way to develop a toddler’s brain. Play might be a game, talking or singing to engage your child’s brain. Peek-a-boo and holding toys in and out of a box is a good way of involving your baby. Sing songs to your baby specially infants as that helps with imagination and creativity.
- Read: Reading is one of the best ways to promote brain development in kids. Even before a child can recognize letters, reading can help to kick start the communication skills with your child. Picture books, flip flap books can be the introductory books that can help with image recognition and language skills as well. Hearing words and seeing pictures connects the two in a child’s mind. Slowly the child at the age of 5 or 6 years can read few words to himself and enjoy turning the pages of books.
- Share/Talk: Share the things that happened during a day with your child. While you are home back from office, talk about what had happened today. It can be how you saw a nice garden on the way and you would love to take your child there on a weekend. Or it can be how sunny it was outside today. Mothers at home can show what and how they are doing their daily tasks. This helps child learn about the environment.
THE EARLY YEARS – USE IT OR LOOSE IT
There are enormous benefits of creating a brain this way but so are the risks.
First, children require a lot of experiences before they become independent.
Secondly, what parents do and don’t do during the formative years can have a profound impact on a child’s life.
Early life is a period of unique sensitivity during which experience gives enormous results. Early childhood education is also important to a child’s cognitive growth. Attending a quality preschool has been shown to benefit kid’s development in the long term.