Learn How The Brain Develops in Infants & How You Can Help Development
The human brain is so complex, yet so beautiful. It’s a 3-pound organ that defines our humanity. But, we aren’t born with a fully developed brain. In fact, most research suggests that it takes about 25 years for the brain to develop. As a parent with a newborn doing research on all the ways you can support and monitor brain development can help your baby live a healthy and brilliant life. There are infant development stages and ways that you can improve brain development in infants. Keep reading to learn more.
What are the stages of infant brain development?
The stage in which the brain develops during infancy is considered the sensorimotor stage. It can further divided into two substages as follows:
Newborn brain development: When babies are born, they have 100 billion neurons connected by 50 trillion synapses. Each neuron has 2500 synaptic connections at birth. The brain will grow, although only reaching 25% of adult size to start.
Mentally, newborns will have basic survival insects including rooting, grasping, suckling, and startling.
Brain development ages 0-2: Over the next two years the brain will develop as the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum keep making new neurons. The synaptic density will reduce to half by the time they turn two. The myelination on their cranial nerves will continue growing from the back to the front of the brain and from the center to the sides. During this stage the brain will reach 50% of adult size.
Mentally, the baby will begin forging connections with the people around them. They will develop motor skills learning to raise their heads, walk and run. They will also develop vocabulary. While we can’t see the brain, as a parent you’ll know it’s developing. Watching your baby grow is truly one of the most amazing things in life.
When do babies' brains develop the most?
A baby’s brain develops most from birth to age five. Their brain will develop more at this stage than during any other time of life, so it’s important to keep it safe and fuel it with stimulation. Ensuring your baby has adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and plenty of exercise can all support brain development.
What factors influence brain development?
There are several factors that influence baby brain development. These include:
- What they see around them (shapes and colors)
- What they hear
- How they are touched and the things they touch
- How they are communicated with
What can improve a child's brain development?
As a parent or caregiver, you’ll want to excel at life’s most important job; raising your child. There are ways that you can improve brain development, here are a few ways to do so:
Play music: You can play music for infants’ brain development. Playing music can help babies recognize patterns in music including rhythms and rhyme. If you sing to your child and add body motions, it will allow your baby to connect sound with motor activity.
Talk to your baby: Any form of communication is good, but talking to your child in baby talk is especially effective. Exaggerated facial expressions and drawn-out vowels will help them absorb the sounds of language so they develop vocabulary quickly. Reading books in baby talk is helpful as well.
Play games with your hands: Games like patty-cake and peekaboo will teach your baby to physically interact with the world around them.
Choose interactive toys: Interactive toys can improve your child’s motor skills and get them to understand cause and effect. For instance, if they stack blocks too high and/or crookedly, and they fall, the child should eventually realize why that is happening and correct it in future behaviors.
Be attentive: Be attentive to your baby’s actions by having conversations with them and by taking an active interest in what they are doing. Being engaged in activities and interests lets your child know you care, thus boosting their confidence. Children may not naturally engage in certain activities, but with a little encouragement and engagement you can peak their interest.
Encourage them to love books: Encourage your child to love books by making reading a fun experience that they look forward to. When reading, be interactive. Adjust your tone of voice to create drama, connect words and images by pointing out pictures, and make reading part of your daily routine to keep your child’s brain developing. After reading a book you can also talk about the book (when they’re old enough) to boost their understanding and absorb more information.
Touch your baby: Studies have shown that babies that are not touched can have brains that are small for their age. You can prevent this from happening by stroking your child’s tummy and hair when they are reading, playing, or getting a diaper change. Again this goes back to being interactive and present. With the distractions of life and technology, it’s easy to be there, without actually being there. Make a point to be present.
What can hinder a child's brain development?
There are several things that can hinder infant brain development. These include:
- Not providing your child with proper nutrition, especially during pregnancy.
- Traumatic incidents that occur during infancy or as the child grows up.
- Not vaccinating the child. Vaccines can protect a child from complications like swelling of the brain that can interfere with baby brain development.
- Traumatic brain injuries which infants are especially vulnerable to.
- Exposure to infections and toxins.
Can I help my baby's brain development?
While the human brain naturally develops, parents can contribute to healthy brain development before their baby is even born. During pregnancy, take care of your body and eat a healthy diet. Bring your baby into the world with every chance of being smart, successful, and most importantly, healthy. Filling your baby’s life with positive relationships and consistency can also help build the foundation for healthy brain development. Ensuring stress is kept behind closed doors is important too.
What activities help infant brain development?
There are activities that can help infant brain development such as:
- Protecting them from stress
- Ensuring they get plenty of sleep
- Feed a healthy diet
- Talk, sing, and point
- Incorporate counting and ABC’s
- Teach through movement and play
- Make reading interactive
- Compare things
- Maximize love and connect through touch
What music helps infant brain development?
Any type of music for an infant's brain development can work. It was once believed that classical music was best for promoting intelligence, but this has never been proven. However, studies show that classical music may be best for reducing stress.
How does sleep help brain development?
Sleep has been shown to have a direct connection to infant brain development. Here’s the reasoning behind it;
During sleep, connections are made between the right and left hemispheres of a baby’s brain accounting for most of brain development.
Baby’s brains form brain synapses during sleep at an accelerated rate. They will produce over 1,000,000 million neural connections per second during their first few years.
Sleep gives a baby the chance to absorb the things that happened that day allowing the brain to form and store memories.
A lack of sleep causes cognitive issues, developmental delays, and other issues.
Because sleep is so important to baby brain development, it’s important that they get enough throughout the day and night. To help your baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, try Dreamland’s Weighted Swaddle, Sleep Sack, or Blanket. A once exhausted mother with a restless baby was determined to help her baby get the sleep he deserved. Created by an accident, Dreamland transformed into an intentional brand with safety at the forefront. Dreamland weighted sleep products feature CoverCalm Technology and premium materials. CoverCalm Technology evenly distributes weight from your baby’s shoulders to toes to naturally reduce stress (important for brain development) while giving your baby the feeling of security and comfort - just like a hug, all night long.