The first 3 years the brain is the most flexible. How you touch and talk to a baby increases the synapses connections with a rich network of experiences. If babies are environmentally deprived their brains will not grow and will stay small for the rest of their lives. If you took a picture of a deprived brain (Romanian orphan child study) it would look similar to an Alzheimers brain. At age 3-5 children loose 40 percent of their brain cells they were born with. Ages 0-3 is a critical time for brain growth. The more interaction the better.
Touch is critical to development in an infant. The simple act of holding a baby literally sends signals to the brain and is as critical a nutrient as a vitamin. Romanian children in orphanages not touched were starved for this human sense and the children do not recover and often die without it.
3. A SAVE HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT
Children are not capable of making decisions for themselves about healthy choices and cleanliness. Many learning disabilities are a result from delinquency in providing children with a safe healthy environment to thrive, such as lead poisoning. Temperature control, healthy foods, peaceful, loving, calm…all contribute to how the child will thrive in their environment.
4. STABLE RELATIONSHIPS
If you talk loudly to a baby they will naturally turn you off says Dr. Rasmassen. Babies as young as directly after birth can interact with you by hearing your calm quiet voice. Stress has a major affect on children and babies are affected if they feel stress from their parents. Their heart rate is affected and it has a physical affect on their bodies. The stress hormone cortesole lowers when a baby sits on a lap of it’s mother or is held by it’s mother in a peaceful way. Discipline or getting angry at a baby should never happen. They do not understand why anger is directed at them so they will respond as if they are frightened. Their environments thrive when they feel safe, calm and in an environment free to explore without being punished.
Do babies need to worry about self esteem? Absolutely. They are aware of tone and energy and can feel when there is tension. Babies are sponges and soak in what is around them. They need encouragement and love. Many young mothers need to be educated on how important it is to talk in a positive way to their baby and then on with your young child and beyond.
6. QUALITY CARE
The ideal care for a baby is in a home with their mother. The child has a strong natural bond to the person who carried them for 9 months–it is a scientific fact. Yes babies can be cared for by other adults and be healthy. Childcare is a huge business and there are many checkpoints that need to be addressed for the baby to have quality care. Ratio is critical. No more than 3 to one for infants. Nutrition, safety, cleanliness, inclusion of parents in the child’s day, sleep habits, routines, etc. The choices you make for infant care can affect them their entire life.
Talk to your baby! It is as simple as that. Language is learned by using it. Repetition is the key. Children learn how to communicate in all ways by how you model communication with them. If you do not talk to your baby you are wasting precious growth time but also connective time. Look at your baby when you talk to them. Listen to your baby. Speak quietly and slowly to your baby. They will begin to mimic you and understand long before they can speak. Computer and cell phones keep people from actually using eye contact with each other when the speak and children lose connective language.
8. PLAY! Play is our brain’s favorite way to learn. Play builds connections in the brain. Strong research evidences parental interaction through play creates smart, connective, healthy babies and children. Play is fun. Do lots of it and all different kinds.
Babies have an infinity for music. Music helps foster language, rhythm, improve pre-mathematical awareness. Music fires off the brain in ways that scientist are only barely skimming. Bring music into your babies life.
10. READ TO BABIES
It begins as a shared experience and the babies brain begins to hear language sounds, decoding, differentiation, etc. besides benefit by attention, touch, and communication from a parent or caregiver. Reading helps develop language but it also benefits babies by expanding the world around him/her.
All ten of these items fire neurons in baby’s brain and provide healthy stimulation and growth. This allows baby to thrive and grow into a caring kind human being. Spending time with your baby is the best investment you can give them.
(From Infant Care Video. Masters Course Manhattanville College)