Did you know a baby is born with 100 billion neurons in his brain just waiting to be fired, and what occurs in his first years can greatly impact how his brain develops its trillions of brain-cell connections called neural synapses?
According to Beverly Anderson, executive director at Ebenezer Child Care Centers, “When babies are born, the parts of their brains that handle thinking and remembering as well as emotional and social behavior are undeveloped. This means that the experiences and relationships they have will greatly impact the way their brain develops and how it is ‘wired’ for success.”
So how can you help ensure that your baby’s brain will develop to its potential? Here are a few tips:
Never Underestimate the Power of Snuggling
Because babies experience the world through their senses, Anderson points out that it is extremely important for parents and caregivers to nurture young children in order to help foster their brain development.
“Holding, rocking, smiling, and talking to young children is critical for enhancing brain development,” says Anderson. “Research has proven that children who grow up in a secure environment, where they are nurtured and know they are a loved, are more capable of coping with difficult times when they are older, more likely to get along better with others, and ultimately perform better in school.”
Why Reading Is Critical
Anderson says, in addition to nurturing your baby, it’s never too early to begin reading to your child. Reading sparks children’s curiosity, stimulates their imagination, and starts them down a positive path of learning.
She says babies are mesmerized by brightly colored books with rhythmic language, and that they learn speech development through the repetition of words. Plus, reading is the perfect way to introduce new concepts, ideas, and places.
Anderson recommends that parents spend a minimum of 20 minutes each day reading aloud to their young children. She also encourages parents to talk and sing to their babies on a regular basis to help stimulate brain development.
Encouraging Learning Through Play
In addition to reading, Anderson says it is important to let children simply play and explore to encourage brain development.
“There is a great deal of research out there that says children under the age of four learn best through play,” says Anderson. “So, it’s really important to surround your children with multi-purpose toys that can stimulate and expand their thinking while allowing them to use their imagination in endless ways.”
Some great examples of multi-purpose toys for babies include floor gyms with dangling objects and unbreakable mirrors. Toddlers can be occupied for long periods of time with stacking cups and hammering balls through holes. Preschoolers enjoy Legos and other building blocks, art supplies, modeling clay, action figures, and stuffed animals.
Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart. The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.
Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers free Parenting Talks and other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.
The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, in Greenfield, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070.