Let’s look again at that developmental elevator. A baby reaches each developmental floor equipped with certain competencies. How these competencies flower into skills depends upon interaction with the care giving environment baby finds on that floor. If the interaction is responsive and enriching, baby gets back on the elevator with more skills, and the ride up to the next floor is much smoother. Because baby reaches the next floor with more skills, the interaction on the next level of development is even more rewarding.
Make Your Own Chart
A valuable exercise during the first two years is to make your own growth and development chart like the one shown in this chapter. Using a large poster board, list the area A valuable exercise during the first two years is to make your own growth and development chart like the one shown in this chapter. Using a large poster board, list the areas of development down the left-hand side and monthly stages of development across the top. Divide the sheet into blocks and plot your baby’s skills. Concerning cognitive development, fill in what you think is going on in baby’s mind. For simplicity, you may wish to combine social and language milestones, as we have done on our chart and throughout. Charting your baby’s development not only improves your skills as a baby watcher, it adds your overall enjoyment of growing together.
Seven Ways To Build A Brighter Baby
You can make a difference in your baby’s brain development. New insights into how a baby’s brain grows show that parents can have a profound effect on how smart their child later becomes. The brain grows more during infancy than at any other time, tripling its weight and reaching approximately 60 percent of its adult size by one year. As the brain grows, nerve cells called neurons proliferate, resembling miles of tangled electrical wires. The infant is born with much of this wiring unconnected. During the first r, these neurons grow larger, learn to work better, and connect up with one another to make circuits that enable baby to think and do more things,
Here’s how these circuits work. The tips of each neuron resemble fingerlike feelers attempting to make connections with other nerves. During development two important improvements are made on this beginning nervous system. First, the number of connections between neurons increases, and second, each neuron acquires a coating called myelin, which helps messages move faster and insulates the nerve, preventing short circuits. The new and exciting field of neurobiology tells us that the more connections the nerve cells make, the smarter the child’s brain. Smart-start parenting means helping your baby’s brain make the right connections.
1. A Smart Womb Start
At the moment sperm meets egg, your baby’s brain growth takes off. In fact, a baby’s brain develops faster during the nine months in mother’s womb than at any other time in the child’s life. The development of the fetal nervous system is affected — for better or worse — by what’s in mother’s blood during the nine months of pregnancy. Inhaling or ingesting substances called neurotoxins, such as cigarette smoke, excessive alcohol, and many kinds of drugs, has been shown to harm the baby’s brain development and increase the risk of having learning and behavior problems later on.
Besides the “don’ts” of drugs, alcohol, and nicotine during pregnancy, there are some “do’s” that affect the developing fetal brain in a healthy way. A maternal diet rich in brain-building omega-3 fats is smart nutrition. While it takes very poor maternal nutrition to harm a baby’s developing brain, in general, the better you nourish your body, the better you nourish your baby’s growing brain.
2. A Smart Milk Start
Research has shown that breastfed babies enjoy an intellectual advantage over bottle fed babies. Even more exciting, breastfeeding research suggests a dose-response relationship: The more frequently and longer a mother breastfeeds, the smarter her kids are likely to be. Here are two reasons that breastfed babies enjoy a brighter beginning.
* Smarter fats.
Mother’s milk is rich in brain-building omega-3 fats, such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), ARA (arachidonic acid), and cholesterol. Dubbed “smart fats,” these nutrients contribute to the growth of the baby’s brain tissue, especially myelin, the fatty coating that insulates each nerve fiber, enabling messages to travel faster and more efficiently between brain circuits.
* Smarter communication.
As discussed in my article “Getting Attached: What It Means,” the responsiveness of caregivers to the cues of the infant is a powerful builder of brighter babies. Breastfeeding is an exercise in baby-reading. A breastfeeding mother learns to read her baby’s cues of hunger and satisfaction since, unlike the bottle-feeding mom, she can’t count
the number of ounces of milk she is giving. The perk of extra intuition hormones that a breastfeeding mother enjoys helps her be more sensitive, turned in, and more appropriately responsive to the cues of her infant. Since breast milk is digested faster than formula, breastfed babies feed more often and therefore enjoy more interaction and touch time, which are also powerful influencers of an infant’s emotional and intellectual development. caregiver jobs