We live in a wonderfully advanced technological era that has made it possible to take a peek inside the living brain. Many of these studies have all shown us that, with the right environment, it is possible to ensure healthy brain development in an infant. The first few years of a baby’s life are crucial in terms of development since the brain is creating electrical connections all the time. That is why; consistent stimulation and repetition can strengthen these connections and make them permanent. Proper stimulation at the right age can enhance the love of learning, creativity, curiosity, and attention in the infant.
Here are some proven ways to stimulate baby brain development.
1. Start from the pregnancy
Studies show that mothers can stimulate baby brain development in the womb itself. Here are some suggestions to follow during the pregnancy to ensure proper brain development in the baby:
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Take a prenatal vitamin supplement as prescribed by the doctor.
- Mothers should eat choline-based foods which are known as baby brain development food. These include egg yolks, nuts, liver, milk, and meats. Always check with your doctor before supplementing with choline, since too much can cause harmful effects.
- Avoid the use of alcohol and cigarettes as they tend to impact brain formation and could even harm the baby.
- Gain adequate weight. Take your doctor’s advice.
- Exercise. Again, seek the advice of your OB/GYN about the kind of exercise safe for you.
- Practice hygiene and avoid the risk of infections and diseases that can be passed on to the baby.
2. Give your baby plenty of love and affection
Many parents spend thousands of dollars on baby brain development toys but this is really not necessary as one can easily stimulate a baby’s intellectual growth simply by giving her plenty of love, affection, and attention.
A young infant is incapable of manipulating you. Simply by giving your baby plenty of tender, love, and affection, parents can stimulate increased brain circuitry and a stronger sense of self-esteem in a child. Love and affection are baby’s biological needs. So giving attention and love to a child can foster growth and intellect.
3. Talk and sing to your infant
Babies love to hear your voice and when that voice is filled with love and kindness, it stimulates her brain’s growth and even builds neurological connections or rewires the brain. So, talk and sing to your baby often as possible and especially as you go about your daily chores. For example, you can give a running commentary of how or what you are cooking, or sing or speak as you fold the laundry, or make your shopping lists. Try and sing often to your baby; as you put her to sleep, give her a bath, or change her diaper. Stories and songs help increase the baby’s vocabulary and demonstrate to her how to behave or act while also teaching problem-solving skills.
4. Play music
Many classical music tunes are known to stimulate baby brain development. Studies have shown that music stimulates neural connections in infants. So go ahead, play those classical tunes while your baby feeds, bathes or sleeps. You can even dance together to the music.
5. Respond to the baby as often as she needs
Every time your baby makes eye contact, fusses, cries out, or reaches out for you; respond to these cues by holding, soothing, nursing, and talking her. These nurturing actions can help your child develop healthy weight and also healthy relationships with the caregivers. It can get very tiring for a parent to do this, especially due to lack of sleep, or when the baby is colicky or fussy. In such cases, reach out for help. Get a grandparent or friend to watch the baby while you rest. Ask them to sing, talk, and hold the baby. If you start working immediately after delivery, make sure you get your babysitters on board about these stimulating ways of responding to your baby.
6. Use the power of touch
Touch your baby often and, as far as possible, perform baby massages before bath-time. ‘Touch’ stimulates neural connections and encourages brain growth. Also get your baby used to different textures by letting her sleep on velvet, silk, soft blankets, straw, etc. Allow the infant to feel different textures such as (nothing extreme) cool, wet, warm, soft, rough, smooth, silky, sticky, etc. Watch out for signs of discomfort: stop or take away the stimulus your baby seems to dislike. Invest in different baby brain development toys such as teething rings; BPA-free chew toys, plush toys, and so on.
7. Read to your baby
Reading is the best way to promote healthy brain development for infants and toddlers. Even though your baby may not understand the words and meaning, she will love the pictures and the sound of your voice. This is a great way to foster an emotional connection with your baby. You will find plenty of books appropriate to different developmental stages. Talk to your local librarian who can guide you. Here are some good books to read to your baby:
- Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- Baby Faces by DK Publishing
- Bunny My Honey by Anita Jeram
- Ten Little Fingers by Annie Kubler
8. Take your baby to different environments
As soon as your doctor allows it, take your baby out to different environments like grocery shops, malls, parks, car-rides, farms, zoos, museums, farmer’s markets, and so on. Put your baby in a baby carrier and walk around. Let your baby experience different sights, sounds, smells, and sensations. This can stimulate your child’s intelligence.
9. Smile and laugh
Show your baby how delighted you are by smiling and laughing at her. When she turns over the first time, praise her and show her how happy you are. Babies mimic adults, so when you smile, laugh, giggle and show her your joy; she will be more likely to be a happier baby as well.
10. Avoid leaving your baby alone for long periods
Never leave your baby alone in the baby swing or baby gym alone for a long time. Even the daily acts of changing, diapering, bathing, and feeding baby can contribute to her growth. So talk to her, touch her, and take her along as you do your chores. Let her analyze you and figure out ways to mimic your voice and facial expressions. This is greatly stimulating for her developing brain.
11. Use toys and activities
Baby brain development toys include baby wrist rattles, baby toy socks, alphabet flashcards, high contrast flashcards, and sensory teething toys. Once your baby learns to get on her tummy, you can also provide her with special tummy-time inflatable mats and activity-center toys. Colorful building blocks, musical toys, and stacking toys can follow next.