You do not need a college degree and unlimited resources to foster baby brain development at home. Even if you are on a budget – and who isn’t these days? – there are ways to nurture the growth and development of your baby's brain without breaking the bank.
Rocking is extremely important to baby brain development. More than just human contact, the act of rocking increases the circulation of blood to the brain. According to experts in the field of early childhood brain development, 50 -75 rocks every day significantly improves blood flow to the brain.
Another activity which causes more blood to flow to the brain is called “stroking.” After bath time, starting at the back of the baby’s neck, move the second and third fingers with gentle firmness down either side of the baby’s spine all the way to the bottom (taking care to support the baby’s head) then repeat. Experts suggest 25 to 30 strokes every day for improved circulation.
PROVIDING VARIED STIMULI AND EXPERIENCES
Different experiences help your baby develop dendrites which are how brain cells communicate throughout the brain. So it is very important that you provide as many as possible. This is where crib mobiles, activity mats, and colorful toys help to provide plenty of primary colors, sounds, and movement for sensory stimulation.
These items may be purchased cheaply at thrift stores and flea markets as long as you remember that cloth parts and toys should always be detached and laundered before use.
Babies are drawn to faces when they are very young, especially black and white images of them. They will talk and coo for extended periods of time to “Patty Plate” which you can make from a simple white paper plate. Just draw eyes and a mouth with a black marker and tape the plate to a wooden spoon. Place it next to your baby and see what happens!
Another way to vary experiences is to place your baby in different settings and in different rooms throughout the day while you are with him. Different views give him new experiences – new things to look at – and grow brain connections which his brain cells can use to exchange information.
LET THE FORCE BE WITH YOU
The first and most important thing you can do to help encourage brain development is to talk to your baby. Learning is all about language, and giving your child a rich vocabulary is the single most important gift you can give. So talk to your baby. Then - talk some more!
Tell stories – the sillier the better. You may make up your own, or you may want to retell old favorites such as The Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, etc. Don’t worry if you don’t remember all the details. Adding your own spin always makes stories better!
The brain operates to the steady beat of the blood pulsing through it, pumped by the heart. You can help your baby feel this rhythm by listening to music and clapping the beat gently, with his hands in yours patty-cake style. Even better – turn on your favorite happy songs and have dance parties together.
It will lift your mood and his, too!
For older children
Early childhood cognitive development is a critical issue as there is rapid brain development in early childhood. Parents and those teaching early childhood can help optimize this brain development by providing certain kinds of experiences to children and by encouraging other activities which seem to come naturally to them.