Did you know that at birth a baby’s brain carries around 100 billion neurons!? And even more surprising it is to know that many experts believe that amount of neurons will stay with us through our lifetime! But there is something that changes constantly inside a baby’s brain (and in grownups too!). Synapses is the name for the connections created between two neurons; and it has everything to do with us learning new things!
As babies grow and develop, so do their neurons and synapses. Some say that at birth we have 2,500 synapses per neuron, but by age three, that number goes up to 15,000 per neuron! Imagine all the actions our brains have to learn and manage throughout our entire life, from breathing, to noticing we need more sleep and even laughing in specific situations that remind us of something else!
Our brains are extraordinary at pattern recognition, which help us react accordingly to different events, which is the key reason for our children to be filled with love and in a protective environment. This environment should help them learn about the world and feel a positive presence of all the caregivers (not just mom and dad!) around them.
What does a caring environment have to do with the development of your baby’s synapses? EVERYTHING since they pretty much learn through their senses by external stimuli. A baby who knocks something from the table when playing and is yelled at (to not think of something worse) will definitely learn that something bad happens when she drops her feeding bottle. The thing here is: IT IS NOT OK TO YELL AT BABIES.
Yes, you need to teach your kids what is good and what isn’t, but try to remember that they are little sponges and they are not able to “reason with you”. So many of the things you say or do to teach them will be programmed into their petite and beautiful brains for ever without them even noticing (yes, through their synapses).
So, what can you do to care for the development of your baby’s brain? Pick an activity to do together and by practice help her understand the sound cows make compared to dogs or pigs! (just to mention some basics 😉 )
Family story time is a great way to create a safe and fun environment where babies bond with mom and dad while learning! Yes, your baby won’t probably understand much of what you are saying or what is the story about at first, but practice makes perfect, and practice is what our synapses need to successfully connect our neurons between our physical and emotional needs, scenarios and even the general context where we live.
By taking the time to read aloud and learn about shapes, colors, numbers and all the traditional “infant topics”, you are creating windows of opportunity where specific types of learning can take place.
Babies and children are curious and knowledge-thirsty by nature. Nurture and care for their early brain development and give them all the tools and resources you can so they can grow to be an awesome human being!
Don’t replace family bonding time or activities where your baby can learn by just looking and listening at you by leaving the TV on as background sound. Your baby may be “listening” to what Dora is saying, but truth is the sound of “canned” tv programs is very different to the real sounds and speech patterns a baby can listen to directly from other human beings.
As a parent you’re a main caregiver for your baby. Try your best to give him or her the most outstanding environment in which to develop, and enjoy the presence of love and bonds between your family.