When babies are born, all their organs —including their heart or their kidneys— are fully developed; although they will still grow in size. There is only one exception: the brain.
The brain’s connections strengthen every time they use their senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch). Based on the children’s experiences during their first months of life, the architecture of their brain —which is the foundation of their learning process, behavior, and health— will develop.
As a parent, you must clearly understand that, from the moment your baby is born, the internal parts of the brain are the most mature. These parts connect the spinal cord with the brain stem, and they are in charge of your baby’s reflexes. The less developed parts are those that depend on the person’s growth —such as the cerebral cortex that controls behavior.
According to the Center of the Developing Child of Harvard University, during early childhood, more than one million new neural connections are established every second. Therefore, the stimuli that children receive at that stage are so important: they will influence their development and academic performance in the future.
Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that, every year, more than 200 million boys and girls under 5-years old fail to achieve their maximum cognitive and social development.
How can you strengthen your baby’s development? You can begin by boosting your baby’s psychomotor skills. This is the ability to coordinate the thought about that movement with the skill to carry it out and it includes two faculties: being able to move and moving at will.
Boxies recommends the following activities that will drive your baby’s development:
- Playing with blocks or boxes: Eye-hand coordination is the ability to manipulate objects, whether assembling pieces or piling up blocks or boxes. This activity —which implies putting something on or inside another box— is an excellent way to kickstart your baby’s development.
- Helping you baby to identify objects: Using illustrated cards, children can start to identify their environment and they can also strengthen their language.
- Grouping together elements with your baby: Classification starts with the similarities between each card. This is how connections are established, including belonging —the connection between an element and the type to which it belongs— and inclusion —the connection between a subtype and the type to which it belongs.
- Identifying colors and shapes: The range of shapes and colors that you show your children are very important for the sensitive development that they will have with the world that surrounds them. Show them photographs, color and illustrated cards, and explain them each one of them.
SOURCES: Building Your Baby’s Brain. A Parent’s Guide to the First Five Years, Diane Trister Dodge and Cate Heroman, Teaching Stategies, Washington D.C.; National Library of Medicine (USA); Center on the Developing Child – Harvard University; and the World Health Organization.