Early Childhood Brain Development

New research over the past several years has shown that your child's brain continues to develop in very important ways during the first three years of his or her life. Although a baby's brain has over 100 billion brain cells, or neurons, at the time of birth, these cells are not really connected in a working network. Over the first few years of life, these neurons form important connections that allow the brain to think, learn and perform other functions. Your baby's experiences in the first years of life will help to form the connections that will last the rest of his or her life.
Parents and caregivers have always instinctively talked to, sung to, and played with their infants, but this new research shows that these activities are even more important than ever imagined. We now know that your daily interactions with your baby will have important effects on his or her behavior, intelligence, and learning abilities for the rest of his or her lifetime! Be sure to provide love and stimulation for your baby on a regular basis. Holding, cuddling, reading, cooing and providing other stimulation to your baby from the earliest days will have an impact on him or her that will last a lifetime.
To bring this new research information to the public, several organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have begun the "I Am Your Child" campaign. This campaign was kicked off late last year with the dedication of an entire issue of Newsweek magazine to the topic, and the airing of a national television show on network television. The campaign is active in every state, and has provided many public education resources.
As part of its work, the campaign has issued ten Guidelines for Promoting Young Children's Development and School Readiness. They are:
  • Be warm, loving and responsive
  • Respond to the child's cues and clues
  • Talk, read and sing to your child
  • Establish routines and rituals
  • Encourage safe exploration and play
  • Make TV watching selective
  • Use discipline as an opportunity to teach
  • Recognize that each child is unique
  • Choose quality child care and stay involved
  • Take care of yourself
For more information on the new brain development research, strategies to use in your home with your child and a discussion on the ten guidelines above, click here.
Click here to view the web page for Zero to Three, a national non-profit charitable organization dedicated to promoting the healthy development of babies and toddlers.