- The first year of life is a crucial time for the development of a baby’s brain.
- You can start planning for a baby's brain health before they are born.
- There are several things you can do (or avoid doing) that will stimulate the growth and development of a baby's brain directly.
The first year of life is a crucial time for the development of your baby’s brain. During this time, your child’s brain will undergo rapid changes as they experience new things and adapt to the world around them. These changes help them gain the skills they need to live healthy and happy lives. While this period lays the foundation for future growth and learning, you can start planning long before the baby is born. Today we will talk about infant brain development, what you can expect, as well as tips and resources you can use to boost your baby’s brain power. The information presented here can help you talk with your healthcare provider about the best steps you can take to set your child up for success before and after your child is born.
Drinking alcohol can pose a huge risk to the development of your child’s brain during pregnancy. Babies are very vulnerable to the effects of alcohol while they are in the womb. Several studies have found that alcohol can cause damage to the nervous system, behavioral problems, and make it harder for them to learn and develop years after they are born. Avoiding alcoholic beverages during pregnancy is a great way to make sure your baby’s brain is growing on track. ‘
Eating a Balanced and Nutritious Diet
Keeping a healthy diet is another way you can encourage healthy brain development before your baby is born. During pregnancy, it is important that you balance a healthy amount of fats, minerals, and vitamins in your diet. Fats provide energy for you while also helping to build and develop your baby’s organs – like the brain—as it develops in the womb. Minerals like iron are important because they help your blood carry oxygen throughout your body. A healthy amount of iron will make sure that you and your baby have enough oxygen – which is important for healthy brain function. Last but not least, vitamins like folic acid can protect your baby from neural tube defects. These defects happen when the baby’s brain and spinal cord are not fully developed. The baby is most at risk for these defects in the first month of pregnancy, and they can lead to serious health problems. Eating foods rich in folic acid like spinach and broccoli, beans and peanuts, eggs, and whole grains can ensure you’re getting enough folic acid to encourage healthy brain development.
Additionally, breastfeeding is huge in promoting infant brain development. Breastmilk is packed with nutrients that nurture growth in the brain. Besides the nutritional benefits, breastfeeding is important because it gives mother and child very important bonding time. This bonding time between mother and child is shown to enhance a child’s emotional growth. The simple act of being close to and spending time with the baby can do wonders for their developing brain.
Talking with Your Baby
Speaking of bonding – research shows that talking with your baby is a highly effective method of encouraging their brain development. The Talk With Me Baby campaign suggests reading with your baby and using real words when talking with your baby. This can give them a head-start on their vocabulary skills – which increases their chances of reading at grade-level and excelling at school later down the road. They also recommend cutting down on baby’s screen-time. TV shows and video games may be educational, but they are no substitute for meeting new people. New experiences help strengthen and reinforce brain connections – which increase your baby’s ability to learn. Talk With Me Baby also has a mobile app that gives you access to not only different activities and lessons you can do with your baby, but also a whole community of parents and professionals who can help you brainstorm ways to develop your baby’s brain!