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When babies are born, their brains have all 100 billion nerve cells that adults’ brain do, they just don’t have the links between them. Babies’ brains develop by creating an intricate network between these cells. Research shows that there are certain types of experiences you can give your baby to build those lasting connections. And the good news is, they’re all easy to do.
Protect them from multiple, jumbled noises
A newborn’s nervous system is truly #nofilter: they can't screen out anything that their eyes see, their ears hear, or their skin feels. Several sound sources at once – even a typical coffee shop atmosphere with music playing, several people talking, traffic noise, etc. – can easily overstimulate and confuse a baby. Your newborn prefers the sound of one human voice at a time and calm, rhythmic tones.
Show them progressively complex high contrast images
Decades of research show that time spent looking at high contrast images is important for a baby’s cognitive development. Until about the fifth month, babies use their eyes as the primary source for information about how the world works. Once your baby’s pupils are working and their two eyes start to coordinate, they will be compelled to look at high contrast images.
Start with simple images about 12 inches away from your baby’s face (about the distance from your hand to your elbow). Hold the images steady and try not to switch images until your baby looks away, a sign that they are losing interest. You may notice your baby stares at the images for many seconds, even minutes at a time. You can help promote visual tracking by slowly moving an image back and forth horizontally in front of her face to help her practice following a moving object with her eyes. This is an important skill later for reading, writing, and hand-eye coordination.
Muscle your way through tummy time
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends supervised tummy time for full-term babies starting in the first week, as soon as baby’s umbilical cord stump falls off. Some babies love it, but it’s not a happy time for others. Either way, you’re not alone. Keep trying even if your baby doesn’t like it – tummy time is essential for building the muscles and coordination needed for rolling over, crawling, walking, reaching, and playing. One way to keep your baby interested in tummy time is to place stimulating toys near them or on their Play Gym.
Keep talking even though they aren’t talking back
It’s awkward to talk to someone who doesn’t talk back yet, but the research is clear—there’s a direct link between a child’s intelligence and the number of words spoken to them. In the first few months, your baby is constantly listening to the intonation, rhythm, and patterns of your voice. Even though they can't understand what you’re saying yet, their brain is laying the groundwork for building language.
Explore new sounds
In week four, your baby starts to show more interest in a variety of sounds and patterns. Help them build more lasting neural networks by exposing them to sounds from real life, rather than the pre-recorded sounds electronic toys make. Experiment with high pitched, low pitched, slow paced, lively, jagged, soft, and other sounds, trying to introduce just one sound at a time.
When your baby is alert and the room is quiet, create these sounds in her field of vision. These everyday noises are routine for you, but they’re brand new (and therefore interesting) to your baby. Try to involve them as much as possible, talking about what you’re doing and what they are seeing, even though they won't understand what you’re saying quite yet.
The bottom line
Simply taking these five steps can make a huge difference when it comes to your baby’s brain development. The right toys can be super helpful too. Lovevery’s Play Gym and Play Kits are designed by child development experts for babies’ developing brains. Tap below to help your baby play with purpose.
Read the full article on the Lovevery blog.
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