Babies learning journeys begin the day they are born, not their first day of school. Your babies experiences and how you interact during their first five years will determine their emotional, physical, intellectual, and social development along with their self-confidence, personality, adaptability and their ability to relate with others. The person or people who spend the most amount of time with your baby have the opportunity to make the most impact on this young one’s life.
Don’t you love the feeling of having successfully encouraged your baby or toddler to reach new developmental milestones? You are so vested into your little one that you get feelings of excitement and pride when you see new growth. But, often, you do not know exactly how to stimulate that brain development or how to turn everyday care into an easy avenue for greater communication and capturing learning moments. You may be aware of the stigma of too much "screen time" but do not know how to turn "screen time" into "limited value time". Parents have shared with me how they have strong skills in taking care of their child’s needs...bathing, diapering, feeding, and safety measures but either they do not have the background or are not aware of the necessity to "build that little brain".
Communicating is the key to connecting and it begins from the moment a baby is born. The first communication we often hear is crying, that sweet sound when newborns arrive to let everyone know “I am here!”. As crying is one of the first of many ways babies communicate, true smiling does not appear until around 6-12 weeks. From birth, each person that comes in contact with your newborn, who grows to become a baby, then a toddler, thenchild…, needs to know what that baby is communicating and how best to communicate back with them. Communication abilities change and grow as babies develop and their ability to grow depends upon the experiences they have.
A Baby's Blooming Brain
Studies reveal that 90% of brain development happens before 5 years old. When babies are born, neurons in their brain are still forming and continue to make neural connections through around 3 years old. Babies’ sweet little heads are born with billions of brain cells which can be stimulated to grow based on early and enriching experiences. These brain cells are ready for you to nurture so they can form the connections needed for babies to bloom and grow to their greatest potential. While many factors influence brain development, your early interactions have the most significant impact! It is important for you to stimulate the baby's brain and plant the seeds for their life successes much earlier than you may be aware. Some newborns are actually able to imitate you sticking your tongue out and that act of repetition has just stimulated a new brain connection!
There is no “extra time” needed in your day to be able to help stimulate babies’ young brains. You can learn to provide engaging, fun, interactive experiences throughout your natural daily routines such as dressing, feeding, bathing, riding in the car and grocery shopping which will increase brain stimulation so you can help that child bloom all the time!
Through my years, I have discovered that parents would find their days more productive and satisfying if they had a repertoire of meaningful activities to help create brain connections as well as emotional connections with their baby. I encourage you to check out my new workshop, Enriching Your Child’s Critical Early Years: Birth - Five at the Pump Station & Nurtury, where I will coach you on many of these meaningful, powerful strategies and together we will help you set your little one up for success!
Remember, It's not just what you do with your baby, but HOW you do it that makes the greatest impact!
Michelle Mintz, M.S., CCC-SLP, The Early Development Expert, is the founder/owner of Baby Blooming Moments®, a unique, one-on-one parent coaching experience, virtually or in person, empowering parents, siblings, grandparents and nannies to enrich the way they interact with their babies and toddlers. Michelle develops personalized, proactive strategies helping families transform everyday in-the-moment interactions into valuable, impactful opportunities. Implementing her strategies and hands-on activities throughout the day helps increase communication, brain connections, learning and social development during those crucial early formative years when the most impactful brain development occurs – which helps all babies and toddlers bloom!
Michelle, who earned her B.A. in Speech and Hearing Sciences from U.C. Santa Barbara and her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from Boston University before establishing her private practice in Santa Monica, CA in 1995, has decades of experience working with families. She is also the author of All Done Binky!, a book to help support families with babies and toddlers weaning off pacifiers.