Baby Health and Safety Article

Growing Your Baby’s Brain Power

A stimulating environment doesn't mean flash cards, videos, or the many other commercial products being foisted on naturally naive new parents who want to give their child the best possible start in life. What it does mean is deceptively simple:

Be Warm and Caring
Babies who are cared for, held, soothed and smiled at feel secure in their new world, and learn to calm themselves. Later on, when they go to school, they perform better and make friends more easily.

Communicate with Your Baby

Your baby will learn to communicate continually through her body movements, her voice, and her expressions in response to yours (give her lots of different facial expressions).

She will learn to connect and effectively interact with other people this way, and will go after what she needs in life with confidence.

Talk, Sing and Read to Your Baby
You'll notice that your voice can soothe and delight. Babies begin to pick up inflections and gestures and start to understand storytelling at a young age. Some will utter nonsensical sounds mimicking you.

Talk to her about daily events, sports news, your job; anything at all will do. Sing and read as well. Use a variety of high and low pitches, loud and soft tones.

Play With Your Baby
Start early, as having fun is the best brain developer of all. This includes letting her grasp your finger, showing your baby her refection in a mirror, and making new sounds for her to figure out.

Play improves her senses and muscle development and control, and builds her sense of inner excitement. When your baby smiles at you and you smile back, or coos and you respond, his face lights up, he gets excited and wiggles with glee.

You can tell your bright little prince is very pleased with himself, as he knows he has accomplished something! It doesn't get much better.

Babies Need Downtime
Remember that babies need a lot of downtime. Their minds are furiously active much of the time they are awake, and sometimes they just need to slow down and recharge. When they have had enough, they tend to look away, arch their back, and get cranky.

When we dads come home from work, we often try to squeeze in a lot of interaction with our babies. But sometimes he has been stimulated all day and is in need of down time more than play time. Follow his lead and don't feel bad if he's not responding to you much.

Beware of Mozart
Information about the electrical wiring of the human brain surfaced in the late 1990's and led to a frenzy among anxious parents to do everything they could to "stimulate" their babies' brains, sometimes even before they were born.

From playing music through speakers into the womb during pregnancy, to teaching sign language to infants, many parents want to give their children their best, but end up overdoing it.

Tempted by the Boob Tube
The television is an alluring and very available babysitter. It captivates your baby with an intense stream of audio/visual stimulation, keeping him occupied and quiet for long periods.

When you are tired, or want to read a book, it is very tempting. Therein lies the problem. New research and common sense indicates that a significant amount of TV is bad for your baby, especially since his brain is developing very rapidly during this time.

Even in TV shows and videos supposedly created for young babies, the rapid movements and pacing have been shown to have negative effects on their brain development.

Moderation is key
Keep in mind that there is a distinct difference between holding your baby on your lap while you're watching a football game together and plunking him down in front of the TV while you talk to your friends.


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