by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Updated April 2016
A baby’s brain is twice as active as an adult’s brain. When a baby is born, they have billions of brain cells, many of which are not yet connected. Those cells become connected through new experiences. When you talk to your baby, cuddle him and touch him lovingly, these new experiences start to make those essential brain connections.
The first three years are of special importance. During this time the brain has the greatest potential for learning and developing. In early childhood, the brain is genetically programmed to produce more synapses, (point of connection between two nerve cells), than it will ever use. The development of the brain will keep the synapses that are used and lose those that are not.
Studies show that the love and nurturing we give our infants does more than create a strong bond between parent and child, this loving interaction actually helps our babies brains develop. The steps we take in the first three years of a child’s life are critical to every type of development including cognitive, emotional, and physical. Studies and observation show that children need certain elements in their early stages of life to grow and develop to their full potential.
Here are five things young children need for optimal brain development -
It is crucial that we include one-on-one interaction in the care for infants and young children. One-on-one interaction is best for a child’s brain development. For babies and young children, interactions with people are as necessary to the baby as protein, fat and vitamins, which are vital for the growing and developing brain.
Touch, our very first developed sense, is critical to development. Of all the sensory experiences, touch is how your baby first knows he is loved and cared for. It is the source of comfort and security. When our skin is touched a signal is sent to our brain telling it to grow and make connections. Through the use of infant massage, a baby is receiving the appropriate input, stimulation and one-on-one interaction to help facilitate healthy brain development.
Infants and young children need a loving, trusting adult to act as a stable caregiver in their life. Babies and young children who are raised in a healthy, stable, loving environment for the first three years of their life have a better chance of having the ability to work through even the most stressful situations. Even learning can be a stressful event, as each time a child learns something new, their brain works much harder than normal.
When your baby is born, their ability to communicate begins. Take the time to read to your child, sing to them, and speak with them. With all of the circuits in place, they just need to be connected. The more words and sounds the baby hears, the more the connections can be made. When young children interact with others they learn words through repetition. At a young age, it is critical to begin to engage them in the conversation, so that they can begin to form their verbal language.
A good balance of both limits and freedom filled with fun, language, books, play, exploration, music and age appropriate toys are essential to a child's development. It brings many learning elements together including physical coordination, engages memory, imagination and builds self-confidence.
So take the time now to love and nurture your baby. You never know with all those hugs, cuddles and kisses you might actually be helping to make your baby smarter!
Specially trained Certified Infant Massage Teachers (CIMTs)
Through working as a Certified Infant Massage Teacher you have the special opportunity to impact an infant and their family for a lifetime.
This professional training is for those interested in working with families by becoming a Certified Infant Massage Teacher (CIMT®). A CIMT® is not only an instructor, but also an educator who teaches the art of infant massage to parents or caregivers in the presence of their babies.
For more information visit Comprehensive Infant Massage Teacher Training Course (CIMT)
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