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      10 Questions about Your Baby's Brain Development


Your child's brain begins developing within a couple weeks of conception The brain will grow to about 80 percent of the adult size by the age of 3 and 90 percent by age 5. While your newborn child is born with most of the brain cells he/she will need to function, it is the experiences that your baby has or does not have that help to finish the brain's development.

Your child's experiences, nutrition, and stimulation will have an impact on how the brain cells are connected and even which brain cells your child will keep.

Question 1: Isn't my baby's brain already developed when he/she is born?

Answer:
The brain of a newborn has almost as many brain cells as an adult brain, but the brain does not function to its fullest capacity until the cells are connected. A newborn has only a small number of connections.

The further development of the brain occurs both as a result of interactions between genetic factors and the way the baby is taken care of.

While your child is born ready for feelings and ready to learn, early environments matter and healthy relationships are essential.

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Question 2. What can I do during pregnancy to help provide for my baby's healthy brain development?

Answer:
Seek prenatal care as soon as you know that you are pregnant.

Take care of yourself.

Do not smoke and avoid all second-hand smoke. Do not drink alcohol and do not take prescription or non-prescription drugs unless they are prescribed by a doctor. Tobacco smoke (nicotine) and other drugs, such as alcohol, prescription or non-prescription drugs (that are not prescribed by a doctor) can get into your developing baby's bloodstream and change the ways your baby's genes build his/her brain.

The food that an expectant mother eats provides the nutrients that the baby receives while in the womb.

Lessen your emotional stress

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Question 3: What are some environmental things that affect my baby's brain development?

Answer:

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Question 4: Is breastfeeding important to the development of my baby's brain?

Answer:

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Question 5: How does nutrition help develop the brain?

Answer:

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Question 6: How do talking, reading and singing affect my baby's brain?

Answer:

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Question 7: What can I do to create a safe environment for my baby's brain development?

Answer:

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Question 8: What should I look for in early care and education?

Answer:

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Question 9: How much television should my newborn watch?

Answer:

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Question 10: What are 10 things I can do to ensure proper development for my baby's brain?

Answer:

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Question 11: What can I do during the different phases of my child's life to help stimulate and facilitate brain development?

Answer:
Age 0-6 months

  • Talk to your baby during everyday routines. Changing a diaper, bathing, eatingcan all become "teachable moments," if you use them to talk with your child.
  • Sing songs and read to your baby. Point to pictures and colors as you read.
  • Call objects by name. Your child is developing a vocabulary even though he/she cannot speak yet.
  • Provide a stimulating environment for your baby to look at.
  • Hold and touch and your baby often.

Age 6-12 months

  • Imitate the sounds that your baby makes.
  • Sing songs and read to your baby.
  • Play simple games with your baby, such as pat-a-cake or peek-a-boo.
  • Continue to do all those things you did with your child at age 0-6 months.

Age 12-24 months

  • Read and sing to your baby.
  • Have your child begin to point to body parts.
  • Ask your child for hugs and kisses.
  • Continue to use everyday routine events as teaching opportunities.
  • Watch your child as they become more mobile. Encourage your child to move around a "baby-safe" room.
  • Talk with your baby.
  • Have your child pick out pictures in a book.
  • Play with large puzzles and blocks.
  • Encourage your baby to help undress himself/herself.
  • Dance to music with your baby.

Age 3-4 years

  • Set limits on behavior and explain why they are necessary.
  • Use appropriate words to describe past or future events (today, tomorrow, before, after, next).
  • During story time ask your child simple questions about the story.
  • Encourage your child to sort and match objects during routine tasks. ("Where do the forks go?")
  • Teach your child songs and finger plays.
  • Talk about the sequence of events, tell what comes next.
  • Provide access to a computer with appropriate children's software. Use the computer together.

Age 4-5 years

  • Read storybooks to your child.
  • Ask your child questions about stories and have your child retell stories.
  • Encourage your child to act out stories from books using his/her imagination and different voices for characters.
  • Engage in what if games to encourage your child's own storytelling ("What if you could fly….).
  • Expand the range of computer software available to your child.
  • Arrange trips to the library, zoo, and special events.
  • Play rhyming games with your child.

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Resource:
Welcome to the World: An Overview of Your Growing Child
Florida Department of Education http://www.firn.edu/doe/commhome/

Brought to you by The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education


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