Baby Brain Development – The First Year
One of the joys of parenthood is watching how your baby grows and develops. The changes you notice will seem to happen on a daily basis. And that is not far from the truth, as it is said that baby’s brain doubles in its size during the first year of his life, as mentioned on Parents.com. In the blink of an eye, your baby will go from being a tiny little newborn to a toddler.
There are plenty of ways to help your baby's development. Sometimes it will be enough to just be there, actively present - switching yourself off from any activities that may grab your attention away. Also just sitting next to him and watching your baby play. Other times, you can engage in playing with your baby in such ways that will be both fun and educational.
The following is a little guide on how your baby will change during the first year of his life, and what interesting games you can use for both play and spending quality time together. These have helped to inspire me, and I do hope will help any other first-time parent.
0 to 4 months Old Baby Brain Development
Besides the regular activities such as changing nappies, feeding and getting ready for sleep, often initially when you bring your newborn home, you won’t really know ‘’what to do with him’’. I remember looking at my baby and feeling the need to entertain him in some way, because, as a first-time parent, I thought he might be bored. The truth is your baby isn’t really ready for fun as you know it. The first few weeks, your baby will be sleeping more thanhe is awake, as the brain begins to get used to life outside the womb. As his body learns to produce enough of the hormone melatonin, it will become easier for him to distinguish day from night. Also, it takes as much as a whole month for your baby to be able to recognize his mother by vision alone rather than smell or touch. The baby’s motor development begins at the head, then down to the feet, meaning that it will also take quite some time to learn where his hands are, then to grasp onto things, track objects with his eyes and finally how to turn around on his belly.
This is why initially, your baby will be enjoying just being present with the family, looking around and learning about the world that surrounds him. That said, here are a few things you can do to help with brain development.
There are numerous studies and articles that show that breastfeeding is crucial for baby’s development in many ways. Apart from the bond he creates with the mother, the soothing effect of the action of breastfeeding and the fact that breast milk contains all the important antibodies for baby to be kept safe from illnesses, it has been shown that babies that have been fed breast milk only for the first three months of life have 20% more white brain matter, the areas associated with the central nervous system, responsible for language and cognition, as mentioned on Parents.com. This is why it’s important to try to breastfeed your baby, if you can.
It is crucial that you are aware of all the various requirements when managing your baby’s medical care. Regular check-ups and regular vaccination will help make sure that your baby is keeping up with what is expected from his age helping to eliminate fears and show any early signs of illness or issue. Of course, bear in mind that every child is different and everyone grows up at their own pace.
What can be very handy here is the Jinga Life platform, created to manage your entire family’s medical information all in one secure and accessible place. This way, you can always have records at hand if your doctor asks you questions about previous care, medications and symptoms. Jinga Life now offers a free trial, which is great as you can begin to enter your entire baby’s data from the first day of life.
Creating a routine
Repetition is something that helps babies learn (at least with my baby it was very helpful): quite simply since they begin to remember what will come next after a certain action. Although it is difficult to do so with a newborn, establishing a daily routine of activities, like a bedtime routine, will help both the mother and the baby to get used to their new life together. If you are breastfeeding though, don’t try and force a feeding routine onto your baby, just be there to offer milk whenever he wants.
Even if your baby is very small, going outside every day if possible, and at a nearly exact same time adds to this routine. This activity will help him recognize it as a part of the daily routine. The outside world provides lots of stimulation that positively impacts the wellbeing of both the baby and the mother as mentioned on Today’s Parent. Fresh air, soothing sounds of nature or just watching and listening to people around can help the baby sleep better while processing all this new information.
Tummy time is one of the first exercises for your baby, apart from learning how to suck during breast feeding, as per WebMD website. This is where your baby will build a strong neck that will help him support their head and learn how to roll over. It is also the position from which he will be able to grab toys, and then learn how to crawl and sit. This is why it is important to let him spend some time on his tummy a few times a day.
Music usually involves a melody repetition, which is soothing to babies, helping to preventing stress. Singing in combination with hearing their loved one’s voice (mum and/or daddy) , can help them feel more relaxed and safe. Also, music can help your baby to sleep or just calm down when he needs to. That is why singing is encouraged, as one of the very first activities you can do with your baby. It is also recommended during pregnancy, as babies can hear their parents’ voices even while they are inside the womb. I have been singing to my baby since he was in my womb!.
Just being there
All above said, the most important thing you can do for your baby at the beginning of life, as a parent, is just to be there next to him, as much as you can. You don’t need to buy toys, instruments or fancy electrical devices for him to be entertained. Your baby will slowly begin to discover the world around him and with you there, he will feel safe and relaxed to go ahead and explore.