We now know that babies are born with brains that are ready to learn. They are also born already knowing quite a few things. Babies know who their parents are just by the sound of their voices. They can identify their mother’s milk in the first few days and their mother’s face in the first few weeks
A baby’s brain undergoes an amazing period of development from birth to around the age of three. The development of their brain is influenced by many factors, including a baby’s relationships, experiences and environment. So by showing your baby affection, comforting them when they need it, and playing with them, all helps build strong healthy brains.
The first three years of a child’s life are uniquely important because this is the most sensitive period for brain development. The experiences a child has during this time will shape the architecture of their brain and build the connections that allow them to develop lifelong skills like problem-solving, communication, self-control, and relationship building, that will allow them to survive and thrive within their family, community, and culture.
Your baby is learning all the time. Attachment is crucial in a baby’s brain development and their ability to have good mental health. Babies express their needs and feelings through sounds like crying and cooing, so it is essential to watch and listen to see how your baby is communicating which will give you an insight into what they are thinking and feeling. Repeating the sounds your baby uses back to them is a great start to communicating with your baby. You can also read to them from a very young age, sing to them, and tell them stories.
Your baby is also learning how the world works by playing and exploring. Through play, babies and toddlers learn about how things work and how to be good problem-solvers. You can encourage your baby or toddler to explore toys in different ways, by touching, banging, stacking, or shaking. Turn everyday routines into playful learning moments. For example, bath time is a chance to learn about ideas like sinking/floating and wet/dry. And try to learn what your child is interested in. Children learn best through activities that excite them.
During the first 3 years of your child’s life, they are beginning to develop self-control; the ability to manage their feelings and actions in acceptable ways. They are also learning to wait, share, and work out problems with their friends. You can help this by using words to help your child understand his feelings, like: “I see you are really mad because we have to leave the park.” Give older toddlers choices like: “Would you like to read books before or after we brush teeth?” And try to stay calm when your child is upset. This will help them feel safe and get back in control quickly.
One of the most important things your child is learning is that he/she is a very special person; that they are loved, smart, fun, and capable. When children feel good about themselves, they are more confident and willing to take on new challenges. Encourage this by telling them when they have done a great job. Help your child be a good problem-solver by giving them the support they need to be successful without completely solving the problem for them. Also give your child the chance to do things for themselves, like pouring milk or dressing themselves. Encourage your child to keep trying rather than give up if something is difficult.