Babies Brain Development
The first days, weeks and months of babies brain development depend on the responsive, nurturing and consistent care given by parents. Parenting infants consists primarily of ensuring that their needs are heard and answered. The behaviorist belief that babies cry to manipulate us, and that we should not respond lest they become spoiled is absolutely untrue. The only way that infants have to communicate with us is by crying.
Healthy baby brain development is a result of caregivers responding to the baby’s need. Infants’ brains are busy trying to make sense of the world, and our responses let them know that the world is predictable and safe, that they can trust themselves and others, and that caregivers can be counted on.
Bonding with your baby involves connecting with them by looking at them, talking and singing (they don’t care if you can’t carry a tune) to them, as well as touching them while you are changing their diaper, feeding them, etc. Baby behavior is driven simply by attempts to get their needs met and by the need to make sense of who they are, how the world works, and how they fit into it. They are deciding what it is they need to do to thrive, or to simply survive.
As a result of responsive care, and lots of physical contact infants and babies brain development consists of the foundations of causal thinking (cause and effect), trust, conscience development and delayed gratification (the ability to wait).
By four or five months of age, babies can sometimes soothe themselves and caregivers can ‘wait’ a little to see what happens, rather than immediately responding. Parenting baby now consists of helping them explore their world, as they begin to roll, creep, crawl, and eventually walk. Putting them on the floor is far preferable to a walker or a playpen – except in circumstances when we need to keep them safe (if we are on the phone, cleaning, etc).
Only through figuring out how to get around on their own can baby brain development continue and expand as they explore their potential and the world around them. Playing with baby is very important, as the connection and interaction with others remains a pivotal piece in parenting infants. In fact, in the first 5 months, the best toy caregivers can provide for baby is caregivers’ own face.
Providing congruent, contingent communication to babies is also very important. What this means is being responsive to the infants’ emotional state. Stating out loud what they are feeling helps baby learn about and begin to understand emotions. Statements like ‘you’re frustrated that you can’t reach that toy’, or ‘you’re excited that you finally got there!’ go a long way to helping babies process their own emotions and to begin to understand others’ emotions.
Parenting infants is a big responsibility. By providing nurturing, consistent responses to our babies we are ensuring a healthy foundation for their lives.