Baby Photograph

Better Brains for Babies

Have you ever been curious about what’s happening in your child’s brain? Are you wondering what you need to do to support early brain development? Check out our information about the brain, basic child development, and simple strategies to encourage healthy brain development by promoting good health, positive relationships, hands-on play, and consistency in your child's life.  Start browsing our information on brain development by clicking on the links to the left, or use the stories below to guide you. We’re glad you're here, and hope you enjoy the site.

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Stimulating Brain Development by Reading Together

The toddler smiles as she brings her favorite book to bed.
"Daddy, read me Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tonight."
"But honey, we just read that last night."
"Please, Daddy, please."
"Okay, baby. One more time."

Our brains continue to grow and change throughout our lives, based on the experiences we have. We make brain connections with every experience we encounter during childhood. Connections are important. The more networks of connections we have, the more ways we have to process information. When you read a story to your child or have a conversation with her, her brain makes connections for language and relationships. When they read the same story over and over again, connections in the brain become stronger. Every time children hear the same story, they learn something new. See more information on the basics of brain development.

A Secure Relationship Helps Brain Development

Mother cuddles and smiles at her baby as she gazes into her beautiful brown eyes.
"Peekaboo," mother says, spreading one hand in front of her face while trying to change her baby's diaper with the other.
Baby smiles and laughs, waving her arms.
"I love you. You're my precious baby."

Your baby needs to have warm, loving, caring interactions with you. Adults help build positive relationships by holding and cuddling infants, talking and singing with them, and playing with them help to build positive relationships. The time you spend holding your baby, talking softly to her, and singing with her helps her build a secure attachment, and strengthens the parts of her brain that form relationships. Learn more information on attachment and early brain development.

Experience Matters for Brain Development

Mother is sitting in the rocking chair holding her baby and singing a lullaby. Baby is listening intently when a loud noise comes from the other room. Baby starts crying. Mother cuddles her baby closer, pats him gently on the back, and murmurs soothing sounds in his ear. Baby begins to drift off to sleep.

Babies thrive when they receive warm, nurturing care in their first year of life. Recent brain research suggests that warm, responsive care is comforting for infants and is critical for healthy development. Responsive caregiving not only meets babies' daily needs for food and warmth, but also takes into account their rhythms, preferences, and moods. When you respond quickly to your baby’s smiles, cries, or cooing, you help her brain build and strengthen important connections. By nurturing your baby, you create a safe, protective environment that shields him to some degree against the adverse effects of later stress or trauma. For more information on how your baby’s experiences affect his early brain development, click here.

Parents Are a Child’s First Teachers

"Mommy, come here."
"What do you want, honey?"
"Come see what I did all by myself."
"Look at how high you stacked those blocks. Can you count how many are in the stack?."
"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6."
"Wow! That’s a really tall tower you built all by yourself. You must be proud. Do you think it’s going to fall down?"

Parents are the most important people in a child's life. As a parent, you influence your child's learning and development physically, emotionally, socially and cognitively. You can help your child get a good start at being a successful learner, simply by encouraging her to explore different possibilities, test out new things, and keep trying if she doesn’t succeed the first time. When your child masters a difficult task and receives praise for "doing it all by myself," she begins to see the connections between her actions and your responses. This is critical to helping your child develop positive self-esteem.

How Can You Help Your Child Succeed at Learning?

  • Be warm, loving and responsive to your child. Respond to your child's cues and clues as quickly as possible.
  • Talk, read and sing to your child on a regular basis. Establish routines and rituals for your child.
  • Encourage your child to explore and to play, but be sure the environment is safe. Recognize that your child is a unique individual.
  • Read, talk, sing and play with your child rather than watching TV.
  • Remember that discipline is not to punish your child, but to help him learn to take care of himself. 

Learn more information on how children develop at different ages, or read more about the importance of play in early brain development, go to the section on play.