In your baby's first year, the Dana Foundation points out that your baby's head will triple in weight -- which may comes as no surprise to you as you watch your helpless newborn develop into a babbling and bubbly toddler. As your little one's brain continues to grow and change during his early years, it is important to remember that his behaviors and development are affected positively and negatively through many outside influences.
The Royal Children's Hospital of Melbourne, Australia, points out that a child's brain is not fully developed when he is born, and that most neuron connections take place in his brain after birth. The early years of your child's life are especially important for developing these connections, and your baby's brain will adapt to whatever environment he is born into. Royal Children's Hospital urges parents to provide a responsive and nurturing environment -- one that is stimulating and safe. Read and play with your child, and speak directly to him -- even when he's little -- to encourage optimal cognitive development.
According to Better Brains for Babies -- a website hosted by University of Georgia to promote early childhood development awareness -- a secure attachment between child and parent helps your child in developing emotionally and having the ability to establish trusting relationships with peers and other adults. A child with a secure attachment will be better able to handle stress than a child with an insecure attachment, who may show anxiety and fear when a stressful situation arises.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your child engages in physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day for good reason -- Kids Health Centre believes that physical activity may help improve brain function. Having an active child may mean having a child who is more physically and mentally healthy than his sedentary peers. The memory center of the brain -- the hippocampus -- is believed to benefit the most from regular exercise, and children who exercise are less prone to depression and diabetes.
According to Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, child development expert and author of "Sleepless in America: Practical Strategies to Help Your Family Get the Sleep It Deserves", a child who is sleep-deprived has difficulty managing his emotions and may be more prone to clumsiness and behavioral disorders. Kurcinka points out that 20 to 25 percent of children with ADD may also suffer from sleep disorders. Little ones need shut-eye to give their bodies time to rest and develop as they sharpen their abilities to focus when they are awake.
- Better Brains for Babies: Secure vs. Insecure Attachment
- Royal Children's Hospital: The Underlying Factors Affecting Child Health and Development and Family Functioning
- Kids Health Centre: Environmental Factors
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Preschooler - Physical Activity
- Scholastic.com: Sleep Better for Better Behavior
- The Dana Foundation: Brain Development in Childhood -- The Dana Guide
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