3 Ways you can actually see brain development happening
From the moment babies are born, their brains are equipped for intense growth. Well, actually before they’re born, inside the womb. From first opening their eyes to bright light, to the first cry, the first suck, the first snuggle with mom and dad, first finger grasp – every little thing that happens contributes to brain growth.
Here are three ways you can observe brain growth happening in your baby:
This is when you see your baby staring at something. Here’s what happening. First, they perceive something that they’re uncertain about. As long as they don’t feel any threat, the heart rate lowers, breathing becomes steady, movement decreases and attention is focused. In this state of still staring, the prefrontal cortex is highly active, you are seeing neural complexity forming. You can see it in the picture here as Cadence studies the mobile.
Pointing is one way your baby will communicate with you before they are able to speak. And actually pointing indicates some pretty amazing neurological development! Research has shown that pointing at 12 months is a great predictor of later vocabulary size, which is a great predictor of academic success. What this means is that when your baby begins to point at something to tell you what they want or to let you know that they want to be picked up, they are well on their way in the process of receptive language development. They’ll begin to point to pictures as you read books to them.
Another indicator of brain growth is when your baby points to share something with you. For example, when you’re at a coffee shop and another baby comes in with their parent. Babies often tune in and notice each other. When you baby points at the other child, with a little sound to get your attention this tells us that she understands that you have a different perspective from their own and she wants to share something with you. The development of joint attention is a major cognitive leap that happens in the second year.
You can model pointing as you talk with your baby, especially when something interesting is going on that you’d like them to notice – like pointing to an airplane that’s flying overhead as you talk about what you see.