Neuroscience is definitely in fashion. Hardly a day goes by without a new finding about the incredible human brain being broadcast on TV or in the papers. President Obama in his State of the Union address in February revealed his ambitious plan to comprehensively map the workings of the human brain. While we wait for these exciting developments to occur, research over the past couple of decades has already provided us with facts and information that will delight and amaze you-
A baby grows 250,000 brain cells for each minute of a womans pregnancy. Yes, thats right, a quarter of a million specialist brain cells for every 60 seconds that passes!
With that hard to imagine brainpower, it is clear to see that for each and every baby, the sky is the limit! He or she has the potential to do and achieve so much in their life. However, it is not the number of brain cells that will determine the person they will become it is how those cells become connected that is so vital to their development and their future and even their levels of happiness.
Brain cells connect as a result of experiences. These are the experiences and opportunities that we, as parents and carers, will give to our babies.
The most important thing of all is to try to understand our baby. We all know that babies cry, sometimes a lot and it is exhausting. But by understanding what he or she is telling you when they cry can help parents better deal with the tiredness and stress. Learning what they need even before they are born, and at different stages of their development is the key.
Did you know
· At birth, your baby behaves instinctively. He or she, knows how to feed, to cry, to sleep and less obviously, to focus on close up things like your face as you feed them.
· But they also have an incredible instinct to copy your facial expressions. If not too dopey, within minutes of being born, many babies actually are able to copy their parents sticking out their tongue. They are not even aware they are imitating, it is just an inbuilt reflex do try it if you get the chance.
· Continuing to play this game during a babys the first few weeks will help parent and baby get to know each other. Baby will love it, and gradually they will learn to copy a smile.
· The more you smile at a baby, the more they will smile at you! The more you and your baby smile, the more happy chemicals (such as endorphins) are produced in both of your brains, and this, in turn, sets an internal regulator to recognise this as a good default level of happiness.
· The reverse situation of this is also true. If the stress levels in our babies are regularly high, it leads to chronically elevated cortisol levels. High cortisol levels are associated with the permanent brain changes causing elevated responses to stress throughout life, such as higher blood pressure and heart rate.
Neuroscience explains so much about why babies behave the way they do, and just as importantly about our own, adult behaviour. Our early experiences literally shape our brain and set the foundations for our future.
Just a little knowledge in the right areas will have a huge influence on you and a babys life. It helps you to cope and make confident choices about how you parent, that are right for you; for your baby and strong family life.
· So neuroscience really can help a baby be a happy baby.
Find out more about your own brain preferences by doing the short quiz in the free taster session of Hand in Hand Learnings How Babies Learn course. Do share your thoughts with us. We would love to read your comments.
Sandra Nunes Vaz is a partner in Hand in Hand Learning. She has written and delivered courses to parents about how babies and children learn for over 10 years. How Babies Learn is now available online as a 6 session downloadable course from their website, www.handinhandlearning.co.uk