Brain Development In Early Childhood


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The Earliest Messages That The Brain Receives Have An Enormous Impact

How a child’s brain develops through early experiences

Early brain development is the foundation of human adaptability and resilience, but these qualities come at a price. Because experiences have such a great potential to affect brain development, children are especially vulnerable to persistent negative influences during this period. On the other hand, these early years are a window of opportunity for parents, caregivers, and communities: positive early experiences have a huge effect on childrens chances for achievement, success, and happiness.

Importance Of Nutrition And Brain Development

Children who are malnourishednot just picky eaters, but truly deprived of adequate calories and protein in their dietdo not grow adequately, either physically or mentally, during this period. Their brains are smaller than normal due to decreased dendritic growth, decreased myelination, and glia production . Inadequate brain growth explains why malnourished children suffer from long-term behavioural and cognitive deficits, such as slower language and fine motor development, lower IQ, and poorer school performance.

Healthy Early Brain Development From Birth To Age 3

The infant brain is at once vulnerable and competent both of these attributes need to be addressed simultaneously for healthy brain development. The vulnerable baby is dependent on relationships with adults for physical survival, emotional security, a safe base for learning, help with self-regulation, modeling and mentoring social behavior, and information and exchanges about the workings of the world and rules for living. Yet at the same time, the baby comes into the world with great competence as a curious, motivated, self-starting learneran imitator, interpreter, integrator, inventor, explorer, communicator, meaning seeker, and relationship builder. For the brain to grow robustly, it needs a context of caring relationships that simultaneously provide emotional predictability for the babys vulnerable side and a climate of intellectual novelty for the competent side .

Preconception and prenatal development

When do caring relationships start to influence the development of the brain? Earlier than most of us think. Although this article primarily focuses on relationships established during the time period from birth to age 3, the developing brain before birthand even before conceptiondeserves some attention.

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After Two Years A Child Can

  • Holds something in one hand while using the other hand for example, holding a container and taking the lid off
  • Tries to use switches, knobs, or buttons on a toy
  • Plays with more than one toy at the same time, like putting toy food on a toy plate

At around two years, childrens brain development goes through a major spurt. This is known as a critical period another will happen during adolescence the start of which is marked by a doubling of the number of synapses or the connections between brain cells called neurons. Two-year-olds have around double the number of synapses as adults. And since learning happens in these connections between brain cells, twice as many synapses enable the brain to learn faster than at any other time of life. The first critical period begins at around two years and continues till the child is approximately seven.

Jean Piaget – Cognitive Development discovered that all childrens cognitive development progressed through four stages, beginning in infancy and are completed by adolescence. Thinking becomes more and more complex as the child ages. Each stage of thinking causes the child to see the world in a different way.

The Early Years Matter

How Brain Development Affects Childrens Mental Health  Family ...

Childhood is a time of tremendous sensitivity, a time when everyday experiences, both positive and negative experiences, bestow lasting effects10.

Developmental outcomes can be seriously impacted if kids are deprived of basic social and emotional nurturing in this developmental process.

This is confirmed by various research.

Differences in socioeconomic status in the early years of a child can result in disparities in brain structure. Extreme poverty is associated with lower gray matter volume and academic achievement11.

Children who experienced early neglect tend to have lower cognitive abilities. Early neglect affects the organization of white matter in the prefrontal cortex affecting its cognitive function12. It also hinders emotional development affecting social behavior13.

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Stimulation Activities For Toddlers

Not only parents but also caregivers can do stimulation practices for babies. These activities increase the bond with your baby. Please tell bad smell is coming after put stools. Give them to smell their smell of baby cream. It stimulates your babys nose. Give them to touch flower petals and tell it is soft. Give different types of fabrics and tell it is rough or soft. Skin stimulation can do in various ways. Training to tell, what are the pictures of their picture books is good stimulation activity.

You can put the finger of your babys to little cold water or little hot water. Please check the water before you give it to your baby. Because of it children learn to not touch the hot glasses after you tell them every day. After 6 months of your baby, you can give different foods to your baby to taste. Introduce and tell salt, bitter and sweet tastes to your child. Do Child Brain Development for improve their education. So it is good to give them to hear various sounds to hear. Raining sounds, Nature sounds, and more songs. Those sounds will stimulate your babys ears. By doing stimulation practices your baby can have better sleep quality. You may experience their violent behavior reducing and be obedient to you.

The Interactive Influences Of Genes And Experience Shape The Developing Brain

Scientists now know a major ingredient in this developmental process is the serve and return relationship between children and their parents and other caregivers in the family or community. Young children naturally reach out for interaction through babbling, facial expressions, and gestures, and adults respond with the same kind of vocalizing and gesturing back at them. In the absence of such responsesor if the responses are unreliable or inappropriatethe brains architecture does not form as expected, which can lead to disparities in learning and behavior.

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Focus On Breadth Not Depth

One way to avoid focusing on results during this phase of development is to emphasize the breadth of skill development over depth. Exposing children to a wide variety of activities lays a foundation for developing skills in a range of fields. This is the time to engage children in music, reading, sports, math, art, science, and languages.

In his book Range, David Epstein argues that breadth of experience is often overlooked and underappreciated. Focusing on excellence in a single activity may be appropriate at some point in life. But the people who thrive in our rapidly changing world are those who first learn how to draw from multiple fields and think creatively and abstractly. In other words, our society needs well-rounded individuals.

Well-roundedness is especially important for children from ages 2 to 7. Their developing brains are ready to soak in a wide range of skill sets. This sampling period, as Epstein calls it, is integral. This is the window during which to develop childrens range. There is plenty of time for them to specialize later.

General Cognitive And Brain Structure Development In Children

Brain Matters documentary | Early Childhood Development

Apart from the studies focusing on sleep and memory and emotional development in young children, several studies have examined the relationship between sleep and general cognitive development or language development in infants and toddlers. One study revealed that a greater number of awakenings after sleep onset measured via sleep actigraphy recordings amongst 10-month-old infants were negatively correlated with the scores of the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development second edition Mental Development Index . Gibson et al. also found that 11- to 13-month-old infants who had either greater sleep efficiency or longer proportions of sleep at night measured by sleep actigraphy data were associated with better cognitive problem-solving skills as measured by the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. Recently, we examined the association between nighttime awakenings and cognitive development in a large-scale community sample of infants and toddlers from 8 provinces across China and found that frequent nighttime awakenings reported by caregivers are associated with a lower MDI in BSID-I in toddlers between 12 and 30 months . A longitudinal twin study assessed the association between sleep-wake consolidation at 6, 18, and 30 months and language skills at 18, 30, and 60 months and found that a poor sleep consolidation during the first 2 years of life may be a risk factor for language learning in later childhood .

Fig. 2.

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Early Brain Development In Children

By: Author Pamela Li, MS, MBAPamela Li is a bestselling author. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Parenting For Brain. Her educational background is in Electrical Engineering and Business Management . Learn more

Posted on Last updated: Oct 27, 2022Evidence Based

| Statistics | Milestones | When does the brain stop developing | Experience-dependent | Critical periods & Plasticity | Nature vs nurture | The Early Years Matter |

How To Encourage A Child’s Brain Development

Childrens brains develop rapidly from ages birth through three. Brain development affects all areas of a childs growth. There are four main areas of development: motor , language and communication, social and emotional, and cognitive. Brain development is part of cognitive development. Cognitive development describes how a childs intellect grows, and includes thinking, learning and problem-solving skills. These skills affect all other areas of development. The first three years of a childs life are critical for learning and development. Many parents ask how they can help their childs brain develop. The best way is to actively engage your child through everyday activities like playing, reading and being there when he/she feels stress. Here are ideas to encourage brain development:

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Brain Development Series Part I


Scientists and parents know that young childrens brain development is critically importantand researchers learn more every day. Children experience their most profound cognitive, social, and emotional growth in the first eight years of life. Childrens Institute has put together a series to share educational resources and the latest news from experts about young childrens growing brains and how their caregivers can support and nurture this growth.

In this series, well highlight what parents, caregivers, teachers and others can do to support optimal brain development, as well as the latest information on kids growing brains.

Below is part 1, on childrens brains from birth to age 3. Read it, watch the videos, and please let us know what you think!

1. Learning begins at birth. In the first three years of life, the brain develops at its fastest. Babies brains are primed to respond to everyday loving moments, from affection to comfort to play. These moments help wire the brain, building the architecture thats critical for language, relationship development, literacy, reasoning skills, and more.

Take action: If you have or care for a child, take time to play. Babies and young children can often become laser focused on simple objectsencourage it, talk about the object, or sing a song about it!

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Brain Wonders Zero To Three Magic of Everyday Moments from ZEROTOTHREE on Vimeo.

Early Childhood Brain Development Facts

Baby Brain Development

Did you know a baby is born with billions of neurons? Even more incredible are the trillions of neural connections that link those neurons! Those connections, called synapses, are the foundation on which the rest of the brain will develop. They are formed every time a child experiences something. Babies are so small and fragile when they enter the world, yet miraculous things are taking place right below the surface of their soft, little heads. A babys brain contains 100 billion neurons when they are born. No wonder moms are tired during pregnancy, their bodies are making all those! While some areas of the brain, like the cerebellum and the prefrontal cortex continue making neurons after birth, what really matters are the connections that carry the information children have gathered up to the nerve cells in the different areas of the brain. For example, when a parent picks up their baby a connection is formed. When a baby enters the world, they have 50 trillion neural connections, also known as synapses. By the time they reach adulthood theyll have around 500 trillion. As a child grows, their brains are rapidly developing new neural connections. We’re not talking about 100 new synapses a day, either.

A toddlers brain is forming more than 1 million connections every second.


Neuroscientists call that synaptic pruning.

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Activities To Foster Brain Development

Here are a variety of children’s activities the first critical period can be used to foster brain development.

  • Make opportunities for free, active play. As children play, they develop not just gross motor skills involved in walking, running, jumping, coordination and fine motor skills involved in writing, manipulating small tools, and detailed handwork but executive functioning and creative intelligence. It is important to make time for unstructured play and self-driven play since what kids enjoy doing, they will do more willingly.

  • Expose them to a wide variety of experiences to promote the rapid building of synapses. Use books, stories, songs, excursions, experiments, and demonstrations to engage children in music, reading, sports, math, art, science, and languages.

  • Keep them safe. Children grow and learn best in a secure environment where they are protected from neglect and from extreme or chronic stress. Understand their needs and respond sensitively to protect childrens brains from stress

  • Keep them healthy. To learn and grow appropriately, a childs brain has to be healthy and protected from diseases and other risks. Ideally, such care should start even before the baby is born. After birth, they should be given necessary childhood vaccinations, protected from head injuries and have access to the right care and nutrition.

% Of Brain Growth Happens Before Kindergarten

At birth, the average babys brain is about a quarter of the size of the average adult brain. Incredibly, it doubles in size in the first year. It keeps growing to about 80% of adult size by age 3 and 90% nearly full grown by age 5.

The brain is the command center of the human body. A newborn baby has all of the brain cells theyll have for the rest of their life, but its the connections between these cells that really make the brain work. Brain connections enable us to move, think, communicate and do just about everything. The early childhood years are crucial for making these connections. At least one million new neural connections are made every second, more than at any other time in life.

Different areas of the brain are responsible for different abilities, like movement, language and emotion, and develop at different rates. Brain development builds on itself, as connections eventually link with each other in more complex ways. This enables the child to move and speak and think in more complex ways.

The early years are the best opportunity for a childs brain to develop the connections they need to be healthy, capable, successful adults. The connections needed for many important, higher-level abilities like motivation, self-regulation, problem solving and communication are formed in these early years or not formed. Its much harder for these essential brain connections to be formed later in life.

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What Is Good For Brain Development

The development of a childs brain starts in the womb of its mother, so whatever a pregnant woman does, it also affects her child like if a woman lists good music then it will give comfort to the child but if a woman listens to hard and loud music then it may cause trouble to her child. But this is not the complete brain development of the baby. The baby also learns a lot when it comes out of the mothers womb and for good brain development the parents of baby should follow these steps:-

Say bye to junk food for at least first three years: Never let your baby eat junk food like pizza, burger, noodles. It will effect your babys brain development as well as body too.

Eggs, milk and vegetables are good source: Feed eggs, milk and boiled vegetables to the baby as much as possible. It will enhance your childs brain development ability and make your childs mind strong.

Teach him new things and activities: Since brain development is very high at the early age of the child, parents can take great advantage of it, they can teach their child new things and activities. This will help the child to become more creative and sharper than others. The best thing that you can do is to bring such toys for your child, it can teach something to your kids because at a young age children love to play with toys but if they learn something from it then it will help in the rapid development of their brain.

Dont Treat Young Childrens Education As Merely A Precursor To Real Learning

Early Childhood Development: Early Learning, the Brain and Society

Childrens brains can uniquely absorb information during this critical phase. If intelligence is defined as the ability to learn, children between the ages of 2 and 7 may be the most intelligent humans on the planet.

Research suggests that some skills cannot be learned nearly as well after this first critical period of brain development. For example, research shows that children in this age range are best suited to learn the patterns of language development, enabling them to master a second language to the same level as a native language. However, once children reach age 8, their language learning proficiency decreases, and second languages are not spoken as well as native ones. The same age effect is found when learning musical abilities such as perfect pitch.

It is noteworthy that Einsteins parents did not enroll him in physics lessonsthe field that would lead him to a Nobel Prize. Instead, Einsteins father included him in his work as an engineer. His mother signed him up for violin lessons because she wanted him to love and appreciate music. Both activities worked to develop his young mind holistically. It is tempting to think of early childhood education as a precursor to real education. But these may be the years that matter most.

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