Grace Derocha 2017-10-06 05:59:20
Tips for Boosting Your Baby’s Brain Development For first-time parents, knowing how to help your baby grow into an intelligent and healthy individual can be like learning to walk all over again. Every parent wants their child to succeed both cognitively and socially. Incorporating early brain training and nutrition strategies during the first years of life is critical for your child’s long-term development. So what specifically can you do? While TV shows and toys are billed as increasingly educational, there is truly no substitute for one-on-one time contact with your little one. Here are some meaningful ways to bond with your baby through shared experiences: READ TO YOUR BABY Choose books with large and colorful pictures and interact with them by making animal noises or using different voice tones for characters throughout the story. Your baby’s language development is influenced by what they hear around them and what is spoken to them. PLAY WITH YOUR BABY The time that all babies enjoy the most— play time! It’s important to use different methods of play such as tickling or massaging your baby. Studies have shown that babies who received more nurturing from their mothers had a thicker hippocampus. A stronger hippocampus is associated with improved memory, better focus, ability to retain learning and more. MAKE SILLY FACES Did you know that newborns as young as two days old can imitate facial movements? This is a sign of early problem solving and should be incorporated as often as possible to strengthen that skill. SING SIMPLE SONGS AND NURSERY RHYMES WITH REPETITIVE PHRASES Songs such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” are good examples. Including body motions and finger play along with these nursey rhymes will help your baby integrate sounds with large and small motor actions. Singing songs also helps enhance your child’s ability to learn rhythms, rhymes and language patterns. NARRATE EVERYTHING YOU AND YOUR BABY DO: A great way to help your child learn words is by narrating every action throughout the day. Saying things such as “I am putting on your socks,” or “I am putting you in the car seat,” can also help your child learn the importance of communication. MAINTAIN A HEALTHY DIET One of the most important influences you can have on your child during the early years is healthy eating. Proper nutrition and a healthy diet has been linked to boosting brain development, improved school performance, and a decreased risk of attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and they are less likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders even into adulthood. NUTRITION TIPS FOR YOUR BABY Ideally, from birth to six months, breast milk is best for infants. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend breast milk for children until age two. In addition to bonding time, breastfeeding has many developmental benefits for babies. The nutrients in human milk are much higher than those of other foods or beverages and the composition of breast milk changes based on the needs of each growing baby. Between four and six months, some “solid” foods can be introduced. A few examples of good first solids include white or brown rice cereal and healthy fruits like apples, avocados, bananas, and pears. Meats (starting with chicken), eggs, and peanuts can be given between six and eight months. Grains and dairy products can be incorporated between eight and ten months. While introducing new foods, it is important to only give one new food at a time and wait three to five days before introducing another new food. It may take three to five days to notice irritation from a possible allergy. Overlapping foods that you have already deemed safe is okay, but it’s best to follow the three to five day rule while introducing new foods. When transitioning to whole foods, parents should ensure bites are very small and chewable to avoid choking hazards. Though most foods are safe to introduce slowly, it is important to avoid giving a baby honey before their first birthday. Honey is not pasteurized and can be harmful to infants. Grace Derocha is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more health tips, visit AHealthierMichigan.org.
Published by Families First . View All Articles.
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