Building Brain Power

By Windy Mason-Leslie, MD

The first years of a baby’s life are a very important time for his developing brain. During this time, the connections that are the basis for our brain’s wiring system are rapidly forming. Research has shown that the more stimulating experiences you can give a baby, the more connections will be formed in the brain, which is important for future learning. And while there are many products designed to help with this goal, parents and caregivers can use their everyday interactions to achieve the same results.

  • Talk to your baby. Use an animated voice, a range of different words and lots of expression.
  • Respond to your baby’s cues. Smiling, cooing and even crying are all ways that your baby communicates with you. Your responses reinforce your baby’s attempts to communicate and build important feelings of trust in his budding sense of self.
  • Touch your baby. Hold her hand, rub her back or tickle her tummy. Learn infant massage; it will help relax the baby and enhance your bonding experience.
  • Read to your baby. Long before they can follow stories, babies can see pictures. And they are born loving the sound of your voice.
  • Play music. Some researchers believe that music can stimulate connections in the brain that are later used for math. At the very least, music can soothe a tired or cranky baby.
  • Let him explore and experience. Provide playthings with different textures and let your baby experience lots of different surroundings. Go for walks, visit different places and expose her to new people and settings.

Dr. Mason-Leslie practices with CHKD Health System’s Pediatric Associates.