Without a doubt, your baby’s health is your top priority right now. You will certainly be hard at work ensuring that your child constantly gets the nutrients and care he needs for proper physical health and growth.
However, upon birth, your baby’s brain is already developing. As such, you will also need to determine how to choose the best formula milk for brain development as well as encourage and stimulate his mental activities.
Cognitive development covers the various processes regarding the growth and improvement of a child’s intellect. These processes or activities include thinking, learning, and problem-solving skills. Brain development is an integral part of cognitive development.
Helping Your Child’s Cognitive Development
You can help encourage and promote the proper brain development of your child through the following ways:
1. Shower your baby with love and affection
Full-term babies are born with basic brain functions, and because of these, your child is able to breathe, sleep, and eat on his own. As your child grows older, he needs to acquire more complex skills. This can be encouraged through repetitive and predictive interactions. These activities stimulate the neurons in your baby’s brain and cause it to develop.
To encourage early brain connections and activities, you need to give your child constant love and attention. Keep in mind that every time you interact with your child, you are helping develop his brain. Examples of activities you can do with your baby are:
- Responding to your baby’s coos and sounds
- Repeating the sounds your baby makes, like you’re having a conversation with him
- Singing to your baby
- Warmly touching your baby
- Guiding your baby to see and touch new things
- Regularly cuddling your baby
- Holding, comforting, or feeding your baby whenever he cries
2. Always make eye contact
You can help build the muscles that your baby uses for focusing by making constant eye contact. Initiating and maintaining eye contact can also help ward off eye problems in the future and help them recognize faces early on.
Experts also believe that ability of babies to hold eye contact is a sign of their early problem-solving skills and the start of their social interactions. Constantly making eye contact with them will help build their confidence with other people in the future.
3. Play with your baby
Playing with your baby or toddler is a great way to help his brain development. Play can come in the form of games or even simply talking or singing to your child.
“Peek-a-boo”and holding a toy up for your baby to watch and hold helps greatly with their brain development. You can also sing songs with actions such as “Wheels on the Bus,” with your baby to encourage pretend play.
4. Allow your child to explore
Babies and toddlers love to discover and they mainly use their hands for exploring. When you encourage your child to get involved in sensory play, you help build their neural connections which support their learning and creativity. You also help stimulate their cognitive growth, problem-solving and reasoning capabilities, and their fine and motor skills.
To encourage your child to explore, keep a box of different fabrics for them to touch and play with. Once your child grasps the idea that it is not safe to eat everything he touches, let him play with dried leaves, medium-sized marbles, pebbles, and shells. Allow your child to play in the playground and sandbox often as well.
5. Let your child listen to music
Various studies show that babies who listened to classical or jazz music tend to do better in school in the future. They are also more likely to have a better appreciation of the arts later in life.
Once your child is older and shows interest in learning to play an instrument, give your full support. Numerous studies also show that children who play music have a better social aptitude. They also often score 15 to 20 points higher on the IQ scale.
6. Read to your child often
Reading is crucial to your baby’s brain development. Even before your baby can recognize letters or words, when you read to your baby, you jumpstart his language and communication skills.
Reading the same books to your child will help him recognize and understand the words you speak and the images on the page. You can also help build your baby’s cognitive skills by asking questions about the story and having him create stories around the pictures.
7. Provide your child a healthy diet
Lastly, proper nutrition plays an important role in developing a baby’s brain. Breast milk contains all the nutrients your baby needs and all the important antibodies his body requires to fight infection and as such, breastfeeding is still highly recommended. In case you have stopped breastfeeding, make sure you choose a complete and highly nutritious formula to give your child.
Once your child is ready for solid foods, introduce iron-rich foods first such as meat, beans, lentils, chickpeas, and iron-fortified cereal since iron is an essential nutrient for brain development. Also, make sure you feed your baby at regular times since a predictable routine is crucial for brain development.
Brain development affects all areas of your baby’s growth. As such, make sure you find the right balance for nourishing your child’s cognitive functioning and development and physical growth.