Early Brain Development
Dr. Gina DiRenzo-Coffey, Boys Town Pediatrics
Everything that happens from the time they conceive that baby to until the baby is born, to their first birthday, there is so many changes happening and everything that is happening in their lives affects the brain development. The brain changes and grows so rapidly from the time they are born their brain is about the size of a grapefruit. By the time they go to kindergarten it's about the size of a big cantaloupe. After that it almost grows not at all, so you're really looking at we can make an impact from birth to five.
Things that parents should be doing between birth and five, structure, routine, good sleep, reading to your children. You should start either during pregnancy or on day one of life. You start reading and talking to them. They're hearing your voice. They are hearing sounds. They are seeing facial expression and then really just playing with them. Exploring, pointing to things, naming things, showing cause and effect, all of those things can have a positive effect on brain development.
They should not be exposing their children to television at all before the age of two and even after two very limited. The same thing with telephones and tablets. I know the temptation is there to use it as an electronic babysitter because it can occupy them, but at that age they should be playing with toys that they manipulate. You don't need electronic toys. Blocks, stacking cups, rattles, anything that has a sound. An activity they can create by manipulating it will teach their brain.
There are sort of two phenomena going on there. It is overstimulating to the brain and that creates a very irritable crabby child and then the second one, and every parent who made this mistake has seen it, they don't want to give it up. They literally become so engrossed in it and it is so stimulating that when they do have to give it up, the temper tantrums are worse and then they demand it constantly.
The long term is they are not exploring their environment and you cannot teach a child to talk by putting them in front of a tv or putting them in front of a tablet. That is lost time where their brain should be developing.
Parents are just starting to become aware of this. I do have parents sometimes asking me questions about brain development and different things that have happened in their child's life, how if might affect them, but it is a new enough concept in terms of what we can be doing to make children happier and more successful and healthy and I think that's why we really need to be talking about it more.
Early brain development is essential for the health and well-being of your child. Dr. Gina DiRenzo-Coffey, pediatrician with Boys Town Pediatrics, explains how parents can encourage the brain development of their child and what activities they should avoid.