(Updated – January 8th, 2018)
“You know, my friend told me you must not pick up the baby every time he cries. It will form a bad habit…and he’ll not learn to be independent.” Soon after my son was born this is what my well-meaning younger sister told me as she shared nuggets of parenting ‘wisdom’ picked up from her mother-friends. I am glad I did not listen! It went against my instincts and also may have gone against my baby’s brain development.
Research shows that consistent and immediate parental (or caregiver) response helps lay a strong foundation for a baby’s developing brain.
We are all architects … architects of our children’s brains. A healthy child’s heart, lungs, kidneys etc. are fully ready when she is born, but her brain is not. It is only 25% complete at birth and will be work-in-progress for the rest of her life, but the foundation will be laid in the first 3 years. And who is responsible for this? What is our role as parents? What happens to the child when the foundation is weak? These videos give us some answers.
I have handpicked 4 amazing videos after watching hours worth of films on baby’s brain development. You can watch them at once or space them out as per your convenience. But do watch them all!
You will see that what parents can do to build their baby’s brain is at once powerful and amazingly simple.
- The first video titled ‘Saving Brains, A Grand Challenge’ is about what the baby’s brain needs to develop well and the implications if it does not get what is needed. (Duration – 9.14 min)
2. The second video, called Still Face Experiment, is a short and impactful one showing the immediate effect of parental responsiveness on a baby. Of course, this is an experiment and no normal mother would consciously behave this way. But haven’t we all been guilty of being glued to our cell phones while the baby tries to get our attention? Sometimes it can’t be helped – but often it is avoidable. Checking our Facebook to see if any more friends have liked our latest DP can surely wait.
At no other age will our kids be this dependent on our time and attention to thrive as in the first three years of their lives.
(Duration – 2.49 min)
- The third video, Serve and Return, tells us what parents can do, at the most fundamental level, in their child’s early years to help the developing brain. (Duration – 2.42 min)
Bonus Video: I loved this video, but I am calling it a ‘bonus video’ since it reiterates the messages from the above videos. If you have 10 minutes to spare, watch Brain Power: From Neurons to Networks. It’s entertaining, fast-paced and beautifully made (The soundtrack at the end of the film is still stuck in my head!)
The most important learnings for me from these videos are:
- We have a definite and crucial role to play in helping a child’s brain development
- The impact of what we do (or don’t) is long lasting. It goes well into adulthood. And there is a high price to pay for corrective action later on.
- Every interaction with our child counts. Our eye contact with them, our touch, how much we talk to them and most importantly how fast and consistently we respond to them.
This has an implication on childcare too. If you decide to put your child in a group care setting like a daycare, the deciding factor for selection should not be a fancy building or the most advanced toys. The caregiver to child ratio and caregiver attrition are the most important factors. If each caregiver attends to fewer kids, they are more likely to be more responsive to the child’s needs. A low attrition would also mean that there is a chance to form a deeper bond and give the child a sense of security that comes from a consistent response from those 1 or 2 caregivers.
It is impossible to be responsive to the child every second of the day, and it is not advisable either as it can be counterproductive. But as often as we can, let’s try and put those cell phones aside, turn the TV off, get down on the floor and immerse ourselves in our baby’s world. These simple moments possess life altering powers for our kids and ourselves.
And yes, let’s always pick up our crying child.Follow Us On