Growing Minds Need Stimulation
Baby's first three years critical to healthy brain development
Your baby needs you, in more ways than one.
During the first three years of life, it falls on parents and caregivers to shape little ones into capable people ready to tackle any challenges the future holds. The Urban Child Institute recently released their 2012 Data Book: The State of Children in Memphis and Shelby County, their annual collection of data examining our community and its children. This year’s data book makes clear that ours is a city that faces challenges, but it’s also one rich with a valuable natural resource: Our children.
The first three years are crucial because of the profound effect a child’s early home environment has on her well-being. In this period, before formal education begins, brain growth is off the charts, synapses popping to life, neural connections frantic with activity. A baby’s brain doubles in size in its first year and will be 80 percent of its adult size by 36 months. This amazing growing happens in response to the child’s environment and experiences.
Young brains are in active sponge mode, lustily gulping up input as children explore their new world. Once absorbed, these experiences in a way become a part of the child and will shape their behavior and world view for the rest of their lives. This makes unfavorable home environments detrimental, but happy, safe environments the ideal setting to launch a child on a path to adaptable, intelligent happiness.
There are simple things you can do to make the most of these first years.
• Engage your child in his or her world while showing him yours. Use physical contact to help your child feel safe and loved. Talk to him about what he notices in the world, and help him put words to the experiences he is having.
• Read books to your child. Talk about the story and pictures, its shapes, colors, names of animals or objects you see. Explore each page together. You can even talk about the feelings the characters are having as the story evolves.
• Make play a part of your day. Hunker down with your children in their play space. Make up stories about favorite stuffed animals or Thomas the Tank engine train cars. Help them put a puzzle together or sing songs. Make a point to have fun with your children.
• Remember, during the early years, you are the keyhole to your child’s curiosity. You are her teacher and playmate, her librarian and role model. You have a big responsibility to your favorite little person, but one look at him or her tells you they are worth every effort.
Light a Candle
Infant Remembrance Ceremony at Baptist Women’s Hospital
Losing a pregnancy or a child is never easy. It helps to grieve that loss fully, so you can move on and open your heart to new love. To that end, an Infant Remembrance Ceremony will be held at the Outdoor Chapel at Baptist Women’s Hospital. It takes place Thursday, October 11th, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
This candlelight remembrance ceremony is being held in commemoration of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day for parents and families who have lost a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or who lost a baby before their first birthday. Call 227-9873 to RSVP.