How Your Baby’s Brain Develops
During the first three years of their life, your baby’s brain develops at an astronomical rate! They are taking in so much information and making sense, learning from and reacting to that information everyday! It’s fascinating to see as your baby develops not only physically, but also emotionally and cognitively.
The brain is divided into six key areas, each of which is responsible for a different part of development during the early stages. This article looks at each of the sections and explains and what development areas they’re responsible for.
The frontal lobe is responsible for a variety of development areas for your baby’s development including walking and talking, and is divided into the right side and the left:
· Left Side – this side of the brain is most active when your baby is babbling and communicating with you
· Right Side – this side is most active when your baby is listening – to your voice, or a favourite song. It’s also active when they are observing new situations and seeing how that fits with what they already know.
This part of the brain really starts to develop from around six months old, which is typically when your baby starts to become more vocal and physical! It continues to develop as your baby grows, and won’t come into full development until early adulthood – even beyond – as your child continues to learn.
The parietal lobe is associated with more visual and sensory related development including touch, taste, smell and hand to eye coordination.
This part of the brain comes into real development when you start introducing foods to your baby other than breast milk and formula – the new tastes and smells really stimulate this part of the brain.
The cerebellum has more responsibility for your baby’s physical development including movement, coordination, muscle coordination and balancing.
This part of the brain is most active developmentally between three and 12 months when your baby is mastering rolling, to crawling, to walking and will continue to develop into your baby’s early teens.
Apart from physical development, the cerebellum also plays a role in sensory identification – helping your baby to identify their surroundings when they touch and move around.
The temporal lobe takes care of other sensory development including your baby’s hearing. Because it has a big role in hearing, it is also responsible for developing your baby’s understanding of language.
Much of your baby’s physical hearing development happens while they are still in the womb, so the temporal lobe’s responsibility is to help them start to understand and respond appropriately to the different sounds and noises they hear once they are born. Because of this, it also linked with emotional development and understanding social cues.
The occipital lobe is responsible for the development of your baby’s vision and their ability to recognise and comprehend what they see.
This part of the brain starts developing immediately from birth. At first your baby will be near sighted and only able to identify strong contrasting pictures or images, as well as light and dark. By the time they are eight months old, their vision should be fully developed and they’ll identify more items too – including faces and favourite toys.
The brainstem is one of the most vital parts of your baby’ brain – in controls all of their involuntary functions including breathing, heart rate, and other internal functioning. It is the most developed part of your baby’s brain at birth.
This part of the brain is responsible for reflexive actions including crying and suckling for breast milk. It is also responsible for emotional reactions and how your baby responds to emotional stimulation.
How can I support my baby’s overall brain development?
For many areas of your baby’s brain development it’s about providing them with different opportunities to learn and experience new things. A good variety of different stimulation for their different senses is a great way to help support their development across all areas of their brain. This includes:
· Touch – giving your baby different textures and materials to play with
· Sound – speaking to them in different tones/voices, playing different music and sounds for them to engage with
· Smell – trying different scents and taking your baby outdoors to smell different smells (even bad!) helps this development
· Taste – as your baby starts to wean, experiment with different tastes and textures with food
· Sight – provide your baby with a good variety of different visual stimulation that matches the pace of their eyesight development
Other sensory development includes balance, temperature and emotional cues and these can all be developed by providing your baby with different environments and people to engage with – try swimming classes and soft play baby groups.
With all of your baby’s development, it’s important to know all babies develop differently and some may take longer than others. Babies learn a lot by observing and mimicking their parents so it’s important to always provide them with a safe, nurturing and encouraging environment and understanding reassurance from you.
If you have any concerns or worries over any part of your baby’s development, always speak with your doctor or midwife who can provide you with further support and advice.