Tips to Boost Brain Development in Children Ages 0-5
Talk and sing! Children, particularly babies, naturally respond to the sound of their parents’ voice. And studies show that talking and singing to children stimulates the brain.
Keep the hugs and kisses coming! Why is it so natural to shower our own kids with affection? Better yet, why do we see our kids as the cutest? If you’re thinking it has something to do with the link between familial affection and cognitive stimulation in infants and children, then you’re right!
Read, read, read! This is a no brainer. We’ve already established the benefits of hearing your voice, and reading takes it a step further, offering not just your voice, but also the cadence of a (often rhyming) story, the visual stimuli of brightly colored pictures, sometimes textures to accompany those pictures, the closeness (affection) reading to children requires, and a plethora of auditory stimuli (new words + repetition = your child’s future vocabulary). So, yes, read, read, read!
Healthy eating leads to healthy growing. While pregnant, a woman’s diet affects the brain development of the fetus. And a young child’s nutrition can have a positive (or negative, if malnourished) impact on cognitive development. Some brain food for kids include eggs, oatmeal, berries (especially strawberries and blueberries), milk, lots of fruit and veggies, whole grains (not bleached and processed breads), plenty of water; three square meals, starting with a solid (not sugary) breakfast and ending with super foods with dinner.
Introduce new sights, sounds, textures, places . . . and activities, games, etc. It’s all about exciting children’s senses with variety and fresh stimuli. This is also something to think about when choosing daycares, preschools, and even babysitters.
Instead of the same park and the same people, you can take your children to new ones with new friends, then maybe a botanical garden; to a zoo, an aquarium, a children’s museum; blow bubbles in the backyard; set up sensory activities; go for walks at different times of the day; ride bikes; fly kites; play pots and pans; dance to different types of music . . . often!
Puzzles, blocks, toys that don’t do everything for them: The market is flooded with developmental toys for kids. Don’t overthink it. The old-fashioned thinking toys will obviously stimulate kids more, but an automatic talking, walking, self-grooming, pretend pooping toy pet is not going to turn their brains to mush, either.
Allow for free exploration. Guidance is key when children are young, and the above activities do stimulate little minds, but balance, as with all things, is important, too. Babies, toddlers, and small children need a safe space for free exploration — the operative word being “free.”
When they’re ready for pretend play, know it’s way more than play! This is a vital stage of development. Let them play dress-up with their siblings, friends; let them dress you up. Even if they’re only pantomiming, their brains are fired up in this mode of play. Note, the less sophisticated the props, the more they’re forced to use their imagination. Less is more.
Art does wonders for the mind and heart. Instead of rigid coloring books, devising creative ways to encourage your children to express themselves artistically can have a positive impact on their cognitive and emotional development. And it doesn’t have to be complicated; in fact, simple is best. Just vary the activities enough to keep them stimulated.
I think the biggest tip of today is that interacting naturally (and consistently) with your children stimulates their brain. How wonderful is that? Throw in some variety while keeping in tune with what they’re responding to, and they’ll continue to grow beautiful brains!
You may also like psychology fun facts on how our brains develop from birth through adulthood!