How to boost your Baby’s Baby Quotient (BQTM), to promote optimal brain development and give your baby the best chance in life. Early Childhood Development Researcher and manduca ambassador, Dr. Kristy Goodwin, explains her top tips to maximize your baby’s BQ.
1. Put away your smartphone – babies need laps not apps!
Dr. Goodwin explains that many studies show eye contact is an essential form of non-verbal communication. Newborn babies are able to process faces long before they recognise other objects, which is typically between 4 and 6 months of age. Brain scans have shown that babies, as young as 4 months, have similar neural responses to adults when processing faces. This is why infants require face-to-face interaction, which is critical for their brain and behavioural development.
2. Talk ‘parentese’ with your baby
Parentese is the term for the silly, playful sounds that adults often naturally utter to babies, which are long vowel sounds, short-clipped and high-pitched sounds that barely sound like real words! Babies have an innate ability to imitate adults’ mouth patterns and gestures when adults use parentese. As infants observe an action or mouth pattern, neurons in their brain fire and form new brain pathways, as if they were performing the action themselves.
3. Remove distractions by using a parent-facing baby carrier
With 80% of brain architecture established before a child is 3 years of age, it’s important for parents to make the most of their time with baby. Dr. Goodwin states “It’s vital that infants are given ample time to engage, verbally and visually with parents, in close proximity, with minimal distractions of competing factors to distract them. Parent-facing baby carriers provide ideal opportunities for parents to engage in such interactions on a daily and incidental basis, without placing additional demands on a parent’s time.”
4. Watch your language!
“Don’t worry, he’s just a baby – he doesn’t understand!” – sound familiar? Contrary to popular belief, your baby understands more than you know! It might be best to avoid that unpredictable uncle who can’t seem to watch his words, as according to a research piece by Dr. Goodwin, babies are biologically designed to mirror or imitate everything they observe. This can be attributed to “mirror neurons” that are a network of nerve cells that run inside our brains.
5. The more the merrier – introduce your loved ones
When introducing friends and family, let your baby see your warm and friendly expression as you greet them. Babies will pick up on your cues when assessing new situations and strangers and this social reassurance is vital for baby’s learning and development.
6. Lots of love and cuddles
Studies have shown that a mother’s nurturing relationship in the early years could literally shape a child’s brain anatomy. Dr. Goodwin’s research review found children with responsive, warm and caring parents have a larger hippocampus (part of the brain responsible for memory, learning and stress responses) than their peers who didn’t receive the same sorts of interactions and relationship building.
(Chris:) To see a really beautiful video of how strong the connection can be between baby and mother when wearing a parent-facing carrier, try this one from the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance.
Find out more about parent-facing carriers, click here.