Baby Brain Development

I recently read an article entitled, “Want Success in School? Start with Babies!” by Dr. J. Ronald Lally. It is available only in print form in KAPPA DELAT PI’s Record.  Since I cannot provide a direct link to the article, I would like to share some highlights of the author’s words.

By age 3, an infant’s brain is already at 85% of the size it will be once he/she reaches adulthood.  With that being said, it’s only natural for one to believe that important learning and social structures should be put into place for the first few years of a baby’s life.

The stages of a baby/infant are broken down into 4 periods:

Brain Cell Creation (conception through delivery)

Beginning as early as conception, babies could be seriously affected as to how they will achieve later in life.  What the mother eats during pregnancy, how much stress is put upon the mother, drugs, exercise, etc. all play a factor in the developing of a baby’s brain.

Bonding (birth to 9 months)

Of course we all understand what bonding with our child means to us as parents. It is a complex definition but to simplify it, one could say it is to meet all of the needs of a baby and provide unconditional love.  These first 9 months are crucial in learning about relationships and communication.

Supported Exploration (7 to 15 months)

This is the time in which infants become a little more independent and start doing things on their own (in short-time bursts).  They are comfortable doing these actions because of the trusted connections they have made and the assurance they have received in the previous stage.  There is so much observation taking place during this time that they are developing a sense of self.

Self in Relation to Others (15 to 30 months)

Infants begin to become more expressive with their language, social behavior is learned, imitation from caregivers takes place, and confidence building all fit into this stage.  They are learning how they “fit in” to their surroundings and society. At the age of 2, most skills that are needed to succeed in school (“emotional/social, learning assumptions, and character traits”) have already been formed.

Dr. Lally provides recommendations (for both parents and educators) on how to guide babies to be successful in school. He believes prenatal health-care should be accessible to ALL families.

Paid parental leave for the first 6 – 9 months is another recommendation from Dr. Lally, along with having professionals regularly visit the home for the first 18 months of the child’s life.

He suggests that American child-care facilities should pay their caregivers a rate comparable to what K-12 educators receive. These workers are underpaid and provide such important care to these infants during a crucial time in the children’s brain development.  Stronger regulations should also be put into place at these schools.

Lastly, he writes that services should be available to parents for help with their child’s development (emotional, language, motor, etc.).

Last month, Dr. Lally was interviewed about his article in this podcast.

How do you feel about Dr. Lally’s recommendations? Are they realistic?

Guest Appearance

Oster was invited to speak in two Child Development high school classes earlier in the week.  His first speaking engagement! Not to worry, I had his note cards prepared, his laundry pressed, and his PowerPoint presentation checked for accuracy!  Well, actually, he attended the classes solely for the entertainment; meaning the students were doing the entertaining and I was the one speaking.

We were asked to come in to talk about Oster’s developmental experience. For the past 3 months, these students have studied child development from age birth to adolescence.  In April and May, the teacher invites parents/infants/toddlers to speak to her students so that the high school-ers can relate their continued learning to real life situations.

As I spoke, Oster was being taken care of by 5 students in the classroom that were assigned to him.  During the conversation, I fed Oster a spinach and apple mixture, changed his diaper (only once), and changed his clothes (he poured water on himself). He also ate half of a banana, played with the students, and interacted with them with his babbles.

This Child Development class was so impressive to witness.  Each class was 52 minutes long and both flew by.  The teacher was well-prepared for her little visitor.  The room was baby-friendly. The student desks were to one side of the room and a play area was set up on the other side.  There were table/chairs, a beautiful alphabet rug, a rocker, and many toys and balls.

I stood in the front of the classroom close enough to take care of Oster if need be.  The students were so gentle with him. The questions the students asked were thought provoking and inquisitive.  All were respectful and engaged in the conversation.  There were a lot of follow up questions too.  They observed Oster throughout the entire class period and took notes on his behavior. They really experienced a hands-on interaction with mom/baby during this time.

What a great experience for us and the students.  How I wish I had had an opportunity to take a class like this when I was in high school (so long ago). You can see how interested the students were as they used their background knowledge from class to engage in conversation. Thank you Mrs. P and students for such a great experience!

Child Development posters that the students made.

Oster playing while waiting for his audience to arrive.