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The Best Ways to Help Your Baby's Brain Develop

Updated on February 26, 2008

Today’s parents feel a lot of pressure to do everything right when it comes to their baby’s development. But it can be confusing to read all of the different books, articles, and reports about brain development—and, you shouldn’t need to have a PhD in psychology to make the best parenting decisions. It is important to learn about the different stages of development your children will go through, but don’t miss out on all of the joys of parenting because you are trying to decipher all of the articles on brain development.

The Deal in Plain English

Let’s talk about the basics really quickly. First of all, you need to know that neurons are brain cells that process and transmit information. A newborn baby has 100 billion neurons, with a limited amount of time to make trillions of connections between them. The baby’s brain doesn’t continue to create neurons, but it does triple in size during the first two years of life.

A baby’s brain development is incredibly important. However, the door to development doesn’t slam shut once those first years pass. The brain continues to grow and develop throughout life.

Baby Edutainment

Our competitive American society drives the desire to take advantage of a baby’s early learning years. However, this does not mean that parents have to work overtime finding devices to stimulate their baby’s mind. These devices are called baby edutainment, and are supposed to both entertain and educate. Baby edutainment includes all of the CDs, DVDs, flash cards, and electronic “educational” toys that are designed to stimulate your baby’s brain.

You probably think that more stimulation will make your baby smarter, but that isn’t true if you aren’t creating the right kind of stimulation. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two years old shouldn’t watch any television. In fact, TV and videos overstimulate a baby’s brain. Your baby might watch, but there is no interaction. Your baby cannot learn and grow from watching a one dimensional screen. As well, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a Seattle based researcher, has published research that shows the more television children watch as toddlers, the more attention problems they will have later in life.

Do Educational Videos & CDs Help Your Baby?

Research has shown that educational baby videos and DVDs do not make your children smarter. A recent experiment at the University of Washington split infants into four different groups. One group had a native Mandarin speaker play and talk with the babies for twelve sessions through a month. The second group watched a video of a Chinese speaker playing babies, while the third group listened to audio recordings of the Chinese woman playing. The fourth group didn’t have any exposure to the language.

The results? Only the babies in the first group—the ones who were exposed to the actual person—could recognize any Mandarin sounds.

What Does It All Mean?

Learning involves interaction, which your baby cannot get from an electronic device. If you do spend the time interacting with your baby, playing with an electronic toy together, it will be more beneficial than leaving the baby to play (or watch) alone. However, babies get enough stimulation without any of these DVDs, CDs, and electronic toys. Instead of trying to initiate your child’s learning with a machine, you can allow your baby to learn from his natural, surrounding environment. Babies need downtime, and it is okay if they experience boredom—parents don’t need to constantly worry about keeping babies entertained. In fact, it is during this downtime that children learn how to entertain themselves, creating their own preferences for playing.

Six Ways to Help Your Babies Brain Develop

It might be hard to ignore all of the marketing out there that tells you to buy all of edutainment products, and it will probably be harder not to “do what everyone else” seems to be doing. But it comes down to the simple fact that your baby needs special time with you, not an electronic device. The most important thing you can do for your baby is spend quality time together.

  1. Laugh & Coo: Laughing with your baby is a great, interactive experience for both of you. By getting your baby to laugh, you can learn what she likes or thinks is funny. Plus, she will learn by seeing what makes you laugh.
  2. Talk: The best way to help your baby develop language skills is to talk to her. She will learn from listening to the people around her.
  3. Sing: Singing to your baby will entertain her, but also expose her to more language. This is a fun way to help your baby devlop.
  4. Cuddle & Love: Everyone needs some cuddling and loving, especially your little tyke. Instead of setting your baby in front of a screen, cuddle and talk with her.
  5. Read: She might not grasp the idea of your reading to her at first, but she will eventually. By reading, you will help to stimulate her language development. For babies, read books that are cardboard, cloth, or some other textured material (other than paper). This way, your baby can touch and hold the book. Point out the pictures, and even sing parts of the story.
  6. Play Silly Games: There is plenty of time in life for your baby to be serious. So, play sill games together. Not only will your baby have fun, but I bet you will to.

I don’t think there are any wrong or right ways to parent, as long as there is no abuse or neglect involved. However, I strongly believe that you can give your children the best opportunities by spending personal time with them instead of relying on electronic devices. It is difficult wading through all of the different studies and marketing out there, but what it comes down to is that the most recent studies show that so-called baby edutainment is not the best option for your baby.


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    • profile image

      pamela sen 5 years ago

      thanks for guiding parent.great job

    • profile image

      vandana 6 years ago

      Thanks for this most important information.

      we want to develop a smart and responsible person for future. And i am very curious about baby's brain development information.Thanks for sharing the advice.

    • profile image

      Rich 6 years ago


      Don't beat yourself up. While too much TV time isn't good for your baby, you can learn from your mistakes and do better next time...the most important thing you can do for her is to love her, and it sounds like you do.

      That in itself is a good lesson for your daughter in life :)

    • profile image

      adriana bravo 6 years ago

      My dauther is for months and I put her in front of tv for hours and I could see why she is not intrested on toys or be able to roll over I am so worried. I went to the doctor for her check up and she told me that she need more tommy time but I did not told her about the tv time. I feel so disapointed with myself I hope is not too late to change this terrible mistake.

    • profile image

      Bill 6 years ago

      Thanks for a concise, well-written article. I have been looking for some good advice on child brain development as we are having twin girls soon and I want to give them the best start that I can provide. Thank you for taking the time to write it!

    • profile image

      Ashlee 6 years ago

      I loved reading this and it helped me make a better decision about my baby's development.

    • profile image

      Victoria Garcia 6 years ago

      Great advice...seems to be helpful in many ways...much appreciated. Thanks

    • tastybrain profile image

      Timothy Ostrander 7 years ago from Taiwan

      Great Hub. Thanks. I enjoyed all the useful information you gave in it.

    • quuenieproac profile image

      quuenieproac 7 years ago from Malaysia

      Thanks for the info. I like the part where you emphasize on actual physical interaction with people. Nowadays babies are left alone in front of the t.v. Before long the kid thinks life is just watching scenes out of the box.

    • sklipstein profile image

      sklipstein 7 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

      There was a lot of new things in there I did not know. Very informative!

    • HappyCoLo profile image

      HappyCoLo 7 years ago

      This is a great article, i look forward to interacting with my child, and helping him and his brain development!! Thank you.

    • HealthyHanna profile image

      HealthyHanna 7 years ago from Utah

      I whole heartily agree with this hub. As the author of children's story books, I have gone on a campaign to educated parents and care givers to the importance of reading, talking and playing with children opposed to using educational videos and talking toys. I feel I am waging a losing battle.

    • belliott profile image

      belliott 8 years ago

      I think what is being discovered about how babies learn and develop is very interesting. Great hub. Very informative. Thanks

    • cbris52 profile image

      cbris52 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing. Great Hub! Check out some of my hubs if you get a chance.

    • profile image

      Muralidhar 8 years ago

      Excellent and useful info -- all in one page kind of. Thank you.

    • Silver Poet profile image

      Silver Poet 8 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      Thank you for your article. I am always curious to learn more about this topic. I'd appreciate your opinion of my hub on a similar subject.

    • zyfwm profile image

      zyfwm 8 years ago

      Very informative with very useful information. I like

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 9 years ago from Massachusetts

      Excellent hub, Stacie. I think there are too many parents who either don't think much about "building a baby's brain" until the baby looks like he's old enough to "do something other than just lay there". Then, too, too few parents understand that future learning isn't about getting "academic learning" started early, but about "building a whole brain" that will later process information and "academically learn" quite naturally.

    • joyfulprosperity profile image

      joyfulprosperity 10 years ago from South Okanagan BC

      Great to see such an informative hub, great job!

    • Mystic Biscuit profile image

      Mystic Biscuit 10 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      Great hub, Stacie! :-) Very informative with very useful information.