Brain Development for Babies from Conception to Age 3 Simplified
During your child’s developmental years, baby brain development plays a crucial role in his overall health.
Early on, a baby’s brain undergoes a rapid period of development from the moment he’s conceived to about three years old.
His learning skills will be influenced by many factors. That includes his relationship with you as his parents, his environment, and so on.
As parents, you too will have a vital part in making sure your baby gets the best childhood he deserves.
After reading this article, you will know:
- The basics of brain anatomy
- Baby brain development during pregnancy
- Baby brain development after birth
- Tips & advice to boost baby brain development
- And many more
An Overview of Brain Development
There’s a lot of elements that affect the growth of your child. Infant development encompasses physical, emotional, and psychological experiences.
He will need your full care and support to remain happy and healthy. So get ready to learn and teach your baby the things he needs to know.
After all, you are the ones who are capable of giving him the best life he can have as his family.
As such, one kind of child development you should familiarize yourself with is brain development.
So, on this page, we’ll explore:
Introduction to the Brain
Baby Brain Development Facts
- Baby brain development during pregnancy
- Baby brain development after birth
- Brain development in children
Tips & Advice to Help Boost Brain Development
- Top 5 activities for baby brain development
- Best foods for baby brain development
- Music for baby brain development
- Baby brain development toys
In simplest terms, the brain is the command center of the body’s nervous system. It is one of the most complex parts of the human body and is made up of billions of nerves.
To understand better how your baby’s brain develops, you should at least get to know the very basics of your own brain’s anatomy.
Parts of the Brain
Keep in mind that the extreme complexities of the brain, its parts, and its functions cannot be discussed in one sitting.
For the purposes of this discussion, you will only get the simplified explanations that while not complete, is enough to help you understand the brain better.
The brain can be divided into three major parts: the brain stem, cerebellum, and cerebrum.
The brain stem connects the brain to the spinal cord and is also in charge of most involuntary processes of the body like breathing and the beating of your heart.
The cerebellum is in charge of balance and coordination.
The largest part of the brain is the cerebrum which is in charge of what is called higher processes. These include memory and learning.
The cerebrum also has a vital part called the cerebral cortex, where most of your advanced processes like planning and decision-making take place.
The many sub-parts of the brain play a vital role in the overall development of your baby, from perception and bodily sensations to social understanding and spatial recognition.
Want a more in-depth tutorial on the brain, its parts, and functions? Check out this video:
When Does A Baby Develop A Brain?
A baby brain starts to form a few weeks after conception. But that’s not the only thing you could learn about the brain while it’s developing.
In fact, below are two tidbits of information that both new parents and experienced parents may want to learn more about.
A Baby’s Brain Has Additional Synapses
During the first three years of your baby’s life, he will have twice as many synapses as an adult.
Neurons communicate with one another at junctions called synapses. At a synapse, one neuron sends a message to a target neuron—another cell. – Khan Academy
From birth to about the age of three, your child’s brain will be undergoing major changes.
During his formative years, your baby will have more synapses because he will be processing in a lot of new experiences and skills.
Repeated experiences will strengthen synapse connections.
The strength of his synapse connections is vital because it affects how efficient your baby’s cognitive abilities become.
As he grows older, your baby’s brain will gradually lose some of its synapse connections and go back to the average amount that an adult has.
Genes Are Blueprints for the Brain
A factor that plays a vital role in the development of your baby’s brain is his genes.
His genetic makeup acts like the blueprint that neurons follow to find their correct locations.
In simplest terms, genes design the basic wiring of your baby’s brains.
Baby Brain Development During Pregnancy
Now that you know more about how your baby’s brain works, it’s time to learn how it actually develops while he’s still cooking in the bun.
The brain starts to appear during the first 8 weeks after conception, and it will continue to grow until the end of your pregnancy.
The very first development to happen is the creation of the neural tube which will continue to progress into the actual brain and the spinal cord.
Seven weeks after the conception, your baby’s brain will have its first neurons as well as synapses. At the same time, the fetus will also make its first moves.
At the beginning of the second trimester, the ridges of the brain called gyri and sulci begin to appear. It is also during this period when the cerebral cortex begins to thicken.
Myelination starts during this trimester and will continue until adolescence.
Myelin, a mixture of proteins and phospholipids, allow for faster processing of information.
By the third trimester, the cerebral cortex assumes most of the duties first taken on by the fledgling brain stem.
It also supports most of the early learning progress that happens during this time.
If you want to learn more about your baby’s progress inside Mommy’s womb, check out this article: Fetal Development Week by Week.
Baby Brain Development After Birth
The brain doesn’t stop developing after birth. The changes your baby’s brain goes under will continue to happen until he’s three years old.
As such, your baby’s brain plays a critical role in child development like talking, walking, as well as other physical activities and social connections.
One Year Old
A newborn baby’s brain abilities show how remarkable development can be. At birth, a newborn can already recognize Mommy’s voice.
In fact, studies show that your baby can even recognize some stories that you’ve told him while he’s still in the womb.
Another great progress is your baby’s eyesight. From a limited and dim sight, he will have crystal clear vision by the end of the year.
One other milestone that will happen during this year is your baby’s recognition skills. By this time, he will be able to recognize his home’s first language.
Two Year Old
The most significant development this year can be called a ‘vocabulary explosion.’ At two years old, your child still has twice as many synapses as a regular adult.
By this time, your child’s ability to perceive languages will have boomed. It’s not surprising if his vocabulary quadruples within the year.
Three Year Old
By three years old, cognitive abilities and learnings are at its peak.
Your child will have more grasp of past and present events, and can even connect both events together.
During this period, he will also understand cause-and-effect events.
Also, during this time activities like potty training should be started.
As your baby understand better if he peed on his pants, it will be wet and cause discomfort. So, he will need to ask for potty when he needs to pee.
Brain Development in Children
Now that you know that brain development in infants plays an essential role in their overall development, you need to make sure that you do everything you can to help boost it.
Here are five tips you might want to check out:
Attention is Important
Giving your baby your attention is vital to his journey. Your response to him provides him with crucial information about his surroundings.
New research into how babies learn reveals that the everyday, loving interaction with caregivers is what matters most. – Parents
Responding to your baby also boosts his confidence in communicating with you. So when he cries, comfort him. And when he does something right, praise him.
Why Your Child Needs Iron
Iron is a supplement that can help boost your baby’s brain development.
While breastfeeding, your baby might not reach his needed amount of iron, so you might need to give him supplements. Consult your pediatrician regarding this.
But if he’s already using a formula, make sure to buy an iron-fortified one to meet the requirement.
Be Patient with Repetition
Repetition is key to learning. Sure, it can be quite annoying and downright boring when your child asks you to do the same activity over and over again.
Just be patient. Repeating these activities allows your child to learn from it and retain valuable lessons.
Nap Time is a Must
Sleep is very much needed by babies, especially during his first few months. A baby can sleep about 12 to 18 hours a day.
Remember that he is processing a lot of information during his developmental year, and a nap is his way of relaxing his brain and refueling his energy.
Top 5 Activities for Baby Brain Development
Playing and interacting with your baby also plays an essential role in his development.
Having a routine in place can help ensure that you’re maximizing your days and providing him with much-needed activities to stimulate his senses.
It’s a scientific fact that when babies feel happy and secure they release a hormone, oxytocin, which acts like a fertiliser for their growing baby brains… – Bounty
Keep Eye Contact
Babies love making eye contact and can learn a lot of different things from this activity.
Your child will be able to learn how to focus on your face and follow where you look. He can also learn emotional cues just from maintaining eye contact.
Start Chatting with Your Baby
Another activity your baby loves to do is listening. Keep chatting with him and telling him stories throughout the day.
He’ll be actively listening, and trying to decipher what you’re telling him. Change the tones of your voice to keep him entertained.
Remember, that repetition is key to learn. So try speaking slowly and repeating words as much as you can to make them stick.
Create a Reading Routine
Cultivate a love for books early on in your child’s life. Introduce simple storybooks that have big and bright pictures.
Make sure to modulate your voice, keep changing tones, and repeating words to help him learn.
Don’t be bothered if your baby doesn’t talk for quite some time. That’s okay!
During the first few months, you’ll be developing how he receives and perceives language more than how he speaks it.
Have a Relaxing Spa Time
Babies can also feel stressed. A simple baby massage can help your child relax.
At the same time, massages can also make him feel emotionally secure which helps promotes growth.
Play Hand Games
Use your hands to play simple games, and show your baby the different ways to interact with what’s around him.
You can also use touch-based games and toys to help him learn and connect actions and their different outcomes.
Best Foods for Baby Brain Development
Your baby will benefit the most if your practice proper nutrition.
That means providing him with a well-balanced diet that gives him everything he needs for each day.
Being healthy and full allows your baby to focus more on learning rather than being hungry or feeling too tired.
Proper Nutrition Starts in Pregnancy
Caring for your baby doesn’t start once he’s out and about.
As a mom, you should make sure that you’re eating right when you’re pregnant.
Remember that what you eat is what baby also gets during this period.
That means whatever you ingest will have a direct effect on him, both negatively and positively.
Also, for babies, here are a few food types you can feed him:
- Fruits like strawberries, bananas, and avocados
- Vegetables like cooked carrots and sweet potatoes
- Dairy like pasteurized yogurt
- Meat like soft, cut pieces of beef, chicken, and fish
- Whole Grains like pasta and crackers
- Breast Milk or Infant Formula
Here are a few food types you should avoid:
- Fortified Cow’s Milk
- Honey (No honey for at least first year. Read this.)
- High-Sugar Food like ice cream and cookies
- High-Salt Food like canned foods and processed meats
Music for Baby Brain Development
Music is highly educational and therapeutic. Studies have shown that babies that went to participatory classes smile more often and communicate better.
You don’t need to go all out when it comes to providing your child with some music development.
You can sing songs together, bang on some instruments together, give him a rattle, and so on.
Want to know another way to incorporate music into your routine? Use a video like this for sleepy time:
Baby Brain Development Toys
One sure way to keep your baby entertained and still learning is to give him developmental toys.
Toys are fun to play with and can provide endless lessons and help with baby development for brain, motor skill and much more.
So here are a few recommendations to start out your baby’s first nursery:
1. Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube
Music development just became a whole lot easier. With the Mozart Magic Cube, your baby can already learn the sounds of 4 different musical instruments.
All he needs to do is press buttons to hear what they sound like. Or he can also listen to 8 classical masterpieces by Mozart. Both are equally enjoyable!
Not only that! Your baby will also be highly entertained by the bright colored lights that this cube puts out.
Its rounded corners make it safe for baby to play with as well.
2. Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether
This little toy may not look like much fun, but your baby will definitely be enjoying it especially when he starts teething.
This simple toy promotes essential skills like playing with two hands and grasping things all alone. It even rewards your baby with a pleasing rattling sound when he moves it around.
The simple gameplay and bright colors make it a great toy that has endless possibilities.
3. Lovevery The Play Gym
If you want to keep your baby active, it’s time to go to the gym. This one made by Lovevery has enough space for your baby to move around in.
He can learn to lift his head and reach for things. You can also teach him how to focus on certain toys, or encourage him to exercise his senses.
There are tons of different possibilities to explore with this very versatile mat, and all you need to do is try it out.
4. The First Years Stack Up Cups
This Stack Up Cups is a favorite among new parents, and who’d be surprised? For such an inexpensive set, you already get tons of play from it.
You can teach your baby how to recognize colors with the amazingly bright hues these cups have.
You can even practice his number recognition with the large numbers embossed on each cup.
You can also help him with his hand-eye coordination by helping him stack the cups on top of each other.
Plus, these cups can also be used for water play!
5. LAMAZE My First Fishbowl Toy
Not only is this set super cute, but it also allows your baby to experience different textures and hear different sounds.
This simple set provides an avenue to develop his auditory, tactile, visual, as well as fine and gross motor skills all in one.
Each brightly patterned sea creature feels different and produces a distinct sound that is both entertaining and enlightening for your baby.
Want something for your one-year-old or two-year-old? Check these toys out:
6. Melissa & Doug Chomp and Clack Alligator Push Toy
7. My First Crayola Palm Grip Egg Crayons