5 Most Important Things to Do in
a Child's First 2 Years.
Dr Kathie Nunley, 2017
first two years of a child's life may be the most important,
in terms of brain development. At no point in his or her life
will there be a better opportunity to affect brain structure
and function. Every parent and caregiver wants to do what's
best, but doesn't often know exactly what that is. It's as simple
as remembering that the brain is affected by three things: external
stimulation, nutrition and internal chemistry. Here are my top
five suggestions for things you can do to give a young child
the best start in life.
on language. The number one predictor of a child's success in
school is the richness of their vocabulary by the age of 3.
So talk to your child. Use your big words. Point things out
as you move about the world with her. Real life, face-to-face
human interaction. If you and your spouse or partner have different
native languages, each of you use your native language when
talking to the child. Bi-lingualism is a wonderful asset for
avoid television and other visual electronic media (yes, this
includes your smartphone). The reticular activating region of
the brain, located in the base of the brain, can be over-stimulated
by visual electronics during the first 24 months. This brain
region is responsible for attention span. Allow it to develop
normally, by avoiding visual electronics.
Mother's milk is best. The natural fats in breast milk help
speed myelination of the central nervous system. Myelin is the
fatty covering that develops on nerves as a child develops.
The faster the nerves myelinate, the faster information can
travel and the more information that can reach the brain from
the peripheral nervous sytem. If nursing isn't possible or when
you do start your child on other foods, remember to include
plenty of natural fats in his diet for good brain health.
Let your child sleep in total darkness and total quiet. The
retina of the eye needs a significant amount of total darkness
for proper development. Lights in the nursery, even nightlights,
can disrupt proper retina development and increase the liklihood
that your son or daughter will be nearsighted. Quiet is important
for the brain maintanance that occurs during sleep. Babies need
lots and lots of sleep in order to process what's been going
on in their wake hours, and let their brains prune and branch
appropriately. Backgroud noise from a radio, music maker or
television disrupts this brain processing.
Touch your child. Skin-to-skin contact is critical for healthy
nervous system development in a child. Children who are not
touched, do not thrive. Make sure you touch your child as much
as possible. Face, arms, legs, etc. Insist that all caregivers
hold them while feeding. Let your child experience a variety
of tactile stimulation as well. Let them feel soft things, furry
things, rough sand, cool grass, etc.
brain develops more in the first two years than any other time
period. Take advantage of this critical time period by provides
lots of human, real world interactions followed by plenty of
dark, quiet sleep periods, for the best start in life.