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Brain Research
Babies are Born Learning
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During the first three years of life, the brain is forming connections that may determine a lifetime of skills and potential.  Parents and caregivers can have a long-lasting impact. 
 
Below are some simple things your child wants you to do to help boost his/her brain power.
  • Warm, Responsive Care...  Talk with me, hug me, attend to my needs.  Smile at me and make me feel secure.  Routines and rituals are important for my development.
  • Loving Touch...  Cuddle me, cradle me, hold me close.  Let me know that I am loved.  Hugs help me learn to trust and handle stress, now and when I’m grown.
  • Talk...  My brain is making connections from what I hear you say.  So, while we’re together – at home, in the store, in the care – tell me what we’re doing and seeing.  Your words help me learn.

Environment
Environment
  • Safe, Healthy Environment...  Make sure I eat a variety of good foods, have regular checkups and my immunizations are current.  Provide a save environment for me to explore.  During my first year, put me to sleep on my back.
  • Quality Child Care...  Make sure my caregiver loves me and responds to me.  Check to see that my surroundings are safe, bright and happy.  Be sure my caregiver is well-trained and understands my developmental needs.
  • Teach Limits with Love...  I learn by seeing and doing but need limits to make me feel safe and secure.  Give me limits that teach – and expect me to test them!
  • Take Care of Yourself...  When you feel tired or upset, it’s harder for you to meet my needs.  Reach out to friends and family for support, but never hurt or shake me.

Stimulating Activities
Stimulating Activities
  • Play...   is how I discover the world.  Lots of interaction and exploration help my brain form connections that make learning easier.  Limit my TV time; watch with me and talk with me to help me understand what I’m seeing.
  • Music...  Sing lullabies and simple rhymes with me.  Play music for me.  Music forms pathways in my brain that can help me understand math and improve my thinking skills.
  • Read...  Read books with lots of pictures to me.  Don’t worry if I want the same book read over and over again.  Repetition is how I learn.  Read to me often and I will learn to love reading forever.

Healthy Brain Development
 
 
 Baby
Birth - 12 Months
 Toddler
1 - 3 Years
 Preschooler
3 - 5 Years
 Play
Listen for sounds in the world around you.
 
Point to objects and imitate their sounds.
 
Look into your baby´s eyes while making silly faces.
Imitation and repetition help your child learn.  Give toddlers real life things to play with - pots, spoons, plastic plates.  Play Pat-A-Cake and This Little Piggy.
 
Dumping and filling is a favorite.  Let your child fill pots and buckets with safe* things:  blocks, spoons, balls, etc.  Dump them out and do it again.
Give your child dress-up clothes, hats adn shoes for pretend play and using his or her imagination.
 
Sing sons and make silly motions to the songs.
 Read
Read to your baby.  It´s never to early to start.
 
Point out familiar objects when reading.
Read to your toddler every day!  Be ready to read the same story again and again.
 
Fill a big basket with 5-10 sturdy picture books that your toddler can go to at any time.
Read daily with your child.  Take your child to the library or a bookstore.
 
Let your child tell you about the story.  Ask questions such as "What do you think will happen next?"
 Talk
Talk to your baby.  Use different tones of voice: high, low, soothing and laughing.
 
Hold your baby in front of a mirror.  Point out your noses, mouths, eyes, etc. while naming them.
Ask questions that can´t be answered with yes or no.  Try this while putting your child in a car seat.  Ask, "Why do we buckle up?" ("To be safe, because we love you...")
 
Say what you see throughout the day - while driving, walking or shopping.  Let your child repeat your words.
Play word games that use new words and teach ideas such as opposites (hot/cold) or rhyming (hat/cat).
 
Tell stories with your child.  Enjoy your child as a person.
 Listen
Attend to your baby´s needs.  Soothe your baby.  Listen for your baby´s sounds and repeat them to your baby.
Be patient.  Your toddler is just learning to talk.   Listen for basic words adn do your best to understand.
 
Build on your toddler´s words.  When your child points to a ball and says "Ba" respond with "Yes, that´s the red ball. Want to play?"
Listen from your child´s eye level to what he or she is saying.
 
Help your child use words to talk about feelings, instead of pointing, crying or hitting.
 Respect
Introduce your baby to others as you would any person.
 
Tell your baby what is about to happen, like "pick up," "take a bath," "change diaper," "eat lunch," or "put in car seat").
Offer toddlers simple choices like, "Do you want milk or juice?" "Apples or oranges?" "Do you want to sit next to sister or uncle?"
 
Let toddlers do things for themselves within a safe range, like choosing clothes, dressing and washing face and hands.
Offer honest priase for efforts and new skills, helping your child to think for him/herself.
 
Let your child take on responsibilities like picking up toys, sorting laundry or setting the table.
 
*Place object into toilet paper roll.  If it falls through, it is a choking hazard to children younger than 3 years old.
 
 
Oregon ’s Child: Everyone’s Business
is a statewide collaboration of public and private partners working to increase awareness about the importance of healthy brain development during the early years of life.  For more information, contact the Oregon Commission on Children and Families at (503) 373-1283
Special thanks for sharing resources to:
Washington State Department of Social & Health Services
Washington State BrainNet
VOICES for Alabama ’s Children
Colorado Children’s Campaign