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Healthy Brain Development in Infants and Toddlers

Father reading to child to support healthy brain development

Healthy Brain Development in Infants and Toddlers

JoAnn Duffey
ECI Regional Manager

Have you ever heard that a child’s brain is like a sponge? They soak up everything that’s going on around them, even when parents and caregivers think a child is not paying attention. 90% of brain development and growth happens before kindergarten.

From birth to age 5 are crucial developmental years. Parents and caregivers must ensure positive interactions and opportunities through everyday experiences for healthy brain development. These early years are important in setting the foundation for who a child will become.

The brain is much more sensitive to experiences in the first few years of life than in later years. (Tierney & NELSON III, 2009)

Ways to ensure positive experiences for healthy brain development

  • Provide a safe environment – Children need to feel both physically safe and psychologically safe through consistency and predictability of their daily environment and routines.
  • Manage stress – Children will pick up on stress in their environments. This means that parents need to take care of themselves, too. It is difficult to care for your child if you are tired and stressed all the time.
  • Provide Love – There is no limit to the amount of love and affection you can give a child. Even if a child doesn’t remember the early years of snuggling with his/her parent, the brain does. The experiences leave impression for a lifetime.
  • Talk, play, read and sing – Talk to you child and explain the world around them, even before they can speak. Engage in play that your child enjoys, using books and songs to capture their attention.
  • Proper Nutrition – Providing children with a balanced diet of healthy whole foods will set the foundation for a healthy brain and support brain development. When a proper diet supports a healthy brain, children are typically calmer and more focused.
Brighton Center Child and Parent Smiling

“Brighton offers families hope, caring, understanding, education and every bit of it is 100% from their hearts. Our daughter has benefited from ALL of the services that Brighton has to offer. They have become like another family to us and they will always be a part of our lives.“

MARY RUDY, Lulu's Mom