A Baby’s Brain
The first few years matter most.
A healthy baby is born with all that’s needed for a happy and productive life.
Their little heads contain billions of brain cells eager to get to work, ready to develop the connections necessary for everything they will do – from the first cry to the first step, to the first class, to a lifetime of loving and socializing with others.
But no baby can do it alone. Loving contact with another human is essential. When a child receives love and care early on, their young brain develops at an astonishing rate.
The first few years matter most. A baby’s brain is so active during the first 36 months that as many as 1 million new neural connections are formed every second. In fact, 60% of a baby’s energy goes into brain development!
But healthy development only fully happens when a baby receives loving, one-on-one care. Responsive care.
A responsive caregiver looks a baby in the eye and smiles; the baby smiles back. The baby claps her hands and the caregiver copies the baby. The baby giggles. The baby plays peek-a-boo and, with every interaction, the baby’s brain connections are doing push-ups.
Human touch at this stage is also crucial. When a loving adult hugs the child, the child relaxes and feels safe. When an infant is held and stroked, the brain releases critical hormones that spur growth.
By the age of three, given loving care, the baby’s brain will have developed enough to enable the growing child to laugh, say words, manipulate objects, stand and walk, ask for things, respond to others.
But just as a child’s brain can flourish with attentive care, it can be harmed.
In the absence of attention and care, a child becomes stressed and toxic hormones are released which can have adverse health effects, creating developmental challenges, academic struggles and behavioral problems. Development can stall. Potential may be lost. The child’s ability to bond and attach to others will suffer.
Yet, because the human brain is so geared for growth and is remarkably resilient, a child can catch up if reached early enough. When given responsive care – loving contact, stimulation, gentle touch, the sound of the human voice – a neglected child can recover.
The brains of two 3 year-olds, one nurtured and one neglected.
At OneSky we see the potential in every child. And that’s why we have made it our mission to train caregivers – professionals and parents – in responsive care and early childhood education. So all children have the chance to thrive.