Research on the brains of infants suggests that babies understand certain concepts before they can communicate them.
Babies have a lot on their minds
At birth, a baby's brain contains all the neurons necessary for a lifetime of learning - 100 to 200 billion brain cells. A baby is born ready to learn. However, brain development and a baby's capacity for learning is heavily dependent on early life experiences.
Connections need to be formed between a baby's neurons. These connections, called synapses, form critical pathways that permit information to travel through the brain. A child's capacity to learn is directly related to the number of pathways that are formed and strengthened. Talking and reading to babies helps brain neurons to connect. When a connection is used repeatedly in the early years it becomes permanent; those not used may perish.
Over the first year of life, a baby's brain more than doubles its size. During this time, the brain is preparing for future learning success by beginning to develop language skills and to understand cause and effect.
Research on the brains of infants suggests that babies understand certain concepts even before they can communicate them. For example, babies can count, remember previous events and can solve simple problems, such as manipulating a rattle to hear its soothing rhythm. Over time, babies recognize the faces and speech patterns of their caregivers, see colors and begin to distinguish between tastes. A baby's brain is working very hard to quickly process new sensory experiences and store that information for future use when they can talk, walk and interact with their environment.
The more experiences parents provide to their babies, the more opportunities babies have to permanently establish learning pathways in their brains.
Information about Brain Development:
A Guide to Executive Function
The ABCs of Baby Brain Development
20 Ways to Boost Your Baby's Brain Power
The Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington
The Harvard Center on the Developing Child
Harvard Family Research Project
National Scientific Council on the Developing Child
6 Game-Changing Research Initiatives (The Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences University of Washington)
Child Development Core Story (Center on the Developing Child Harvard University)
Three Core Concepts in Early Development (Center on the Developing Child Harvard University)
The Timing and Quality of Early Experiences Combine to Shape Brain Architecture (Center on the Developing Child Harvard University)
The Brain-Changing Power of Conversation (Harvard Graduate School of Education)
How Caregivers Can Boost Young Brains (Harvard Graduate School of Education)
InBrief: Executive Function (Center on the Developing Child Harvard University)
SERVE AND RETURN
Serve & Return Interaction Shapes Brain Circuitry (Center on the Developing Child Harvard University)
'Serve and Return' Interactions Key to Babies’ Brain Development (American Association for the Advancement of Science)
5 Steps for Brain-Building Serve and Return (Center on the Developing Child Harvard University)
Why baby talk is good for your baby (Washington Post)
Babbling babies – responding to one-on-one ‘baby talk’ – master more words (University of Washington)
Let's Talk (Harvard Graduate School of Education)
Parent’s Eye Contact During Playtime Can Extend Baby’s Attention Span: Simple Way To Improve Cognitive Development In Infancy (Medical Daily)
Scaffolding! 10 Ways to Stimulate Learning Through Play (Heart Mind Online)
Babies' Brain Responses to Touch Reveal Body Map (The Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences University of Washington)
A ‘touching sight’: How babies’ brains process touch builds foundations for learning (The Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences University of Washington)