For a first time parent or new parent, this is the most confusing moment in parenting history. The African and Nigerian communal system of living understood the power of the first 1000 days and makes it easier as it permits the “omugwo” phase; whereby you have guidelines from grandmothers and people with older parenting experiences to calm your nerves and teach you.
However, the power in the first 1000 days cannot be overestimated and you should have every minute detail of that. Read on…
The most important interaction you can have with your baby is through play. Building the baby’s brain at this stage is the most important.
The experiences your baby has as well as the relationships they have with the important people at this stage shapes the development of their brain.
It is not possible to overestimate the importance of the early years.
Serve and return
Yes, this is a term used in child development. The most important thing any parent can do to support the development of the baby’s brain is to get to know your child, yes she is a child but you can get to know your child. You can engage with the child through “serve and return interaction”. A first attempt is not usually successful but you get better with practice at this. A baby serves a smile or coo and the parent or adult returns it, a response connected to what the baby is doing. A smile while changing diapers, return it with the same energy, a babble, return it. When you return it, you affirm that interaction. It goes both ways, remember it must not work the first time you try it but with consistency you get it
For children, play is discovery, an answer to curiosity and an act of development towards a sense of mastery. A lot of play is in the “serve and return” category. It is easy, friendly, relaxing. Play does not have to be huge and complex, there are opportunities; when you are bathing the child, feeding the child, changing diapers, through the struggles of changing outfits… Look your baby in the eyes, laugh… you are building brain circuits. The baby keeps laughing because the baby enjoys doing it. Discover what your baby likes doing, the baby enjoys it because it has been mastered and the advantage is that it is helping to build the child’s brain.
Breast milk is the perfect nutrition for brain development. The worry of child nutrition comes into play after weaning. All necessary nutrients for a baby’s development are otherwise contained in the breast milk. It contains a variety of nutrients and proteins—as well as growth factors and hormones that cannot be replicated in infant formula—that are vital to a baby’s brain development. Further research and numerous studies have shown that babies who are breastfed perform better in intelligence tests and have higher IQs scores as children and teens.
Personal interaction is very important
Breastfeeding involves a great deal of mother-to-child touch and nurturing interaction. It also plays an important role in strengthening a baby’s sensory and emotional circuitry; which are critical for both cognitive and socio-emotional development.
In early childhood, the brain is busy forming connections that allow brain cells to communicate with one another, including connections in the brain’s language areas.
Interaction is the mighty power of the first 1000 days.