BABBLING TO BABIES BOOSTS THEIR BRAINS!

The more parents talk to their children, from birth, the faster those children’s vocabularies grow and the better their intelligence develops.

This may seem obvious to many parents, but it is now proved through scientific research and the effects can be directly seen in brain imaging of the parts of the brain involved in processing language. Babies are born with about 100 billion neurons and connections between these form at an exponentially rising rate in the first years of life. It is the pattern of these connections which determines how well the brain works and what it learns. Baby’s experiences, including language, shape the brain and by the time baby is three, there will be about 1 000 trillion connections in the brain and that child’s experiences continuously determine which brain connections are strengthened and which are pruned or fall away because they are not used. Researchers have found a close correlation between the number of words a child’s parents had spoken to him by age three and his academic success at age nine!

And the brain development that takes place is cumulative. The more children know and understand, the faster they are able to learn and understand even more!

So you can understand what a critically important role parents and caregivers play in shaping their little ones’ lives (and brains) and setting them up for success. In the womb, babies start hearing in the last trimester (last 3 months) of pregnancy and research shows that at birth they can already recognise mum’s voice. Although babies cannot speak and understand at birth, the words and language they hear lay the foundation for their own language development and understanding of their world. Research also shows that these words and this language need to be spoken directly to the child in the context of a loving relationship. Plonking baby in front of TV or near a radio is not going to develop your child’s language!

And it’s so easy to do in the routine of your daily life. Chat to your baby as you feed or bath him or change her nappy. Tell her what you are doing. Show him things and name them. Chant rhymes, sing to her and tell him stories from the time he’s born. Bathe him in your gentle and loving language. As she starts making sounds, babble back to her. Play with the sounds you and your baby can make. And before your baby turns one, you will more than likely be rewarded with baby’s first word! Remember baby can understand far more than she can say. Once baby starts understanding and using words, his language will explode and this is such an exciting time for parents and caregivers as you see your little one’s understanding and learning growing daily.

It really makes you understand that your baby’s early years are the most important years of life as they lay the foundation for his or her future! And you have an important role in building a strong foundation!

LOVE, PLAY TALK

Learn more about what you can do to change your child’s future by listening weekly to LOVE, PLAY TALK, the radio programme on Nkomazi FM aired EVERY Thursday from 11 to 11.30am and brought to you by Ilifa Labantwana and RCL FOODS. Each week Nkomazi FM hosts a guest speaker to deal with a different topic to support you, the parent of a young child, give your child the best start in life. The LOVE, PLAY, TALK radio programme is part of the RCL FOODS sponsored LEAVE NO YOUNG CHILD BEHIND early childhood development initiative in Nkomazi Wards 16 and 19 that aims to ensure every young child in these wards has access to improved quality of essential services so that they get the very best start in life. And you, the parent, have a critically important role to play!

Get more information from the Nkomazi FM website www.nkomazifm.co.za or the Ilifa Labantwana website www.ilifalabantwana.co.za . Do listen every week and give your little one the best start in life!

PAM PICKEN

EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST

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