How much does your baby’s brain grow in the first year? MH finds out...
WORDS REBECCA WONG
Does your heart skip a beat the first time you see your young one smiling back at you? That’s, in fact, a reflection of her brain being hard at work. “During the first or second month of birth, you see babies recognising familiar faces – that’s when the occipital lobe develops and vision becomes clearer,” explains Dr Furene Wang, associate consultant at National University Hospital’s Division of Paediatric Neurology. “In the beginning, they only see shadows and colours such as red and black, but vision starts to clear after the first month.”
Though infants can’t respond verbally, language development starts to kick in as well. They might even recognise familiar voices and smile in response – a clear sign of the development of the temporal area.
Stimulate Your Child’s Cognitive Development
With such rapid advancement just in the first few months, parents can stimulate their child’s cognitive development through play and conversation. “When learning, the brain forms connections called synapses,” observes Dr Wang. “Many synapses form in the first year of life, so the more stimulation you give a child, the more synapses are formed, and the denser the synapses become.”
The increase in synaptic connections contributes to a process called pruning, in which
the synapses become more refined. In fact, a child’s synaptic density at
two to three years of age may even reach that of an adult.
“Some mums also ask if a child can be educated even before birth, for example reading to a baby in the womb. Studies have shown that it may be helpful, but most are not conclusive. There’s no harm doing it though,” says Dr Wang.
Read this too!