Health, Parenting, Pregnancy & Baby, Stages, Toddler & Preschool

Parenting Corner – Aid and Impact Infant’s Brain Development 

January 1, 2021

The first year of life is a period of incredible growth and development.

A newborn’s brain is about one-quarter of its adult weight, and will double in size by the end of the first year. From good prenatal health care and nutrition to age-appropriate early experiences during infancy, the groundwork is being laid for lifelong learning.   

While genes provide the essential “hardware” for the development of brain circuitry, the interplay of genes and experiences ultimately shape who we become. During the first few years of life, the brain’s neurons make trillions of connections; some will be “pruned” due to lack of use, while other pathways are strengthened because of repeated interactions with the world.  

Can the parent-child relationship have a major impact on key developmental domains?  


For example, the amount of an infant’s babbling can be increased depending on how much adults respond by repeating the babbling back to the infant. Most importantly, if a parent provides a sense of safety and security for a baby, soothing and responsive interactions without being intrusive – using face, voice and touch – the foundation is laid for optimal development.   

Key Facts to Keep in Mind 

*Shape your parenting style to your baby’s temperament by observing them. Every baby is a little different and the first few months are about learning your baby’s personal style. Do they have “big” reactions to new things and people, or are responses milder? What soothes them when upset, and what is enjoyable? 

*As a parent, seek out support and nurture your own relationships. A caregiver’s emotional well-being can have a profound impact on a child’s development.   

And finally, some parents worry about their baby’s lack of interaction with others during the pandemic.  While babies enjoy interaction with others (and parents certainly benefit from the support), parents are still an infant’s most essential source of socialization. 

Lisa Phillips, MSW, LMSW, has been a parent educator at The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital since 2001 and is a regular contributor to the award-winning “Parenting Corner” column. She can be reached at 504.896.9591; 

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