Sunday 26 January 2020

The science behind your baby’s remarkable development from 6-12 months

Baby brainpower just has to be marveled at.

In the first few years of life a massive 700 new neural connections are formed in a baby’s brain every second.

Young babies naturally reach out for attention and interaction with their gestures, cries, facial expressions and the adorable babbling that parents cannot get enough of.

At the age of 6 to 12 months, positive learning experiences and good constant interaction with adults can enhance a baby’s emotional, social, language and cognitive development.

So what’s the science behind your baby’s remarkable development from 6 to 12 months old?

The science of movement

From 6 to 12 months, babies have vast growth spurts and development, when they will start to sit up, crawl or lunge forward, pull themselves to a standing position, crawl around furniture and some may even start to walk. Each baby is different, however and all go at their own pace.

While they sleep, a baby’s brain works on connecting and rearranging its neuron networks in different ways to recall information, make associations and recognise patterns. Memories are being transferred to other parts of the brain and what they have learned during the day is being processed.

The science of speech

Hearing your baby’s first word is one of the most emotional moments of parenthood and from the initial babbling at around the 6 month mark, your baby is likely to start using a small range of words like ‘mama’ and ‘dada’.

From 6 to 12 months, the parts of a baby’s brain that recognise and differentiate sound are now becoming more tuned in and specialised to the main language that the baby is being brought up in. Even if babies don’t yet fully understand what you are saying, listening to you speaking will stimulate their learning processes.

The science of discovery

Initially at around 6 months, your baby will reach for things with a sweeping motion, before learning to pass objects from hand to hand. They will then move on to banging, dropping and throwing things. They will move on to picking things up with a pincer grasp and be able to show what they want with simple gestures at around one year. Some may even be able to scribble with a crayon, play pat-a-cake, put objects into a container or drink from a cup. Developing through play is a great way of helping them to learn, discover and respond.

Babies will often imitate you and the scientific reason for this is that the mirror neurons are firing in their brain. These are important for learning skills by imitation and understanding the intentions of people. Mirror neurons are key to memory, abstract thinking and controlling and planning actions.

When babies of 6 to 12 months watch an adult perform an action, their mirror neurons work to form new neuro-pathways, just as if they were actually doing the action themselves!

Efficient motor neuron activity can lead to better emotional intelligence in the future, so the more you allow your baby to imitate and interact with you face-to-face, the more they will learn!

Babies become even more sociable from 6 to 12 months and it can become a hugely rewarding time for parents. Your baby may be able to wave goodbye, imitate others activities, respond to their name and understand what ‘no’ means. They will enjoy observing other children and love being in their company even if they are just watching.

When parents and caregivers respond to a baby, connections between neurons continue to be built and strengthened and this helps with their social skills and communication.

Science aside, the key is to have fun with your baby and play with them with love and attention. The more sensitive and responsive that adults are with this back-and-forth relationship, the more it will benefit the baby.


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