Baby's First Year · Parenting · Pregnancy

Baby’s brain development

mom holding baby face to face smiling

Have you ever wondered about how your baby’s brain develops?  Well, science tells us that the experiences we have in the first few years of our life affect how our brains get built and that this early brain development impacts our health later in life.  These impacts can be positive or negative. 

But how does brain development early in life impact your health later on?

And how can you build your baby’s brain to increase their chance of having good physical and emotional health later on?

These questions can’t be answered in one blog post, so this will be a four part series on brain development:

  • Part One: How the brain develops
  • Part Two: How to build better brains
  • Part Three: The impact of early life experiences on the brain
  • Part Four: Building Resilience

How the brain develops:

Illustration of people on scaffold posting images on a brain
Source: Alberta Family Wellness
  • Brain development begins in the first few weeks of pregnancy and continues until your are in your mid-20s.
  • Brains are built in stages.  Different parts of the brain grow and mature at different rates.
  • A lot of brain development happens during pregnancy and in the first few years of life.
  • The brain is completely formed at birth and contains billions of brain cells but it is only ¼ of the size of an adult’s brain.
  • Connections must form between the brain cells to let them share information with each other. Simple connections form first and and then more complicated connections form.
  • These connections let us understand information from our environment – every thought, feeling and action we have comes from our brain.
  • These connections make it possible for a child to grow, think and learn.   
  • Connections are formed in the early years through everyday experiences and relationships.
  • The connections that get used the most become strong. The more often an experience happens, the stronger the connection.
  • The connections that are not used get “pruned” or removed throughout childhood.
  • Experiences in childhood impact which connections get used and which connections get pruned.

Just like a house needs a strong foundation to support the walls and roof, brains needs a good base to support all future development.  The early years of a child’s life are critical to form a good, strong foundation for future brain development and positive physical and emotional health later in life.   

Watch this video to learn more about brain development:

Experiences Build Brain Architecture. Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

To build better futures, we need to build better brains!

Now that you know how brains are built, watch for Part 2 to find out how to build better brains.

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