Early brain development

The brain starts growing early in the womb. At birth, most of its messenger cells, called neurons, have been made but they need to connect more with each other. There is a lot happening in the brainstem, which controls baby’s survival functions. We can support positive connections by responding to baby’s needs quickly and in loving ways. Over the first year there is a lot happening in the cerebellum, which helps bub to balance and coordinate movements. We can support this growth by gently rocking and bouncing bub. In the second year more connections are forming in the limbic system, which controls emotions. The bond between bub and carers can grow stronger. As bub explores and returns, carers can help them learn to regulate their emotions. Little one can learn to get along with others more in the third year as the limbic system connects with the cerebral cortex, or thinking brain. The cerebral cortex helps little one talk, hold memories and pay attention longer. We can encourage its development by reading, telling stories and singing songs. Understanding how the brain grows helps us to support children’s developing abilities, giving them a great start.

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