The first 1000 days are very crucial for the cognitive development of a child. After birth, the baby will learn everything around him by looking. Within 3 months, the baby can maintain focus on moving objects. A baby girl tends to show a better response to sound and touch than a baby boy while a baby boy is keen on calculation and sharp on everything around him. As the brain develops, the baby will gradually develop his cognitive skills. For mothers and caregivers, the 8-10 month age is especially exciting since the baby begins to communicate with
The Process of Cognitive Development
- 4 weeks – the baby will respond to anyone who is in contact with him and will stop crying when someone holds him gently. He is capable of controlling face muscle to express feelings.
- 6 weeks – smiles and can stare at a moving object.
- 8 weeks – can move the head up, looks at multiple moving objects.
- 3 months – curious about everything around him, smiles back when someone talks to him
- 4 months – gets excited when being given breastfeeding, can turn his head when someone makes any sound.
- 5 months – can realize an anomaly, express anger and fear.
- 6 months – learns to look at a reflection of himself in the mirror, prefers certain foods over others.
- 8 months – can understand his name and learn the meaning of the word “no”, can sometimes speak a single word.
- 9 months – expresses his desire toward a specific toy, curious to know everything around him.
- 10 months – can understand basic conversation, wave and claps hand.
- 11 months – learns how to enjoy a basic game, use hand to throw an object on the floor and pick it up again, tends to shout or make loud noises, and likes to shake things to make a sound.
- 12 months – loves to make people laugh, spends much time staring at pictures in a book or TV, able to speak a few words such as shower, ball, drink, eat or hungry.
- 15 months – wants to do everything by himself such as comb his hair, very excited when learning a new skill, can understand a complex sentence.
- 18 months – starts communicating with people around him, can respond to basic instructions or orders such as grabs something, points pictures in a book, speaks out loud, and begins to understand his and other people’s body parts
- 21 months – learns to ask for help, can use a pencil to draw a line, can answer basic questions
- 2 years – learns how to play alone, can write basic alphabet such as A B C
Ways to Help your Child Improve Good Cognitive Development Skills
1. Speak with the baby during pregnancy period
You can read a book or even sing a song. It helps the baby inside the womb feel relaxed, bond with the mother and begin to experience the world. Talking to the unborn baby may feel odd at first but you’ll get used to it over time. In a meantime, you will begin to notice responses such as kicking. Gently rubbing your bump makes it a two-way communication
2. Eat wisely
During pregnancy, mothers need foods rich in minerals and vitamins for the optimal development of the baby’s brain function. Poor nutrition or malnutrition during pregnancy usually leads to long-term cognitive defects after birth. Vegetables, dairy products, proteins, fruits, and grains are some of the recommended groups of food for a healthy and smarter brain.
3. No alcoholic beverages
Despite endless research, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The best practice is to keep off from alcohol. Alcohol impairs cognitive development in unborn babies and results to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) including poor judgment and memory issues with socializing, attention deficits, and impulsive behavior. Psychiatrists have linked prenatal alcohol use to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression and alcohol and drug addiction.
4. Get a quality sleep, at least 7-8 hours a day
Women who sleep less than 6 hours a day during pregnancy usually experience longer labor period and are more likely to need caesarian section. Establishing good sleep patterns relieves the mother of physical and psychological stress. This translates to a more relaxed and baby who’s cognitive development is not interrupted.
5. Try to relax for quality pregnancy.
Yoga, massage, meditation, short walks and taking a rest from work are some of the best ways to relax during pregnancy. Lack of proper relaxation techniques accumulates stress and tension in your body, which is also experienced by the child. Stress negatively affects the cognitive development of your baby.
6. Feed the baby with breast milk for at least 6 months
A mother’s milk supplies the baby with all the nutrients they need to grow big and healthy. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six-months is recommended. It has been shown to prevent several infections and diseases including childhood cancers. If you are worried about passing on family allergies, you can quit breastfeeding at six months. Otherwise, it is advisable to breastfeed your baby for at least one year or more.
The first 1000 days of a baby’s life are essential for optimal cognitive development. It is especially necessary for mums to relax and observe good nutrition before and after birth. Overall, proper prenatal and post-natal care from the mother and other caregivers will help the child reach his full cognitive potential.