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5 Reasons Why Child Development Is Important

Updated: Jul 21

Humans aren't born as adults. We start as tiny helpless creatures and grow over the course of 21 years to become adults.

Child Development is important to manage in babies
80% of the brain is developed in the first 1000 days from birth

This window of time is called "child development". Experiences that happen during this period provide the building blocks for a successful life. The process is quite ironic. Adults often can’t remember the details of early childhood. Yet it is these first experiences that shape who you are the most. Here are five reasons why you should pay attention to your child’s development:




Experiences build connections in the brain
Children exposed to enriched environments have 25% more brain growth

#1 BRAIN GROWTH

Unfortunately, your brain doesn't grow every time you read a textbook. Brain growth begins before birth and hits a peak around the third year of life. 80% of the brain is developed during this time. According to information from UNICEF, “Children’s brains are built, moment by moment, as they interact with their environments.” Additionally, neurological research shows that "In the first few years of life, more than one million neural connections are formed each second – a pace never repeated again.”(1) Neurons are responsible for sending and receiving signals in the brain. As young brains develop, the neurons branch out like a growing tree. Early childhood provides a window of opportunity. This potential for new connections makes development even more important in the early years.



Parents can enhance this learning by providing positive sensory experiences.
Babies use their senses to learn about and explore their environment.

#2 INTERACTIONS WITH OTHERS AND THE WORLD


Imagine how overwhelming all the competing senses might be to a baby. Every day they might hear or see something new. Young minds run into new stimuli constantly. Such as watching a parent appear, disappear, and reappear in a game of peekaboo. Or maybe listening to an older sibling's band play in the garage. Through these interactions, children pick up information about the world. These stimuli can come from anywhere, from adult figures to even popular culture. How a child reacts to their environment affects how they develop. Like wet clay, the brain in early childhood is easily shaped by these interactions with the world.



Brain connections: "Use it or Lose it"
Around 3 years of age, the brain begins to prune connections that are not being used.

#3 LIFE IN ADULTHOOD


Research shows that the first 1000 days of life help set the tone for the remainder of a child’s life. A baby’s brain’s ability to create new pathways is incredibly strong in the first years of life. As time passes, these established pathways repeat and become more efficient. According to a research report from Harvard, “Connections proliferate and prune in a prescribed order, with later, more complex brain circuits built upon earlier, simpler circuits.”(2) Put simply, the very first experiences that a baby has lays the ground work for their life long understanding of the world and how to interact with it. An analogy for this would be like creating a path through a forest. Initially, you find your way around by making dirt trails. Eventually, these connections become easier and turn into roads. By the time you reach adulthood, there are highways built off of those initial pathways formed early on.



Baby's brains process a lot of information that they receive through their senses.
The brain’s capacity for change decreases with age.

#4 CONNECTIONS BETWEEN DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEVELOPMENT


Children develop in all sorts of different ways. From learning to walk to learning to talk, the two require very different skills. An important aspect of childhood development is balance. Babies learning to walk would agree that balance is invaluable, but this type of balance refers to being able to process a lot of sensory information at once. Babies are great multitaskers. They constantly have to think, feel, sense, behave, and grow, representing the different aspects of child development. Through observation and interaction, they learn how to move their bodies, communicate with others, manage their emotions and impulses, solve problems, as well as recognize people and objects, name them, and understand facts about them. The well-being of each of these areas of development is dependent on the others. This balancing act ensures lifelong learning, acting as a foundation for future success.


Do you know if your baby is developmentally on track?
There are 812 milestones from birth to 4 years of age.

#5 RED FLAG AWARENESS


Understanding when developmental milestones should be achieved and what to do if they are not helps to ensure healthy development for your child. CDC’s Child Development Basics suggests, “If your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or if you think there could be a problem with your child’s development, talk with your child’s doctor and share your concerns.”(3) Recognizing red flags that your child's development could be delayed can help you get in front of the issues and help to correct them before they have a lifelong effect. If you’ve played Soccer then you know that red flags aren’t a good thing. It’s important to address these concerns while the brain is still growing and developing.



Sources:

1.“Early Childhood Development.” UNICEF, https://www.unicef.org/early-childhood-development

2.“Inbrief: The Science of Early Childhood Development.” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 29 Oct. 2020, https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/inbrief-science-of-ecd/

3.“Child Development Basics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 Sept. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/facts.html


 

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