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Are you contributing to the “cradle to prison pipeline”?

Daseta Gray | 2/19/2014, 10:09 a.m.

You are pregnant but it was not planned however you have made a decision to have the baby. You are a little scared and nervous. You are still continuing with behaviors that you did when you were not expecting a baby. You are living in a stressful situation and your fetus is being stressed.

Research tells us that the neural circuits for handling stress are vulnerable during the fetal stage and early childhood education periods. Early experiences shape how quickly these neural circuits will be activated and how well they can be turned off. This circuit starts in the retina, and synapses first at the lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus and then at the primary visual cortex. The neural circuits function just like the electrical box; if one wire is missing or disconnected it throws off the entire system. Brain Development is no different.

Neurons are the basic material of the brain. These cells are responsible for communicating messages in the brain and from the brain to the rest of your body. This is also called synapses development. When the neurons are not used, the synapse connections decrease. It is very important for you to stimulate your infant. One way to do this is by repetition of sensory experiences. You must interact with your infants in order to help their brain development. You should provide sensory activities for your infants/toddlers, any activity that promotes awareness of one or more of the five senses: hearing, smelling, seeing, speaking and feeling (touching).

You can do the following to help brain development in your infant, these are all sensory experiences:

  • Play children’s music for your infant/toddler
  • Play multicultural music for your infant/toddler
  • When your infant/toddler points to an object you should name it
  • Take your infant/toddler to different places
  • Be gentle with your infant/toddler

Giving your infants many experiences helps your infant’s brain to develop. Here are a few sensory activities that you can do at home:

  • For you can put dry beans in a bottle and shake it for your baby when she is old enough she can shake. You should add different items to the bottle and discuss how the sounds are different.
  • You can put ice in a bowl and have your infant/toddler play with it, while you ask how does it feel .That is cold you are giving your child language.
  • You should be reading books that are age appropriate to your baby
  • Talk with your baby (not gibberish use whole language)
  • Identify different shapes such as, the television is a square; the door is a rectangle; the toilet bowl is a circle; your pots are also circles, I am sure that you get the idea.
  • Do not leave your baby/infant in front of the television
  • You should also have age appropriate books available for your baby/infant to read on their own
  • Purchase developmental toys for your baby(toys they can interact with)
  • Purchase open ended toys (e.g. Leggos, play dough, sand, etc.)
  • Name your baby’s body parts when you are giving her a bath
  • Name the color clothing while you are dressing your baby
  • Give your baby an empty card board box for her to discover introduce the concept of in and out