Many new parents find themselves babbling away to their newborn babies knowing that little ones can’t really understand what they are saying.
But a recent report says that talking, reading and even singing to very young children is an often overlooked part of a healthy child’s brain development.
According to William Mudd, D.O., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, it doesn’t matter if a child isn’t old enough to know what a parent is saying.
“They might not have that receptive language and really know what you’re saying, but even just smiling at them, giving them nonverbal cues, can help tremendously with development of cognitive ability as well as language,” he said.
Mudd said during the first 1,000 days of life, a child’s brain is developing at a rapid pace.
This is a critical time for developing visual skills, problem-solving skills, language and even math.
And the more talking, singing and reading that a child is exposed to, the stronger those brain connections grow.
Mudd said communicating with young children helps them build their relationship with their parents, which fosters learning, behavior skills, social skills and eventually school readiness.
He said reading is especially beneficial because it stimulates cognitive growth, and it doesn’t have to involve expensive gadgets or complicated educational tools.
“Play with your children often, every day,” Mudd said. “Try to work in a reading, every day. It doesn’t have to be reading a novel, just a simple three to five minutes; try to work it into your child’s bedtime routine.”
Previous studies have made associations between early talk and interaction within the first three years of life as an indicator of school-aged language and IQ, as well as social-emotional development.