During your baby's first year they show spectacular development. Their weight triples and height doubles!
But did you know that more significant growth is happening behind the scenes, in your baby's head? Their brain will create 2 million connections per second in the first 24 months of life!
The paediatrician, Philippe Grandesenne, author of "Bébé, raconte-moi tes premières fois"-"Baby tell me about your first times" (Bayard Culture) and "Bébé, dis-moi qui tu es"-"Baby, tell me who you are" (Marabout) describes in detail the key stages of this neural hyperactivity.
Is a baby born "as intelligent" as an adult?
Even though I have been working with young babies for several years, I am still fascinated to find that a baby potentially has all future mental faculties at birth and more! It is amusing to note that a newborn's brain has more neural connections than adults. This is what as known as innate skills.
For example, your baby is able to universally recognise all sounds whereas their mother tongue shapes their hearing and speech. They have automatic reflexes such as the grasping reflex, arm crossing or walking, only physically possible as of 8 months…
Their neural connections gradually regress to leave room for actual learning. My colleague neurologists call this "neural massacre", as if the brain needs to load itself in order to subsequently develop!
What is the role of education and learning?
In reality intelligence appears as soon as your baby begins learning new things and when they are able to adapt to new situations.
From then on, their psychomotor and emotional ability are defined by what is going on around them. Their brain "records" everything and nothing escapes their attention. With their awakened five senses and hearing their mother tongue spoken all day long, their brain gradually organizes itself.
It is the great quantity of information that is continuously "recorded" that structures the cerebral connections, via which your baby learns to talk, eat on their own, learns to toilet train and experience feelings and emotions. Such development is fascinating to study!
How can I help my baby develop, to coordinate their movements and to be more alert?
Simply by living with them, including them in home and family life. Everything we do fascinates them but I am not however in favour of overstimulation. If your baby wants a cuddle then give them one without worrying what others may think. Children develop at their own pace and parents must adapt to that! I often have to repeat this to parents that have overly normative values.
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