Parenting Resource

A Million Reasons to Learn About Baby Brain Development

Jun 1, 2017

Brains grow faster during the first three years than at any other time.

Halfpoint / Shutterstock

Understanding some basic concepts about baby brains can better prepare parents for a child’s developmental milestones, nurture healthy growth and help them build strong, loving relationships with their child.

The latest research is clear: A child’s brain undergoes an amazing period of development from birth to three, producing more than a million neural connections each second.

The development of the brain is influenced by many factors, including a child’s relationships, experiences and environment. That’s why ZERO TO THREE has focused on the crucial role parents and caregivers play in building a baby’s brain for 40 years. For instance…

  • Even though about 100 billion neurons, or brain cells, have been produced at birth, newborns cannot respond to praise or punishment.
  • Holding a baby can support healthy brain development by offering “sensory nourishment” or “food” for the brain.
  • Research suggests a link between verbal intelligence and the number of words a baby hears in conversation in the first two years of life, so it’s never too early to talk, sing, tell stories and read to babies.

Understanding some basic concepts about baby brains can better prepare parents for a child’s developmental milestones, nurture healthy growth and help them build strong, loving relationships with their child. ZERO TO THREE knows that “brain science” can sound intimidating, so we break it down and make the information accessible and straightforward for parents and caregivers.

First, check out the interactive Baby Brain Map. It was adapted in 2006 by ZERO TO THREE from BrainWonders, a collaborative project between Boston University School of Medicine, Erikson Institute and ZERO TO THREE.

With a million neural connections being produced each second, baby brains change rapidly. There’s a big difference between the first two months of life and the span from 18 to 24 months, and that’s great news for parents! It means they have countless opportunities to support their child’s healthy development. Take a moment to browse through the Healthy Minds: Nurturing Your Child’s Development series of handouts to learn more.

Still have questions? That’s ok! We have answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Brain Development. Whether you’re wondering about the role of nature versus nurture or pondering the effect nutrition has on the developing brain, ZERO TO THREE has the answers.

Want to learn more about infant and toddler brain development? Visit zerotothree.org to find videos, podcasts and other great resources. Just click on “Explore Our Topics” at the top of the page and select “Brain Development.”