Learning through play

Why Is Early Years Learning SO Important?…..

“Over 80% of brain development occurs within the first three years”

Playing with your baby and exposing them to stimulation and new experience is crucial in supporting healthy brain development.

Your baby is born with over one million neurons (nerve cells in the brain). Play, new experiences and stimulation will help to provide opportunities to shape and create neuron pathways, which will build a foundation for future learning, health, and success.

As the brain is developing, each experience, interaction, sound, texture, and sensation will support the development of a neuron pathway. Creating a blueprint, an underlying knowledge or understanding from that experience.

For example, if a baby is exposed to music, neuron pathways, supporting their understanding of music, rhythm, patterns and so forth will be formed, therefore setting a foundation for a future understanding or appreciation of music.

This is not to say that if a baby is never exposed to music, that they will NEVER understand or appreciate music, but it may mean that they struggle and perhaps do not grasp or understand music as quickly as those babies that have.

These images have been shared by Professor Bruce Perry from Texas Children’s Hospital.

The images are upsetting to see; however, they clearly demonstrate the impact of early years neglect on brain development.

  • The scans show the brains of two toddlers who are the same age – one is significantly larger and more developed than the other
  • The larger brain is a healthy 3-year-old brought up in a nurturing environment
  • The other shows a smaller brain which is of child who’s suffered extreme neglect

Please remember, these are extreme images, demonstrating the effect of EXTREME neglect however, they are powerful to demonstrate the importance of early years stimulation.

There have been many studies and research around these findings and how early years neglect can delay and/or reduce brain development.

Neglect can be that, quite simply a baby is continually ignored. Their basic need for human interaction is neglected.

Harvard refer to a social interaction called “serve and return”.

Serve and return is built into our human biology. It is the need for babies to have a responsive interaction with adults. The baby’s brain expects to get input from adults and those around us, and as they do, it is shaping the architecture of the brain.

An example;Serve and return

Serve = A giggle, banging a table, pointing, gabble and making noises

Return = A parents notices and responds – Laughs with the baby, looks where they are pointing, talks back etc

This is an essential and fundamental ingredient to the development of the brain.

When a baby “serves” and does not receive a return, stress hormones are released.

Harvard University have put together some of their findings on how the varying levels of neglect impact future learning, development and emotional well being.

For the most of us, our daily lives will mean that our little ones may experience “occasional inattention”.

However, it is reassuring to know that this can has a positive effect on early development.

Occasional inattention may be the moments when you have gone to the toilet, or wiping up a spillage etc, a time when you can not respond to your baby. Yet, it is for a short period and from within an otherwise responsive environment.

Occasional inattention can encourage your baby to develop their problem-solving skills, develop a sense of self and understand, that although you go away, you always come back – which develops confidence and personal growth.

So…with the understanding of how important early years learning is to support health brain development, and how much of the brain is developed within the first 3 years, what can we do to maximise and expose our babies to as much learning and sensory stimulation?

Play and new experience will all support your baby’s brain development, encouraging and supporting your baby as they learn about the world around us.

At Natural Baby Box our aim is to support you, as a parent as your encourage your baby’s development and learning journey. 

We offer encouragement and support on how to nurture your baby’s sensory, cognitive and motor development.  Tip’s on how to enjoy the products and have fun learning with your baby.

Our developmental play boxes all include a detailed information booklet packed full of useful information around your baby’s unique developmental stage and how to support them.

Click here to view our play boxes and begin your journey of learning through play with your baby.


Enjoy the journey! 

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