Don’t Miss the Baby Boat

Did you know that babies at birth have more brain cells than stars in the Milky Way?  The nurturing interactions, stimulation and care that babies receive from parents and caregivers will determine which neural connections thrive and grow, and which wither away and die…thus charting a life-long course of brain development, attachment and bonding.

It is a dangerous myth that infants and very young children are spoiled by responding to their needs for attention and nurturing – children utterly need that attention and nurturing for survival and optimum development. Connection is one of the deepest of human needs and is the foundation for mental, physical and social health.

While parents and caregivers have a general understanding that what happens in a child’s early years can last a lifetime, too many don’t realize how soon age babies and toddlers can begin to feel complex emotions. They also don’t realize how deeply infants can be affected by the way parents and caregivers interact with them in the first months of life. A notable portion of parents and caregivers miss the mark by months, or even years!

The time of most rapid brain development occurs during the first 3 years.

A National Parent Survey shows some interesting information about what parents know, don’t know and would like to know.

Survey results show:

While 63% of parents identified the time of most rapid brain development correctly, more than 34% said that the time of most rapid brain growth is 3 to 5 years, a significant underestimation of the importance of the earliest years.

Parents and caregivers overall consistently underestimate just how early children can be affected by some critical experiences:

  • When asked at what age the quality of care has a long-term impact on a child’s development, 50% of parents said this begins at 6 months or older, when in fact it starts at birth; 57% of parents say this begins at 3 months or older.
  • When asked to identify the age at which children can begin to feel sad or fearful, 42% of parents say one year or older. In fact, this happens as early as 3-5 months. The majority of parents—59%—believe this begins at 6 months or older.
  • Nearly half of parents and caregivers think that reading to children starts to benefit long-term language development about a year and a half later than it actually does: 45% say the benefits start at 2 years or older. In reality, benefits begin at about 6 months.
  • 34% of parents believe that talking to children starts to benefit their language skills at a year old or later, when in fact it begins at birth. 63% of parents say the benefits of talking begin at 3 months or older.


In addition, about half of parents believe that children are capable of self-control and other developmental milestones much earlier than they actually are.  This mismatch of adult expectations and children’s ability can lead to frustration and stress for both children and adults, and is often the root of child maltreatment.

Studies show that:

  • 43% of parents think children can share and take turns with other children before age 2, and 71% believe children have this ability before age 3. In fact, this skill develops between 3 to 4 years.
  • 36% of parents surveyed said that children under age 2 have enough impulse control to resist the desire to do something forbidden, and 56% said this happens before age 3. In fact, most children are not able to master this until between 3.5 to 4 years of age.

To view the entire survey, please see:

For more information, classes and support for parents and caregivers please see:

Buffalo-Pepin Early Years Partnership facebook page at:

Parenting the Preschooler (also en Espanol)

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Or contact 608-685-6252 or 715-672-5214