Parents have a huge influence on their baby's brain development, and there are many positive things parents can do to help pēpi make strong brain connections.

A strong, loving relationship between baby and parents helps to set baby up for healthy brain development throughout life.

Understanding parents’ influence on baby’s brain

Advances in brain scanning technology have given us more knowledge of the brain and how it grows and develops.

Parents and whānau have an enormous influence on their baby’s brain development. Parents are responsible for building their baby’s brain – and they don’t need to be a scientist to do it.

Find out from whānau what they might already know about early brain development and help fill in any gaps or clarify information for them.

Ask whānau:

  • Where do you think parents can find out about a babies’ brain development?
  • How might you influence your baby’s brain growth?

Share some facts about babies’ brain development with parents and ask them what it could mean for them. For example:

Babies’ brains develop through nature and nurture.

  • Do you understand what that means?

Most brain development happens after birth.

  • What does that mean for you as parents?
  • What can you do to help baby’s brain grow?

A secure attachment relationship is a very powerful factor for healthy brain growth.

  • What helps to build a secure attachment?
  • What can you do to build a secure attachment with baby?

Strong connections in the brain tend to become lasting, and connections that are not used often may fade away.

  • How do you think connections are made strong?
  • What can you do to help make baby’s brain connections strong?

High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can be harmful to babies’ brain development.

  • What sorts of things might cause baby to become stressed?
  • What can you do to help calm baby when they’re stressed?

Helpful resources for whānau