Your little miracle is born with a brain that is still in the process of developing, and you get to play a major role in nurturing that development. Here’s why . . .

At birth, your child’s brain is actually unfinished—particularly the higher brain, which is the newest part of the brain. Part of the unfinished business relates to your baby’s brain cells.

Your baby is born with about 200 billion brain cells, and these special cells will eventually make connections. At birth, very few connections exist between the cells in the higher brain. The connections made between brain cells occurs as a consequence of your child’s experiences. As your child experiences the world, key connections—the connections used most often—are strengthened. Unneeded and underused brain cells are pruned away.

By the age of one, your child will have already lost about 80 billion brain cells. You can see that the brain starts to form connections and prune cells at a rapid rate during early childhood. In fact, 90 percent of your child’s brain development occurs in the first five years of his or her little life.

During these important five years, your child’s experiences will directly affect the millions of brain cell connections formed, unformed, reformed, and pruned. Your child’s brain develops directly from his or her experiences with the world and in particular from his or her emotional experiences with you. Emotional experiences and interactions are important to brain development because emotion serves as a central organizing process in the brain.

Parenting sounds like a lot of responsibility—and it is. Parenting is also great fun and full of rewards. Remember that the millions of heartfelt connections that you will have with your child—and the brain cell connections that are made—will include loads of fun and play!