The Surprising Brain Benefits of a Classic Childhood Game for Young Babies

Your grocery trips with baby aren’t only beneficial to feeding you all; they also promote cognitive development! Just play I Spy: “On our left we have green broccoli; can you spot it?” and start creating new links between cognition and real world objects.

As odd as it may seem to play tour guide to an infant while shopping at the supermarket, new research published in Trends in Neurosciences proves these little field trips are helping develop your baby’s brain. Led by Children’s National Health System researchers, this research links early interaction with stimulating and vibrant environments with stronger brain development long before infants are capable of verbally responding.

Vittorio Gallo, Ph.D, Chief Research Officer at Children’s National, noted in his press release, as an author: “By responding to environmental stimulations and strengthening myelin’s integrity over time, the brain responds by constantly strengthening motor and cognitive function and permitting children and adults alike to acquire new abilities while recording new memories.” This helps strengthen motor and cognitive function as well as enable children and adults alike to acquire new abilities as they build memories together with new memories being recorded into our memory banks.

Gallo’s research suggests parents who employ sensory quizzes instead of baby talk can help their infants connect language to their environment (“Look at those red tomatoes! “), thus developing an efficient neural network which will serve them throughout life.

Even once they have all the ingredients needed for feeding success at home, parents should continue stimulating baby’s brain by providing additional stimulation at home… Here are three more scientific-backed ways they can do just that…

  1. Provide Varying Toys–and Playmates
    Time plays an essential part of brain development for babies. Gallo and his team advise parents to expose children to different objects as well as give them opportunities for physical play with multiple partners if you want your baby’s brain volume increased. So consider inviting some friends for playdates if that would increase it further!
  2. Play Some Music
    Studies have demonstrated how exposure to tunes helps develop cognition, hearing and motor skills in children. Likewise, learning an instrument early helps increase white matter integrity and plasticity of brain. (Can I sign up for piano lessons?)
  3. Encourage Physical Activity Even for Crawling Toddlers
    Research indicates that one of the best things parents can do for developing baby brains is providing novel experiences and physical movement opportunities as soon as children reach a certain age.