Baby Brain: Determining Intelligence, Brain Stimulation and Waking up Brain Cells

Baby brain has finished growing 80% of its cells by age three, thus how your child spends this time will have a decisive impact on your child's intelligence. Here, we will discuss the best ways to stimulate your baby's brain.

What Determines Intelligence (Baby rain)

The most crucial of all organs in the human body is the brain. That includes the baby's brain of course. This organ is the highest nerve center which governs all of human being’s activities, from the heartbeat to sophisticated thoughts and emotions.

Despite its importance, it is a very small organ. It weighs a mere 1.5kg, with a volume that is no more than that of a newspaper. 

The brain's main sources of energy are oxygen and glucose. It also has a much higher caloric consumption compared to other organs, taking more than 20% of total caloric intake.

The Structure of the Brain

baby brain

Our brain can be roughly divided into three areas: the cortical forebrain, the information center of the midbrain, and the hindbrain, which governs vital functions.


The forebrain can be further divided into the cerebrum and the brainstem.


Hindbrain, on the other hand, consists of the cerebellum, medulla, spinal cord and pons. The cerebrum develops latest among the parts of the brain. It occupies most the space, and is formed from right and left hemispheres. Meanwhile, the cerebellum can also be divided into left and right. Its surface is covered with numerous horizontal channels. This organ keeps the body balanced and upright.


Whereas the midbrain is responsible for eyeball movement, iris contraction, and other eye-related activity. In addition, it manages hormone secretion, regulates body temperature, and controls appetite, among other things. The brainstem, found between the cerebrum and the cerebellum, almost acts like an inspection station for all the senses. All sensory information passes through the brainstem before moving to the sense organs.

In the hindbrain, the medulla regulates heartrate, breathing, digestion and other necessary vital functions. That's why injuries to the cerebrum and cerebellum are not fatal, but damage to the medulla leads to brain death and is fatal. The lowest extent of the brain is the spinal cord, the throughway of the nerves for movement, sensation and self-regulation. Lastly is the pons, which is situated between the midbrain and the medulla, and acts as the bridge between these organs.

Voluminous Part of the Brain

Most of the space occupied by the brain is taken up by the cerebrum, which is divided into left and right hemispheres. The two hemispheres are joined by the corpus callosum, forming a coordinated neural system. A layer of neurons 0.3cm thick forms, creases and soon becomes the neural cortex.

The concentration of some 1.4 billion neurons form winding shapes, giving the appearance of jagged canal channels. Using a number of the coarser channels as reference points, the cerebrum can be divided into three. They are the frontal, parietal, occipital and two temporal lobes.

The widest part of the frontal lobe is responsible for abstract thought and language, and can be said to have some relationship to human sociality.

During brain activity, the frontal lobe serves the additional purposes of accessing memory and other information stored in the brain. Impediments to the frontal lobe can lead to mental illness.

The parietal lobe is capable of synthesizing information from the outside world to guide physical activity.

Temporal lobes, on the other hand, are associated with language and hearing, and are also an important site of higher mental activity.

Lastly, the anteriorly located occipital lobe is the vision center of the brain.

Key to Baby Brain Development

The cerebral cortex looks like an almond with all of its crooked channels. However, it is in fact the place in the brain, unique to human beings. It is where higher reasoning, judgement, imagination and other such mental activities take place.

The brain cells that make up the cerebral cortex are composed of numerous dendrites. Those of which protrude from the cell body on one end, and the branch-like axon on another end. Dendrites function by transmitting external stimuli to other brain cells. Linking axons to brain cells are what are called neurons. Healthy neuronal development will mean faster processing in the brain.

Therefore, an intelligent child is one who lives in a nurturing environment from an early age where they are provided with plenty of stimuli that encourage neuronal growth.

Why Brain Stimulation is Important

Brain Growth before Age 3

The newborn’s brain has a mass of 400-500g, no more than 25% as that of an adult. By 1 year, brain mass rapidly increases to 1,000g. At age 3, baby brain mass reaches 1,200g. That is already 80% of the way to fully-grown mass and reflects a fourfold increase of volume and mass. The number of brain cells at this time still amounts to the 1.4 billion that the child had at birth.

Therefore, increasing the number of brain cells has little impact on the brain. The real determining factor is how many connections exist between brain cells. That is, to what extent the neurons have developed.

The connections between brain cells form at a remarkable rate before age 3. Thus, it is critical that you provide plenty of the appropriate mental stimuli during this period.

Balancing Brain Development

By age 3, no part of the brain more developed than any other part. Rather, the frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes have developed at a balanced rate. Development occurs primarily in the frontal lobe from ages 3 to 6. Progress occurs mainly in the two temporal lobes. Those are responsible for language and the medially located parietal lobe. Occipital lobe development takes place from ages 12 to 20.

Since brain development is distributed evenly across the entire brain prior age 3, it’s during this time that the foundation for all future development is established. If the brain grows as much as possible in this 3-year timeframe, all subsequent development of the different parts of the brain will have a better outcome. This is why, prior to age 3, the key to fostering brain growth lies in balanced and generalized development.


Left Brain Characteristics

The so-called "linguistic brain" also governs various forms of intelligence like abstract thought, counting, analytic problem-solving and deliberation. Linguistic intelligence reaches maturity when the new cortical tissue of the cerebral cortex fuses and forms connections. This is a higher form of intelligence that other animals lack.

Right Brain Characteristics

This side of the brain governs the right side of the body and is associated with intuition, artistic ability, musicality and rhythm. It also keeps the emotions of the left brain in check, and stores information crucial for human survival. The left brain has better memory storage. However, if the right brain doesn't develop, all of those memories simply pile up in the brain for lack of any creativity. Therefore, it is essential that right and left sides of the brain undergo balanced development.

Waking up Baby's Brain Cells

Stimulating Skin Massages

The skin has been referred to as "the second brain" or "the outer brain". Whereas, the brain and skin alike are formed initially from the epiblast. What's more, the skin is linked to the brain by vast array of nerves. That's why even the slightest stimulus transmits to the brain immediately upon contact. The closer to being a newborn a child is, the more you should massage their skin. This way, you help promote brain development by stimulating the skin. What's more is, with your gentle, caring hands, you can strengthen the bond between mother and child.

Use Spoons

Brain and muscle development go hand-in-hand. It was when we gained bipedal locomotion, freeing up our hands, that we became the wisest of all creatures. Furthermore, the part of the brain that occupies the most space happens to be the area associated with hand-movement. You should give your child toys that they can manipulate with their fingertips. That contributes significantly to the development of intelligence.

Balanced Nutrients

Carbohydrates nourish brain cells, proteins facilitate nerve transmission, and fats assist in the formation of the nerve cell membranes. All of these nutrients encourage brain development. The act of eating itself can stimulate the organs associated with sight, smell, taste and touch. It also reinforces the system of nerves leading to the brain. Feed your child different kinds of foods and talk to them as they eat to stimulate all five senses.

Be Redundant

By talking with your child nonstop, you stimulate your child's center of hearing and encourage further brain development. Not only does this improve your child's linguistic abilities. It goes a long way in bringing mother and child together on a more intimate level. Whether changing diapers, feeding weaning food, bathing or cleaning, you'll find your child's budding linguistic abilities developing even more quickly. That is if you talk to your child during these activities.

Give More Praise

When your child is playing, keeping in line with their development, it is necessary to praise them even for the smallest accomplishments. Praising your child gives them self-confidence and a sense of achievement. It is also associated with later attempts on their part to try more sophisticated activities. In this repetitive, constantly advancing process, your child's brain will be able to pass through all the stages of development.

Nourish Intelligent Curiosity

You should give your child plenty of opportunities to closely observe a variety of objects so that their curiosity will flourish. When your child is sitting and playing, if there is something that can stimulate their curiosity, try your best to make sure they experience it. The kitchen in particular is like a laboratory where the spirit of discovery can take shape. Putting aside things that you need to be especially careful about, such as knives, fire and glassware. Let your child rifle through whatever is on the countertop or cupboards. For your child, this can serve as a very valuable chance to learn new things.

Importance of Calm Environment

Children feel happy when the temperature of a room is about 24˚C and in a humidity of 50-60%. Ideally, the baby room should be open to sunlight, but direct exposure should be avoided. Try to minimize disturbing noises coming from outside the room. The sounds of voices, laughter and the television are, of course, not good for the child. If you played antenatal music for your child, you should play this for them on a low volume. Also try your best to reduce the noise of all daily activities.

Constant Stimulation

Although every mother knows she should stimulate her child's brain, many have no idea just how they should go about so-called "genius training". On top of this, the majority of a child's time at this age is spent eating or sleeping. If you give your child all kinds of cards or study materials, they will have a tantrum and won't be able to pay any attention to these things. Their studies will progress very slowly. For this reason, all you can do is stimulate your child's brain through daily activities by talking to them during bathing, nursing, dressing, diaper changing and massaging.

Mindful of the Slightest Reactions

You should be sure to respond to your child and show them that you care. Try to quickly observe your child's reactions and responses to things so that you may find out what they like, what they want, what they dislike, what they find funny and what makes them mad.

Musical Stimulation

The earlier your child begins musical education, the more influence it will have on their cognitive and emotional development. When your child hears more music, the more they will pay attention to it, the bigger contribution it will have to fostering creativity. As your child is still an infant incapable of free movement, you can play them music to help them get acquainted with their surroundings.

Brain Stimulation Regiment

Baby Brain - Months 0-3

Months 1-3 are the period when intimate relations are established. Your child comes to form a relationship with you by hearing your heartbeat, feeling your skin, smelling your scent and other bodily interactions. These activities also promote development of the five senses. Make the most of this time by playing with your child as much as possible when they are awake. Take advantage of nursing, diaper-changing and bath times to massage or hug your child.

Listen to a Variety of Music

From months 1 to 3, children enjoy aural stimuli most of all. Because your child's sense of hearing is undergoing rapid development at this time, be sure to play them plenty of music. Throughout the process of listening to music, your child's hearing will improve naturally. Singing lullabies as you rock your child to sleep has a calming effect. Classical music is a good choice especially pieces with a clear rhythm and lots of repetition. It is recommended that you pick one song and play it several times over the course of the day for your child.

Baby Brain - Months 3-6

Provide Opportunities to Explore

By this age, your child will be able to move their hands and feet however they please. They will unconditionally place anything they can grasp in their mouth. Your child becomes familiar with objects as a means of learning about objects. So, you should not keep them from sucking or biting objects they find. This is critical for brain development. Place mobiles within arm's reach of your child to give them something to touch and explore. Through this process of looking, thinking and grasping, they will gain a sense of accomplishment and find more stimulation in their surroundings.

30 Minutes of Tummy Time Daily

At this time, your child should begin supporting their neck and be attempting to turn over their body. Giving your child ample time to lie on their tummy can promote muscle development. Aside from that, it also widens their field of vision. It is easier for your child to rotate their neck left and right while on their tummy as opposed to on their back. If your child is a fast learner, they will start crawling as soon as they can get their neck up which is an important step in the development of physical activity.

Baby Brain - Months 6-9

Stimulate Sense of Taste

By this age, your child should be weaning off breast milk. You should add some more flavors to your child's menu besides breast milk and formula. Various weaning foods that are balanced in nutrients can also be used to stimulate your child's sense of taste.

Your child's activity level will increase dramatically during this time, so make sure that they are getting enough calories.

Stimulate Curiosity

Curiosity is what drives a child's activity. By constantly giving your child new things to play with, you do much to stimulate this sense of curiosity. Your child is quite sensitive to things that stimulate vision, hearing, smell and the other senses. Toys that emit sounds and that are brightly colored are an apt choice. From 6 months on especially, it is highly recommended that you encourage your child to work their little muscles. If you give them a plastic cup or other small toys, encourage them to grasp the objects as they play.

Balancing Activity

In addition to encouraging the growth of major and minor muscles through physical activity, you also need to promote the development of the five senses and the brain. For this reason, it is best if you can find toys for your child that make your child more active while also stimulating the five senses. Some examples include electronic toys, toys that can be rolled around, toys that emit noise upon shaking and toys that can be grasped and sucked on. Your child will use both hands to play with these toys, which engages both sides of the brain equally.

Baby Brain - Months 9-12


Your child will be keenly attuned to adults and will imitate what they do at this age. Though incapable of speech, they will still imitate adult behavior. Imitative behavior generally appears when your child is sitting and playing. Until about age 1, your child will attempt lively imitations of the things they see on TV.

Expanding Your Child's World

While your child becomes concerned with what's around them, you should make an effort to describe these things to them. Every time you go outside, take the opportunity to describe in detail the things in your child's line of sight. As you do this, the range of things your child can pay attention to will grow. Although your child will make a mess of the whole house as they explore this and that with their hands, such activity helps them, mentally and physically, through the process of developing self-expression. Rather than trying to maintain the strict tidiness of your home, it’s always better to give your child the freedom to play to their heart's content.

Growing Closer

It is at this age that your child begins to develop self-recognition which comes with a stronger desire to do things on their own. Despite this, they will still become uneasy if Mom disappears, as this is also when their feelings of dependence form. It is not recommended that you encourage independence by keeping your child out of your arms or simply letting them play on their own. Being frightened will impede activities that encourage brain development. You should build trust with your child, let them know you are by their side protecting them, and then try to give them chances to play on their own.

Baby Brain - Baby Brain - Months 12-18

Plenty of Time to Explore

What makes this period special is that it is when your child learns how to walk. Walking indicates that the part of your child's brain that controls motion and activity has developed normally. With your child's first steps comes a desire to move about and explore one's surroundings independently, this desire becomes evident progressively and naturally. This desire reflects your child's attempts to learn about the world independently and is a catalyst for further brain development, which naturally drives the formation of self-recognition and independence.

Fostering Self-Confidence

No matter how big of a mess is made or how many things get turned over, you need to ensure that your child forms a will of their own that says "See for yourself." Allowing for mishaps let your child feel around and run into things so that they can come to better understand the properties of objects. It is alright to step aside and let your child handle things themselves. Try to help them feel a sense of accomplishment and thereby gain some self-confidence.

Baby Brain - 18 Months to 2 Years

Stimulation with Imitative Toys

This is the age in which curiosity flourishes. With a fairly solid understanding of most speech, a two year old will be able to string together two words to express more complex ideas.

This is both a need for and an expression of linguistic development which comes about gradually through imitation. The two year imitates as a form of learning self-expression. Therefore, you should try to give them more to see and hear, give them more chances to imitate, so that their creativity and imagination can slowly take shape.

Allow Self-Expression

Though everyone is different, in general, your child should now be using more single-word phrases, and even be able to string them together into sentences. At this time, you will see them take a greater interest in using language as a means of self-expression. Listen to what your child has to say and try to teach them even more ways to say what they mean by giving them plenty of opportunities to talk.

And that’s it when it comes to the information needed to know regarding baby’s brain.


Editor in Babiology, mother of two, highly passionate about sharing the pregnancy care and post delivery care learning with the readers.

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