Author: Glenn Doman and Janet Doman
Paperback: 266 pages (full color illustrations)
Publisher: Square One Publishers
Read Chapter One
Mothers know intuitively that the first months of life are vital to the long-term well-being of their children. In this, they are absolutely correct, say authors Glenn and Janet Doman. But mothers and fathers do not have the information they need to use these first months to their baby's best advantage, or to make the first six years of life as stimulating and rewarding as they could and should be. That's because until now, the world has had little understanding of the true potential of a newborn.
How Smart Is Your Baby? provides parents with all the information they need to help their baby achieve his or her full potential. The authors first explain the newborn's growth and development, including all of the critical stages involved. They then guide the parents in creating a home environment that enhances and enriches brain development. A Developmental Profile, which parents complete, allow Mother and Father to track the progress of their child, to determine the baby's strength, and to recognize where additional stimulation and opportunity are needed. Most important, parents learn how to design an effective and balanced daily program for physical and intellectual growth.
When parents understand how their child develops, they can become the best teachers their babies will ever have. Best of all, this joyous program brings parents and babies closer together, establishing a life-long bond of learning and love.
Children are the greatest gift that we will ever receive. The world over, we cherish our children. Mothers have performed heroic acts and displayed incredible physical strength to protect their children from physical harm. Universally, parents want their children to accomplish more in life than they ever accomplished.
The suffering of children evokes greater emotions in each and every one of us than any other of mankind’s misfortunes.
From the earliest days of humankind, parents have taught their children the skills that they know will help them become better hunters of food and better in turn at nurturing and protecting their children.
The battle from the beginning has always been for the survival of the fittest. In prehistoric times that meant having the physical fitness to run fast and the strength to carry heavy loads; it also required the skills to bulk shelter and to find food, and the ability to fend off animal or other human predators.
In the overpopulated, rapidly changing, highly technological world of the twenty-first century, survival of the fittest demands that each individual be physically fit, have a sound physiological constitution, and develop the intellectual and emotional capacity to succeed in an economically, geopolitically, and biochemical threatening environment. If we can give our children a solid educational foundation today, they will become the leaders of a better and safer world tomorrow.
How to best prepare our children to survive and to excel in the modern world has been the subject of scores of volumes of writings by educators, pediatricians, politicians, child psychologists, and psychiatrists. Notably, the list of well-meaning advisors and authors does not include “mother”!
The expectations upon reading erudite proclamations about the right way to educate your child usually start with the child as school age or kindergarten age, arbitrarily set at about five years old. Any exploration of what to do with the child before that time tends to deal with “what kind of diapers to put on your child” or “for how long you should breastfeed your baby” or “what store-bought prepared formulas give your baby the best nutrition”!
In a comprehensive and exhaustive study of thousands of babies in all kinds of cultures and societies, and through a half-century of experience in their Institutes, the authors have derived a compelling story of why babies soak up information like sponges, and how they develop the way they do. The authors then proceed to explain how to take advantage of the newborn’s remarkable abilities to begin teaching your baby from birth onward in a loving and enjoyable setting. Teaching your baby when he or she is the most receptive to learning, able to acquire knowledge without effort, and enjoying every moment of learning gives your baby the very best opportunity to develop the physiological constitution, the fitness, and the intellectual skills to excel in our highly complex world. Never again in life will your baby’s brain have the larning capacity that it enjoys in its first three years after birth.
~ Mihai Dimancescu, M.D.
The majestic organ that is the brain starts developing in utero. Although learning continues throughout life, there is a special window of opportunity for permanent brain growth and special learning that occurs in the first year of life.
The newborn period, or first few weeks, is a remarkable time and incredible things are occurring. This is not just a passive beginning; it is the explosive start to learning and brain growth.
During the first year the baby’s amazing growth and learning continues. The baby’s brain is rapidly growing, which is reflected in the astonishing changed in head circumference.
This period is vitally important for brain development. Doctors, scientists, and educators now acknowledge that the first several years of life is a critical time for the acquisition of skills – and that appropriate stimulation and experience is critical to optimizing a child’s growth and development.
These early years are extremely important. It is now recognized that the sooner the baby receives sensory stimulation and opportunity for mobility and language expression, the more likely that brain growth, development, and skills will be optimized.
It is important to understand how this occurs in order to maximize your understanding of the programs in this book. The baby in utero is creating billions and billions of brain cells prior to birth. Those brain cells only await stimulation to create networks of function that will allow the child to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell, and the experience that develops mobility, language, and manual ability.
The normal newborn will have some basic functions at birth, but must incorporate sensory stimulation and motor experience in order to grow or enhance these functions and learn or make associations. When an object is perceived by the five sensory pathways and gains meaning for the baby, a type of learning has taken place.
In the newborn, the brain is undergoing three natural but important processes that we can call pruning, learning, and myelination. Pruning is an interesting and basic brain phenomenon. In the young baby, billions and billions of brain cells are in place at birth. However, only those brain cells that are used and properly stimulated with sufficient frequency, intensity, and duration early on will be reinforced and become permanent neurological connections functioning as important circuits or networks. Those that are not sufficiently used are “pruned.” That is, if they are not used they die away.
Unfortunately, there have been cases of children who were born with essential “normal” or uninjured brains who have been placed in environments of sensory deprivation and lost the opportunity to develop significant abilities. Some have been in overcrowded orphanages. Others have been in caring home, but due to a lack of knowledge on the part of the parents or caretakers these babies have been placed in bland, uninteresting, quiet, unstimulating environments and received little sensory stimulation or motor opportunity. They may have been confined to baby carriers, cribs, walkers, or other restrictive devices that do not permit free movement and appropriate sensory-motor stimulation and integration.
While the pruning of brain cells may appear to be a harsh or unproductive phenomenon, it represents the realities of brain-body economy. The brain requires a constant, high-quality source of energy and nutrients, and an astonishing twenty percent of all incoming oxygen. Those areas that are not used are shut down to send these resources elsewhere as needed.
At the same time pruning is occurring, its opposite, learning occurs. This reinforcement of brain neural circuits allows the permanent acquisition of neural networks if proper stimulation is given.
Myelination is also occurring. This process, in which neurons develop the insulated covering on their processes, helps establish connections and speeds up information exchange. Simply put, the brain grows by use and one must “use it or lose it.”
This book explains exactly how to evaluate the sensory and motor pathways of the baby and exactly how to design a program that will enhance the growth and development of these pathways. It is an inspired guided tour of the first twelve months of brain growth and development.
Every day is precious, and your baby is hungry for knowledge about the world around him, starting from the moment of birth. To feed your child’s brain is as important as feeding his stomach.
The goal of this book is to help parents understand the brain and nervous system. Parents may then follow a clear pathway to enhance the abilities of their child. This Is not only an extremely important process – it is also a very joyous one for mother and baby.
~ Denise Malkowicz, M.D.