The importance of mental development

People are inclined to look at the visible end result. Is baby walking already? Can baby talk yet? Of course, it’s wonderful experiencing the first milestones, but in actual fact the process that is taking place before your baby reaches the milestone is more significant and interesting than the result.

In order to be able to do something, whatever that might be, your brain needs to be able to ‘tell’ your body something. The brain must be able to pick up the signals from the outside world, to convert those signals and then direct the body to ‘do’ something. If the brain is not capable of picking up the signals from the outside world, it cannot convert them or direct the body.

What is a threshold?

As adults, we know that if there is threshold we have to lift our foot because we know the threshold is higher than the floor. A young baby does not understand the consequences of height differences yet. So, baby sees the threshold, but does not understand what it means. That is, until the baby takes the leap in which the brain develops that capacity. It is very important that you realize that the real milestone has already taken place in the brain, in the mental development.

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Inherent drive

Everything we do and are capable of is determined by our mental development. You can therefore also imagine how important it is that your child’s brain develops well. The foundations for that development are laid very early on after all. Fortunately, children have and inherent drive to discover and understand the world. Mental development starts immediately at birth.

Through all the mental leaps that babies take in the first year and a half of their life, their world increases in size, literally and figuratively. They playfully store increasing amounts of new information and acquire new abilities.

A baby’s development consists of a total of ten major leaps (also see the book The Wonder Weeks). Their inherent drive to discover the world means that a baby eventually goes through all ten leaps.

Support your child

As parent/carer you can support your baby in the learning process they are going through before the leap. As a parent, in order to fully understand what your baby needs, what they mean and what is going on in their head, you need a basic knowledge of the mental development and of the brain. See this knowledge as an instruction manual so you do not have to try and figure it all out yourself.

Source: The Wonder Weeks Milestones Guide

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