Baby’s early years are some of the most important years for their development, which is why early detection and early intervention are so critical. In the first years of baby’s life, their brain has a tremendous ability to learn and create new neural pathways, otherwise known as neuroplasticity. In fact, the greatest period of neuroplasticity is from birth to 3 years of age with baby’s brain developing between 700-1,000 new neural connections every second.
So What Does This Really Mean?
Baby is constantly learning. And there is a great opportunity to teach them new things and help set their development on the right path. So if you notice baby is having difficulty with a certain skill or that something “isn’t quite right,” then now is the time to talk with your healthcare provider.
How Many Kids Are at Risk For a Delay?
Research estimates roughly 600,000 babies are born at risk for early delays each year and less than 50% are identified early. But why?
There are a number of reasons but mostly it has to do with a lack of awareness and understanding of early warning signs and knowledge about the benefits of getting help early. But don’t worry, Pathways.org is here to help and you have made the first step by visiting our website.
How to Help Identify Early Delays
Keep a notebook about your child’s development. Write down if you notice any concerning or unusual habits. Bring this when you go in for your well-baby checkup and talk it over with your baby’s healthcare provider.
Use Pathways.org checklists, brochures, and videos to track your child’s development (these are also great additions to bring to you well-baby check).
Don’t be afraid to be persistent if you think something is wrong. You know your baby best, so trust your instincts. If you have concerns, talk to your healthcare provider and seek out a second opinion or find a therapy clinic to get a free screening.
The goal of early detection is to have babies learn proper movement at its appropriate time of development. Research suggests it takes between 300-350 repetitions to build a new motor or movement pattern; however, it can take 3000-5000 repetition to “re-train” the proper movement. This means that it is much easier to learn to do something right the first time then try to correct something after it has already been learned.
So I Am Concerned…What Now?
The answer is early intervention. There are many activities, programs, and procedures that can benefit children who may need some extra help with their development. Some need to be provided by a healthcare professional but others are as simple as home activities and games you can do with your baby.
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