Baby Small

There’s nothing more inspiring than the idea of big change.
Especially when it comes to the future of our city.

But what if the most important change
Memphis needs is not big, but small?

That’s right: baby small.

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When it comes to a child’s future, what we’re looking at is not a money problem, but a brain problem. And believe it or not, most of it can be traced back to a child’s life from conception to age three.

why 0-3?

From conception to age three, a baby’s brain grows to 80% of its adult size. What’s more, during this critical age, their brain is twice as active as adults, resulting in a foundation that determines exactly how a baby’s brain is wired and what that will mean for their future.

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In the first three years, a child’s brain has up to twice as many synapses as it will have in adulthood. At birth, a child’s brain contains almost all of the nerve cells it will ever have. More importantly, connections between these cells, called synapses, are formed at a faster rate from 0 to 3 than at any other time. These connections are strengthened by repeated stimulation and activity. Weak or unused connections are gradually eliminated throughout childhood and adolescence; a process sometimes referred to as blooming and pruning.

While genes provide a blueprint for the brain, it is a child’s environment, family structure, and experiences (in these early years) that direct its construction. The excess of synapses produced by a child’s brain in the first three years makes their brain especially responsive to external input. During this time, the brain can “capture” experience more efficiently than it will be able to later, when the pruning of synapses is underway. The brain’s ability to shape itself during this stage – called plasticity – lets humans adapt more readily and more quickly than we could if genes alone determined our wiring. For example, neuroscientists can now see the effects of early stress, poverty, neglect and maltreatment on brain scans.

The Good News

Researchers have discovered a number of small, simple things you can do to make a huge difference in a child’s life before the age of three.

Touch

Cuddling, holding, hugging have all been known to increase the confidence and security in a child.

Talk

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Singing or talking to your baby—even when they can’t speak yet—teaches about the sounds and structure of language.

Read

And long before your child can ask for a bedtime book, reading to them will elevate their language and vocabulary.

Play

Put your organized games away and make time for unstructured play with other children to improve your child’s attention spans, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills.

What's Next?

So this is our chance to change Memphis.
By making these small investments in our children,
we make the biggest difference in their lives and in turn,
our community as a whole.

Their future is our future;
and we need your help to do it.

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