Early Brain Development - What Pediatricians Recommend

Children learn through meaningful relationships. Positive interaction with consistent adults is essential for early brain development. Verbal and nonverbal communication during routine care is a good approach. Teachers can show families what to do. Speak in soft, encouraging, and positive ways to children. Encourage being respectful and treating children as you would like to be treated.

Building Positive Teacher-Child Relationships is a useful publication. In it the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) suggests these ways to develop meaningful relationships:
o Engage in one-to-one interactions with children
o Get on the child’s level for face-to-face interactions
o Use a pleasant, calm voice and simple language
o Provide warm, responsive physical contact
o Follow the child’s lead and interest during play
o Help children understand expectations
o Redirect children who have challenging behavior
o Listen to children and encourage them to listen to others
o Recognize a child’s efforts and successes


CSEFEL offers four modules that address the social-emotional needs of young children. The Infant Toddler Module 2 includes a handout about identifying opportunities for responsive routines1. Use it to remind staff and families about easy ways to foster early brain development. It offers practical suggestions to use in these activities:
o Infant feeding and toddler eating
o Diapering and toilet learning
o Sleeping/resting
o Greeting and goodbye times

1Responsive Routines Inventory in Responsive Routines, Environments, and Strategies to Support Social Emotional Development in Infants and Toddlers.   Reviewed and reaffirmed 7-2018