Frequently Asked Question

Research suggests, when the father bonds with the baby from the very beginning of life, he is more likely to play a more active role in the baby’s development, which shapes how happy, healthy, and smart the baby will grow. In the first 1,000 days of life, a baby’s brain develops faster than at any other time, just 15 minutes of ‘we time’ can spark millions of brain connections. 

Father can help a baby to develop by giving a hug, kiss, playing simple games, singing songs, or telling stories. Father can feed a child, help in burping, bath, and change diapers. He can provide a feeling of physical and emotional safety to the baby.

Free play is when children have full freedom to play in whatever way they want. They can choose everything; their play materials, interest area and even the plot. During free play time, children can express themselves in the way that they choose depending on the day, time and situation they are in. These kinds of opportunities are very important for children. Every child is unique and has a different way of expressing them self. 

Expert recommend starting at an early age. Parents should encourage toddlers and pre-schoolers to engage in free play on a regular basis, but with continued supervision it can even be introduced to babies of 6 months.

Sometimes it’s good for children to play independently because they can be more creative when they are playing by themselves. When a child is playing alone, they are engaging themselves, using their imagination and from very early childhood they are being independent. Building independence at a young age is beneficial later in life. Free play is also important for learning problem solving skills.

Family bond, love from family is very important for the baby’s growth and development. Sing songs with your baby and create musical instruments from safe objects you find around the house. For example, put buttons or small stone inside of an empty bottle to make a shaker and secure it well. Music helps with sensory development, and holding the shaker is great for motor skills. The most important part is to get creative and to have fun!

Just because your child is playing on their own doesn’t mean you can’t be engaged. If your child wants to play with you while you are busy working, try talking with them about something they can do on their own, and then when they are done you can look over it together. 

You can give different household materials (which are not harmful) e. g. vegetables, fruits etc. to the child and can ask her to segregate it according to shapes or colours.  

Take your children to the kitchen to help prepare food. Depending on what you’re doing and how interested your child is, you can let them help you or just give them their own bowl and spoon to mimic your actions.

Serve and return is a series of back and forth interactions between a child and parent or primary caregiver, where an adult respond lovingly and appropriately to a baby or toddler’s noises and gestures. The most important part is showing your child that you care, and reacting to their needs, emotions and things that excite them in a way that demonstrates that you are paying attention to them.

Parents should start serve and return right from the birth. Building your baby’s brain does not need to be complicated and better yet, it can be built into every day routines and moments. Any moment with your baby can turn into a playful opportunity to learn.

Parents can support and encourage their children in having a fun, playful learning experience.

Make sure your child has a safe space to play in. Clear play areas of any potential hazards and check in throughout playtime to make sure your little one is playing safely.

Listen to your child. Ask your child, “What do you want to do today?” Based on how they respond, help create an environment where they can explore their interest. 

For example, if they want to build a house, you can give support by providing materials and a safe space to work. Think about the materials your child would need and then look around your home to see what is available. If your child wants to do a puzzle and you don’t have one at home, use a picture or a calendar and cut it into pieces for them to put together.

When your child faces a problem, you can help guide them toward a solution by asking “What do you want to do? How can we solve this problem?” The adults should not do everything for the child. We just need to give some clues or support to where the children can think for themselves and do things for themselves. 

Some of the activities to build this skill – Allow your baby to feel different textures, play hide-and-seek with objects, encourage baby to solve puzzles, etc.

The children can learn the best way through ‘play’, no matter their disabilities. Play activities and fun games should be based on the skill and potential of the child. Caregiver should be patient, and he or she should listen and enjoy spending time with the child. 

Decide the best way to play with your hands and feet with the cloth ball depending on the mobility of your child.

Read books together in a comfortable position sitting or standing (depending on your child’s ability). 

Play with dough, either clay or homemade. Use molds and have fun cutting and assembling shapes. Cookie cutters or large cups with large handles may be easier for your child to grasp.

Sing, dance and make noise with your child. Your little one can use any cooking pot and homemade instruments to keep rhythm with you.

Palak Melawa is a Marathi word, which means ‘Parents’ fair’. It is a day-long event organized at the village level on a large ground. Palak Melawa aims to improve the capacity of caregivers and family members on various elements of child care; early childhood development, nutrition, and health. At the venue, various stations and stalls are set up to convey messages related to child care. It was conceptualised for building norms for positive parenting, to engage all important stakeholders and initiate community action.

Families with pregnant women and children of age group 0-6 years are the primary beneficiaries of the Palak Melawa. However, other community members including adolescent boys and girls, newly married couples are also encouraged to participate. Participation of important stakeholders in the community, viz. ICDS, Health, Panchayat, Self-Help Groups, education, and other departments, should be ensured to plan and organize the event.

The nurturing environment in the family, the way children grow up, live and learn in early years matter the most for their development irrespective of caste, economic class and gender. For babies born in underprivileged families, intervening early can reverse harm and help children reach their maximum potential. Investing in early childhood development is a cost-effective way to contribute for social inclusion, boost shared prosperity, promote inclusive economic growth, end extreme poverty and break intergenerational cycles of inequity.

On the basis of the available evidence Economists assert, investment in early childhood is the most powerful investment a country can make, with returns over the life course many times the size of the original investment.

The family environment is the primary source of experience for a child, both because family members provide the largest share of human contact with children and because families mediate a child’s contact with the external environment. Young children need to spend their time in warm responsive environments. They need opportunities to explore their world, to play, and to learn how to speak and listen to others. Family members should be empowered to provide these opportunities to the child. 

The Brain wiring game is a participatory activity that helps to sensitize the audience about the “sculpting” role of experiences on synapse formation and the brain development during the early years. The game is effectively use to help the audience understand the factors affecting brain development, what promotes it and what may derail it, to sensitize regarding the powerful role of loving relationships and enabling conducive environment on early brain development and to emphasize the effect of adverse childhood experiences, toxic stress on brain development of children. 

Children are innately curious; they want to explore their environment. Everything’s so new, it’s a big world out there and so parents shouldn’t get in the way of that. What they should do is make sure the child is perfectly safe.

Don’t try and structure the child too much. But there are many learning opportunities, for example, sing to the child, read to the child, take the child for a walk down the street; there’s a tree, there’s a doggie, there’s a car, there’s a house

The brain develops most rapidly before birth and during the first two years of life. During this time, up to 75% of each meal goes to building your baby’s brain and 15 minutes of play can spark thousands of brain connections. So remember, with every hug and kiss, with every nutritious meal and game you play with them, you’re helping to build your baby’s brain.

Additional Questions

Babies don’t know that the norm is to sleep at night-time and be awake during the day. So they sleep in bursts of three or four hours usually, wake up to have a feed and then go back to sleep.

As their brain develops, there are reasons for them not to sleep because there are things to be curious about; they’re engaging with their world, parents are talking to them, reading to them. So they get into that predictable pattern of being awake for longer periods of time, engaging and interacting with their parents and caretakers and the world around them, and then falling asleep again.

There’s pretty good research evidence now about the importance of touch in newborn babies, not just for human beings but, in fact, all animal species. We talk sometimes about kangaroo care, about placing a newborn baby on the mother from a very early stage and that’s comforting for the child, it’s also calming for the mother. So for lots and lots of reasons touch is extraordinarily important.

It is important is to have some sort of consistency, so the young child isn’t confused. So sometimes one parent, one language works. Sometimes one activity, one language works. But at the end of the day, the kids are going to sort it out themselves and use both languages in an appropriate way.

As the parents are talking to the child, singing to the child, reading to the child, creating these stimulating experiences, there’s this explosion of learning, all of these networks are being developed in the brain. And those foundations of learning in those very early years are critical because they set the foundations for lifetime learning. If parents provide all of that, then the child’s brain will grow and mature and fulfil all the potential that we want from all of our children.

The brain develops most rapidly before birth and during the first two years of life. During this time, up to 75% of each meal goes to building your baby’s brain and 15 minutes of play can spark thousands of brain connections. So remember, with every hug and kiss, with every nutritious meal and game you play with them, you’re helping to build your baby’s brain.