An Enriched Environment Does Not Equal An Enriched Brain

I do not go shopping very often. I am not one that endorses commercialism. Sure, I like having bikes, books, dive equipment, musical instruments etc….. but they are all things that give wonderful learning experiences, and not just stuff.

Some of the things in the stores right now are simply there to make you think it could be of benefit and therefore marketed to make you want to buy it.

Then, when you figure out you were fine without the items, storage unit companies get rich!

(Okay, you know you have gone overboard when you need a storage unit…)

I had to recently go shopping for a gift. I was simply amazed by all the stuff. Gosh. I can’t believe that people buy all this stuff.

I went, for example, to the baby section of the store. There were so many new fandangled things for babies to keep them occupied and quiet. Toys and gadgets galore. Things with fancy colours, textures, smells. Even some really unhealthy snack foods to, again, keep your baby quiet and “happy”.

Some toy manufacturers claim that their toy is good for the brain development of a baby or toddler. Perhaps the colours and textures may spark some neurogenesis, but there are so many ways to help them develop a terrific brain, without all the negatives that the toys bring.

An enriched environment certainly does not equal an enriched brain.

In fact, the opposite is often true. Toys are often given in lieu of attention. They certainly do not even come close to the brain benefits of close attachment parenting and attention. REAL attention. Attention that makes your child feel secure and important all day, while taking in the environment around them. Babies need attention, not toys.

Let’s just backtrack for a moment and think about why parents feel that these expensive toys are necessary. It has actually gotten to the point where parents feel inadequate if they can not afford the latest greatest! The power of marketing is a strong one…

Parents are busy. For the majority, they want their child to be quiet and entertain themselves as much as possible. But, when the baby cries, and detached children WILL cry, the parent goes to get a fancy toy and often a pacifier. They hope that the baby can stay quiet for extended periods of time. It is really a game of quieting the baby. The added perceived benefit of brain development is just a marketing ploy. The toy, in all likelihood, is off-gassing chemicals from manufacturing right into the airways and mouths of these poor helpless babies causing less than ideal conditions for growth and brain development.

The pacifier is even worse. Not only is it toxic plastic and constantly off-gassing a chemical soup, it changes the shape of the palate, the maxilla (upper jaw), and the mandible (lower jaw) during critical growth! Yes, even the "orthodontic" ones. The resulting distorted growth reduces the upper nasal airway. This reduction in air, is a lifelong reduction in OXYGEN to the body and to the brain. (Bare with me while the dentist in me goes off on a bit of a tangent). The baby teeth, when they erupt, will come in tight to one another. When baby teeth are close together, the adult teeth will come in crooked because there will not be enough room in the distorted jaws. This crooked smile will cause all sorts of health and brain troubles, (of which I will cover in a future post), but most importantly, a reduction in the ability of the central nervous system to work properly, and a reduction in oxygen as noted above.

A pacifier should NEVER be used.

Instead, try holding the baby in a sling and including her in all you do. You don’t need toys and gadgets because they, if properly nourished, will have all the stimulus a little brain would need to develop optimally. If they wish to suckle, it is easy to nurse them in the sling, and still continue to get things done if necessary. If they need to chew on something, have them chew on something made of organic cotton with no dyes. Put an organic grape or other fruit in for flavour if they are old enough. Freeze the fruit first if teething. Works wonderfully and costs next to nothing!

Save your money for experiences not stuff. Don’t go buying unnecessary gadgets (especially pacifiers). With fewer things and more attention, your baby will be well on her way to being happy, smart, alert, and…


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