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Easy as 1, 2, 3

Nov 20, 2020 ● By Jodi Richey

123 Connect with Me is a community movement with the goal of educating and encouraging parents to take an active role in their child’s development. 

Early Childhood Brain Development

By the age of 3, a child’s brain is 80 percent developed. The brain develops with experiences, both positive and negative, and those experiences set a path of health across the lifespan. Nurturing and responsive care builds child resiliency in the brain and is the key to supporting healthy brain development.  

How do you know if you and your child are on track? There are two key elements to child brain development. 

Watch & Celebrate

Pay attention to your child’s overall development and celebrate their developmental milestones, such as taking a first step, waving “bye bye” or learning to share with other children. When your child may not be reaching their milestones, reach out and talk to your child’s doctor.  

Small, Daily Connections

Practice small moments throughout the day where you intentionally connect with your child. This could include reading a book together, playing peek-a-boo, or listening and responding to their sounds or chatter. The small moments add up to build healthy, resilient brains.   

Learn the Signs. Act Early.

From birth to 5 years old, your child should reach milestones in how he or she plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves. Reaching these milestones is a sign that your child’s development is on track. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Learn the Signs. Act Early. program encourages parents to learn the signs of healthy development; monitor their child’s physical, cognitive and emotional growth; and to take action when there is a concern. This program offers several tools to make developmental monitoring practical and easy. CDC’s Milestone Tracker app provides a fun and easy way for parents to track their child’s early developmental milestones.

Easy As 1, 2, 3!

Children are born ready to learn, and they depend on parents, family members, and other caregivers as their first teachers to develop the right skills to become independent and lead healthy and successful lives. How the brain grows is strongly affected by the child’s experiences with other people and the world. Nurturing care for the mind is critical for brain growth.

Here are three practical ways to help you get started:

  1. Smile Back A simple smile from you helps your child feel safe and secure. Smiling at your baby releases hormones that are good for emotional development and create strong bonds and healthy attachment between you and your child.
  2. Make Eye Contact — When parents’ and babies’ eyes meet, something very special happens – an emotional connection is established. Making eye contact with your baby can also boost their learning and communication skills.
  3. Listen to Sounds — It is important for your baby to become tuned in to the speech sounds and everyday sounds that they may hear. As your baby develops, they should not only turn but also search for the sound they hear. Listening to sounds will help them to build up the listening skills which are critical for speech development.

It really is as simple as 1, 2, 3. The more these simple actions are practiced with children, the stronger the impact on their growing brains.  

123 Connect with Me is led by Children’s Center for the Child & Community, the community outreach team for Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, and is driven by dedicated partner organizations serving families across the community. To see all partners dedicated to this movement visit:

For anyone interested in getting involved in spreading the message of early childhood brain development and the importance of developmental monitoring, please reach out to us at [email protected].

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