MH tracks your baby’s brain development in the second and third year.
WORDS REBECCA WONG
At this stage, you’ll start to see an almost exponential improvement in your child’s mental functionality. This involves all areas of the brain, but more of the temporal and frontal lobes, seeing as how vision and hearing are mostly well developed. The accelerated development of the temporal lobe results in a “vocab explosion” as your toddler starts to talk and learn new words.
“In the first year of life, you’ll probably hear single words such as “Mama” and “Papa”, but the second year is when the words and short sentences start coming fast,” says Dr Furene Wang, associate consultant at National University Hospital’s Division of Paediatric Neurology. “Of course, speech may be delayed due to medical issues like hearing loss or autism, but your child should ideally be able to speak by 18 months of age.”
Motor Skills Begin to Improve
The frontal lobe begins to play a more active role as well, leading to a refinement of motor skills. “For a child, body control usually develops from head to toe, or what is medically referred to as cranial to caudal development,” describes Dr Wang. “Babies obtain head control first, and subsequently master standing and walking.” Most start walking at the end of the first year, but some begin later at 13 or 14 months.
As motor skills improve, you may soon see your child possess the ability to
transport an item from place A to B, or retrieve a toy that has been taken from her.
However, higher executing functions such as planning, analysing or interpreting information, problem-solving, and complicated tasks like using money are still above your child’s level of ability. This is due to the fact that the pre-frontal cortex (situated at the front of the frontal lobe) doesn’t evolve as much during early childhood, explains Dr Wang. Rather, it’s a part of the brain that continues developing gradually all the way until the teenage years.