A Book Review: Active Baby, Healthy Brain

Active Baby, Healthy Brain: 135 Fun Exercises and Activities to Maximize Your Child’s Brain Development from Birth Through Age 5 1/2
Margaret Sasse
The Experiment, New York 2010

Margaret Sasse has provided parents with an invaluable manual on how to maximize your child’s brain development. She has divided the first 5 1/2 years of life into 8 stages with numerous activities for each stage. In the beginning of the book the reader finds two pages of defined terms. Parents learn in the preface to choose activities to develop a wide range of skills.

Also, three important words are introduced: intensity, frequency and duration, reminding the parents that no activity should last more than two minutes and should be done slowly. With short, frequent activities both parent and child can put their full effort (intensity) into it for maximum benefit. This concept applies to all ages, though as one matures the “short” activities increase in length.

Most of the book describes and illustrates all of the activities. Here are sample activities for each stage:

Stage A – birth to six months: massage and gentle roll overs

Stage B – six to twelve months: creeping, cruising, walking

Stage C – walking to eighteen months: vision and balance

Stage D – eighteen to twenty-four months: dance, beanbags and balloons

Stage E – 2-2 1/2 years: music, rhythm, nursery rhymes, and songs

Stage F – 2 1/2-3 1/2 years: Massage in crocodile position

Stage G – 3 1/2-4 1/2 years: Rhythm sticks, ropes and cords

Stage H – 4 1/2- 51/2 years: mini-trampoline, tumbling, rocking, swinging

Further, she discusses the foundational subject of nutrition. While Sasse uses only one page to discuss nutrition, she hits the important aspects that can have a major impact on learning: “artificial colorings, additives and excessive sugar.” Food sensitivities including wheat and dairy must be explored as well. Sasse refers her readers to: http://www.fedupwithfoodadditives.info

Pros:

  • Terms are defined in the front of the book.
  • 8 Stages are outlined.
  • Each activity is described and illustrated.
  • Format is easy to reference.
  • An ample bibliography gives the reader direction for further study.

Cons:

  • It stops at 5 ½ years…
  • Sasse has other books that have “limited-availability”

For those who want to learn more about the topic of brain development, the author provides an ample bibliography. Even if your child is older and if there seems to be some delays in one or more areas of development / learning, some of these activities would still be appropriate to stimulate that development. Sasse died in 2009, but left behind over 100 centers that use this information having founded Toddler GymbaRoo in Australia.