Amazing Abilities

The Baby Brain as an Airplane Pilot


Babies have built in abilities to help them handle stimulation and the environment. They rely on us to observe their behavioral cues and respond sensitively to adjust the environment and to help them navigate their world.


I like to think of the brain and central nervous system (CNS), as the pilot of the amazing airplane that we call baby. The pilot flies baby to each destination or “developmental milestone.” On the way, the pilot increases or decreases the speed so that the baby flies most efficiently. This is somewhat like winding down for rest time when baby is tired and reving up for awake alert times for learning. The pilot also watches out and avoids too much traffic, the way the CNS guards against too much stimulation. The pilot then lands his airplane on just the right runway, the perfect balance of experience and environment for baby development.

If we follow this metaphor, caregivers become the air traffic control, the people in the airport tower who help the pilot get his airplane from one place to the next. We can reduce whatever is going on in the environment and help calm baby.


Some of the amazing abilities that we will be talking about are behavior cues, awake/sleep cycles, hands to midline, and sucking.

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