A Is for Attention
New research into how babies learn reveals that the everyday, loving interaction with caregivers is what matters most. The best thing you can do for your baby’s growing brain is to respond to him, says Fit Pregnancy and Baby advisor Claire Lerner, L.C.S.W., director of parenting resources atZero to Three, in Washington, D.C. Let him know that when he cries, you will comfort him; when he’s ready to play, you will engage him.
B Is for Breast Milk
It’s powerful stuff. Brain imaging studies by Brown University, in Providence, found that kids who were breastfed exclusively for at least three months had 20 to 30 percent more white matter—a type of brain tissue that’s rich in myelin, a fatty substance that insulates nerve fibers and speeds up the brain’s electrical signals.
C Is for Calming
“Helping your infant feel secure calms the brain,” says Lerner. Even if your infant continues to cry when you hold him, your touch and response helps soothe his nervous system and prevents the stress hormone cortisol from interfering with development.
D Is for Doubling
Your baby’s brain doubles in size the first year; the cerebellum, an area at the back of the brain that controls coordination and balance, triples in size. This is believed to be related to the amount of motor skills babies learn by 12 months.
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