Love Grows the Brain

Do you play peek-a-boo with your baby? Do you hold your baby close to your heart while nursing or bottle feeding her? Do you sing lullabies or nursery rhymes to your baby as you rock him to sleep? Congratulations! Every time you do these or similar activities, you are helping your baby’s brain develop and grow.

     When an infant enters the world, he has over 100 billion brain cells – that is roughly the same as the number of stars in the Milky Way system. At birth, neurons (brain cells) that regulate bodily systems such as the heart beat, respiration, digestion and crying reflexes are fully formed and functional. All other brain cells must be wired through direct experiences. That is where you, the parent or caregiver, play an important role in wiring your child’s brain for emotional and cognitive success.

         During the first 18 months of life, the baby gains his cues and information through his five senses. To give the growing brain the “nutrition” it needs during this critical time of development, parents and caregivers must “feed him a healthy diet” of  nurturing  physical touch, soothing sounds to hear, comforting smells and taste and loving faces on which to gaze.

You are a central ingredient in this healthy diet whenever you do the following:

Hugging, holding and cuddling produce healthy “love hormones” in the baby’s system which help him feel safe and secure.

  • Allowing your baby to hear your heart beat during feeding, singing lullabies while rocking her to sleep and repeating nursery rhymes while changing her diapers stimulate and wire the right side of the brain.
  • At birth, the baby’s sense of smell and taste are very acute. She can pick out her mother from other mothers in the room by her scent or by the taste of her breast milk within the first few weeks of life.  When considering to breast or bottle feed your baby, keep in mind the wonderful benefits that breast feeding provides in the attachment stage of development and what that means to the wiring of the brain.
  • Infants and young babies are naturally drawn to the faces of their parents and trusted caregivers. When talking, singing and playing with your baby, get close and look into his eyes with a smile. As it has been said by Joseph Campbell, a college teacher of literature, “So, through the eyes that love attains the heart.” Be a brain wise parent/caregiver! Sing, Rock, Hug, and Nurture your baby to a successful future.

Parent/Teacher resources located in the 4C lending library

  • You Are My I Love You by Maryann K Cusimano ~ Satomi Ichikawa
  • Rattle Time, Face to Face and Many Other Activities for Infants by Judy Herr ~Terri Swim
  • Essential Touch Meeting the Needs of young Children by Frances M. Carlson

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