Building Baby’s Brain

You gaze lovingly into your newborn's eyes as you feed him. You speak gently to your daughter as you change her diaper. You sing to your child at bedtime.

These caring acts help your child build a healthy brain.

How the Brain Develops

A baby is born with 100 billion brain cells, called neurons. In childhood, these neurons continue to make connections with other neurons in the systems that control our lives. Your child's brain continues to develop in response to stimulus from light, color, sound, touch, and other sensory input, although heredity also helps shape the brain's development.

Because most brain development takes place after birth, parents have many opportunities to contribute to the brain's healthy development.

Helping the Brain Grow

Young babies need the security of a parent's arms, and they understand the reassurance and comfort of your voice, tone, and emotions. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts offers several tips for aiding your child's brain development:

• Hold your baby face to face and make eye contact.

• Pick up on your child's reactions and expressions of interest.

• Talk, read, and sing to your child.

• If you speak a second language, use it at home. A child's brain is adept at learning several languages at a time.

• Call your baby by name.

• Play with your child every day.

• Choose quality child care and stay involved.

• Don't overdo such popular but unproven techniques as classical music and flash cards.

Online Medical Reviewer: Desrosiers, Florence MD

Date Last Reviewed: 4/2/2010

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