Encourage your baby’s brain power

Your baby’s brain quadruples in size during her first year! Here’s how to tap into all that learning power

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Every mum wants her baby to grow into a healthy, happy toddler. Giving her some fun, mental stimulation helps develop new brain ‘connections’ which form part of her adult brain.

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Mummy Time
Spending quality time with your child benefits her in so many different ways. She picks up her language skills from baby talk with you and from watching your face and body language. ‘Babies learn a lot faster if they’re taught with one-to-one interaction,’ says brain expert Nancy Slessenger. ‘So, the more animated you are around your baby and the more you talk to her – even if she can’t understand exactly what you’re on about yet – the better!

Get Moving
‘The development of the brain is directly linked to movement, ‘says Nancy. ‘By waving her limbs around, she’s inviting you to react. When you respond with an action or words, she’ll repeat the movement, and a new brain connection is made.’

Good Grub
The long-chain polyunsaturated fat DHA found in breastmilk helps little brains grow and develop. Some infant formulas contain DHA, which is marked on formula milks as LCPs – levels differ, so do check. ‘Older, weaned babies need a healthy, balance diet for brain development,’ says Bridget Benelam from the British Nutrition Foundation. ‘This should contain protein like chicken, dairy, lentils or eggs.’

Have a Rest
Babies benefit from a variety of mental stimulation, but, just like adults, sometimes they need a break! During a rest or snooze your baby processes what she’s learned, and chances are she’ll wake up full of beans again and ready to take on more.

Did you know?
Boys’ brains develop from the back (the ‘doing’ part) towards the front (the ‘thinking’ part). Girls’ brains develop the other way around. So boys develop physical skills before thinking and language, and girls tend to communicate earlier.

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