How Affection Boosts Brain Power

Affection between you and your baby is the most important tool in developing his brain.

Introduction

As any parent will attest, nothing is more extraordinary -- or joyful -- than the moment you realize that your baby has fallen in love with you.At 2 to 4 months, your child seems to become more intensely involved with you. She may look longingly into your eyes, flash a radiant smile at the sound of your voice, or wiggle in anticipation when she hears you approaching.

By 5 months, she has developed a wide variety of ways to express her affection. These include:

  • Responding to your smiles with a big one of her own
  • Initiating interactions with loving looks and smiles
  • Making sounds or moving her mouth, arms, legs, or body in rhythm with your movements
  • Relaxing or growing less fussy when you hold or rock her
  • Cooing when she is held, touched, looked at, or spoken to
  • Looking at your face with rapt interest and looking uneasy or sad when you withdraw in the midst of playing with her.

It's important to encourage such exchanges at every opportunity. The reasons for this go well beyond the need to bond with your baby: Those back-and-forth smiles, frowns, giggles, and body movements are helping your baby develop a host of crucial qualities -- from intelligence and language ability to a well-formed sense of self.

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