How Affection Boosts Brain Power

Learning from Play

Most likely, you've been intuitively offering your baby smiles, nonsense sounds, and funny faces. If you're already receiving chortles and grins in return, just relax and enjoy them -- and try to coax your baby into more, and longer, states of happiness. But if you're not achieving the desired response, it may help to take a more systematic approach.

All babies react differently to stimuli, so follow your child's lead. Is she more content when you're talking up a storm or when you're quiet? Does she coo and squeal to draw you to her, or wave and kick to express her love? Take mental notes on these cues -- and on what makes her shy away. Use the looks, tones, and gestures that bring your baby the most pleasure.

The results will be richly rewarding for both of you. Your child's mastery of such communication will strengthen his sense of purpose and cultivate his understanding of the world. And as his emotional responsiveness increases, your partnership will develop into a full-blown love affair. Your baby may not be able to talk yet, but his actions speak volumes.

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