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Love, affection and your baby’s brain

During their first year, your love, affection and positive encouragement help your baby’s brain start to understand and express emotions. According to Dr Sue Gerhardt, author of Why Love Matters, “being lovingly held is the greatest spur to development”. That’s why happy smiles, loving words and cosy cuddles are even more important than books and toys.

As Dr Gerhardt explains in her book, being held and hugged helps babies (and adults!) feel supported.

This gives them the confidence to explore, try new things and eventually make new friends.

The importance of smiles

You can express love in all kinds of ways, through cuddles, words, tickles and kind faces. Dr Allan Schore, a leading American neuropsychology researcher believes that smiles and loving looks are the most important ways to stimulate your young baby’s emotional development, by actually helping their brain to grow.

Happy experiences during their early years are a positive start for their growth and development throughout childhood. So when you’re next playing games and making your baby giggle, you can consider it part of their life education!


A healthy diet for a happy brain

Your baby is developing at an astonishing rate, and nowhere is that more the case than their brain. Their personality is already starting to shine and amaze you! A well-balanced, nutritious diet, rich in iron and omega 3 will help to fuel all that incredible growth and development.

Here are some suggestions for giving them plenty of iron-rich foods:

• Well-cooked eggs – poached, scrambled or boiled eggs are iron-rich, filling and healthy.

• Leafy green vegetables –spinach, kale and broccoli provide lots of iron and are easy to add to tomato or cream sauces.

• Red meat – once your baby is old enough to enjoy something more meaty, you can try making a bolognese or even mini-burgers.

• Lentils and pulses – cheap, versatile and tasty, these are great additions to soups and stews and for mashing into purées.

• Baby breakfast cereals – Cow & Gate’s cereals are fortified with iron to help you get more of this essential nutrient into your baby’s daily diet, visit their website to find out more.

There’s so much more amazing development going on with your baby right now. Watch our baby development videos or read more fascinating facts about your baby’s development. Fuelling that development requires a nutrient-rich diet. For more information about what to feed your baby and how to find those hard-to-get nutrients, visit our feeding and nutrition section.
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