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How to Make Your Newborn Smarter
Studies have shown that within 7 hours after birth, a newborn shows immense interest in his mother’s face. In addition, it takes little to no time at all for a newborn baby to begin “preferring” his mother’s face. In short, once you have that baby in your arms, he has already begun learning about the world.
As mothers, we know it is our responsibility to oversee the education of our children. But have we overlooked the education of our newborns?
Of course sending our hour-old babies off to pre-preschool isn’t a good idea. But did you know that you are equipped with everything you need to start educating your newborn baby? With three simple, everyday interactions, you can help to make your newborn smarter, healthier, and happier.
Where it all begins
For a baby, learning about the “outside world” begins at the point of birth. Suddenly she feels the temperature change; she sees bright lights everywhere, faces and voices she’s never heard or seen. All this is being registered in her tiny little memory. Within 42 hours of life, a newborn baby begins responding to the facial expressions of different people. In fact, in the first few weeks of life, a newborn baby is creating 40,000 connections (or synapses) per second!
The learning begins immediately for a newborn, and who is there immediately after birth? Why, you of course!
For your baby, these connections begin with you! Think about it: your baby has heard your voice, smelled your smell, felt your presence for 9 long months – your baby recognizes that you are mama. And this regardless of whether or not you immediately feel that emotional connection (don’t worry, if you don’t feel it right away, that’s okay). When your baby sees you for the first time, those connections begin to form, registering in her tiny brain that this is where she feels safe.
Will my child have a higher IQ?
I’m not ensuring that you will have brainiac child with a frighteningly high IQ. What I am suggesting is that because you are the mother of this baby, you are the best mother for this baby. With that comes the innate ability to foster learning in your child at any age, including newborn.
However, I will mention that research from the Washing University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown evidence of the impact a mother can have on the learning capacity of her children. According to this study published in 2016, children with supportive, nurturing mothers had significantly greater brain growth in areas dealing with learning memory and stress-response than those with less nurturing mothers.
Can babies learn on their own?
Since humans are born with instincts, babies will learn about the world around them even without your help. However, according to a study by Dr. Allan Schore, the bond between you and your baby is the key to fostering learning in an infant. Visual, auditory, social, and tactile development depend upon your emotional attachment with your baby.
The answer is simple! By being present with your baby, you will begin helping to make your newborn smarter. Here are three specific interactions you can make sure to have with your newborn each day.
How can I make my newborn smarter?
It all starts with eye contact between you and your sweet little newborn. Then physical contact, touching skin-to-skin, and breastfeeding. Singing, talking to, and playing with your little. And lastly, time.
1. Eye contact –
It all starts with that first eye contact between you and your sweet little newborn. Looking each other in the face for the first time, it doesn’t take very long for your face to register as “mama”. The more often you and your baby share eye contact, the more he is able to learn. This study concluded that the more a mother looks her baby in the eye, the more he will begin to prefer her to others.
2. Make your baby feel safe –
Babies are the most helpless beings, and they know it! When a newborn baby doesn’t understand something about this crazy new world, he will cry. When he cries, his cortisol levels will begin to rise. If maintained at a high level, this extra cortisol can actually transform the baby’s nervous system, making him more sensitive and skittish.
Many parents fear that too much comfort will make their babies “soft” or clingy when they’re older. In actuality, when you make your baby feel safe, he is able to process and register new information from the world around him. Think about it – which scenario do you think creates an environment for learning: a screaming baby who doesn’t know what all these bright lights and noises are all about, or a baby cradled safely in his mama’s arms, looking up at her?
3. Play with your baby –
In the first three years of life, your baby depends on you you (as mama) to understand the world. Research shows that the more time a mother can spend playing with and interacting with her baby, “the happier and more emotionally and physically healthy that baby will be.” (Komisar). There are many ways you can play with your baby! You can use toys, like rattles, mobiles, and soft books; listen to music; sing to her; and play peekaboo. Don’t be discouraged if your baby does not respond immediately, but give her time. Remember you are guiding her into this new world where she will become an independent person! It’s a beautiful thing to see, and it’s even more amazing to be a part of.
These three things might come to you naturally, but it’s always good to keep them in mind. Parenting is hard work, and most of the time you don’t see your efforts pay off immediately. Have patience with yourself and your little one as you both begin this journey of parenting and education. Even if you’ve had other children before, there will be nothing quite like your relationship with THIS baby.
Komisar, E. (2017). Being there: Why prioritizing motherhood in the first three years matters. New York: TarcherPerigee.
How do you like to interact with your baby? What are the most meaningful moments for you? Share with me by commenting below!
Love, Emily XOXO