By LOUISE CARR, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Every parent wants their baby to be smart, happy and healthy but with so many toys, gadgets, and developmental techniques on the market it is hard to know how to do it right. Wouldn't it be great if you could help your baby's brain develop with love, not stress? Baby development experts agree that the first years of your child's life are an excellent time for learning and cognitive development - and the good news is you don't have to be a child psychologist to simulate your baby's brain. Let these scientifically proven ideas guide you as you have fun helping your baby's brain develop.
Your Baby's Growing Brain
Brain development is also called learning, and scientifically it is the process of creating and strengthening connections between neurons in the brain.
These connections are called synapses and they are crucial for connecting the brain to accomplish all the tasks required of it, from sleeping to thinking and feeling.
Your baby's synapse development happens at an amazing pace - at one point as a toddler, your child will be creating 2 million synapses a second (US Department of Health & Human Services).
By the age of three, there will be 1,000 trillion synapses - many of which will end up being discarded, and your baby's brain will be 90 percent of its adult size.
We looked at recent scientific research to show you which techniques, supplements, and activities are proven to boost baby brain power.
Here's how to stimulate your baby's cognitive function in seven simple ways.
1. Add Odor to Increase Baby's Brain Power
Research shows that smells can help babies develop cognitive and emotional processes.
In a 2014 study from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey 26 six-month-olds were shown a video while also provided with an odor (pine or baby powder).
The researchers studied how the babies reacted to the video of a woman expressing happiness and sadness. The babies experiencing the odor were less distressed and showed greater attention spans, plus greater emotional expression.
2. Supplement with Vitamin D, Iodine and Folic Acid during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
The benefits of folic acid, iodine, and vitamin D during pregnancy and breastfeeding include healthy brain development, according to 2012 research from Efamol Ltd., UK.
The researchers looked at previous reports and reviews into the supplements and discovered that supplementation helps "prevent many brain and central nervous system malfunctions and even enhance brain development and function" in babies.
3. Take Cod Liver Oil when Pregnant to Stimulate Baby's Brain