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Pregnancy : Smarter Baby
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Brain Development in Infants


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December 16, 2008


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Your baby is growing by leaps and bounds—and so is her brain. At birth your baby could breathe, kick, cry and suck. But by 3 months her brain development allows her to do so much more; she can babble, smile and turn toward your voice. By a year she may be able to walk and say a few words, and she has developed a strong attachment to you. And that’s just the beginning. Brain development goes on for life—but the most critical time is first 3 years of life.

Facts: The brain starts developing about 3 weeks after conception and is only partially developed at birth—coming in at only about one quarter of its adult size. While brain neurons and connections alter throughout life, most brain development takes place in early childhood.

Significance: An infant’s brain is like a sponge; it can absorb sights, sounds, tastes and smells and make connections based on those experiences. For example, when a baby hears the sound of his mother’s voice, he may coo with anticipation.

Considerations: Genes and environment play a big part in brain development. While genes are responsible for creating the cells and connectors in the brain, environment can influence how the brain responds to stimuli. For example, a baby who is regularly talked to, sung to or otherwise exposed to language may be more verbal at an earlier age than a baby who isn’t given that kind of stimulation.

Misconceptions: You can’t make a baby smarter. But you can make her more apt to learn by providing a warm, safe, nurturing environment.

Expert Insight: Good nutrition post-birth can play a crucial role in brain development. Babies need adequate amounts of protein, fat and iron in their diets for proper brain cell formation. Breast milk and formula provide fat, protein and calories. But some babies—especially breast-fed ones—may need an iron supplement.

Resources:
http://www.fcs.uga.edu: Better Brains for Babies
http://www.zerotothree.org: Zero to Three: Information on infant brain development
————
Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others. Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines. She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her husband and two children.


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How to Play Music for Your Baby While Pregnant


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December 16, 2008


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Playing music for your unborn baby is an amazing way for you to bond with him. Music can stimulates babies and delivers positive effects through the mothers’ pleasant emotions. When a mother listens to music and relaxes, she releases endorphins into her bloodstream that bathe the baby in positive and happy feelings. Babies also are likely to recognize the tune, if you play it often enough, even after they are born.

Step 1: Crank up the radio. By 20 weeks, your baby’s hearing is developed enough to hear sounds other than your voice. Playing music that you enjoy can relax and engage your baby in special bonding time.

Step 2: Use headphones. Resting headphones against your belly is an easy way to play music for your baby without disturbing anyone else. However, you don’t have to raise the volume for the baby to hear it. The amniotic fluid is a good conducer of sound, so loud music is not necessarily better. Playing loud noise may actually irritate your baby instead of relaxing him.

Step 3: Buy a Bebe Sounds machine. This machine brings music to your baby through two fetal speakers that attach to a special maternity belt. You connect the speakers to your own cassette or CD player and play the Mozart music tape. It also has a headphone adapter so you and your baby can listen to the tunes at the same time. Unlike headphones, you don’t have to hold the device, and the maternity belt provides support for your back.

Step 4: Play your own music and sing. A baby loves the sound of her mother’s voice. If you can combine an instrument, such as a piano or violin, and your voice, you’ll create a combination your baby will love.

Step 5: Choose a variety of tunes to play for your baby, such as jazz, classical, relaxing or white noise tunes. You don’t have to stay with just one particular sound. Expose your baby to different sounds, tempos and rhythms.

Tips
Limit music exposure to an hour or two per day. Playing music more often may overstimulate the baby.

Warnings
Don’t play excessively loud music. If you can’t talk over the music, it’s too loud for you and the baby.
Stay away from playing drums, cymbals and other loud instruments for an extended period.

Resources:
http://www.bebesounds.com/products_prenatalgiftsets_description.asp BeBe Sounds Machine
————

Heidi Gonzales is a midwife, childbirth educator, doula, American Heart Association BLS instructor, author and editor for the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association e-mag.
She has attended over 60 births in Louisiana and has helped over 150 families through birth consultations. She volunteers as a childbirth educator at a pregnancy crisis center in Louisiana and also as an online career mentor.


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How Does Reading During Pregnancy Increase a Babys Intelligence?


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December 12, 2008


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Credit: Memotions at Flickr A baby’s nerve pathways in the ears and neural system in the brain start developing as early as the twenty-sixth week, which is when the baby will begin responding to sounds and voices regularly. Introducing music and words while your baby is still growing inside of you may increase your baby’s intelligence; many expectant parents can start talking to their babies in the womb, reading to them and playing soothing music to generate a response from their developing brains. Reading provides auditory stimulation for babies’ growing brains and can acclimate children to the sounds of their parents’ voices.

Effects of Reading on Baby’s Intelligence
During the early stages of development, you can train a baby’s brain to recognize words and sounds well before she understands the meaning behind them. A baby developing in the womb can become sensitive to her parents’ sounds and touches; reading aloud provides a soothing sound for baby to tune into while resting and growing.

The tones, voices and sounds that the baby hears during development can provide the foundation for learning new sounds and words after she is born. After delivery, the baby may be more likely to respond positively to the people to whom she “listened” during development. Reading promotes language development, attention development, concentration skills and information synthesis. A baby’s cognitive skills can also be improved with a variety of stimuli; reading represents one way to enhance these important developmental skills.

Best Types of Books to Read During Pregnancy
Even though your baby can’t understand the real meaning behind the words he hears, he can pick up the rhythm and tone of the sentences and will respond to how the mother responds to whatever she reads. Reading thrillers or horror stories can raise stress levels in the pregnant mother, which can trigger an anxiety response in the baby. Selecting soothing, lighthearted and fun reading material is the best way to entertain your baby during pregnancy, and children’s books are a good resource for short stories that may benefit both the mother and the infant. Since babies typically have short attention spans, dividing reading sessions into small segments hold their attention long enough to derive the full benefit from this experience.


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How to Make a Baby Smarter in the Womb


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December 12, 2008


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We all want our babies to be smart. While it’s true that brain development is largely genetic, there are things you can do, even before your baby is born, to improve your baby’s environment and enhance his intelligence and language skills.

Things You’ll Need:
Classical music
Material to read
Prenatal stimulation program

Step 1: Play classical music. By week 20 of your pregnancy, your baby’s ears are completely formed; his ears can pick up sound vibrations by 24 weeks. He can hear noises by 30 weeks and is capable of telling the difference between sounds by week 34. The Mozart effect is a theory that claims listening to classical music within the womb boosts IQ, improves health and strengthens family attachments.

Step 2: Add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. This essential fatty acid provides the body with healthy fats that lower the blood levels of harmful fats like cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids are also essential for the development of the brain and retinal membranes of the fetus. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-weather fish, such as cod, salmon and herring.

Step 3: Participate in a prenatal stimulation program. Most programs use different patterns of sound and noise aussie pokies online stimulation online pokie game to enhance the baby’s environment. Having researched the topic for decades, Rene Van de Carr, Brent Logan and Thomas Verny all market their own methods of prenatal education and stimulation. Compare these and other methods before choosing a program that is right for you and your baby.

Step 4: Talk to your baby in the womb. Expose your baby to language through singing, talking and reading. We know that early exposure to language—words, sounds, reading and conversation—improves language skills and scores. While most people begin reading and singing rituals once their baby is born, doing so during pregnancy may enhance language skills.

Tips:
Reading children’s stories and books is fun and provides wonderful bonding moments for you and your baby. Don’t stick to the old classics: Read newspapers and magazines aloud.

Warnings
Do not add any supplements to your daily diet routine without first consulting your healthcare provider.

Lara Alspaugh is a freelance writer living in Michigan. She is a Registered Nurse and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Michigan State University. Her writing has been found in parenting and fitness magazines nationwide and the Internet, addressing health and fitness as well as wellness concerns of families.


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How Important Is Protein to a Developing Baby?


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December 12, 2008


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Benefits of Protein During Pregnancy
Since a developing baby depends on his mother’s diet for all of his nutritional needs, the expectant mother must eat a nourishing diet to support healthy growth and development of her baby. Protein is one of several essential nutritional requirements during pregnancy because it provides the amino acids needed for adequate bone and muscle development. Eating enough protein is essential for healthy development of new cells in the placenta and maternal tissues and encourages healthy blood production. Protein consumption during pregnancy has also been linked to a lower the risk of neonatal death and the occurrence of certain birth defects.

Consequences of a Lack of Protein in an Expectant Mother’s Diet
A lack of protein in an expectant mother’s diet can lead to a number of health problems in both the mother and the developing baby. A protein deficient diet during pregnancy can make the expectant mother feel weak or light-headed and make it difficult to manage day-to-day tasks without feeling tired or fatigued. For the developing baby, the effects of a lack of protein in the diet include poor muscle and joint development, poor bone development, muscle or bone deformities, miscarriage, brain damage and a high risk of birth defects.

Healthy Sources of Protein During Pregnancy
Experts encourage expectant mothers to eat a minimum of 70 grams of protein per day, and this can be derived from several sources. Foods that contain a significant amount of protein and can be eaten as part of a well-balanced diet include salmon, poultry, egg whites, peanut butter, soy butter, tofu, soy milk, beans, legumes and other lean meats. Protein shakes and protein bars are nutritional supplements that may help some women meet their minimum protein requirements. These can be made from milk products or soy products and be eaten as snacks or as a small meal replacement.

Protein That Can Be Harmful for a Developing Baby
Some types of protein should be avoided to reduce the risk of miscarriage and birth defects. Avoid these food throughout pregnancy and during lactation: soft, unpasteurized cheese; raw fish; shark, swordfish and other types of fish with high levels of mercury; unpasteurized milk; and processed meat such as deli-style meat. While these foods are high in protein, they are also prone to developing bacteria, which can lead to several food-borne illnesses. They are best avoided throughout pregnancy and during recovery.

Resources:
Eating well during pregnancy from Kids Health
Good sources of protein during pregnancy from Pregnancy-Calendars.net

Sabah Karimi is an experienced freelance writer who enjoys writing about lifestyle, parenting, and childhood education topics. Sabah runs a web copywriting and marketing consultancy business in Orlando, Florida.


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Brain Development Occur in the Womb


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December 12, 2008


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A baby’s brain is magnificent. The rate at which it develops is astronomical from the moment conception happens through the time of birth. The brain is the life source of the body. It communicates messages and tells the body what to do. The brain controls everything from a baby’s thinking skills to his perceptions. For the body to work properly, the brain undergoes significant development and changes throughout the entire gestational period.

First Trimester: During the first trimester, the baby’s brain structure, called the neural tube, begins to make rapid changes to form the spinal cord and brain. At just 3 weeks after conception, the brain cells are developed enough to send effective messages to each other. At this point, brain cells are multiplying at a rate of 250,000 cells per minute. No wonder your baby sleeps all the time.

Second Trimester: During the second trimester, the rate at which the brain cells have been multiplying slows down. The brain begins to organize itself and starts to form the individual systems such as language, movement, vision, hearing and other primary systems in the body.

Third Trimester: By the end of the third trimester, the baby’s brain cells have matured significantly. The connections between the brain cells have developed enough to where there is effective and rapid communication. As a result, the baby’s nervous system has matured and developed. But even though the brain develops at such an amazing pace in the womb, it is not totally developed at birth. Many of the connections that will help your baby develop crucial skills are created within the first 3 months after birth. This is why constant interaction and responsiveness with your baby is so important.

Nutrition: For your baby’s brain to develop normally, you must eat a nutritionally balanced diet during pregnancy. One of the main vitamins essential to prenatal brain development is omega-3 fatty acid. This is found primarily in flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon, shrimp and halibut. Folic acid is also important because it helps prevent spina bifida and other neural tube defects during pregnancy. Folic acid is found in leafy green vegetables, whole-grain breads, beans, fish and orange fruits. Check with your doctor about which fish are safe to eat during pregnancy.

Prevention: Using toxic substances such as alcohol, nicotine and other illegal substances can be harmful to a developing fetus and may interfere with normal brain development, especially during the first trimester.

Heidi Gonzales is a midwife, childbirth educator, doula, American Heart Association BLS instructor, author and editor for the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association e-mag.
She has attended over 60 births in Louisiana and has helped over 150 families through birth consultations. She volunteers as a childbirth educator at a pregnancy crisis center in Louisiana and also as an online career mentor


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