The 10 best ways to grow your newborn baby's brain (2023)

The human brain has 100 billion nerve cells, all of which are present at birth but have few links between them. Babies’ brains develop by creating an intricate network between these cells.

Research shows that there are certain types of experiences you can give your baby to build those lasting connections. And the good news is, they’re all easy to do.

If your newborn could talk, here’s what they’d ask you for to help build their growing brains:

Progressively complex high-contrast images

Decades of research show that time spent looking athigh-contrast imagesis important for a baby’s cognitive development. Until about the fifth month, babies use their eyes as a primary source of information for how the world works. Once your baby’s eyes start to coordinate,they’ll be drawn to high-contrast images.

Some tips for developing your baby’s eyes:

  • Start with simple images about 12 inches away from your baby’s face (about the distance from your wrist to your elbow). Hold the images steady and try not to switch them until your baby looks away, a sign that they’re losing interest. You may notice your baby staring at the images for many seconds, even minutes at a time.
  • When they lose interest in an image, change to a new one and eventually switch to morecomplex imagesas their eyes grow stronger.
  • You can help promote visual tracking by slowly moving an image back and forth horizontally in front of their face to help them practice following a moving object with their eyes. This is an important skill later for reading, writing, and hand-eye coordination.
  • Offer high-contrast imagesin the car, during tummy time, and during alert “play” times for the first 14 weeks.

Protection from multiple, jumbled noises

Anewborn’s nervous system truly doesn’t have a filter: they can’t screen out anything that their eyes see, their ears hear, or their skin feels. Several sound sources at once —even a typical coffee shop atmosphere with music playing, several people talking, traffic noise, etc.—can easily overstimulate and confuse a baby, causing them to shut down. Your newborn prefers the sound of one human voice at a time and calm,rhythmic tones.

Help to stretch out from the womb position

The 10 best ways to grow your newborn baby's brain (1)

After all that time in the womb, it’s important for new babies to stretch out of the fetal position and use their muscles in new ways. Offering a variety of positions throughout the day can help your baby avoid flat spots on their head, help their brain start to understand where their body is positioned in space, and build strength. Baby carriers, car seats, baby swings, and strollers are amazing and very necessary at times, but try to give your baby some time on a flat surface every day.

Some tips to avoid flat spots and help your baby gain strength:


  • Occupational therapists recommendturning your baby’s head from side to sideto avoid a flat spot forming and neck muscles tightening.Here’s a videofrom Rachel Coley, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist with advanced specialized training in infant neurodevelopment. Most babies can’t hold their head pointed forward: it flops to one side or the other. Babies are generally born with a preference for turning their head to one side—matching their position in the womb—so it’s important to help your baby learn to turn both ways.
  • Side lyingis also good for your baby, and is usually less frustrating than tummy time can be. Lying on their side helps your baby build strength in their back and belly, and also encourages them to bring their hands together—an important developmental step.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Roll up a blanket and use it to prop your baby ontheir side, supportingtheir back (always with your supervision).
  • You can put black and white cards in a standing card holder in your baby’s line of sight for something to engage them.
  • Eventually, switchto the other side—and repeat.
  • Babies also enjoy lying on their backs with their heads to one side. Be sure to switch sides occasionally by gently turningtheir head.

Low lights when awake

After 9 months in the dim light of the womb, a newborn’s eyes take a few weeks to adjust to more intense light. In low light and when awake, newborns will open their eyes and look around the room for a few moments. This early looking helps them practice working both eyes together (it’s common for a newborn’s eyes not to look in the same direction) and also exercises their pupillary reflex, where the pupil gets bigger or smaller based on different amounts of light. You can help develop your baby’sbrain-eye connectionby gradually varying the intensity of the light (avoid strong lights, such as direct sun). You can use a dimmer switch, a low lamp, or curtains when your baby is alert.

Skin-on-skin time

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Skin-on-skin time can feel inconvenient sometimes, but it’s worth it. It offers a huge array of benefits to your baby: better digestion, temperature regulation, weight gain, improved immunity, improved sleep, and even brain growth. There are benefits for parents as well: feel-good hormones are released when you and your baby have direct skin contact.

Here are some tips and ideas for skin-on-skin:

  • Feeding time is a great opportunity for skin-on-skin time. Strip your baby down to a diaper, take your shirt off, and use a blanket over your shoulders for warmth. Before you get undressed, try to remember to use the bathroom, get a glass of water, your phone, a book, or anything else you want handy in case your baby falls asleep and you want to relax together.
  • Try taking a bath with your baby. Make sure to have towels ready on the floor within reach before you get in, and someone to help you and your baby get out of the bath if possible. A space heater in the bathroom can give you a little extra warmth—just make sure it’s as far from the tub as possible.
  • If your baby enjoys massage, your light touch with coconut oil is great for skin-on-skin contact. Massage for babies is most calming from the center of their bodies out, so start with your baby’s chest and move out to legs and arms. Try a space heater in the bathroom after a bath, and use dark or older towels under and around your baby. Sometimes the massage oil can stain fresh white towels.
  • Skin-on-skin works great for dads, moms, and even supervised siblings. If you’re feeling down, worried, or anxious—and what new parent isn’t sometimes?—skin-on-skin contact will release oxytocin, a natural antidote. If they’re awake, this is also a great chance for tummy time!

Tummy time

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that supervised tummy time for full-term babies start in the first week, as soon as the umbilical cord stump falls off. Some babies love it, but (alas!) it’s not a happy time for others. (In a poll of Lovevery Instagram followers, 52% said their baby’s tummy time reaction was 😄while 48% said it was more like 😩).

Either way, you’re not alone. Keep trying even if your baby doesn’t like it—tummy time is essential for building the muscles and coordination needed for rolling over, crawling, walking, reaching, and playing.

Some tips for more enjoyable tummy time:

  • Slowly roll your baby onto their tummy with arms tucked under their shoulders.
  • Newborns like to have their head to one side while on their belly, mimicking their position in the womb. Prop some black and white cards in a standing card holder.
  • Like in this video ofSteph and Ayesha Curry’s baby, Canon, offer black and white images in the card holder onThe Play Gym.
  • Periodically, move your baby so their head rests on the opposite side: head turning helps avoid flat spots and tight neck muscles.
  • As your baby gets stronger, place the card holder in front of them so they can see the images when lifting up their chin— and eventually their chest.
  • For newborn babies, success is 3 to 5 minutes at a time, 2 to 3 sessions a day. If they seem to be getting tired or start crying, it’s time for a break.
  • Supervise your baby on a blanket on the counter (with your hand on their back), bend down to talk to them, and see if they try to lift their head to look at you.
  • Put your baby on your chest on their tummy facing you and softly talk to them to try to encourage them to lift their head.
  • Put your baby, belly down, on your thighs and gently rub their back.
  • Holding your baby upright over your shoulder while gently supporting their head also strengthens their neck and back muscles.

The sound of your voice

The 10 best ways to grow your newborn baby's brain (3)

It’s awkward to talk to someone who doesn’t 
talk back yet, but the research is clear—there’s a direct link between a child’s intelligence and the number of words spoken to them. In the first few months, your baby is constantly listening to the intonation, rhythm, and patterns of your voice. Even though they can’t understand what you’re saying yet, their brain is laying the groundwork for acquiring language.

Some tips for talking to your baby:

(Video) Tips on Brain Development in Babies | Child Developmental Milestones

The 10 best ways to grow your newborn baby's brain (4)
  • Try the reading position above—your baby is more likely to take an interest in the book you’re reading if they can see your face, too! Also, this position helps to support awkward, slumpy little bodies with your legs.
  • Go on a“house tour.”When your baby is awake, facing forward if possible in a wrap, or with their head turned to the side in a carrier, walk around your house and talk about what you’re seeing and experiencing. House tours are often a favorite activity for the first year.
  • Talk aloud to your baby about what you’re doing together— just narrate your day. During changing time, talk face to face.
  • Make eye contactand respond to their cues. If they start to coo or vocalize, talk back. “Serve and return” communication is a well-studied element of a child’s brain development.
  • Sing to your baby, even if you don’t think you have a great voice—your baby will love it because it’s you. Babies tune into singing even more than talking.
  • Talk in the slower, higher-pitched, sing-song voice that tends to come naturally when speaking to babies. Babies are pre-programmed to tune into higher tones, and learn more from the stretched-out vowels in “baby talk.”
  • Tell your partner, your baby’s grandparents, and other caregivers how important talking is to your baby’s developing brain. Encourage them to find ways to talk to your baby, too—the more words your baby hears, the easier their language acquisition can become later on.
  • For more ideas on what to talk about, check out the Talking Topics book fromThe Inspector Play Kit.

Exploration of new sounds

Around 4 weeks, your baby will likely start to show more interest in a variety of sounds and patterns. Help them build more lasting neural networks by exposing them to sounds from real life, rather than the pre-recorded sounds made by electronic toys. Experiment with sounds that are high-pitched, low-pitched, slow-paced, lively, soft, etc, introducing just one sound at a time.

When your baby is alert and the room is quiet, make simple sounds in their field of vision: tap on the glass, rattle your keys, snap your fingers. These everyday noises are routine for you, but they’re brand new (and therefore interesting) to your baby. Try to involve your baby as much as possible, talking about what you’re doing and what they’re seeing, even though they won’t understand what you’re saying quite yet.

Some sound-exploring ideas to get started:

  • Tear or crumple up paper in front of your baby.
  • Pour dry pasta into a pan, tap a spoon against a bowl, or make other common cooking noises.
  • Turn a doorknob, ring a doorbell, and open or close the blinds or windows.
  • Play and dance along to music.

As with other forms of stimulation, be sensitive to your baby’s reactions. If they’re unhappy, it’s time to take a break.

Ways to discover the world around them (around 8 weeks)

The 10 best ways to grow your newborn baby's brain (5)

Research has shown that if you put black and white patterned mittens on your baby’s hands, they may begin to notice them several weeks earlier than they would otherwise.

Hand discovery is an important step on the path to hand control.

  • You can getblack and white patterned mittensor make your own by tying a piece of cloth with a black and white design loosely around their palm.
  • Lay your baby on a plain blanket with no other high-contrast visuals in view.
  • Place the black and white mittens on your baby’s hands while they’re lying on their back or side, or during tummy time.
  • See if they start to notice their hands. If not, you can gently move their hands into their line of sight.

And for breastfeeding parents, one bonus baby brain tip: try to give your babyVitamin D dropsevery day, dripping a drop onto your nipple before feeding or onto your baby’s pacifier (Vitamin D is essential for healthy development and sufficient amounts are not found in breast milk).

See our developmental toys for your baby’s first year and how we help tap into their natural curiosity to learn.

The 10 best ways to grow your newborn baby's brain (6)

The Looker Play Kit

The Looker Play Kit welcomes your newborn with tools to help them process the world around them and build brand new brain connections with high-contrast and black-and-white Playthings.

Learn more

(Video) How baby brains develop

The 10 best ways to grow your newborn baby's brain (7)


The Charmer Play Kit

The Charmer Play Kit is designed to let your 3 – 4 month old baby explore with their mouth, eyes, and hands as their personality emerges and their social awareness grows.

Learn more

The 10 best ways to grow your newborn baby's brain (8)

The Play Gym

(Video) Boost Your Baby’s Brain | Audrey van der Meer | TEDxTrondheim

Lovevery’s award-winning, Montessori-inspired baby activity gym gives baby a whole year of play for their developing brain. See inside The Play Gym by Lovevery.

Learn more


What are 3 ways that you can increase the development of an infant's brain? ›

3 ways parents can improve their babies' brain development
  • Get to know your baby. The most important thing that any parent can do to support the development, and particularly the brain development of a young child, is to be able to read your child's cues. ...
  • Have fun with your baby. ...
  • Boost your baby's brains with games.

What activities helps a baby's brain grow intellectually? ›

Play ideas for encouraging baby cognitive development
  • Read books, sing songs and recite nursery rhymes together. ...
  • Let your baby hold, drop and roll different balls. ...
  • Play with rattles, bells and other toys that make noise.
  • Put toys around your baby to encourage movement.
Dec 20, 2022

What makes your baby smarter? ›

Play It Smart

Pediatrician Belilovsky says there are several types of intelligence that a parent can work to enhance in their young children: social, linguistic, spatial and numeric. But the most essential tool is parent interaction. Babies need motivation for flexing their intellect, he says.

What are the 7 stages of brain development? ›

Early Stages of Brain Development
  • Neurulation. About 2 weeks after conception, the developing embryo has organized itself into a three-layered, spherical structure. ...
  • Proliferation. ...
  • Cell migration. ...
  • Differentiation. ...
  • Synaptogenesis. ...
  • Synapse pruning. ...
  • Myelination. ...
  • Summary.

What is the best music for baby brain development? ›

Studies have shown that classical music brings down a newborn's heart and breathing rates and soothes their stress, and that listening to a waltz or concerto might help promote brain development, especially in premature babies.

What activities improve the brain? ›

Any mentally stimulating activity should help to build up your brain. Read, take courses, try "mental gymnastics," such as word puzzles or math problems Experiment with things that require manual dexterity as well as mental effort, such as drawing, painting, and other crafts.

What are the top 5 nuts for the brain? ›

Nuts like almonds, pistachios and macadamias each bring something special to the table. Almonds help improve memory, pistachio nut oils help preserve fatty acids and prevent inflammation, and macadamias contribute to normal brain function. Yet, the top nut award certainly goes to the walnut.

Which fruit is good for brain? ›

Fruits. Certain fruits such as oranges, bell peppers, guava, kiwi, tomatoes, and strawberries, contain high amounts of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps prevent brain cells from becoming damaged and supports overall brain health. In fact, a study found that vitamin C can potentially prevent Alzheimer's.

What are 5 things parents can do to promote good brain development? ›

5 Simple Ways To Encourage Brain Development In Your Little One
  • Maximize love, manage stress. Babies pick up on stress, which means moms and dads have to take care of themselves, too. ...
  • Talk, sing and point. ...
  • Count, group and compare. ...
  • Explore through movement and play. ...
  • Read and discuss stories.
Oct 1, 2018

What are the 5 stages of brain development? ›

Special feature: The five ages of the brain
  • Gestation: Setting the stage.
  • Childhood: Soak it up.
  • Adolescence: Wired, and rewiring.
  • Adulthood: The slippery slope.
  • Old age: Down but not out.
Apr 1, 2009

What months are babies smartest? ›

Those born in September are, apparently, the smartest out of the entire year. According to Marie Claire, a study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research found that there's a clear correlation between the month during which you were born and how smart you are.

What increases a child's intelligence? ›

Puzzles, blocks, memory games, crafts, toys figurines – these are tools every child should grow up with. Give your children ample time and space to play with these tools when they are in preschool.

Are babies who sleep more smarter? ›

Sleep-deprived parents rejoice, there is new evidence to suggest that babies who wake up through the night are associated with higher levels of intelligence and better mental health.

Does music help baby brain development? ›

Neuroscientists who study baby brains say music has long-lasting benefits for babies, too. Music makes a big difference to the baby brain. One study from the Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences detected that after babies listen to music, their auditory and prefrontal cortexes look different.

What week does the brain develop in a baby? ›

Around week 5, your baby's brain, spinal cord, and heart begin to develop. Your baby's brain is part of the central nervous system, which also houses the spinal cord.

How can I make my baby healthy and intelligent? ›

To ensure your baby inherits your braininess, we bring you eight tips that ensure your baby is smart and intelligent.
  1. Start a storytime habit. ...
  2. Eat healthy. ...
  3. Stay fit and active. ...
  4. Play music and get talking. ...
  5. Keep thyroid levels in check. ...
  6. Don't ignore the supplements. ...
  7. Get a little sunshine. ...
  8. Gently massage your tummy.
Apr 5, 2017

What are the 8 signs of brain development? ›

8 Signs of Brain Development
  • Good memory. Recalling people, places, events, and details forms an integral part of a person's cognitive development. ...
  • Sharp vision. ...
  • Regulated behavior. ...
  • Developed language skills. ...
  • Growing comprehension. ...
  • Sustained focus. ...
  • Improved problem-solving. ...
  • Expanding vocabulary.
Oct 29, 2018

At what age does brain fully develop? ›

The brain finishes developing and maturing in the mid-to-late 20s. The part of the brain behind the forehead, called the prefrontal cortex, is one of the last parts to mature. This area is responsible for skills like planning, prioritizing, and making good decisions.

What should newborns listen to? ›

Listening to classical music is a good baby calming technique. Lullabies and other tunes have been played to children for many years to lull them to sleep or to simply slow things down a little. Listening to music is a good baby calming technique, whether you are rocking your baby in your arms or swaying to the rhythm.

What do babies like to listen to? ›

They surveyed 2,300 parents and found that the sounds most likely to make infants happy included sneezing (51%), animal noises (23%) and baby laughter (28%).

What songs do babies like most? ›

The top ten sounds included “boo!” (66%), raspberries (57%), sneezing (51%), animal sounds (23%), and baby laughter (28%). We also know babies respond better to “plosive” vocal sounds like “pa” and “ba” compared to “sonorant” sounds like “la.” Heap very cleverly worked many of these elements into the song.

What is the most important vitamin for the brain? ›

When it comes to brain health, focus on the three B's : vitamins B6, B12, and B9 (folate). “These three types of B vitamins are necessary for the brain's normal functioning,” says Dr. Agarwal, “and any deficiency in them may increase the risk of memory loss and other forms of cognitive decline.”

Which drink is good for brain? ›

Brain-Boosting Beverages
  • Coffee. 1/12. If you can't get through the morning without a java jolt, you're not alone. ...
  • Green Tea. 2/12. ...
  • Berry Juices. 3/12. ...
  • Kombucha. 4/12. ...
  • Green Smoothie. 5/12. ...
  • Turmeric Tea. 6/12. ...
  • Beetroot Juice. 7/12. ...
  • Ginseng Tea. 8/12.
Nov 30, 2022

What are the 10 brain foods? ›

The Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Brain
  • Salmon. The Good Stuff: Omega-3 fatty acids. ...
  • Flax Seeds. The Good Stuff: Omega-3 Fatty Acids. ...
  • Walnuts. The Good Stuff: Carbohydrates. ...
  • Sardines. The Good Stuff: B Vitamins. ...
  • Green Tea. The Good Stuff: Enzymes. ...
  • Chocolate. The Good Stuff: ...
  • Eggs. The Good Stuff: ...
  • Blueberries. The Good Stuff:

What are the 5 brain killer foods? ›

The 7 Worst Foods for Your Brain
  • Sugary Drinks. Share on Pinterest. ...
  • Refined Carbs. Refined carbohydrates include sugars and highly processed grains, such as white flour. ...
  • Foods High in Trans Fats. ...
  • Highly Processed Foods. ...
  • Aspartame. ...
  • Alcohol. ...
  • Fish High in Mercury.
Jan 28, 2018

What are the 12 brain boosting foods? ›

11 Best Foods to Boost Your Brain and Memory
  • Fatty fish. When people talk about brain foods, fatty fish is often at the top of the list. ...
  • Coffee. If coffee is the highlight of your morning, you'll be glad to hear that it's good for you. ...
  • Blueberries. ...
  • Turmeric. ...
  • Broccoli. ...
  • Pumpkin seeds. ...
  • Dark chocolate. ...
  • Nuts.
Jun 18, 2021

What are the 14 foods for brain health? ›

14 Foods to Boost Brain Power
  • Water. Water can keep you hydrated, which always makes your head feel better. ...
  • Salmon. Salmon is filled with protein, as well as certain essential fatty acids, which are known to promote brain health, as well as healthy cells overall. ...
  • Eggs. ...
  • Peanut Butter. ...
  • Blueberries. ...
  • Turkey Breast. ...
  • Beets. ...
  • Banana.
Dec 19, 2019

What are the top 20 brain foods? ›

20 Foods To Naturally Increase Your Brain Power
  • Olive oil. High-quality olive oil is rich in polyphenols, which are powerful brain-protective antioxidants.
  • Coconut oil. ...
  • Wild salmon. ...
  • Blueberries. ...
  • Turmeric. ...
  • Eggs. ...
  • Dandelion greens. ...
  • Walnuts.

What are good brain food snacks? ›

Brain Boosting Snacks
  • Blueberries. Studies have shown that blueberries can improve thinking and memory skills, which is likely thanks to the flavonoids (a kind of antioxidant) they're packed with. ...
  • Hard-boiled eggs. ...
  • An apple with almond butter. ...
  • Nuts. ...
  • Salsa with fresh veggies. ...
  • Whole-grain crackers and cheese.

Is Milk good for the brain? ›

Drinking more dairy milk may improve brain health in older adults, KU Medical Center researchers find. Older adults who drink three cups of dairy milk a day can increase their brain's level of a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the brain from the damage that accompanies aging and aging-related diseases.

Is Banana good for the brain? ›

Eating a banana will give your brain the healthy, natural, low GI sugar that it needs during exam time. Plus bananas also make you happy, literally! Bananas contain high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid, which is converted into serotonin in your body.

What are the best vitamins for babies brain development? ›

Three nutrients are especially important to support the developing brain and eyes: Lutein, Vitamin E, and DHA. "These key nutrients work together to support brain and eye health," explains Abbott registered dietitian and pediatric nutrition scientist, Beth Reverri, PhD, RD.

What causes poor fetal brain development? ›

Factors such as poor nutrition, stress and infection during pregnancy have all been associated with adverse effects on fetal neurodevelopment. One important consideration is that the long-term risks associated with exposure to an adverse intra-uterine environment are not evenly distributed across society.

At what age do babies brains grow the most? ›

From birth to age 5, a child's brain develops more than at any other time in life. And early brain development has a lasting impact on a child's ability to learn and succeed in school and life.

What vitamin helps the brain the most? ›

When it comes to brain health, focus on the three B's : vitamins B6, B12, and B9 (folate). “These three types of B vitamins are necessary for the brain's normal functioning,” says Dr. Agarwal, “and any deficiency in them may increase the risk of memory loss and other forms of cognitive decline.”

Which fruit is best for baby brain development? ›

Strawberries, cherries, blueberries, blackberries. "In general, the more intense the color, the more nutrition in the berries," Krieger says.

Which oil is best for baby brain development? ›

DHA Omega-3 Fish Oil | Baby Brain Development | Bare Biology.

What is the best brain food during pregnancy? ›

Meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit, wholegrains, fortified breakfast cereals, soybean, most dark-green leafy vegetables. Essential for the production of thyroid hormones in the mother's body, and also normal development of foetal brain.

What is the greatest risk factor to a developing baby's brain? ›

Infections pose perhaps the greatest risk to the developing fetus' brain. Many seemingly harmless infections can seriously interrupt fetal development, including the formation and wiring of brain cells.

What birth defect is small brain? ›

Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby's head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly.

At what age do babies start thinking? ›

Babies do not think like adults, as their brains are still developing up to the age of six. 90% of neural connections are made before the age of three, with the remaining 10% occurring between the ages of three and six. However, while they may not think like an older person, babies think from the time they are born.

At what week is a baby's brain fully developed? ›

Your baby's brain development is a complex process that continues throughout your pregnancy. At just six weeks, the embryo's brain and nervous system begin to develop, although the complex parts of the brain continue to grow and develop through the end of pregnancy, with development ending around the age of 25.


1. How To Stimulate Healthy Brain Development In Your Child | UCLA Health
(UCLA Health)
2. Best ways to grow your BABY'S BRAIN | Baby development
(Dr Puneet Anand | Pediatrician)
3. Baby Brain Development – How to Support Healthy Brain Growth
(FirstCry Parenting)
(Taylor Raine)
5. Baby’s brain development: 10-12 months
(C&G baby club UK)
(Pocketful of Parenting)


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