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Even in families of modest means, effective strategies are available to help a baby's brain grow.
Babies learn best from communicating with other people, especially with those who respond to them promptly and appropriately. Support programs that train mothers to be more responsive to their babies lead to improved cognitive development.
An analysis of multiple studies involving 900 mother-infant pairs showed that short-term behavioral training for mothers to enhance sensitivity also made children more likely to form a secure attachment to the mother, a major goal of attachment parenting. Such interventions are especially effective for mothers of fussy infants.
There is no One True Way to be a mother, as humans have been raising children successfully under a variety of circumstances for thousands of years. Putting pressure on women to adhere to a particular set of practices that may not fit their lives is likely to be counterproductive. Societal support, on the other hand, including support for breast-feeding where possible, can help all parents to help their children grow up well.
Sam Wang, an associate professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton University, and Sandra Aamodt, a former editor in chief of Nature Neuroscience, are the authors of "Welcome to Your Child's Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College."