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Brain

After birth, your baby’s brain is still developing. Your nurturing actions help to build the brain connections your baby needs for healthy social, emotional, and intellectual development. Responding to your baby with love and affection is the most important thing you can do for her brain.

Principles of Brain Development

  • The outside world shapes the brain’s wiring.
  • The outside world is experienced through the senses - seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting - enabling the brain to create or modify connections.
  • The brain operates on a “use it or lose it” principle.
  • Relationships with other people early in life are the major source of development of the emotional and social parts of the brain.
(Source: Canadian Institute of Child Health)

For more on how you can influence your baby’s brain development, see Nuturing.

Never shake your baby. It can cause serious, long-lasting brain damage or even death.

Caring for a baby can sometimes be frustrating. If you feel angry at your baby, you need some time alone. Take a few deep breaths. Make sure the baby is safe, perhaps lying on her back in her crib, then leave the room. Ask for help from your partner, or phone a friend or family member. Call your doctor, midwife, or public health nurse for help.

If you ever feel violent toward your baby, please immediately call the crisis help lines listed on the right-hand side of this page. If you think you may have harmed your baby, seek immediate medical attention. Call 911.