We all know people who seem to be happy and enjoy life to the fullest. Well, believe it or not, getting to that happy place begins when we are babies! By showing your baby lots of smiles and positive emotions, you are helping to "wire" their brains to experience positive emotions later in life. Babies need a response from you when they experience emotions. 
Even though your baby can't talk about his emotions, he can express himself by using facial expressions, sounds and body movements. So pay close attention to when your baby shows you happy feelings. You won't want to miss an opportunity to return the smiles and happiness. Best of all, you'll be setting the stage for more smiles in the future!

Brain Science for Your Baby


Seeing your happy baby also activates areas in your brain!  A brain scan study (Strathearn, 2008) examined how a mother's brain responds to her infant's facial expression - comparing happy, neutral and sad faces.  The researchers used a scan called functional MRI.  When mothers see their own infant's face, the parts of the brain that have to do with emotion processing, thinking, and motor output "light up". 


Parts of the brain regions activated involve dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that is part of the "reward system" of the brain.  When you see your baby's happy face, that reward brain pathway is activated - which makes you want to see more of that!  So, smiling is good for your baby.  And when your baby smiles back, it is good for your happiness too!  

A Baby Buffer Prescription for Your Baby

If your baby smiles, be sure to pay attention and smile back at her. If you don't see your baby smiling at you, be sure to initiate smiling and positive emotions with her.


Watch your baby during play, mealtime or when you walk in the room, if she shows happiness and excitement return the same level of happy emotions to her.


Before long, you baby will be able to recognize and imitate your emotions.

A baby Buffer Prescription for You        


Remember to continue with a healthy diet, sleep and exercise program for you. When you take care of yourself, you are best able to take care of your baby!


Find someone to talk to if you are feeling overwhelmed or down.  Being a mom is a big change in your life and it's OK if you need some help.  



What Your Baby Can Do - Developmental Milestones 


Your baby is changing quickly during this period. Know what to look for to make sure your baby is growing and changing in a healthy way.  Click on the links below for information from the CDC on what your baby can do now.  

Baby Buffer Blog

Written by Greta McFarland, MD, FAAP, aka "Gene"


 Selfishness: is your child ever self-absorbed? Well, we hope so, since that is in the "kid job-description" for the first 20 years. But learning to go from selfishness to selflessness doesn't just happen; it is an on-going, many-times-a day activity, where everyone has to give and take. So keep that selfish thought in mind while we explore two articles on habits and how they help families teach kids to go from being selfish to becoming selfless.


The first article was in the Journal of School Health where about 1000 5th-6th grade students' standardized test scores and family habits were analyzed.  The kids with the best test scores had the following habits: no bedroom TV, healthy weight, being physically fit, eating healthy foods with rare fast foods or sugar drinks, and getting over 8 hours of sleep. 


The second article in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that kids aged 10 to 14 who lived in homes with parents who had consistent rules for safety and had consequences and rewards for behaviors, were less likely to have sex at early ages, and they did better in school.  

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