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Child development

Pregnant woman holding her stomach

Brain development - Your baby’s brain will grow steadily during pregnancy and is about a quarter developed at birth. By three years of age your baby's brain will have made trillions of brain connections, but only those that are used regularly will remain. Brain development in the womb is influenced by genes, blood supply, hormone levels- particularly stress hormones, and the environment around your baby.

Did you know that your baby can hear your voice and will start to remember the sounds of the world around you from about 27 weeks? Loud noises may make your baby jump and kick. The NHS Choices website contains lots of useful information on child development.

The importance of relationships: Building a bond with your baby during pregnancy provides an important foundation for the relationship that will form between you and your baby. A loving secure relationship between a baby and its parents or carers grows over time and forms the building blocks of future emotional wellbeing and healthy relationships.

Many factors influence the gradual building of this relationship during pregnancy. Getting to know your unborn baby can be particularly difficult if you have suffered the death of a baby, or if you are feeling stressed or anxious more generally. If you are finding these things difficult, do not worry, speak to your health visitor who will be able to offer you additional support.

The Getting to know your baby app and website contain lots of useful information. Here are some of their tips on how to bond with your unborn baby:

  • Put on some of your favourite music and notice whether s/he seems more active or whether they go off to sleep.            

  • Try playing gentle, soothing music while you are going to sleep. See if s/he remembers it and goes off to sleep after they are born.

  • Babies love nursery rhymes and songs - so try singing them a few songs.

  • When you feel a kick, put your hand on your stomach and say: “It’s okay I’m right here.”

  • Try sitting down and relaxing. Gently rub your bump and ask your baby how he or she is. Get your partner to do the same and have a chat with your baby.

       
  • As you go from one activity to another, talk to your baby as though she or he were right there in front of you. Tell them what you are doing.

  • If possible arrange your scan appointments at a time when the baby’s father, or your partner, can be there.       

 

You might feel a bit uncomfortable at first trying out these suggestions, but lots of parents have found that they make a real difference as they get to know their new baby.