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Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

Five to Thrive Newborns

Your baby is born with about one hundred billion brain cells; in the first year of life their brain doubles in size. By the time your baby is a year old, their brain will be two-thirds the size of an adult brain - that’s a fantastic rate of growth!

Babies are born helpless and need you to be there for them, so they will find ways to tell you how they are feeling, often through crying.

When you respond to your baby, you are helping brain cell connections in the neocortex (the 'upstairs brain'). The more you respond, the more connections are made, helping your baby to develop skills for life such as:

  • Speech & language
  • Creativity
  • Solving problems
  • Understanding how others feel (empathy)
  • Coping with strong emotions & feelings (self-regulation)
  • Coping with difficult situations (resilience)

Meeting your baby’s emotional needs helps them to feel safe and has a positive effect on lifelong well-being. It is impossible to spoil your baby with too much love and attention.

The brain is amazing, find out more here:
Zero To Three Brain Development

baby laughing on bed

Five to Thrive is a parenting approach developed by Kate Cairns (author & foster parent). The five building blocks help you to understand how everything you do with your baby creates and strengthens brain connections.

1. When you RESPOND to your baby’s needs they are making up to a million brain connections every single second! Connecting with your baby helps both of your bodies to release ‘happy hormones’ – so when you respond it helps you to bond! In the beginning, your baby’s brain is working 16 times slower than yours, so remember to allow time for that

2. Close physical contact when you CUDDLE your baby helps to calm their stress, especially if you are calm. Touch is a powerful way to connect with and comfort your baby – you may want to gently rock them in your arms, stroke their hair or pat them lightly to let them know that you are there.

3. Sometimes babies need quiet time and need you to help them to RELAX . When you relax, your baby learns how to relax too. It does take time, but the connections in your baby’s brain will get stronger so that they will eventually learn to cope with strong emotions and feelings.

4. PLAY helps your baby to make sense of the world and forms trillions of brain connections ready for problem solving and thinking. You’ve probably noticed that your baby is happiest when they are playing with you – they enjoy your loving attention.

5. Your baby loves the sound of your voice. When you TALK and sing, you help to build the brain connections for speech and language; this will help your baby to communicate their feelings, needs and ideas.

Would you like to find out more about the Five to Thrive approach by booking onto one of our workshops? If so, please click here.

Contacting the service

Our email address for contact is:

You can reach us on: 02382 310251

You can find us at:
Child Health Information Service
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
Room E48, Tom Rudd Unit,
Moorgreen Hospital, Botley Road, West End,
Southampton, Hampshire, SO30 3JB

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