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The human body is entirely made up of cells, and the brain is no exception. Before birth, a baby's brain cells multiply at an astonishing rate. By the time your baby is born, she will have 100 billion brain cells. These cells are not yet connected in networks as they will be when her brain is mature.

The networks formed by brain cells are crucial. Among other things, they allow thinking and learning to take place. Given the importance of these networks, why do babies begin life without them? One answer is an unfinished brain offers an important benefit to your baby. It lets him form networks of brain cells in direct response to the world -- and from an infant's viewpoint, you are the world.

Babies experience the way you look into their eyes, and they see the expressions on your face; they hear you cooing, singing, talking and reading; they feel you holding or rocking them; they take in your familiar smells; they often experience the taste of your skin as well as their own. Touch is especially important: holding and stroking an infant stimulates the brain to release important hormones that allow him to grow. Your love for your child is, of course, the key to the powerful connection between the two of you. But it is the expression of your love that affects the way her brain forms connections.

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