How to keep an infant's brain stimulated

Written by Cindy Hovington, Ph.D. Founder of

Montreal, Canada

The newborn brain is developing at an incredibly fast rate. The environment plays a crucial role in a child’s brain development. A new parent might feel that it is too early to play and stimulate a newborn, but there are lots of activities that will help with brain development. I will highlight 10 activities you can do with your baby between the ages of 0-6 months. I intentionally did not divide the activities by age since every baby is different and will develop at their own pace. As a new parent, keep referring to the Developmental Milestones during the first 5 years of your child’s life. If you child appears to have a delay on any aspect of development, speak to your pediatrician immediately.

developmental milestones for 0-6 months:

10 activities that will stimulate your baby’s brain:

Serve and return:

Serve and return is one of the most important things a parent can do to help with their child’s brain development. It is based on responding appropriately to your baby’s cry, babble or gesture by responding to them with a hug, eye contact, smile, or speaking to them. Being aware of serve and return helps parents become sensitive and responsive to their child’s needs, which provides an infant with a warm and stimulating environment.

Reading books:

Even if your baby is only a few days old, reading to them is another way to stimulate them. First, they are hearing you speak, which helps with language development. Even if it does seem as if they are listening, their brain is still learning. Second, if you point to objects in the book as you speak of them, you are helping them develop their visual skills. When they begin to grasp objects with their hands, you can even take their hand and say “turn the page” and guide them to turn the page. Before you know it, they will do it on their own! Research has shown that reading 5 books a day to your child between birth and Kindergarten leads to a child having heard 1.4 million more words when they enter Kindergarten compared to children who were not read to! This in turn helps prepare them for reading and writing. For a list of books we recommend, click here.


Playing in front of a mirror is a great way to help your baby learn to focus a little longer (seeing themselves is really exciting for them!) and to encourage them to “babble with another baby”! I would sit my children on the bathroom counter and chat with them through the mirror or add a little water to the sink and let them splash around. You can also place a small mirror against the wall right in front of your baby when they are doing tummy time. From my experience, this helps them spend a little more time on their tummy since they are curious about the new friend they found in the mirror.

Hand exercises (grasping):

Babies are born with a grasping reflex, but they don’t know how to do it consciously since they need to learn this. When babies as young as 2-3 weeks of age are awake, you can play with their tiny hands. When they open their hand, place a small object inside such as one of these toy rings (plastic or wooden). As they begin to open and close their hand on their own, give them small challenges by offering them something such as an Oball. As they improve, you can place a silk scarf inside a different type of ball for an added brain challenge (the goal is to get the scarf out of the ball).


At around 2 months, a baby will begin to follow moving objects with their eyes. To help with this milestone, you can use puppets when playing and speaking with your newborn. IKEA has some fantastic and inexpensive hand and finger puppets. You can tell your own story when using puppets, read a book and follow the actions of the main character, or simply talk to your baby while using a different voice and moving the puppet around.

Baby sign language:

When your baby wants milk, you can start introducing baby sign language to help them communicate their needs. You can begin as young as 5 months of age. In addition, when they begin to eat solid foods and drink water, you can introduce signs for “more”, “hungry” and “water”. The key to introducing sign language is to sign it every time you say the word. It will take weeks or even months for your child to learn, but once they sign for the first time, it will be wonderful! If you want to introduce the sign for “hungry”, when they point to food or cry because they are hungry, show them the food and ask “are you hungry” as you sign simultaneously. I taught both my kids sign language for a few words that really helped us communicate. Since they were able to ask for “more” or for “milk” even if they were 7 months old, they would cry less. They continued to sign with me past 24 months, and they ability for us to communicate was truly special.


Skin-to-skin contact (when a naked baby is placed on a parents bare chest) is really important to help a baby build a bond with their parents and also helps with a baby’s development. There are many other benefits of skin-to-skin (click on the button below) including increased milk production for the mother and reducing crying for the baby and skin-to-skin is especially important for premature babies (see Kangaroo Care). If you are about to have a baby and would like to breastfeed, ask the doctors to leave your newborn on your bare chest until they begin to nurse on their own. Do as much skin-to-skin at the hospital and when you come home as well. You can dedicate some time every day to do skin-to-skin for the next few weeks for even months. Cover your baby with a blanket to keep them warm or use a special skin-to-skin shirt such as the VIJA Design Kangaroo Shirt. To view other model’s of baby wearing shirts, click here.

Infant mAssage:

Another way to increase skin to skin contact with your baby is by giving them massages. I would massage my children right after their bath in the evening and I found that it helped them relax. On some days I would massage them 2-3 times as well since it added an activity for us to do together. I used some baby oil and I followed the instructions from a book called Infant Massage by Vimala McClure. There might be some infant massage classes in your area.

Tummy time:

You can begin tummy time with your baby as soon as you come home from the hospital. Tummy time helps reduce the risk of flat head syndrome and increases your baby’s strength. Some babies may not enjoy tummy time but keep doing it every day even if it is only a few minutes at a time (do it multiple times per day). Chat with them while they do some tummy time, place a mirror in front of them, read a book to them or play with some puppets to keep them entertained.

Executive function activities:

The term “executive functions” are cognitive or brain skills that are dependent on the child’s environment. According to research, the stronger these skills are before the age of 5, the better prepared children are when they begin school. Executive functions skills, according to the Harvard University Center for the Developing Child, are defined as, the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus our attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. You can begin helping your child build these important skills as early as 6 months of age by doing activities such as playing peek-a-boo, hiding objects under blankets, playing imitation games, singing songs that also include some hand actions such as Itsy Bitsy Spider, or having conversations with them. For more info, click on the button below.

What to avoid when you have a baby:

Screen time or background Television:

Researchers and pediatricians are warning parents about the potential negative consequences of too much screen time in young children, especially in babies under age 2. Research studies have shown that this may contribute to attentional problems later on. In fact, the American Association of Pediatrics recommends zero screen time before the age of 2. Also try to keep the TV off when a baby is awake since this has been shown to overstimulate their brain as well. For more info click here or here to read our articles on screen time.

Arguing in front of babies

Even if an infant doesn’t understand what we are saying to them, research has shown that arguing in front of a baby elevates their heart rate and breathing rate since their body responds to the stress of people arguing. Being a new parent can be challenging, especially given the lack of sleep. This can lead to some difficult times in a marriage or a relationship. As parents, we need to be aware of the harm this can have on a baby’s brain and refrain from arguing in front of them as much as possible. If we argue too often with them around, it can have an impact of their brain’s stress system and they can become anxious and have difficulty calming themselves in stressful situations later on. For more info, click here to read an article.

Leaving them alone when they are awake

I often hear parents say that a baby needs to learn to be independent. Although this may be true to some extent, society has created too many objects that are used to leave babies alone and this can result in babies being alone for long periods of time when they are awake. Playpens, swings or exersaucer’s filled with all the bells and whistles to keep babies “entertained” are contributing to baby’s spending more time alone and getting less interaction with their parents and caregivers. If you need to prepare dinner, it is fine leaving your baby alone to play, but if the baby is being placed in a playpen a large percentage of the time they are awake, they are losing time to bond with you and to learn and allow their brain to develop. Speak with them when you are preparing dinner and don’t forget to interact them since your interaction is truly the only “toy” they truly need!

Avoid toys that require batteries

A toy with a battery means it will probably make noises and flash some lights. When it comes to babies, they really don’t need this. Most of the time, these toys speak too quickly. They are better for a child who is older and can understand better. Also, these types of toys are “entertaining” your child rather that a toy that your baby uses to “entertain themselves”. You want them to learn to think for themselves and figure things out when they are “bored”. Wooden toys are great to have a around them and if you want some noise, you can include rattles/rainmakers or small musical instruments that they need to move around to get noise out of.


More Helpful Resources for Parents with babies:

Fewer toys in a child's environment is better for their brain

Written by Cindy Hovington, Ph.D in Neuroscience

Founder of

Montreal, Canada

Minimalistic playroom courtesy of  @play_learn_laugh

Minimalistic playroom courtesy of @play_learn_laugh

Play and Brain Development.

I recently came across an interesting scientific article I thought I should share with you. I often discuss on the the Curious Neuron Facebook page which toys are developmentally appropriate on (follow us for daily tips, activities and info!), however, I have never commented on how many toys are appropriate.

In a recent study by Dauch and colleagues (2018), they tested whether the number of toys placed in a child’s play environment has an impact on the quality of play for toddlers. Quality of play is measured by how long a child stays focused on one toy and how they can use their imagination to play with that toy in different ways. The introduction to this article beautifully sums up play in children. “Engagement in play begins in infancy and has beneficial effects on development. During play, children interact with the physical and social elements of the environment, allowing them to discover challenges and try new skills. This enhances child development, health, and well-being (Knox & Mailloux, 1997). Through play, children learn to interpret the world around them which in return enhances their cognitive, emotional, social, and physical skills (Brasic-Royeen, 1997; Kuhaneck, Spitzer, & Miller, 2010; Shannon, 1974; Smith & Pellegrini, 2013; Russ, 2004). Play-based learning promotes academic readiness and outcomes (Golinkoff & HirschPasek, 2008). Thus, it is important to optimize the environment in which children play.”

Daunch reminds us that Piaget’s cognitive-developmental theory (1952) states that children acquire knowledge as they explore, manipulate, and imitate the environment around them. Attention plays a huge role in play by keeping a child engaged. Contrarily, distractions can cause a child to lose focus and become disinterested in play as well. Too many toys in the environment or TV playing in the background are some of the significant distractors that can shorten the duration of play with a single toy. (For more info on screen time click here or here)

Description of the study and summary of results.

A total of 36 toddlers between the ages of 18-30 months were tested by letting them play with various toys.

Toys were divided into four categories and designated as battery operated or not:

  1. Educational : Toys that may teach a concept such as shapes, colours, or counting.

  2. Pretend : Toys that suggest themed play scenarios for ‘as if’ play.

  3. Action: Toys that can be activated through manipulation or toys that encourage exploration/ activity on the part of the toddler i.e. building, stacking, opening, twisting.

  4. Vehicles: Toys that have wheels that promote play through the toddlers ability to push the toy.

Two play conditions were compared, 1) a 4-toy play session and 2) a 16-toy play session. During a child’s play session of 30 min, researchers evaluated the following 1) how often they played with each toy, 2) how long they played with each toy, and 3) the different ways they played with each toy.

Researchers found that in the condition with only 4 toys, children played with fewer toys, stayed focused longer on the toy they selected and played with that toy in various ways. This means that the quality of play was greater when there were only 4 toys in a child’s environment! Interestingly, when parents who participated in this study were asked how many toys they owned at home, some commented as much as 90, while others could not even count how many toys they had. In a study by Arnold and colleagues (2012), they found that the average American family has 139 toys available at a given time for their children. Although most people have toys organized for display, they are still all accessible to children and therefore create a distraction for children under the age of 5.

How to create the ideal play environment for your child’s development.

Minimalistic playroom courtesy of  @ zaras_ play _tribe

Minimalistic playroom courtesy of @zaras_play_tribe

Although we may have a lot of toys for our children, this study emphasizes the importance of having only a few toys available at a time in their play environment - so don’t get rid of all your toys! This study suggests 4 toys, however you can have a toy rotation and keep the rest of the toys in a closet or storage area. In fact, I highly recommend a toy rotation! This helps create an aspect of novelty for a child and sparks their interest and curiosity in their toys since they have not been in their environment for a while. Create a space or a room that is safe for your child to explore, has no distractions such as TV and has only a few toys available for play.

When creating a playroom or a play area, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I have some toys from the different categories: educational, pretend, action and vehicles? (see above for details)

  2. Are toys at my child’s eye level? Having toys or books at eye level allows children to develop independence and follows the Montessori playroom guidelines (for more info click here)

  3. Have I limited battery operated toys if I have children under 2?

  4. Do I have open-ended toys such as wooden blocks, animal figurines or pretend play items? (for more info on what open-ended toys are click here)

  5. Have I allowed an area dedicated to “quiet time” to either read or play in a sensory bin? (for more info on sensory bins click here)

  6. Does my child have a creative space in their playroom?

There are two Instagram accounts that I highly recommend. First, @zaras_play_tribe is an account that has the perfect minimalistic play environment! Zara, a mother of 2 will often post stories about her toy rotations and demonstrates that sometimes a “toy” is something we can create on our own. The pictures I have in this article are her playroom! She limits 1 toy per shelf and most of her toys at eye level. She has a sensory bin as well. She demonstrates that you do not need a large playroom.

Another account is the @new_trick_kids. The reason I am including this website and Instagram account is because Meghan shows us that there isn’t a need to have lots of toys. We can use simple items from around our home or at the dollar store to create activities that are simple and promote development - place rubber bands around Jenga blocks, sensory bins using coloured chick peas, straws in a Play-Doh ball are all examples of simple activities a child can do and learn from. She also explains how she includes a toy rotation for her playroom.

We would love to hear from you! How do you minimize toys in your home? What are your tips on toy rotations? What type of toys do you have in your playroom and which are your child’s favourites?

Reducing a baby's stress when they start daycare

Written by Cindy Hovington, Ph.D. Founder of

Montreal, Canada


Starting daycare can be a stressful time, for both babies and parents alike. Some babies will adapt quickly, while others will cry every morning for many weeks. Does starting daycare have any impact on a child's brain? It can. This is especially true in children younger than 36 months (3 years of age). This is why research recommends that the best time for a child to begin daycare or preschool is 3 years of age. Elevated cortisol levels in children that occur frequently can alter the brain's architecture. However, the reality is that most parents must place their children in daycare much earlier than at 3 years of age. For this reason, I have included 3 important tips to help make your child's daycare integration a smooth one.  

First, a little science on stress and the brain.

Researchers measure stress in children by collecting samples of saliva since the stress hormone named cortisol (a glucocorticoid hormone) is found in saliva. When it comes to stress in children, we can't rely on behaviour alone since some children will internalize stress.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BONDING: Building a strong attachment with your child BEFORE they start daycare can help reduce their stress when they begin. You can bond by doing skin-to-skin, holding them or giving baby massages.

Levels of cortisol naturally fluctuate throughout a 24-hour day. Cortisol levels are highest in the morning when we wake up and are the lowest in the evening (the spike helps you wake up and the decrease allows you to fall asleep). This is the rhythm our body develops as of childhood. If a child is introduced to high levels of stress throughout the day, it will influence the fluctuation of their natural cortisol levels. This is what can be damaging in the long run. Internal or external stresses will cause a child's brain to activate the HPA axis (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenocortical), which is involved in regulating stress and emotions. When there is a stressful event, the HPA increases levels of cortisol. The HPA axis is closely linked to the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain involved in learning and memory. Chronic and severe (due to emotional neglect, abuse, witnessing violence) levels of stress can actually alter the hippocampus, thus causing memory issues. 

In daycare settings, studies have repeatedly shown that cortisol levels are higher in children who spend the day in daycare compared to being at home. Not only because they are separated from their parents for such long periods of time (if possible try to reduce the number of hours a child under 3 spends at daycare), but because being in peer groups at such a young age is actually very demanding on them due to frequent emotional arousal in their environment (other kids yelling, lots of movement and noise etc). The key to reducing stress in daycare is the bond your child will create with their caregiver. The stronger this attachment or bond is with their caregiver, the more it will help your child reduce their levels of stress.


3 tips that will help your child during their transition into daycare and lower their stress levels. 

1. Implement a very slow integration.

Researchers split the "start" of daycare into "adaptation phase" and "separation phase". The adaptation phase is when an infant starts daycare with the presence of their parent. Bringing on a new environment and a new caregiver causes elevated levels of stress for the infant. They learned that 1) the stronger the bond between mother and child (i.e. the more secure they are with their mother) before the start of daycare, the lower the levels of cortisol when they begin daycare and 2) the longer the mother stayed in the adaptation phase for integration into daycare, the better the attachment become with their mother (Ahnert et al. 2004).  

2. Choose a high-quality daycare. 

  • Low child/caregiver ratio. According to research, the best child to caregiver ratio is 4:1 (For every adult there are 4 children). Also, the number of children in a group should be no more than 8. The more children there are the higher the noise level and this can be overstimulating for children. Also, a higher the chord to caregiver ratio means that the child will have a greater difficulty building an attachment to them. If possible, try to select a daycare that minimizes the number of children in a group (Geoffrey et al. 2006).

  • Low staff turnover. Your child should develop a strong bond (secure attachment) with their caregiver. When a child is younger than 3, it is important for them not to have multiple caregivers as this means they might have difficulty creating an attachment with them. If your daycare has a high staff turnover or multiple caregivers for your child, this may increase their stress. High quality home daycares can be great since your child will one caregiver for many years.

  • A sensitive and caring caregiver. Research has shown that if a child establishes a secure attachment to their caregiver (other than their parent), then this caregiver can help the child effectively diminish stress levels in a time of stress. In order for this to happen, caregivers must provide sensitive, responsive caregiving.

3. Increase bonding time with your child.    

If your child begins to exhibit different behaviour either at home (more crying during the time their are with you, wanting to be in your arms more often, changed eating habits, changed sleeping habits etc) or at daycare, then they might be feeling more stressed. Spend more time with them when you are at home. Increase cuddling time with them. Try doing some baby massages if they are young and increase skin to skin time through this activity (which in turn helps build a stronger attachment). Contrary to popular belief, holding your baby and spending time with your child is not "babying" your child. The stronger the attachment your child has with you the more comfortable they will feel when you are not around. (Stay tuned for an article on attachment, make sure you subscribe to our newsletter not to miss it!).  

Will your child start daycare soon? Take a breath. Everything will be ok. Adaptation to daycare takes time. Some research suggests as long as 6 months. Provide lots of emotional support for your child and your guidance will help them through this change. 

The Science Behind Tantrums: Information on Emotion Regulation

Written by Cindy Hovington, Ph.D. Founder of

Montreal, Canada.

While babies depend on their parents to regulate their emotions, toddlers need to learn how to manage their emotions independently, know as "emotion-related self-regulation" or "emotion regulation”. Being the parent of a toddler also comes with its challenges. How can parents help their toddler better understand their emotions and possibly reduce the number or severity of emotional outbursts (tantrums)? The emergence of self-regulation is an important milestone in child development. Toddlers will eventually learn to calm themselves (self-regulate). However, they need some help to develop this skill. What is important is how parents and caregivers respond to their emotions and how they help them create strategies to manage their emotions. I found an amazing review paper by Eisenberg et al. in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology in 2010. I will summarize the major points of this article and focus on defining emotional-regulation and discussing some tips for parents.

The science of self-regulation. 

The development of emotion-regulation is related to several aspects of child development, including attention, executive functions, and effortful control. Many of the capacities involved in emotion regulation appear to have a temperamental basis (Eisnenberg et al. 2010). This means that a child's mood,  how they approach and react to a situation, their level of fear, sadness or frustration (all part of temperament) can influence their ability to regulate their emotions.  Emotion self-regulation is defined as the ability to control one’s behavior, cognition, attention, and emotion when challenged (Heatherton and Wagner 2011).

Effortful control: Managing your attention and behaviour.

Effortful control is one of the main aspects of emotion regulation. It is defined as the ability to voluntarily manage attention and inhibit or activate behavior as needed, to adapt to the environment (Rothbart & Bates 2006, Rothbart 2012). This is what allows a child to shift their attention from something that is causing a stir in their emotions (a sibling taking their toy away) and inhibit inappropriate behavior (hitting or yelling). However, this isn't simple. Let’s break it down and start with attention, the "manage attention" part of effortful control.

Attention is also important for emotion-regulation.

Focused attention (i.e. staying focused when making a puzzle or reading) slowly begins to develop at around 8 to 10 months. A baby begins to stay focused longer on something they are doing. As a child gets older, they are able to stay focused for longer periods of time (however, for small children you can expect sustained attention to be, in minutes, about their age). Having control over your attention is important when regulating emotions, for example, if a child takes your toy away you can shift your attention to another toy, otherwise staying focused feeds your frustration. Some studies have shown that parents can help their child learn an emotion regulation strategy known as "reorienting attention" (more on strategies in Part 2 of this article).

Inhibiting behaviour and emotion regulation.  

The "inhibitory control" aspect of effortful control. Inhibitory control starts to become more evident around 24 to 36 months (Gerardi-Caulton 2000). You can see it best when playing a game of "Simon Says" with toddlers/preschoolers. If they struggle with refraining from, for example, touching their nose if you do not say "Simon Says", this suggests that it might be beneficial for them to play it more often to practice inhibition. In research, inhibition control is studied via delayed gratification, which requires that a child sit in front of something sweet (cookie/marshmallow) without eating it. They are told that if they do not eat it after a specific number of minutes, then they will get an additional treat. Interestingly, studies have shown that the lower a child’s ability for inhibitory control, the more they externalize (aggression, defiance, delinquency) their problems (Hill et al, 2006, Spinrad et al, 2007). Click here to read an interesting study on inhibitory control and emotion regulation. 

Emotion Regulation and the Role of Caregivers/Parents

The environment also plays a huge role in the development of emotion regulation. A great deal of research has looked into the important role of parental socialization of emotion regulation/effortful control in children’s lives. Eisenberg et al. (1998) proposed that socialization of emotion regulation can occur in at least 3 ways 1) socializers’ reaction to children’s emotions, 2) socializers’ expression of emotion in the family or toward the child and 3) socializers’ discussion of emotion (the "socializer" is the parent or caregiver). Let's look at these 3 in more detail.

1)    Try your best to stay calm through the storm.

Parental reactions to children’s emotions have been extensively researched and findings have suggested that sensitive, responsive parenting is linked with lower negativity and more regulatory behavior (Propper & Moore 2006, Li-Grining 2007). In addition, this type of parenting has also been shown to lower cortisol response to emotional arousal in children (Blair et al. 2008). Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone. Researchers refer to this as “maternal sensitivity” and an interesting study in 2007 (Belsky et al.) showed increased maternal sensitivity predicted better attention in first grade. Maternal interactions characterized by warmth and support are also thought to foster emotion-regulation skills.

Parenting styles have also been studied in relation to emotion regulation. Authoritarian (high on strict control and low on warmth), negative and punitive parenting has been associated with lower levels of effortful control (Xu et al. 2009). Researchers suggest that supportive responses along with emotion coaching may help children to reduce their negative emotions as well as help them understand the emotion while non-supportive may induce more negative emotions and dysregulation (Eisenberg et al. 2010).

A toddler’s emotional outbursts (aka temper tantrums) are difficult for both the child and parent. Janet Lansbury, a parenting expert says it best, “ I also know that staying calm and centered in the face of even the darkest of my children’s emotions is imperative to their well-being”. Her books and blog provide parents with important information including how parents can remain calm during a tantrum and how to calm an angry child

2)    Model emotions and behavior for your children.

One of my past Curious Neuron articles discussed the importance of refraining from arguing in front of babies. This remains true for toddlers. Research has shown that toddlers will learn emotions by imitating those found in their environment and use this to guide their own emotion regulation strategies (Morris et al. 2007). Given that parental expressivity guides a child’s emotions, parents need to be aware and mindful of their emotions (towards children and adults) around their children. 

3)    Discuss emotions with your children.

Talking to children about different emotions can help them understand their own emotions and help them self-regulate. Studies have shown that children whose parents discuss emotions with them tend to have higher levels of regulation. With children as young as 2, you can start introducing emotions through books, games, and play. For instance, you can use stuffed animals with younger toddlers to model certain emotions and behaviors during various scenarios such as getting a toy taken away by another child. The book Happy Hippo, Angry Duck was the first book I used to introduce emotions to my toddler. Throughout the day I would mimic the faces shown in the book and refer to the animals (each has a different emotion) when I was experiencing a certain emotion. With younger kids (5/6 and under) you can also leave emotion flash cards lying around the house. When they are experiencing an emotion you can link it to the picture and word to help them understand the various emotions. As she got older, I introduced the characters from the movie Inside out. There are a set of books for toddlers/preschoolers that are great for introducing emotions. After introducing my daughter to these books, we would refer to the characters throughout the day. For example, if we were outside I would ask “If you were Joy, how would you feel right now about all this snow” or “If you were sadness/fear how would you feel about all this snow”. I would then guide her about feeling happy there is snow, or sad that there is so much snow and that it is cold and not summer or afraid of all the snow, respectfully. With older children, you can use another Inside Out book that helps guide them through the thought process of why they used certain emotions in a situation and if they could have reacted differently. 

In summary...

In part 2 of this topic, I will cover how creating an attachment with your child can help with their emotional-regulation, the importance of sleep and I will discuss some emotion regulation strategies. There is no magic potion to stop temper tantrums or to get a child to develop strong emotional regulation strategies. It takes time, hard work, patience, deep breaths, lots of love and more patience. When my daughter struggles with her emotions, I remind myself that she needs my guidance. I can't get upset at the fact that she is learning and needs my help (although lack of sleep thanks to my baby can make some days difficult to think this way!)

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