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Scientific nursing top gives breastfeeding babies a brain workout

Breastfeeding babies could become smarter thanks to a scientifically designed 'clever baby' nursing top revealed by the University of Portsmouth this week.

The new nursing top incorporates the latest research in infant cognitive development by using patterns designed to stimulate babies' vision.

Studies indicate that patterns with high contrast colours, especially black and white, register powerfully on a baby’s retina and send strong visual signals to the brain - the equivalent of a visual workout for the baby. It increases neurological connections in the brain and aids crucial cognitive development.

And the top’s unique design makes breastfeeding easier for mum too. It has been fashionably designed while allowing mothers to maintain comfort and dignity. The cross-over design allows the baby to feed on the breast without the mother having to lift up the whole top and the garment is designed to cover the tummy area which many mums are sensitive about after childbirth.

The 'clever baby' nursing top has been created by Fatima Ba-Alawi from the University of Portsmouth Centre for Enterprise working in collaboration with Heidi McLaughlin from Hampshire-based baby wear manufacturer GROE. Together they formed Nursing Mother Groe baby (NMGB).

"Infants learn a tremendous number of skills during their first two years. The path from the purely reflexive 'eat-sleep-poop' stage to running around and asking mum 'why is the sky blue?' requires learning at a rate unmatched at any other stage of life," Ms McLaughlin said.

"Breastfeeding time can be used as a valuable learning and cognitive development session during such an important phase in an infant's development," she said.

Ms Ba-Alawi said that she wanted to address a gap in the market with her design. “I watched my two sisters struggle with breastfeeding their children and failing to find something attractive and fashionable to wear,” she said. “NMGB will address both those needs.”

Statistics from the National Childbirth Trust reveal 21 per cent of mothers who start breastfeeding stop in the first two weeks and that 93 per cent of these women would have liked to have breastfed for longer but found it difficult. And 43 percent of breastfeeding mothers who had fed while they were out in public were likely to have encountered problems.

Lynn Timms is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who runs her own breastfeeding support service, ‘Breastfeeding Matters’. She said: 'Anxiety, worry or embarrassment can affect the important hormones produced during breastfeeding and disrupt the let-down, or flow of breast milk. An item of clothing, like this new breastfeeding top, that allows a mum to feel more confident and relaxed about breastfeeding in public will mean that their baby is more relaxed and satisfied.”

Ms Ba-Alawi said she hoped that the new tops would encourage mothers to not only take up breastfeeding, but to continue to so with a feeling of comfort and dignity.

Lisa Egan | alfa
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