5 Important Research-backed Factors for Healthy Babies

While genetics play a role in a child’s development, so do psychosocial factors. Learn about thrive factors and how you can ensure your child grows up healthy and well-rounded.

By URLife Team
09 Apr 2024

Gone are the days when authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles were common. Nowadays parents are highly enthusiastic to go that extra mile for their children to help them thrive. Be it choosing the most nutritious food for them, or making them learn a new language for their brain development or a new sport for enhancing their motor skills. However, a recent study reveals that a baby’s essential requirements for thriving boil down to just five fundamental elements, known as “thrive factors”. 

According to a 2024 study published in JAMA Pediatrics, when infants have access to thriving factors, which include environmental stimulation, good nutrition, a safe neighbourhood, positive caregiving, regular circadian rhythms and sleep in the first year, it enhances their brain development, cognition and social-emotional development. 

The study also revealed that even children growing up in adverse conditions can have a healthy development if they have these factors during the first year of their lives.

"The novelty here is putting them all together and thinking of them as a constellation of things that are necessary and important for a child to be able to thrive," said psychiatry professor Deanna Barch from Washington University in St. Louis in the same study.

This study was based on 232 infants done by the researchers at Washington University in St. Louis. The research says that these are the basic resources every baby needs for the best possible chance to develop as a healthy well-functioning human.


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Words fall short of highlighting the importance of breast milk. No doubt why it is called liquid gold, there is ample research touting the benefits of breast milk.

WHO recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months. By the term ‘exclusively breastfed’, WHO means that the infant receives only breast milk. No other liquids, including water. The only exceptions are oral rehydration solution (ORS), syrups and medicines.

According to a 2013 study published by the Pediatric Clinic of North America, Breastfeeding protects child health and development by reducing the risk of infection and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) during infancy and by reducing the risk of cancers, improving cognitive outcomes, immune protection, and regulation of growth, development, and metabolism for the human infant

It provides a unique blend of nutrients, antibodies, and bioactive compounds that help to meet a baby's evolving needs during the first months of life. Apart from offering essential vitamins and minerals for growth and development, it also contains antibodies that help protect infants against infections and diseases, hence making their immune systems stronger.

Moreover, breastfeeding is not just beneficial for babies; it also offers numerous advantages for mothers. Breastfeeding promotes postpartum recovery by helping the uterus contract and reducing the risk of postpartum bleeding. It also burns extra calories, which can aid in weight loss after childbirth. Furthermore, breastfeeding has been associated with a lower risk of certain health conditions for mothers, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis.


Related story: How To Inculcate Body Positivity In Your Child


Environmental Stimulation 

A 2022 research has shown that early experiences can determine how genes are activated, and even whether some are expressed at all.

Infants are naturally curious and eager to explore their surroundings, and exposure to a rich and diverse environment can help stimulate their senses and promote cognitive development. Providing infants with opportunities for sensory exploration, such as colourful toys, textured objects, and musical stimuli, can help engage their senses and foster neural connections in the brain. So, even though they seem too young to understand what you are conveying, indulge with them with the help of hand gestures, music, sound and talk your heart out.

Moreover, environmental stimulation extends beyond the home environment to include social interactions and experiences in the broader community. Interactions with caregivers, siblings, and other individuals help infants learn social cues, develop language skills, and form emotional bonds. Additionally, exposure to different environments, such as parks, playgrounds, and community centres, exposes infants to new sights, sounds, and sensations, enriching their overall sensory experiences


Positive Caregiving 

We all know that infants need care, but what is more surprising is the benefits it carries along their lives. Positive caregiving fosters a secure attachment between infants and their caregivers and forms the foundation for healthy emotional and social development. Responsive and sensitive caregiving involves promptly meeting an infant's needs for food, comfort, and affection, thereby building trust and confidence in their caregivers. Consistently meeting these needs helps infants feel safe and secure. This helps lay the groundwork for positive relationships and emotional resilience later in life.

Furthermore, positive caregiving practices extend beyond meeting basic needs to include nurturing interactions that promote emotional well-being and cognitive development. Engaging in activities such as cuddling, singing, and talking to infants not only strengthens the bond between caregiver and child but also supports language acquisition and brain development.


Related story: 10 Ways To Support Your Child's Mental Health


Safe Neighbourhood 

Another 2016 study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that certain family, social and community supports can help protect kids from long-term physical and mental health problems that can result from childhood hardship and trauma.

Who would not like to keep their babies in a safe environment? But the benefits of the same are beyond just the security point of view. Research says a safe environment can lead to the well-rounded growth of their child. A safe neighbourhood offers peace of mind to parents, knowing that their children can explore and play without constant worry about potential dangers. Access to safe outdoor spaces, such as parks and playgrounds, allows infants to engage in physical activity and social interactions, promoting their physical and social development.

Moreover, a safe neighbourhood inculcates the feeling of community and belonging, where families can connect with neighbours and support each other. Strong social networks within the neighbourhood provide additional layers of safety and support, as neighbours look out for one another and share resources, whenever required 


Regular Circadian Rhythms and Sleep

A good night’s sleep can offer more than giving new parents time to unwind and relax. Circadian rhythms are like the body's internal clock that tells us when to wake up and when to sleep. When babies have regular sleep patterns, it helps them feel more settled and happy during the day. Having a consistent bedtime routine, like bathing, reading, and cuddling before bed, can help babies understand when it's time to sleep.

Getting enough sleep is super important for babies' growth and development. When babies sleep well, their brains have time to rest and grow, which helps them learn new things and remember what they've learned. Plus, enough sleep helps babies stay healthy and fight off germs, so they don't get sick as often.


Regular health checks are essential for everyone, but they are particularly important for individuals who are at risk of or already have any underlying condition. Taking regular health checks can help detect the condition at an early stage when it is easier to manage and treat. With the UR.Life HRA, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you can bring your whole self to work.
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