In the first three years of life the brain goes through an incredible growth spurt, producing more than a million neural connections every second. These connections, all of which will inform future social and emotional health, depend on our experiences and interactions with others.

“The brain is a social organ, co-constructed with others,” says Gerard Costa, PhD, the founding director of the Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health at Montclair State University in New Jersey. “Most of what we become as individuals, and most of the unique wiring of our brains are experience-dependent. This wiring begins and is defined by the relationships in those earliest years when the brain is growing at an unparalleled rate.”