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Ever watched a sleeping baby and thought that behind those peaceful brows their brain was processing information? No, me either.

I loved to watch my sleeping babies and enjoy their cuteness without any demands on me. It never occurred to me in these moments that their brains were processing their daily learning as they slept. Everything is new for a baby. With each new experience, their brains have the job of organizing and categorizing all that information. It is thought that sleep is integral to this process.

This study found that 6 to 8-month-old babies were able to create a meaning for a word, but only after they'd had a nap. Creating meaning for a word was previously only thought possible in older children and adults.

The researchers exposed 6 to 8-month-old infants to fictitious objects, which they gave made-up names such as “Bofel" or “Zuser." Objects that were similar but not the same were all called a “Bofel" or “Zuser" accordingly. The researchers used fictitious objects to make sure the babies could not use their preexisting knowledge in the tests.

After the first learning phase in the morning, the babies' brain responses showed that they did not recognize a new Bofel as a “Bofel," although it was quite similar to the previously seen Bofel versions.

When tested again, after their nap, babies' brains were able to differentiate between the right and wrong name for a new object. The babies could see the commonalities between the similar pairs, known as generalization.

It seems that babies had generalized their knowledge during their sleep, because babies that stayed awake during their nap were still unable to generalize their learning.

The amount and quality of the learning was dependent on the amount of sleep they got in their nap. Babies who slept for about 50 minutes showed a brain response called the N400 component that indicated to the researchers they had created meanings for the words. The N400 component is also found when older children and adults learn a meaning for a word.

Babies that slept 30 minutes or less, however, were only able to filter out the similar features of the contexts and link them to the sound of the word. They had not created a meaning for the word.

“Our results show that infants can form long-term memory for word meanings much earlier than previously thought. Even though the brain structures that are relevant for this type of memory are not fully matured, they can already be used to a certain extent," explains Angela D. Friederici, senior author of the study.

The researchers say that one particular stage of sleep is responsible for the memory of word meaning. This is the second of the four sleep stages. This stage of light sleep allows the transition from simple early learning, like that seen in the babies who napped for 30 minutes, to an advanced form of memory as seen in the babies who napped for 50 minutes.

Compared to other types of development which can take months, this learning is happening in a matter of minutes, leading the researchers to deduce that language development appears to occur in “fast motion" during sleep.

“In our study, however, infants were exposed to a large amount of information within a narrow time frame, which they normally experience over a much longer period of time," study leader Manuela Friedrich adds.

“But only during sleep, when the infant brain is isolated from the surrounding world, can it extract and save relations incorporated in this information. And only the interaction of an alert state of experiencing the environment with the offline state of sleep, in which experiences are organized and stored, enables early cognitive and language development."

Next time you see a sweet sleeping bundle, think about all the development that's going on inside that brain. All the words and activities you shared with them that morning are being categorized and developing meaning. It just goes to show that babies are amazing, even when they sleep.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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