A survey by Cornell University researchers found the average person has two close friends.
Now a new study shows moms of babies, in particular, may want to increase that number. For moms, strong friendships can offer support and connection. But the new study shows women who have a large social support network may have babies who benefit, too.
Scientists followed more than 1,000 moms and their babies. They found at age two, children of moms with larger social circles had higher scores on cognitive development tests, which measure language along with motor, socio-emotional, and adaptive behaviors.
The researchers say moms with more friends might expose their babies to socialization early on, which could be why the kids performed better.
It's also possible the strong social networks offered more support, which made the mothers feel less stressed and improved their parenting skills. Either way, this study suggests moms with babies should welcome social relationships outside of their immediate family.
This study looked at moms and young children, but experts say friendships are beneficial for all parents. Most people find having a child pushes their own friendships to the back burner, but it is important to maintain those relationships when possible.
It's also helpful to make new friendships with parents who have children of similar ages.