Switching to solid foods: FAQ answered!

Introducing solid foods into your baby’s diet can come with a whole lot of questions and concerns because it’s a big step! Hopefully this information will help guide you through this exciting time!

When can my baby begin eating solid foods?

Experts recommend gradually introducing solid foods when a baby is around 6 months old, depending on each child’s readiness and rate of development. The American Academy of Pediatrics uses these guidelines:

  • Head control – Can your baby hold his head up and sit up in a high chair or feeding seat with good head control?
  • Eagerness – Does your baby seem eager to be fed? Does he open his mouth when food comes his way or does he reach for you food?
  • Weight – Typically, when babies double their birth weight around 4 months, and weigh about 13 pounds or more, they may be ready!

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Motor milestones: Head control

Do you remember the first time you held your baby in your arms? Probably an experience you will never forget, right? Surely you remember your doctor, nurse, or mom telling you to be careful with his/her head. All newborns have little control of their heads because their neck muscles are weak and they haven’t developed the motor skills that will help them support their head. After a few months your baby will acquire this key ability!

One of the first and most important physical challenges your baby will face is learning to support his head and develop the neck muscle to do it. The acquisition of this skill is crucial since it will lay the foundation for other physical milestones like rolling over, sitting, crawling, and walking. Moreover, your baby needs to be able to support his head before you introduce solids to his diet.

We know that each baby develops at their own pace and head control without a doubt will be a skill that your baby will acquire at his own time. However, it is important to understand the development of this ability and be able to identify any possible delays in his development. Continue reading

How ‘gaze shifting’ helps babies learn new languages

Could a baby’s social skills play a role in cracking the code of learning a second language?It’s clear that babies learn language best by interacting with people, rather than by listening to audio recordings or videos. However, it remained unclear which aspects of a social interaction were the most critical in order for babies to learn a new language  – until now.

A new study led by researchers from the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington demonstrated for the first time a link between a baby’s ability to learn new language sounds (which will later translate in learning a new language) and a social behavior called ‘gaze shifting’. For those who are not familiar with the term, this early behavior happens when a baby makes eye contact and then looks at the same object that the other person is looking at (example shown below).

“These moments of shared visual attention develop as babies interact with their parents, and they change the baby’s brain,” said Rechele Brooks, research assistant professor at I-LABS.

In the study, 9.5 month-old babies from English-speaking families attended foreign language tutoring sessions during 4 weeks. The 17 babies, who participated in the study, interacted with a tutor during 12 to 25-minute sessions. The tutors talked, read books, and played with toys while speaking in Spanish.

Interestingly, the results showed that the more gaze shifting the babies participated in during their tutoring sessions, the greater their brain responses were to the Spanish language sounds!

These findings confirm the importance of eye gazing in learning a new language and that babies are not just passive listeners. A baby’s engagement during a social interaction clearly contributes to the learning of a new language. Now, whenever you play with your baby, notice if he starts gaze shifting – it means he is paying attention and showing you he is ready to learn!


Source:

Barbara T. Conboy, Rechele Brooks, Andrew N. Meltzoff, Patricia K. Kuhl. Social Interaction in Infants’ Learning of Second-Language Phonetics: An Exploration of Brain–Behavior RelationsDevelopmental Neuropsychology, 2015; 40 (4): 216 DOI:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/87565641.2015.1014487″>10.1080/87565641.2015.101448