How to Better Predict a Baby’s First Word

A new study suggests that a toddler’s visual experience may play a key role in learning their first word.

After their first year of staring and babbling, babies eventually begin to say their first words. Although millions of parents are aware of this, researchers at Indiana University and the Georgia Institute of Technology recently cracked the code, discovering a major role in a baby’s first words: a baby’s first words are strongly tied to their visual experience.

Drawing on theories of statistical learning, researchers discovered that the number of times an object enters a baby’s visual field increases the probability of a baby’s ability to associate that specific word with the object. Visual memory is key into getting words stuck on objects. All those familiar visual objects such as fork or bottle work as an aggregated experience, first words are slowly learned for few visually pervasive objects.

Linda Smith, professor of psychological and brain sciences, and her colleagues went inside a baby’s brain to figure this out. People assume babies see the same things their parents see. After all, they live in the same house and ride the same cars. However, it turns out babies are not good at controlling their bodies and they are not interested in looking at the same things adults look at. As babies gradually develop, their visual world shifts. A 3 month old baby and a 1-year-old baby have totally different visual experiences. Researchers were interested in getting a sense of the visual world of babies who are close to saying their first words, so they placed head video cameras in 8 to 10 month old infants and captured 247 at-home mealtime events and analyzed the objects in view. Why meal events? These are activities are performed continually on a daily basis and make up a big percentage of a baby’s daily visual experience. Results showed that there was a strong correlation between the most frequently appearing objects with the top words appearing in the images collected by the study. This study’s conclusion suggests that a visual experience is a key factor in early world learning. Continue reading

My baby’s social world

Babies are social beings. it’s in their nature and it’s a key aspect for their survival and to connect with others.

From the moment they’re born, babies begin to communicate with others through their very own language: crying. A baby’s cry prompts the caregiver to offer comfort and fulfill the child’s needs, be it food, a diaper change, or simply cuddle time.

By responding to your baby’s needs, you are helping her become more efficient at communicating with you, and soon all those sleepless nights will be rewarded with your little one’s first toothless grin.

Your baby’s first social smile will emerge between one and a half to three months of age. You’ll be able to differentiate this smile from her first reflex smile since this smile occurs in response to a stimulus and not a spontaneous body reaction. For example seeing your face or listening to dad’s voice will elicit a social smile. Respond to your baby’s smile and your baby learn that they can communicate with their parents in more ways than just crying. Talking, singing and making eye contact with your baby helps her learn to socialize and express her different emotions.

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Happy Parents, Happy Kids: What can I do to strengthen my romantic relationship?

If you’re like most new parents, then you probably focus most of your energy and attention towards your new baby, as you should, but what about your relationship with your partner?

Between the baby’s naps, your post-baby body, and the exhaustion of taking care of a newborn, be careful, you could be neglecting your relationship with your partner! Numerous studies show that new parents are the most uniformly dissatisfied group when it comes to marital happiness. But anyone who’s had his or her party of two crashed by a magical (but exceptionally demanding) third wheel doesn’t need to read the research, since he or she is probably going through it.

If this is your case, don’t worry! It is totally normal; most couples that have a new baby have been through this stage. The important thing is to recognize that you may need to put in a bit more effort in your relationship. With this in mind, here are some tips on how to keep it going: Continue reading

Why over-reactive parenting can negatively affect children?

As we all know, parenting has never been an easy task. Parents often get involved in situations where they feel the need to get angry with their children, so that they can learn right from wrong. Besides, many parents are too worried about being good parents that they miss out what’s most important: to help their children control their emotions so that they can be happy. Parents who constantly get angry and overreact to situations may not be helping their children at all, even though they might think they are.

According to Bandura’s Social Learning theory, children observe how other individuals behave, including their parents, and may later imitate those behaviors. As soon as babies are born, they start to decipher their social world and begin to learn everything about it. Researchers have found that babies tend to misbehave and get upset more than normal, whenever they have parents who constantly overreact and get angry. Continue reading