Are you talking to me?

New research from MIT supports the idea that to foster your child’s development, specifically his or her language development, parents don’t just need to talk to their kids, they should talk with them (meaning back-and-forth exchanges).

“What we found is, the more often parents engaged in back-and-forth conversation with their child, the stronger was the brain response in the front of the brain to language” (Gabrieli, 2018).

In this case, a stronger brain response is a reflection of a more profound understanding and engagement with language. So, it’s not just the number of words your baby hears, it’s the interactions and twists and turns in the conversation that matter. A rich verbal environment is made up of exactly that, resulting in greater language and cognitive outcomes later on.

In this MIT study, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), they discovered that children who experienced more conversations had more brain activity while they listened to stories. Their Broca’s area, which is a region in the frontal lobe of the brain that is involved in language processing, was more engaged. In this study, what was highlighted was the importance of the language base in the relationship between parents and kids. The streaming of a tape or an endless cartoon show will not have the same benefits that the day to day interactions between a loved one and their baby.

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A guide to understand my baby’s burping and spitting up

When caring for your newborn, one of the first new parent skills you’ll learn is burping your little one. Every burp your baby makes, serves a purpose. Why do babies burp? Is burping my baby after meals important? Getting your degree on this new skill will take you on a journey filled with joys, dribble and of course, extra loads of laundry.

The art of burping

Burping is caused by air swallowing; a burp is the release of the gas up the esophagus and out of the mouth. Burping your baby is a way you can help him get rid of gas and settle his stomach.

Fussiness and gas often go hand-in-hand in babies. When your baby is born, his tummy is the size of a marble, it will grow to be the size of an egg around day 10, and eventually the size of a softball. Since your little one’s digestive system is developing he might experience some discomfort associated with gas that he might need your help with.

Burping your baby

When bottle feeding, give your baby a chance to burp midway through and at the end of the feeding. Keep the nipple full of formula throughout the feeding, this will reduce the air ingestion. When breastfeeding, give him a chance to burp when you switch breasts, and after the feeding.
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Recognizing patterns: The key to stop unwanted behaviors

You may occasionally find yourself wondering why your toddler repeats a certain unwanted behavior. Why does he always bite his sister? Why does she throw her food on the floor during mealtime? Why does she push other kids on the playground?

The key is to understand what your child is trying to communicate through those behaviors. To do that, you need to learn to observe and analyze his or her behavior regularly. What is your little one trying to tell you?

Patterns in behavior

Behaviors that occur repeatedly are happening for a reason. If you take note of the behavior and what was going on before, during and after it, you might find the pattern and realize why it’s happening and how to stop it. It’s a good idea to write down those notes, so that you can go back to them when the behavior happens again.

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The importance of parental confidence, and tips for boosting it!

Although there are at least 4 identified and deeply studied parenting styles (according to Dr. Diana Baumrind they are the authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved and authoritative, about which you can read on other articles of this blog), your personal style of adapting to parenting is as unique as any child-parent relationship can be. You make hold some values as more important than others, or you might implement them in different ways. For example, while most parents will agree that cleanliness is important, one might focus on leaving dirty shoes at the door; other might emphasize table manners while another one might focus on first exploring and then following a bath routine.

Furthermore, most of early childhood researchers and psychologists agree that successful parenting doesn’t look like the success we experience in other areas of life, like work, where you might measure your self-efficacy and accomplishment by considering speed and goal-checking. Parenting is a complex relational process that often involves quite the opposite: slowing down and taking time. According to experts, how confident you are of your guidance, learning and decisions as a parent can be a good gauge of how you are doing. Developmental science has shown that parents who are more confident and perceive themselves as having good self-efficacy, even when they might struggle, usually have higher ratings of wellness, better communication, and are more efficient at teaching limits and positively reinforcing good behavior with their children.

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Drooling Tips & Tricks

Drooling is one of those wonderful stages that all children trek through. However, sometimes our tiny friends drool too much or for too long. If your child is drooling excessively, it’s time to check in on this behavior. It is best to visit your ENT doctor first so that they examine closely all of the physical structures. In the meantime, here are my favorite tips & tricks for our drooly loves!

Close It Up

If our mouth is closed, we are less likely to drool! I call this a “closed mouth posture”. This means that your child has closed lips and is breathing through his or her nose. Our noses are wonderfully designed for filtering (thank you, nose hairs), warming, moisturizing and smelling the air we breathe. The nose is also equipped with mucus that captures and kills germs. Nose breathing ensures proper balance of oxygen and CO2 levels in our bodies (mouth breathing usually leads to hyperventilation). The little ones that breathe through their mouth often snore at night, get more colds, feel fatigued and are at risk for crooked teeth. Research has also linked mouth breathing with behavioral difficulties, learning deficits and speech errors. Once you consult with the ENT and ensure that there are no physical factors interfering with your child’s ability to use a closed mouth posture, it is simply a matter of building a better habit!

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The influence of attention and caregiver-input on language development

Ask any psychologist what is one of the very first things they learn at school and, undoubtedly, the answer will always be genes vs. environment. We already know that environment and context play a huge role in our children’s development; today we’ll explore just how big a role it plays in language acquisition.

By environment, in this article, we’ll include specifically attentional abilities, a.k.a the ability your baby has to hold his or her attention to certain stimuli, and the quality of the input he or she is receiving (complexity and variability of the interactions).

To understand how attentional abilities play a role, we must understand the evolution of mother-baby interactions during the first year of life (dads, this includes you too!). Up until your baby is 5 months old, interactions are considered as “dyadic”; meaning face-to-face, one-on-one (only 2 elements are participating). As your baby grows older, these interactions turn “triadic” including objects (cue in all the cute, stuffy toys). What this means is that now these toys become an object of focus for verbal and attentional exchanges with your baby. This seemingly inconsequential transition is huge for language acquisition. It’s considered a turning point since your baby can start to relate words and sounds to specific objects and actions.

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Not set in stone: how environment shapes development

The environment your little one is immersed in is not only crucial in terms of memories and learning, it also modifies your baby’s genes even before he or she is born! Chances are you’ve heard of the debate of nature vs nurture, or the one about the determinant power of our genetic blueprint versus that of environmental factors.

This topic is particularly relevant to our generation since, just a decade ago, it was common knowledge that we were bound to particular predispositions determined by our individual genetic profile. Under this conception, things like temperament or resilience of cognition were as set in stone as our eye-color. In reality, the issue is far more complex as it is shown by research about how environment shapes development.

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Fostering Gratitude in our Kids

Studies show that people who regularly express gratitude toward others are more likely to be a helpful, compassionate, generous, happy, and healthy person. Although children can’t yet identify and express complex feelings, it’s important to begin to build a sense of gratitude from the early years.

There are many ways to nurture gratitude at home. Start by modeling it yourself and create family traditions that center around it. Here are some ideas:

  1. Let your children know what you appreciate about them. Notice all the things you appreciate and are grateful for about your children. Then simply tell them so! You’ll notice that appreciation is a great motivator, even stronger than praise.
  2. Model appreciation and gratitude towards others. Children learn through observation. They’re like sponges, absorbing information and then imitating and doing it themselves. Kids pay attention to the way we treat others; set a good example. Be caring and thankful in your everyday interactions with other people.
  3. Use the words “grateful” and “thankful” in your everyday vocabulary. By hearing it often, children will learn what these words mean. Tell them that being grateful means noticing something in your life that makes you happy. For example, you can say “I’m grateful for this beautiful day!”. Encourage the expression of their appreciation for the people who surround them and contribute to their lives.
  4. Choose a “gratitude” activity to incorporate into your routine. Whether it’s listing the things you are grateful for every day before you go to bed, sharing stories about thankfulness, gratitude and generosity; or keeping a gratitude journal together, incorporating an activity related to gratitude will help you practice it every day. Then, it’ll become part of who you, and your kids, are.

By practicing gratitude, we focus on the good instead of the negative things in our lives, helping us have a positive outlook. It’s one of the secrets for a happy life. Why not start today?

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My top 5 back-to-school books for little ones

Heading back to school can be an exciting, yet anxious time for parents and little ones alike. Books are the best way to get us prepared! They teach beautiful lessons and open the communication gates so that your tiny friend has a chance to ask questions and share feelings. Here are my top 5 favorites for this school year.

  1. The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School

This book truly gives me all the feels! Our little pout-pout fish is feeling nervous about his first day of school and is sure that he doesn’t have the know-how to get through the day. After heading into a few wrong classrooms, our brave pout-pout fish finally ends up with the “brand new fish” and learns some brilliant facts! His new teacher tells the class: “fact 1: your are smart, fact 2: you can get it, fact 3: you belong, so 4: don’t forget it!”. I just love this mantra so very much! And just like the other pout-pout series books, the singsong pattern will have your child immediately enthralled.

 

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Exploring the concept of “movement play”

If you’re a Kinedu advocate and have seen our activity videos, you’re most likely aware of the profound importance and link between physical activity and brain development. In this article we’ll explore the concept of movement play, analyze how this type of play impacts all four areas of early childhood development and what you can do to encourage it at home.

First things first, what is movement play?

One of your baby’s first ways of communicating with you is through movement. The idea behind this theory is that, through free play-movement, your baby is working on all of his or her developmental areas, not just the physical one. Movement play is when children move in specific ways as they go about their development and repeat these motions. From early reflexes, senses and movement, your baby is learning and stimulating his or her neurological system in many ways. Some examples considered movement play include floor play (tummy and back), belly crawling, crawling, spinning, rocking, rolling, etc.

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