What science says about child development

Throughout time, there has been an incredible amount of research done about early childhood and brain development. The behavioral and social sciences have created a remarkable amount of new knowledge and there have been recent discoveries in neuroscience. But, what do we actually know about child development? The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University summarizes decades of research and discoveries in these next concepts. The next list gives us an insight into what a healthy development looks like, what can cause it to go off track and what can we do to prevent it.

  1. Significant stresses in the family or environment doesn’t only affect adults, but infants and young children too. Adversity can disturb the bases of learning, behavior and health. In fact, experiencing adverse early childhood experiences can have physical and chemical implications in the brain, damaging the child’s future learning capacity and behavior, and putting him or her at greater risk for poor physical and mental health. This is why learning to cope with stress is essential for healthy child development. We have to keep in mind that short periods of stress can help build adaptive responses while having supportive relationships. However, toxic effects on the developing brain might take place if there is no caring adult available to offer safeguarding and the stress is extreme and prolonged.

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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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