All posts by Ana Sofia

The value of FaceTime: Do toddlers learn and bond with people over video chat?

Across the globe, people use tools like FaceTime and Skype to connect with family and friends. What about our children? Do they understand and grow from these on-screen interactions with loved ones?

A team of researchers from Lafayette College, led by Professor Lauren J. Myers, Ph.D., studied 1- to 2- year olds to find out what they got out of these FaceTime interactions, looking to discover if they form relationships and learn from people via video chat. In the study, 60 children under 2 years old were divided into two groups. Each group experienced one week of either real-time video chat interactions or pre-recorded videos of novel words, actions and patterns.

Researchers found that children paid attention and responded to both people in the video, but only responded in sync with the partner in the interactive video chat (such as imitating a clap after the person in the video did).  Likewise – after one week of video chatting, children in the live condition learned social and cognitive information. For example, they preferred and recognized someone they had talked with through video-chat and they learned new words and patterns. Continue reading

Independent play: Encouraging exploration and creativity

Teaching toddlers to play independently helps them build creativity and critical-thinking skills, and helps parents catch a break too! Independent play is important because it teaches children how to entertain themselves and helps them become more self-sufficient. This type of play usually occurs during the toddler stage.

It’s not always easy getting kids to play alone, they do love our company! But give it a try, one step at a time. At first, try to just sit beside your little one silently, while he or she plays. Let him or her explore the play materials freely. Once he or she is absorbed in the activity, try moving to another part of the room. Your toddler will still feel comfortable with you nearby. When your little one is happily playing on his or her own, try not to hover, but make sure his or her play area is safe and comfortable. Continue reading

Swimming Pool Safety Guidelines

Summer is here! And it comes with warm, sunny days that are ideally spent splashing around in a pool. Thinking about going for a swim with your little one? Here are some safety guidelines you can follow to make sure that it’s smooth sailing for everyone.

The best way to keep children safe around swimming pools is having an adult who knows how to swim actively supervising them at all times. For infants and toddlers, an adult should be within arm’s reach, in the water with them. There should be a fence or barrier that completely covers the pool area, preventing children from entering the area on their own. If you have a pool at home, it’s a good idea to establish some ground rules. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following: Continue reading

Language Milestones: Your baby’s first words

Much to parents’ delight, babies’ first words are normally “mama” and “dada”. Actually “dada” is typically said first, but only because it’s easier for babies to pronounce! Other than the fact that mom and dad are around a lot – studies have shown that those are the first words babies utter because of the repeating sounds in them. In fact, most countries have very simple words with repeating sounds for naming mom and dad, and sometimes even grandpa and grandma.

Newborns’ brain scans show increased activity when babies listened to made-up words with repeating sounds like “mubaba”. When they listened to words with non-adjacent repetition, like “bamuba”, they showed no distinctive responses. This suggests that babies recognize repetitive sounds more easily, and that’s why words like “mama” or “dada” are easy to learn and vocalize. Continue reading

The best ways to calm a fussy baby

Crying is the way babies communicate their discomfort, hunger, or need for attention. It’s quite normal for babies to be fussy on average about 2 – 4 hours per day, usually at the same time every day. After a few weeks, the crying diminishes, and by around three months, most babies only cry for approximately an hour a day.

All babies cry, but some do it significantly more than others. This is known as colic, and it is crying that begins and ends for no clear reason, lasts at least three hours a day and happens at least three times a week for a period of 1 – 3 months.

It’s important to keep in mind that excessive crying may have a medical or physical cause, so first you must try to identify if there’s a reason behind the crying by looking for patterns. Does it happen at certain times of the day or in specific situations like a crowded place or right after feeding? Can you tell if there are differences in his or her cries for food, fatigue, etc? Keep a record of this so that you can compare with previous weeks.

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How to find age appropriate toys for your little one

Kids develop in different stages, so it’s good to have toys that will enhance their experiences, depending on what stages they are on. So in addition to finding safe toys for your child, it’s recommended to find toys that match their level of development and budding skills.

 

Most of the time you’ll find that a lot of safe and suitable play material can be found right at home and can be used in more than one way for children of different ages – you just have to get creative! Below you’ll find a list of appropriate toys for different ages, based on recommendations by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

 

0 – 6 months:

 

Young babies like to look at faces and bright colors, and follow them with their eyes. They can reach for objects and explore them with their hands, feet, and mouth. When they hear a peculiar sound, babies will turn and look towards it. Good toys for this age include:

  • Rattles
  • Large rings
  • Teething toys
  • Squeeze toys
  • Board books with nursery rhymes
  • Unbreakable mirrors

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Learning through imitation

Babies learn through imitation; it gives them the opportunity to practice and master a new skill. They observe others doing things and then copy their actions in an attempt to do them themselves. For example, it’s how your baby knows, without you having to give him specific instructions, to hold a toy phone up to his ear! He has learned from watching you talk on the phone!

Imitation can also be considered as a basis for the development of empathy, or having the ability to experience what someone else is feeling. In fact, an infant’s ability to imitate simple actions, like sticking out his tongue, originates from the same part of the brain that allows us to develop empathy. Recent studies have found that imitation is not only one behavioral skill, instead it’s more like different ways of combining and using diverse types of knowledge, developing across the first 2 years of life (Jones, 2007). Continue reading

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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How to raise caring children

Early in children’s lives we see the beginnings of compassion, empathy, and caring, but in order for those qualities to flourish into full ethical people, adults need to help out.When children can empathize with others, they’re likely to be happier and more successful later on in life, having stronger relationships with others. It’s important to strive to cultivate children’s concern for others. Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education has shared a few guidelines to raising caring, respectful, and ethical children as part of their Making Caring Common Project.

 

1. Strive to develop loving relationships with your children

If you want your children to be caring and respectful, then treat them that way! Tend to their physical and emotional needs, provide a stable and loving family environment, show affection, talk about things that matter to them, and praise their efforts and accomplishments.

2. Be a strong moral role model

Children learn by observation, they will repeat the things they see other adults they respect do. Make sure that you are practicing honesty, fairness, and caring yourself! It’s important that when you catch yourself not being such a great role model in front of your kids, you acknowledge it and work on it!

3. Make caring for others a priority

Get that message across! Even though most parents say that their children being caring is a top priority, it’s not something that is often talked about at home. Holding children to high ethical expectations is a great way to prioritize caring because you teach them to do the right thing even when it’s tough, honor their commitments, and to stand up for what they believe in. Continue reading

The logical minds of babies: Considering sample and sampling process

MIT Early Childhood Cognition Lab lead investigator Laura Schulz studies early childhood learning and how it fundamentally relates to human cognition.Schulz has been trying to understand how children learn and absorb so much in a short period of time and how they reach logical conclusions from the data that surrounds them.

In a study she conducted, Schulz intended to prove that babies make inferences from their surroundings and learn by using logic. In the experiment, a fifteen month-old baby is shown a box full of balls in two colors, blue and yellow. The balls either squeak or don’t squeak. For the first part of the experiment, the majority of the balls in the box are blue, and a researcher takes out three blue balls in a row and squeezes them so that they squeak. The baby then infers that the balls squeak.

But what happens when you hand that baby a yellow ball from the same box? Continue reading