Posts Tagged ‘infants’

Trouble Finding Quality Childcare?

May 13, 2009

If you are in the Miami County, Ohio area and are finding it difficult to find quality, affordable childcare for your children, Child Care Choices can help!  They provide information on which daycare centers and at home care providers have openings in your area as well as their open hours and rate information.

Visit their website and search online for childcare providers in your area!

If you are not located in Ohio, but would like more information about the nationwide network of Child Care Choices, click here.

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Building Baby’s Brain: Ten Myths

May 4, 2009

“As scientists learn more…many of our old
ideas about the brain are being challenged.”

babyclipartAs scientists learn more about how the human brain develops, many of our old ideas about the brain are being challenged. We now know that a baby’s brain is not completely wired at birth. The basic brain cells exist at birth, but most of the connections among cells are made during infancy and childhood.

Here are some common myths about brain development:

  • What happens before birth does not affect learning. Poor nutrition and exposure to drugs and alcohol can lead to serious problems in brain development even before birth. A developing fetus needs adequate nutrition to develop properly. If the fetus does not receive enough folic acid early in development, certain neural birth defects can happen. A fetus exposed to alcohol or other drugs before birth may not develop normally. If the mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy, the baby is at risk for developing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Babies with FAS tend to have heart problems and be hyperactive. And most FAS babies have below-normal intelligence.
  • The brain is completely developed at birth. Most of the brain’s cells are formed before birth. But the cells actually make most of their connections with other cells during the first 3 years of life. And even after age 3, the brain’s structure continues to change as connections are refined based on experience.
  • Brain development is completely genetic. Early experience is very important in brain development. The baby’s day-to-day experiences help decide how her brain cells will connect to each other. And if the baby does not have certain kinds of experiences, some areas of the brain will not make the necessary connections. Babies born with severe cataracts may never see clearly–especially if the cataracts remain for many months–because they could not see clearly as infants.
  • A bigger head is better. Some parents mistakenly think that children with bigger heads have bigger brains and are therefore smarter. But a bigger head doesn’t necessarily mean a bigger brain. And just having a bigger brain doesn’t make you smarter. Dolphins actually have larger brains than humans. And rat brains have more cells per cubic inch. Humans are more intelligent because our brains have been fine-tuned to be more efficient.
  • Brains get more active as they mature. A 3-year-old’s brain is twice as active as an adult’s. Why? The adult brain is more efficient. It has gotten rid of connections that it doesn’t need. By about age 3, the brain’s cells have made most of their connections to other cells. Over the next several years, connections are refined based on experience. The connections that are used most will become stronger. Those that are used least will eventually wither.
  • The brain grows steadily across childhood. The human brain actually develops in spurts. There are prime times when the brain is best equipped to learn certain skills. Babies and young children learn languages more easily than adults because their brains are still developing language connections.
  • We can’t learn certain skills after childhood. There are certain prime times in development when learning is easier. The brain is especially efficient at learning during those prime times. But brain development and learning continue throughout the lifetime. Learning may be more difficult once the prime times are over, but it can still happen. Adults are able to learn foreign languages, even if their learning is not as quick or easy as a young child’s.
  • Learning begins when a child enters school.Pre-kindergarten or kindergarten is the start of most American children’s formal education. But the foundations for learning develop well before a child starts school. The brain connections needed for learning begin developing even before birth.Early care also makes a difference in children’s ability to learn. Warm, sensitive, consistent care helps babies develop a secure attachment with their caregivers. Children with this secure bond are more ready to learn. Early traumas such as abuse can slow brain development. This makes learning more difficult.
  • Enrichment is only for gifted and talented children. All babies and children need experience to develop a rich network of brain connections. Remember that children learn by doing. Give your baby a chance to explore the world. Expose her to a variety of challenging experiences. Support her when she tries new things. Encourage her to be creative.
  • Children need special help and expensive toys to develop their brain power. What children need most are loving care and new experiences. But these experiences don’t need to be expensive. Talk and sing to your baby. Go on a daily walk and point out some of the things you see. Visit the library and pick out a book on a new topic. Sharing time with your child and exposing him to new things goes a long way toward helping his brain develop.But beware of overstimulating your child. Some parents are so concerned with brain development that they buy expensive educational toys, videos, and flash cards. But there’s no evidence that these toys, by themselves, will make your child smarter. Too many new experiences all at once won’t help his brain development. He needs time to process what he’s learned before he’s ready for something new.

Selected References:
Jensen, E. (1998) Teaching with the brain in mind.Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Shore, R. (1997). Rethinking the brain: New insights into early development. New York: Families and Work Institute.

Willis, C. (1997). Your child�s brain: Food for thought.�Little Rock, AR: Southern Early Childhood Association.


Part of the “Better Brains for Babies” Collaboration.Supported by the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences
“Strengthening Georgia Families and Communities” Initiative.The University of Georgia, a unit of the University System of Georgia, is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action institution. The University does not discriminate with respect to employment or admission on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap or veteran status. If you have a disability and need assistance in order to obtain this fact sheet in an alternative format, please contact the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at (706) 542-7566.

The Impact of Infants on Family Life

April 16, 2009

by Mary F. Longo, The Ohio State University Extension Educator


newmomHaving a new member of the family is typically an exciting, welcomed event. Often, though, the transition from nonparent to parent is a very stressful one. Responsibilities change overnight and never change back to the way they were prior to a child. Many factors can influence how a new baby impacts a family’s life, whether it is the first baby or not.

Childbearing Decision

Through their childbearing years, individuals decide whether or not to have children or a larger family than two. Many factors influence their decisions. For example, the social clock may be an influence for some. Couples who wish to wait may feel pressured by well intended grandparents-to-be.

Many families try to anticipate the best time for a child to come into the family. They consider job security or career levels. Some couples have financial goals they would like to reach before having a child. These families may be more prepared for a child in material ways, but the child still has a lifelong impact on the family.

Routine

Individuals differ in their natural tendencies to follow a routine. If baby and family are similar in their tendency to have a consistent routine, less adjustment is usually necessary to integrate the new family member. If the family or the baby tend not to follow a routine, parents and infants are more likely to go through a period of adjustment to find some balance.

A first child may have an especially large impact on the family’s routine because the couple only had themselves to worry about before the baby. With time and experience, parents learn to adjust.

Mothers and fathers may differ in some of the ways they accommodate a new infant. On the average, for example, mothers respond more frequently to their baby’s signals and learn the baby’s needs. Fathers are more likely to disregard cues and direct the baby’s attention to other things. Fathers are also more likely to continue their leisure activities, such as reading or watching television, while the baby is present. Mothers tend to interact with the baby more. Each of these results in different relationships between parent and child.

Social Support

Social support beyond the baby’s other parent can increase the quality of parenting and family life. This support may come from grandparents, other family members, and friends. Using a social network helps parents not to be isolated while developing parenting skills. Others are often able to help identify and interpret child-rearing problems.

If the parent has previous experience with children, either through siblings or job experience, he or she is more likely to be efficient at problem solving. The faster a minor problem is taken care of, the less impact that child has on a family adapting to the new role.

Parental Stress

Infants provide a certain amount of stress on the family, although they also may provide a guard against loneliness. This impact on family life may occur throughout the life of the child and parent.

The presence of the first child in the family is usually associated with lower marital satisfaction and less marital happiness. The couple tends to be satisfied with the marriage, but at a lower level.

Influence on Family

Research has shown that babies definitely impact the family. Here are some key points to consider:

  • During the first few months after a child is born, both parents are usually exhausted from lack of sleep. They are often inexperienced in the care of a baby and have a new schedule. The constant search for answers or help from friends, family, pediatricians and books can create tension between marriage partners.
  • Child rearing practices can also create tension between parents. Even if the parents have discussed how a baby will be raised and disciplined, these tensions may occur.
  • The husband-wife relationship is likely to take second priority to the ever-present needs of the new infant. There is less time for the couple to be together without the baby. Occasionally there may be feelings of resentment towards the new family member due to the lack of time for self or spouse. After the birth of a child, couples only have about one-third as much time together alone as they had when they were childless.
  • The parents’ experiences as a child influence the way they react in the parenting role. If either parent had a difficult childhood, for example, the baby might remind the parent of negative aspects of their own experiences.
  • As the parents adjust to the new role in the early months of the baby’s life, the family may strengthen. Over time, parents are likely to be better able to define their parental role and its importance in family life.

References

Newman, Barbara M. and Philip R. Development Through Life: A Psychological Approach. Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, California, 1991.

Strong, Bryan and Christine DeVault. The Marriage and Family Experience. West Publishing Co., New York, 1993.