Category Archives: New Parents

All of the information and news about pregnancy and development of your new baby. Being new parents and properly raising a child isn’t an easy task. Different professionals talk to us about prenatal risk factors, illnesses or pathologies that may affect the fetus, how to help develop your baby’s brain, cognitive stimulation, education, nutrition, etc.

Early Childhood Development: 3 Important Stages And How To Tell If Your Child Is On Track

Early childhood development refers to the physical, psychological, and emotional growth of the child. This period of development can last from the time an individual is born until they reach adolescence or the beginning of adulthood. During the developmental process, the child learns the basic skills of life, develops and navigates complex emotions, and learns to relate with peers by participating in social interactions. The whole process can be thought of as the child progresses from stages of dependence to an independent life.

Early Childhood Development: What You Need To Know

Early childhood development can affect an individual throughout their life. Photo by Michal Bar Haim on Unsplash

Early childhood development is significantly influenced by genetic factors, prenatal experiences, and the environment of early childhood. By environment, we mean the type of surroundings in which the child is growing, what events they are experiencing, the behavior of the parents and caregivers, etc.

Normally, early childhood development reflects the full scope of skills that a child learns during his developmental stages of life. However, the five key areas of early childhood development include;

  • Cognition: The ability of an individual to think, learn, and solve problems
  • Social and emotional interactions: The development of social links and emotional attachments
  • Speech and language skills: The ability of a child to learn a language, read, and communicate with others.
  • Physical/Motor skills: The ability to control the body through both fine and gross motor skills.  
  • Sensory awareness: The ability to perceive and process sensory information for future use    

Understanding the stages of Early childhood development is important because it can help parents understand if their child is on the right track or not. The stages are not hard-and-fast rules that each child must meet at the same age, but rather serve as checkpoints, letting parents know about how well their child is growing physically and psychologically. Children with poor early childhood development are often left behind in their academic careers which hampers their personal and social life as well.

If your child isn’t developing as per the normal standards, there are plenty of ways to help promote healthy development, and it may be beneficial to take them to a trusted pediatrician who can help you with tips to nurture your child’s development. But how would you know that if your child is on the right track? Well, we are here to help you with it. So, keep reading.

How Can A Parent Know If Their Child’sDevelopment Is On Track?

Parents should be aware of what to expect in early childhood development. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

There is no tracking device or alarm system that can notify you of your child’s early developmental progress. It is you who have to keep an eye on certain milestones that will help you know about the growth and development of your child. Just the way you keep tracking his height and weight, it is important to keep tracking cognitive and psychological development as well. For example, in the first few months after your child’s birth, you will clearly notice the signs of motor and language skills.

Your child will start moving their fingers, looking here and there. They will try to answer you with a smile or facial expressions. He or she might not be able to produce proper words but will try to make sounds, etc. If this isn’t happening to your child, it may be a sign they are facing a developmental delay and that you may need to consider consulting an expert. 

For your ease, we have summed up some major milestones that a child might achieve by a certain age based on typical developmental progress. Consult the list and see if your child is doing what the majority of his age group’s children do.

Developmental Milestones: Birth to 1 Year

It is the most crucial year of growth as every month will offer something new!

In the first 2 months, your child may begin smiling when hearing your voice and follow you with their eyes when moving here and there.

By 3 months, when they lie on their stomach, they should be able to raise their head and chest and start smiling at other familiar people who are always around.

By 4 months, they may begin to imitate sounds, hold their head steady, laugh, and babble.

By 6 months they may begin moving little objects with hands.

By 7 they may respond to their name.

By 9 months they may begin crawling, sitting with support, and saying words like mama, papa, etc.

Finally, by 12 months, your child may start walking with support and respond to people around and imitate people.

Developmental Milestones: 2 Years

Between 1-2 years, the child may begin walking independently, holding objects like cups, start a little running and jumping, speaking short sentences, following instructions, etc.

Developmental Milestones: 3 Years

By 3 years, the child may have started climbing, speaking multiple words and sentences, and sorting objects by colors and shapes.

Developmental Milestones: 4 Years

By 4 years children may start getting along with people who are outside the family e.g. neighbors, parent’s friends, or the non-family people they meet every day. They may have developed gross motor skills for activities such as riding a tricycle, as well as fine motor skills for drawing circles, squares, and other simple shapes.

Developmental Milestones: 5 Years

By 5 years, many children have developed the cognitive skills required to remember important complex information such as their home address, as well as complex motor skills for activities such as skipping and jumping or get dressed. They should also be able to count objects, etc.

Now considering your child’s age, compare what they are doing compared to the previous generic milestones. If there is a huge gap, it may be a sign of developmental delay. There is no need to panic, everyone has a different cognitive setup. Try to consult a doctor and work on helping your child.

What Are The Key Stages Of Early Childhood Development?

Proper early childhood development can help ensure a health and happy life. Photo by Jimmy Dean on Unsplash

The developmental milestones listed above cover a wide range of behaviors and transformations that take part in shaping the brain and personality of a child. Most of the behaviors are learned in the first few years of life rendering them the crucial stage of early childhood development. However, this isn’t where the process ends. Childhood development continues in middle and late childhood or adolescence as well.

Broadly, there are three key stages of early childhood development i.e.

  • Early childhood
  • Middle childhood
  • Late childhood or adolescence

The first one refers to the time from birth to eight years. These are the years of the most obvious growth and development. During these years, a baby who is totally dependent on his parents transforms into a walking, talking, and independent individual. It is the time when the child’s life functioning, personality, and relationships are shaped. He/she develops emotional attachment with people around them and their behavior affects the child the most. He starts learning words and language for communication along with basic life skills like walking, talking, eating, reading, writing, etc. It is also a crucial time for physical growth as well.

Middle childhood refers roughly to eight to twelve years of age. The child starts understanding some abstract concepts like money and time. Moreover, they start developing interpersonal relationships and cognitive skills.

Adolescence or late childhood starts at twelve and ends at the teenage years. It is the time when an individual experiences major changes in their physical, emotional, and mental growth. Your child is likely to encounter psychological disorders, hormonal changes, fluctuations in behaviors, etc. He/she might struggle with their emotions causing mental unrest.

Is It OK If My Child Isn’t At The ‘Right’ Stage?

Delays in early childhood development may cause many difficulties for children at various stages of life. Poor development in early childhood can continue to affect the individual throughout their life into adulthood. For instance, poor physical growth can hamper his abilities to participate well in extracurricular activities like sports at the school.

Also, poor psychological web page development may cause poor cognitive abilities which are likely to affect the academics of the child. Poor mental and emotional development may cause your child to suffer from various mental disorders. Thus if you sense that your child isn’t at the right stage, consult a pediatrician as soon as possible. Note, this is nothing to worry about, you can fix the situation with simple everyday techniques as follow.    

How To Help Nurture A Child’s Psychological Development?

Here are some tips for nurturing your child’s psychological development.

  • Practice mentally challenging activities such as puzzles or learning games
  • Read stories and participate in creative games
  • Help your child to recognize and accept his feelings
  • Empathize with him/her to build trust
  • Spend time with your children and do what they love to do
  • Model good behavior because children imitate what they see
  • Appreciate their little efforts
  • Help them build resilience
  • Seek medical advice

All these tips will help you to elevate and nurture your child’s psychological development. 

Conclusion

Early childhood development is a developmental process that shapes the personality of your child. It is a crucial process that needs special attention because it depends greatly on the prenatal behaviors and the environment around the child. Parents must keep a check on what is their child seeing and observing. They must ensure that their child is safe from any kind of negativity that can hamper his growth in any way. Most importantly, the parents should model good behavior before their children so that they imitate them in their lives.

Early Childhood Mental Health: 7 Tips For Raising Happy, Healthy Kids

Traumatic events in early childhood have prolonged effects on the mental health of an individual. Brain, in early childhood, is the most vulnerable. Bad experiences negatively impact its development, increasing the risks of early life adversities. These adversities are a major risk factor for the development of various behavioral and psychological problems in later life. Research studies report that children who experience maltreatment have a higher rate of developing depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidality, and other mental health disorders.

Also, distressing early life events contribute to higher drug dependence in later life. This is the reason why healthcare experts urge parents to focus on the early childhood mental health of their children. Healthy early childhood mental health is very beneficial for the healthy psychological and behavioral development of an individual. The greater the start, the more pleasant will be life later on.

This article is presented exclusively for a comprehensive understanding of our readers regarding early childhood mental health, why is it important, and how can it be improved. So, let’s begin.

What is early childhood mental health?      

Early childhood mental health refers to the social, emotional, and psychological development of children in their early life. Early childhood mental health means the ability of a child to explore, learn, make relationships, communicate, or express their emotions, and finally respond to relationships and the care given to them.

The word early-childhood refers to the first 3-4 years (or maximum 5) of a child’s life. It is the time when he/she is learning to function both, socially and emotionally. Whatever the children see or experience is likely to stay with them for a lifetime. It is the time when their brain and especially mental health is developing. The treatment they get and the interactions they make will shape their brain and mental health. They are at the age of exploring and learning, they’ll perceive the world through the actions and treatment of the people around them.

Experts from the Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University say that the early experiences of a child, whether negative or positive, affect his/her brain development. The first three years are the most crucial time because children are growing both physically and mentally. By three to four years, the child has made enough connections to draw a picture of the world. Therefore, it must be made sure that a child, at this age, has most of the positive and compassionate behavior so that his brain and mental health nurtures well.

What happens when a child has poor early childhood mental health?

Early childhood mental health is a key area in the overall health and happiness of a child. Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

As mentioned before, early life experiences shape the mental development of an individual. Pleasant experiences lay the foundation of sound mental health and unpleasant ones are likely to impair the mental capabilities of an individual. They are likely to have lifelong implications affecting the cognitive, learning, and memory-related abilities of a child. The child may not show up with mental health disorders at a younger age but clear characteristics of various mental health disorders can be seen in later life. Some of the disorders that commonly appear as a result of poor early childhood mental health are; 

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Depression
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Neurodevelopmental disabilities like autism (visible at an early age)

You must be wondering how early life events can promote such situations. Well, experiences leave a chemical signature on the genes. This “experience-gene expression” intervention affects childhood mental health. Genes carry instructions telling our bodies how to work. However, the chemical signature due to stressful experiences prevents the genes to carry out their functions successfully which lays an unstable groundwork for mental health. The common stressful events causing such conditions include poverty, recurrent abuse, chronic neglect, substance abuse, domestic violence, parents’ mental health, parents’ unhappy relations, etc.

Since the damage caused by poor early childhood mental health is much severe, you must work on the healthy development of your child’s early mental health. To help you with this, we present some amazing tips to nurture early childhood mental health.  

Tips to nurture early childhood mental health

How can we promote early childhood mental health? Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

There is neither any prescribed medicine for improving the mental health of a child nor a super trick that can do this for you. It requires careful and sincere efforts to nurture your child’s brain and support their mental health. Most of the time, it is the everyday activities that can significantly help you with it. Always remember it is both a time-and-energy-consuming process but it will all be worth it in the end.

Here is what you need to do.

Teach your child to recognize his feelings  

The “language of feelings” is the first step of your child towards a healthy mental state. You have to make him/her identify what they are feeling. Teach them words for different emotions so that they can tell you. Most of the children cannot let their hearts out because they are confused about how they feel about a particular thing.

They don’t know whether it is actually a problem or it is just a mixed feeling. Many of them think that feelings other than happiness are bad and shameful but you’ve to tell them that it is normal not to be happy all the time and have different feelings. Tell them to express themselves, no matter how they feel. The more they’ll express, the lesser will be their stress.  

Empathize to build trust

Sympathies are never enough, you need to empathize with your children. You need to put yourself into their shoes, pause, and realize how your child is feeling. Getting angry at once and giving advices without listening to them won’t work.

Help your child to put their trust in you. For that, you have to listen to them openly so that they know somebody is there for them. Observe your child’s behavior, notice what upsets them, reach out to them, validate their feelings, know their viewpoint first, and then present yours. There are chances that your child may be overreacting to something but still, hear them out to reduce their defensive reaction.

Make your child do what he/she loves to do

Creativity is a natural way to express yourself. Similarly, children are likely to express themselves when they are doing something they really enjoy. It can be anything like playing games, sports, drawing, dancing, photography, role-playing, their favorite toy, etc. You need to find out what your child loves to do and then encourage them to do it often.

Try to do it with them. In this way, you can spend maximum time with your child. You can talk to him/her about their thoughts, what they want to be in the future, and how they feel. Most importantly, you’ll know what your child is up to. Most of the parents leave their children to TVs and Smartphones which is very bad for the development of their brain. So, try to encourage the creativity of your child and allow them to pursue it.  

Model good behavior

Children imitate what they see. If they’ll see violence around, they’re likely to practice it in life. If they see their parents or care-givers fighting and abusing each other, they’ll perceive it as normal behavior and will continue with it through life. Therefore, it is necessary that people who are raising a child model good behavior. They need to be polite and careful with each other and the child as well. Good and kind acts positively affect the brain and provoke the child to do good as well. Remember that you are your child’s best teacher. If you want your child to do something, do it yourself first.

Appreciate them for their little efforts

This is the simplest yet most effective technique to nurture your child’s mental health. Recognize their small efforts and appreciate them. It will encourage them to work even harder next time. Give them constructive feedback. Highlight the goods and then tell them how they can improve more. Your appreciation is going to build their self-esteem which raises their confidence and resilience.

Create stimulating, playful environments

Young children are full of curiosity, playfulness, and thirst for knowledge and understanding of their surroundings. They are constantly observing, probing, and testing gulfport pharmacy how their environment works and how the people around them interact with it and with each other.

Promoting learning and mental stimulation in this early phase of discovery is vital in promoting a lifelong love of learning. Ensuring that children have access to stimulating environments including colors, sounds, shapes, and interactive activities helps the brain to build connections and reinforces the child’s curiosity and inquisitive nature.

Interactive toys and stimulating games and activities serve as an integral part of this rich learning environment.

Consult a medical professional

Mental health is an important and sensitive part of overall human health. So, consulting a specialist is a must. For that, you should talk to a pediatrician or a psychiatrist. You should ask them about the mental health skills and behaviors appropriate for different ages and any emotional and behavioral changes that can be looked forward to as a child grows. If you notice anything unusual in your child’s behavior, report it to the doctor, look for a plausible cause, and ask for a solution. A medical professional can guide you the best in this regard.

Conclusion

Early life experiences affect the mental health of a child to a great extent. Poor early childhood mental health increases the risk of developing mental disorders in the long run. Therefore, parents should focus on the early mental health of their child as much as possible. They should do whatever it takes to help their child grow mentally strong. The above-mentioned help tips can potentially serve to promote healthy mental growth in children. All they require is your dedication and efforts!

Co-Sleeping With Your Newborn- A Complete Guide

After 9 long months of anticipation and mixed emotions, you finally get to welcome your little bundle of joy into the world. You’ve gained valuable knowledge about the pros and cons of co-sleeping vs. crib- sleeping through the hundreds of books, articles, and magazines that you’ve read. 273.75 days were spent preparing for motherhood but, you’re torn. Which do you choose? In this complete guide you will become familiar with what co-sleeping actually means, the relationship between co-sleeping and breastfeeding as well as the relationship between co-sleeping and sudden infant death syndrome, the pros and cons of co-sleeping, guidance for safe sleep and bed sharing, the relationship between co-sleeping in early childhood and social experiences during infancy, recommendations presented by the American Academy of Pediatrics (APA), the famous Parent- Infant Co-Sleeping Debate, and tips on how to stop sleeping with your newborn.

Co-sleeping with newborn

What is Co-Sleeping?

Here in the United States, a growing trend exists among families with newborn babies. Since 1993, more moms are choosing to hold their infants close throughout the night. This child-rearing practice of bedsharing, defined as infants and young children sharing a bed with their parents for sleep, has grown from about 6 percent to 24 percent in 2015.

A recent survey of over 8,000 caregivers in the United States revealed that rates of regular parent-infant co-sleeping more than doubled between 1993 and 2000, from 5.5% to 12.8%. In contrast to the rapid practice of parent-infant co-sleeping in Western societies, clinicians continue to push for separate sleeping arrangements between parents and their infants. Truth be told, it is likely that numerous parents today feel so unsupported in their decision that they feel the need to conceal their choice from their childcare doctors.

Co-Sleeping With Siblings: Is It Safe?

In a study of urban Chicago families, researchers found that parental co-sleeping is not significantly associated with infant death, but co-sleeping with someone other than a parent, such as a sibling, was associated with increased risk.

Allowing other children to co-sleep in the bed with you and your baby is totally acceptable with caution and boundaries. Do not allow toddlers or older children to sleep directly next to the infant. If other children are sharing the bed, keep your partner between them and the baby.

Co-Sleeping With a Newborn- Instinct or Tradition?

From the moment the nurse places the newborn baby on the mother’s chest, there is an instant mother-infant interaction. This early skin- to- skin contact creates a physiological need to be together immediately after birth and during the hours and days that follow. Just like the nature vs. nurture debate, co-sleeping is both an instinct and a tradition around the world.

Co-Sleeping: Instinct

According to James Mckenna, an anthropologist who has been studying infant sleep for 40 years, mothers and infants mutually gravitate towards each other for survival. Human babies are contact seekers. What they need most is their mother’s and father’s bodies. Through the eyes of Mel Konner, an anthropologist at Emory University, the practice of bed-sharing has existed way before the discovery of the human species. Konner reveals that homo sapien moms and their newborns have been sleeping together for more than 200,000 years. Modern hunter-gatherer cultures provide insight into the traditional co-sleeping behaviors of our early progenitors. Even till this day, the practice continues to be universal and widespread around the world.

Co-Sleeping: Tradition

Yale University’s Human Relation Area Files presents evidence that bed-sharing is a tradition in at least 40 percent of all documented cultures. Some cultures even think it’s cruel to separate a mom and baby at night. In one study, Mayan moms in Guatemala responded with shock and pity when they heard that some American babies sleep away from their moms. In Japan, the most common sleeping arrangement is referred to as kawa no ji or the character for the river: 川. The child is represented by the shorter line and both the mother and father are represented by the longer lines.

Western culture, then again, has a long history of separating mothers and infants at night. Historians have noted that babies from wealthy Roman families slept alongside the bed in cradles and bassinets. By the 10th century, the Catholic Church started banning” infants from the parental bed to prevent poor women from intentionally suffocating an infant whom they didn’t have resources to care for. If a mother was caught sleeping with her one-year-old infant in her bed, she was excommunication from the church.

Co-Sleeping and Breastfeeding

In the mid-1990s, Notre Dame’s James McKenna decided to figure out just what happens at night when a mom sleeps with her baby. What seemed relatively unthinkable to others was actually a relatively easy task for Mckenna and his colleagues to carry out.

To better understand the relationship between co-sleeping and breastfeeding, he transformed his laboratory into an apartment, recruited dozens of moms and babies to use in this study, and analyzed their bodies while they slept. Both the physical movements of the moms and babies were captured using infrared cameras, as well as their heart rate, breathing patterns, chest movement, body temperatures, brain waves and the carbon dioxide levels between the moms’ and babies’ faces.

What McKenna found was amazing. When the mother is breastfeeding, she positions her body around the infant that resembles a shell. Through experimental observations, he saw that the mother naturally arches her body around her baby and pulls up her knees just enough to touch the baby’s feet. Inside the “shell,” the infant hears the mother’s heartbeat and, thus, subconsciously slows down their own heart rate. Additionally, the child hears the mother’s breathing, which mirrors the sounds that the infant heard in the womb. It contains a swoosh, swoosh sound, which in turns sounds like, ‘hush, hush little baby.

 “It’s no wonder nearly every culture uses a swooshing sound to soothe a crying baby.” -Mckenna

The mom’s warm breath creates little clouds of carbon dioxide around the baby’s face. In spite of the fact that this may sound unsafe for the infant, the mother’s breath fortifies the child’s breathing and reminds them to take a full breath. McKenna found that for the duration of the night, babies who were breastfed in this investigation did not move all over the bed. Instead, newborns stood laser-focused on one location basically staring at their mother’s breast almost all night. In this study, it is evident that infants have evolved to experience this closeness, night after night after night.

Studies have shown that babies who aren’t breastfed have an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Based on James Mckenna’s research, breastfeeding keeps babies and mothers in a lighter stage of sleep, which decreases the risk of SIDS and promotes a greater awareness of what the other is doing.

Co-Sleeping and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year of age. Even after an autopsy, a thorough examination of the death scene, and an intense review of the deceased individual’s clinical history, an exact cause of this disease can remain unknown. Sometimes known as “crib death,” scientific researchers associate SIDS with deficits in the infant’s brain that control the infant’s breathing and arousal from sleep. While medical examiners have discovered a combination of sleep and environmental factors that might put your baby at risk, they’ve also identified simple measures that you can take to help protect your child from this tragic cause of death.

In a family co-sleeping with their newborn, possible causes of death are clarified by ecological components. On the off chance that the baby was born with brain deficits, low birthweight, or respiratory infections, the items in their crib and/or their sleeping position can ignite these physical issues. A blend of both sleep, environmental, and physical variables can extraordinarily build the danger of SIDS.

Albeit sudden infant death syndrome can strike any infant, scientists have recognized a few factors that may build a child’s hazard. They include:

  • Sex: Boys are slightly more likely to die of SIDS.
  • Age: Infants are most vulnerable between the second and fourth months of life.
  • Race: For reasons that aren’t well-understood, nonwhite infants are more likely to develop SIDS.
  • Family history: Babies who’ve had siblings or cousins die of SIDS are at higher risk of SIDS.
  • Secondhand smoke: Babies who live with smokers have a higher risk of SIDS.
    Being premature: Both being born early and having a low birth weight increase your baby’s chances of SIDS.

In the early 2000s, a few investigations found that bed-sharing considerably raised a child’s danger of SIDS. In these cases, the proof is solid and clear. Parents who drink or take drugs shouldn’t be sleeping with their infants since they could move over onto their child. Mothers who’ve just given birth to infants who are premature should not smoke or sleep in the same bed as their babies because of potential respiratory issues that can occur in the infant. Suffocation can likewise happen when babies sleep on couches since babies can be caught in between their parent and the cushions.

Peter Blair, a medical statistician at the University of Bristol, and his colleagues spent 25 years studying SIDS epidemiology. They found that a baby was 18 times more likely to die of SIDS when sleeping next to a parent who had been drinking. In another study, they found a similar risk for babies sleeping on sofas.

However, what about families who don’t drink or smoke? Whose babies aren’t premature or underweight?

In an analysis from two case-control studies in the UK, Robert Platt, a biostatistician at McGill University, examined the relationship between sudden infant death syndrome and infants who co-sleep in the absence of hazardous circumstances. One examination included 400 total SIDS cases and just 24 cases in which the infant had shared the bed without parental hazards. In the other examination, there were only 12 of these cases out of 1,472 SIDS deaths. In the last investigation, some data about the parent’s drinking propensities was missing. Nevertheless, the two examinations arrived at comparative conclusions. For babies older than 3 months of age, there was no detectable increased risk of SIDS among families that practiced bed-sharing, in the absence of other hazards. So far, only two studies have looked at this question.

Platt believes that there may be an increased risk among babies who are younger than 3 months. He further explains that if there is an increased risk, it’s probably not of a comparable magnitude to some of these other risk factors, such as smoking and drinking alcohol. In other words, the risks present in this age group do not pose as much as a risk than parents who decide to co-sleep with their children after they’ve just smoked a cigarette or drank a beer, or two. Overall, the two studies suggest bed-sharing, when no other hazards are present, raises the risk of SIDS by about threefold.

Co-sleeping and SIDS Risk Factors

  • Parents who become tired easily, sleep heavily, consume alcohol or take medication that affects their level of consciousness
  • Illness of either the mother or the baby: First and foremost, you must take care of your health and your baby’s health before co-sleeping with your newborn. Skin- to- skin contact easily distributes germs between the mother and her baby.
  • Babies who are underweight or preterm
  • Sofas and/or waterbeds
  • Soft bedding and pillows
  • Excessive pillows and duvet covers
  • Room Temperature
  • Bedding that covers the infant’s head

Smoking serves as another significant risk factor in sudden infant death syndrome. Compared to their non- smoking counterparts, babies are 15 times more likely to die from SIDS if their mothers smoke during their pregnancy. In 1998, the Department of Health conducted a survey where only 9% of women knew that smoking in pregnancy increased the risk of SIDS. The CESDI Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy (SUDI) Studies found that babies who died within the first year of life were twice as likely to have been exposed to tobacco smoke, with the risk increasing with the number of hours of exposure.

The most frequent risk in bed-sharing arrangements is paternal alcohol consumption among certain social groups. Helen L. Ball found that: “the heaviest drinking bed-sharing fathers were of middle- income, socioeconomic classes III and IV, with little post-16 education, whose partners were breastfeeding their first infants.” As the numbers of babies who are breastfed increases in this section of the population, attention needs to be paid to the wider implications of these changes in infant care practices.

“The heaviest drinking bed-sharing fathers were of middle- income, socioeconomic classes III and IV, with little post-16 education, whose partners were breastfeeding their first infants.”- Helen L. Ball

Guidance for Safe Co-Sleeping and Bed Sharing

  • Keep the mattress firm: Co-sleeping should never take place on a water-bed, sofa, or old sagging mattress because this can put the infant at risk for suffocation.
  • Ensure that your baby’s sleep environment is free of any gaps or small spaces
  • Maintain the room temperature at a comfortable temperature – around 18°C.
  • Do not overdress or swaddle your baby: Care should be taken to ensure that the baby cannot become entangled in loose ties from nightwear. Parents should keep a close eye on signs of overheating, such as sweating or the chest feeling hot to the touch, throughout the night.
  • Keep pillows away from the baby
  • Keep the crib bare: There is no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.
  • If your partner is sharing the bed with you and your baby, make sure that he/she is aware that the baby is in the bed
  • Never allow pets to share the bed
  • Become aware of the protective “C”- shaped position for co-sleeping. This is especially important for bottle-feeding mothers
  • Never co-sleep with your infant if you’re under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
  • Regardless of where the infant sleeps, always place an infant on its back to sleep.
The New Zealand Strategy

Specialists have been utilizing the New Zealand Strategy for a considerable length of time and the outcomes have been tremendous. Since 2010, mortality rates have decreased as much as 30 percent in the realm of sudden infant death syndrome.

The New Zealand Strategy specifically figures out which babies are at high risk for SIDS. Through this strategy, families will not be shamed by their decision to co-sleep, rather, they’re being taught how to bed-share more safely. Doctors will talk about what increases the risk, such as drug use and alcohol use, and families are given a so-called Moses basket so that the family can bring the baby into the bed. If parents feel less judged by their doctors, then they are able to receive better advice about the dangerous circumstances surrounding SIDS.

Co-Sleeping Pros

An implied medical advantage of bedsharing is that it encourages increased frequency and duration of breastfeeding, which is broadly held to be the best strategy for nourishing youthful babies. Bedsharing promotes breastfeeding and greater bonding opportunities. While there is no current research contending that co-sleeping has a defensive impact against SIDS, James McKenna’s exploration has demonstrated that babies who sleep by their mothers exhibit positive physiological changes. These progressions can hypothetically decrease the dangers of SIDS.

Co-Sleeping Cons

Co-sleeping puts the infant at risk for sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome, accidental suffocation, and accidental strangulation. About 3,700 babies die each year in the U.S. from sleep-related causes. From a psychiatric viewpoint, prolonged bed sharing may be considered symptomatic of maternal separation anxiety, an inability to set limits, difficulty maintaining a consistent child bedtime routine, or a disturbed mother-infant relationship.

Due to the fragmented and poor quality sleep of family members, elementary school children tend to act out and cause disruptions in family life. Concerns have been raised about the unfavorable results of bedsharing for family relations, particularly the marriage, with some warning that marital intimacy will suffer from prolonged bed sharing arrangements. Whereas bed- sharing can potentially hinder the romantic relationship between parents, there is a lack of empirical evidence to support this possible co-sleeping con. Solitary sleeping and co-sleeping families both report marital intimacy and partner satisfaction despite existing controversies.

In a study comparing both U.S. and Chinese elementary school children, the Chinese children were reported to have more sleep problems such as difficulty falling asleep, fear of sleeping in the dark, talk during sleep, and restless sleep. Although researchers clearly see that these children are suffering from the consequences of sleep disturbances, do nighttime care providers see these characteristics as problematic? Cultural considerations must be included as researchers evaluate the disruption posed by night wakings and other sleep behaviors. Parental recognitions are socially bound and essential to an evaluation of what constitutes a sleep issue. The definitions of sleep onset and night waking problems in young children are, to a certain extent, culturally determined.

Co-Sleeping and Safety Concerns

Those who are against co-sleeping argue that the practice is, in many ways, a dangerous one that, because of health, developmental, and safety concerns, has been and should continue to be abandoned by health professionals and parents. On the other side of the spectrum, some researchers contend that the practice of bedsharing is only a risk factor for SIDS if parents smoke or engage in other hazardous practices. They’ve also argued that entrapment/suffocation is only associated with bedsharing due to other contextual factors such as bed safety (soft mattresses, sleeping together on a couch) and parental variables (e.g. intoxication, smoking).

Co-Sleeping and Childhood Development

One one side of this controversial debate, some researchers argue that co-sleeping deters childhood development. They see the first year as an opportunity for infants to master sleep consolidation and sleep regulation. Other research views the process of sleep consolidation and sleep regulation as a natural process that matures over the course of the first several years of life. Controversy on whether falling asleep and staying asleep should be done naturally and independently or with the aid of parental involvement continues to reign as an issue for this field.

Co-Sleeping: Psychosocial Outcomes

Another formative issue concerns the psychosocial outcomes for children and parents of early sleep arrangements. Of prime interest is whether the requisite path towards independence and separation–individuation will be derailed for bed- sharing infants. In particular, Western societies believe that children should acquire the skills that are needed to thrive as independent individuals. This promotes the belief that ‘self-soothing’ in infants is an important developmental milestone. Co-sleeping or sleeping with a parent or sibling prevents the infant from becoming independent. Despite these convictions, evidence suggests that children who co- slept with their parents during the first year of life, are fundamentally more autonomous in everyday living abilities and in their social relations with peers as preschoolers compared to solitary sleeping children.

In their 18-year longitudinal study of conventional and nontraditional families, Okami and colleagues found that bedsharing during infancy and early childhood was unrelated to long-term problems in sleep, sexual pathology or problems in other areas of behaviour. Some sleep specialists see constant night wakings and excessive dependence on parental help for going to sleep and staying asleep in newborns and young children who co-sleep. However, in numerous nations around the globe where bedsharing is the norm, reports of rest issues are uncommon.

Co-Sleeping in Early Childhood and Social Experiences During Infancy

Marie J. Hayes, Michio Fukumizu, Marcia Troese , Bethany A. Sallinen and Allyson A. Gilles studied the relationship between co- sleeping arrangements in early childhood and social experiences during infancy. They monitored this relationship by using sleep- wake behaviors that took place during the infancy and early childhood periods from current and retrospective parental reports.

A convenience sample of 3-to 5-year-old children was obtained from the University of Maine’s Child Study Center in Orono, Maine. The Child Study Center is part of the Psychology Department at the University and provides a preschool educational experience to families who are encouraged to take interest in the preschool’s research mission. The average age of the children was 3.8 years, 51% were female, and 73% were breastfed during infancy.

Results showed that early childhood co-sleeping was reactive. Co-sleeping in early childhood was associated with sleep location in infancy (i.e. proximity to the mother’s bed) during wake–sleep transitions and night feedings. In infancy, researchers recalled an inverse relationship between the use of security objects in early childhood and current parent- seeking behaviors, night waking, poor bedtime routines, fear of the dark, and social contact during wake–sleep transitions. These findings suggest that co-sleeping in early childhood is related to social experiences during infancy, particularly the amount of parent social contact and security object use.

At 12 months old, a newborn’s proximity to the mother’s bed was related to co-sleeping at 2 and 4 years of age. Infant sleep location in a different room was related to self- soothing techniques that were practiced independently by the infant. Self-calming was additionally identified with a more prominent delay in parental intervention for night crying. Self-soothing opportunities are presented to the infant with increased proximal distance from the maternal bed, less parental awareness of infant awakenings, and longer delays in responding.

Interestingly enough, the use of a sleep aid may do more harm than good at sleep onset. In infancy, security object attachment and difficulty without the object were associated with more solitary sleeping and independent sleep onset skills in early childhood. Infants who did not use a sleep aid were associated with more co-sleeping in early childhood. In sum, you will find that infants who have more independent sleep onset skills, solid sleep routines, and low rates of nightwalking in early childhood have a history of using a sleep aid during infancy. In Western society, it’s possible that parental encouragement of object use may be simply a corollary of parental practices that are cultural conventions. These parents believe that early independent sleep onset skills are best developed by the parental delay in response to infant night crying and ritualized bedtime routines.

Tips on How to Stop Co-Sleeping With Your Baby

It is evident that co-sleeping has both its pros and cons. If you are a parent who is 100% comfortable with continuing on the co-sleeping route, that’s totally fine! But if you are a parent who wants to slowly wean you and your child off of a co-sleeping agenda, then stay tuned for these tips on how to stop co-sleeping with your baby.

Why did you begin to co-sleep with your infant in the first place? How you address this issue relies upon how and why you are co-sleeping with your infant. However, regardless of your condition, there are additional components for an effective change.

You must have a consistent nighttime routine

Is your child going to sleep in your bed every night or not? On the off chance that your child resists or you miss that feeling when your child slept close to you throughout the night, you are disturbing the establishment of a new sleeping pattern. Keep in mind that intermittent reinforcement is a powerful mechanism for encouraging undesirable behavior. According to Craig Canapari, director of the Yale Pediatric Sleep Center, the number one reason families fail at extricating their child from their bed is that they are inconsistent.

Devise a sleep time plan

Consistency requires all hands on deck. All caregivers must be aware of what this new plan consists of. If you decide that the child will not be sharing the bed with you tonight, make sure your partner is aware of this decision. Discuss with your partner where your child will sleep during the day so you are prepared to act upon this decision at night.

Agree on a “quit date”

Choose a specific date to start a change in co-sleeping behaviors.

Make solitary sleeping fun

Feelings of apprehension are completely normal for anyone who’s facing any kind of change in a normal routine. But in terms of co-sleeping, some children might feel uncertain about spending the night alone in their own bedroom without their parents. To ease this scary situation, take your child to choose a new set of pajamas or a fun bedding set. Pick out a new stuffed animal to use as a transitional object.

Face this new experience alongside your child

The beginning of a solitary sleep routine is experienced by both the child and their family. You can’t expect your child to start sleeping by themselves in an unfamiliar place right off the bat so it’s important to ease into this new situation. Craig Canapari suggests that you move with your child in their room for a week or so before starting to withdraw your presence.

Help your baby fall asleep on their own

Your child is bound to wake up at some point during the night but in order to go back to sleep without parental aid, they have to work on falling back asleep on their own. Some parents find success in checking on their baby in the middle of the night and reassuring her, without picking her up or bringing her to bed with them.

Be patient

Rest assured, co-sleeping does not last forever! Just like any other behavior, solitary sleeping becomes automatic when the correct measures are taken. Eventually, your baby will learn how to sleep on their own and your bed will become yours again.

Please do not think of yourself as a so-called “bad parent” if you choose to co-sleep with your child at any stage of their lives. This article is not meant to make you feel that you failed your children in any way because you allow them to share the bed with you at night. I hope you found the information in this article useful and helpful. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

For further reading…

In an analysis from two case-control studies in the UK, Robert Platt, a biostatistician at McGill University, examined the relationship between sudden infant death syndrome and infants who co-sleep in the absence of hazardous circumstances. One examination included 400 total SIDS cases and just 24 cases in which the infant had shared the bed without parental hazards. In the other examination, there were only 12 of these cases out of 1,472 SIDS deaths. In the last investigation, some data about the parent’s drinking propensities was missing. Nevertheless, the two examinations arrived at comparative conclusions. For babies older than 3 months of age, there was no detectable increased risk of SIDS among families that practiced bed-sharing, in the absence of other hazards. So far, only two studies have looked at this question.

Platt believes that there may be an increased risk among babies who are younger than 3 months. He further explains that if there is an increased risk, it’s probably not of a comparable magnitude to some of these other risk factors, such as smoking and drinking alcohol. In other words, the risks present in this age group do not pose as much as a risk than parents who decide to co-sleep with their children after they’ve just smoked a cigarette or drank a beer, or two. Overall, the two studies suggest bed-sharing, when no other hazards are present, raises the risk of SIDS by about threefold.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Risk Factors:

The risk factors for SIDS include:

  • Parents who become tired easily, sleep heavily, consume alcohol or take medication that affects their level of consciousness
  • Illness of either the mother or the baby: First and foremost, you must take care of your health and your baby’s health before co-sleeping with your newborn. Skin- to- skin contact easily distributes germs between the mother and her baby.
  • Babies who are underweight or preterm
  • Sofas and/or waterbeds
  • Soft bedding and pillows
  • Excessive pillows and duvet covers
  • Room Temperature
  • Bedding that covers the infant’s head

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Smoking:

Smoking serves as another significant risk factor in sudden infant death syndrome. Compared to their non- smoking counterparts, babies are 15 times more likely to die from SIDS if their mothers smoke during their pregnancy. In 1998, the Department of Health conducted a survey where only 9% of women knew that smoking in pregnancy increased the risk of SIDS. The CESDI Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy (SUDI) Studies found that babies who died within the first year of life were twice as likely to have been exposed to tobacco smoke, with the risk increasing with the number of hours of exposure.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Alcohol:

The most frequent risk in bed-sharing arrangements is paternal alcohol consumption among certain social groups. Helen L. Ball found that: “the heaviest drinking bed-sharing fathers were of middle- income, socioeconomic classes III and IV, with little post-16 education, whose partners were breastfeeding their first infants.” As the numbers of babies who are breastfed increases in this section of the population, attention needs to be paid to the wider implications of these changes in infant care practices.

“The heaviest drinking bed-sharing fathers were of middle- income, socioeconomic classes III and IV, with little post-16 education, whose partners were breastfeeding their first infants.”- Helen L. Ball

American Academy of Pediatrics: Recommendations on SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an association of 66,000 essential care pediatricians, pediatric therapeutic subspecialists, and pediatric surgeons. They are committed to the wellbeing, security, and prosperity of newborn children, youngsters, teenagers and youthful grown-ups.

“SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment,” draws on new research and serves as the first update to Academy policy since 2011. In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) expressed an opposition to bed-sharing with this statement: “It should be avoided at all times with a full-term normal-weight infant younger than 4 months.”

“It should be avoided at all times with a full-term normal-weight infant younger than 4 months.”- The American Academy of Pediatrics (APA)

Newly revised recommendations call for newborn babies to share their parents’ bedroom for the first six months and, optimally, for the first year of life. Parents should rest their baby on a firm sleep surface, such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet. Lori Feldman-Winter, a member on the Task Force on SIDS, says: “There should be no pillows, sheets, blankets or other items that could obstruct the infant’s breathing or cause overheating.” While infants are at an increased risk for SIDS between the ages of 1 and 4 months, new evidence demonstrates that soft bedding continues to pose hazards to babies who are 4 months and older. To guarantee a safe resting place for your baby, stay away from soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare and the infant should be placed on their back. Research has shown that room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.

“There should be no pillows, sheets, blankets or other items that could obstruct the infant’s breathing or cause overheating.”- Lori Feldman- Winter

Doctors strongly emphasize the importance of skin-to-skin care immediately following birth. Skin-to-skin contact ought to be limited if one, or both, parents smoke tobacco, abuse alcohol, or other illicit drugs. For this can jeopardize the infant’s health and ultimately, their life.

Breastfeeding is likewise prescribed as protection against SIDS. After feeding, the AAP urges guardians to move the infant to his or her separate sleeping space, preferably a crib or bassinet in the parents’ bedroom. Winter explains: “If you are feeding your baby and think that there’s even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair. If you do fall asleep, as soon as you wake up be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed.”

“If you are feeding your baby and think that there’s even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair. If you do fall asleep, as soon as you wake up be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed.”- Lori Feldman- Winter

Other recommendations include:

  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
  • Do not use home monitors or commercial devices, including wedges or positioners, marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
  • Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development.

References

American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Safe-Sleep-Recommendations-to-Protect-Against-SIDS. (n.d.).

Canapari, C. (2015, November 10). How To Stop Co-sleeping. Retrieved July 24, 2018, from https://drcraigcanapari.com/want-to-stop-cosleeping-heres-how/

Goldberg, W. A., & Keller, M. A. (2007). Parent-infant co-sleeping: why the interest and concern?.Infant & Child Development, 16(4), 331-339.

Hayes, M. J., Fukumizu, M., Troese, M., Sallinen, B. A., & Gilles, A. A. (2007). Social experiences in infancy and early childhood co-sleeping. Infant & Child Development, 16(4), 403-416. ( Study)

Is Sleeping With Your Baby As Dangerous As Doctors Say?. (2018). Morning Edition

Development of Cognitive Skills; Piaget’s theory.

Crawl before you walk, walk before you run! When it comes to development, this phrase is certainly true. Before children learn to talk and are taught to problem solve at school, right from birth, they begin to develop novel ways of communicating and exploring the world around them. They cry to tell you they’re hungry, and go through a stage where it seems they’re trying to eat everything (I’m sure the parents reading this can relate)! These practices enable babies to make sense of the world. As they get older, their way of exploring rapidly evolves. As well as developing the ability to walk and talk, our development of cognitive skills (memory, attention, language, reading comprehension, fine motor and gross motor skills) are developed throughout our childhood.

French Psychologist Jean Piaget, proposed the development of cognitive skills during childhood occurs in 4 distinct stages. Each stage builds upon the previous one. Piaget’s theory was ground breaking at the time, as it was previously thought that children didn’t develop cognitive skills until they began to acquire language. Piaget challenged this, as he found that children explore the world around them before they acquire language by using their different senses. This is known as the sensorimotor stage, which is one of four stages that classify a child’s learning stages. The other three stages are known as the pre-operational stage, concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage. During each stage, children acquire new cognitive skills, whilst developing skills they have acquired in previous stages.

Cognitive development

Development of Cognitive Skills: Sensorimotor stage

This stage lasts from birth to 2 years.

In this stage, children learn about the world using their senses and manipulating objects. Here a child’s intelligence is based on their motor and sensory knowledge. During this stage, children learn of object permanence, i.e. although a toy is out of sight, it still exists. This information is extremely important as it prepares children to be able to name objects.

3 months– Infants are able to recognise faces and imitate facial expressions (above).

6 months– Infants can imitate sounds, recognise their parents and display fear towards strangers. They understand the difference between animate and inanimate objects. Between four and seven months, children begin to recognise their own name.

9 months– Infants imitate gestures and actions. The understand simple words like ‘no’ and begin to test their parents’ response to their behaviour.

12 months– Infants can follow moving objects. They can speak between two to four simple words like ‘mama’ and ‘dada’. They can imitate animal sounds and begin to display attachments to objects such as a toy or blanket. At this age, they will also begin to display separation anxiety.

18 months– Vocabulary increases to around 50 words. Children begin to identify body parts and display sense of ownership. They can follow simple instructions (e.g. picking up toys and putting them in the box). They begin to show an understanding of discipline and have knowledge of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.

Development of Cognitive Skills: Pre-operational stage

This stage lasts from 2 – 7 years.

A child’s vocabulary is around 150 words. Around this time, children learn around 10 new words a day, and begin to understand emotions such as love, trust and fear. Children also begin to learn through pretend play, or “make believe”. However, their view of others and logic isn’t well understood, and children have a self-centered view of the world. In this stage, children begin to use their imaginary and memory skills, and begin to develop their social interaction skills and play cooperatively with children their own age. They will begin to develop their cognitive abilities. Children learn to read, develop routines and display an increased attention span. At the beginning of this stage, children develop their attention, long term and short term memory. As children get older, they learn to control their attention and use their cognitive abilities to help them solve problems and achieve their goals. Also during this stage of development, auditory processing is further refined. This is highly important in improving reading skills.

Imaginative play

Development of Cognitive Skills: Concrete operational stage

This stage is from 7-11 years.

During this stage, children learn to be less egocentric and self centered. They begin to think about the thoughts and feelings of others, and they are more aware of their own thoughts and feelings and the rules around sharing them with others. Children are also able to think in a more logic manner and see the world from the view of others. However, at this stage, a child’s thought is often rigid, therefore they tend to struggle with abstract concepts. Here children learn that things, such as volume and weight, can stay the same despite changes in the appearance of objects. For example, two different glasses can hold the same volume of water. Also, at this stage, children’s attention span begins to increase with age. At the age of six, the child may be able to focus on a task for around 15 minutes. At the age of nine, children can focus on a task for around an hour.

Concrete operational stage

Development of Cognitive Skills: Formal operational stage

This stage is from 11 years and upwards.

Children are able to better understand logic and abstract ideas. They will start to reason and think about abstract ideas, and implement these ideas into their lives. They are also able to see multiple solutions to problems, and begin to look at the world in a scientific manner. During this stage, Adolescents display independent problem-solving skills, and are able to understand abstract ideas such puns, proverbs, metaphors, analogies, philosophy and maths. Children also learn to apply general information to specific situations. During adolescence we undergo cognitive transition, which means that the way we think becomes more advanced, more efficient, and more complex. Thought is no longer limited to what is real, it is expanded to include the hypothetical. During this stage we begin thinking about the process of thinking, known as metacognition. Thought becomes multidimensional; we are able to look at multiple outcomes to a specific problem, which allows us to think rationally and analyze the problem. This will hopefully help us to make well-informed decisions.

Every child will progress through each stage in order, but it’s important to remember that each child is different, so that manner or time that it take a child to develop these skills may vary- and that’s OK! Progression through the 4 stages of development can occur at different rates; some faster than others. We all have a unique cognitive profile, some cognitive skills can be weaker than others. A cognitive assessment can help us to identify which of our cognitive skills are weaker. This enables us to tailor our cognitive training, and improve our weaker skills. If you are looking to strengthen your cognitive skills, why not try some brain games! If you are concerned that about your cognitive abilities or the development of a child, it is important to seek professional advice.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, get in touch below! 🙂

Pregnancy Changes the Brain: Does Pregnancy Brain Have Negative Effects Long Term?

Pregnancy changes the brain. She took her pregnancy test and it was confirmed, she was going to bring a new life into this world. What an exciting time in a mother’s life when she discovers she is pregnant, the bliss fills the life of her loved ones, and from that day onwards, she lives a life of not only a woman or a wife but also takes up a new role of a mother. It is natural to have mixed feeling when a woman realizes she is pregnant, especially if she is experiencing it for the first time. She has to educate herself on many aspects of the new change, the do’s and the don’ts and, most importantly, the changes her body is going to go through. As science and technology have progressed, the awareness that pregnancy has the ability to alter a woman’s life in terms of the hormonal, physiological and emotional state of the body is much talked about, and everyday new studies are being contributed to the understanding of these changes. But did you know besides the established facts of gaining weight, hormonal changes, change in taste buds, sometimes sore feet and elevated levels of blood pressure and sugar levels, there is a strong connection between pregnancy and the brain? Let’s get educated on how pregnancy changes the brain!

How pregnancy changes the brain

Do you have “pregnancy brain”? Take the test below to find out!

1. How often do you walk into a room meaning to do something, only to forget what you were supposed to do?
  • The surge in hormones directs your attention elsewhere, which may cause you to forget things more often than usual!
2. How often do you forget common, everyday things (Ex. forgetting to put on shoes, forgetting names of family members)?
  • Sleep deprivation combined with all of your hormones can contribute to memory loss. But fear not, brain games can help you bring back some of your usual clarity!
3. How often do you feel overwhelmed?
  • It's completely normal to feel overwhelmed, especially if it's your first child! There's a lot to worry about between preparing for the new baby and caring for your own health. Just remember to take a deep breath every once in a while, and try out the tips below.
4. How often do you feel frustrated about not remembering as much as you used to?
  • It's common to feel frustrated, especially when you don't feel like your normal self. Check out the tips below to learn how you can combat this, and feel more like yourself!

Pregnancy changes the brain-General body changes

The development in a pregnant female’s body is a week by week progression and as they cross each trimester (a period of three months), the changes are more evident and noticeable. What are the changes that occur? Why do these changes happen? Are the changes reversible?

Many scholars and organizations are advocates to answer basic and complex questions that may arise during pregnancy for mothers to be. The Office on Women’s Health, U.S Department of Health and Human services (OWH) is an organization that is dedicated to educating women around U.S towards various female health related topics such as cancer, birth control, pregnancy and much more. According to OWH, the following basic information on stages of pregnancy is significant for women,

  • First Trimester (week 1 to week 12) a female’s body goes through a major hormonal change which further affects each and every organ in their body. Furthermore, the hormonal change is responsible for the tiredness, headaches,  mood swings, and food cravings.
  • Second Trimester( week 13 to week 18) observes changes such as body aches, darkening of the skin around the nipples, itching on the abdomen, sore feet and palms, stretch marks and weight gain. These changes may vary from person to person.
  • Third Trimester (week 20 to week 40), the mother can feel the baby move, but many of the discomforts of the second-trimester increase and as the baby grows, the pressure on the mother’s bladder is increased adding to the uneasiness.

As stated above, the changes mentioned (along with many others) are due to the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy. Elevated levels of Estrogen and Progesterone (main pregnancy hormones) are primarily responsible for the variations in a female body at the time of pregnancy both externally and internally. This may also indicate how and why pregnancy changes the brain.

Pregnancy changes the brain- Gray Matter

Now that we have a basic idea of how the body changes during pregnancy, let’s try to understand how pregnancy changes the brain.

In a more recent study published in 2017 by, Hoekzema and colleagues “Pregnancy leads to long-lasting changes in human brain structure that focused on the brain change that occurs during pregnancy. The pre and post pregnancy MRI testing of 25 first-time mothers and fathers study highlighted the fact that pregnancy alters the brain structure of the mother substantially. The MRI reports suggested that Gray Matter(GM) volume was reduced in a few areas. However, this reduction was not noticed in fathers and women who did not experience childbirth. Also, the brain changes were noticed 2 years post pregnancy, confirming long lasting effects of how pregnancy changes the brain.

“Loss of volume does not necessarily translate to a loss of function,” said Hoekzema, “Sometimes less is more.”

The study of the brain and how pregnancy changes the brain has been a subject of study for many neuroscientists and other in related fields. Many studies have suggested that the gray matter is responsible for emotions, sensory perception, decision making, cognition, speech, self-control, and memory. Modifications in the gray matter might limit a mother’s social cognition skills but it prepares her with adaptive methods during the motherhood transition. The study also concentrated on the evidence that the depletion in gray matter volume overlaps the part of the brain that is actually responsible for a mother being able to recognize her baby’s needs after the baby is born. In addition, the study also provided us with significant evidence reflecting the association between the quality of mother and infant attachment is predicted due to how pregnancy changes the brain.

Pregnancy changes the brain- Hormones

As you already know, the brain gets flooded with hormones during pregnancy. During the first trimester, it’s common to feel a mix of happiness, anxiety, or even upset after an unplanned pregnancy. These feelings can intensify in the second trimester. And as you grow more uncomfortable in the third trimester, your feelings of anxiety might grow as well. For some mothers, these emotions can be more intense than usual, leading to severe anxiety symptoms or depression. And while some of the blame can be placed on the stresses of becoming a parent, we can also blame the hormones for changing the chemical balance in the brain.

But this all helps the mother to prepare for childhood by being less responsive to stress and more responsive to her child. Although it seems like all it does is change your cognitive processes or functions, it’s really helping you to be a more sensitive mother. For example, some studies actually show that when a fetus moves, the mother’s heart rate, emotions, and skin conductance increase, even if she’s not aware of the movement. A hormone, called oxytocin, also plays a major role in pregnancy. It helps to contract the muscles of the uterus during birth and is actually used by doctors to slow down bleeding during birth. And during pregnancy, the hormone helps the mother feel calmer, get more sleep, and to get more nutrients, to help with her energy levels. Once the baby is born, oxytocin is released by both mother and baby, which helps to create a sense of euphoria and to foster the mother-child bond. Want to read more about the types of neurotransmitters?

Pregnancy changes the brain

Pregnancy changes the brain- Pregnancy brain explanation

In an article published by Lisa Galea 2014 “Mother’s Day Science: From ‘Baby Brain’ to Cognitive Boost”  it was stated there are studies that provide evidence yielding that a female brain shrinks between 4 to 8 percent during pregnancy which causes a mother to be forgetful which is also called as “baby brain” or “pregnancy brain”. In addition, Galea also stresses that the changes in the brain occur due to the elevated levels of progesterone and estrogen hormones which further results in memory impairments in a pregnant female.

 Even if we place some of the blame on the hormones, only some studies show cognitive deficits during pregnancy. In fact, other studies actually show that pregnant women perform just as well as other women in cognitive tests. So what really is to blame?

Well, some people argue that, while the hormones are preparing you for motherhood, it’s directing your attention away from things you would normally pay attention to. Combine that with worries about the baby, your health, and sleep deprivation, it’s a wonder you can even function at all! So the bottom line is, just because your brain feels a little “foggier” than usual, doesn’t mean you’re losing any IQ points. It just means that your brain is getting you ready to be the best mom you can be. It means that pregnancy changes your brain in fact but in a positive way. Luckily, you can still train your brain with cognitive brain training programs, which will help you keep your cognitive skills in top shape throughout your pregnancy!

Pregnancy changes the brain: Your brain after birth

The fogginess felt during pregnancy eventually goes away after birth. And while your brain is trying to rebalance its chemistry, it’s also directing its activity to places that will help you as a mother. For example, during pregnancy, activity increases in areas controlling social interactions, empathy, and anxiety. In the postpartum period, these changes are amplified by even more hormone surges. In addition, a mother will start to feel overwhelming emotions of love, protectiveness, and worry about raising a baby. You can see the crazy effects of how pregnancy changes the brain!

Some research has shown that there is growth in the amygdala and the hypothalamus. This helps with emotional regulation, survival instincts, and the production of hormones. This growth increases weeks and months after birth. This has been linked to mothers having a positive view and positive feelings towards their baby. It also allows a mother to wake up in the middle of the night when their baby is crying, without getting too frustrated as explained in the video.

Knowing about all of these emotional changes allows us to understand things like postpartum depression, obsessive compulsions, and anxiety. In fact, amygdala damage is associated with higher depression rates in mothers. Studies also show that reward centers (such as the thalamus and amygdala) in the brain actually light up whenever a mother just stares at her baby. This causes the attentiveness and the affection a mother feels towards her baby. But in depression, this activity isn’t as prominent.

The process of childbirth is the most beautiful experience that a woman goes through and what is more amazing is to learn the changes her body goes through prior and post pregnancy. Researchers and neuroscientists are working to investigate more about how pregnancy changes the brain and body. As studies are being published, there are other questions that may arise, like “would brain change have a negative effect on a woman if she gets pregnant more than once?”

How to keep your brain sharp?

Pregnancy changes the brain can be overwhelming and it can add greatly to your stresses. Follow these tips to keep your brain sharp, and to keep you mentally healthy!

  1. Sleep deprivation can lead to much of the forgetfulness experienced during pregnancy. Not having enough sleep prevents the brain from focusing on caring for your baby. So the answer is obvious, get more sleep! This might seem like an impossible task, but getting at least 8 hours a night can really help you feel back on your feet. Fight the urge to be productive while the baby is napping and instead, opt to take a nap. And when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night, try to trade it off with your partner, so you feel less groggy in the morning.
  2. Write things down. Or more specifically, write everything down. Writing will help you greatly in trying to remember things. Not to mention, having everything in one place will keep you sane. Invest in a planner or notebook, and carry it with you everywhere, so you’re always on top of things.
  3. As established before, try playing some brain games. Brain games allow you to use your cognitive abilities and stimulate your brain using specific training exercises. CogniFit offers a large variety of free online mind games, which are specifically designed to target your overall brain health.

However, with the studies published, we can now confidently say that the changes that occur in a female’s brain due to the reduction in the gray matter are a positive change for both the mother and the child.

Do you have any questions or ideas? Leave a comment below! 🙂

References

Hoekzema E, et al. (2017) Pregnancy leads to long-lasting changes in human brain structure. Natural Neuroscience 20, 287–296.

 

Attachment styles: How to appropriately connect with others?

How many attachment styles are there, how are they developed, what consequences do they have in adulthood, why is it important to build an appropriate emotional bond as soon as we are born? Here you will find answers to those questions, advice for parents and so much more. Discover this useful guide about different attachment types.

Attachment styles: complete guide

Attachment style theory has uncovered humanity’s need to establish profound and long-lasting bonds with our peers in order to ensure our survival. Bowlby explained the qualities a caregiver should have to establish a healthy bond with an infant, child or dependent person these being:

  • Empathy: the ability to put oneself in another persons shoes and feel what they are feeling, however with enough distance to know its not their own problem or emotion.
  • Sensitivity: ability to detect even the smallest signs of a basic or non basic need in a child.
  • Availability: in order to satisfy the child’s needs adequately the caregiver has to be available.

The presence and absence of these elements in the set of interactions between the child and the caregiver are key to establish internal models for future relationships of the child, or attachment style in which the child will build its relationship with others.

Following J. Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth and her coworkers in Baltimore, were able to establish three attachment styles included into two main categories: secure attachment (type B) and insecure attachment which she divided into avoidant (type A) and ambivalent/resistant (type C). They did this by exposing the child to an unfamiliar place with the aim of seeing their reaction when the mother left the room and the child was left with a stranger. They observed the behavior before and after the mother came back. Finally, thanks to another research group insecure attachment got another category called disorganized/disoriented attachment.

Finally the attachments styles defined were:

What color does he see the world?- I question myself every time I’m in front of a patient and I’m trying to navigate his brain in order to give some sense to how he feels.  What does he think of others? Does he protect himself by avoiding, or is he outgoing and open to life?- These are other questions I wonder about when he is telling me his life story and I try to figure out what attachment style he might be.

Attachment Styles: Secure Attachment

“It’s living with the feeling that people have my back. That whenever I need someone, they will encourage me to continue with a smile or will get sad if I’m crying. No matter what, I know they will be there, offering me comfort”.

Ainsworth defined secure attachment as the absence of concern of the availability of the caregiver. In a unfamiliar situation, children that had a secure attachment with their caregiver would explore the world with curiosity and joyfulness. When their parents left, children would cry and exhibit signs of angst, however they were easily calmed when they came back.

Children with secure attachments are happier and have parents who have been able to satisfy their needs in the different developmental stages. They have made the children felt loved and part of the family, through empathy, availability and sensitivity. In each encounter between the parent and the child, the parent has been capable with love and unconditional acceptance to regulate the child’s emotion even if before the child was crying or uncomfortable. The well being for one is the satisfaction of the other.

Thus, with every interaction, the child has modulated his representation of others as predictable and optimistic. He defines himself as: worthy to be loved, with positive self-esteem, confident in his abilities and self-worth as well as capable of expressing and communicating his emotions.

Therefore, they grow with the idea that the world is a safe and trustworthy place, living each life experience as a challenge and an opportunity to learn new things.

Children that developed a secure attachment tend to become emotional steady and coherent adults, with well integrated life narratives, confidence in themselves and others and have long lasting bonds with others. They use empathy and interpret their experiences with optimism and positivism.

In my opinion, people with secure attachments are the people we meet in life that make us feel comfortable, happy and filled with optimism.

Attachment styles: secure attachment

Attachment Styles: Insecure Attachments

What happens with parenting is not satisfactory or when one of the essential elements is missing in order to create a secure bond? Then is when insecure attachments are usually formed. These are distinguished by profound significant ties that generate great discomfort, due to lack of empathy and sensitivity that turn into an unreliable and unpredictable view of the world. 

At best in this category are children whose parents did a their job raising them with empathy and concern but failed understanding their needs or offering solutions. For each time they searched emotional warmth, security and understanding they might have failed, leading to pain and feelings of confusion towards the world.

Imagine we just landed in a new unknown and strange planet and around us the people can’t read our facial expressions, let alone the fear we feel by being there. Some might even out of curiosity get close to examine us while others just ignore our presence. We might be so scared we won’t have any idea of where to go, our brain will be trying to figure out an infinite number of unknown stimuli, leading us to be bewildered and mistrusting towards that world.

Children with insecure attachments have lived their relationship with others as unsatisfying, be it because they felt ignored or because their parents have tried inconsistent educational guidelines usually relying on their mood or their own needs. These are parents that seem genuinely worried about their children, however when analysed its discovered that the motivation for being worried is an egocentric one, more based on their personal needs than the children.

Hence, these children grow up with a negative emotional model that generates high levels of anxiety.  Their interactions have taught them that there is nothing beneficial from them but great amount of disappointment and pain. Thus, they develop defensive strategies such as isolation, avoidance, in an attempt to lessen the pain. Likewise, they develop a lack of understanding, ignorance and undervalue that has in turn lead to a non-defined fragmented identity, coated with sadness and high levels of loneliness. 

As adults, they have low self-esteem and expect very little from life. In any interaction they seem restrained, withdrawn and suspicious of good actions. They tend to be deep-rooted in security, fearing independence, occasionally having anxiety symptoms when they feel their safety is being threatened.

Some of them spend their lifetime avoiding relationships, meanwhile others manage to establish random relationships with different people however not rooted in a meaningful profound connections.

Attachment styles: insecure attachment

Ainsworth was able to give specific characteristics to the different attachment styles:

  • Avoidant attachment style: children that don’t show any type of negative emotion with their mother’s absence. When the mother returns, the child avoids all contact with her not showing any emotions towards her, foreseeing his needs won’t be satisfied.
  • Ambivalent attachment style: children with doubtful and inconclusive feelings, on one hand they search for their mother’s comfort but at the same time they feel a deep pain displayed as rage, irritability and it becomes very difficult to comfort them.
  • Disoriented/Disorganized: this is the most serious one out of all three. They are traumatized children from young age. They don’t have a defined specific behavior established, therefore they swap from showing a strong attachment to avoidance or even remain paralyzed. They swing from anguish, to searching for comfort in the mother, to anger, to fear and avoidance. They think of their parents as scary and unpredictable because the latter have unpredictable educational guidelines. Thus, the child has a chaotic and disorganized view of the world, and in an attempt to protect himself a series of erratic behaviors are developed. Children with this attachment style have difficulty regulating their emotions and keeping healthy relationships. This attachment style is related to many psychological disorders.

Advice: How to build a secure attachment?

Attachment styles are very difficult to keep in mind when raising a child, however its possible build a secure attachment. What do we have to do to build a healthy bond and create a secure attachment? As caregivers, we have to ensure our child’s healthy development. As you may have been already understanding with this article, the bond or link between caregivers and the child are the key to our future relationships. Thus, I don’t want to conclude without giving some advice on how to build a secure attachment:

  • Establish well-defined rules and limits. Children need rules because they will face a world filled with rules and norms. Its important that within our educational scheme we include specific rules making some negotiable with our children.
  • Maintain high levels of communication. Answers such as “do it cause I say so” should not be used to get children to do something. Its important to first explain the motivations behind the rule or norm. This helps children develop a critical thought process about their behavior and how he feels about it. We can always help the process with words and expressions he may not know. Communication is an essential part of educating, particularly education values. Even when the behavior is not the most appropriate, its important to find a place where to speak and think about what happened and how it can change. This exchange in point of views between a parent and his child leads to better understanding of each other. A good communication requires active listening. We need to let the other person speak and we listen intently to what they are trying to transmit even if we don’t initially agree. Its not about who is wrong and who is right but rather help the child have introspection.

“There are no irrefutable truths, just stories, then, Why not listen to his story? And in case parts of his story include us, give our fragment of his story to complete it. “

  • Let your child know you love them. It’s an essential part of childhood, more than food, is receiving lots of affection. A good emotional development will help them create relationships, develop empathy, communicate and understand others. Even when explaining the rules or scolding it should be done with warmth and care.
  • “Sanction behaviors not people”. The child must be aware of the wrong behavior without it interfering or having a negative connotation with his identity. We have to explain clearly what exactly was the behavior didn’t like and measure our words in order not to hurt the child. Its very different for example if I said with a firm tone: “I didn’t like the way you threw that ball at your sister” than “you are a bad child for throwing the ball at your sister”. The second option is packed with negative emotions and brands the child a “bad person”.
  • Heal your own wounds. We have to let the past go in order to focus on the present. Attachment styles tend to be intergenerational, that is, they are transmitted from parents to children through imitation, modeling, etc. A child that grew up without empathy, as a parent may not have that tool to teach his or her own children. The same happens with irrational fears, they can be passed from parents to children, thus it’s important for parents to let their past behind and apply new strategies with their children.

Remember to always keep in mind the three essentials elements: empathy, sensitivity and disposition. These elements are the key to developing a secure attachment and will allow us to understand our child’s point of view and way of looking at life.

People can develop secure relationships with some people and insecure with others, or even a secure relationship can turn into insecure in a different moment in time. What is assured is that young experiences play an important role in our brain development and from there how we relate to others and ourselves.

Maybe by reading this article you are now aware of your attachment style. Maybe you might even adventure in asking yourself what color do you see the world? What style do I have? What relationships are secure for me and which aren’t?.

Thank you so much for reading. If you have comments feel free to leave them below.

 

This article is originally in Spanish written by Samuel Facius Cruz, translated by Alejandra Salazar.

 

Shop Talk: The Do’s and Don’ts of Daddy-ing

With all the information on pregnancy, kids, and parenting, I noticed the lack of information geared towards fathers specifically. I decided to gather a few of my co-workers who are either fathers or soon-to-be fathers, to talk about their experiences and create a comprehensive* list of the do’s, dont’s, and what’s? of fatherhood. Think of this as a father’s guide to fatherhood.

*This list is not actually comprehensive.

Advice for dads

DO

-Know your due date

Really, it’s pretty important. I realized that this had to be a “do” when I asked one of the guys when the baby was due and he took about 10 seconds too long to answer. Know when the baby is supposed to come, pack the hospital bag, make sure you have what you need (and nothing you don’t).

-Have patience

Each one of the guys said this multiple times talking about different things. Have patience with your wife, have patience with your kid, and have patience with yourself. If you have any patience left over, lend some of it to the in-laws.

-Prepare to realize some things aren’t important

You missed your TV show this week? You’re not having what you wanted for dinner? After you have kids, you realize what are the really important things in life (hint: it’s your kids). Accept that your night out with the boys may not seem so important anymore, and that’s OK.

-Create as much space as you can

Toys. Everywhere. You don’t know how much space this creature needs until you have it. Make as much space as you can and prepare to continue to clear out more as time goes on. The kid will eventually have more space than you in the house-learn to be OK with it.

-Sleep while you can, seriously.

You won’t be sleeping in, or through the night, for a few years. Enjoy snoozing on the weekend before the baby comes, and then get whatever sleep you can catch once they’ve finally arrived.

-Keep in mind that everyone is different and has their own experience

You’ll be hearing a lot of people talking about how much your life will change, because they used to do x and they don’t anymore. For your friend, that may be true, but you will have a different experience than your friends, or than anyone else in the world, because each child and family is different. It’s true that, perhaps, the guy that used to go climb mountains on the weekend won’t be able to do that, or your buddy who goes out every weekend now has to stay home with the baby…But if, for example, you’ve always been a fan of putting a movie on the TV and staying in for the night, things might not change so much.

There will, of course, be changes, but don’t take other people’s experiences as fact.

Workout.

For most of the first two years of your child’s life, you will be carrying them. Babies get heavy, and sometimes that airplane maneuver you try to do can be more difficult than you expected. While you’re not carrying the child inside you, you’ll certainly be carrying it later. Prepare your body for carrying this extra weight.

Take care of logistics

We’ll touch on this more below, but you’re in charge of logistics. Are you going away for the weekend (or even just to the store)? Make sure the carseat is in the car, make sure you have what you need: snacks, toys, baby. Find the best route to get where you’re going. Your job is to make the trip as easy as possible.

Have some common sense

This is obvious, because it’s common sense. If someone is telling you to do something for your baby that they’re not ready for, don’t do it. For example, if people tell you to let your baby cry and you see that it’s too early, don’t listen to them. If the baby is crying and you don’t know why, go through the checklist: food, diaper, sleep, pacifier, emergency room. A young baby will never cry just because.

Say goodbye to nice things

This goes back to patience, too. Things will fall, break, and get ruined. If you think your expensive x (picture, baseball, sentimental something) might have a chance of getting broken or ruined, put it in a safe place until you’re sure your kid won’t break it (best wait until they’re in college).

-Enjoy every second with your child from day 1

This one pull at the heart strings, but it’s true. You’ll be hearing a lot of advice, and people telling you they know better, but your job is to love your kid with your whole heart.

Advice for dads

DON’T

Try to understand your wife, just listen to her

You don’t need to know why she insists the your kid eat his yogurt before the banana, but since it doesn’t really matter, give the kid his yogurt first. This is also the case for some things during pregnancy, like crying because she doesn’t want to eat her lunch. Listen to her, but don’t try to understand it.

Laugh when your son calls your expectant wife the F word (fat)

This doesn’t require any explanation.

Fight about the little things

This also goes back to the first don’t. If you were to fight with your wife about every little thing, like giving your kid a banana before the yogurt, you’ll never stop. If it’s not endangering anyone, let it slide.

Listen when your friends try to tell you how it WILL be

This also goes back to one of the do’s, but because the guys mentioned it multiple times, I feel like I can say it twice. Everyone is different. Maybe your friend’s baby has to be held all the time and yours is happy to hang out and sleep at a BBQ.

Let anyone take your place

Especially right after birth. There will be new grandparents around who know everything and want to help (and you really should let them help), but you are your child’s father, and don’t let anyone try to take that from you. You are as much your child’s parent as your wife. Never let another parent, teacher, or doctor keep you from important events. The guys I talked to said they get weird looks when they pick their children up from school. If that’s the case, don’t let it bother you- your kid is your #1 priority.

Waste a single day with your children

Maybe you have a fight with your wife or your tied up at work…whatever the reason, don’t ever let it keep you from spending time with your kids. Yes, you have to work, and you might have to put in some extra time to make things work at home, but always, always take the chance to spend those extra 10 minutes with your kid. They really do grow up fast!

Make things more difficult than it has to be: don’t buy so many things that you won’t need

Baby’s seem to require lots of stuff. The crib and the bassinet and the changing table and the bath tub and the playpen…the list goes on. Get the essentials- diapers, some plain onesies, and a bassinet. They won’t be sleeping in their own room/crib for a while, so don’t go out right away and buy everything at once. If you need that all-in-one changing table, fine, but you’ll probably end up changing your baby on the couch, floor, kitchen counter, table, etc. before walking all the way to the baby’s changing table. Think smarter, not harder.

Pay attention to the advice that you don’t want to

So much of the advice I didn’t ask for and was so stupid, I honestly just let it go in one ear and out the other”. This is a good idea. You’ll get some terrible advice. You can smile and say “OK” and then completely forget about it.  Common sense. 

Be nervous

If you freak out every time your toddler falls, your child will freak out every time they fall. Do your best to stay calm… how you react to these situations will directly affect how your children react to these accidents and problems in the future.

WHAT’S

-At the end of the day, you have to trust yourself to know what’s best for your child

You and your wife are your child’s biggest advocates and ultimately know what’s best for them. Trust yourselves to do the right thing.

Work with your partner

Yes, the job can be done alone, but if you have a partner there then work together. Be a team, help each other out, and lean on each other when it gets hard. At the end of the day, you’re going to be there together to laugh about what baby did earlier that day, or cry from exhaustion, but you’ll do it together.

You will not understand how you could love something so much. Don’t try to understand it, just accept it and love your kid.

Caregiver And Child Relationship: Attachment

Caregiver And Child Relationship: Attachment

A relationship between a child and their respective caregiver is a very special one. Because of its specialty it has been investigated by many researchers and scientists. They try to figure out how does that relationship form and how it’s maintained, what reasons are there for that attachment of the child and the person that takes care of them? What they have figured out so far is that it is very important for the child and their caregiver to form that relationship. The critical period of development of every human being is, not surprisingly, in early childhood and caregivers play a crucial role in helping the child develop properly and hit all the vital developmental milestones. The caregiver and the child form an emotional bond with one another, an attachment of sorts. It develops very early on but it is not present when the baby is born. At such an early stage of a child’s development he cannot talk, however, that doesn’t stop him from communicating. Children at an early age communicate and share their emotions and needs in various ways and that communication is crucial in the development of the attachment bond between them and their caregiver(s).

How Do Children Express Their Needs?

  • Interactional Synchrony: infants will coordinate their body movements according to their caregiver’s language.
  • Bodily contact: of course any type of physical contact helps to form the attachment between the caregiver and the infant. This is especially vital in the periods right after birth.
  • Reciprocity: the way caregivers and infants produce similar behaviors and responses to one another.
  • Mimicking: imitation of facial expressions
  • Caregiverese: a ‘language’ of the infants that adults used which includes high-pitched sounds.

All of these form and strengthen the attachment bond between the caregiver and the child. Children are able to form attachments with multiple people but do experience stranger anxiety which is one of the most crucial things scientists study when they try to research attachment. Stranger anxiety includes the distress that the infants show when they are in the presence of people they do not know.

So why does attachment form?

Caregiver And Child Relationship: Attachment

There have been a lot of theories trying to decipher the origin of attachment and why do infants need the attachment bond? Many scientists say that it is due to the fact that children cannot provide for themselves so they use their caregivers as their primary providers and as a result develop an attachment bond with them.

Because the caregivers are able to provide children with food which the children cannot obtain themselves, these theorists believe that the infants are conditioned to attach themselves to their caregivers in order to get their reward, in this case it being the food. The theory does make a lot of sense, however, there has been a lot of dispute about it and many scientists argue that there must be something more to it than just the provision of food. In fact, studies have been done to show that the attachment between the children and the caregivers goes way beyond the food factor.

In one popular study done by Harry Harlow (a highly unethical study), he tested rhesus monkeys (infant monkeys that were separated from their mothers and they were raised in isolation and in cages) who were presented with a ‘surrogate mother’ that was made purely of wire and another one that was made with a soft blanket. He found out that the monkeys preferred the ‘mother’ with the blanket to the wired one when the blanketed mother was available and if not, the monkeys showed very serious signs of distress. This experiment showed that food is not the only reason infants (monkey infants in this case) form attachments with their caregivers.

11 Tips For Developing Emotional Intelligence In Your Kids

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and control our emotions. It allows us to interpret our own feelings, as well as the feelings of those around us. It’s important to learn how to use emotional intelligence from a young age, so we can interact with others with confidence, and be comfortable with ourselves. To help your kids develop and improve emotional intelligence, we’re going to give you a list of 11 tips to help your child develop their emotional intelligence.

Tips for developing emotional intelligence in your kids

Tips for developing emotional intelligence

1. Help them express their emotions

Many times, children don’t know how to control their emotions and they end up lashing out and yelling. It’s important that we teach them other ways to express their emotions, and that it is better to talk things through than to throw a tantrum.

Help them learn how to better express themselves. Maybe have them write in a journal, sing a song, hit a pillow, or draw. If they’re able to express their emotions, they’ll have a better possibility of understanding other people’s emotions.

2. Show them how to set goals

Help your children make their own goals and teach them to be responsible to be able to reach them.

3. Cultivate empathy

Doing this requires lots of questions on your part. Make them think about other people’s feelings. Ask them things like “why do you think your sister is sad?” or, “Do you think this would make mom happy?”

4. Develop good communication

It’s important to teach children to express themselves and ask when they don’t understand something. Learning to talk about things is a basic pillar in childhood education.

5. Control their anger

Children need love and affection until they reach 18 months. This will give them a sense of safety and help them adapt to their environment, control themselves and their fears. You should know, however, that after 6 months they will start developing emotions like rage, which is why it is so important to teach them to control their actions and correct their bad behavior. It is important to establish limits and talk to your child about how to control their anger.

6. Teach them how to recognize their emotions

Children start to interact more openly when they’re about 2 years old. This is when it becomes really important that they are able to recognize basic emotions, like happiness and anger. To do this, you can show them pictures or drawings of faces, and ask them to identify what emotions each face is showing. This will improve their empathy and help them relate to others.

7. Teach them how to listen

Make your children learn to listen without interrupting when others are talking. Teach them active listening, talking to them calmly and asking them if they understood what you said.

8. Show them secondary actions

Once a child reaches 10, they start to experience secondary emotions, like embarrassment and love. You need to be open and talk about these things to keep an open relationship between parents and children.

9. Try to keep the dialogue democratic

You have to teach your children to suck it up and admit when someone else was right. Learning how to get along with others is very important for both family and adult lives.

10. Try to get them interested in other people

Get them to think about other people and what they may be feeling. Try to make them interested in their family members so that they will learn how to be empathetic.

11. Make sure they are comfortable expressing their emotions

You have to make sure that the children know they can talk about their feelings and what’s bothering them. This will help them do better in school and excel in their adult life.

Challenge Your Child’s Brain: How To Raise Smart Kids

A child’s brain development is very closely related to experience and external stimuli that they receive from birth. The different senses stimulate the connections that exist between neurons, which helps create new connections. The more connections we have, the more intelligent we believe the child to be, which is why it is important to keep their brain stimulated and challenged during their development. We’ll give you some tips on how to challenge your child’s brain so they’ll be more intelligent.

How to raise smart kids

How to raise smart kids: tips and ideas

-Interact with your kid: Children that don’t play and don’t receive enough affection when they are young have more problems when their brain is developing. Interacting and playing with your kids will show them social skills and affection, and help them develop their intelligence.

-Talk to your child: Even though they can’t express themselves well, talk and listen to them. Doing this will motivate them to develop their communication and language skills. It will also help the child express themselves through writing, which will further develop their intelligence.

-Get them used to exercising: Physical activity and exercise don’t only help the child physically, but they also improve blood flow to the brain, which helps create new brain cells.

-Encourage them to listen to music: Music can have positive effects on the brain. It improves memory, concentration, and learning ability. It can also help combat stress, which damages healthy brain cells. Learning to play an instrument can also be very helpful for brain development.

-Be a good example for your child: If they see you reading and being creative, they will also want to read and be creative. Children learn by imitating their parents…for better or for worse.

-Give your child educational games: There are a ton of games to help your child improve their memory and brain abilities. There are also letter, math, spelling, etc. games. Playing these games can help the child stimulate their brain and keep them entertained.

-Make sure they eat well: Giving your child healthy food will help their brain and body develop. Proteins help improve attention, while carbohydrates found in whole-wheat foods and fruit will give their brain energy. Try to avoid processed foods, which can actually reduce attention and brain activity.

-Bring your child to do things outside: Go on trips to see museums, parks, or anything else they may be interested in. Going out and being exposed to new and educative places can be both fun and useful for their development!

Brain structure of infants predicts language skills at one year

Brain structure of infants predicts language skills at one year.

Using a brain-imaging technique that examines the entire infant brain, researchers have found that the anatomy of certain brain areas – the hippocampus and cerebellum – can predict children’s language abilities at 1 year of age.

Children’s language skills soar after they reach their first birthdays, but little is known about how infants’ early brain development seeds that path. Identifying which brain areas are related to early language learning could provide a first glimpse of development going awry, allowing for treatments to begin earlier.

Key gene for brain development

Key gene for brain development

About one in ten thousand babies is born with an abnormally small head. The cause for this disorder – which is known as microcephaly – is a defect in the development of the embryonic brain. Children with microcephaly are severely retarded and their life expectancy is low. Certain cases of autism and schizophrenia are also associated with the dysregulation of brain size.

The causes underlying impaired brain and cognitive development can be environmental stress (such as alcohol abuse or radiation) or viral infections (such as rubella) during pregnancy. In many cases, however, a mutant gene causes the problem.

David Keays, a group leader at the IMP, has now found a new gene which is responsible for Microcephaly. Together with his PhD-student Martin Breuss, he was able to identify TUBB5 as the culprit. The gene is responsible for making tubulins, the building blocks of the cell’s internal skeleton. Whenever a cell moves or divides, it relies on guidance from this internal structure, acting like a scaffold.

Scientists discover children’s cells living in mothers’ brains.

Scientists discover children’s cells living in mothers’ brains.

The connection between mother and child is ever deeper than thought. The link between a mother and child is profound, and new brain research suggests a physical connection even deeper than anyone thought. The profound psychological and physical bonds shared by the mother and her child begin during gestation when the mother is everything for the developing fetus, supplying warmth and sustenance, while her heartbeat provides a soothing constant rhythm.

Fetal alcohol exposure affects brain structure in children

Fetal alcohol exposure affects brain structure in children.

Children exposed to alcohol during fetal development exhibit changes in brain structure, brain function and metabolism that are visible using various imaging techniques, according to a new study being presented November 25 at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).