Anyone who has seen the 2004 comedy, Meet the Fockers, starring Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller will remember the singular obsession of DeNiro’s character. As Jack Byrnes, an uptight former CIA agent and grandfather to Little Jack, he is hell-bent on using “the latest” child development principles to advance his grandson’s development. So when it comes to vocabulary building he takes sign language to a new level using a “drill and more drill” learning approach only to be foiled by his prospective son-in-law’s utterance of a profanity that is readily imitated by Little Jack!
When child development experts recommend talking to your baby, Jack Byrne’s approach is not what the scientific community had in mind. We can all just chill and do a great job of parenting and language development with less obsession. Here are a few ideas: More >
I was reading the opening to a chapter in an excellent book on brain development, (“What’s Going On In There?”) by neurobiologist, Lise Eliot. She recalls how much relief she felt when her baby boy uttered his first word before his first birthday. I thought to myself, “that’s a pretty high bar” for the rest of us. Most babies begin using spoken language around 18 months of age.
As Dr. Eliot continues, it is clear that she is not really bragging, but making a point that might be overlooked by those baby milestone charts. These early months, when baby cannot say a thing are a very important time for us to get to work with our own words for baby. From the moment of their first coo and babble, to the moment they start calling you Mama or Dada, babies are practicing “language usage” in their heads!
If you pay attention, you will More >
Every pregnancy has risks, and in all our visits to the obstetrician, in birthing classes, and on the labels of every medication, there are warnings about side effects that can harm you or your baby. Yet, despite all the safety precautions we may take, some things are simply out of our control.
This week’s post is from my interview with Janice, a Philadelphia mother who went to a “Mommy and Me” exercise class with her first born child, only to find that her beautiful and alert little girl couldn’t do what the other babies were doing. The instructor and other moms told her not to worry; after all, the baby development charts are “guides” not edicts. But Janice wasn’t sure. Her baby tended to clench one fist and use her other hand. That was definitely not in her baby books.
At her baby’s 9-month well baby visit, Janice said she needed More >
All during your pregnancy (or waiting period if your baby comes to you through adoption or surrogacy) you wonder, “What will this child be like? Is my baby going to be shy or rambunctious, sensitive or easy going?”
In the first few weeks I think most of us are just trying to get in sync with our baby’s rhythms, tracking hunger, food intake, elimination, and sleep patterns. If your baby is colicky, you’re just trying to stay sane and find a solution to soften Baby’s discomfort. We simply watch, fascinated, as our babies stretch, fret, frown, and coo, no matter if they are awake or asleep. And it’s not long before we hear ourselves telling someone, “Oh my baby likes to be held like this—and you demonstrate the curl and wrap, the shoulder pat or the chest nest—whatever you call Baby’s sweet spot of comfort. By four months you become More >
For most of us moms, Baby’s first steps signal so much in terms of our own development as a parent. We’ve made it through the trenches of infancy, where we were uncertain about every move and decision made on behalf of our totally dependent child. Our maternal confidence has evolved because things are progressing. Our babies are not only alive and well; they’re standing, babbling, and balancing themselves to walk those adorable unsteady steps into our arms. This moment is an accomplishment unto itself.For our babies, those first steps signal to them that they are doing something new that makes you very happy. And being eager to please, your baby reads your cues and is excited about trying very hard to stay balanced and move forward at the same time. But it doesn’t take very long before babies revel in what they More >
Halloween can be a high point of fun for lots of families. School-aged kids and teens look forward to the treats, the costumes, and especially the opportunity to give, or get, a gigantic scare from pranks and ghoulish attractions created just for the occasion.
But all that terrible scary fun stuff for older children, teens, and adults is just plain terror for babies and toddlers. Most moms like to participate in Halloween festivities because it can start a family tradition and let’s admit it: it’s fun to dress up Baby in a costume. The photo-op for Halloween is irresistible. But there is also a down side to Halloween, and that is the potential impact of the holiday’s fear factor on your baby’s stress level.
Babies respond to stress just like anyone else; one part of the brain sends chemical signals to other parts of the brain that More >