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Reading to Your New Baby

by Guest
Posted August 5 2010 04:01pm
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For some parents, the idea of reading to their newborn seems ridiculous. If the baby can’t speak or understand, why would they be interested in a story? But child development experts are quick to assure new parents that reading to their child is one of the most important things that they can do.

Reading to your baby right from birth, even during pregnancy, can make a big difference in your child’s development. It’s a way to communicate with your baby that will help him build his language skills. Through reading, you’re also comforting your baby. You’re involved by touching, rocking and speaking to him. And when you read, you’re playing with him. You can make sound effects or ask questions or try commenting on what he’s looking at. It’s a chance to teach your baby about colours, shapes, feelings, how people act and react and what the world is all about.

It may seem strange that all of those things help your baby before he can even talk, but there are even more benefits. Experts believe that early literacy helps your baby increase his vocabulary and attention span. He’ll develop an eagerness to read and learn. He’ll know how to handle books, understand how to put sentences together, predict what happens next in a story, increase his social skills, bond with you and identify his feelings.

The best time to start reading to your baby is actually during pregnancy.
There is evidence that reading to your baby while in the womb promotes bonding and baby comes to prefer his parents’ voices. In research studies, babies have even shown a preference for songs or stories that they had been exposed to before they were born.

With a baby, it can be tough to hold their attention to read them a story. Try to choose books with large print and pictures that will keep your baby interested. Speak in the slightly higher pitched, animated simple words that are often called “parentese.” Make sure your baby is comfortable, dry and fed so that he won’t be distracted as you read. And, as much as it might seem repetitive to you, try to read the same book every day for a while. It will help develop your baby’s memory, plus your baby will start to look forward to the pictures and words on the next page.

Let your baby touch the book you are reading. Touch is a central part of human learning. We all learn especially well when we can pick up and handle materials. For babies, experts generally recommend board books because they are safer (much harder to chew), plus they’re great for helping babies learn to exercise their fingers and hands.

If your baby fusses when you are reading, don’t try to keep reading or choose a different book. Put the book away and wait for a time when baby is calm. The last thing you want is to have your baby connect fussiness with reading. Always wait for a time when your baby is in a happier mood and then try reading.

Reading with your baby is Comfort, Play & Teach® time:

Comfort

  • If you make reading with your baby a routine, your baby will feel safe and comforted.

Play

  • If you routinely read in an animated way, your baby will be enjoying playtime with you

Teach

  • If you make reading a reading routine, your baby will learn to pay attention, pick up words for his vocabulary, and learn to think ahead.

 

Check out our Reading with Your Baby video for more tips and strategies for reading with your baby.

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Are The First 3 Years Of Life The Most Critical For Brain Development?

by Guest
Posted August 26 2010 11:44am
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The first 3 years are important for laying the groundwork for healthy psychological development. However, that doesn't mean that the brain has its greatest brain power at that time. Psychological research, particularly research on parent-child attachment and not brain development research, indicates that a great deal of learning goes on after the first 3 years of life.

What we know from brain development research right now is that for very specific aspects of brain development, such as the visual system, critical periods, or a window of opportunity, exists.

The brain continues to grow and mature well into adolescence; thus, it is virtually impossible to make the general claim that the window of opportunity closes by age 3 (Nelson, 2000a). The brain is adaptable and flexible, although the ability to adapt changes with age and situation. In reality, there are many windows of opportunity throughout development. Knowing that the brain is more flexible than previously thought doesn't mean that it's easy to change the brain. It's an incredibly difficult challenge and much more research is needed before we can make claims or suggestions about how to do that.

Used with Permission
Talking Reasonably and Responsibly About Early Brain Development Center for Early Childhood Education and Development, Irving B HarrisTraining Center for Infant and Toddler Development 2001

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How Do Babies Learn Language?

by Guest
Posted August 26 2010 11:47am
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A baby’s brain is "wired" to seek out and learn language. Amazingly, they are born with the capacity not just to learn language, but to learn all languages. As researcher Patricia Kuhl from the University of Washington puts it, infants are "citizens of the world." They are able to perceive the different sounds and patterns of speech of all languages in the world. For example, at birth, Japanese babies can hear the distinction between "r" and "l,” although only the "r" sound exists in Japanese. They can still hear the distinction at 6 months of age, but cannot by 12 months.

Even in the womb, a baby turns towards the melody of their mother’s voice. The brain is setting up the circuitry needed to understand and reproduce language. Babies learn to talk by hearing language and by being spoken to. Between 6 and 12 months, babies begin to fine-tune their ability to perceive the speech sounds of their native language as opposed to non-native language.

Used with Permission
Talking Reasonably and Responsibly About Early Brain Development
Center for Early Childhood Education and Development, Irving B Harris Training Center for Infant and Toddler Development 2001

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How Does My Baby’s Brain Develop Before Birth?

by Guest
Posted August 26 2010 11:56am
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During pregnancy, the basic architecture of the brain is formed. The different parts of the brain are in place (e.g., brain stem, thalamus, cerebellum). This initial development also provides basic brain functions that help the baby live. Although this "hardware" is laid out during pregnancy, the brain is still immature in that the "software," or the connections between different parts of the brain, is not yet formed. To a certain extent, the way the connections are formed depends on exposure to our environment through relationships and experiences.

Unlike your baby’s other organs, such as the heart which is already functioning as it will throughout the child's life, the brain is not yet ready to perform all the amazing functions it will eventually be able to do. It goes through a series of developmental stages. It is after birth that your baby’s experiences begin to have a greater effect on brain development than it did during pregnancy. During pregnancy, maternal health and stress, drugs, alcohol, and the quality of maternal nutrition are some of the experiences that influence the developing brain.

Used with Permission
Talking Reasonably and Responsibly About Early Brain Development
Center for Early Childhood Education and Development, Irving B HarrisTraining Center for Infant and Toddler Development 2001

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