The more we educate ourselves on child development,
the more we can make better choices for their health and well-being.
A three year old child with college-educated parents will have a vocabulary two to three times larger than a child with less educated parents. According to studies from Think Progress website, a child without early education is 25 percent more likely to drop out of high school, 40 percent more likely to become a teenage parent and 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime. As parents, it is imperative that we emphasize the importance of education to our children and take an active roll in ensuring that they are doing well in school. We can enroll them in VBK classes (this is free for low-income families and can help with mom getting a job while they are in school at 4 years old). Cognitive or brain development means the learning process of memory, critical thinking, language and reasoning. During this stage babies are also learning bonding and trust with their care givers as part of their social and emotional development. The way parents cuddle, interact, and play with their baby will set the basis for how they will interact with others and how they will learn.
What can a parent do to help these milestones along and grow healthy babies?
- Talk to your baby!
- Respond to their crying in a timely manner to build trust
- Read to your baby
- Praise and give them a lot of attention
- To build security, cuddle and hold your baby, rock them to sleep
- Play- keep your baby active
- Introduce healthy foods slowly adding plenty of vegetables and fruit to their diet with whole grains and protein- this is good for brain development as well.
- Instill a nap and sleep schedule (we will get to that)
- Take care of yourself mentally, physically and emotionally so that you are available and present
- Limit screen time. Children younger than 2 years of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that it’s best if babies do not watch any screen media.
As important as it is to know what to do- it’s also important to know what NOT to do!
- Don’t ever shake your baby out of anger- they have fragile neck muscles that cannot support their heads which may lead to brain damage or death
- Make sure nothing is in your baby’s crib while sleeping as they pull it over their heads and always lie them on their back to sleep. This will prevent SIDS.
- Do not smoke around your baby including in the house or in the car. Second hand smoke can cause health problems such as asthma.
- Prevent choking by cutting food into tiny pieces allowing them to feed themselves and develop their fine motor skills, yet preventing a large piece of food from being lodged in their throat.
Another VERY important concept with 0-5 is instilling boundaries. Boundaries for what? For EVERYTHING. Yes, that’s right. It’s time consuming on the front end, but a blessing when they become preteens and teens. It’s better to get the ‘instant gratification monster’ under control here while the parent has all the control. Later on, you’ll have outside forces: friends, school, activities, sports- all different channels where your child will be making decisions. BUT- right now is the sweet spot for teaching self-discipline. If you put in the time here- you’ll have to discipline less in the later years. Teaching a child to have SELF discipline means that a parent will have to discipline the “selfish” a lot less.