Your Toddler

Thumb Sucking

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I admit it – I was a thumb sucker for way too long. My thumb and mouth didn’t part company until I was in first grade. The fear of getting caught during a sleepover at a friend’s house was enough for me to finally call it quits.

It’s normal for babies and toddlers to suck their thumbs. Babies are born with the urge to suck as part of their survival. They also use it as a way to soothe themselves when they feel hungry, afraid, restless, sleepy or bored. Toddlers carry on that natural instinct as they find their way in the world.

By the time children are around four-years-old they’ve typically stopped sucking their thumb and found replacements for self-soothing. Occasionally, children (like myself) will continue to suck their thumb out of habit.

Some experts say that if a child is still sucking their thumb by the age of six, they may be doing so because of emotional distress such as anxiety.

Thumb sucking isn’t a problem under the age of four, but if a child continues- with great intensity- after five or six years old, they could be setting themselves up for dental or speech problems.

Prolonged thumb sucking may cause their teeth to become improperly aligned (malocclusion) or push their teeth outward. If the thumb sucking stops, the teeth most likely will align correctly, but the longer the sucking continues the more likely orthodontic treatment will be needed.

Extended thumb sucking may also cause speech issues such as lisping, inability to say Ts and Ds, and pushing the tongue out when talking. A speech therapist may be needed to help correct these problems.

How do you help your child stop sucking their thumb? It takes a lot of patience.

One place to begin is to pay attention to what triggers the thumb sucking. Does your little one start when they are bored, sleepy, or unsure about something? Redirecting can help. Busy hands help keep thumbs from going into the mouth. Give your child a large stuffed animal to wrap their arms around or have them help hold the book when you are reading to them. Offer a squeezable rubber ball or finger puppets to grasp when they are watching TV.  The key is to offer an alternative at the times you notice they are the most likely to want to suck their thumb.

Ask your child to not suck their thumb in public and gently remind them when you see them doing it. Let them suck their thumb at home, but start the process of being self-aware in public. Kids often unconsciously slip their thumb into their mouth. A reminder helps them notice what they are doing.

You can also start talking to your child about why it’s time to give some thought to stopping. In age-appropriate language explain how thumb sucking is okay for younger children, but as children get older they learn how to stop. Ask them questions like “Do you see (insert name of an older child or adult here) sucking his or her thumb?” They’ll think about it more and start to decide whether they want to continue. It’s a process that takes time.

Punishing or shaming your child is absolutely the wrong method to address thumb sucking. This approach not only doesn’t work, but also lowers a child self-value and can create an even stronger desire to thumb suck. It’s like quitting anything you’re doing that may not be good for you in the long run- the worse someone tries to make you feel about it- the more you want to do it (think overeating, smoking, drinking.)

You can also talk to your pediatrician or family doctor for his or her suggestions on how to help your child. For older children, behavioral therapy may be beneficial.

There are products that are nasty tasting that can be swabbed on your child’s thumb, but some experts think that approach is cruel and more like a punishment than a humane way to help a child outgrow a natural inclination.

Most kids will simply quit sucking their thumb when they are good and ready. Helping your child reach that point may require patience and creativity, but in time his or her thumb will cease to be a constant comfort companion.

Sources: http://children.webmd.com/tc/thumb-sucking-topic-overview

Your Toddler

High Chair Injuries on the Rise

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High chairs were designed to offer older babies and younger toddlers a safer place to eat at the table. They’re usually higher from the ground than a regular chair, so a parent or caregiver (or sibling) can spoon feed the baby comfortably. If there’s an infant in the family, more than likely there’s a high chair in the house.

They’re great when used properly, but when children aren’t secured correctly, accidents can and do happen. In fact, a new safety study reveals that high chair injuries increased 22 percent between 2003 and 2009.

Emergency rooms staffs are treating an average of almost 9,500 high chair related injuries every year – that equates to one injured infant per hour.

"We know that these injuries can and do happen, but we did not expect to see the kind of increase that we saw," said study co-author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

"Most of the injuries we're talking about, over 90 percent, involve falls with young toddlers whose center of gravity is high, near their chest, rather than near the waist as it is with adults," Smith said. "So when they fall they topple, which means that 85 percent of the injuries we see are to the head and face."

Because the fall is from a seat that's higher than the traditional chair and typically onto a hard kitchen floor, "the potential for a serious injury is real," he added. "This is something we really need to look at more, so we can better understand why this seems to be happening more frequently."

Researchers analyzed data collected by the U.S. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The data concerned all high chair, booster seat, and normal chair-related injuries that occurred between 2003 and 2010 and involved children 3 years old and younger.

The researchers found that high chair/booster chair injuries rose from 8,926 in 2003 to 10,930 by 2010.

How are children getting injured? About two-thirds of the children had been either standing or climbing in the chair just before the fall, the study authors noted.

Either chair restraints aren’t working as they should or parents are not using them properly.

"In recent years, there have been millions of high chairs recalled because they do not meet current safety standards. Most of these chairs are reasonably safe when restraint instructions are followed, but even so, there were 3.5 million high chairs recalled during our study period alone," said Smith. However, even highly educated and informed parents aren't always fully aware of a recall when it happens, he noted.

Still, Smith believes that a 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act will lead to a notable drop in recalls in coming years because it calls for independent third-party testing of children's products before they're put on the market.

The most common diagnosis from a high chair fall is a concussion or internal head injury. This type of head trauma accounted for 37 percent of high chair injuries, and its frequency imbed by nearly 90 percent during the eight years studied.

Nearly 6 in 10 children experienced an injury to their head or neck after a high chair fall, while almost 3 in 10 experienced a facial injury, the study found.

When the researchers looked at falls from traditional chairs, children’s injuries were typically broken bones, cuts and bruises.

While the tray may look like it can block a child from climbing or standing, it’s not a restraint. Children need to be buckled in.

Supervision plays a key role in keeping your little one safe when in a high chair. Many falls happen when a parent or caregiver leaves the room or is not facing the baby.  "Even if a chair does meet current safety standards and the restraint is used properly, there's never 100 percent on this . . . Parents will always need to be vigilant." said Smith.

Some high chairs have wheels, so make sure that if yours does- they are locked when the baby is in the chair.

Also, never place the high chair next to a wall or counter where your baby or toddler can push against it, causing the chair to become unstable.

High chairs are convenient and can be very safe when used properly. Make sure your child is restrained properly and that you can see your baby whenever you move away from the chair.

The study was published online Dec. 9 in Clinical Pediatrics.

Source: Alan Mozes, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20131209/rise-in-us-high-chair-injuries-stuns-experts

Your Toddler

Protecting Children From Furniture Tip-Overs

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Children are curious little beings. What begins as an adventure can instantly turn into a tragedy, especially where toddlers and young children are concerned.

A totally preventable injury that happens more times than you might think is when a child climbs on or pulls over a television, dresser, bookcase or large computer monitor. 

Between 2009 and 2011, nearly 300 kids ranging from 1 month to 8 years old died of their injuries after an object or piece of furniture fell on them according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Forty children are taken to the emergency room daily in the U.S. with injuries due to a heavy piece of furniture falling on them. Nearly half of these incidents are caused by televisions. And one child is killed every two weeks from being crushed under a television set, according to the CPSC.

Young children have no concept of the weight or danger of a piece of furniture or television set, so parents have to be the ones on the look-out for them.

"Every parent or guardian of a young child should look around their homes and imagine what could tip over, fall off walls and injure a child. Imagining it is better than it becoming a reality," said Dr. Alex Rosenau, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, in a news release.

Some parents simply don’t realize these heavy objects can be major hazards in their homes. Parents can help prevent these injuries by anchoring televisions and heavy furniture like dressers and bookcases firmly to walls.

The most critical injuries involve children being hit on the head from a falling object or furniture.

While many of the newer television sets are lighter than the older models, they are typically larger and can easily tip-over. The weight of 40 to 50 inch flat screen TVs can run anywhere from 17 to 40 pounds without a stand. A direct hit of even 17 pounds on a child’s head can cause a serious injury.

Here is a list of steps parents can take to prevent tip-over injuries.

• All dressers, bookcases, entertainment units, TV stands and TVs need to be securely anchored, usually into a wall stud. You can secure heavy furniture, TVs and appliances to a wall stud with braces, brackets, anchors or wall straps.  It's also a good idea to replace any top-heavy furniture that can't be secured. This is particularly important for furniture with shelves, drawers and doors.

• Televisions should be placed on low, sturdy furniture appropriate for the size of the TV.

• Do not place televisions on top of furniture that is not designed for such use -- such as on dressers -- as they can tip over more easily.

• Push the TV as far back as possible from the front of its stand. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions to anchor it.

• Remove items such as toys and remote controls from the top of televisions and furniture. These items may tempt children to climb the furniture or TV, which may cause a tip-over.

* Make sure that all computer monitors are also safely secured so they can't tip over.

* Large wall art or sculptures that could fall and hurt a child should be secured or removed.

* Appliances, such as refrigerators, ovens and microwaves, should also be firmly in place.

* Mounted TVs should be well out of reach of young children.

• Make sure that electrical cords are out of a child’s reach.

Children are curious little beings that need looking after. If you have one of these mounts, you can contact the company for a free repair kit.

A few simple fixes can help protect your little one from a possibly deadly or life-changing accident.

Sources: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Documents/Protecting_Kids_Furniture_TV_Tip-Overs.pdf

Mary Elizabeth Dallas, http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2014/07/30/tip-over-furniture-can-kill-kids

Your Toddler

Parents: Read to Your Young Children!

2:00 to read

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that pediatric providers advise parents of young children to read aloud and talk about pictures and words in age-appropriate books to their kids.  The AAP says that these activities can help strengthen a child’s language skills and literacy while promoting parent-child relationships.

Pediatricians have long encouraged reading to children, but the guidelines are the first official policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics telling doctors to talk to parents about daily reading to their children, from the first year of life until kindergarten.

Reading with young children “stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime," the AAP guidelines said.

Studies have shown a wide economic divide when it comes to parents reading to their children. Only one in three children living in poverty have parents that read to them consistently.  Children who aren’t read to often have “a significant learning disadvantage” by the time they get to school age, the AAP added.

Even wealthier families do not always make reading a ritual, with 60 percent of those with incomes 400 percent of the poverty threshold saying they read to their children from birth to age five, according to a 2011-2012 survey.

Some pediatricians worry that technology – from television to smartphones- may be taking the place of reading to little ones.

The AAP has previously said babies under age two should be as screen-free as possible, and that the best kind of learning takes place through unstructured, interactive play with humans and toys.

Even babies can benefit from being read stories, said the AAP.  “We can stimulate greater brain development in these months and years," said Peter Riche, a fellow of the AAP and Chief of Pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York.

"I do see earlier word recognition, earlier phrases and sentence formation, and singing—I always recognize that in those who are exposed to daily reading."

Many families do not have the money for books so the AAP said it "supports federal and state funding for children's books to be provided at pediatric health supervision visits for children at high risk."

Another important benefit of parents reading to their young children is the blooming of a child’s self-confidence and independence.

Child development experts say that when parents read to their children not only do kids feel more secure but words and pictures also ignite creativity and imagination; two valuable components of a well-rounded life experience.

Sources: Kerry Sheridan, http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-06-doctors-urge-parents-babies.html

Your Toddler

Is Your Child a Biter?

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At some time or another your sweet child is going to bite or wallop someone, most likely another kid. And yes, it's embarrassing to have to pull your child off another or to apologize to grandma because her grandchild just took a chunk out of her arm. 

Know that you’re not alone - all kids bite and /or hit. The key to stopping aggression in children is teaching them that there are alternative ways to handle frustration and biting is not acceptable behavior.

Not all biting stems from anger. The younger the child, the less chance that biting is an aggressive behavior. It can also be a simple case of exploration. Young children bite for many reasons, from painful gums because they are teething to seeing what kind of reaction they get. Children between the ages of one and three typically go through a biting phase they eventually outgrow.

While biting may be a normal phase kids go through, it’s something you want to discourage.

Let’s look at some of the reasons kids bite.

  • They're in pain. When babies bite, typically it's because they're teething. They're just doing it to relieve the pain of their swollen, tender gums.
  • They're exploring their world. Very young children use their mouths to explore, just as they use their hands. Just about everything infants or toddlers pick up eventually winds up in their mouths. Kids this age aren't yet able to prevent themselves from biting the object of their interest.
  • They're looking for a reaction. Part of exploration is curiosity. Toddlers experiment to see what kind of reaction their actions will provoke. They'll bite down on a friend or sibling to hear the surprised exclamation, not realizing how painful the experience is for that person.
  • They're craving attention. In older kids, biting is just one of several bad behaviors used to get attention. When a child feels ignored, discipline is at least one way of getting noticed -- even if the attention is negative rather than positive.
  • They're frustrated. Biting, like hitting, is a way for some children to assert themselves when they're still too young to express feelings effectively through words. To your child, biting is a way to get back a favorite toy, tell you that he or she is unhappy, or let another child know that he or she wants to be left alone.

So, how do you prevent or teach your child that they can’t go through life biting others?

You start with consistent prevention and move on to discipline if they are older.

  • If your baby is teething, make sure to always have a cool teething ring or washcloth on hand so he or she will be less likely to sink teeth into someone's arm.
  • Avoid situations in which your child can get irritable enough to bite. Make sure that all of your child's needs -- including eating and naptime -- are taken care of before you go out to play. Bring along a snack to soothe your child if he or she gets cranky from being hungry.
  • As soon as your child is old enough, encourage your child to use words such as “I'm angry with you" or "That's my toy" instead of biting. Other ways to express frustration or anger include hugging (not hitting) a stuffed animal or punching a pillow. Sometimes redirection is helpful; shortening activities or giving your child a break can help prevent the rising frustration that can lead to biting and other bad behaviors.
  • Give your child enough of your time throughout the day (for example, by reading or playing together), so he or she doesn't bite just to get attention. Extra attention is especially important when your child is going through a major life change, such as a move or welcoming a baby sibling. If your child is prone to biting, keep an eye on any playmates and step in when an altercation appears to be brewing.

You’ve done all that is possible to prevent another biting situation, and low and behold your child is biting another. What do you do then?

When your child bites, firmly let your child know that this behavior is not acceptable by saying, "No. We don't bite!" Explain that biting hurts the other person. Then remove your child from the situation and give the child time to calm down. It’s important that you remain calm.

Seeing your child bite another is naturally going to create an unpleasant reaction in you. As soon as you witness a biting episode, your body tenses, your heart races, and even if you don't actually scream, you really want to. The angrier you are, the tenser the situation becomes. You are much more likely to strike your child when you let your anger get the best of you. Take a deep breath, assess the situation and intervene calmly. Remove your child, let him or her calm down and explain (yes, once again) that biting is not going to be tolerated. If your child is old enough to understand time-out, this is a good time to use it. If not, remove the child from the temptation. Playtime is over.

One way some parents handle biting is to bite their own child to show them how painful it can be. Doing what you are telling your child not to do sends a mixed message. It’s similar to hitting your child and then saying “don’t hit others.” Most likely your child will experience how painful it is because another child will bite them someday.

The point is not so much that biting is painful, the action itself is unkind, unproductive and wrong.

When biting becomes a habit or continues past the age 4 or 5, it may stem from a more serious emotional problem. This is the time to ask for help from your pediatrician, family doctor or a child psychologist.

If your child is bitten, wash the area with soap and water. If the bite is bleeding and the wound appears to be deep, call your child’s doctor. The bite may need medical treatment, which could include antibiotics or a tetanus shot or both.

Biting is a horrible habit to get into and a difficult one to stop. Start teaching your child early that momma and daddy are not putting up with it and that there are better ways to explore the world and handle frustration.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/stop-children-from-biting

Your Toddler

Potty Training Questions Continue

1.30 to read

Can Potty Training Too Early Cause Problems Later?

For some parents, there’s an odd sense of pride when they can boast of potty training their child before he or she turns 2. While their pre-toddler might get the hang of going to the potty early, they are more likely to have daytime wetting problems later, according to a new study.

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina found that children who start toilet training before age 2 have a three times higher risk of daytime wetting or urinary urgency.

"Parents who train their children early to meet preschool deadlines, to save landfills from diapers or because they think toddlers are easier to train should know there can be serious repercussions," says lead author Steve Hodges, M.D., an associate professor of pediatric urology at Wake Forest Baptist.

The study involved 112 children ages 3 to 10. About half were seen in the urology department for daytime wetting or urinary urgency/frequency. Participants were compared to a group seen in a general pediatric clinic and pediatric emergency room that had no history of dysfunctional voiding.

A questionnaire was used to gather information on the age toilet training was initiated and the presence of daytime voiding dysfunction. Patients were grouped into three categories of potty training: early (before age 2), normal (between 2 and 3) and late (after age 3) training. There were 38 early, 64 normal and 10 late trainers.

Sixty percent of the early trainers had daytime wetting. They had a 3.37 times increased risk of daytime wetness as compared to the normal group.

Why would early potty training cause daytime wetting? The researchers believe early trainers are more prone to subsequent voiding dysfunction because they are more apt to "hold" their stool or urine. "When children hold stool, it backs up in the rectum," Hodges explained. "The enlarged rectum presses against the bladder, reducing its capacity and causing the nerves feeding the bladder to go haywire."

Constipation seemed to be a common factor with three times more complaints from early trainers than normal trainers. "Almost all of the children who had wetting also had constipation," Hodges noted.

Younger children also are more apt to delay peeing, behavior that can lead to bladder contractions and reduced bladder capacity. "Research has demonstrated that bladder growth continues in children up to the point of toilet training," said Hodges. "Uninhibited voiding in diapers is likely beneficial to bladder development. In my practice, it's often the children who trained earliest and most easily who end up with the most severe voiding problems."

The study also found that among the 10 children who trained after age 3, seven had daytime wetting problems, and these same seven also were constipated. The three late trainers who did not have wetting problems were not constipated.

"This does not mean late potty training causes dysfunctional voiding," Hodges explained. "It means that when kids train late, it's very likely because they are already constipated, which makes toilet training extremely difficult. Parents whose 3- or 4-year-olds have trouble training are often blamed for 'waiting too long,' but our data suggest waiting isn't the problem — instead it's likely constipation."

Many experts agree that letting the child show signs of readiness for toilet training is a better indicator of when to start training, instead of going by age.

"There is nothing magic about the age of two," said Hodges. "If parents opt to train early or late and are meticulous about making sure children void on a regular schedule and monitor them for signs of constipation, I suspect the incidence of voiding dysfunction would decrease."

Before children can use the toilet successfully on their own, they must be able to control their bladder and bowel muscles. This typically begins between 22 and 30 months of age.

Some signs of this control are:

·      Having bowel movements around the same time each day

·      Not having bowel movements at night

·      Having a dry diaper after a nap or for at least 2 hours at a time.

Children must also be able to climb, talk, remove clothing, and have mastered other basic motor skills before they can use the toilet by themselves.

The report was presented online in Research and Reports in Urology.

Sources: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-10/wfbm-ptb100714.php

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/tc/toilet-training-topic-overview

 

 

 

Can potty training too early cause problems later in your child’s life? Read what a new study says in Hot Topics. 

Your Toddler

Eliminating Egg Allergy?

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You’ll find eggs or egg protein in lots of every day food products. From baked goods to canned soups, ice cream, pasta, salad dressings, mayonnaise and more. That’s fine unless your child is allergic to eggs - then it becomes a nightmare trying to find egg-free foods.

About four-percent of U.S. children experience some type of food allergy, with egg allergy being the most common. Many children will outgrow the allergy after age 5, but some will carry the sensitivity into adulthood. Food allergy reactions can vary widely ranging from mild to death, so they are not to be taken lightly. 

A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that by giving children with egg allergies a small amount of egg-white powder for 10 months, their allergy was reduced or eliminated after the study period.

Dr. Wesley Burks, the lead author of the study and chairman of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina spoke with ABCNews.com about the study’s findings. "The children were treated and then taken off treatment, the first large study to do so. Almost a third of those treated were able to come off treatment and now eat eggs in their diet."

Researchers enrolled 55 children and teens with egg allergies. Participants' families were then either given the equivalent of one-third of an egg in powder form, or a placebo, to mix into their children's food.

After 10 months, researchers gave the kids an "oral food challenge" in which they were given 5 grams of egg powder, the equivalent to one whole egg. They found that 55 percent of the children did not have an allergic reaction at that time. After 22 months, researchers gave the children two whole eggs and found that 75 percent of the children were no longer allergic. More than one-quarter of the study group was able to work egg back into their diet.

Other studies have worked with children to overcome different food allergies- such as peanuts and milk. Some of the studies have produced very good results by introducing the offending food in small doses and letting the immune system build up a tolerance. Although it may be tempting to begin this process with your own children, Burks warned parents not to try this at home.  

More trials are needed before the allergy intervention is used in widespread clinical practice. There needs to be Food and Drug Administration approval and further trials with bigger patient populations, and it could take a number of years before the intervention is seen in general practice.

"It is likely that this will eventually become an accepted clinical approach but even then it should be only done by physicians with experience in the procedure, who appreciate the dangers and have the time to carefully supervise the process," said Nelson. "This will never be an approach that should be conducted out in primary care."

Currently the only option for children or adults with food allergies is to eliminate the food completely from their diet. Researchers say this study and others like it may eventually lead to oral immunotherapy being the accepted treatment for all children who have food allergies.

Fifteen percent of food allergic individuals experience an accidental ingestion per year, said Dr. Tania Mucci, an allergist at Winthrop University Hospital in New York. While egg allergic patients would still need to be diligent, the potential for oral egg immunotherapy to decrease the risk of a severe reaction from an accidental ingestion would be extremely valuable for the patients mental and of course, physical health.

"Oral immunotherapy for food allergy, if safe and standardized, would be the Holy Grail for food allergic patients," said Mucci.

While the promise of a new treatment is hopeful for parents and guardians of children with egg allergies, at this time they should remain vigilant in eliminating eggs or egg protein products from their child’s diet.

How do you know if your child is allergic to eggs? 

Egg allergy reactions vary from person to person and usually occur soon after exposure to egg. Egg allergy symptoms can include:

- Skin inflammation or hives — the most common egg allergy reaction

- Allergic nasal inflammation (allergic rhinitis)

- Digestive (gastrointestinal) symptoms, such as cramps, nausea and vomiting

- Asthma signs and symptoms such as coughing, chest tightness or shortness of breath

A severe allergic reaction can lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening emergency that requires an immediate epinephrine (adrenaline) shot and a trip to the emergency room. Anaphylaxis signs and symptoms include:

- Constriction of airways, including a swollen throat or a lump in your throat that makes it difficult to breathe

- Abdominal pain and cramping

- Rapid pulse

- Shock, with a severe drop in blood pressure felt as dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness

If you suspect your child may have a food allergy, discuss any symptoms you notice with your pediatrician or family doctor. He or she will refer you to an allergist or allergy specialist for testing.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/promising-egg-allergy-treatment/story?id=16...

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/egg-allergy/DS01021

Your Toddler

Babies: Two Languages are Better Than One

1.45 to read

We all know how difficult it can be to learn a second language, as you get older.  Even by the time you’re a teenager, it takes a lot more concentration and practice than it does for a younger child.

A new study shows that babies and toddlers that are bilingual may have an academic advantage over their monolingual peers when they get older. Being exposed to a second language in infancy not only helps a children learn a second language quicker, but may also help them with future studies.

How do scientists know this? By observing babies and how fast they become bored with familiar objects and then become intrigued by something new. Previous studies have shown that the rate at which an infant becomes bored with a familiar image and how fast they latch onto something more unique is a predictor of better pre-school developmental results.

For example, past studies have shown that babies who looked at the familiar image and then rapidly became bored demonstrated higher performance in various domains of cognition and language later on in life.

In the new study, scientists wanted to see if bilingual babies might have an advantage over monolingual babies in this regard.

Infants were shown a colored image of either a bear or a wolf. For half of the group, the bear was made to become the "familiar" image while the wolf was the "novel" one. The reverse was true for the other half of the group. In the end, the scientists found that bilingual babies became bored of familiar images far more quickly than single-language babies.

"One of the biggest challenges in infant research is data collection," said Leher Singh, lead author of the new study, in a news release. "Visual habituation works wonderfully because it only takes a few minutes and capitalizes on what babies do so naturally, which is to rapidly become interested in something new and then rapidly move on to something else. Even though it is quite a simple task, visual habituation is one of the few tasks in infancy that has been shown to predict later cognitive development."

Just learning and speaking one language is a marvel of brain ingenuity. Learning two languages is a cognitive developing workout.  It trains the brain to think differently and to associate more than one word with the same image or thought.

In this case, the researchers found that bilingual babies may just have increased cognitive performance due to being exposed to two languages.

"As adults, learning a second language can be painstaking and laborious," said Singh. "We sometimes project that difficulty onto our young babies, imagining a state of enormous confusion as two languages jostle for space in their little heads. However, a large number of studies have shown us that babies are uniquely well positioned to take on the challenges of bilingual acquisition and in fact, may benefit from this journey."

The findings were published in the journal Child Development.

Source: Catherine Griffin,  http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/16963/20140903/being-exposed-two-languages-increase-cognitive-benefits-babies.htm

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Your Toddler

Brain Growth Outpaces Physical Growth in Kids

1:30 to read

Ever wonder why the human body matures much slower than other mammals? Me neither. Even though this isn’t anything I’ve ever even thought about, the reason is fascinating.

According to a new study, young children grow much more slowly than other mammals because their developing brains require so much energy to prepare for challenges they will face later in life.

Researchers analyzed data from PET and MRI brain scans and found that the human brain uses enormous amounts of energy during the first few years of life, which means physical growth has to take a back seat during that time.

The brain’s energy use peaks at about age 4 causing the body’s growth to slow down. At about this age the brain is burning on all four cylinders at a rate equaling two-thirds of what the entire body uses at rest.

"Our findings suggest that our bodies can't afford to grow faster during the toddler and childhood years because a huge quantity of resources is required to fuel the developing human brain," first author Christopher Kuzawa, a professor of anthropology at Northwestern University, said in a university news release.

"As humans we have so much to learn, and that learning requires a complex and energy-hungry brain," he added.

That could explains why it’s difficult to tell a young child’s age simply by looking at them. 

"After a certain age it becomes difficult to guess a toddler or young child's age by their size," Kuzawa said. "Instead you have to listen to their speech and watch their behavior. Our study suggests that this is no accident. Body growth grinds nearly to a halt at the ages when brain development is happening at a lightning pace, because the brain is sapping up the available resources."

Earlier clinical thought on the topic suggested that the brain’s demand for energy was highest at birth, when the brain size is more relative to the body.

The study's finding that the brain's energy needs peak at age 4 "has to do with the fact that synapses, connections in the brain, max out at this age, when we learn so many of the things we need to know to be successful humans," Kuzawa said.

Other studies have looked at the functions of the 3 to 4 years-old age group and brain development. Experts say that this is the first stage of enlightenment. It’s during this time that preschoolers begin to use problem-solving skills during activities. They are interested in learning about their bodies and other living things. They begin to understand the order of events during the day and start figuring out how to take things apart and put them back together again.

It’s a pretty amazing time for brain development and identity processing. Good nutrition and exercise at this critical time can also help the brain maximize its potential, along with a nurturing environment.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/misc-kid-s-health-news-435/when-it-comes-to-childhood-growth-the-brain-comes-first-691088.html

http://www.kidcentraltn.com/article/brain-development-preschool-3-5-years

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