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Baby-Led Weaning – Just the Facts!

Have you all been hearing as much about baby-led weaning as we have? We decided it’s time for us to take a look at hot topic! To start us off, let’s first look at two common methods for introducing foods to an infant.                                                                       

  1. Spoon-feeding (often referred to as “the traditional method”)
    • In this method parents either buy or make pureed foods (typically starting baby cereal, and then fruits and vegetables) for their infant and spoon-feed them. Parents gradually transition their child from totally pureed foods, to thicker purees, to chunky purees, until they are ready for solid food.
  2. Baby-led weaning 
    • In this method, infants are encouraged to self-feed solid foods (non-pureed/whole) from the start.

Here’s what research shows about babies who do baby-led weaning (BLW):

    • Tend to get more protein and fat (which is good!)
    • Less likely to be rated as a “fussy eater” at 18-24 months by their parents
    • Some studies suggest that these children may be better able to eat based on their hunger (rather than food just being present), but the data is not considered conclusive
    • There is a slightly higher rate of choking than with spoon-feeding, but this is also tied to the fact that BLW parents are more likely to offer foods that pose choking risks for infants (ex: apple slices, crackers, sausage)
    • A recent study shows that baby-led weaning does NOT decrease likelihood of a child being overweight later in life
    • No difference from spoon-fed children on fruit, vegetables and carbs consumption
    • Tends to be messier than spoon-feeding
    • BLW babies are more likely to eat with their family rather than at a separate time
    • Parents claim it is more convenient because they don’t have to prepare separate food just for the infant

That’s what the research is currently telling us about baby-led weaning. Yet, we know that there is always a dose of reality (and personal preference) that goes into making a decision on which method you want to use with your own child. So here are some other things we think may be helpful for you to consider:

  • Research shows that children are less likely to become obese if they’re parents have a responsive feeding style. Basically this means that we let our child determine how much they eat and when to be done eating, rather than parents saying “there is still half of a container left, let’s just finish it”. Consider how you can use this style regardless of which feeding method you decide on!
  • Many parents who use BLW mention that babies do lots of gagging (which is different from choking) when they are getting started. Consider if this is something you are comfortable with. And regardless of which method you choose, always be on the lookout for when a child is actually choking.
  • Children need to be able to sit up unsupported, bring food to their mouth, and chew and swallow food before they are regularly offered solid food options. The World Health Organization currently recommends waiting to introduce solid food until a baby is six months old.
    • Note: many people remember when the recommendation was four months old. Few infants can do all of things listed above at four months, which is why spoon-feeding became extremely popular.
  • Introducing food to children before they are four months old is recognized as a high risk factor for being overweight, with introducing before six months also having a (weak) correlation with being overweight
  • Consider the food you’re offering to your infant. If you’re baby-led weaning, remember to keep an eye out for foods that are particularly high in sodium or saturated fat and avoid feeding those to your child. Also be sure to avoid foods that pose a high risk of choking.
  • Many pediatricians do not support this method because of their concerns about choking as well as nutrient intake (not much definitive research on nutrient intake yet). Consider how important the support of your pediatrician is to you personally.

This is what research currently shows about the baby-led weaning method, but we still have lots to learn! Remember, at the Science of Parenting, we don’t advocate for either method but rather work to provide you the facts so that you can make a decision about what is best for your child and your family.

Source: Baby-Led Weaning: The Evidence to Date

Have more questions about your child that are kind of specific to their age? Go explore the As Your Child Grows information under the Everyday Parenting section of the Science of Parenting website. You can find information specifically for your infant, toddler, preschooler, elementary age child, preteen, or teenager!

 

Mackenzie Johnson

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Nutrition and Wellness for Families

 

Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has three subject areas, including Nutrition and Wellness, which covers a variety of topics from what’s on your plate to food safety to preservation to exercise. Some of these apply to families, some address aging, and some are adult specific.

A lovely domestic scene of a cute little boy with Down Syndrome baking cupcakes with his dad at home in their kitchen. This is an authentic scene using ambient lighting and real people.One of our best tools for nutrition that is available is Spend Smart. Eat Smart.  I know that Barb highlighted it back in July,  but it has so much going on, I wanted to remind you. From the county perspective, it is an easy way to introduce individuals to healthy meal choices and cost saving when I don’t have as much expertise on the topic as the specialists do!

Spend Smart. Eat Smart. is great for anyone who plans, cooks, or eats food. Every recipe on the website follows specific nutrition guidelines and lists the cost per serving. This way, you can make delicious meals that are both good for your family AND your bank account! The site also helps you save money by providing a lesson on unit pricing (and the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app has a unit pricing calculator!), assisting in meal planning,  as well as other ways. To promote good nutrition, in addition to the recipe following those specific guidelines, the website provides nutrition labels with every dish. There is also a tab to explain what the information on those labels means!

Beautiful African American woman and her daughter cooking in the kitchenI’ve only included a few benefits of Spend Smart. Eat Smart. – so check it out!

On the Science of Parenting website, you can find a link to the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website under the Everyday Parenting tab, and the Nutrition and Wellness for Parenting heading. In including the Nutrition and Wellness for Parenting section, we hoped to narrow down the wide variety of resources available to a few of our favorites that fit parenting more specifically. Perhaps once you go and take a look at what’s available – you’ll end up planning supper for tonight!

Mackenzie DeJong

Mackenzie DeJong

Recent Family and Consumer Sciences grad and Human Sciences Program Coordinator serving four counties in Northwest Iowa. Background editor and occasional contributor of the “county perspective” for the Science of Parenting blog.

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The Modern Family… are we doing okay?

We often tend to think of the “traditional American family” as being two married parents with 1.5 children, and the whole white picket fence thing. But actually we see that two-parent families have been declining over the last few years. We’re seeing changes in the size of modern families as well as the family structure. And actually, we are at a point where there really isn’t a definitive “normal” family structure anymore!

For some people, learning this fact puts them in a panic. They may have a genuine concern about non-traditional families being broken or concern that the children are going to be negatively impacted. However, research says that family structure is not as important as family processes. That’s basically just “research-speak” to say that what your family LOOKS LIKE is not as important as what your family DOES. Sure, there are certain family structures that may be considered “at-risk”, but that doesn’t mean that if kids fall into one of those categories that they are doomed. In fact, any kind of family structure can be at-risk for certain negative outcomes (AND any kind of family structure can have great outcomes).

So if you’re a parent out there, just know that whether you have a “traditional” family OR a blended family OR have recently gone through a separation with your co-parent OR have an “untraditional” family structure –  you aren’t damaging your kids (I mean you knew that all along, but now you can say research backs it up!). What matters is that you spend time together, show your kids you love them, set appropriate limits for them, and encourage family togetherness. These kinds of things matter a lot more than what your family “looks like”.

For this reason, the Science of Parenting website and blog focuses on what parents can be doing rather than what their families look like. We have lots of resources for families with kids of all ages – because we believe that you deserve access to trustworthy information so that YOU can make decisions about what is best for your family.  If you want more information about what you can be doing with and for your kids, Check out the new EVERYDAY PARENTING section of the new website- you can even look at resources based on the specific age of your child.

So go ahead, dig around the new EVERYDAY PARENTING section of the website! Leave us comments about one of your new favorite resources that you find.

Mackenzie Johnson

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Not Just a Blog Any More…

The Science of Parenting

Throughout the last couple of months, as you’ve visited the Science of Parenting Blog, you may have noticed some changes.

We’ve had many conversations about what we, the Science of Parenting team, want to provide to you based on feedback we’ve received, and the overwhelming feeling was to not just provide blog posts, but also to add a “database” of resources that we commonly use that we can easily refer you, our readers, to. Extension and Outreach employees used to refer to ourselves as “the best kept secret,” which we’ve been trying to combat in the past few years, and Science of Parenting is trying to follow suit by making information easily accessible to all Iowans. With that, we’d like to let you in on our secret…

The Science of Parenting blog is now the Science of Parenting website.

Feel free to take a look around. Ask questions about new resources you find. Let us know if there’s anything you’d like to know more about.

For our avid Science of Parenting blog readers, have no fear. We’ll still be regularly posting research-based parenting information and ideas! The blogs will be integrated into the site and will help us stay up to date with information from the first-person perspective. Throughout the upcoming weeks, each of our contributors will be highlighting the new site design and different resources we have available.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the changes and hope you continue to follow us throughout the upcoming years!

Mackenzie DeJong

Mackenzie DeJong

Recent Family and Consumer Sciences grad and Human Sciences Program Coordinator serving four counties in Northwest Iowa. Background editor and occasional contributor of the “county perspective” for the Science of Parenting blog.

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Halloween Snacking

It is that time of year, you know, the time when families hunt for the perfect Halloween costume, or the best treat to distribute next week! Because many families have a desire to eat more healthy, they may be making better decisions about the “treats” they provide, as costume clad children knock on the door. Let me share a few ideas Science of Parenting contributor Rebecca Brotzman, RD, LDN made several years ago, that would certainly be helpful today too!

Do not make the focus entirely on candy. Distract your kids with other activities like making masks, decorating the house with cobwebs, bobbing for apples, going to corn mazes and/or haunted houses.

2.Check stores, online, and in newspapers for coupons. Most major stores will have specials in their circulars the week before Halloween as well. When you combine coupons and specials you can save even more.

3.Think creatively. You do not HAVE to give out candy, and the alternatives can be cheaper and healthier. For example: one bag of 144 spider rings costs about $5.00, or a package of 100 glow sticks costs about $9.00. Both are healthier alternatives, and who doesn’t love glow sticks or spider rings!?

4.Compare prices before you buy. Look at the unit count in the bag of candy before you buy it. Sometimes a 14 unit count bag costs the same as a 21 unit count bag.

When the prices are the same, it is easy to see which bag has a better value (just check the unit count), but you can ALWAYS figure out the value of a purchase by figuring out the unit price (divide the price by the unit count).

5.Do not be afraid to run out of candy. Some people buy way too much and then end up with all that candy left over plus what their kids bring home!

6.Have some control over candy consumption. Do not be too strict (let your kids enjoy the holiday), but have some kind of plan in place to control their intake of candy.

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Disaster Preparation and Safety

We are happy to have Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Family Finance Specialist and guest blogger Barb Wollan to share information related to safety and preparation during times of disaster.
September is Disaster Preparedness Month. Recent news about hurricane damage provides a sobering reminder of the importance of being prepared. Here in the Midwest, hurricanes are not part of our reality, but we are at risk for other types of disasters, many of which strike suddenly with little or no warning.

In a disaster, safety is first priority. We need to be prepared to quickly evacuate from a fire or seek shelter in a tornado, for example, and have a way to stay warm if a winter storm causes an extended power outage.

There is a second aspect of preparedness that also deserves our attention: we need to be prepared for recovery and preparing for recovery includes:
1. Having insurance coverage that meets our needs, and reviewing it every couple of years to make sure it is keeping up with changes in our situation;
2. Creating and updating a household inventory (typically via photos or video) to assist in filing insurance claims;
3. Keeping irreplaceable documents (birth certificates, military records, property titles, and more) in a safe deposit box;
4. Having copies of key documents and information stored away from our home – perhaps with a friend or family member in another community, or in secure cloud storage. This includes insurance policies (or at least policy numbers and contact information), financial account information, most recent tax return, along with key medical information (including vaccination records) and contact information for both professional and personal contacts. Pet vaccination records matter too.

The list above is NOT all-inclusive, but it’s a good starting point. Check out this “Your Disaster Checklist,” from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

https://pueblo.gpo.gov/CFPBPubs/CFPBPubs.php?PubID=13036

In addition, check out our resources related to managing stress.

All About Stress

Helping Children Manage Stress

 

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Back to School – Start the Conversation

It’s officially August! That means that back-to-school sales are in full swing and are serving as an ever-present reminder that summer is ending soon. Maybe for some of you this is a relief as you’re ready to get back to a regular routine, but maybe for others you are dreading your kiddos heading back-to-school. Either way, the reality is that it is coming (and probably sooner than we think).

So as if the back-to-school sales and the new AUGUST calendar page aren’t reminder enough, we here at the Science of Parenting blog wanted to get your wheels turning on it too! We have one simple reminder or suggestion for you to consider in order to make the back-to-school transition go a little smoother– start communicating about how things will be different when school starts, BEFORE school starts J

Growing up in my family we usually had these conversations over a “family meeting” where everyone was present and knew we would be having the conversation. Find a way that works for you family to have these important conversations. Here’s a few things you may want to consider discussing around the back-to-school transition:

  1. Logistics, especially things like…
    • What kinds of activities will any of your kids be doing beyond attending school (soccer, theater, chess club, etc.),
    • What time kids need to be at school or any extra activities,
    • Plans are for transportation,
    • Daily routines (who gets up first, who showers in the evening vs morning, bedtimes, etc.)
  2. Family plans and goals
    • Is there anything your family wants to do together during the school year? Maybe you’re looking at preparing more meals in advance, or finding time every week to have an hour where everyone is together, or maybe trying out a new hobby as family.
  3. Give your child a chance to ask questions
    • Having conversations ahead of time gives your child several opportunities to ask any questions they may have. Maybe your school age child needs some clarification on where they go after school? Or maybe your teenager wants to talk to you about a some new privileges this year? Either way, having a time when you kids get the chance to ask their questions in a positive environment can help everyone get in the right mindset.

Consider starting the back-to-school conversation soon to make the transition for your family a smooth one!

Mackenzie Johnson

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Meal Planning on Vacation

Summer time meal planning, especially while on vacation is important, if you want to keep costs down and nutritional value high! My family recently returned from a long-distance vacation, and our goal was to enjoy fresh foods all while enjoying the opportunity to be together as a family.

We each took turns helping to prepare the meals. We took turns with set up and clean up too. Meals don’t just happen on vacation, we learned early on, that we could save money, and reduce our food waste by communicating meal plans ahead of time!

We also learned that leaving meal time to chance, was dangerous because we usually consumed too many calories if we ate most of our meals away from home! We discovered how lazy we usually felt following consuming big meals that had large portion sizes. We knew our time was better spent organizing our meals ahead of time, so that we could enjoy the company of family members who traveled near and far to vacation together!

Children too, can help decide food menus! They know the type of foods they like, and will eat, if offered. Eating together offers an opportunity to practice social skills, including table manners and conversation, as well as basic food preparation skills.

Because we had a table full of aunts, uncles, and cousins at meal time, we tried to eliminate distractions by turning off the TV, and putting our mobile phones in a basket on the counter! The conversations were rich with stories of card games played; swimming basketball scores and plans for upcoming hikes to the nearby falls!

Children do better when they have a routine to their lives; and that includes mealtime, even while on vacation. Explore ways individual schedules can be adjusted to allow mealtime together. For more help with recipes, check out the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Spend Smart Eat Smart website!

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Family Vacations- Memories in the Making!

A few weeks ago we got to hear our friend, Barb Dunn-Swanson, featured on Iowa Public Radio talking about family vacations. We learned a lot about “family leisure”, and we heard that some of the value of family vacation comes from quality family time – whether home or away! As I think back on my family vacations growing up, I have positive memories of visiting new places, relaxing in the sun, and laughing while playing family games. But if I really think about it, I can also remember the stress my mom experienced trying to spend money wisely, to navigate in a new city, or to get my siblings and I to stop fighting after so much time together. Now as a parent myself, I am in the process of planning a family vacation, and I’m finding the stress holds true for me too.

Luckily, when it comes to family vacation, our kids are likely going to remember the good stuff. Similar to the stories we heard from callers on the radio show, nearly all of them were sharing fond memories of family vacations. So let’s stop here for a moment, take a breath. Remember that the time, energy, and money you are allocating toward a family vacation (or stay-cation!) is likely going to result in positive family memories down the road!

For me, I think of one vacation in particular where my family went on an out-of-state trip. I look back on that time together and I remember binge-watching (before that was even cool!) a TV show we all liked. I remember playing tennis for one of the first times – a sport which I grew to love and eventually qualified for the state tournament in high school. I remember going on rides at an amusement park. I remember that my sister and I shared a bed on one family vacation and my sister kept me awake by TALKING in her sleep, something I still like to bring up from time to time.

So as you examine tourism brochures, scour the internet for the best travel deals, or are exploring information about local parks, remember the outcome you are working toward. Remember that while you may be stressing to plan a “perfect vacation”, you are creating a prime opportunity for family memories that will be talked about for years to come. In short, cut yourself some slack (whether in emotional energy or in dollars), and look forward to the fun that lies ahead!

Mackenzie Johnson

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Helping picky eaters appreciate the food process

I TRY my hardest to keep up wellness information and eat healthy but I need great resources to keep reminding me! Read our throwback blog that Barb wrote from last summer and check out the Words on Wellness Newsletter for July!

You can also find more newsletters here!

Helping picky eaters appreciate the food process.

Each new day, provides the opportunity for family mealtime! Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or supper, offering foods that are both nutritious and pleasing to your family is an important goal. Often younger children have different tastes in foods than their parents. What sounds like a good menu to an adult may be greeted with groans by children. Described often as “picky eaters”, children can slowly learn to appreciate a variety of foods given time, and an opportunity to try them in small amounts.

Taking children to the grocery store and letting them help select fruits and vegetables may be the first step in introducing a new food. Maybe your family has a garden, letting children help plant the seeds, and water the garden, will make them curious about the growing season and filled with excitement about the harvest.

Summer time is a great time to work together alongside your child in the kitchen with meal time preparation. Children, depending on their age and ability, can wash vegetables under water, can help chop simple vegetables, and can help arrange food for the evening meal.

Don’t worry about your picky eater, find a way to engage them in the kitchen and enjoy the experiences you are making together.

Written by Barb Dunn-Swanson. June 2016

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Tips for Family Vacations from the Talk of Iowa

Listen to our very own Barb Dunn-Swanson share with Iowa Public Radio’s Charity Nebbe some Tips for Family Vacations.

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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New Blogger, Mackenzie Johnson, shares research and reality

Hello hello! I’m Mackenzie, and I’m so excited to be joining the Science of Parenting blog team! A little about me – I have an infant daughter, I enjoy cooking from scratch, and I’m a total geek for research on the interaction of parents and children (even studied it in college)! These three facts about me actually all roll together into one of my biggest passions – learning about the phenomenon of how parents get the opportunity to help raise new adults “from scratch”!

In my education, I’ve learned a lot about parenting styles, stages of child development, strategies for guidance and discipline, etc. So when I thought about becoming a parent, I had big plans. Oh boy, I had all kinds of plans! I said things to myself like “I will do things this way” and “I would never do that” … Then I held my tiny infant in my arms, and suddenly everything changed. She came into the world with her own temperament, her own challenges, her own quirks. I found out that my plans weren’t panning out how I thought- no matter how much effort I put into them! “What now?”, I asked myself, “I know that research suggests this is the best way to do this, but my plans aren’t working!”

Over a few months, I’ve been able to get some clarity on what I like to refer to as “balancing research and reality”. The research suggested that _______ is the most successful strategy, but I had to balance that information with what my reality was. With certain things, the research-suggested strategy just wasn’t working for us… But Instead of feeling terribly guilty about it, I’ve come to find a level of acceptance. I realized that I wasn’t a failure, but rather a parent who made an educated decision about what was best for my family. In certain circumstances, it was better for my family to change the way we were doing things than to continue on a path that wasn’t working for us. And because I had learned about the research, I was able to make an INFORMED decision for MY FAMILY.

That’s the perspective I hope to bring with me to the blog: understanding that research is here to empower us to be able to make informed decisions about what is in the best interest of our families. So no parent-shaming here. No condescending words to belittle anyone’s parenting. No telling you that there is only one way to do it. Instead, we will work to give you access to information so that you can decide what is best for your family.

So yes, I’m truly excited to be joining the Science of Parenting team, because I just can’t think of a better parent-empowering movement to get behind.

Mackenzie Johnson

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Is it Magic? Or is it Music?

So do you ever wonder why when you tell a 3 year old to “clean up”, they completely ignore you, but once you start singing that oh so popular “Clean Up Song”, that same 3 year old happily and energetically starts cleaning up? Is it magic or is it music? That’s the question we asked guest blogger Elizabeth Stegemöller, PhD and Board Certified Music Therapist from the ISU Kinesology Department.

Join in on our conversation with Elizabeth below.

..”Well, of course it is the music. Believe it or not being involved with music, be it music listening, instrumental playing, singing, or dancing has many benefits for a child’s physical, mental, emotional, and social development. Children learn to coordinate fine motor movements of the hands when learning an instrument. In fact most instruments require you to do completely opposite actions with each hand. Yeah, you remember how hard it was to get that left hand to do anything productive on the piano. Dancing includes the coordination of larger muscle groups of the whole body. Then there is the mental/cognitive aspects that include reading and pairing symbols with letters and meanings, leaning a whole new language (I mean what does forte really mean, how about adagio), and then somehow translate all of this into a motor command for your fingers or voice. Now, what about the emotional responses to music. Music is a mechanism to appropriately express feelings. I mean give a teenager some headphones and if you dare a drum set, and watch out! Finally, making music together teaches children how to work together to produce a final masterpiece. Really, there is no part of the human brain that isn’t involved with music.”

But what is it specifically about music that holds this power over human behavior? How can music encourage a toddler to clean up or help them learn their ABCs and why does this even matter?

“Interestingly, it starts with the rhythmic and harmonic structure of music and how the brain processes this signal. First, by nature music is a “cleaner” signal. There is less noise in a music signal than in a speech signal. And the brain likes a “clean” signal, especially a developing brain. Second, precise temporal stimulation of neural structures leads to plasticity (making new connections in the brain). Basically, if the brain (neurons) fires together, it wires together. Music is a highly organized rhythmic structure that allows for synchronization of multiple brain areas. Most importantly, music listening increases dopamine in the brain. Guess what, in order to learn anything, you need dopamine! So, stimulating the brain with a clear and synchronized signal along with the increase in dopamine is precisely what is needed for neural plasticity (i.e. learning).”

Now, back to that 3 year old cleaning up. Why did music work?

“Well, singing was a clear signal that was easier for the child to process and make the neural connection and or association that the signal meant to “clean up” regardless if they processed the meaning of the actual words or just the musical tune. But what about the ABC’s? Well, music synchronized neural activity along with increased dopamine and established new connections for alphabet order. Now just imagine how many neural connections are being made by playing an instrument, dancing, and making music as a group! Music is magic – brain magic!”

Share with us how you have used music in a way that seemed magical!

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Stop. Breathe. Talk. in Action

I wanted to share this comment I received from a reader. Thank you Mackenzie for allowing me to share your thoughts with our readers.

“I’m a parent of a mostly happy seven month old daughter. I’m also an adult educator who helps parents understand the important difference between reacting (when we let our immediate emotions decide how to react to a child’s behavior) and responding (when take a moment to stop and think about how we actually want to respond to our child’s behavior). One simple way to remember this difference is to tell yourself to “Stop. Breathe. Talk.” It sounds so simple, right? And most people assume I must get it right every time, but that is NOT true… In my head I know that my daughter feels things intensely (like her momma does) and responds with the same intensity because she doesn’t have the skills to cope appropriately yet. And still, in the heat of an overwhelming moment, I definitely have to take that second to think to myself, “Stop. Breathe. Talk”.

“Like last night, my teething daughter was up for the second time in the middle of night (a phase I thought we had finally made it through). I picked her up from her crib and tried to soothe her back to sleep for a few minutes. When she calmed down, I set her back into the crib and headed back to bed. Seconds after I get back under the covers, I hear the crying start again. It’s the middle of the night, I’m tired. I start to huff back to her crib irritated. As I walk I’m saying to myself, “Just sleep! Why won’t you sleep? I’m so sick of this!” I walk up to her crib… “Wait,” I think to myself. “She isn’t doing this to you. She is having a hard time and needs her momma to help her through this.” So I stop. I walk into the hallway. I take a deep breath. I walk back up to her crib. In a calm voice I say, “I know, sweet girl. Getting teeth is hard work. Mommy is here.” I pick her up and rub her back. Her body relaxes and after a few minutes, I set her down in her crib, totally asleep.”

“Even as someone who teaches these skills to fellow parents, I know I don’t get it right every time. But in the moments where I remind myself to “Stop. Breathe. Talk”, I do better. That extra second gives me the chance to consider my emotions and reaction, and change it into the kind of response I want to have. ”

 

Consider one of the last frustrating interacting you had with your child. Would it have ended differently if you had chosen to Stop. Breathe. Talk.? Comment and tell us about a time when this strategy has worked for you! We’d love to hear from you!”

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Stop. Breathe. Talk



Research shows that physical punishment and yelling is harmful.

So what can we do instead?

Stop.

Breathe.

Talk.

As we wind down our conversations on guidance & discipline it becomes important to just step back and focus on 3 simple steps. At any age and in any situation we can help ourselves by remembering to take a moment to stop, take a breath and use a calm voice as we talk to our child about our expectations.

No matter what age our children are, we can stop, breathe and talk. Even a crying infant can be comforted by our slowed breathing and calm reassuring voice. Toddlers can see our calm demeanor and notice our quieter voice. The elementary and middle school child notices that we are role-modeling actions for them to mirror.

Talk doesn’t mean lecture. It can be as simple as, “I hear you” or “I see that you are upset right now”.  Allowing children a safe place to express their strong feelings while we model a calm, cool and collected approach, is the best kind of guidance and discipline we can give our child.

 

 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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