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Nov 27

Talk, Read and Sing to Your Newborn!

Just before parents leave the hospital with their newborn for the first time, doctors go through a list of discharge instructions, including guidelines for how to keep their baby healthy and safe. As families return to pediatricians for regular wellness checks, there is one topic that many pediatricians never address, yet one physician-scientist says should get top billing.

Twenty-two-month-old Miles Cleary is the baby of his family.  Mom, Danielle, has listened to discharge instructions five times. Things like how to feed the baby, use a car seat properly, and recognize signs of illness were always clearly communicated. There’s one thing that Danielle doesn’t ever remember hearing: talk and read to your baby.

“That was never on my mind until they were older,” Danielle told Ivanhoe.

Dana Suskind, MD, is a pediatric ear, nose and throat surgeon and co-director of the TMW Center for Early Learning in Public Health at the University of Chicago.  “The science is so clear that the first thousand days are critically important for brain development, and at the heart of that is parent talk and interaction,” detailed Dr. Suskind.

However, parents may not be getting that information. A recent survey of Chicago-area parents found most early wellness visits focused on feeding and the baby’s weight. Few parents received information on brain development or learning. Dr. Suskind and her colleagues say medical students should learn behavior-changing strategies to share with parents. At the TMW Center, researchers advocate the three T’s.

“Those three T’s—tune in, talk more, and take turns—are really the keys for providing a rich language environment and growing a baby’s brain,” explained Dr. Suskind.

Talk, read, and sing from day one. These are parental interactions that will help grow your child’s brain.

(From Child Trends, November 2018)