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Parents’ Prescription: Talk, Read, and Sing

November 2018

CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — 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.

Dr. Suskind said there are other effective evidence-based programs, like Too Small to Fail, Healthy Steps, Vroom, and Reach Out and Read, in which pediatricians use books to demonstrate parent-child interactions.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Research cited from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30093541


Spanish Translation

CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Antes de irse del hospital con el nuevo bebe, los papas primerizos reciben toda una lista de consejos sobre cómo mantener al bebe sano. Pero en el hospital y en las visitas a la oficina del pediatra hay un tema que no se toca, y que un doctor asegura debería de ser el primero en la lista.

La mama de Miles Cleary ya ha escuchado las instrucciones para salir con el bebe del hospital en cinco ocasiones. Le explicaron como alimentar al bebe, como usar un asiento de carro correctamente y en que fijarse para saber si está enfermo. Pero hay un tema sobre el que Danielle no recuerda haber oído en ninguna ocasión: por qué hay que hablarles, leerles y cantarles. Y como ella, muchos padres no están recibiendo esta crucial información. Un estudio reciente determino que la mayoría de las visitas rutinarias al pediatra giraban alrededor de los patrones de comida y el peso del bebe. Pocos padres recibían información sobre el desarrollo del cerebro infantil.

Los investigadores indican que los pediatras deben de compartir información que los padres pueden implementar fácilmente. Según el centro educativo TMW, hay tres pilares para el aprendizaje: prestar atención, hablar y turnarse haciéndolo. Esto creara un entorno favorable para el desarrollo mental del bebe. Así que hay que hablar, cantar y leer desde el primer momento, para que esa mente infantil se desarrolle.

Hay varios programas de probado resultado, como “Too Small to Fail”, ”Healthy Steps”, “Vroom” y “Reach Out and Read”, donde los pediatras usan libros para demostrar cómo deben de interactuar los padres y los hijos.

Los contribuyentes a este reportaje incluyen: Cyndy McGrath, Supervisora  Y Productora de Campo; Milvionne Chery, Productora; Roque Correa, Editor Y Camarografo.

Producido por Child Trends News Service en asocio con Ivanhoe Broadcast News y auspiciado por una beca de la National Science Foundation.