“Each time you help your child think and feel about what he is experiencing, and each time you find the right words for his intense feelings, you are probably helping the development of more sophisticated communication networks in your child’s corpus callosum.”
The Latest Developments in Scientific Baby Care
UNICEF, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, an organization devoted to the well-being of children, regularly holds conferences for the purposes of presenting the newest scientific discoveries related to parenting. At a 2012 UNICEF conference, psychologist, author and director of the Centre for Child Mental Health in London Margot Sunderland gave a presentation of her latest scientific findings. That information may just prove to make the world a better place, one family at a time. According to one review, that information, contained in her book, “The Science of Parenting” may just prove to make the world a happier place, one family at a time.
It’s fairly well-known that the global use of anti-depressants has skyrocketed since 2000 and continues to increase each year. While depression can be the result of social and economic conditions such as war and poverty, it can also be the result of the body’s inability to produce sufficient amounts of the naturally occurring substances that prevent it.
The body’s ability to produce oxytocin, prolactin, and benzodiazepines, all of which contribute to reducing anxiety and aggression and increasing social bonding, can be affected by changes in the brain. Secure attachment and positive relationships between parents and children activate production of these naturally occurring hormones.
The Relationship Between Interactions, Hormones, and Brain Development
Brain connections develop and multiply rapidly between birth and the age of three, during which they double more than 20 times. The results of several studies have demonstrated that parental interaction is the single most important factor in stimulating intellectual and emotional growth. For example, one study showed a greater increase in vocabulary in children whose parents verbally transmitted information while interacting than those who were exposed to the same information through a video.
As much as our amazing technology may separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, our limbic systems still have the same innate responses to stimuli as those of other mammals. Part of scientific baby care is increasing parental knowledge of the biological responses associated with familial interactions. For example, when a baby cries, blood pressure and stress hormones are elevated, and its heart rate, temperature and breathing fluctuate. If the baby’s cry is not responded to, several physical responses occur. Those responses include a lower heart rate and temperature and the release of a growth-inhibiting hormone called somatostatin. These physical responses are part of going into survival mode, an evolutionary adaptation of all higher mammals to avoid attracting predators through continued distress signals such as crying. Since no parent is capable of responding immediately and appropriately every time their child cries, it is estimated that up to 30% of parenting is a matter of repairing the damage that the demands of modern daily life have on the parent-child relationship.
Scientific Baby Care Results in Action
In today’s modern fast-paced world, the time required for sustained meaningful interaction is at a premium, especially for working parents. Luckily, the results of some scientific studies are not only finding new reasons for parents to feel guilty, but providing the basis for new inventions that allow even busy parents to benefit from them. Some of them are even inspiring new scientific baby care inventions capable of increasing the quality and frequency of parent-child interaction.
For example, according to one study, one of the ways that parents can provide more of the crucial face-to-face contact necessary for secure attachment, brain development, and the production of life-sustaining hormones is by using a parent-facing baby carriage. The study involved 2,722 parents and found that parents interacted with their babies twice as much using a face-to-face carriage. Babies also initiated interaction with their parent more often. Children who faced forward had difficulty attracting their parent’s attention and parents were unable to observe their babies facial expressions to determine their level of distress.
The first reversible stroller in which the child could face either the parent or outwards was invented in 1889 by William Richardson. However, due to the invention of cars and more frequent travel, the outward facing umbrella stroller invented in 1965 by aeronautical engineer Owen Maclaren quickly became popular.
The findings of scientific baby care experts has resulted in the re-emergence of reversible strollers. This reversal proves that sometimes progress in scientific baby care consists of adapting technology to our humanity, rather than adapting our humanity to technology.