News Roundup April 5th

Closson BabyScreen Time Vs. Social Interaction

In ECE PolicyMatters, Susan Ochshorn writes about how new technology may affect human development. Beginning in infancy, children’s interactions with caregivers encourage intellectual, social and emotional growth. The parent infant relationship helps the infant build trust and encourages the child’s desire to engage in the world. But what happens if we engage more with technology and less with the infant? She found that according to a forthcoming study in Psychological Science, if we don’t exercise our ability to directly interact with other people, we can lose some of our ability to do so. Cultivating interpersonal relationships alters a part of our cardiovascular system and increases the capacity for empathy. Click here to read the blog.

CDC Study Finds Infants Often Fed Solid Foods Too Soon

Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics raised the recommended age to begin giving infants solid food from four months to six months. A new study by the CDC has found that approximately 40% of four month olds and approximately 9% of infants as young as four weeks old were given solid foods. The reasons mothers gave for introducing solid foods earlier than six months included thinking that the infant was hungry, believing that the infant would sleep longer and by recommendation of misinformed health care professionals. Economics is also seen as a factor because solid food is less expensive than formula. Giving solid foods to infants too early can be dangerous due to the infant’s inability to hold their head up well and because their gut bacteria are not ready for solid foods causing diarrhea or gastroenteritis. Pediatricians should educate parents on the signs that infants are ready for solid foods. These signs include putting their hands in their mouth and sitting up.

Investments in Education are Needed at a Much Younger Age

An article in the New York Times states that some economists believe that investments in education are beginning at too late an age. According to economist, James Heckman, the gap in cognitive performance between rich and poor children does not change during the school years and that investments in education should come much earlier in the child’s life. Investments in early education improve cognitive abilities as well as behavioral traits including self-esteem and motivation. Attempts to raise high school graduation rates would be much less expensive if the assistance arrived before a child was six instead of when they became teenagers. In 2008, federal and state governments only spent about $300 per child under the age of 3, while $10,000 was spent per child in kindergarten through grade 12. Early education needs to be considered an essential piece of the education system in order to improve the system.

This News Roundup was compiled and co-authored by Karen Burch, M.A.

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