Baby Talk: Resources to Support the People Who Work With Infants and Toddlers: Issue No. 17 October 2012

Infant-Toddler Language Development

  • Research from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences provides additional insight into how infants process and understand language. Using electroencephalography (EEG) to capture brain activity as subjects listened to the spoken language, the study found that infants—some as young as three months of age—were able to automatically detect violations of syllable dependencies whereas adults only did so when explicitly asked to pay attention to dependencies between syllables. “These findings not only help understand how children manage to learn language so quickly during early development, but also point to a strong link between very basic auditory skills and sophisticated rule learning abilities,” notes a statement from the Institute.
  • A study by researchers at the United Kingdom’s University of Hertfordshire suggests that communicating with your baby by sign language may help both of you understand each other better, but it isn’t likely to accelerate language development. Another study found that treating maternal depression with common antidepressants can positively affect how babies develop language.

 Safe Sleep Update

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced that the U.S. national campaign to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has entered a new phase and will now encompass all sleep-related, sudden unexpected infant deaths. The campaign, which has been known as the Back to Sleep Campaign, has been renamed the Safe to Sleep Campaign. A new one-page fact sheet, What Does a Safe Sleep Environment Look Like, shows how to provide a safe sleep environment and lists ways that parents and caregivers can reduce the risk for SIDS. Additional free resources in multiple formats and languages are available on the Safe to Sleep website.

 Supporting Young Children’s Prosocial Skills

Adults are the most important features of young children’s environments. This article (Caring about Caring: What Adults Can Do to Promote Young Children’s Prosocial Skills) highlights evidence-based approaches those adults can use to nurture children’s prosocial feelings and behavior to others (e.g., empathy, sharing, compassion, helping others, compromise, respect for others, and hugging other children).

 Baby Talk is a free, one-way listserv that is distributed every other week. Each issue features one or more resources, the majority of which are available to download at no cost.  To join the listserv, send an email with no message to subscribe-babytalk@listserv.unc.edu. To suggest resources, please contact Camille Catlett at camille.catlett@unc.edu or (919) 966-6635.

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