Baby Talk: Resources to Support the People Who Work With Infants and Toddlers: Issue No. 31, December 2013

A Portrait of Infants and Toddlers in the United States

Child Trends and the McCormick Foundation have published a report, The Youngest Americans: A Statistical Portrait of Infants and Toddlers in the United States (November 2013) that provides a comprehensive indicators-based portrait of the approximately 12 million infants and toddlers in America. It includes basic demographic data on these young children, including information about their health and well-being, and the well-being of their parents. The authors present observations about the composite portrait drawn and identify some common threads in the data. Some key findings show that:

  • Many infants and toddlers in America today are starting out with severe economic hardship.
  • There are considerable inequities marked by income and race/ethnicity and these inequities are often compounded by fragile family situations.
  • The majority of mothers of infants and toddlers are working.
  • Parental leave, high-quality child care, and access to early intervention services are out of reach for many families raising infants and toddlers.

Understanding How Infants Acquire New Words Across Cultures

While there are some universals in the earliest stages of language acquisition, recent studies show that infants learning different languages may actually acquire words in different ways. Read more about it.

Babies Learn to Aim Tools by Banging Toys

Babies have a natural proclivity for banging, but what may seem like haphazard movements—and a lot of noise—may actually offer hints to how humans learn to use tools. Tool use develops gradually, beginning in infancy when banging is uncoordinated through early toddlerhood when it is more precise and efficient, new research suggests. Learn more here.

Babies Use Body Map in Brain

Babies often observe others demonstrate how to do things and then copy those body movements. It’s how little ones know, usually without explicit instructions, to hold a toy phone to the ear or guide a spoon to the mouth.

The findings, published online in PLOS ONE, are the first to show that babies’ brains showed specific activation patterns when an adult performed a task with different parts of her body.

Ten Tips for Supporting Children’s Learning During the Holidays

This set of suggestions from NAEYC may come in handy over the next few weeks.

 Baby Talk is a free, one-way listserv that is distributed monthly. Each issue features resources that are high quality, readily available and free.  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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