STIMULATION OF INFANTS WILL AFFECT THEM FOR LIFE
Baby Bundling, Papoose Wrapping, Back Strapping - these
are not the problem.
The problem is mother´s lack of attention which attends these practices.
THIS CAN BE CHANGED
[The mission of "First Light 4 Children" is to effect this change]
New insights into brain development affirm what many parents and caregivers
have known for years, 1)good prenatal care, 2)warm and loving attachments
between young children and adults, and 3)positive stimulation from the
time of birth, really do make a difference in children's development for
In June 1996, Families and Work Institute held a conference at the University
of Chicago entitled "Brain Development in Young Children: New
Frontiers for Research, Policy and Practice." Convening professionals
from the neurosciences, medicine, education, human services, the media,
business, and public policy, the conference focused on what we know about
the developing brain and how that knowledge can and should inform efforts
to improve results for children and their families. The following is taken
from Rethinking the Brain: New Insights into Early Development
by Families and Work Institiute.
What have we learned?
- Human development hinges on the interplay between nature and nurture.
The impact of environmental factors on the young child's brain development
is dramatic and specific, not merely influencing the general direction
of development, but actually affecting how the intricate circuitry
of the human brain is "wired."
How humans develop and learn depends critically and continually on
the interplay between an individual's genetic endowment and the nutrition,
surroundings, care, stimulation, and teaching that are provided or
- Early care has decisive and long-lasting effects on how people develop
and learn, how they cope with stress, and how they regulate their own
Warm and responsive early care helps babies thrive and plays a vital
role in healthy development. A child's capacity to control her own
emotional state appears to hinge on biological systems shaped by her
early experiences and attachments. A strong, secure attachment to
a nurturing adult can have a protective biological function, helping
a growing child withstand the ordinary stress of daily life.
- The human brain has a remarkable capacity to change, but timing is
The brain itself can be alteredor helped to compensate for
problemswith appropriately timed, intensive intervention. In
the first decade of life, the brain's ability to change and compensate
is especially remarkable.
There are optimal periods of opportunity -- "prime times"
during which the brain is particularly efficient at specific types
- The brain's plasticity also means that there are times when negative
experiences or the absence of appropriate stimulation are more likely
to have serious and sustained effects.
Early exposure to nicotine, alcohol, and drugs may have even more
harmful and long lasting effects on young children than was previously
These risk factors frequently are associated with or exacerbated
by poverty. For children growing up in poverty, economic deprivation
affects their nutrition, access to medical care, the safety and predictability
of their physical environment, the level of family stress, and the
quality and continuity of their day-to-day care.
- Evidence amassed by neuroscientists and child development experts
over the last decade point to the wisdom and efficacy of prevention
and early intervention.
Well designed programs created to promote healthy cognitive, emotional,
and social development can improve the prospects - and the quality
of life - of many children.
The efficacy of early intervention has been demonstrated and replicated
in diverse communities across the nation.
Where do we go from here?
- First do no harm
- The principle that guides medical practice should also apply to policies and practices
that affect children.
- Allow parents to fulfill their all-important role in providing and arranging for
sensitive, predictable care for their children.
- Parents need more information about how the kind of care they provide affects their
- Implement policies that support parents in forming strong, secure attachments with their
infants in the early months, and make a concentrated effort to improve the quality of
early care and education.
- Prevention is best, but when a child needs help, intervene quickly and intensively.
- Warm, responsive care cushions children from the occasional bumps and bruises that are
inevitable in everyday life.
- If children are given timely, intensive help, many can overcome a wide range of
- To have greatest impact, interventions must be timely and must be followed up with
appropriate, sustained services and support.
- Promote the healthy development and learning of every child of every age, every
demographic description, and every risk category.
- If we miss opportunities to promote healthy development and learning,
later remediation may be more difficult and expensive, and may be
Implications for policy and practice
- Improve health and protection by providing health care coverage for new and expectant
parents and their young children.
Preventive health screenings,well-baby care, timely
immunizations and attention to children's emotional and physcal development is
cost-effective and provides a solid foundation for good health and development.
- Promote responsible parenthood by expanding proven approaches.
All parents can
benefit from solid information and support as they raise their children.
Parent education/family support programs that promote the healthy development of
children and improve the well-being of parents are cost effective.
- Safeguard children in early care and education from harm and promote their learning and
The nation's youngest children are the most likely to be in unsafe,
substandard child care.
More than one third are in situations that can be detrimental to their development,
while most of the rest are in settings where minimal learning is taking place.
- Enable communities to have the flexibility and the resources they need to mobilize on
behalf of young children and their families.
Support efforts to create the kind of
community you and your children want to be a part of, develop goals and strategies for
achieving this vision, determine how to finance your efforts, and make provisions for
measuring your results.
Research taken from Rethinking the BrainNew Insights into Early Development;
Conference ReportBrain Development in Young Children: New Frontiers for Research,
Policy and Practice, organized by the Families and Work Institute, June 1996.