The Parenting Science News Feed
The Parenting Science news feed alerts you to updates on the Parenting Science website and to new blog posts or articles written by Gwen Dewar about parenting and child development topics.
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Jan 08, 2019
Can babies sign before they can speak?
Can babies sign before they can speak? To date, studies have failed to find compelling evidence in favor of the idea. And there's reason for doubt: Research confirms that babies start practicing spoken language at an early age.
Jan 01, 2019
How to start babies on solid food: An evidence-based guide
When to start solids depends on your baby’s developmental skills, and on whether or not you want to offer your baby finger foods. These evidence-based tips explain how to start babies on solid food, what to expect, and how to cope with a baby’s negative reactions.
Dec 18, 2018
Baby sign language: A guide for the science-minded parent
What is baby sign language? Should we teach our babies to sign? There’s no compelling evidence that baby signing programs yield long-term developmental benefits. But there is good reason to think that our everyday, spontaneous, pantomime-like gestures help babies learn.
Dec 13, 2018
Sensitive, responsive parenting: What are the health benefits?
Does sensitive, responsive parenting help protect kids from a lifetime of bad health? It seems likely. Studies suggest that parents can act as a buffer against harmful, chronic stress.
Dec 06, 2018
Dinosaur replay: Getting kids hooked on science
Just in time for the holidays, here is a reminder: How to turn your child's love for dinosaurs into something even bigger.
Nov 29, 2018
Parenting stress: 10 tips for coping
At this time of year, it's good to remember these tips for handling stress
Nov 23, 2018
STEM books for kids (and other resources too)
How can we boost a child's interest in physics, computer science, evolution, or mathematics? Here are some recommended resources.
Nov 14, 2018
Tangrams for kids: Educational tips and a printable template
Working on tangram puzzles may boost a child's spatial skills, and even enhance a child's math performance.
How do we help kids get started? Here are some evidence-based tips about tangrams for kids, and a printable tangram template.
Nov 08, 2018
What happens when adults lie to children?
When adults lie to children, does it set a bad example? Research suggests the effects depend on a child's age. But overall, the effects are negative. When kids discover we'd lied to them, they become less trusting and less truthful in their dealings with us.
Nov 01, 2018
What is colic? An evidence-based guide to excessive infant crying
What is colic? Colicky babies cry excessively and inconsolably, and may suffer from underlying medical conditions. Learn what's normal, what's not, and why you should talk to your doctor if you observe signs of colic.
Oct 25, 2018
Why kids rebel: What kids believe about the legitimacy of authority
They aren’t anarchists; nor are they scheming to run the world. On the contrary, kids – even teenagers – are ready to be cooperative. But they recognize limits to our power, and when we overreach those limits, kids regard reject our authority as illegitimate.
Oct 19, 2018
Vote for a better future
We must hold our politicians accountable, because our kids cannot. Vote for representatives who respect facts and democratic norms. People who reject science must not control our children’s future.
Oct 11, 2018
Compassionate deception: Do children tell lies to be kind?
Do children tell prosocial lies – lies intended to protect another person from harm? Fascinating experiments indicate that many kids are capable of this by the age of 7, and some children show the capacity even earlier.
Oct 04, 2018
Punitive environments encourage children to tell lies
It's not unusual for kids to tell lies, but their readiness to deceive depends on the social environment. When adults attempt to control children through threats and punishments, kids are more likely to cover-up their transgressions. What can we do about it?
Sep 28, 2018
At what age do children begin to tell lies?
When do children start telling lies? Some begin before they are two and a half. Others take longer. But by the age of four, most kids lie at least sometimes, and no, it isn’t moral failing. Children begin to experiment with lying as they develop new cognitive skills.
Sep 19, 2018
Marshmallow test: Delayed gratification isn't just about willpower
The marshmallow test is supposed to measure a child's willingness to delay gratification. But delayed gratification isn’t always a matter of willpower. When adults appear unreliable – or downright untrustworthy – kids choose instant rewards over future benefits.
Sep 12, 2018
Growth mindset: Can a theory of intelligence really boost achievement?
What you believe about cognitive performance — the theory of intelligence that you adopt — can have brain-altering effects, and enhance your ability to learn. Yet programs designed to instill the right, "growth mindset" in students haven't always worked. Why not?
Sep 05, 2018
Student-teacher relationships: Why emotional support matters
Supportive student-teacher relationships improve motivation, inspire achievement, and protect children from toxic stress. But many kids don't get the chance to form such bonds. Teacher burnout, counter-productive disciplinary practices, and racial biases get in the way.
Aug 29, 2018
The authoritarian parenting style: What does it look like?
Experts recommend against the authoritarian parenting style. It’s linked with inferior outcomes for kids. But what’s the difference between firm and authoritarian? How can you tell if you’ve crossed the line? Learn how researchers identify authoritarian parenting.
Aug 22, 2018
Spatial intelligence: What is it, and how can we enhance it?
Spatial intelligence is crucial for success in many fields, ranging from science and engineering to construction and graphic design. Can we improve spatial skills? Experiments say yes. Learn what you can do to stimulate spatial awareness in both children and adults.
Aug 15, 2018
The benefits of toy blocks: The science of construction play
Playing with toy blocks helps kids develop better motor and spatial skills. It may also boost creativity, focus, and mathematical ability. But to unleash these benefits, kids need to do more than move blocks around. Learn how to make block play more stimulating and engaging.
Aug 08, 2018
How video games affect school performance
Frequent play can cause problems – if kids play so much that they neglect their school work or lose sleep.
But certain video games can boost spatial skills, and there is evidence that moderate usage of video games could actually enhance school performance.
Aug 01, 2018
Positive parenting tips
Positive parenting is more effective than punitive discipline, and it helps buffer kids from toxic stress. How can you make it work? Check out these positive parenting tips.
Jul 27, 2018
Can babies tell when parents are fighting?
Lots of angry arguments at home? Studies suggest that babies can tell when parents are fighting — and this early life stress may alter an infant's brain. How can we protect infants from this toxic stress?
Jul 19, 2018
Can babies sense our stress?
Yes! And in fact babies don't just detect our tension. They are affected by it. Stress is contagious.
It's one more reason to look after your own well-being — and to calm down before interacting with your child.
Jul 11, 2018
Emotion coaching: Helping kids cope with negative feelings
Kids do better in life when they have parents who provide them with emotion coaching.
But what is "emotion coaching?" How do we know it works? And how can we become more effective coaches?
Jul 05, 2018
Fun activities to help kids communicate, negotiate, and connect
How can we teach kids to get along with others?
Communicate, negotiate, read minds, make friends?
These research-inspired social skills activities can help. Tips for babies, children, and teens.
Jul 02, 2018
Help children separated at the border from their parents by the US government
Dear U.S. readers:
More than 2,000 children are still separated from their parents. Every day that goes by is another day of anguish for these families, and the long-term risks increase.
The government failed to put an effective system in place that would allow for tracking children and connecting them with their parents.
Where the government is failing, however, attorneys and nonprofit organizations can help. They work on behalf of specific families, and help parents navigate the bureaucracy to find their children.
So we can help by donating money to organizations doing this work (for a list of them, see the charity donations page on the ActBlue link below).
We can also help by pressuring politicians to make ending family separations top priority.
Jun 27, 2018
15 Evidence-based baby sleep tips
Whether it's the crazy-making, nocturnal schedule of the newborn, or an older baby who won't get settled, the results are the same: A parent who is sleep-deprived and desperate for relief.
What's a parent to do? Learning about the science of infant sleep can help. Once you understand how, why, and when babies sleep, it will be easier for you to decide on the best sleep strategies for your family. It may also bring you peace of mind.
Jun 22, 2018
Thousands of immigrant children still separated and needing our help
Don't be misled: Thousands of immigrant children in the U.S. are still separated from their parents. They need to be reunited with their parents as soon as possible. We can help them by keeping the pressure on politicians.
Jun 13, 2018
Finding the right infant sleep aid: Which ones work?
It seems like everyone wants to sell you a device or technique that will make your baby sleep. What does the research tell us?
Here's a look at infant sleep aids: The promising, the not-so-promising, and hazards to avoid.
Jun 05, 2018
Dream feeding: An evidence-based guide to helping babies sleep longer
The goal of dream feeding is get your baby to eat a large meal immediately before you yourself fall asleep. Will it help? There's reason to think so. But it probably won't have a big impact on its own. For best results, use dream feeding with other sleep-friendly practices.
Here is an overview of the subject — the definitions, the evidence, the pros and cons, and frequently asked questions.
May 23, 2018
The Mozart effect, Shmozart effect: Fact or fiction?
Claims about Mozart's music have fueled a mini-industry of "smart baby" products and developmental toys.
Is there strong evidence to back these claims up?
It looks as if listening to certain kinds of music can sometimes produce a small, temporary boost in visual-spatial reasoning. It may also deliver some health benefits, including benefits to people suffering from anxiety, hypertension, or epilepsy.
But overall, the observed outcomes don't seem to depend on listening to Mozart specifically.
Other types of music — including rock music — may produce similar results.
May 18, 2018
Stanford researchers seeking participants for online study
Researchers are looking for volunteers to answer an online questionnaire.
For more information, click the link below.
May 16, 2018
Potty training problems and solutions
What should we do when kids act anxious? Refuse to sit on the potty? Refuse to use the potty?
Here is an evidence-based guide to coping with common potty training problems.
May 09, 2018
What's normal? An evidence-based baby sleep chart
How long do babies sleep at night? How many naps do they take during the day?
This evidence-based baby sleep chart explains the typical range of variation for babies up to 24 months old.
May 01, 2018
Baby sleep patterns for the science-minded
How do baby sleep patterns change over time, and what can parents do to help babies sleep more peacefully? A new, evidence-based guide to understanding your baby's quirky sleep habits.
Apr 23, 2018
Prenatal learning: Do "pregnancy foods" affect babies' eating habits?
Babies learn about flavors even before they are born.
For instance, studies suggest that a prenatal diet rich in fruits and vegetables may make babies more positively-inclined to try these foods when they are older.
And babies exposed to alcohol prenatally may develop a liking for its odor. Read more in this up-to-date review of the evidence.
Apr 16, 2018
Flavors in breast milk: Can babies taste what their mothers ate for lunch?
Flavors in breast milk is a real thing.
Your baby probably isn't mulling it over with the vocabulary of a foodie, but the basic notion isn't far-fetched. A mother's diet really can affect the taste of her milk, and babies don't just notice these flavors. They also respond to them. Here's how we know.
Apr 12, 2018
Help researchers study the effects of smart phones on parent – child relationships
Researchers at the University of Sutherland are looking for volunteers to take their survey. Read more about it here.
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