The Science of Parenting

Oh, baby! | S.5 Ep. 2

April 15, 2021 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Season 5 Episode 2
The Science of Parenting
Oh, baby! | S.5 Ep. 2
Show Notes Transcript

To some, babies and infants are the most challenging stages in parenting. Learn to embrace all the growth in this first year with our advice for developing a strong parent-child connection.

Send us an email: parenting@iastate.edu.
Find us on Facebook or Twitter: @scienceofparent.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Mackenzie Johnson:

Welcome to The Science of Parenting podcast where we connect you with research-based information that fits your family. We're going to talk about the realities of being a parent and how research can help guide our parenting decisions. I'm Mackenzie Johnson, parent of two littles with their own quirks. And I'm a parenting educator.

Lori Korthals:

And I'm Lori Korthals, parents of three in three different life stages. One is launched, one is in college, one is in high school, and I am a parenting educator. And in this podcast today, we're going to talk about children of different ages, specifically infants and babies.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, we get to talk about the research and reality around parenting babies. One thing before we dive in, we've always got to talk about, this whole season we're looking at parents and kids of different ages. And, you know, we're going to be talking about these developmental milestones, which is basically just kind of what we could expect kids to be doing by a certain age. But we're going to be talking about it kind of in general terms, but we want to give the disclaimer, I guess you could say, that we know every kid develops at their own pace, right. Some are early, some are, what we would call, on time and some happen a little later. And that's all right. And there's nothing wrong with that. So our role today is just kind of to provide some research based information about parenting kids of different ages. And just to kind of help inform your parenting decisions.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely. And we know that lots of different things impact the rate at which children grow. Maybe things like the entire season three temperament conversation, right, as well as the environment children grow up in, the adults that children are around, their genetics, and so much more. All of these things impact when children reach different milestones. So if you do have concerns about your child's development, we do encourage you to reach out to your family health care provider or a local area education agency. Absolutely. So let's define this particular age that we're talking about today. We're just going to utilize the Center for Disease Control, the CDC, definition to talk about infants and babies and according to the CDC, that is children who are birth to one year of age.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, so the CDC defines it by age, but there's actually some debate across the field. I feel like it's worth mentioning that whether we should define these ages of infant, toddler, preschooler, should we define it by age? Or should we define it by a milestone? And so there is this debate. The CDC uses the age. And actually, there's this really interesting milestone between, okay, what defines an infant versus a toddler, but I think I'm gonna make everybody wait till next week. I'm gonna hold you in suspense until we talk about toddlers.

Lori Korthals:

Excellent. Yes, I love a little suspense. Okay, so then what do you think of when I say the word infant or baby?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Hmm. Okay, honestly, the first thing comes to mind is like, oh, babies, like that's how I always say it, oh, little babies. And I think because they're like that, right? They're the sweet and the snuggly. They're snuggled into the nuzzle of your neck. I think of all those things, especially when I think of other people having kids, other people having babies. But the other thing from my own parenting experience that I really think of with babies, is just the routines, that we're in charge of everything for babies, right? Like the sleep, we have to help them get to sleep, the diaper changes, the feeding. Our older kids do some of that for themselves. And if you are a first time parent and you have an infant, you haven't gotten to the stage yet where they need less from us. But as a parent who's gotten to the stage where they might need a little bit less of that routine care, I do. I think of how much that takes of us as parents? It's a big time and energy investment, taking care of our infants.

Lori Korthals:

Twenty-four, seven, right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Two a.m., four a.m. So lots of routine care, but also lots of snuggles. Absolutely. What do you think about with infants and the babies?

Lori Korthals:

So I end up in my brain seeing a little human being who isn't up on two feet. So to me an infant and a baby is some little person that is probably not able to walk? Okay, maybe even stand and I recognized that this could cause me problems. Because if we have a child who is walking at 10 months or 11 months, they're still actually considered a baby. And in my mind, I might begin to have different expectations for them just based on the fact that they are in that upright position. Yes. So that's, you know, that's what I think of which we're going to talk about expectations. And I think that when I see an infant or baby in my own brain, it's a human being that is not standing on two feet.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. So like the little newborns and the crawlers. And yes, only rolling over. Yes, yes. All those things, which actually kind of leads us right into...so the next thing I want to talk about with our infants is something we call the domains of development. Can you define those? That feels like a technical term.

Lori Korthals:

It does. So when we look at different changes, or research often calls them milestones, that children of this age commonly experience, so the change they commonly experienced at a particular age, we do call them domains. And so we're going to look at infant baby development across some of these domains.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, so basically, just like the categories, right, like different categories of how our kids grow.

Lori Korthals:

Excellent word.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And like we said before, we're going to be talking in very general terms about infant development. And we're actually leaning on a textbook by Patterson all about child development for our episode today. But if you want more specific things, right, we're going general, if you want specific, my baby can't do this yet, or I want to know when my baby should be able to do this. If you want a lot more specific stuff on the timing of that, luckily, there's a great resource from the CDC, from the Center for Disease Control, called Milestones. It's an app that you can use. You can check for red flags. I actually use it for my child. I have a kid who was kind of an early on some of the development and a kid who was a little bit later on some of the development. And so I've used that app with my own kids. So that's a great way to get specific timing kind of information. Because today we're just talking in general.

Lori Korthals:

We are. I love that it's an app, right there at

Mackenzie Johnson:

And you can even check the boxes like, m your fingertips. child does do this, okay, they on't do this one yet. And th n it will remind you later, like hey, they weren't doing tha last time you checked in. W at about now. So it also gives you tips on how to talk to you provider, your healthcare provi er about it. Anyway, I could g on and on. The app is good. ilestones by the CDC.

Lori Korthals:

So let's get this first domain, this first area of change. This one is kind of one of those obvious things because it's the physical domain. So think about the things you can see in terms of height or weight of your baby. Those are the things that happen in every well baby check, right? And so there's also a lot of muscle and motor movements when we look at the physical development domain. Things like can they hold their head up? Do they roll over? What about sitting up or crawling and standing? And when we also think about physical development, we're also thinking about small muscles, like the ones in the mouth and the tongue. So that cooing or babbling, the vision, hearing, those types of physical types of things.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Definitely. And as I think about babies, and I think about their development, I feel like this is what we talk about a lot, right? Like does your baby crawl? Does your baby roll over? Is your baby smiling? We talk about a lot of that stuff. But actually when I took a grad class in child development, I remember being surprised in the unit where we were really digging into infants, that there's so much other motor development before any of that, right? Like being able to like control my hand to get it to my mouth, being able to turn my head to the side. Our babies work so hard on this motor development, like there's a lot happening, and there's all this little stuff, you know. We might be so focused on getting them to roll over and getting them to crawl. There's so much little stuff before that, too.

Lori Korthals:

There is. And you know, when you think about the fact that they are doing so much and we might be thinking, oh, they're really not doing a lot. So much happens. So share with us another domain that the text talked about.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And this is a big one that we talk about, especially with our littles - brain development, right? And Lori loves brain development. So the reason we think about this with babies is something that we call a critical window of opportunity. So when our kids are so little, especially our infants, I don't wanna say their brains are mush, but like, their brains are kind of like clay. They can be formed and developed more. And actually, what helps form our baby's brain during this period where their brain can learn so much is the interactions that they have with us. It's the stimulation they receive from their environment. And we also like to talk about something called neural highways. And so the experience and the stimulation that we give our babies by talking to them, by showing them objects and toys, that helps develop their highways in their brain, the skills they'll get. If they get a lot of that kind of stimulation, they might get like a four lane highway. And if maybe there's another thing they have never really been exposed to, like if a baby's never been talked to, that highway instead, it was more like a gravel road. And so it's basically this critical window of opportunity when our babies are little and when our kids are little to help develop their brain with these super highways by interacting with them.

Lori Korthals:

I think that possibly you are speaking in word pictures.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, right. That's a word picture. Lori's favorite. So brain development is a huge one.

Lori Korthals:

It is a huge one. And I love thinking about brain I'll say. And the information that we give them thinking like development specifically on its own in its own domain because f that word picture. So much is appening that we don't see. And hose highways and super highwa s and interstates and gravel oads, they're all there under eath and so much information is passing through them. Alrig t. I just said, sometimes it seems like the baby's just laying there. But you're so right, that there's so much happening we don't see. All of the talking to them and showing them books and toys. We're doing super important work for their brain. Oh, so good. Absolutely. Yeah. And think about this way, as much as the baby's brain grows that first year, they're literally waking up from a nap, waking up from the night before, with a new brain. Their brain is different all the time. Yes. Which means that you know, when we look at another domain called cognitive or thinking, these are infants and babies that things like their reflexes right now. So their reflex of sucking. No one taught them that. Their brain knew how to do that. Their cognitive part of their brain knows that I need to suck. Their cognitive part of their brain knows that their startle reflex or that reflex that arches their back and throws their shoulders and arms back to show you, the adults, something is scaring me. That's a really important piece of their development that they have these reflexes. And to me, reflexes are fascinating because they're just there. And then what happens is these reflexes move into more intentional and coordinated movements. So the baby's arm reaches out and touches a rattle and the baby's brain, that cognitive thinking part of the brain says, Hey, I know what happens when I have that thing in my hand. If I shake it, it makes noise and that pleases me.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, and they go from the, okay, my body does this stuff because my brain knew to do it. And as they get older, right, they move into like, I can do things to the world.

Lori Korthals:

I can.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So it's a huge part of their cognitive development. Another important part when kids are little kind of fits in with cognitive development, but we like to split it out because it's so important, is language. So the domain of language development, you know, when we often think of like talking, right, that's language, but with our infants, cooing is language, babbling is language, smiling, right? That's actually a form of communication and even crying. Crying is our babies communicating their needs with us? So babies do have language development. Of course, there's the things we think about, like when they say their first words and like Mama, Dada, or in my house dog, right? Yes, right. Some of those first words. And so that's a really important part is yes, the words are communication. But with babies, there's a lot of other kinds of communication - crying, smiling.

Lori Korthals:

Yeah, one of my favorite things to teach parents about language development is the idea that their little finger is a pointer. And that little finger can be used to answer the question of, what do you want? Show me. Do you want this? See, that's why that word this happened in my house early, right? Pointing that finger and being able to show me what it is that you want, because your words aren't in your mouth yet. They're in your brain.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I love that...your words aren't in your mouth yet.

Lori Korthals:

They're not in your mouth. They're in your brain. But really tapping into the idea that children know more than they can say, and can we use that pointer finger as a way to help them communicate with us?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And that's honestly one of the things we like to talk about with babies is that babies a lot of times have what we call perceptive language. So that's different than expressive language. So that'd be words that kids can tell us or babies can tell us. But perceptive language is the words that they can understand. And so our babies a lot of times have more language that they can understand when adults say to them, than that they could say to us, right, and so that perceptive language is a lot higher than we might think, which is, again, why it's important to talk to our babies.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, yes. Okay. So the final domain that we're going to look at for infants and babies is social emotional development. And I like to think of this as that domain that helps you, as a baby, interact with the people in your world, or even to interact with your own personal feelings. So social emotional development is things like laughing and smiling. We enjoy having social conversation with our baby, even though they can't speak to us. We have this back and forth time with them. We can build attachment and bond with our baby. As well as when we look at social emotional development, there are these typical timeframes when we have this stranger anxiety happening in residence, and research tells us that it's kind of cyclical. So it can happen at three months, and then again, at six months, and then again at nine months. And if you think of what we just talked about with brain development, that's because their brain is growing. And those highways and pathways are connecting. And so, oh, wait, that's a stranger, I'm not comfortable. And then that's a stranger, and I'm not comfortable, or those are the things that we recognize our infants and babies are starting to learn and that learning social emotional development, for sure.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, that's really brain development. You're so right. When that newborn right, maybe you have a newborn that didn't mind being passed. I had one that didn't mind and one that did. But when that newborn doesn't mind, as their brain develops, right, they have formed a strong bond with their parents or their caregiver. And so that's their brain, you know, having new skills to be able to recognize that. And that's actually one of my favorite things to tell parents of infants is recognizing that like, it's normal for babies as they grow, as your older infants, to have a preferred caregiver. It's not because mom is better or grandma or one grandma is better than a different grandma. Babies develop this strong sense of attachment as they get older. And that's actually a really beautiful thing that shows that ultimately will help them lead to healthy relationships in adulthood. And that's all very good stuff but I know it can be kind of exhausting. When I was nursing my son, I remember him at like nine months, he would go somewhere, like, if we were at my in laws, and I remember hiding behind people. I'd have to step out of the room because if I was in the room, he would cry for me. And yeah, a preferred caregiver definitely happens. And then another thing that I found really interesting when we were putting this episode together from this kind of resource is the idea of joint attention with babies. So that babies really benefit from, again, technical term, but really just the idea of parents paying attention to the thing the baby's paying attention to creates attachment, helps develop language, helps babies see that like, whoa, if I'm paying attention to this, and then mom or dad starts talking about this with me, right, that can help their brain development of realizing they can affect the world. And yeah, there's so much good stuff on infant development, it's so hard to like, hey, we're gonna pack it into this tiny little box. Exactly. We could talk forever. Yes. But ultimately, this is The Science of Parenting podcast. And so we've talked to you a little bit about child development, right, about infants and how they grow. But ultimately, we want to give you the research on that, and some strategies for your reality. So we actually partnered with a professor at Iowa State, Dr. Diana Lange, who gave us free access to her open access textbook, and her book is called Parenting in Diverse Contexts. And one of the things that we loved in that book is she has like a one liner about infants, right. It's like a really short summary of like, hey, you have to wrap up the big goal of parenting an infant, what would it be? And so this is what she has. She says, the one-liner for parenting infants, our job is to recognize and respond flexibly to infant needs, while providing generally structured daily routines. So what I hear in there, I hear like three R's. We're gonna recognize and respond right to the needs. And we're gonna offer kind of a general structure of routines, which if you listen back to our podcast episode from last year, I can say that now, our podcast is a year old so I can say last year. We have a podcast episode on routines. And so it's like those parts of the day that are things that need to happen, right, bedtime, mealtimes, snuggle time, stuff like that. And so with our infants, we respond and recognize, and we offer a kind of structure to routines.

Lori Korthals:

We do and this kind of goes right back to what we talked about in episode one, when we were looking at Ellen Galinsky's work on our parenting stages, that the stage we are in when we have an infant or a baby is that nurturing stage. And so right along the lines of that one liner, we are nurturing. We are responding. And we are offering routines and recognizing and responding while we're doing those nurturing routines. So that all makes sense, right? It just all falls into line.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And those are the big things. When I do think back on having the babies, the little babies, the snuggly cute little ones, I do think about like, yeah, you're responding to what's going on your baby. If they're crying for a diaper change, if they want to eat, if you know they're tired, right. I love how you talk about like, sometimes their eyebrows are what will tell you they're tired. Sometimes their fingers and their toes will tell you they're gonna be hungry. Yes.

Lori Korthals:

Yeah. I love all that. And so we do. Do you have an example of this in your own life with your children?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, sure, sure. Yes. Um, okay. Honestly, when I think of parenting infants and thinking about these kind of three R's we just talked about, actually I think about some of the differences in how I did this for each of my kids. And so part of this is temperament, which, of course, we can always talk about. But just the difference that, like I said, I had one baby who was kind of early milestones, and that baby happened to be a little spirited, and a little more, I would say irregular. And so responding to her needs was just kind of like, she was harder to anticipate. And so she might be hungry at three hours from when I last fed her or four or the next time one and a half or two. She might be tired right now or later. So she was a little less predictable. And so the way that I had to respond and recognize, and part of me wonders, like, maybe I just wasn't so good at recognizing. I could have worked on that as a first time parent. But so that was a little different about what our routines look like. We still did like a napping kind of routine and a feeding routine and all that stuff. Versus my son who was a little bit later in some of his milestones, but he was a clock. And so me responding to and recognizing his needs, I could even say I could anticipate them. Like I knew at three hours, he was hungry. And so yeah, so he was my much more regular. So our routines were just different. But still, those were still the things I was doing, the routine care and responding to his needs and her needs with my kids. What about you? What comes to mind with how you would do this kind of stuff with your infants?

Lori Korthals:

So I think that that idea of recognizing their difference, right, responding and recognizing that they are different. If you have more than one infant or even if you have more than one infant at a time, they're different. And recognizing that while I maybe was able to, you know, put my second infant down in the middle of the floor, my second child down in the middle of the floor and run the laundry basket up the stairs and down the stairs. And she would literally be in the exact same place. I had to recognize and you know, realize very quickly that that maybe wasn't going to be the case with my third child. And, you know, I had to remind myself that I needed to constantly be aware of the opportunities that she would be taking if I wasn't watching. And you know, she might have rolled into a corner, or she may have rolled into a place where she shouldn't have been. And so, yeah, responding very quickly to the different physical development of that particular infant.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Definitely. And yeah, what their needs look like is different from baby to baby. And their routines can look different. Well, and honestly, that's kind of, you know, one of our beliefs at The Science of Parenting is what we call a pluralistic approach. Basically, we think there's more than one way to raise great kids, because there's more than one way to recognize and respond to a baby's needs. And there's more than one way to offer routines. And so there's more than one way to raise great babies.

Lori Korthals:

There are. And you think about, that's the picture in my head, is that snuggly content. Yeah. Which is not the reality. Exactly. Right. All right. So let's talk about reality, then how about that? The strategies that the CDC offers us for our own realities when it comes to infants and babies.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And they have so many great tips, we just want to highlight a few of our favorites that we think really capture and things that benefit our babies and benefit us as parents. So I'm actually going to combine a few tips and I'm going to copy something that one of our state specialists in early language and literacy, Dr. Connie Beecher, says. With our infants, they benefit from us doing something called talk, read, sing. And so you know, we talked about their language development, and honestly, all the things they are soaking up about the world. They're brand new here. And so that babies benefit - talk to your babies. Babies benefit from books, even before they can crawl before they can speak. They benefit from books, and singing with them. Those all benefit them. So I love like, what do I do with my baby? How do I help their growth and development? Talk, read and sing?

Lori Korthals:

I love that one. I love that. So when I was looking at the list, one of the ones that jumped out at me right away is the idea that you play with your baby when they are alert and relaxed. And then you watch and recognize signs for when they're needing a break from playing. When are they giving you that tired and fussy sign. And I think that my favorite thing to do with babies is observe and observe those times where we actually might be missing those cues, the eyebrows, like you said, the fingers and toes moving or the body kind of you know, squirming around telling us I'm tired of playing with you. This is hard work as a baby. And, you know, I think that those moments and those strategies, that strategy of recognizing those subtle and very important cues is something to keep at the forefront of parenting an infant.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, totally watching for those. Another one from the list that I thought of impartial because I said when I think of babies, I think of all the things we have to do to take care of them. But this idea of taking care of yourself as a parent, you know, physically, mentally, emotionally. You know, and this is actually pretty close to my heart. If you've ever been in one of our workshops, or on certain episodes of the podcast, I talked about some of the struggles I had when I was first welcomed to parenthood. And I did, I kind of thought I needed to be like parenting is about martyring yourself on behalf of your kids' needs. And that was not sustainable for me. Right? I couldn't be the parent I wanted to be if I never prioritize my own health and my own sleep and my own self care, and those things. And so I just really encourage you as a parent of infants that needs so much from us, that you also prioritize your own needs, and find ways to take care of yourself that feel good for you. And I think we benefit from it as people, right? We're still people even though we become parents, but our kids benefit too because we can be the kind of parent we want to be when we take better care of ourselves.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely. And I appreciate that you continue to model that and even if you don't have an infant, you still need to take care of yourself. Okay, so one other or maybe was the two, I'll put them together, that kind of jumped out at me were the praise your baby and give them lots of loving attention and spend time cuddling and holding your baby. This will help them feel secure and cared for. And I'll guarantee you that I was judged. And I felt judged as a parent of an infant because I adored snuggling, cuddling and holding my infants. And research flat out tells us that you can't spoil a baby by holding them too much. And I clung to that with every fiber of my being. And I do not regret the amount of time I spent holding and cuddling and snuggling my infants, all three of them when they were at that age and stage. And I just want parents to hear that, that you cannot spoil them by cuddling and holding them too much.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely not. But those babies right, they don't keep, don't keep. Sometimes the days are long, right, with infants and doing all that care. But they grow quick.

Lori Korthals:

They do. Okay, so we also want to share with you an amazing free resource available through the University Extension System. And remember, no matter what state you're listening from, there is a University Extension System in your state. And we actually have a series of free electronic newsletters that come to your email inbox based on your child's birthday. And they're called Just in Time Parenting Newsletters. I think you might be subscribed, Mackenzie. I am.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And these are like, these are my favorite. Like, these are my favorites. I am subscribed for both of my kids. I have a one and a half year old and a four and a half year old right now. But during the first year with our babies, the newsletter comes once a month. And so basically you put in your baby's birthday. And then when they're one month old, you get a newsletter about one month olds. And it tells you things like what you can expect for the milestones of your baby, tips on how you can support it. You know, even things about like, don't forget to take care of yourself in this way when your kids are working on this and even tips for handling kind of the challenging moments that come along with certain ages. Right? So tips around nine months about stranger anxiety. And so I also love that you can sign up for multiple kids. Like I said, this is literally one of my favorite parenting resources right here with our podcasts.

Lori Korthals:

And they are gorgeous, like they are. They're gorgeous. And they're not just for parents. Okay, they're for grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, right, neighbors, friends, caregivers, they have just a wealth of information in them.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And so you can go online, like we said, they're totally free. You just pop in your email and your child's age and subscribe. So you can go to JITP.info. So that's Just in Time Parenting. So JITP.info. And, you know, we really love these on our team because they really fit our mission of research and reality, right? It's what the research says about how our babies or our kids are developing. And then they give you the practical stuff for the stuff you actually do with your kids and your daily life. And so totally free from kids that are birth to age five, JITP.info.

Lori Korthals:

And you actually can also find them on our Science of Parenting website. So scienceofparenting.org. Along the right side of our website is a little ages and stages box and you can click on that, go to infants and toddlers or the age group that you want and find the links and there are so many great resources available for each stage. We love them.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh yeah, so you can find the Just in Time parenting link on that page or you can find other resources about parenting infants. Yeah, so much good stuff. So I think that does bring us to our Stop. Breathe. Talk. section with our producer. So this portion of our podcast is based on our flagship parenting strategy of Stop. Breathe. Talk., which really is just about stopping, getting our bodies reregulated in any kind of parenting moment we might experience but especially the challenging ones. Yeah. And then speaking with intention. So we're gonna bring our producer in and she's gonna give us an off the cuff question here.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Hello. Just as a reminder, I am Mackenzie DeJong. I am the podcast producer, editor, etc. As our co-hosts discussed in this episode, I listen, you know, as they talk through, I listen, and I think of any questions that I might still have or if we're coming in and there's something that is relevant in today's world. I get to pop in and try to stump them on a question or comment or a thought or anything like that. So today as you're talking through, um, you mentioned, Lori said their finger is a pointers. You were talking about language development, that language development domain, talking about your finger is a pointer, and I was thinking about baby signs. So as you were talking then, I did the extension thing.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Wait! We forgot baby signs.

Mackenzie DeJong:

So as you were talking, I started doing some research, because the question I've heard, like, are baby signs helpful? Are they not helpful? And from the limited research time I had here, you know, there is research that it appears that that can be useful, just as you were talking about in that language development, you know, it might not necessarily give them advanced language literacy or cognition, but it helps us to relieve some of those stressful moments of what do you want? What do you want? What do you want, when they can't tell us what they want? So I just figured I'd pop in, and maybe we can just talk about baby signs a little bit?

Lori Korthals:

What a great idea. I can't believe we forgot that. Okay, so baby signs, if you don't know exactly what we're talking about, is essentially sign language that we teach infants, babies, small hand gestures or movements that provide them a different way to talk. And one thing that you hit on is that it can reduce frustration in infants and babies, if we can teach them how to talk with their hands, because their mouth just can't form the word yet. Right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

The words are in their brain, like you said, but they're not in their mouth.

Lori Korthals:

It's so important. I know that I've shared this with parents who maybe have a child who's more intense, gets very frustrated easily and utilizing some simple signs can help reduce that frustration. Additionally, a child that maybe has a language delay can benefit from learning simple signs to tell you when they want more, or they want a drink, or they want some food. And so Mackenzie, can you describe a sign that maybe I know you've used?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. So I will say we started out at like six months showing a lot of signs. And then we kind of didn't do it so well for a while. But so like we, you kind of stick your hands together, your fingertips together in the sign for more. So we really didn't do a lot of signs. We did more and then kind of shake your hands almost like jazz hands, shake your hands for all done. Those were kind of two main signs we did. And then as we got a little older one we taught was help. And so that was like a thumbs up on top of a flat hand. And so those are the really the only signs we used, but they helped my kids communicate with us of like, do you want more food or are you all done with food?

Lori Korthals:

Love that. I too used the more. And then because I was a finger pointer, we use the finger a lot to say show me, show me, and I would take her because I love how they're all girls, I would take her finger and say show mommy, show mommy, and then we'd walk around the room. And you know, she might shake her head no, but her finger kept pointing. So we used that as a baby sign. Definitely.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I think one of the important things, the question that people sometimes have, which Lori, I know you have personal experience with this of baby signs that people were like, well, if you teach them baby signs, they're not going to talk. Why would they need to talk, they can just use baby signs. And the research says that that's not the case. Exactly. It's not the case, it actually builds their skills like, I can communicate. And so I've already learned how to do signs so it makes more sense. I already know I can communicate and now my mouth is ready and I can use words.

Lori Korthals:

Exactly. And that is absolutely true. I taught my daughter baby signs. And I had people say, well, that's why she's not talking. And ultimately, she has an autism diagnosis. And so I'm grateful for those moments that we were using signs with her because she truly wasn't going to be able to communicate with us in another way at that point in time in her life.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. I love baby signs. I wish I had done more. I know we have a colleague who's shown me pictures of her babies would sign for their different siblings. Like I want to play, you know, like, yeah, we have a colleague that did awesome stuff with the baby signs. And I think it's a great thing. But I think it's also great to find what works, right? We had three or four of them that we used and that was great for us. But you can always do more.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Even just using Done or more, I saw with my sister's kids the benefits of that was great because they'd be sitting in their highchair and get so frustrated, and you're like, what do you like, seriously, what do you want. And they're like, I just want to get out of here, right? I'm done, I just want to get out. And then you will be able to know that if they didn't have that ability to sign to you or they're still hungry, and they want more food, and they're telling you more like those potatoes were really good bomb. Let me have more.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay and honestly I'm kind of an intense person. We've discussed this. I get a little loud. And I have two children that are intense. And so sometimes it's a little rowdy at the dinner table when we all get talking and are excited and stuff. But so honestly, sometimes, even my toddler who's like over one and a half, the sign is what catches my attention instead of the like, you know when it's really loud. Like, oh, I'm all done. I'm shaking my hands at you. I've been trying to tell you that with my words. You weren't listening.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Yeah, we sometimes get used to tuning them out, too. That sounds so bad. But when it's just all noise you like shut off your ears. I don't know how we are able to do that exactly. You just tune it all out. And all you're doing is using your vision. So if they're signing to you, you might actually know what they're asking for.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, exactly. I'm so glad you brought up baby signs. Yes. Great question. We could really in, you know, a short podcast episode, we can only go into so much. There's so much stuff. Yes. Awesome. Thank you.

Mackenzie DeJong:

All right. Talk to you later.

Mackenzie Johnson:

We would have totally regretted not saying anything about that.

Lori Korthals:

So yes, yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So that is our episode on parenting infants. Right, we talked about some of those different domains that we know there's so much motor development and physical development, as well as tons of like language and cognitive. They're in that special window or that critical window of opportunity for us to interact with them. And then we did get some of those practical tips of we can talk, read, sing with our babies. We can snuggle them, we're not gonna spoil them. And we're gonna take care of ourselves. Because they do need a lot from us.

Lori Korthals:

They do, they do. So thank you for joining us today on The Science of Parenting podcast and remember to subscribe to our weekly audio podcast on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. Watch our show on video each week and join us on Facebook and Twitter at scienceofparenting. And you can see our content in your feed, the more you subscribe with us, right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely, and so please do come along with us. I know next week we're going to be talking about toddlers So come along with us as we tackle the ups and downs, the ins and outs, and the research and reality all around The Science of Parenting.

Anthony Santiago:

The Science of Parenting is hosted by Lori Korthals and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by Mackenzie DeJong, with research and writing by Barbara Dunn Swanson. Send in questions and comments to parenting@iastate.edu and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries go to www.extension.ia tate.edu/diversity/ext