How well do you know your baby?

Looking after baby

Hey Baby is the warm and fuzzy national campaign which has been chugging steadily along primetime TV programming on terrestial channels while Maybe Baby? is a one-stop online portal for local parents and all things about babies.

But new parents often have other kinds of questions about their developing child. They ask things like, is it healthy for my child to watch TV? Should I let my child play with the iPad? What kind of toys are good for my child? Should I start collecting pictures books for my newborn? How can I boost his or her ability to learn? Other parents have more basic questions such as are my child’s behaviours part of normal (or typical) development?

These are questions that parents often have quite different views about. There’s no exact right amount of time of TV viewing. But there are a few places to start from, if you’re a parent in want of good information:

1. Is my baby developing normally?
The KKH Women’s and Children’s Hospital lists behaviours appropriate and expected of different ages from as young as newborns to 6-year-old preschoolers.

2. Ages and Stages
These chronological developmental milestones listed from birth to young adulthood include featured articles about the best position for babies to sleep in, how to potty-train, and strategies for healthy eating.

3. Developmental Milestones
The typical stages of development for infants to preschoolers are also described by the CDC (US).

4. Social and emotional development
PBS (US) offers facts about the social developmental milestones expected of children aged 0 months to 5 years, as well as useful tips and parenting advice.

5. Healthy TV Watching
The consensus is that very young children should be given relatively few opportunities to watch television as their opportunities for learning are best available from interactions with their caregivers. This PDF from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has further information about the effects of watching television programmes with aggressive behaviours. Mayo Clinic offers other helpful tips for healthy TV habits.

6. iPads for Babies
With smart phones in every other household, the iPad is just another toy. It’s not what it can do, but what you and your very young child can do with it. Psychology Today explains why.

7. How Reading With Your Child Helps
The US National Center for Learning Disabilities has tips about choosing the right books, while the US campaign “Reading is fundamental” offers tips on reading aloud. The Hanen Centre provides firsthand advice about the benefits of reading, while local libraries like Queenstown Library have expansive collections suitable for children of any age.

8. What Toys Are Best
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to read the label and age-appropriate information about the toy (healthychildren.org), the National Association for the Education of Young Children provides a useful guide on the types of toys suitable for different ages (but read also this article about the important role of parents).

9. How much gaming? 
Recent research findings from a 2014 study of 3,034 Singaporean children published in the JAMA Pediatrics showed that playing games with violent themes made children more likely to say they would respond with aggression, with this effect being greater among younger (primary school) than older (secondary school) children.

Children who said they would respond with aggression were more likely to think that aggressive behaviours were acceptable responses to conflict situations and to think about responding to a hypothetical situation with aggression. The negative impact of violent gaming was found to be independent of gender, gaming hours, and an earlier history of aggression (conduct problems). All these point to the need to limit the number of hours young children play games which have violent themes.

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