House Calls: Early years are crucial for children

Triplicate Staff

House Calls runs every other Saturday. Today's column is written by Sheryl Roeloffs and members of the Community Advisory Board.

You only want the best for your baby and so do the Del Norte Family Resource Center, First 5 of Del Norte and Sutter Coast Hospital.

It is very important to talk and read to your baby for healthy brain development. From the beginning, an infant's brain is like a sponge soaking up every word.

By attending Birth and Beyond Incredible Infants class, parents learn about a baby's brain development and how to take advantage of this critical time. Parenting is the most important job there is. Parents are their children's most important teachers. Every parent or caregiver has the power to impact a child's ability to learn.

The earliest years provide such an opportunity because 90 percent of

the baby's brain development occurs by the age of 3. Early relationships

and experiences shape how proficient a child becomes in his or her

native language. Researchers found that when parents frequently spoke to

their infants, their children learned almost 300 more words by age 2

than did their peers whose parents rarely spoke to them (Huttenlocher et

al., 1991; also, Hartand Risley, 1995).

Studies also show that listening to the television provides little

benefit to brain development. Infants need to interact directly with

other human beings for them to develop optimal language skills.

Babies don't come with instruction manuals, even though most parents

wish they did. Twelve weekly 1andfrac12;-hour classes are an opportunity for

parents to share experiences, make new friends and support one another.

Parents learn about infants' ages and stages of healthy development

milestones, practical answers to day-to-day life as a parent, child

safety and how to take care of themselves and their baby for a healthy

start for the whole family.

Topics covered include:

andbull; Building and strengthen your support network.

andbull; Developing skills for helping your baby view the world as a safe

place.

andbull; Learning important developmental milestones for the first year of

your baby's life.

andbull; Learning infant CPR, taught by a certified instructor.

andbull; Learning how to understand, accept and respect your baby's

individuality, thus helping him or her grow.

andbull; Talking with other parents about how your life has changed since

the birth of your baby.

andbull; Exploring how your role as daughter, son, friend, wife or husband

has been changed by the birth of your baby.

andbull; Discovering opportunities and responsibilities that come with

creating a healthy play environment for your baby.

andbull; Learning the importance of healthy family routines and patterns.

andbull; Learning to create a "baby friendly" environment that meets your

baby's needs for active exploration while meeting your needs for safety

and order.

Parenting is the most important job! Birth and Beyond Incredible

Infants gives families a healthy start to ensure that infants are born

into healthy families and are raised in a supportive environment. With

support, resources and connections, families will be better equipped to

create a healthy atmosphere in which their children thrive.

This class will provide parents with tools to make this journey more

rewarding. Birth and Beyond Incredible Infants' goals are to see

thriving children, strong families and a more caring society.

The charge is $30 for the entire series of classes, however, if

someone is unable to pay scholarships are available.

Find out more by calling Jessica Mercado at the Del Norte Family

Resource Center 707-464-5500 ext. 160.

Email suggestions for future House Calls columns to Beth Liles at

Sutter Coast Hospital, lilesbe@sutterhealth.org.

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