House Calls: Early years are crucial for children

By Sheryl Roeloffs June 04, 2012 06:02 pm

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, Hart& 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 1½-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:

• Building and strengthen your support network.

• Developing skills for helping your baby view the world as a safe place.

• Learning important developmental milestones for the first year of your baby’s life.

• Learning infant CPR, taught by a certified instructor.

• Learning how to understand, accept and respect your baby’s individuality, thus helping him or her grow.

• Talking with other parents about how your life has changed since the birth of your baby.

• Exploring how your role as daughter, son, friend, wife or husband has been changed by the birth of your baby.

• Discovering opportunities and responsibilities that come with creating a healthy play environment for your baby.

• Learning the importance of healthy family routines and patterns.

• 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, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it