Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting: Filling the 30 million word gap

From the time babies are born, parents feed them, clothe them, and comfort them. 

Now scientists say simple steps from day one can nurture their brains. Dana Suskind is a pediatric surgeon who specializes in cochlear implants for deaf children. 

After starting the pediatric implant program at the University of Chicago, she began noticing some patients began to talk and learn after implant while some did not. 

"In trying to figure out why this was, we started down this incredible path of understanding that while the cochlear implant could bring sound to a child's brain, something else was needed," Suskind said. 

That something else was caregiver conversation. 

"When you see a newborn little baby knowing its brain is underdeveloped and it is absolutely dependent upon your language and interaction for building it," she said. 

During newborn hearing screenings, Chicago parents receive information about language and brain development. The 30 million words initiative advocated the three "T"s.

For brain development, tune in. Follow your child's lead to see what he is interested in. Talk more. Narrate to your child. Seize opportunities to describe the world around him. Take turns, make it more like a conversation. 

"At the end of the day the three Ts are about stimulating rich interaction between parent and child, because that's how you grow a brain," Suskind said. 

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