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Expert Q&A: Baby Development

An interview with Jeremy F. Shapiro, MD.

What can parents do to help stimulate their baby’s development? continued...

That first year is the time when you want to get down on the carpet and lay next to your baby and create that eye contact that only parents can. Let them really see you and get close to you, because there’s nothing better to give reassurance to the baby and to help stimulate overall development.

Also, as they get a bit older, speak directly and simply to babies. Talk as if you’re actually hoping to convey something in your words. Even if your baby doesn’t know the words, she’ll understand the tone and melody in your speech, which will help her translate what is being said as she gets older.

Can toys, DVDs and flashcards really help a baby’s development?

I don’t think there’s any real research proving that they do much of anything for your baby’s development, either beneficial or harmful.

That said, I don’t necessarily have an issue with some of these so-called developmental toys and DVDs. I really think it’s more important how you use them. If you’re going to use flashcards, get down on the floor with your child and really make it a fun experience. The DVDs are not meant to be on two hours at a time, three times a day. But for a 20-minute stretch, there’s certainly no harm. Just remember to involve yourself in the experience, too.

What words of wisdom do you have for parents who are concerned about their baby’s development?

Always be in contact with your pediatrician. Also, trust and follow your instincts.

I never want to see a puzzled look on the face of a parent when they leave my office. If you’re not comfortable with something your pediatrician has said, ask the question again. Make sure the pediatrician understands your concerns and answers them in a way you find satisfactory.

If your pediatrician doesn’t answer your questions, definitely find someone who will. I am a parent, too, and I want to make sure I understand everything that involves my child. That’s why I want the same for the parents of the children I care for.

Reviewed on July 08, 2010
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