Categories
Parenting

Eagle Eyed

Confident the toddler does not need glasses. She can spot desired objects from a mile away. Desired objects could be the sweets Mama put on a shelf not visible from the floor but Fleur can see while I am holding her. Or the random item for which she has a current obsession. She desperately wants the thing at that point. Which is often where the “use your words” plea comes into play.

This ability to find things also applies to the single piece of trash on the floor in a room. Or a single strand of my wife’s hair in the bath.

Categories
Mathematics Parenting

Study: Infants recognize counting as numerically relevant

brown numbers cutout decors
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

We play a game: One of us parents will count to five and say that number of fingers are coming after you and tickle Fleur. (My wife does to five and tickles with both hands. I will to five & use one hand or ten &use both.) In true dopamine fashion the smile is largest in the middle (three and eight). It did make me wonder if she recognized the words, but that apparently comes around 3-4 however there is evidence that starting around 14 months they have an approximate numerical system that allows them to recognize it.

Children do not understand the meanings of count words like “two” and “three” until the preschool years. But even before knowing the meanings of these individual words, might they still recognize that counting is “about” the dimension of number? Here in five experiments, we asked whether infants already associate counting with quantities. We measured 14‐ and 18‐month olds’ ability to remember different numbers of hidden objects that either were or were not counted by an experimenter before hiding. As in previous research, we found that infants failed to differentiate four hidden objects from two when the objects were not counted—suggesting an upper limit on the number of individual objects they could represent in working memory. However, infants succeeded when the objects were simply counted aloud before hiding. We found that counting also helped infants differentiate four hidden objects from six (a 2:3 ratio), but not three hidden objects from four (a 3:4 ratio), suggesting that counting helped infants represent the arrays’ approximate cardinalities. Hence counting directs infants’ attention to numerical aspects of the world, showing that they recognize counting as numerically relevant years before acquiring the meanings of number words.

Experiment one: The infants watched a demonstration of putting items in a box some while counted and others using “this” instead of counting. Then the researcher had the child do the task on sometimes two or four objects (two in front and two in back). They measured the search time and found the children searched longer for the two when counted. The supposition here is the counting primed working memory for four items. Or setting a summary representation array using an approximate number system (ANS).

Experiment two: In this one, the researchers teased out the efficacy of the ANS . The two tasks were both counted prior to hiding. This time the search time was measured after the first two were found. In the other, the search time was measure after the third was retrieved. If ANS were used, then they should not distinguish between 3 and 4, which was the result.

Experiment three: The number of objects was increased to 4 and 6 as it should exceed the capability of working memory. It confirmed ANS is likely the component in play.

Experiment four: Same procedures as three but measured like two.

I would love to see this have with more kids and replicated.

Wang, Jinjing & Feigenson, Lisa. (2019). Infants recognize counting as numerically relevant. Developmental Science. 10.1111/desc.12805.

Categories
Parenting

Hulk

61ba6d8362957.560bbe950fea5
“Hulk Challenge on Threadless” by Juliana Rojas is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The wife, Galahad, and I are all Marvel fans. Fleur’s first movie was Avenger: Infinity War. (She wore headphones and slept all the way to the credits.) Her birth announcement was a photo of us, her ultrasound, and a Hulk onesie.

Maybe we should have picked another superhero? Someone wise and measured and not associated with, “Hulk smash!” I am not normally one to subscribe to superstition, but it certainly feels like another onesie could have produced a less forceful child when she doesn’t get her way.

Then again, maybe one of her parents has too much affinity for smashing.

Categories
Health Parenting

Washing machines can spread bacteria

bacteria sample inside petri dish for biotechnology study; rice genes
“Bacteria sample inside petri dish for biotechnology study” by IRRI Images is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A children’s hospital found that a antibiotic-resistant pathogen was spreading in their facility and evading their efforts to squelch it. They ended up finding that the culprit was their washing machines. They found it in the detergent drawer and on the door seal of the washing machine.

They are warning that it can happen in residential homes too. Apparently they replaced the machine. Though, when they say they disposed of the machine, I hope that doesn’t mean they put it in surplus where it or contaminated parts end up on the market to end up in someone’s home or laundromat.

Categories
Linguistics Parenting

Use your words

toys letters pay play
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Funny how we have to tell this to both toddlers and teenagers. The toddler it is to ask, “Can you say cup?” or “Can you say down?” The teenager it is to ask, “Can you be more specific about what you mean?”

 

Categories
Anthropology Parenting

Prehistoric Baby Bottles

close up of milk against blue background
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Some researchers are claiming artifacts discovered in Bavaria are ancient baby bottle. They have very narrow spouts, residue confirmed to be ruminant milk, and were found in child graves.

From one of the project partners:

Bringing up babies in prehistory was not an easy task. We are interested in researching cultural practices of mothering, which had profound implications for the survival of babies. It is fascinating to be able to see, for the first time, which foods these vessels contained.

Categories
Behavioral Economics Nutrition Parenting

Prima manducare

halloween candies
Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

Part of parenting seems to be to tasting foods given to our children. We get that taste in before it is put in front of the child. Call it a toll or tithe.

My wife still does it to Galahad before letting him have an interesting new drink or dish. Or one that she likes but did not get.

They argue about whether or not she took too much. She calls it a bite or sip. He calls it a mouthful or guzzle.

He also complains about her taking the best candy from his Halloween exploits.

Primarily, he is suffering from loss aversion. He envisioned having it. Only now Mama is taking it away from him and diminishing the value.

Categories
Nutrition Parenting

Sharing is caring

baby children cute dress
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In encouraging Fleur to eat new foods, I often give her something I am eating. When she falters at consuming her meal, I often eat some of hers and make yummy sounds with the idea of showing it is safe to eat.

This safe to eat approach is based on evolutionary theory that children pay attention to what parents eat to determine what is safe. She would look dubious at some things we gave her that we also were not. And then she also demanded things we had in front of us.

The eating and saying yummy has backfired because when she is done, she now holds it out to me to eat. No one else. Just me.

Recently, this has morphed into her feeding me. She will put food next to my mouth until I eat it. Of course, these are foods given to her to eat that she stopped consuming.

At least the food doesn’t go to waste.

 

Categories
Health Parenting

Study: Keeping livestock in the yard just might help your baby’s immune system

black and white dairy cow s head
Photo by Jan Koetsier on Pexels.com

Years ago I used to tell people that having a pet that goes outside and inside is good for the immune system of kids. They tend to have fewer allergies. I never connected that to the concept that many human diseases come from livestock. For instance, influenza strains cross over to either chickens or pigs (swine flu). This study is interesting in that it suggests exposure to livestock can also boost the immune system.

It compares the fecal microbiota of Amish (kept cowsand/or horses) and Hutterite (just dogs) infants. The Hutterite children have 4-6 times the risk of asthma and allergies. The Amish households have higher levels and diversity of allergens, bacteria, and endotoxins. Ancestry beyond a couple hundred years of both groups are pretty similar. They primarily differ in environment they shape around themselves such as food consumption (grown vs purchased) which is potentially big confound.

Researchers delivered piglets via Cesarean-section so they had more sterile. The gave the piglets infant milk formula. And then they gave the piglets a fecal microbiota transplant from the infants. Later, they examined the DNA of the microbiota in the piglets to identify what was in the infant guts. Basically, the Amish microbiota resembles rural-types in previous studies and the Hutterite resembled urban-types. And the rural-types are better for properly training the immune system to lower the risk of allergies.

Really, this is more evidence of not being too scared about the presence of bacteria in our industrialized society. Exposure to a diversity of stuff means more will get into the gut. I recently learned in Gut that the immune system learns the bacteria it finds there and the appendix is where a selection are kept so that when diarrhea flushes the intestines, they can be repopulated with the bacteria we need. The rural lifestyle helps the infants get a better earlier diversity. And we as parents need to strike a balance between cleaning and overzealous cleaning. Too much kills eliminates the helpful bacteria.

Dhakal S, Wang L, Antony L, Rank J, Bernardo P, Ghimire S, Bondra K, Siems C, Lakshmanappa YS, Renu S, Hogshead B, Krakowka S, Kauffman M, Scaria J, LeJeune JT, Yu Z and Renukaradhya GJ (2019) “Amish (Rural) vs. non-Amish (Urban) Infant Fecal Microbiotas Are Highly Diverse and Their Transplantation Lead to Differences in Mucosal Immune Maturation in a Humanized Germfree Piglet Model.” Front. Immunol. 10:1509. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01509

 

Categories
Discipline Parenting

A Calming Brain Game

Child throwing a tantrum
“New Year’s Eve 2010” by mitch59mitch59 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

We are starting to see the tantrum behaviors manifest. As she has more autonomy through self-movement and develops preferences, sometimes we run into conflicts over wants. At present, these tantrums make me laugh because mainly they manifest as a little shuffle of her feet and the upset face. Occasionally Fleur lays down on the floor. Limited throwing, hitting, kicking, and screaming so far.

This Lifehacker article: Help Kids Calm Down With a ‘Brain Game’ looks interesting.

  1. Get their attention: They are consumed by their emotions, so it may be required to use a strange stimulus like a Light Switch Rave [1], jumping  up and down, or making a silly noise.
  2. Offer: Whisper… “Hey, do you want to play a little game really quick? It will be fun.”
  3. The Game: “Can you point out <number> things that are <property>?” Do a few of these until has a big smile.
  4. Explain what you intended that caused the meltdown. (Build empathy.)

Essentially, the amygdala reacted. They won’t have a fully developed pre-frontal cortex to properly manage the amygdala until their 20s. So, need to help them interrupt the amygdala by leveraging to hippocampus and memory cortex to distract the amygdala long enough for us to explain.

[1] That was a Strong Bad email #45 from Homestarr Runner reference.