The First Five Years

The First Five Years on WYPR

The First 5 Years as heard on WYPR. Funded with major support from The M&T Charitable Foundation & the Maryland State Department of Education
The First Five Years
is a weekly radio program presented by Maryland Family Network and airing on WYPR 88.1 FM. The series is focused on the extraordinary developmental period from birth to age five. The First Five Years highlights the challenges and opportunities related to nurturing young children and helping them build a solid foundation for success in school and in life.


Baby sitting in car seat, ready to go for a ride!

Car Seats: Do’s and Don’ts

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. It can also feel like it takes a village to install a child’s car seat correctly. There’s a lot more to car seats than meets the eye, and knowing what to look for and how to use them as instructed can literally save lives. Here are some important things to keep in mind.

Knockoff car seats are infiltrating the market, and they could be deadly (Washington Post)
The 5 worst car seat mistakes parents are making (Washington Post)
Welcome to Kids in Safety Seats! (KISS) (Maryland Dept. of Health)


A single father sat at the kitchen table helping his baby eat some lunch.Screen Time is Not Learning Time for Toddlers

New research from Vanderbilt University shows very young children may be captivated by screens, but they are not able to learn from them. When it comes to learning, that time is better spent talking to your child.

Why your toddler can’t learn from a screen (The Hechinger Report)
Toddler brains resist learning from screens, even video chat (Vanderbilt University)


Close-up view of biracial baby/toddler and African-American woman using abacus to learn through play.Counting on Baby’s Brains

Research from Johns Hopkins University finds that babies may be able to count…sort of. Even though they can’t yet say words like one, two, or three, the babies studied seemed to understand that counting indicates quantity.

Babies understand counting years earlier than believed, study finds (JHU HUB)


Shot of an adorable little boy kissing his mother on the cheek while bonding together at homeMotherhood Needs No Comparison

Moms, you are enough. Don’t let the internet tell you any different. Listen now to learn more.

You Are Enough: How to Combat Comparison in Motherhood (Simple As That Blog)
7 things I’m done comparing myself to other mothers about (Motherly)
The Comparison Trap (Psychology Today)


Cute thirsty little Asian 2 years old toddler baby boy child holding and drinking glass of water by himself against green background near home garden, best beverages for child's health conceptMilk and Water, They Do a Body Good

A panel of scientists recently released new nutritional guidelines for children. According to these guidelines, for the first five years children should avoid sugary drinks and consume primarily milk and water instead. Listen now and drink up the knowledge!

What Should Young Children Drink? Mostly Milk and Water, Scientists Say (The New York Times)


Mom holding kid hand at the back of the iron barLocking Up Parents Hurts Kids

The U.S. has the largest population of incarcerated people in the whole world. Accordingly, there are approximately five million children in the U.S. who have a parent in jail, prison, or on parole. When a person is imprisoned the impact is vast; it is felt by their family, their community, and, sadly, their children.

Children of Incarcerated Parents, A Shared Sentence (The Annie E. Casey Foundation)
Effects of Parental Incarceration on Young Children (U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services)


African American Family playing and laughing with their daughter.African American Family playing and laughing with their daughter.Babies Teaching Parents

Most parents are aware that communication with their infant influences how the child learns. What’s less known is the impact that infants have on their parents. Researchers at Cornell University’s B.A.B.Y. Laboratory found that babies’ babbling effects the ways in which parents communicate with their infants.

Babbling babies’ behavior changes parents’ speech (ScienceDaily)


A portrait of a biracial toddler showing excitement at the prosprct of receiving more food at nursery.American Food Insecurity: Not a Thing of the Past

Young children’s brains and bodies develop faster during the first five years than at any other time. They need healthy food to power that growth. But food insecurity is still a major issue facing many American families. Listen now to learn more.

Food insecurity in toddler years linked to poor health, but not obesity (ScienceDaily)


The girl under a cover holds at dark night a small lamp in handA Little Anxious When It’s Dark

Does your child suffer from nyctophobia? Probably. Even though it sounds alarming, nyctophobia is known as “afraid of the dark.” Typically, children develop a fear of the dark between the ages of two and four, when children begin to use their imaginations, ask lots of questions, and become anxious about the unknown. It’s important to recognize this phenomenon and to respond accordingly. Listen here to learn more.

Is Your Toddler Afraid of the Dark? (What to Expect)
End Your Child’s Fear of the Dark with These 9 Sure Fire Tips! (AT Parenting Survival)
The 10 Second Trick to Help Toddlers Conquer Fear of the Dark (A Mother Far From Home)


Transitioning to Kindergarten

Transitions can be hard. Imagine how scary it would be to enter school – a large group setting – for the first time. Preparing your 4 year old for pre-K or your 5 year old for Kindergarten is not only helpful to you, but also a major benefit to your child. Listen here to learn more.

Transitioning to Kindergarten: A Toolkit for Early Childhood Educators (A Union of Professionals)
12 ways to help a child make the transition to kindergarten (Harvard Health Publishing)
Transitioning to Kindergarten (NAEYC)


Loving toddler with his new born baby boy brother.Adjusting to a New Sibling

When that second child comes along it can be hard for an older sibling. After all, who wants to share the spotlight? But, don’t lose hope. Here are a few strategies to help ease your child’s transition to becoming a big brother or sister.

Helping your toddler adjust to a new baby (What to Expect)
How to help your firstborn adapt to baby (Parents)
11 expert way to help your firstborn adjust to the new baby (Motherly)


The Do-Do’s and Don’ts of Potty Training

Do you have to go potty? Are you sure? Listen now for a few tips to make potty training go smoothly.

25 Potty Training Tips From Real Moms (Kids Kandoo)
Tips on Starting Potty Training (What to Expect)
Potty Training Tips: 7 Strategies Used By Day Care Teachers (Today’s Parent)


Shared Custody, Shared Responsibility

Divorce is difficult, especially for children. If shared custody is involved, there’s an extra layer of complexity. Yet millions of parents successfully share custody of their children. Listen here for tips on how to help your family adjust to some of the daily changes that come with divorce.

9 Rules to Make Joint Child Custody Work (Parents)
Toddler Parenting Plans and Custody Schedules (CustodyXChange)


Parent Cafés

Wouldn’t you like to get together with other parents to share ideas, learn about resources, and have a dialogue about common challenges? Well, you’re in luck. Parent Cafés provide comfortable, confidential opportunities for parents and caregivers to engage in conversations about maintaining strong families. Listen here to learn more.

Parent Cafés (Dept. of Mental Health)
Parent Cafés (Be Strong Families)
Strengthening Families Maryland Parent Cafés (Maryland Family Network)


A senior aged ethnic grandfather is spending time with his young grandchildren. He is holding them and playing with them while sitting on a couch.The State of Grandparents

A Pew Research Center survey of American grandparents found that spending time with grandchildren can be not only a necessity but also a joy. Indeed, over half of American grandparents believe having more time with family, and specifically grandchildren, is the best part of growing older. Listen here to learn more.

The Health Benefits of Having (and Being) Grandparents (U.S. News & Daily Report)
5 Facts About American Grandparents (Pew Research Center)


Intergenerational Approaches

According to the World Health Organization, ageism is more ingrained around the world than either racism or sexism. Researchers at Cornell University believe that age-related prejudices can be overcome through intergenerational interactions. Listen now to learn about the benefits for both children and elders.

Ageism reduced by education, intergenerational contact.  (Science Daily)
Ageing and life-course. (World Health Organization)
Intergenerational Shared Sites: Making the Case (Generations United)


Look Who’s Talking

While in the womb, some children hear as much as five hours of language per day, according to a study from the University of Illinois. Yet others will hear far fewer. During pregnancy and during the first five years of life, the brain is developing more rapidly than at any other time. Talking with children, a lot, during that time builds the brain architecture needed later to support communication, reading, and other skills. Listen now for more.

How much speech do unborn children hear? It varies.  (Philly Voice)
Talk with your baby (Talk With Your Baby)


Help for Dads Helps Moms

Researchers from Stanford University examined a Swedish law that allows fathers to take up to 30 days, as needed, in the year after a birth. Since the law was enacted, there has been a 26 percent decrease in anti-anxiety prescriptions and a 14 percent reduction in hospitalizations for new Swedish mothers. Meanwhile the United States is the only industrialized country with no paid leave required by law for either parent. It’s time for a change. The time for paid family leave is now. Listen now to learn more.

Sweden finds a simple way to improve new mothers’ health. It involved fathers. (New York Times)
Time to Care (Maryland Family Network)


Water Safety

Summer’s here and the time is right…for swimming! And that means it’s time to stay vigilant when your child is in or near the water. Drowning happens in a matter of seconds and is the leading cause of injury-related deaths of children one to four years of age in the United States. Listen now to learn more about water safety.

Prevention of Drowning (AAP News & Journals)
Drowning: It Can Happen in an Instant (National Safety Council)
Know the Facts: Fatal Child Drownings (Pool Safety)


Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

When America was founded nearly 250 years ago “child care” would have meant spending the day on the farm or in the fields. We’ve come a long way since then. The Maryland General Assembly recently took another step toward making child care available to more families. For the first time in 20 years Maryland’s Child and Dependent Tax Credit was expanded. Listen now to learn more about how this legislation benefits us all.

Among new Maryland laws effective Monday: Help for parents paying thousands of dollars for child care (Baltimore Sun)


Outdoor Play

While the importance of outdoor play is well known, results from a study done in the UK reveal that children today are spending much less time outdoors than is recommended. Listen now to learn more.

Study: 3 in 10 toddlers spending less than 3 hours outside per week (Multibriefs)


paternity leave & child development

The push for paternity leave continues to intensify. Research shows the benefits of paternity leave to both newborns and families. What are the implications of this, and how does it affect child development? Listen here to learn more.

After men in Spain got paternity leave,  they wanted fewer kids (Quartz)


with a little vocab help from a friend

Toddlers’ brains are like sponges, soaking up the vocabulary and mannerisms of those around them. Researchers at Ohio State University and Purdue University studied children’s learning habits and concluded that children learn new words best from their peers. Listen now to learn more about the implications of these findings.

Want to expand your child’s vocabulary? Find another child (EurekAlert!)


keeping your little daredevil safe

Little ones are full of energy, excitement, and inquisitiveness. Directing that energy into productive play and safe activities can be challenging. Here are three tips to keep in mind to help you do just that. Listen here to learn more.

Keep Your Daredevil Toddler Safe (Lifehacker)


perry parents prevail

Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman says that the benefits of attending a high-quality early childhood program are so great that they positively impact at least two generations. Heckman’s research looked at a program that started five decades ago for children who attended the Perry Preschool. Now the children of those children are reaping the benefits thanks to their parents’ participation. Listen now to learn more.

Perry Preschooler: Intergenerational Effects Toolkit (Heckman Equation)


infant mortality, racism, and sexism

Racism and sexism are killing us. According to the Centers for Disease Control, black women in America die at three to four times the rate of white women during childbirth. Black babies die at twice the rate of white babies. The chronic stress black women experience from combined racism and sexism may be the reason for higher rates of pre-term birth, low-birthweight, and infant and maternal mortality among black mothers and babies. Listen here to find out why.

Why racial disparities in U.S. maternal health are so terrible, and what you can do about it (Black Youth Project)
Racism and sexism against Black women may contribute to high rates of Black infant mortality (Child Trends)


breastfeeding discrimination: two-generational harm

Workplace breastfeeding discrimination lawsuits are up 800% over the past decade. Without having access to appropriate accommodations for breastfeeding, mothers are at risk of developing painful infections and may become unable to produce enough milk to sustain a baby’s nutritional needs. Maryland does not currently have specific lactation laws in place so knowing how to accommodate nursing moms is necessary to keep them on the job. Listen now to learn more.

How companies can support breastfeeding employees (Harvard Business Review)
Breastfeeding state laws (NCSL)
Exposed: Discrimination against breastfeeding workers (Pregnant At Work)
Caregivers in the workplace (Work Life Law)


Colorful chalk drawing on asphalt: words STOP CHILD ABUSEchild abuse prevention: know the symptoms

One in seven is pretty good odds. The Centers for Disease Control, however, report that one in seven American children has experienced abuse or neglect in some form over the past year. Whether you’re a parent, relative, friend, teacher, or neighbor, recognizing the signs of abuse and neglect can help improve a child’s chance for survival.

Be part of the solution to end child abuse and neglect (The Sentinel Echo)
Advocacy center launching child abuse awareness campaign (Kent County News)


Young black father and daughter reading book outsidebooks win out

A study at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital examined the effects of reading with toddlers using physical books versus reading with technology. The results show that it may be time to unplug and visit a library near you. Listen now to find out more benefits of good old-fashioned books over screens and tablets.

For Toddlers, Books Still Better Than Tablets (WebMD)


No Child Care, No Workforce

Half of all U.S. families has reported difficulty finding child care. According to the Council for a Strong America, the U.S. national economy loses roughly $57 billion each year as a result of child care issues. Businesses depend on employees, and employees depend on child care. It’s in everyone’s best interest to make child care a better business. Listen here to learn more.

The Child Care Crisis is Keeping Women Out of the Workforce (Center for American Progress)


Mother holding her cute baby girl while pediatrician doing an eyesight test with diagnostic light pen. Selective focus to cute baby.

Vision Screenings & Early Awareness

Look at this: According to the American Optometric Association, infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at six months of age, an additional exam at age three, and another before entering first grade. Can you see why this is so important? Listen here to find out more.

Eye exams for children: Why they’re important (All About Vision)
InfantSee (InfantSee)
Child’s Vision (American Optometric Association)


Benefits of Breastfeeding

It’s well known that breastfeeding provides significant health benefits for newborns. Perhaps less well known is the fact that breastfeeding can offset the possible negative prenatal consequences of intimate partner violence. Listen here to learn how breastfeeding promotes a child’s physical and mental health.


Caucasian blond baby girl blows on a dandelion flower in a park, selective focus on lips

Make (Green) Space for Mental Health

Growing up near green spaces is good for mental health. In fact, the more time young children spend in nature the lower the risk of mental health issues later in life. So find the closest green space near you – whether it’s a community garden, an urban park, or a lush forest – and explore the benefits of Mother Nature.

More Green Spaces in Childhood Associated With Happier Adulthood (KQED News)


Colorful drawing: Sad boy holding a STOP sign in his hand

Bullying & Depression

A recent study out of Canada has found that children who both bully and are bullied are at higher risk of experiencing childhood depression as well as depression in adulthood. Children cannot protect themselves from bullying, and should not be expected to do so. Parents, child care providers, teachers, babysitters, and pediatricians have the ability to determine the environment in which a child grows. It’s imperative that this environment exclude bullying of all types.

Bullying in the early years leads to depression later in life, study finds (The Sector)


Daycare and kids activities

The Importance of Play

Kids just want to have fun. That’s good because children learn through play. And playing with your children offers you a way to put more fun in your busy, serious life. Make time to play with a child today and as often as possible.

10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play (NAEYC)


Mom and daughter reading a book

Lifelong Learning: Growing with your Child

During the first five years, children are learning huge amounts of information every moment. A child’s experiences in the early years actually build the brain’s architecture. Listen here to see how you can help build the foundation for a lifetime.

Lifelong learning is good for your health, your wallet, and your social life (Harvard Business Review)


Mother and daughter work with preschool teacher. They are sitting at a table in the classroom working with educational toys.

Hands Up, Let’s Sign

When it comes to knowing what preverbal babies want, parents sometimes wish the universe would give them a sign. One way of lessening the frustration may be using baby sign language. Research from the Mayo Clinic shows that babies who are exposed often and early to sign language can begin to use signs successfully by eight or nine months, right about the time children begin to know what they want.

Is baby sign language worthwhile? (Mayo Clinic)
Teaching your baby sign language can benefit both of you (PsychCentral)


Pretty elementary age girl in wheelchair waits in doctor's office waiting room.

Time to Care for Children with Special Needs

Caring for children with disabilities and special needs takes time. It also takes patience, flexibility, and in many cases Paid Family Leave. With Paid Family Leave for working family members, these children can get the support they need while their parents have the time off needed to provide that care.

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council (Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council)
Paid Family and Medical Leave (The Arc)


Grandfather Carries Grandson On Shoulders During Walk In Park

our elders need time to care

Our parents and grandparents have devoted much of their lives to caring for us. With more than 43 million unpaid family caregivers in the US, the time is now to implement the benefits of Paid Family Leave. It’s now our turn to care for them, and we owe them the best care possible.

Older Adults and Family Caregivers Need Paid Family and Medical Leave (National Partnership)


our military needs time to care

Soldiers are trained to expect the unexpected. So when caregiving needs arise or change as a result of a deployment, families need to be ready. It’s time to be Gung Ho for Paid Family Leave.

Military Parental Leave Program — Not Exactly as Promised (Moms Rising)
Veterans and Military Families Need Comprehensive Paid Leave Solutions (Center for American Progress)


A portrait of a happy pregnant office worker showing her delight with maternity leave using a thumbs up.

your workers need time to care

What do Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Lesotho, and the United States have in common? They are the only four countries which do not mandate paid time off for new parents.

Paid Family and Medical Leave: Good for Business (National Partnership for Women and Families)
Of Course US Birth Rates are Falling — this is a Harsh Place to Have a Family (The Guardian)


Photo containing a extreme close-up of a Paint Chipping peeling textured effect

get the lead out

Baltimore City saw a 97% decrease in the number of children with elevated blood-lead levels over the last 25 years. But the threat remains, and there are still too many children with dangerously high levels of lead in their system. Together let’s get the lead out and create a healthier future for our children.

Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (Baltimore City Health Department)
Baltimore’s Toxic Legacy Of Lead Paint (FiveThirtyEight)
Study Hopes To Help Lead-Exposed Children Before Learning Disparities Emerge (Huffington Post)
Lead Poisoning In Maryland Drops To Lowest Recorded Levels (CBS Baltimore)


dads need time, too

It takes a lot to be a good dad – especially time. Yet while some employers recognize the importance of providing leave for men, most do not. Maryland can make the crucial time off dads need to bond with their babies the new normal. It’s time for a change. Listen here to see how we can make this happen.


Little boy dancer in a dance studio

gender stereotyping

Gender stereotyping plays a significant role in who our children believe they can become. But gender typecasting, often unintentional, is ingrained in our culture or family of origin and is too rarely questioned or resisted. Remember, what you say and do are the greatest influence on who your child will become.

What are gender roles and stereotypes? (Planned Parenthood)
How do I talk with my preschooler about identity? (Planned Parenthood)


time to care

We all need time to care – for new babies, for aging parents, for loved ones with health needs, or for healing ourselves. Yet many Americans can’t take time to care because we lack paid family leave. The United States is the only industrialized nation without paid family leave. The time for paid family leave is now.


Red heart in child kid and mother hands on old blue wooden table in vintage retro stylemfn’s essay contest

Each year Maryland Family Network holds an essay contest open to the parents served at our 25 Family Support Centers across the state. Here’s a quote from one of this year’s winners, who resides in Prince George’s County and attends the Adelphi/Langley Park Family Support Center: “The Family Support Center is my second home…My daughter and I are living unforgettable moments, acquiring knowledge to…have a splendid future. This is like a gift that life has given me…Being here has changed my family’s life for the better.” Listen now to hear the rest.


sleeping stats

New parents often expect their baby to start sleeping through the night by six months of age. However, a large percentage of healthy babies don’t reach that milestone by six months or even by 12 months. Listen now for more information on what may be keeping you and your baby up at night.

Parents shouldn’t worry if their infant doesn’t sleep through the night by a year old (Science Daily)


questions for gift giving

Play is essential to all young children and toys provide opportunities to use the imagination, which leads to healthy development. Make sure you have safety as well as social and creative development in mind when you shop this holiday season.


birth outcomes & community health

In 2017, the U.S. saw an increase in premature births for the third year in a row. Maryland’s preterm birth rates have followed this national trend. What can be done to combat our high infant mortality rate?

Born to Soon (March of Dimes)
Baltimore County program seeks to reverse poor birth outcomes in Cockeysville, Owings Mills (Baltimore Sun)
More babies in Maryland being born prematurely, according to March of Dimes (Baltimore Sun)


Mother talking with her son“don’t go to your room!”

“Go to your room!” Parents are often tempted to use this age-old strategy when a child is misbehaving or having trouble managing his emotions. But does it help?

What “Go to Your Room” Teaches Kids About Dealing With Emotions  (The Atlantic)


Happy mother playing with baby while changing his diaper. Smiling young woman with baby son on changing table at home. Close up of cheerful mom and toddler boy playing together.

the science of baby laughter

What makes a baby laugh? A comprehensive survey attempts to answer this very question. Whether tickling, peekaboo, or any other number of games or mishaps, a baby’s laughter is always a delight.

Why do babies laugh out loud? (BBC)


Four kids hanging out together in the garden

racism and early childhood mental health

Racism and discrimination affect people in many different ways. This is just as true for children. The effects of racism and discrimination on children are long-lasting and can be devastating. Teaching children to respect others and appreciate both our commonalities and our differences are key to becoming the egalitarian nation we profess to be.

Racism Can Affect Your Mental Health From As Early As Childhood (Refinery29)
Racial/Ethnic Discrimination and Well-Being During Adolescence: A Meta-Analytic Review (American Psychological Association)


parent like a librarian

Being a parent is a lot like being a librarian. A good librarian, like a good parent, provides you with the information to make your own choices and to follow your own interests. Listen now to learn what else good parents and librarians have in common.

Why You Should Parent Like a Librarian (Offspring)


sex, drugs, & rock ‘n roll

Parenting is part science and part art. That’s why Maryland Family Network recently partnered with the American Visionary Art Museum for their current exhibit, Parenting: An Art Without a Manual. While there may not be an official parenting manual, there are lots of tips that can help. Check out the exhibit at AVAM, and pick up some parenting tips at throughout our site.

Parenting: An Art without a Manual (American Visionary Art Museum)


infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month

October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month. Being aware of safe sleep practices, and having the knowledge and resources to put these practices into place, can help to ensure that our little ones are getting the safest sleep possible. Sweet dreams.

Safe Sleep (B’More for Healthy Babies)

Helping Babies Sleep Safely (CDC)


lactating layovers

Breastfeeding moms know how hard it can be to find a private place to pump, including in busy airports. But the newly passed Friendly Airports for Mothers Act is about to change all that. The law will make it safer, cleaner, and more comfortable for moms, and the concept is long overdue.

Friendly Airports for Mothers Act (U.S. Breastfeeding Committee)


Prenatal violence

Violence is dangerous wherever it appears, even for babies during the prenatal period. Many children who were in the womb when their mom experienced violent episodes showed negative impacts nearly two years later. Helping to protect mothers also serves to protect children, and to change their outcomes.

Prenatal exposure to violence leads to increased toddler aggression toward mothers, study finds (Notre Dame News)


Disappointed little girl covering her ears isolated

the power of no

It’s never too early to teach your child about the power of the word ”no.” Saying no might not seem like much, but to children it is power, freedom, and practice for the autonomy they will need as adults to be safe and to make good choices.


Disappointed little girl covering her ears isolated

inside voices please, parents

Put your toys away! Quiet down! Stay in your seat! At some point, most parents lose their patience and speak harshly to their children. Chances are it didn’t change your child’s behavior in the long run or make you feel confident as a parent. Yelling is only a release for you. It’s not an effective strategy to engender self-discipline. It is much more effective to speak to children with our inside voices.

Why You Should Stop Yelling at Your Kids (New York Times)


Dream on baby

Infants spend a lot of time sleeping. In fact most of their time is spent dozing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could know what they were dreaming about? Decades of research have shown that REM sleep is crucial to brain development in infants. It is during this deep sleep when babies are converting all of their brand new experiences and observations into lasting memories and developing the foundation of new skills. It is how they learn.

Do Babies Dream When They’re in REM Sleep? (The Atlantic)


you’re our neighbor

It has been 50 years since Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood premiered on PBS. The messages that he brought to children are just as relevant today as they were then. Making kids feel valued, liked, and important simply because they are kids was consistent throughout Mr. Rogers’ entire run. You don’t have to do anything other than be yourself to be special.

Visit The Fred Rogers Center for more early learning materials (The Fred Rogers Center)


Shot of an adorable little girl dressed up as a doctor and examining a teddy bear with a stethoscope

a prescription for play

The results are in and here’s the doctor’s prescription: more play for the little ones! That’s right, from stress management to language promotion, childhood playtime has significant value. And all you need is a little time and a love of fun.


poll puts pre-k at the head of the class

Maryland voters agree: pre-K matters. Listen now for the results of our recent poll.

Read more about our recent poll here (Maryland Family Network)


baby’s first pitch

What do you think James Earl Jones sounded like as a baby? How about David Attenborough? A group of French researchers suggests that the pitch of their voices – and yours too – may have sounded when they were babies much as it does now that they’re adults.

Babies’ cries may foretell their adult voices, a study shows (New York Times)
The pitch of babies’ cries predicts their voice pitch at age 5 (Royal Society Publishing)


civic engagement

The political divide in America seems to be wider than ever, yet civic engagement is on the rise. But how do busy parents find time to get involved? We’ve got a few ideas!

Politisit pay for childcare while parents get involved in government (Oregon Live)


Child's hands signing numbers one through five

5 Secrets for New Parents

Being a new parent is wonderful…and it can also be terrifying. Here are five secrets that often go under reported in parenting circles.


mother and child play with blocks

Subsidy Expansion

Shhhh. Listen. Do you hear that? Kids and caregivers across the State are cheering! The State announced last week that annual income limits for Maryland’s Child Care Subsidy (CSS) Program will increase dramatically effective August 1st. This will significantly help more Maryland families access quality child care and early education programs.

“It is no exaggeration to say that as a result of this change, the future will also change for many low-income children in Maryland. Today we celebrate with them,” Margaret E. Williams, Executive Director, Maryland Family Network said about the news.

MSDE guidelines (MSDE)
Boosts in income eligibility mean more Maryland families to access child care subsidies (Baltimore Sun)
Why Maryland needs to invest in child care (Baltimore Sun)


Dad’s workout matters

Exercise does a body good. Now new research points to even greater benefits, especially for the children of fathers who exercise regularly.

Do Fathers Who Exercise Have Smarter Babies?  (New York Times)


bacteria babies need

Pregnant women and new moms should talk to their doctors to make sure their developing and new babies are getting all the germs they need…the helpful ones that is.

The Bacteria Babies Need (New York Times)


Tummy Time

It’s tummy time!!

Tummy time is good for babies. Positioning babies on their stomachs not only helps to prevent flat spots on the back of your baby’s developing head, it is also good for strengthening neck, shoulder, and even hand muscles. Tummy time also helps improve motor development, as it works the muscles that are integral for fine motor skills.

The Benefits of Tummy Time (New York Times)



attitude counts

What will your new baby be like? What fun things will you do together? What do you want to share with him or her? Asking a pregnant mother these questions might help her to be healthier during pregnancy and interact positively with her infant after he or she is born. So say experts at the Centre for Family Research in a recently published study.

Mother’s attitude to baby during pregnancy may have implications for child’s development (Science Daily)


dont forget dads

There have been numerous studies on the importance of father-child relationships. These include how such emotional connections in the early years lay the foundation for lifelong health and well-being. Studies have also shown how fathers who are involved during pregnancy have healthier children. The positive influences of involved dads are well-known. hat will your new baby be like? What fun things will you do together? What do you want to share with him or her? Asking a pregnant mother these questions might help her to be healthier during pregnancy and interact positively with her infant after he or she is born. So say experts at the Centre for Family Research in a recently published study.

Fathers Forgotten When it Comes to Services to Help them be Good Parents, New Study Finds (Philly Voice)


Family Friendly urban living

Statistics show that more and more Millennials are having children, and among this group, the demand for family-friendly urban living is growing.  Does Baltimore have what it takes to support the next generation of families?

The Future Success of Cities Depends on Urban Kids (Strong Towns)


Early Friendships and Adult health

Early friendships in childhood can help us become healthier as adults.

Childhood Friendships May Have Some Health Benefits in Adulthood (Science Daily)


Simon Says

Simon Says playing games with your young children is one way for them to learn impulse control.

Why Playing Games Like Simon Says can Help Kids do Better in School (Quartz)


Trauma Hurts

Trauma has many effects on the body including pain in adulthood.

Facing Adversity Early in Life Lined to More Physical Pain in Adulthood (Penn State News)


babies brains are touching

It’s hard to read a person’s mind. It’s even harder to read a baby’s mind. But a study from the University of Washington provides new insight into the workings of the infant brain.

How Baby Brains Respond to Touch (Technology Works)


Get outside…now

Over 55% of parents surveyed in ten countries said their children spent less than an hour a day playing outside. Shockingly the researchers determined that one in ten children never play outside. Let’s get children outside…now.

If You Want Your Kid to Get a Good Job, Let Them Play More (Quartz)


A multi-ethnic group of babies are playing with toys together at daycare.

Fairness and Favoritism in Toddlers

Childhood brain development has been the focus of much study over the last few decades. Childhood moral development, on the other hand, has received significantly less attention. Until now.

Toddlers Like Fairness Until There’s a Cookie Shortage (Futurity)
Infants Expect Ingroup Support to Override Fairness When Resources are Limited (PNAS)


Kids hugging a father

ACEs & Latino Kids

A report from the nonprofit Salud America! shows that eight-in-ten or 78% of all Latino children in America have faced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience. This is the fastest growing demographic in America. What can be done to change this trend?

Latino Kids Face More Early Obstacles, but There Are Solutions That Work (NBC News)
The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review (Salud America!)


Little hand doctor checks heart of obese toddler boy with stethoscope, healthcare concept

A Big Problem

Here’s something that is a very big deal. A recent CDC survey indicates that there has been no progress in halting childhood obesity.

America’s Childhood Obesity Epidemic Spreads to Toddlers (NY Post)
Childhood Obesity Facts (CDC)


An adorable 8 month old baby girl is bundled up in a sweater and bomber hat looking lovingly at her pet German Shepherd dog as they sit outside on a cold fall day.

Fur Weather Friends

Thinking about getting a pet? In addition to being a good companion, that furry friend may help with your child’s brain development.

The Benefits of Fur Weather Friends in Childhood Development (The Student Newspaper)
Companion Animals and Child/Adolescent Development: A Systematic Review of the Evidence (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)


Newborn baby boy crying

Cry Like a Baby

Babies cry….a lot. But did you know they cry in womb too? A mother’s stress just may be affecting how much.

Do Babies Cry in the Womb? (Romper)
Fetal Homologue of Infant Crying (NIH)


Full STEAM Ahead

STEM or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is an educational philosophy and practice which has really gained momentum of late. But it’s missing something that not only changes the acronym, but the entire program. Add an A for Art and make STEAM.

This Study Shows the Power of Art to Improve Childhood Learning (The Week)


Portrait Of Happy Baby Girl Playing With Toys In Playroom

Is your child smart enough to lie to you?

Decades of psychological experiments with children as young as two-year-old have shown that children lie. But lying is not just normal, it’s a sign of intelligence.

Is Your Child Lying to You? That’s Good. (The New York Times)


Mother cradles newborn

Happy Babies Need Happy Moms

Postpartum depression affects an estimated one out of nine women. These new moms must not only  acclimate to raising a newborn child, but also with the symptoms of this newfound depression. That’s no small feat.

When a Mom Feels Depressed, Her Baby’s Cells Might Feel It, Too (Scientific American)


Preschool boy plays with smart phone on the bed.

Laptops to Leapfrogs

Children have been sitting in front of screens ever since the advent of television. From TVs to smart phones, and laptops to LeapFrogs, children and adults are fascinated by the near endless possibilities of these devices.

What if Children Should be Spending More Time with Screens? (The Wall Street Journal)


The Maryland State House in Annapolis MD the capitol of the State of Maryland on a spring day.

Child care subsidy is good for MD

If Maryland increases the Child Care Subsidy rates so that we are subsidizing parents up to the federally-recommended 75% of child care settings in their communities, families will have more choices and access to better programs.

Child Care Subsidy (MFN)
Child Care Subsidy Program (MSDE)


Young girl in classroom sits at table with empty objects

food insecurity

When a young child experiences regular bouts of food insecurity they are more likely to be unprepared for kindergarten than children who know where the next meal is coming from.

Food Insecurity and Kindergarten Readiness (UVA Today)
Food Security in the U.S. (USDA)


adorable baby looks like he's contemplating some bad decisions

The Kids Are Not All Right

We’ve all made bad decisions before. But adverse experiences during the first five years of life can make it very difficult to ever make good decisions.

How Childhood Trauma Adversely Affects Decision-Making (Pacific Standard)


are babies reading between the lines

Recent research suggests that the quality of what is read to children during the first year of life may be just as important to their development as the quantity of what is read.

For Baby’s Brain to Benefit, Read the Right Books at the Right Time (The Conversation)
Evidence Based Approach to Promoting Early Child Development (Reach Out and Read)
Book List for Infant and Toddlers (Read Aloud America)


Spanking and violence

Spanking a child has long-term consequences. New research suggests that people who are spanked during early childhood have a greater likelihood of perpetrating violence toward romantic partners.

Childhood Corporal Punishment and Future Perpetration of Physical Dating Violence (The Journal of Pediatrics)
Risks of Harm from Spanking Confirmed by Analysis of Five Decades of Research (University of Texas at Austin)
The Case Against Spanking (American Psychological Association)
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Technical Package for Policy, Norm, and Programmatic Activities (CDC)


Toddler sitting on floor playing with a sorter toy

too many toys

The holidays are a tempting time to shower children with toys. At the risk of sounding like the Grinch, a new study suggests that there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to children and toys.

The Influence of the Number of Toys in the Environment on Toddlers’ Play. (National Center for Biotechnology Information)
Giving Toddlers Fewer Toys Makes One Major Difference to Their Playtime (Science Alert)


Cute Aggression

That impulse to take a little bite out of a baby due to his or her overwhelming cuteness actually has a name…and a purpose. Listen and find out more!

Dimorphous Expressions of Positive Emotion (Association for Psychological Science)
When We See Something Cute, Why Do We Want to Squeeze It? (National Geographic)


Mother and baby work on a task together

Stick to it.

Young children who watch adults remain committed to a task are more likely to try harder when performing their own tasks. Find out why this matters!

Babies Can Learn that Hard Work Pays Off (MIT)


Happy baby grasping hands

The Money Myth

There’s a myth in America that anyone who is determined enough can get rich. But the family you’re born into is a much more likely predictor of future wealth.

This Chart Shows That Your Parents’ Income Determines Your Future (Market Watch)
The Striking Power of Poverty to Turn Young Boys into Jobless Men (The Washington Post)


Infant portrait with funny shocked face expression

Three Essential Policies

According to UNICEF, there are three essential national policies that support families with young children — two years of free early childhood education for three and four year olds; paid breastfeeding breaks for new moms for the first six months; and adequate paid parental leave. The U.S. has none of these. Let’s change that.

Only 15 countries worldwide have three essential national policies that support families with young children (UNICEF)


Baby in a thinking pose having an idea

1,000 Days of Growth

During the first 1,000 days of a child’s life there is more growth and development than at any other point in life. What and whom a child is exposed to during the first 1,000 days influence a child for life

First 1,000 days crucial to child development: report (SBS)


Cute Baby Girl Wearing Bib Sitting In High Chair

Early Intervention Matters

You can’t control the genes your baby inherits. But you can determine how well your baby is loved and supported. Abuse and neglect in early childhood can profoundly affect the brain.

These Two Brains Belong to Three-Year-Olds, So Why is One So Much Bigger? (The Telegraph)


worried and thoughtful teenage girl with her mother at home

Let’s Talk Teens

At Maryland Family Network we say that the first five years of a child’s life are the most important.
That’s true but we want to talk to you a little bit about teenagers.

Teen Girls Relationship with Parents Can Affect Baby Bonding Later in Life (Herald Sun)
Maryland’s Network of Family Support Centers (Maryland Family Network)

More First Five Years

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