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.

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