The First Five Years

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Five Senses 1.75

Spring Has Sprung!

Spring has sprung, so head outside with your little learner! Children are born ready to explore, and the great outdoors is full of opportunities for them to engage all five senses in new and wonderful ways.

Take it Outside! (Early Childhood News)
Natural Play in the Preschool Yard (Community Playthings)
Irvine Nature Center

Favoritism 1.75

Favoritism Hurts

When it comes to favoritism among children, perception matters most. In fact, a recent study shows that children who view themselves as slightly less favored by parents, are almost twice as likely as those who do not have this perception, to use alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs. Listen to find out what researchers recommend to avoid this problem.

Why Parents Shouldn’t Play Favorites (Brigham Young University)

Inclusive Child Care 1.75

The Growing Need for Inclusive Child Care

The demand for child care to accommodate children with special needs is substantial. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say one in 68 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder each year. Thankfully, Maryland Family Network’s LOCATE:  Child Care is here to help.

LOCATE: Child Care Special Needs Service Trends in Child Care 2015
CDC Estimates 1 in 68 Children Has Been Identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Preemie in incubator

Mother’s Healing Powers

Children find a mother’s voice comforting. And now, researchers at Harvard Medical School think it might have healing powers, too. Listen find out more.

Babies Rely on Mother’s Voice and Heartbeat to Develop Healthy Brains (PBS)
Mother’s voice and heartbeat sounds elicit auditory plasticity in the human brain before full gestation (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science)

Teacher Compensation

Teachers Worth Investing In

One the most influential teachers a child may ever have is in an early care and education setting. Yet the pay for child care professionals is often close to the same wage as fast food workers. This has been the case for far too long and a change is due.

Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Early Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study (Center for the Study of Child Care Employment)
2015 Child Care Demographics (Maryland Family Network)

MFN Bayview

More Benefits of pre-K

Children enrolled in state-supported pre-Kindergarten programs are less likely to be placed in special education according to a new study by Duke University. This leads researchers to believe that early childhood education can address developmental delays in children prior to a child enrolling in Kindergarten.

Impact of North Carolina’s Early Childhood Initiatives on Special Education Placements in Third Grade (American Educational Research Association)
Study Finds Preschool Programs Lower Special Education Referrals (EdSource)

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Big Kid Bed

Congratulations! You child is ready to graduate to a “big kid” bed. But are you ready? Listen for information that will help the transition to toddler bed go smoothly.

Big Kid Beds: When to Make the Switch (Healthy
Ask Dr. Sears: From Crib to Bed (

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Early Head Start

Robin Parker is a single mom living in Anne Arundel County. When her children were one and two years old, she found herself in a difficult spot. Affordable safe quality child care was out of reach for the struggling family. But one program changed the odds. Learn more about the ways Early Head Start makes a big difference.

Maryland’s Network of Family Support Centers (Maryland Family Network)
Find your Local Early Head Start Center (Maryland Family Network)
Maryland Head Start Association
Early Head Start National Resource Center


Self-control can be hard. New ways of dieting, exercising and saving money are seem to always be in the news. But a recent study demonstrates that adults who learn self-control as very young children grow up healthier and with few financial problems. Learn more.

A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)
For Kids, Self-Control Factors into Future Success (NPR)
Promoting Self-Control: It Might Not Be What You Think (Huffington Post)

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Babies love to nap and they love to learn. All that sleeping just might be making them better learners.

Timely Sleep Facilitates Declarative Memory Consolidation in Infants (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)
Napping Helps Infants Form Memories, Study Shows (Baltimore Sun)

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Double the Love

Having twins (or more) can be double the fun. From time to time it can also be doubly overwhelming. Fortunately help is out there from experts and other parents of multiples.

Preparing for Twins (
Connecting and Supporting Multiple Birth Families (Multiples of America)

Baby’s First Dental Visit

Whether it’s baby’s first tooth or an older child with all 32, there’s nothing like a little one’s healthy smile. Protecting that grin starts early. Find out when to start and how to make the first dentist visit go well.

The Big Authority on Little Teeth (American Academy of Pediatric Dentists)
Anatomy and Development of Mouth and Teeth (Stanford Children’s Health)
Taking Care of Your Teeth (Nemours Foundation)

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Language Rich Child Care

A language rich environment gives children the foundation to arrive at school ready to learn. But parents aren’t the only ones who can have a major impact on school readiness. Early childhood educators play a big part in supporting language and communication development for infants and toddlers.

Early Childhood Educators Hold the Key to Children’s Communication Skills (Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute)
Talk Box: Creating Language-Rich Environments for Preschool and School-Age Children (YourAlberta)

Childhood Obesity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost one-third of American young children are overweight. In fact, one in five between the ages of two and five are already overweight or obese. What can parents do to reverse this trend?

Childhood Obesity Facts (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Childhood Obesity Prevention Resources (NAEYC)
Let’s Move! (Let’s Move)

Santa Claus 1.75To Santa or Not To Santa?

Some parents struggle with whether to make Santa Claus a part of their holiday tradition. Is it lying to the child? Will children think you betrayed them when they find out the truth? Find out what the experts have to say.

Yes or No to Santa Claus? (Child Care Exchange)
Is It Okay to Lie About Santa? (PBS Parents)
The Truth About Santa (New York Times)

Little Sibling. Big Changes.

When you’re a toddler the world revolves around you. The arrival of a new little brother or sister is exciting – for grown-ups. But for the first born it can be stressful and scary. Life as you’ve known it has changed. Learn ways to ease the adjustment for big siblings as your family grows.

New Sibling: Preparing Your Older Child (Mayo Clinic)
Preparing Very Young Children for a New Sibling (Zero to Three)
Video: My Child is Jealous of our New Baby–How Can We Help Them Adjust? (NHS Choices—U.K. )


Learning the value of money and how to make it last should start young. In fact, financial literacy can begin with babies.

Money as You Grow (President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability)
How to Raise Financially Savvy Kids (Forbes)

Temper, Temper

Taking a moment to refocus and relax is good for you. It’s also good for your children. We all lose our temper sometimes. However, there are things we can do to make sure that our frustration isn’t directed at our children.

Controlling Parental Anger (Ask Dr. Sears)
Taking Care of Yourself is Just as Important as Taking Care of Your Family (AAP)


Take time to give thanks. The holidays can be full of stress. But with a little planning and teamwork, Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time for all ages to reflect on that’s good in our lives.

Raising a Thankful Child (Zero to Three)
Anti-Bias Education: Thanksgiving (NAEYC)

No Laughing Matter

Will your little one grow up to be the next Joan Rivers or Steve Martin? Maybe not. But even so, the ability to chuckle, giggle, and laugh helps to reduce stress, build connections and encourage creative thinking. Listen now to identify some milestones that indicate a healthy sense of humor is developing on track.

Encouraging Your Child’s Sense of Humor (Kids Health from Nemours)
The Joke’s In You (American Psychological Association)

Stop bullying

Bullying can start in the early years—even before school. Young children might call names, act out physically, or intimate others. Listen to learn tips aimed at helping parents and caregivers prevent bullying early and to keep it from escalating.

Teaching Social Skills to Prevent Bullying in Young Children (
Understanding the Roles of Early Education and Child Care Providers in Community-Wide Bullying Prevention Efforts (

Quantity vs Quality

For more than two decades, experts have recognized the importance of early exposure to a language-rich environment. By age three, children from low-income families hear far fewer words than their more affluent peers—nearly 30 million fewer words. This disparity puts poorer children at a huge disadvantage when starting school. But now a Temple University study suggests that exposing low-income children to more language isn’t enough to overcome this difference. The researchers report that the quality of communication among children, parents and other caregivers is of more importance that just the number of words.

Quality of Words, Not Quantity, is Crucial to Language Skills, Study Finds (The New York Times)
The Thirty Million Word Gap (Rice University)
Bridging the Vocabulary Gap (NAEYC)


What does it take for parents to build a secure attachment with their child? Find out this week as we welcome Dr. Marti Erickson as guest host of The First Five Years. Retired from the University of Minnesota and now co-host of the weekly parenting show Mom Enough, Dr. Erickson specializes in linking research, practice and policy in the areas of parent-child attachment, child abuse prevention and children’s mental health.

Mom Enough
Good Enough Moms & Dads: Separating Fact from Fiction about Parent-Child Attachment

Be a champion

If you could change the lives of millions of children and families for the better, in a matter of just minutes, would you do it?

Maryland State Board of Elections
League of Women Voters of Maryland


New research from Northwestern University will be music to your ears. They found that after two years of musical training, the brain function of at-risk youth improved significantly. What’s more, this research could hold the key to reducing the achievement gap. Listen now to learn more.

Community Music Programs Enhance Brain Function in At-Risk Children (Northwestern University)
Music Resources (NAEYC)
This is Your Brain on Music (NPR)

Traumatic experiences

Just under half of the children in the United States have lived through at least one traumatic experience. These experiences have lasting effects on health, social and economic outcomes in adulthood. But there is hope. Listen to find out how you can help.

Survey Results (Child Health Data)
Nearly 35 million U.S. children have experienced one or more types of childhood trauma (ACEs Too High News)
Injury Prevention and Control: Division of Violence Prevention (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


Nightmares can be triggered by a number of things. It’s important to take the time to listen and comfort your child as she experiences this important but sometimes scary milestone.

Children and Bedtime Fears and Nightmares (National Sleep Foundation)
Sleep Nightmares (Zero to Three)


Anxiety is a normal part of life, even for young children. It’s especially common when children are separated from parents for the first time. But for some children the symptoms continue and may get worse. Find out what you need to look for to make sure your child’s anxiety isn’t interfering with her development and happiness.

The Anxious Child – Facts for Families (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Separation Anxiety (The Mayo Clinic)
Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders in Children: Information for Parents (National Association of School Psychologists)

Transitioning to Kindergarten

It won’t be long until your preschooler is ready to start kindergarten. This can be challenging for both children and parents. Start planning now to help make the transition a smooth one.

Transitioning to Kindergarten (NAEYC)
Terrific Transitions: Supporting Children’s Transition to Kindergarten (SERVE Regional Educational Laboratory & the National Head Start Association)
12 Ways to Help a Child Make the Transition to Kindergarten (Harvard Medical School)

Social Competency

Parents want to help children grow up to feel confident and secure. But the markers of social competency in young children can be hard to spot. But there are signs to look for. Listen now to find out more.

What is the best way to assess young children’s social competence? (Illinois Early Learning Project)
Development of Social-Emotional Skills (Zero to Three)
Helping Young Children Succeed: Strategies to Promote Early Childhood Social and Emotional Development  (Zero to Three)


Ever wish you could take a break from the routine? Well, for very young children routines build a sense of security and self-confidence. They may also help children do better in school and be more successful adults.

Kids with Family Routines are Emotionally and Socially More Advanced (Huffington Post)
Family Routines and Social-Emotional School Readiness Among Preschool-Age Children  (Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics)
Love, Learning, and Routines (Zero to Three)

Maryland Excels

Do you want to know how your child care provider stacks up against others? The Maryland State Department of Education’s Maryland EXCELS program can tell you just that. When a child care provider or public pre-K classroom enrolls in the EXCELS program, quality assurance specialists from MSDE verify that all the standards have been met. That means, in general, the more standards that are met, the better the care and education for our children.

Maryland EXCELS

LOCATE: Child Care

Reliable child care is just a phone call away. Take the time to make the right choice—the first five years last forever. Early childhood development occurs rapidly, so choosing a reliable care provider is critically important. LOCATE: Child Care, a FREE phone referral service, can help you make the right choice. Call one of our specialists who will take the time you need to: • discuss care preferences—program type, location, costs, more • search our database of child care programs in Maryland • provide options available in your neighborhood or near your workplace Call us right now at 877.261.0061 or explore LOCATE: Child Care for more information.

Choosing Child Care (Maryland Family Network—LOCATE: Child Care)
Choosing Child Care for Children with Special Needs (Maryland Family Network—LOCATE: Child Care)

Picky Eaters

Got a picky eater at home? Relax. It’s not uncommon for young children to turn down a new food up to 15 times before they even try it. Zero to Three has some ideas that may help around your dinner table.

Healthy Eating Strategies for Young Children (Zero to Three)
10 Tips for Picky Eaters (Mayo Clinic)
Feeding the Picky Eater: 17 Tips (Ask Dr. Sears)

Get Moving

Young children are naturally active. So if we give them plenty of room and opportunity to move, they’ll literally jump at the chance. Children who exercise are healthier physically and emotionally. Here are some ways to get kids moving.

Kids and Exercise (—Nemours Center for Children’s Health Media)
Recommendations for Physical Activity in Children (American Heart Association)
Seven Games to Get Kids Moving (

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