Last Thursday, I attended a conference on Teaching Children with Developmental Disabilities to Speak: Current Research and Best Practices in San Francisco. I was enthralled when Martha Burns, Ph.D spoke on neuroscience, as she supported my green mama rants. From eating organic food to getting kids outside, I thought the neuroscientists had been reading this blog! (or more likely I am reading the neuroscientists).
I am thrilled to see science proving what natural parents know instinctually. Here is a summary of what I learned from the conference that supports natural parenting with links to past Eco Child’s Play posts on the subjects:
- Exercise builds neurons: Just an hour a day of light exercise builds neurons in humans of any age. Children need to be outside. Schools need to maintain recess and physical education programs. After school, children need to run around outside and play.
- TV causes language delays: Watching television makes children good at watching television. It does not promote learning, language, or social and emotional development. Just like in sports you need to practice, practice, practice to hone skills. Think what watching TV is practicing in a child’s developing brain, i.e., being good at watching TV. In fact, Dr. Burns mentioned how Disney is offering refunds for Baby Einstein videos because they actually make children dumber.
- No electronic toys and white noise!: Just like with TV, noisy toys do not stimulate cognitive development in children. Dr. Burns stated, “Toys “R” Us toys are designed for us, not for our children.” The brain does not like white noise (sorry [amazon_link id=”0553381466″ target=”_blank” ]Happiest Baby on the Block[/amazon_link]). Sleep performs a very important function in our brain, and Dr. Burns was very clear that the world should be quiet when we rest.
- Talk, talk, talk, play, play, play: The best practice for language and cognitive development.
- Avoid BPA!: Our genes are most vulnerable during pregnancy and adolescent. Chemicals in our environment affect our genes ([amazon_link id=”0879698756″ target=”_blank” ]epigenetics[/amazon_link]).
- Parenting and nurturing affects genes: Here’s the scientific proof attachment parenting is important. Behavioral cues are also part of epigenetics (“environmental factors that change genes in the first and second generation”). Babies need to be held and talked to closely to caregivers.
- “The best diet for pregnancy is organic!”: Epigenetics again! Maternal diet has a great effect on the developing brain.
- A well-balanced diet is best for the brain: We should eat a variety of different colored vegetables, essential fatty acids, and high protein. Brain foods include those with omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin (tumeric), flavonoids (chocolate and red wine:)), B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E, choline (soy, lettuce, beef, egg yolks), vitamin C, calcium, zinc (oysters, beans, almonds), selenium (nuts, cereals, eggs), copper (oysters, beef, molasses, cocoa), and iron. It is best to get your nutrients from real food, as our body doesn’t handle supplements well. Omega fatty acids are essential for myelination in the brain. Highly processed carbohydrates are potentially neurodestructive!
It’s exciting to see that there is a scientific backing for natural parenting!