Reach out to infants
TELETHON Kids Institute (TKI) researchers have found that if a child is exposed to “toxic stress” such as extreme poverty, neglect or abuse, the architecture of the developing brain is weakened.
However, the CoLab Evidence Report on ‘Brain development in early childhood’ also discovered that the experience of at least one stable and responsive relationship with a parent or caregiver could help protect against the damaging effects of toxic stress on children’s brain development.
TKI, which is based at Perth Children’s Hospital, recently launched its Bright Tomorrows Start Today advertising campaign promoting the results of CoLab research on how interaction with babies and young children helps develop the brain.
CoLab director Donna Cross said the campaign translated the evidence on the importance of ‘serve and return’ interactions for lifelong development, learning and wellbeing.
“Infants and young children naturally reach out for interaction – through babbling, facial expressions and gestures, when adults respond by gesturing back the baby learns that ‘I can communicate’ and that ‘I can be understood’,” Professor Cross said.
“An infant’s confidence in communicating with their caregiver, through patterns of serve and return interactions, and the love and understanding establishing between the caregiver and child creates emotional wellbeing in infancy and early childhood.”
CoLab director Donna Cross.