'Parent Child e-Link' e-newsletter for Professionals

The baby-led weaning (BLW) approach to introducing solids to infants has become popular in recent years in UK, New Zealand and Australia. It has also been adopted by some parents in Hong Kong.

From time to time, healthcare professionals may encounter expectant or new parents who are pondering how best to arrange their baby’s sleep. Should the baby sleep in his own cot or with the parent(s)? What are the benefits and risks? What should healthcare professionals advise with reference to the latest scientific evidence while taking into account the needs of parents?

There has been extensive research on the science of “Early Brain and Child Development” that supports the critical impact of children’s early experience upon their learning, health and life course trajectory. More specifically, reading with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships, which in turn builds life-long skills in different aspects - language, literacy and social-emotional skills. In response to the rapid increase in knowledge of neuroscience in the recent decades, programmes to enhance ‘emergent literacy’ were developed with promising positive outcomes in language development, parent-child bonding, as well as later success in reading and academic achievement.

Emotional development includes the ability to identify and understand own feelings, to accurately read and comprehend emotions in others, to develop empathy for others, to express and manage emotions, to self-regulate behaviour and to form social relationships. At this stage, the tasks of parents and professionals working with children are to build up children’s emotion management and self-regulation skills and to encourage them to connect with others. At the same time, it is still important to strengthen their empathy as well as their abilities to comprehend, read and express emotions.

The development of emotions and feelings begins early since infancy. Healthy emotional development relies on biological make-up and social environmental factors, in particular, the quality of relationship with carers. Professionals working with children and families need to be sensitive to children’s emotional needs and alert to risks on their emotional development.

Application of Mindfulness is rapidly gaining attention in the medical and mental health field. It’s application is extensive including parenting practice. What is mindfulness? How is it applied in clinical practices? Does it have any scientific foundation? What is the brain mechanism behind practising mindfulness? How to have a taste of mindfulness?

Speech is the production of sounds by speech organs. It is a verbal expression of language. Language is a set of socially shared rules in forming the symbolic communication system, e.g. English, Cantonese. Children who have speech sound disorder are characterized by inappropriate errors in speech production, while those with language impairment have deficit in receptive or/and expressive language ability. Articulation problem is one of the developmental problems commonly found in children. Many parents question about if the speech sound errors of their children will be self-corrected with time, and when should they receive speech therapy. Before answering these questions, we have to understand the normal speech sound development.

As a health care professional, social worker, parenting educator or early childhood educator, it is common for parents or carers to share with us the eating habit of their preschoolers. How can we, as professionals, advise parents on establishing healthy eating habit in their children? This article will guide you through some credible and practical healthy eating tips for preschoolers to share with parents and carers.

The World Health Organization recommends exclusively breastfeeding babies up to about six months of age and gradually introducing appropriate complementary food while continuing breastfeeding until two years old or beyond.

Food Allergy occurs when our body has mistaken a component of normal foods as a foreign pathogen, and mounts an immune response leading to a number of symptoms1external link. The hypersensitivity reactions (allergy) can cause harm and danger to us. Allergen is the substance present in food that causes a hypersensitivity reaction in a sensitised person.

Parents may put a lot of attention in building up positive parent-child relationship as they understand that it is important for the development of their children. However, a positive relationship between a couple is equally, or even more important. Research findings indicated that a healthy couple relationship is essential for healthy growing up of children, right from their early childhood.

As mentioned in Part I, our brain develops from bottom up and involves the ongoing interplay between genetic and environmental inputs. The “serve and return” interaction between the caregivers and their children has been supported by scientific research for brain-building.

Studies from neuroscience, genetics as well as developmental and behavioural researches have established that early childhood development, in particular the early brain development from conception to preschool age, lays the foundation for the individual's future development. It affects not only an individual's learning and school achievement, but also his physical and mental health, economic productivity and societal responsibility throughout the life course.....

Screen-media use has become part of our life. From TV, videos, video games, computer, internet, to smartphone and tablet computer, children can access these technology products easily through adults. Many consider screen-media learning an inevitable trend for children. However, have we thought about the impact on children?

Why do infants and young children wake so often in the night time? Is night waking a problem? Why some of them can’t go back to sleep on their own and rely on caregivers to help them fall back to sleep? What is sleep association and its role in perpetuating night wakings? What can be done to deal with bedtime problems and night wakings?

Screen-media use has become part of our life. From TV, videos, video games, computer, internet, to smartphone and tablet computer, children can access these technology products easily through adults. Many consider screen-media learning an inevitable trend for children. However, have we thought about the impact on children?

Accident is one of the major causes of injury, disability or death in children. The Child Fatality Review Panel Report (2013) found that, among the 238 child death coroner’s cases reviewed in 2008-09, 9.7% of children died of accidents with 40% occurred at home setting and 30% of them being five years old or under. The causes of their deaths include fall, poisoning and hanging....

After turning two, children will start preschool or kindergarten where they will learn and interact with other children. They will have to adapt to a new environment in the classroom and to face challenges in learning. Individual differences in the pace of development among children may also arouse concerns in parents and teachers. This issue of the Newsletter will bring you some relevant information that may help.

As babies transit from a milk-only diet to an adult diet (from 6 to 24 months), they also develop skills in feeding themselves. Children at this stage would demand more autonomy on many aspects, including their feeding. It is important for parents and caregivers to understand children’s eating behaviour in order to foster good eating habits as well as to ensure good nutrition during early years of life.

After 6 months of age, feeding on breastmilk alone cannot meet the nutritional requirements of young children. At around 6 months, babies will be physiologically and developmentally ready to take in solid food. Parents should introduce complementary foods to babies at this time. This can help the infants gradually transit from a milk only diet to eating an adult diet by 24 months old.

Breast milk is the most natural food for babies. The longer babies are fed on breast milk, the greater the benefits for the health of mothers and babies.

By now the young kids have probably started nursery / kindergarten. A lot of parents will start to get nervous about their kids learning, and hope they can learn everything. Indeed, it’s not an easy task to achieve all-round development in a kid. While genetic predispositions are important in determining a child’s potential, a nurturing family and school environment is also important for their development and learning. A better understanding of children’s development not only enhance child care workers’ knowledge on children’s characteristics, it also helps them better support the parents. In the end, we all hope to let children grow up happily and bring out their potential.

Child development is a continuous process and progresses in a certain sequence. However, each child is unique and develops at his/her own pace. While biological factors determine a child’s capability and temperament, environmental factors do play an important role in a child’s learning, social and emotional development.

Proper baby care is important especially for young infants who are more vulnerable beings. This issue will take you through common topics on baby care. Hope you find it informative and practical!