• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Mental stimulation critical for child development before age 3

April 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
By the age of 3, your baby's brain is genetically programmed to produce more connections than it will ultimately use in a lifetime. This just illustrates how important it is during those early years for your baby's brain to develop.

Dillon Moore, 3, is part of Every Child Succeeds, a home visitation program that teaches first-time, at-risk mothers parenting skills.

Dillon's mom, Suzanne Moore, has overcome obstacles, but needed help.

"I needed to learn life skills and how to take care of myself and take care of a baby," said Moore.

Visits begin at pregnancy and last until a child turns 3 years old, a critical time to help parents create a stimulating environment for their child's development.

"What we need is every mother to succeed so the children will," said Judy Van Ginkle of Every Child Succeeds.

One of the best things you can do is to read. Research shows the average child in a welfare home hears 600 words an hour, while a child in a professional home hears 2,100. That adds up to 48 million words by age 4 for kids of professional parents versus 13 million for poor kids.

And babies don't learn to talk just by hearing sounds. New research suggests they're lip readers, too. Starting around 6 months old, babies begin shifting their gaze to your mouth.

"The most important overall lesson is it's important to read and talk to your children. You just talk and talk and talk," said Van Ginkle.

Dillon just graduated from the Every Child Succeeds program.

"I really think the biggest thing I learned was how to care for him and love him and set boundaries," said Moore.

They are lessons that will last a lifetime. The program has made more than 370,000 home visits and has earned a national reputation for its effectiveness.


Load Comments