Don't Forget The Baby Talk

You walk the walk, but do you talk the talk? Recent research from Scotland’s University of Dundee found that parents who use rear-facing strollers talk – and even laugh – more with their babies.

Babies facing forward have a harder time hearing someone behind them, so it is more difficult for them to interact with parents or caregivers. But this interaction is crucial to a baby’s development. The study’s author, M. Suzanne Zeedyk, points out in an Op-Ed for the New York Times that social interaction fosters brain development, which occurs fastest between birth and age 3.

When using a rear-facing stroller, parents in Zeedyk’s study were observed to talk over twice as much to their babies than when using forward-facing strollers, and both caregivers and babies laughed more. Zeedyk acknowledges that the study raises many more questions but concludes that most importantly, parents should be talking more to their babies, whether they are in a stroller or not.

And then there’s the cell phone. Cell phones have directly contributed to lowering the amount of time we spend interacting not only with our children, but other family members, friends, and acquaintances. More and more, strolling caregivers and parents can be seen chatting on their phones while pushing their child along.

Even when a child is in a forward-facing stroller, researchers noted some interaction, just less than when the child is facing the caregiver. If an adult is on a cell phone, however, it seems likely there will be much less, if any, interaction. Naturally, they are paying attention to the call, not the child. Plus, research shows that talking on the phone while walking causes pedestrians to step off sidewalks or take longer to cross streets, both actions that could endanger a child in a stroller.

So be aware of how much time you spend chatting on the phone when you’re walking with your little one. Unless it’s an emergency, it can probably wait until nap time!  

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