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Michael Slezak

How to raise
a happy and
healthy child.

A child’s brain grows and changes rapidly from birth to age three. Most babies learn to walk, talk and play during this short period of time.

A report by the Carnegie Corporation of New York says that babies raised by caring adults in safe, stable homes learn more than other kids. Another recent report by the Families and Work Institute gave the following advice to help raise a healthy and happy baby:

  • Feed babies a healthy, well-balanced diet;

  • Both mother and child should visit the doctor on a regular basis;

  • Give plenty of love and care. Hold and touch your infants and pay attention to their moods;

  • Talk, read and sing to your child;

  • Teach children discipline - what is right and what is wrong;

  • Get involved with your child’s schools and pre-schools.

We asked Diana Ragasa, an expert in child development at Tufts University in Medford, MA, USA to answer some questions about raising a healthy child.

Q: At what age should I begin to read to and talk with my baby?
Diana Ragasa:
Start reading and talking to babies as soon as they are born. This helps them learn about communicating with other people. Children understand what you say even before they learn to talk. Babies can talk with their hands and their facial expressions, too. So pay attention. Your baby may be trying to tell you something.

Q: Should I play music for my baby?
Yes. Music is excellent for babies. Some mothers sing to their babies in the womb. Music is one of the best ways to learn language. Babies can learn numbers and their letters through the rhymes and repetition in songs. Children can also learn rhythm from an early age.

Q: Which toys should I give my baby? Is it important to buy expensive dolls and games?
Almost any object can be a toy for a baby. Colourful objects are best. They keep the baby’s attention. Just make sure the object is safe. Never give babies something they could swallow. Also, don’t give them anything too sharp or pointy. Cardboard boxes, colourful plastic dishes and containers are safe and entertaining. They make excellent toys. Give your baby a few dolls or stuffed animals. These toys help develop the imagination. Mirrors can be fun for children, too. They help children learn about themselves. Rubber balls also make great toys. Balls teach balance and hand-eye coordination. And they are fun. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get good toys for your baby. Just be creative.

Q: Is it bad to leave my baby in front of the TV?
No, not really. Studies show that watching TV can be good for a baby’s mind. The baby will pay attention to only some sounds and pictures. There are a lot of good programs on TV, but limit their time with the TV when they get to be about age three.

Q: How often should I take my baby outside?
Take your child outside as much as possible, especially if there is a park near you. But remember to watch your child carefully in the park. If you don’t have a park in your neighbourhood, you should still take your child on walks. Hold your child’s hand or use a stroller. It’s good for a child to see different faces and hear different sounds.

Q: Will children be confused if they hear more than one language spoken frequently at home?
Absolutely not! Young children learn languages much more easily than adults or even teenagers. It is second nature to them to keep different languages separate. If you want your baby to be bilingual, it is a good idea to let him or her hear both languages from a very early age.

Source: New English Digest


brain: cerebro
raised: criados
safe, stable homes: hogares seguros y estables
healthy: sanos, saludables
on a regular basis: con regularidad
infants: infantes, bebés
moods: estados de animo
get involved with:
involúcrate en, ocúpate de
as soon as they are born: apenas nacen
facial expressions: expresiones faciales
womb: panza, vientre
rhymes: canciones infantiles, rimas
rhythm: ritmo
almost: casi, prácticamente
colourful objects: objetos coloridos
swallow: tragar
too sharp or pointy: muy afilados o puntiagudos

cardboard boxes: cajas de cartón
stuffed animals: animales de peluche
help develop: ayudan a desarrollar
mirrors: espejos
rubber balls: pelotas de goma
hand-eye coordination: coordinación visual y manual
baby’s mind: la mente de un bebé
as much as possible: todo lo que sea posible
neighbourhood: barrio, vecindario
on walks: a caminatas
stroller: cochecito de bebé
absolutely not: para nada, en absoluto
teenagers: adolescentes
bilingual: bilingüe