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Loving and Raising African American Children

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Breast is Best

Black mothers are the least likely group to breast-feed, the decision to nurse might raise eyebrows among friends and family and support may need to be sought elsewhere. Many local hospitals are part of the international Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, designed to support a mother’s breastfeeding decision. Tell your obstetrician you want to support to help breast-feed within the first hour after your baby is born, and make sure there is a lactation specialist to assist during your stay in the maternity ward. When you get home, check out

Talk, Talk, Talk
Just using Standard English (and minimizing baby talk) from birth gets those synapses crackling. According to Medina, children who were talked to regularly from birth to age 3 had higher IQ scores than 3-year olds whose parents talked to them less. Listen to your tiny baby’s coos and gurgles. When she pauses, make eye contact and respond in a complete sentence.

Read, Read, Read
Some of the best award-winning picture books feature beautiful brown babies to delight your own perfect-angel child. Make reading an interactive experience. Point to pictures and identify what you and your child see on the page. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers love to hear their favorites read over and over and over.

31/2 Turn OFF THE TV
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no television at all in the first two years of life. That includes DVDs marketed as educational. According to Medina, a University of Washington study found that none of the educational DVDs researchers tested improved the vocabularies of infants 17 to 24 months old-and some were actually harmful. For every hour per day the babies watched educational DVDs, they understood six to eight fewer words than babies whose caregivers kept the TV off completely.


Proper Praising
Don’t resist the urge to tell your children how smart they are.
A baby’s first job, Media says, is to stay alive; the second is to learn. Routine soothes and calms, enabling the child to focus on figuring out the world around him with confidence. Maintain your baby’s routine of meal, nap, bath and bedtimes from earliest infancy, and delight in the adorableness of it all when your toddler starts telling you when “it’s puzzle time” or “it’s cuddle time.”

The AAP suggests caregivers promptly respond whenever baby cries in the first few months, adding that you cannot spoil your baby by giving him attention, and answering his calls for help will help him cry less overall

Be Social and Go!
Early socialization builds friendships, increase happiness and prepares your growing child for school. Running around the local playground or park nurtures creativity-and will make your baby smarter.

Be Creative
Boosting your young person’s creativity is as easy as encouraging as they paint, scribble, shape clay and play dress-up.”The greatest pediatric brain-boosting technology in the world is probably a plain cardboard box, a fresh box of crayons, and two hours.”

Learning to self-soothe at night is a big step toward your child eventually achieving that independence, and an attentive caregiver will allow baby to cycle for wakefulness back into deep sleep without too much disruption from an adult, gently and over time.

Playtime is the Right Time
On rainy days when you and the child in your care remain indoors, think fewer toys, more open-ended play: Encourage your young one to make a play plan, such as, “I’m going to build a zoo with blocks and Legos.” “Guide” or “coach” make-believe with such language as, “I’m pretending my zookeeper is feeding the bears. What is your zookeeper doing?”

Toys that Teach
When you spend money on toys, think about nesting boxes crawlers can stack and build, beads and laces to develop toddler’s fine motor skills and toys that encourage make-believe such as pretend food, tools, animals and dolls for your preschoolers.

Be Easy on Yourself
Take some chill time for you. Stinfil says, if you are the primary caregiver at home, your ability to care for your child is only as good as your ability to care for yourself.” So don’t worry; relax and enjoy these early years,

Eisa Nefertari Ulen is a former teacher with an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and 20 years’ experience teaching at every level from Pre-K to college

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About Darlene Dancy

Darlene Dancy is the owner of Affordable and Historical Art. Darlene's goal is to educate, motivate and empower people of African descent to learn the rich history of African culture - past & present. Discover Black History written, researched and preserved by African American Scholars. Lectures, Documentaries & Auto Biographies on DVD's and Historical Black Print/Poster art

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