My baby the Lab Rat - Part 3

Get Things Moving

Before you can have any success with toilet training, you must first help empty his enlarged intestine, which is a two-step process. Remember: This plan is designed for children with constipation that's lasted for many weeks - not those who've only had trouble going for a few days. Treatment begins with the cleanout.' and this initial unclogging a temporary problem pooping, but it hasn't been shown to be all that beneficial for kids who have a serious, chronic situation.

Once pooping gets very painful, many kids do a sort of constipation process can take several weeks. The object is to gradually get rid of the rock-hard stool that has accumulated in the colon. Unfortunately, many chronically constipated toddlers need more than two months of intensive laxative treatment to get results. No medical studies have identified a single best method, so parents have several options. Halfway measures don't work; in 2004, University of Virginia researchers found that adding fiber and water, using laxatives for only a few.

My baby the Lab Rat - Part 3


By observing how babies make decisions about their actions, researchers learn how infants awareness of their body and their environment develops. The experiment Walking through doorways of different sizes. Researchers are trying to find out how babies decide whether they can fit through a doorway. The child has to size up his own body and the dimensions of the door without being able to see both simultaneously. Baby Andrew's challenge He must repeatedly walk barefoot over an elevated walkway and through a sliding wooden door. The opening starts out large, then gradually narrows by 1-millimeter increments. The researchers aim for 40 to 60 trials with each baby. I'm to sit at the end of the walkway and encourage Andrew to come to me. The experiment is taped. How'd it go? Andrew and doorways don't mix. The researchers tried to warm him up by playing with him first and then by moving toys onto the walkway, but he just wouldn't budge.


Researchers in the Communication Lab study how babies learn language. The experiment Watching a live play. The study focuses on whether 12- to 14-month-olds understand that you can use words to get something you want. Baby Andrew's challenge To watch a show. The cast: two actors. The props: a blue rectangle and a red funnel. Actor #1 pantomimes with the blue rectangle. New scene: Actor #1 can't reach the rectangle. She utters a made-up word - toma - to let actor #2 know she wants the blue rectangle. Actor #2 hands it over. The curtain closes and reopens. Actor #1 says toma, and this time actor #2 hands her the red funnel. Is the baby surprised that actor #2 responds to the same word by handing over a different object? How'd it go? I couldn't tell if Andrew was surprised, but he was happy on my lap! If a baby is surprised, he'll watch for longer, up to 60 seconds, which means he understands a word is being used to communicate.

Research on Babies and Risk-Taking

• It takes a baby an average of 20 weeks to master a skill like sitting, crawling, cruising, or walking. Along the way, your child is bound to have accidents, so you need to supervise her closely. Studies have shown that an inexperienced walker might walk off the edge of a four-foot drop-off. After 20 weeks, however, a baby’s judgments are as accurate as an adult's, and she knows the limits of her abilities.

• By the time babies are 18 months old, they rarely listen to their mom when she tells them not to do something she considers dangerous. Normally, they size up a risky situation (like whether to climb down stairs) on their own and then decide whether they can do it. They will only defer to their mother's admonitions if the situation is truly ambiguous (there's only a 50 percent chance of success).

• Both moms and dads expect their babies to take risks (like crawling down a steep slope), although 11-month-old crawlers usually refuse because they know they could get hurt. By this time, they've had a lot of crawling experience and are less likely to make mistakes. But stay near your baby just in case.

How Babies Learn to Talk the Talk

• Even if your child can't speak - or says only a few words - you d be amazed by how much language he understands. At 18 months, babies are able to learn the name of a new object in 90 seconds, says Athena Vouloumanos, Ph.D., director of the NYU Infant Cognition and Communication Laboratory. Be as specific as possible when describing objects to your baby. You can talk about a blue bear, for instance, or a fuzzy bear, says Dr. Vouloumanos. Babies can learn the meanings of multiple words simultaneously.

• At 4 months, your baby is already able to tell the difference between two different languages simply by watching people speak but not hearing them, according to a study published in Science. At 8 months, babies can no longer do this, unless their parents speak several different languages at home.

• Studies show that newborns prefer speech over sounds that mimic speech (an electronically produced synthetic speech that does not sound human). Listening to voices helps attune babies to their native language.