In a recently released Pediatrics Monthly Feature article (10.1542/peds.2018-2007) from the Section on Pediatric Trainees (SOPT), Dr. Danielle LoRe and colleagues use a teaching moment in the Newborn Nursery to bring attention to the critical importance of supporting parents in talking, reading and singing with their baby and young child. These trainee authors speak to all of us in their review of the key role parental language and interaction play in brain development in young children. The authors persuasively walk us through disparities that have been identified, the need for resident education in this area, and the nuts and bolts of how to include this topic in an evidence-based advocacy curriculum.
This well written essay made me reconsider my newborn visit messaging. Certainly we are all aware that the sleep-deprived brains of new parents are not well equipped to take in multiple guidances, so we must limit ourselves to what is essential. Safe sleep, giving no drinks or foods except milk, and getting a thermometer to be able to check for a fever (including what temperature is a fever and why it matters) have been my “go-to” parent education at the 3-4 day newborn visit. Dr. LoRe and colleagues have convinced me to add “talk, sing, cuddle, read” to my content, and I am committed to following up at each visit. I’ve added “cuddle” because newborns, older infants, and parents too, need skin-to-skin love and I believe it strengthens the message. I also love the resources provided in the essay, several of which are new to me and will be a great addition to handouts and discussions: these include Too Small to Fail and Mind in the Making.
I think the bottom line here is that our trainees know a tremendous amount and have a lot to contribute to each of us in our ongoing lifelong pediatric educations. The SOPT section of the Monthly Features is a gift from our pediatric trainees to us all, and I hope you don’t miss an essay. Kudos to Dr. Rachel Elkin, Editor of the Section, as well as to past Editor Dr. Catherine Spaulding,MD, and Deputy Editor Dr. Trahern (TW) Jones, who put in many hours after their jobs at the hospital are done to make sure the essay content is high quality, polished, and above all, relevant.