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Cuddle power nurtures little minds Share on Facebook
PARENTS need to be reminded to kiss, cuddle and talk to their babies to help prevent children growing up with developmental delays and emotional disorders, the NSW Government said.

by fairfax - Sunday, 28 September 2008

A handout being distributed through child and maternal health services warns infants who are rarely spoken to, receive limited physical affection and have little opportunity to play and explore their environment may not fully develop the brain connections and pathways needed to learn.

Child development experts said the chart and DVD Love, Talk, Sing, Read, Play was needed to show parents that "children learn best if they feel safe and loved."

Sydney Children's Hospital executive director Les White said while to many the advice may seem obvious, there were parents who had no idea how much interaction infants need with adults for brain development.

"Lots of young parents today have little support or knowledge about kids, their extended family is not around to give advice, they've had no experience with children, and babies don't come with an instruction manual," he said.

Just spending a few minutes each day talking, singing nursery rhymes, telling stories and reading books helps them to learn to communicate, think and cope with feelings, long before they can read or speak, he said.

"Everyone is much more likely to be working or be very busy these days but we're not saying you should feel guilty or change your job or lifestyle, and you don't need expensive or sophisticated toys."

Produced by Families NSW, the guide targets fathers, who traditionally have been discouraged from showing affection, particularly in public.

It has been translated into Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese.

But fathering expert Richard Fletcher from the University of Newcastle said : "Not once is the word father mentioned, and the only two pictures of adults [are] a mother and baby and a father with a football - I don't know how it could be more stereotypical."

Cara Budge takes son Liam, 3, to a music group where children, their parents and grandparents sit together and sing, clap and play music. The session ends with all family members cuddling.

Mrs Budge, whose eight-year-old son Aidan has a disability, said boys sometimes received less affection than girls: "Just because they're a boy doesn't mean they don't need kisses and cuddles, too."

Today's lesson parents are receiving play and affection instructions.


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