Can babies sense stress in others? Yes they can!

baby looking out window, appearance of being downcast

Stressed-out parents often wonder: Can babies sense tension and anger? Can babies sense stress in their caregivers? Experimental research confirms that stress is contagious.

How toxic stress affects child development

eyes of worried child peering out of space between slats on a wooden fence

Recent studies reveal how toxic stress “gets under the skin” — disregulating hormones, turning genes “on” and “off,” and altering a child’s brain.

Poor sleep intensifies next-day stress for parents

tired mother working at laptop, eyes closed, rubbing head, with children in the background

Can a lack of sleep cause stress? Research confirms that we experience more stress the day after a poor night’s sleep. And the effects might be particularly noticeable for parents struggling to care for multiple children while holding down a job.

How do children respond to a mother’s voice?

fascinated baby watches mother talking on phone

© 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved A mother’s voice has special power. It can provide comfort — and improve outcomes — for babies hospitalized in the NICU. It can shape the way infants process language in the brain. And it can help children cope with pain and stress. What happens when a baby Read More »

Evidence that spanking alters the brain

toddler in profile, eyes closed, with a view of his brain superimposed over his head

© 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved As disciplinary tactics go, spanking is ineffective, and it may be harmful, too. A new study suggests that spanking alters the brain, making kids more reactive to potential threats, and more at risk for developing behavior problems. Over the years, I’ve followed the research on spanking, and Read More »

Parenting stress: 12 evidence-based tips for making life better

monkeys - infant macaque sitting on, and embracing, its mother

© 2016 – 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Parenting stress puts a strain on the whole family — sapping patience, damaging relationships, eroding well-being.  What can we do about it? Here are some suggestions inspired by the latest research.  1. Need social support? Reach out — even if it’s just a phone call Read More »

Infant crying, fussing, and colic: A thinking parent’s guide

father conforts crying infant

Are you coping with infant crying, fussing, or colic? Babies everywhere cry, especially during the first 3 months after birth. Even chimpanzees follow this pattern (Bard 2004). Like it or not, crying is a universal mode of communication for our species. But that doesn’t mean we’re helpless to improve the situation. Parents can have an important Read More »