Saturday, April 19, 2014

Babies...For Love and Science

Last month it finally happened...we welcomed Baby OpenScientist to the world!  He is a seven pound - fourteen ounce wonder of nature.  He brings up great joy and contentment.  He's also a great opportunity for new science.

From the moment of birth our baby was weighed, tested, and measured so doctor's can track his health.  In the age of electronic records it's the perfect opportunity to collect data on a person's life from the very beginning.  Data that can not only be useful in the future to potentially diagnose disease, but also to support research studies on the causes and courses of disease.

In our family we are adding to this data with the BabyConnect program available for both Apple and Android devices. This app let's you collect information on every diaper change, every nap, and every height/weight check your baby goes through.  It also can track medications, vaccinations, developmental milestones, and playtime activities.  These can be logged, charted, summarized, or downloaded for manipulation on your own computer.  All of his is key information for tracking your baby's health.  And it is key information that could be used in future research studies that need detailed health data from your newborn.

I will have more on these uses in future posts, but for now it's good to start early and get the data collected.

All of this now leads me to the book "Experimenting with Babies: 50 Amazing Science Projects You Can Perform on Your Kid."   Taken from articles previously appearing on Psychology Today blogs and recent peer-reviewed research studies, the book walks parents through experiments they can perform with their children demonstrating interesting aspects of their development.  For example, experiments that help show your baby really does like looking at mom's face, or that they understand what objects are theirs (versus those that aren't).  So it's a highly educational book to understanding your baby's growth. 

In addition, reading this book teaches great new ways to play with your kid.  For example, the section on infant reflexes is an interesting look at the motions babies perform without ever being taught, and demonstrate the power of genetics to inform early behavior.  But triggering those reflexes while lying on the floor is also a great way to play with your child.  It's scientific, you learn about your baby, and it's a bonding opportunity.  How can you pass this up?

Although it would take a while to perform all the experiments the book is a bit short.  However, you can also visit the author's Experimenting With Babies web page for updates as new research offers opportunities for new experiments.  So start with the book and playing with your child now, and keep adding new games as they get older.  You'll be happy you did.