August 31, 2016
Written by Baby Science Live Coverage Team
As advocates for the health of children, we spend every day trying to improve the wellness of our world’s youngest citizens. Gathered here at the International Congress of Pediatrics (ICP), pediatricians and healthcare providers are learning from each other as peers and experts.
It’s been a few decades since most ICP attendees experienced life as a baby. Still, in our every day responsibilities, we are making decisions and choices for that very age group. Do we remember the soft touch of a caregiver? The smoothing smells of bath time? The calming melody of a lullaby, lulling us to sleep?
On Friday, JOHNSON’S® was proud to bring those memories to life for pediatricians through our multisensorial reception. By the end of the first year of life, 70% of an infants brain is already developed, and what a baby feels, sees, hears and smells determines which neural synapses survives. Sensory enrichment is key for the development of the youngest members of society. Multisensorial enhancement makes the most of every day moments by engaging the senses to stimulate and enhance baby brain development. At our Small Science reception, more than 150 pediatricians used their ears, eyes, noses, and more to take them back to their earliest days, “reliving” sensory activation that babies experience in their formative days. Our multisensorial enhancement experts presented at labs throughout the room inviting healthcare providers to not only learn about the benefits of infant massage and why some scents are best for baby, but to actually activate their own senses to experience multisensorial simulation first-hand.
We may remember the tender touch of a loved one or a softly sung lullaby, but we often forget the power of scent, explains Dr. Pamela Dalton. At the Multisensorial Bath Lab, Dr. Dalton brought laughter and smiles to attendees’ faces through “Making Sense of the Scents,” an exercise featuring samples of scents associated with baby care from around the world. Testing their sense of smell, pediatricians learned how olfactory enrichment stimulates synapse development and helps develop some of the strongest bonds between baby and caregiver.
When we hold babies, our natural inclination is often to cuddle them and bring them in close. Touch and care are linked so deeply and naturally, and together deliver powerful stimuli to enhance baby brain development. As far back as ancient Egyptian times, explained Dr. Tiffany Field, massage for medicinal care has been documented for its positive health benefits. In babies, skin-to-skin contact through massage has been shown to reduce cortisol, a biomarker of stress.1 Reconnecting with their sense of touch, pediatricians got a one-on-one tutorial on massage best practices and how to explain the benefits of massage to parents. This lab is important for mom and dad, too – the benefits of massage have positive effects for parents, as well!
At the “Science of Better Sleep” lab world-renowned sleep expert, Dr. Jodi Mitchell shared latest tools and recommendations for pediatricians to support parents in creating a sleep routine. More than 95% of pediatricians know that establishing a sleep routine is crucial for not just baby, but for parents as well.2 That’s why we offered a demonstration of the JOHNON’S Tonight We Sleep App, an app offering step-by-step plans for parents to assess their baby’s sleep situation, make a plan for sleep routines, and even “Ask the Expert” directly through a service provided in the app.
Why is it that certain melodies lull us to sleep? Globally, a typical part of bedtime is a lullaby. Pediatricians tested their knowledge by taking the “Global Lullaby Challenge,” a quiz featuring sounds, melodies and trivia on what lulls babies to sleep in different communities around the world. Teaming up with musical experts, we developed a singular, calming melody, uniting simple G and C chords with the rhythm of moms heartbeat to strike a chord globally for better sleep for children – a true global lullaby.
Dr. Paul Horowitz explained it best: “Everyday routines are unique opportunities. It’s just not a diaper change; it’s not just a feeding. It’s not costly, it just requires a little focus.” Like our reception, these routines activate the senses and help create the best future for baby. As we experienced together, the memory of these senses engaged through bath, touch and sleep serves as the foundation for decades of memories.
1 Hernandez-Reif M, Diego M, Field T. Preterm infants show reduced stress behaviors and activity after 5 days of massage therapy. Infant Behav Dev. 2007;30(4):557-561.
2 Mindell JA; Telofski LS; Wiegand B; Kurtz ES. A nightly bedtime routine: impact on sleep in young children and maternal mood. SLEEP 2009;32(5):599–606.