Healthy Infant Development

Good morning! It’s Dr. Glen here again with another dose of Monday morning motivation. Today, we’re going to tackle a topic that I believe needs to be a greater concern in our society: childhood depression.

In Canada, the rates of childhood depression have been growing significantly over the last decade. As it stands, 5% of our young boys and 12% of our young girls up to the age of 12 have had some kind of major depressive episode. Furthermore, between 10 to 20% of Canadian youth are dealing with some form of mental disorder, the majority of which are depression and anxiety.

Perhaps most concerning is the fact that 7.5% of Canadian youth are on some sort of psychotropic drugs. That’s a five-fold increase over the last ten years. I think we can all agree that fewer kids on psychotropic drugs would be better.

So, what’s happening? What’s changing in our environment that more and more children aren’t developing properly socially and mentally? One prominent theory backed by research suggests that we’re losing physical contact with our kids, and this is affecting their social and mental development.

To counter this, our strategies need to revolve around increasing physical contact with our children. Here are my top five tips:

  1. Aim for natural childbirth: While this isn’t always possible, we should always aim for it. There’s no better option than natural childbirth for the baby.
  2. Skin-to-skin contact: This is especially important during the toddler stage. While there are many theories about how much contact we should have with our babies, I believe the answer is simply more.
  3. Longer breastfeeding durations: Most studies suggest that breastfeeding should be at least two years long. Again, just like natural childbirth, this should be our goal.
  4. Babywearing: This is probably the easiest tip to follow. It’s so easy to carry kids around in car seats or swings, but we’ve lost the art of babywearing. There are great wraps and snugglies available that make this easier.
  5. Co-sleeping: This is a hot topic, but there are many benefits to co-sleeping. When you look at what happens with co-sleeping, everything I’ve talked about in the first four tips becomes easier.

So, there you have it! Five ways to increase physical contact with our children to help them develop properly. If you know anyone who’s about to have a baby or has young infants and toddlers, please share this video with them. Here’s to raising healthier, happier children!