Put your cellphones away, mums! Fragmented maternal care can reduce brain development in infants

Put your cellphones away, mums! Fragmented maternal care can reduce brain development in infants

A recent study has observed that fragmented maternal care can affect an infant's brain development. Here's what you can do maintain a work-life balance

Being a multitasking mother is a good thing. But, if it causes fragmented brain development of your baby, you should keep that cellphone away right away, says a study by Irvine researchers from the University of California, US.

The study, which was published in Translational Psychiatry, was conducted by Dr Tallie Z. Baram and her colleagues at UCI's Conte Center on Brain Programming in Adolescent Vulnerabilities.

What the study says

The study made startling observations about fragmented maternal care. It noted that harmless activities like using the cellphone or replying to texts can have a long-lasting impact on newborns. Here are a few important points that the researchers noted:

  • It observed that fragmented or chaotic maternal care of newborns can disrupt their proper brain development.
  • It observed that consistent rhythms and patterns of maternal care can greatly impact the brain development of a baby, which needs consistent and robust care.
  • It observed that fragmented maternal care of infants can lead to emotional disorders like addiction to drugs and even depression during adolescence or adulthood.

The Irvine researchers claim that this study is built on many other studies that renounce maternal care as essential for the emotional development of an infant.

In fact, the purpose of the study is not to show how much maternal care is responsible for healthy emotional behaviour of the infant, but the avoidance of fragmented maternal care.

How to avoid fragmented maternal care?

If you have also been struggling with multitasking your baby and a job, here are a couple of things you can do to manage both.

  • Stay true to yourself: You don't have to sacrifice your own passions and interest once you become a mother. It's important for you to spend time doing the things that you love to do. Reading a book, watching television, hitting the gym, baking or writing. Find a way to incorporate such activities in your daily routine. It's easier said than done, but keep doing what you can in the time you get, and the rest will follow.
  • Don't try to be a super mum: Yes, we know that you are one. But you don't have to prove it to anybody. Striving for perfection is not always the best idea. Trying to maintain perfection in everything should not be your goal. Delay your office calls to when you can freely attend them and take things as they are and do the best you can with the given situation. This way, you will learn from your mistakes will be able to deal with various parenting disasters.
  • Ditch being guilty: Guilt is one of most common side-effects of motherhood, especially if you are a working mother. It is a waste of time and energy and once you make the decision to go back to work or stay at home, do not second guess your decision. Nobody is perfect and as long as you love and care for your kids, it shouldn't matter how you do it.
  • Be their mother, don't try to hard to be a friend: Sometimes you have to set limits to what your children can be allowed to do. With the patriarchal systems altering in modern-day homes, democracy has taken over and everybody gets a say in every matter. But that does not mean your children have to be involved in every major decision making. Your job is set things right for your children, and this will help them in the long run.
  • Teach them to be self-reliant, have self-esteem and confidence: These are basic qualities that you must try to inculcate in your child from the very beginning. A person with these qualities is more likely to be happy and confident in the future. Such kids are also able to reach their full potential in life.


(Image courtesy: Parentcue)

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Written by

Deepshikha Punj

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