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Research Links Babies' Sleep, 'Executive Function' Skills

On Monday, the journal Child Development published a study by researchers from the University of Montreal and the University of Minnesota showing that babies who slept more during the night at 12 and 18 months performed better at 18 and 26 months on tasks requiring "executive function," such as controlling their impulses to focus on a task or adapting to changing circumstances. Night waking did not seem to affect executive function. (As the mother of a frequent night-waker, I'm breathing a sigh of relief here.)

Also this week, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association holds its annual conference in Philadelphia. Tomorrow, researcher Cynthia Puranik and co-presenters will hold a workshop presenting their recent findings that preschool children who could write their names well also performed well in phonological awareness and knowledge of the alphabet. The finding held true regardless of the length of the child's name. For more on the conference, see the press release.

Another conference workshop will address the question of how extended pacifier use affects speech. Researcher Danielle LaPrairie warns that pacifiers may interfere with the tongue-tip movement necessary for certain speech sounds. Though more research is needed to determine when is best to wean a child from the pacifier, she cites an American Dental Association study that shows children who use a pacifier beyond age 2 increased their risk of developing an improper bite, which can also interfere with speech. More details here.

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