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Understanding babies: Experts share early child insight

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DECATUR -- Whenever a new baby comes into the world, it brings opportunity for hope.

Those were the words of Claudia Quigg, the founder and former executive director of Baby TALK, as she and other experts in the field of early childhood specialists took to Central Christian Church on Friday night for a forum.

Since she founded Baby TALK in 1986, Quigg said the knowledge she and others have gathered on the role of newborns and young children in the family structure has continued to grow and evolve.

“I’m fascinated by the way families figure out how to give each other what they need as they walk through their lives together,” she said. “Years ago, I thought it was up to parents to build a relationship with their babies, but now I understand what newborns bring to the equation.”

Speakers at the forum also included Aimee Hilado, an independent research specialist and assistant professor at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and Ann Stadtler, a founding faculty member of the Brazelton Institute in Boston and a specialist in toilet learning.

The event was moderated by Millikin University President Patrick White.

The experts took a number of questions from the 20 people in attendance, from their approach in getting families to go along with themselves and their newborns being a part of a study to the best approach for getting one’s child prepared for potty training.

In the case of the latter, Stadtler said it is important for parents to follow the cues of their child, such as a child who wants to be in control having the power to potty on their own terms taken away from them.

“One of the insulting things for them if they want to go and some person picks them up and carries them to the bathroom,” she said, adding that such measures could lead to a more stubborn child.

The answers on the variety of questions were just what organizers had hoped when they set up the event, as Baby TALK director of development Julie Roundtree Livingston said Friday night was a chance for parents, caregivers and early childhood educators to ask questions of some of the top early childhood experts in the nation.

The forum was one of the series of events planned this month as Baby TALK celebrates its 30th anniversary, culminating in an anniversary gala tonight that will honor Quigg.

Aside from honoring its past, Livingston said the month also opens the door for the group to also look ahead.

“It’s for us to look forward and how we can continue to improve and expand,” she said.

'I’m fascinated by the way families figure out how to give each other what they need as they walk through their lives together.'

Claudia Quigg, Baby TALK founder

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