Dear Bianca: Use your heart to build your baby’s brain
Recent brain research is clear: babies’ brains develop through their interactions with their primary caregivers, and the types of interactions they have impact their brains differentially. Babies depend on their primary caregivers for physiological self-regulation and brain organization in the early months. What babies need is a consistent, sensitive, and appropriately responsive caregiver for optimal development. In this regard, the baby’s brain mirrors the parent’s heart.
Vonda Jump Norman is a researcher in the Research and Evaluation Division of the Center for Persons with Disabilities in the College of Education, with an emphasis on systems of care affecting infants in orphanages, parent-child relationships during the first years of a child’s life, and an interest in the intersection of physical and mental health. She is the Principal Investigator of several projects, including a Department of Defense project to investigate the effects of infant massage on father-infant relationships on military installations with high rates of deployment to Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Vonda has conducted training and/or research in orphanages in Ecuador, Haiti, India, and Russia.
“What inspires me in my field is visiting an orphanage where caregivers work so hard and have so little education and means, and they are there every day taking care of babies,” Vonda said.
Vonda is fluent in French; she loves running (a former college distance runner), skiing, snowboarding, cooking, and spending time with her family. A tender heart by nature, she fosters puppies for Four Paws Rescue of Utah.
“There is so much good in the world. I try not to listen to the news. We get what we focus on and I like to know about the positive things that are happening.”