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W&M professor releases DVD for parents of infants

  • William & Mary's Child Research CenterVishton is the director of the Center which specializes in the visual-motor development of toddlers and children under 10 years of age.

    William & Mary's Child Research Center

Peter M. Vishton, associate professor of psychology at the College of William & Mary, has created a DVD for parents on the development of children between 0 and 14 months of age. What Babies Can Do: An Activity-Based Guide to Infant Development presents activities that enable an adult to test the vision, memory, and motor development of infants from the day they are born. The DVD is available at Amazon.com and at the web site of the Williamsburg-based company Power Babies.

In addition to showing some of the amazing things that even the youngest of babies can do, the video provides tools for tracking an infant’s perceptual, cognitive, and physical development. A sample activity is available online.

Peter VishtonAccording to Vishton, “Many new parents don’t realize just how intelligent and aware their young infants are. Right from the time they are born, children can see, hear, and follow things with their eyes. They can even recognize familiar objects and faces. With the methods shown on the DVD, parents can test these types of abilities. By repeating the activities as the child gets older, it’s possible to see a child developing right before your eyes.”

In addition to a general introduction, the 52-minute video includes eight sets of activities: Visual Tracking, Habituation, Pre-Crawling, Reaching, Oriented Reaching, Catching, Preferential Reaching, and Searching. The video is the first of a new type of product that is aimed at both parents and children. Unlike other DVDs that either present things for babies to watch by themselves or present information for parents to use by themselves, this video presents activities for adults and babies to perform together. The DVD has been designed to be especially useful for new and expecting parents, although the activities can be enjoyed with any child younger than 14 months.

Many parents visit Vishton’s lab on the William and Mary campus to participate in studies. Vishton has noticed how frequently parents are concerned about whether or not their child is developing well. “Many parents that I talk with want to have some reassurance that their baby is 'doing okay.' This is totally normal. The baby can't tell them how things are going, of course, and visits to the pediatrician's office can be few and far between. This DVD isn't intended as a medical tool, but it does allow parents to experience their baby's development in a lot more detail than they otherwise would.”

Much developmental science research has shown that young infants are active and aware thinkers who benefit from stimulation and interaction with the people around them. This DVD fosters those interactions while helping babies and parents to have more fun together.

Vishton has studied infant development for over 20 years. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. His research has explored perception and action control in both adults and infants. Vishton has served as the Program Director for Developmental and Learning Sciences at the National Science Foundation, and is a Consulting Editor for the journal Child Development.