June 2013 Brazelton Touchpoints Foundation News

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is bringing “Families Today” to its website

We are deeply honored that the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is bringing “Families Today” to its website. To learn more about this column, formerly syndicated by the New York Times, co-authored by T. Berry Brazelton MD and Joshua Sparrow MD, please visit:


A library of selections from Families Today is available online here:


Featured Article: A Vegetable-Resistant Toddler

My 3-year-old son will not eat vegetables at all, except (very occasionally) a couple of baby carrots. He has thus far defeated every one of the strategies I’ve used to sneak in veggies. He will eat certain kinds of fresh fruit, so I give him those whenever possible.

We also avoid sweets and use whole grains rather than refined flour. But I worry that he’s getting poor nutrition – his diet is so heavy on meat, cheese, pasta and bread (in addition to whatever fruit he will eat, the current favorites being cantaloupe and red grapes).

For his age, he’s only in the 25th percentile for height, while 50th for weight. Our pediatrician said he didn’t need a multivitamin and she didn’t see any cause for worry about weight. What do you think?

Vegetables! I hated them as a child, and I still hate them. My younger brother hated them more. As I watched my mother hover over him for hours trying to shovel vegetables into him, while completely ignoring me, I began to hate my brother even more than vegetables. Now you know why I became a pediatrician – to stamp out vegetables, and to overcome my guilt at wanting to kill my brother!

When I turned 50, I began to get along with my brother, but I’ve never forgiven my mother for vegetables. So every time I am asked about young children and vegetables (and in the course of 50 years of practice, I have discovered that my mother was not the only mother who cared so deeply about vegetables), I tell mothers, and grandmothers, “Forget about vegetables.”

They turn pale. Open their eyes wide. Feel faint. I offer them a seat, and repeat, “Forget about vegetables.”

As they gasp for breath, I continue, “When a young child struggles with you over food, you won’t win. The more you struggle, the more he’ll hate whatever you’re trying to shovel into him. Back off. Apologize. Let him know that you know that only he can swallow the stuff you prepare for him.”

As they begin to recover, they stammer, “Really? No vegetables? No green vegetables? No yellow vegetables?”

“Really,” I say. “You can cover them with a multivitamin during this temporary period,  usually between 2 and 3 years old, when any battle over food will backfire into even worse nutrition. They’ll make it through this with enough milk, meat, eggs, grains and fruit.”

As a pediatrician, I would carefully monitor for growth and general health. Height and weight need to be considered not only separately, but together, and not just at one single moment in time, but over time. The context of a child’s overall health, eating habits and activity level, and his parents’ height and weight, also need to be factored in. Any parent who is concerned about a child’s weight, height or eating certainly deserves to have this taken seriously by the child’s pediatrician.

Of course, the truth is that science is still working to identify all the active ingredients of vegetables, and how they promote health – and not all of these are contained in multivitamins. Yet even once this has all been fully worked out, there still will be certain basic bodily functions, such as eating and breathing, that we can’t take over or control for children.

Jessica Seinfeld has written an intriguingly entitled book, “Deceptively Delicious,” in which she whips up a number of child-friendly disguises for vegetables. If you try this kind of maneuver, try not to make an issue of it, or to take your stealthy nutritional missions too seriously.

Instead, keep mealtimes relaxing and enjoyable, and focus talk on fun things, but not on food.

Many children take time to acquire tastes for new foods, and their taste-sensing equipment actually matures with age. So in the meantime, you can introduce a vegetable over and over, in very small amounts, so that there is no pressure to try it.

The tiny bit of new and different food should just repeatedly appear without commentary, without pressure, without monitoring of or reaction to whether or not it is consumed. On the sixteenth time, you may be surprised to see the child give it a try, and you may be disappointed as you watch him spit it out. In the meantime, if you avoid processed sweets, and salty and fried foods, your child’s palate will not become overwhelmed with and addicted to these easy-reach taste blasts, and will be more likely to welcome the more subtle tastes of vegetables.

bNS_thumbnail.jpg© Copyright 2013. All rights reserved by Joshua Sparrow MD and T. Berry Brazelton MD.
This material may not be copied, published, broadcast or redistributed in any manner.
Photo credit: Insieme/Fulvia Farassino

Questions for Families Today can be submitted through this online form. Questions of general interest may be answered in this column, which may be posted on a Families Today web area or collected in book form. Drs. Brazelton and Sparrow regret that unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.

Responses to questions are not intended to constitute or to take the place of medical or psychiatric evaluation, diagnosis or treatment. If you have a question about your child’s health or well-being, consult your child’s health-care provider.

(Dr. T. Berry Brazelton heads the Brazelton Touchpoints Project, which promotes and supports community initiatives for families. Dr. Joshua Sparrow, a child psychiatrist, is director of Special Initiatives at the Brazelton Touchpoints Center. Learn more about the center at www.touchpoints.org.)

No More Newtowns by T. Berry Brazelton, MD


The Internet Newspaper: News, Blogs, Video, Community

Joshua Sparrow, MD co-authored this blog.

No More Newtowns

In my 50 years in practice, like most pediatricians, I lost children to diseases we didn’t have treatments for yet. Like most pediatricians, those inescapable tragedies made me more committed than ever to preventing the ones that can be. I waited until this New Year to put in my two cents about Newtown because I don’t want the talk about this preventable tragedy to stop until it leads to action. We’ve had too much talk already that hasn’t accomplished a damn thing.

Even if we can’t prevent all future mass murders, we can reduce their number with these three steps:

  • an assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clip ban,
  • an assault weapon buyback program, and
  • tighter background checks wherever and however guns are sold.

These measures won’t protect us entirely, but they’ve been effective in the U.S. in the past and in other countries in reducing shooting sprees and gun-related deaths. There is NO excuse for failing to do what we can and what we know works — now.

Yes, we ought to be providing decent treatment for people with mental illness, as early as possible in their lives, and support for their families. Mental illness is still so stigmatized that many who suffer from it don’t seek help, and their families often feel torn about seeking support. Mental health services are hard to find in most places, and often not covered adequately by insurers. In many states, budget cuts have recently gutted state mental health services. Often, such cuts are pushed by the same NRA-controlled politicians who won’t do anything about the gun glut in this country. They point to the mentally ill as the problem, but won’t do anything for them either.

Let’s not allow mental illness to be further stigmatized by events like the Newtown tragedy, nor to distract us from the solutions that are closer at hand. It’s a lot faster, easier, and cheaper to reduce the number of assault weapons in circulation than it is to identify, treat and contain the very small subgroup of people with mental illness who present a homicide risk. We need to do both, of course, but gun safety will make the difference sooner. Most Western democracies, including the U.S., have roughly the same incidence of mental illness. But all the others have vastly fewer guns in circulation, and far fewer mass murders.

In the U.S., we’ve had Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, Portland, Newtown and others — all in the past 24 months. We can reduce the number of massacres here, but not with more “debate” or “solutions” from the NRA. It has disqualified itself from solving this problem. There is no evidence that more guns in schools will prevent mass murders — armed police couldn’t stop the Columbine calamity. But the U.S.’s roughly 100,000 public schools would give gun manufacturers a huge new market, and that’s what they seek. Guns are durable goods, so sales fall once a market is saturated. Moving gun customers up to more expensive items such as assault weapons has helped sustain profits. But fewer Americans are buying guns as more move to urban areas.

The gun market is shrinking. The NRA does have a solution for this: more guns in schools. Will the NRA once again use gun manufacturers’ money to twist politicians’ arms, this time to get American taxpayers to pay for guns for every school in the country — a corporate welfare hand out to their donors, the gun manufacturers?

The NRA only has four million members, but as a Washington insider, big-government lobbyist for the gun industry, its influence has been disproportionate. Now, after Newtown and too many other tragedies, political leaders, voters and law-abiding gun owners must insist that the NRA stop interfering with the policies we need to protect children’s and other innocent people’s lives.

Here’s what you can do as a voter:

  • Check your senators’ and representatives’ voting records.
  • Find out whether they’ve accepted NRA money.
  • Tell them what you think about this special interest group’s opposition to proven, common sense protection for your children.
  • Use Facebook, web sites and letters to your local newspapers to call out politicians who take NRA cash and block sensible safety legislation.

Here’s what you can do if you have a pension plan or own stocks:

  • Dump all stocks in assault weapons manufacturers, dealers, and the companies that own them.
  • Insist that your employer’s 401Ks and other pension plans sell off assault weapons manufacturers’ and sellers’ stock.

The California State Pension System has proposed divesting itself of gun company stocks. Class action lawsuits against the NRA and assault weapon manufacturers may help too, as they have against manufacturers of other dangerous consumer products.

Money and votes will have to talk for the children and teachers who no longer can. Our voices will have to speak louder to politicians than the NRA/gun manufacturer lobby’s dollars do. Let’s get gun safety done — now — before the next preventable mass murder of children splatters more blood on all of our hands. They are all our children.

Copyright 2013 by T. Berry Brazelton, MD and Joshua Sparrow, MD. All Rights Reserved.

View the original article @ Huffington Post

White House honors Dr. Brazelton as Champion of Change

On Monday, June 18, the White House honored Dr. T. Berry Brazelton as one of 11 individuals from Head Start programs across the country who have demonstrated a commitment to delivering on the promise of Head Start in their local communities.

Over 45 years after its inception, Head Start continues to serve as a national laboratory for how we think about educating and caring for our youngest, most vulnerable children.

“Today’s Head Start Champions of Change have collectively shaped the lives of thousands of children and their families,” said Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy. “Each day, these Champions work to innovate and forge new paths to deliver the support that our most vulnerable children and families need to reach their full potential and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. This work is essential in helping our country win the future.”

Says Dr. Brazelton in his White House blog post, “Yet despite what we know about the long-term benefits of early education’s boost for early brain development, too many Head Start eligible children still aren’t funded for a chance at this life-changing, America-strengthening program…we can and must do more.” (Read the entire blog post here.)

The Champions of Change program was created as part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.

Read more: Dr. Brazelton’s White House blog post

Harvard Magazine Cover Story Features Touchpoints

Read about Touchpoints in the new issue of Harvard Magazine, available online!

Click here to read the full cover story.

Pueblo of Laguna Receives 2011 Center of Excellence Award from OHS

On September 30, 2011, Pueblo of Laguna, Department of Education, New Mexico, received a 2011 Centers of Excellence Award from the Office of Head Start, Administration for Children and Families, HHS.  Pueblo of Laguna, Department of Education is the first American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) Head Start program to receive this award.

Pueblo of Laguna, Department of Education,  has been a Touchpoints site since 2003 and have been integrating Touchpoints into their early care and education programs including Early Head Start and Head Start.  Congratulations to Ruth Kie and all her staff on this achievement.

Every Child Matters Honors Dr. Brazelton

On Thursday, November 10th,  Every Child Matters will honor two legendary children’s champions – our own world renowned pediatrician, author, and teacher T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. and former U.S. Senator and now Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America Chris Dodd.

Every Child Matters is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to make investments in children a national political priority.  Given the real threat posed to vital children’s programs by proposed federal budget cuts, the interests of children need to be heard.  ECM is working on several fronts to make that happen. 

OHS Family Engagement Framework and Webcasts Now Available

Ther Office of Head Start (OHS) has launched the Parent, Family and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework. The Framework is a road map for progress in achieving the kinds of outcomes that lead to positive and enduring change for children and families.  This research-based framework was created in collaboration with the OHS National Center for Parent, Family and Community Engagement awarded to the Brazelton Touchpoints Center and 4 partner organizations.  Visit the OHS Early Learning Center to download the Framework, access a series of webcasts and listen a national conference call to learn more about PFCE Framework.

These webcasts include the voices of parents, program directors, and staff discussing what the PFCE framework would look like in programs.  Topics included:

The PFCE Framework and School Readiness

Parent and Family Engagement Outcomes

Program Leadership and Family Engagement:

Children’s Learning and Development and Family Engagement



New Publication: Nurturing Children and Families, Building on the Legacy of T. Berry Brazelton

Nurturing Children and Families
Building on the Legacy of T. Berry Brazelton
Edited by Barry M. Lester and Joshua D. Sparrow

For more information, to request an examination copy, or to order, visit www.wiley-blackwell.com or call 1-800-225-5945.

 This volume celebrates the work and influence of T. Berry Brazelton, one of the world’s foremost pediatricians, by bringing together contributions from researchers and clinicians whose own pioneering work has been inspired by Brazelton’s foundations in the field of child development.
August 2010 • 416 pages • 978-1-4051-9600-0 • HB • $119.95
Click here for more information on this publication.