Remembering Ron Lally

With a heavy heart we share some very sad news. Ron Lally, Co-Director of WestEd’s Center for Child and Family Studies and creator of the For Our Babies campaign, passed away January 22, 2020. His passing was unexpected and peaceful. The enormity of this devastating loss is overwhelming. We have lost an extraordinary person, a gentle and creative spirit, and a dear friend, while the field of early childhood development has lost a pioneering champion for our youngest children.

Ron worked tirelessly for decades in support of young children, their families and caregivers. His vision of high-quality infant/toddler care will continue to inspire early childhood educators and leaders around the world, and their continued efforts to support and nurture babies are a central part of his legacy. Ron’s work has touched countless infants, toddlers, families, and the teachers and caregivers who care for them, and we honor him with our own continued efforts to improve the lives of young children.

As many of you know, Ron and his team were in the midst of several projects related to For Our Babies, including a website refresh with new resources to help people to promote healthy development of children birth to three. We plan to continue this work and will let you know as soon as new resources are available.

All of us hold Ron in our hearts.
With sadness,
Peter Mangione and Julie Weatherston

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Now in Spanish: Getting it Right for Our Babies Video

We’re thrilled to announce that our Getting it Right for Our Babies video is now available in Spanish!

Haciéndolo bien por nuestros bebés

Con el costo promedio de cuidado infantil en los Estados Unidos equivalente a una matrícula universitaria y con millones de educadores de la infancia temprana que reciben salarios tan bajos, que a menudo les resulta difícil  mantener a sus propias familias, el Centro para el Estudio del Empleo en el Cuidado Infantil (Center for the Study of Child Care Employment) y Para Nuestros Bebés (For Our Babies) han lanzado un video de animación nuevo para ayudar al público  a comprender los desafíos que enfrentan las familias, los bebés y los maestros que trabajan con ellos. A través del relato de la historia de la bebé Eva, sus padres, y las maestras Nora y Carmen, descubrimos un sistema de cuidado infantil que no funciona y que necesita de nuestra atención inmediata. “Haciéndolo bien por nuestros bebéspresenta tres estrategias para corregir esta situación en los Estados Unidos: permiso parental pagado; cuidado infantil de calidad asequible; e inversión en los maestros de los niños más pequeños.

Same text in English:

Getting it Right for Our Babies

With the average cost of child care in the U.S. equaling college tuition and millions of early childhood educators facing wages so low they often struggle to support their own families, the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment and For Our Babies released a new animated video to help people understand the challenges facing families, babies, and the teachers that work with them. Through the story of baby Eva, her parents who need care for her while they work, and infant/toddler teachers Nora and Carmen, we discover a broken system that needs our immediate attention. “Getting it Right for our Babies” presents three key strategies to right this situation in the United States: paid parental leave; affordable, quality child care; and investment in teachers. 

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New Video: Getting it Right For Our Babies


New Video “Getting it Right For Our Babies” Describes and Offers Solutions to Repair America’s Broken Child Care System

With the average cost of child care in the U.S. equaling college tuition and millions of early childhood educators facing wages so low they often struggle to support their own families, For Our Babies and the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment released a new animation to help people understand the challenges facing families, babies, and the teachers who work with them. 

Through the story of baby Eva, her parents who need care for her while they work and infant/toddler teachers Nora and Carmen, we discover a broken system that needs our immediate attention. “Getting it Right For Our Babies” presents three key strategies to right this situation in the United States: paid parental leave; affordable, quality child care; and investment in teachers.

For your use is a FOB Social Media Toolkit with sample posts, tweets, and images. Organizations are also welcome to embed the video on their websites and blogs.

Research and policy recommendations aimed at improving how our nation prepares, supports and rewards early educators to ensure young children’s optimal development are available on the CSCCE website. A framework with which to assess proposed child care policy solutions is also available in CSCCE’s recent report, “What does good child care reform look like?

Additional information about the infancy period is available in another For Our Babies animation, “The Social Womb: Building Babies Brains”

Posted in Brain Research, Home, Paid Family Leave, Prenatal Care, Resources & Downloads | 1 Response

Early Caregiver-Child Relationships Build the Foundation for Lifelong Learning

Early Caregiver-Child Relationships Build a Foundation for Lifelong Learning, a featured article in this week’s WestEd R & D Alert, highlights a recent federal policy brief, Including Relationship-Based Care Practices in Infant-Toddler Care. The brief provides research-based guidance on how to raise the level of quality for out-of-home early child care.  The central message is the importance of supportive policies that focus on the relationship between caregiver and child as the key to strengthening healthy early development.

Read the full article and policy brief here:

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El vientre social: Cómo fortalecer el cerebro de los bebés

Nos complace anunciarles que “El vientre social: Cómo fortalecer el cerebro de los bebés”, originalmente escrito y narrado por J. Ronald Lally, está ahora disponible en español. Este video de 6 minutos muestra la necesidad que tienen los bebés, una vez que nacen, de que los cuiden dentro un “vientre social” que proporcione la nutrición, la protección y el enriquecimiento esenciales para el desarrollo saludable de sus cerebros aún en crecimiento. Lally recomienda tres políticas que son clave para asegurar la creación de este tipo de ambiente de apoyo: el permiso parental pagado, las visitas domiciliarias y el cuidado infantil de alta calidad.

La traducción y la narración en español fueron llevadas a cabo por Elsa Chahin.

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Now in Spanish! The Social Womb: Building Babies’ Brains

We are thrilled to announce that “The Social Womb: Building Babies’ Brains”, originally written and narrated by J. Ronald Lally, is now available to the public in Spanish. This 6-minute video depicts the need for babies, once born, to be cared for in a “social womb” that provides the nurturance, protection, and enrichment essential to the healthy development of their still-growing brains. Lally presents three key policy recommendations for ensuring creation of this kind of supportive setting: paid leave, home visiting, and high-quality infant care. Translation and narration in Spanish by Elsa Chahin.

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Podcast: Professional Expectations Without Professional Conditions

photo15-2In this episode, For Our Babies founder Dr. Ron Lally, from the Center For Child and Family Studies at WestEd, talks with Marcy Whitebook, from the Center for the Study of Childcare Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, about the current state of infant/toddler workforce conditions.  

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Length: 34 min 18 sec


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Promoting Peaceful Development of Our Babies

liling and baby


The Early Experiences that Lead to the Acceptance of Self and Understanding of Others

As we come to the end of 2015, it seems from the news we receive through our many media sources, that we live in a world consumed by fear and filled with violence and hatred. We at “For Our Babies” feel saddened by what we hear and see, yet know that if we play our part in getting society to see the importance of providing caring and rich early experiences to young children, some of this violence and hatred will be reduced.

Research has clearly shown that when interactions with young children are infused with the early provision of secure and caring nurturance, coupled with a deep understanding and support of their unique developmental agenda, children grow to be less fearful and more accepting of others. When children are treated with both caring nurturance and respect for their unique interests, they are inclined to develop a less fearful and more socially just worldview. They gradually come to expect that they, and others, will be treated caringly and viewed as the owners of basic human rights, including the right to explore their individuality, curiosity and creativity. The children learn to relate to others as they have been treated, and afford others the caring and considerations they have received. Let us all work to get the general public to understand the important link between early experience and how we come to think about and treat others.

The “For Our Babies” movement is based on the premise that, for a healthy self/other orientation to develop, children need early experiences with family and other caregivers who treat them with dignity and respect and lovingly expect the same type of fair treatment in return. We know that early experiences are incorporated into children’s first sense of self and also in their early expectation of others. These early experiences trigger one’s first sense of how he or she and others should expect to be treated and provide the base for later beliefs, behavior and interactions with others throughout life.

Enabling practitioners, parents, family members, and policy makers to provide the experiences and environments that enhance the development in children of this sense of social justice is critical component of the work of “For Our Babies”. It is those with whom children interact that shape their earliest orientation to social justice. Therefore, part of our effort is to advocate for policies and services that address and remedy socially unjust conditions impacting parents, providers and children that undercut the provision of experiences that support a child’s development and the development of a socially just worldview. Issues such as availability of parents to a new born, family poverty, infant/toddler teacher salary, and infant care quality are just a few of the inequities that need to be addressed.

As this new year commences, let us look not to the news that is filled with scenes of violence and hatred, but rather to actions we can take to promote the peaceful development of our children. Let’s start with our own babies. Let’s make the connection between the types of early experiences young children participate in and the development of a sense of fairness and social justice more obvious to the general public. Let’s advocate for policies, interventions, and services that clear away the socially unjust barriers currently impeding practitioners, parents, and family members from providing the young child with early experiences necessary to promote the development of both the acceptance of self and understanding of others.

We want thank everyone for being a voice in the For Our Babies movement and continuing to share resources and information about the needs of babies and those who care for them. We want to recognize For Our Babies New York for starting what we hope is the first of many state initiatives in the For Our Babies campaign. If you are interested in learning more about ways to get involved in the campaign, please email us at


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News Roundup

Study of Advertisements in Parenting Magazines Don’t Always Show Safe Practices A new study found a surprisingly high number of advertisements in the top U.S. parenting magazines show images or products that contradict health and safety recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Researchers found nearly 1 in 6 ads had at least one offense such as images of infants shown sleeping on their stomachs or promotion of unsafe toys such as infant walkers. “On an individual per-ad basis, there were relatively few egregious contradictions. But our concern is that repeatedly seeing images with unsafe practices–especially in a place where new and seasoned parents look for advice–can lead parents to assume these activities are endorsed by the experts at the magazines and lead to unsafe practices at the home,” said lead author Michael B. Pitt, MD, FAAP, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. Read more here.

New Study About Infant Visual Development Researchers from the IRCCS Stella Maris Foundation and the University of Pisa used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record brain activity in 7-week-olds while they were visually engaged and then again while they were asleep. The results showed a surprisingly mature visual brain. Understanding the precise location of different visual areas in the infant brain and the extent of their maturation, will ultimately guide clinicians in the effort to chose appropriate rehabilitation strategies during the right time-windows.  Read about the study here.

Staff Infections that Respond to Antibiotics are More Common and Similarly Deadly as Antibiotic-Resistant Strains Staff infections are a frequent cause of infection in hospitalized infants. Research by experts at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and the Duke Clinical Research Institute shows that strains of staph infections that respond to antibiotic treatment have just as high a mortality rate and affect more than twice as many babies as antibiotic-resistant strains. The findings suggest doctors should pay as much attention to staff infections that respond to antibiotics and include appropriate screening protocols at hospital newborn intensive care units as they do for resistant strains. Read the article here.

This News Roundup was compiled and co-authored by Jean Kurnik, M.A.

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News Roundup

More Hospitals Following Breastfeeding Standards According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, the percentage of US hospitals that follow international guidelines to promote breastfeeding (designating them “baby-friendly”) has grown from 29 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2013. The steps include 10 practices endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Examples of these practices include: communicating breast-feeding policy to hospital staff, helping mothers initiate breast-feeding within 30 minutes of birth, encouraging breast-feeding on demand, and giving newborns no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated, such as when taking a prescription that could be harmful. Hospitals also must not accept free formula from companies. These practices can make a difference in whether or not a mother breastfeeds as well as how long she will continue. Partly due to antibodies in breast milk, babies who breast-feed have reduced risks of respiratory and ear infections, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, diabetes and obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics says breast-feeding reduces postpartum bleeding in mothers and reduces their risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding also has been shown to help mothers return to their pre-pregnancy weight. You can read more about the report here.

Women with Elevated Blood Sugar Levels During Pregnancy are More Likely to Have Babies with Congenital Heart Defects New research out of Stanford University School of Medicine and Stanford Children’s Health found that pregnant women who have elevated glucose levels that don’t meet the diagnostic criteria for diabetes also face an increased risk for having children with congenital heart disease.  While the risks of gestational diabetes have been well-studied, less attention has been paid to smaller metabolic changes in pregnancy. “I’m excited by this research because it opens up a lot of questions about how physiologic processes in the mother may be related to congenital heart disease,” said James Priest, MD, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral scholar in pediatric cardiology. “Most of the time we don’t have any idea what causes a baby’s heart defect. I aim to change that.” The article can be found here.

Smoking Around Young Children May Lead to Behavioral Problems Researchers from Inserm and Pierre and Marie Curie University (UPMC), in collaboration with the university hospitals of 6 French cities have found that pre- and postnatal exposure to tobacco can lead to behavioral problems in children.  The association is stronger when exposure takes place during pregnancy and after birth. “Our data indicate that passive smoking, in addition to the well-known effects on health, should also be avoided because of the behavioral disorders it may cause in children,” concludes the researcher. Read more about the study here.

Infants Benefit from Word Repetition Recent research from the University of Maryland and Harvard University finds young infants benefit from hearing words their parents repeat. “Parents who repeat words more often to their infants have children with better language skills a year and a half later,” said co-author Rochelle Newman, professor and chair of UMD’s Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences (HESP). “A lot of recent focus has been on simply talking more to your child — but how you talk to your child matters. It isn’t just about the number of words.” To read more about the study click here.


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