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Pandemic babies: Has isolation affected your child’s development? Doctors provide some advice

Doctors from Cook Children's and Children's Medical Center said parents shouldn't worry about having kept children away from others during the pandemic.

DALLAS — Last year, Aledo mom Marissa Torres made the tough decision to keep her children, who were 1 and 4 at the time, at home instead of at day care during the pandemic. 

But keeping her kids away from others was a decision that came with another set of worries. 

“What is it going to be like when we start to put him around people again? You know, is he just going to be panicked all the time and crying?” she said of her then 1-year-old son.

She is not alone with those fears.

Dr. Justin Smith, pediatrician with Cook Children’s, said many parents are coming to him, wondering if keeping babies and small children isolated at home is holding them back from developing properly.

“Lots of parents are concerned about what masks or not attending childcare at earlier ages is going to do to their children socially,” he said.

The good news, said Dr. Smith, as well as Dr. Sushmita Yallapragada, a neonatologist with Children’s Medical Center, is that you should not worry.

“This is a hot topic,” said Dr. Yallapragada. “It's important to remember kids, especially babies, are very resilient and adaptable.”

And they’re likely already getting what they need developmentally through simple tasks, the doctor said. Things like:

  • Reading to your child
  • Singing to your child
  • Talking to your child constantly/as often as possible

“That rich language around them will really help to decrease any risk we have for them from a speech delay or social impairment perspective,” Dr. Smith said. 

Reliable routines help, too.

“Making sure the baby or the child is waking up around the same time, is having breakfast lunch and dinner around the same time,” said Dr. Yallapragada. 

It’s all a relief for Marissa Torres.

“When we put them back out into the world, hopefully they'll adjust quickly,” she said.