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Live webchat with Professor Robert Winston, all about baby and child development, Wednesday 19 December, 1pm

(139 Posts)
AlexMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 18-Dec-12 10:03:20

We're very happy that Professor Robert Winston will be joining us on Wednesday afternoon at 1pm for a live webchat!

Professor Winston is one of the founders of IVF and presenter of a number of BBC documentaries including 'Child of our time', Super Human and the award winning 'Human Body'. Professor Robert Winston will be talking to us about brain development and how you can help your baby in their first few years.

His latest venture is advising and presenting 'The Essential Baby Care Guide'. This set of four DVDs features leading experts research including that from the Royal College of Paediatrics, UNICEF UK, St Johns Ambulance, The National Literacy Trust, the Meningitis Research Foundation and the Child Accident Prevention Trust.

The complete guide costs just £35, whilst individual DVDs are £10 each (inc. P&P) . Mumsnetters are able to get a £10 discount on the Complete Guide by entering the code MUMSNET when purchasing online before 31st December 2012. See:

Join Robert on Wednesday at 1pm or, as always, please post your advanced questions on this thread.

JugglingMeYorkiesAndNutRoast Fri 21-Dec-12 11:09:07

< waves to LeBFG .... just for fun ! smile >

LeBFG Fri 21-Dec-12 09:58:11

I have a similar mum to Juggling grin. I can be quite grumpy/negative too so naturally think there's a link grin. Interesting you mentioned the word resilience though Boffin. I often wonder whether people born into less well-adjusted families, let us say, are more resourceful (relying more on inner resources) and resilient to life's buffetings. Dunno really though - something I've wondered before now though.

JugglingMeYorkiesAndNutRoast Thu 20-Dec-12 19:00:57

BTW I can be quite grumpy myself - I blame my mother wink (half-joking - and she has poorly developed sense of humour herself - think Benny Hill grin)

JugglingMeYorkiesAndNutRoast Thu 20-Dec-12 18:58:06

I think people who know how to laugh and have fun probably have the personal resources to bond better with their babies yes Boffin
Very wise people like the Dalai Lama usually have a well developed sense of humour.
I imagine like many things successful bonding and attachment is on a spectrum - but probably as long as you (not personally obvs !) and baby aren't at extreme negative end it can be OK developmentally for the child ?

BoffinMum Thu 20-Dec-12 18:48:08

Why not? Because grumpy people don't bond? That's a serious question, by the way.

JugglingMeYorkiesAndNutRoast Thu 20-Dec-12 16:28:21

They wouldn't have equally good attachment and bonding with their parents IMHO Boffin !

BoffinMum Thu 20-Dec-12 10:45:06

MNHQ, could you send the following follow up question to him for me? If I ask very nicely?

If you took two children who had both experienced equally good attachment/bonding with their parents, and one child lived in a house where people laughed a lot and encouraged fun, whereas the other child lived in a house where people were habitually grumpy, would growing up in this environment have a physical effect on a developing child's brain (as well as his or her sense of optimism/resilience)?

gazzalw Thu 20-Dec-12 09:49:04

Didn't answer mine either but was incredibly impressed by the number he did answer!

zzzzz Thu 20-Dec-12 09:28:43

Mne wasn't either. I think there's just only so much time, so it's inevitable that only some ar going to be lucky,

RailRoaded Thu 20-Dec-12 08:52:05

My question wasn't answered even though people who asked after me got a response. Goes off to sulk...

jetstar Thu 20-Dec-12 07:52:24

Very interesting! Thank you!

JugglingMeYorkiesAndNutRoast Wed 19-Dec-12 22:47:08

Ooh, I can't wait for the next update on Child of Our Time - like another poster my DC's are around the same age - one slightly older, one slightly younger - so I've been following it closely.

Thanks for such an interesting webchat thanks

MrsJREwing Wed 19-Dec-12 21:50:17

Yes lovely webchat, so pleased there will be more child of our time.

blossombath Wed 19-Dec-12 20:32:35

Great webchat - lovely of Prof Winston to answer so many questions. Thanks!

RobertWinston Wed 19-Dec-12 15:29:39


Is intelligence fixed by genetics or mallible. How much difference does parenting/ effort by the child actually make to academic achievement. Can you tell if a small child is gifted/ has learning difficulties accurately?

Both are important. Parenting is extremely important in academic achievement.

RobertWinston Wed 19-Dec-12 15:27:09


Are some parenting styles better for your baby's brain development than others?

Dear dippyegg. As long as the baby is experiencing love, warmth, plenty of skin to skin contact, & common sense when it comes to the basic care issues such as feeding and sleep, then you will be doing the best you can as a parent. Remember to talk a lot to your baby, and give them time to gurgle a response.

halfthesize Wed 19-Dec-12 15:09:01

Thank you so much for your help and advice Professor Winston. thanks

RobertWinston Wed 19-Dec-12 15:08:46


Will there be more Child of our time programmes?

I still think of the religious girl who lost her Mum.

There will be - but not sure when - watch this space.

RobertWinston Wed 19-Dec-12 15:06:10


Do you have any strong views on 'Attachment Disorder'? It still seems a popular theory with many social workers. Just wondering.


I think that a good, happy, consistent and loving bond with your parents is the foundation of good mental health. That's not to say that some children cannot overcome a difficult start, with the right help and support.

RobertWinston Wed 19-Dec-12 15:02:55


Hello Lord Winston: like others, I am a great admirer of your work. I wonder what you think about the impact of so-called 'helicopter' parenting is on children?

If by helicopter parenting you mean watching over them constantly, I think this is a mistake. Children need to be kept safe but micromanaging their every utterance, interaction and decision is not a good idea. Within a safe environment children need to be thwarted by peers, climb trees and learn to negotiate and get on with their friends.

RobertWinston Wed 19-Dec-12 14:59:33


Hi Professor Winston,

I was wondering what your views were on a toddler(age3) who from birth has had issues with
1: sleep(did not sleep through till 18 months and still up at least once a week)
2: eating (will not eat anything hot or veg or meat) He is a healthy weight but I am worried it will affect his development.
3: he finds pronouncing his 's' and 'f' a problem.

Love Chlid of our timegrin hoping for another series.

Your 3 year old doesn't sound very different from lots of his peers. The s and f sounds can come quite late (if you are worried you can contact the charity I CAN). Sleeping and eating are often areas of stress for parents at this stage. Try not to make eating a battleground but offer lots of choice and encourage eating with friends and family as children often try things in a social setting that they would not when being scrutinised by an anxious parent. As for the sleep, we have a great sleep expert called Mandy Gurney on our DVDs and she has a whole DVD dedicated to the science of sleep with lots of top tips on how to use your babies sleep hormones and daylight to improve night time sleep.

RobertWinston Wed 19-Dec-12 14:51:45


Hello Robert, I have always loved the programmes and articles you have done and my husband I particularly enjoyed 'Child of our Time'. We have a 5 year old son with a diagnosis of high functioning autism. He is in mainstream school and is making very good progress but obviously still has developmental delay and we fully expect him to always have issues. He has speech therapy activities daily at school and academically is coping well. Like many parents of a SN child we are always looking for 'answers' and also strategies for helping him with his brain development. Many things we have looked into are so expensive and our paediatrician is very dismissive of many 'interventions' e.g. different dietary programme etc. There is such little professional support and advice out there on SN, brain development and Autism.
I would be interested to know your opinions on the use of intervention programmes for brain development and learning skills past the age of 5 and where parents can start to find sources of support.
Also, do you have any plans to do any research in the area of SN in the future, with regards to development and brain development?

I think as a parent of a special needs child you are right to be open to new interventions. I am sure there is a big range from the frankly hokey to the good evidence based intervention. Sometimes support groups can offer very good up to date advice for parents in a way that a GP could never do. Good nutrition is always a good idea and factors like Vitamin D levels will probably be reassessed and the guidelines will change.
I don't have expertise in the area of intervention on learning skills in children over the age of 5 I'm afraid. Again, I would go to the support groups as a first point of call.

RobertWinston Wed 19-Dec-12 14:49:01


You haven't answered as to the whereabouts of the Child Of Our Time series. my daughter is about the same age and I always found it fascinating.

Is it due for a comeback now they are about to be 13?

Watch this space! RW

RobertWinston Wed 19-Dec-12 14:47:48


If you could pick three cheap or free activities to do with a young child which would be most beneficial to their brain development in a variety of ways, what would those three activities be? Why?

Thankyou! smile

Talk to them. Show them new things. Listen to their responses. Great question. RW

RobertWinston Wed 19-Dec-12 14:46:41


Do you think parents are supported enough to in turn support their child's development now that Health visitor support seems scarce and early years provision such as Sure Start is reduced. How can we persuade government to take early years support seriously and not just pay lip service to its value.

I agree that supporting children and their parents in those first few years is a vital moral duty that we have as a nation. One of the reasons I support and endorse the Essential Baby Care Guides is that they have been designed to help new and expectant parents to love, nurture and care for their babies.
We've been thrilled by the response from the expert organisations we've worked with, as well as the children's centres, the Dept Health and healthcare professionals. There is a strong will to try and support parents and babies in the community.
However, it is frustrating that as a rich nation we still see so much need for support of babies and their parents in our society.

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