Sun Editorial: Recent study shows infants and toddlers in New Jersey are doing OK

It’s not bad being a baby

By Alan Bauer

The more than 310,000 infants and toddlers who call New Jersey home are doing OK, not great, but improving, according to a recent national study found at StateofBabies.org.

The study looked at a variety of factors under three major categories: Good Health, Strong Families and Positive Early Learning Experiences. Overall, there were, of course, mixed results, but, overall, the state did pretty well.

In the Good Health category, positives included 15.2 percent of mothers in the state reported less than optimal mental health. While, ideally, that number would be zero, the national rate was 22 percent.

Also, the infant mortality rate here was 4.1 per 1,000 live births, compared to 5.9 nationally.

On the negative side, parents need to do a better job of taking their kids to the dentist. Only 24.4 percent reported taking their children in for preventive dental care, compared to 30 percent nationally.

New Jersey did well in the Strong Families category, with high marks for a low maltreatment rate, and a higher than average housing stability rate, for example. One of the bigger negatives was that 11.9 percent of respondents reported living in an unsafe neighborhood. That compares to 6.3 percent nationally. Also, children in New Jersey were more likely to be living in crowded housing.

The Positive Early Learning Experiences showed New Jersey parents like to sing to their babies, 62.9 percent compared to 56.4 percent nationally. Reading, however, fell a little short of that mark, with 37.9 percent of New Jersey respondents reading to their children, compared to 38.2 percent nationally.

Complete details of the study are available on the website.

New Jersey has its well-documented problems, but it’s good to see that, when it comes to its youngest residents, for the most part the state is doing well or at least moving in the right direction.