Drooling Tips & Tricks

Drooling is one of those wonderful stages that all children trek through. However, sometimes our tiny friends drool too much or for too long. If your child is drooling excessively, it’s time to check in on this behavior. It is best to visit your ENT doctor first so that they examine closely all of the physical structures. In the meantime, here are my favorite tips & tricks for our drooly loves!

Close It Up

If our mouth is closed, we are less likely to drool! I call this a “closed mouth posture”. This means that your child has closed lips and is breathing through his or her nose. Our noses are wonderfully designed for filtering (thank you, nose hairs), warming, moisturizing and smelling the air we breathe. The nose is also equipped with mucus that captures and kills germs. Nose breathing ensures proper balance of oxygen and CO2 levels in our bodies (mouth breathing usually leads to hyperventilation). The little ones that breathe through their mouth often snore at night, get more colds, feel fatigued and are at risk for crooked teeth. Research has also linked mouth breathing with behavioral difficulties, learning deficits and speech errors. Once you consult with the ENT and ensure that there are no physical factors interfering with your child’s ability to use a closed mouth posture, it is simply a matter of building a better habit!

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The influence of attention and caregiver-input on language development

Ask any psychologist what is one of the very first things they learn at school and, undoubtedly, the answer will always be genes vs. environment. We already know that environment and context play a huge role in our children’s development; today we’ll explore just how big a role it plays in language acquisition.

By environment, in this article, we’ll include specifically attentional abilities, a.k.a the ability your baby has to hold his or her attention to certain stimuli, and the quality of the input he or she is receiving (complexity and variability of the interactions).

To understand how attentional abilities play a role, we must understand the evolution of mother-baby interactions during the first year of life (dads, this includes you too!). Up until your baby is 5 months old, interactions are considered as “dyadic”; meaning face-to-face, one-on-one (only 2 elements are participating). As your baby grows older, these interactions turn “triadic” including objects (cue in all the cute, stuffy toys). What this means is that now these toys become an object of focus for verbal and attentional exchanges with your baby. This seemingly inconsequential transition is huge for language acquisition. It’s considered a turning point since your baby can start to relate words and sounds to specific objects and actions.

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Not set in stone: how environment shapes development

The environment your little one is immersed in is not only crucial in terms of memories and learning, it also modifies your baby’s genes even before he or she is born! Chances are you’ve heard of the debate of nature vs nurture, or the one about the determinant power of our genetic blueprint versus that of environmental factors.

This topic is particularly relevant to our generation since, just a decade ago, it was common knowledge that we were bound to particular predispositions determined by our individual genetic profile. Under this conception, things like temperament or resilience of cognition were as set in stone as our eye-color. In reality, the issue is far more complex as it is shown by research about how environment shapes development.

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Fostering Gratitude in our Kids

Studies show that people who regularly express gratitude toward others are more likely to be a helpful, compassionate, generous, happy, and healthy person. Although children can’t yet identify and express complex feelings, it’s important to begin to build a sense of gratitude from the early years.

There are many ways to nurture gratitude at home. Start by modeling it yourself and create family traditions that center around it. Here are some ideas:

  1. Let your children know what you appreciate about them. Notice all the things you appreciate and are grateful for about your children. Then simply tell them so! You’ll notice that appreciation is a great motivator, even stronger than praise.
  2. Model appreciation and gratitude towards others. Children learn through observation. They’re like sponges, absorbing information and then imitating and doing it themselves. Kids pay attention to the way we treat others; set a good example. Be caring and thankful in your everyday interactions with other people.
  3. Use the words “grateful” and “thankful” in your everyday vocabulary. By hearing it often, children will learn what these words mean. Tell them that being grateful means noticing something in your life that makes you happy. For example, you can say “I’m grateful for this beautiful day!”. Encourage the expression of their appreciation for the people who surround them and contribute to their lives.
  4. Choose a “gratitude” activity to incorporate into your routine. Whether it’s listing the things you are grateful for every day before you go to bed, sharing stories about thankfulness, gratitude and generosity; or keeping a gratitude journal together, incorporating an activity related to gratitude will help you practice it every day. Then, it’ll become part of who you, and your kids, are.

By practicing gratitude, we focus on the good instead of the negative things in our lives, helping us have a positive outlook. It’s one of the secrets for a happy life. Why not start today?

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My top 5 back-to-school books for little ones

Heading back to school can be an exciting, yet anxious time for parents and little ones alike. Books are the best way to get us prepared! They teach beautiful lessons and open the communication gates so that your tiny friend has a chance to ask questions and share feelings. Here are my top 5 favorites for this school year.

  1. The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School

This book truly gives me all the feels! Our little pout-pout fish is feeling nervous about his first day of school and is sure that he doesn’t have the know-how to get through the day. After heading into a few wrong classrooms, our brave pout-pout fish finally ends up with the “brand new fish” and learns some brilliant facts! His new teacher tells the class: “fact 1: your are smart, fact 2: you can get it, fact 3: you belong, so 4: don’t forget it!”. I just love this mantra so very much! And just like the other pout-pout series books, the singsong pattern will have your child immediately enthralled.

 

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Exploring the concept of “movement play”

If you’re a Kinedu advocate and have seen our activity videos, you’re most likely aware of the profound importance and link between physical activity and brain development. In this article we’ll explore the concept of movement play, analyze how this type of play impacts all four areas of early childhood development and what you can do to encourage it at home.

First things first, what is movement play?

One of your baby’s first ways of communicating with you is through movement. The idea behind this theory is that, through free play-movement, your baby is working on all of his or her developmental areas, not just the physical one. Movement play is when children move in specific ways as they go about their development and repeat these motions. From early reflexes, senses and movement, your baby is learning and stimulating his or her neurological system in many ways. Some examples considered movement play include floor play (tummy and back), belly crawling, crawling, spinning, rocking, rolling, etc.

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Water safety: Keeping children safe all year round!

Summer days and hot weather are the perfect invitation for relaxing at a pool, hanging at the beach and/or swimming in the lake. These activities are loads of fun, but also dangerous if precautions are not properly instilled. According to the CDC drowning is the leading cause of accidental or injury related death in children between 1 and 3 years old. Drowning is silent and quick. Children don’t trash around, they usually sink down to the bottom and lose consciousness after 2 minutes.

Adequate water safety can save your child’s life. Continue reading this article to find out the safety guidelines to follow.

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Brain-building through responsive interactions with your child

Babies arrive to the world in a state of complete dependency on their loving caregivers. During their first years of life, their brain is just as dependent as the rest of their body on the surrounding adult’s responsiveness. Harvard expert Jack Shonkoff PhD calls these critical moments where a child does something and the adult responds back (and vice versa) “serve and return interactions”. According to him, serve and return means you and your child are attuned to each other, engaging together in exploring the outside or the inside world.

As Dr. Shonkoff assesses, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second. The interaction of your baby’s genes, your caring and the attentive interaction with him or her will build your child’s brain architecture, one interaction at a time.

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Top 5 Traveling Tips

Traveling with our tiny friends can seem daunting –but proper preparation will make for a smooth ride! Whether it’s a long road trip, a train ride, or even a flight –these tricks and tips have you covered!

  1. Limit Screens

I know it is so much easier to keep your little one occupied with a tablet or device. However, screens really do promote self-direction and hyper-focused attention. That is, your child may direct all of his/her attention onto the tablet and forget that the rest of the world exists. We often also see a change in behavior following a significant amount of screen time. It is suggested that for children 2-5 years of age screen time should be limited to a maximum of 1 hour per day. (Okay, PSA on screen time complete!)

  1. Pack The Right Entertainment

I am all about packing smart, speechy activities to keep your tiny friend endlessly entertained! First, the Melissa and Doug Memory Travel Game comes with an easy to hold flip board and 7 game cards to switch out –it is also interactive if you are travelling with 2 or more friends. Next, I love the Crayola Travel Kit –coloring is a calming and grounding experience. You can make it interactive and play Pictionary or send letters back and forth to each other. Lastly, there are tons of Reusable Sticker Books that are great for travel since you can’t ruin the stickers and you can play over and over again. You’ll want to pack games without pieces that may get lost, quiet options since repetitive noises are the pits, and most importantly activities that motivate your little one.
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The importance of “being there”

Amidst all the chaos and our frantic day to day, it’s easy to lose sight of one of the most important things in early childhood development: being there. From numerous studies, we understand that in order to have a healthy brain development in babies and toddlers, they need a stable, responsive and supportive relationship with a parent or caregiver.

As a parent who’s fully devoted to their child’s well-being and development, you’re acting as a buffer for any potential stressful situation at all times. If a child is subjected to massive amounts of stress or unreliable, absent adult relationships, his or her developing brain architecture may be disrupted, and, with it, the subsequent physical, mental and emotional health may also be affected. We’ve put together a few of the most important aspects and questions out there about the concept of “being there”.

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