Head-mounted cameras enable psychologists to track how the movement of caregivers' eyes affect infants' attention. (Chen Yu)

Baby’s attention span suffers when parents are distracted during playtime

*Photo by: Chen Yu

Do your eyes frequently wander off while playing with your baby? If you do, it’s time to put the smartphone or any other distractions away when you are in the playroom. Locking eyes with your little one and the toys you are both playing with during playtime can actually benefit his or her cognitive development a lot, specifically his or her attention span. Sustained attention is important because it’s a strong indicator of future success in areas such as language acquisition, problem-solving, and other key cognitive milestones. Continue reading

Independent play: Encouraging exploration and creativity

Teaching toddlers to play independently helps them build creativity and critical-thinking skills, and helps parents catch a break too! Independent play is important because it teaches children how to entertain themselves and helps them become more self-sufficient. This type of play usually occurs during the toddler stage.

It’s not always easy getting kids to play alone, they do love our company! But give it a try, one step at a time. At first, try to just sit beside your little one silently, while he or she plays. Let him or her explore the play materials freely. Once he or she is absorbed in the activity, try moving to another part of the room. Your toddler will still feel comfortable with you nearby. When your little one is happily playing on his or her own, try not to hover, but make sure his or her play area is safe and comfortable. Continue reading

Our wonderful bodies: Fostering a positive body image in children

As a parent, you are your child’s first role model and the biggest influence in their lives. So what you do and say matters.

Kids are like sponges, they absorb everything provided to them by the environment and that includes our actions. Our attitudes towards ourselves and others imprint on them and can provoke the occurrence of certain beliefs as early as toddlerhood. We as parents play a very important role in helping build a healthy body image in our children that will make them appreciate and love their bodies. It’s never too early to start! In fact, if we start early we can help build a healthy self-esteem and in turn favor our children’s emotional and social well-being. Continue reading

Recommended hours of sleep: 21 – 24 months old

A nice and well rested sleep is very important to restore our body and brain. Sleeping well is associated with a better mood, temperament, physical performance, and a positive attitude. Sleep is essential for our brain, during this time it consolidates and organizes everything that happened in the day. In our children’s case, sleeping allows them to continue growing and to wake up full of energy, eager to keep learning and exploring their surroundings. Sleeping is very important for both adults and children.

Sleep is essential for children. It helps them restore their energy for the upcoming day and it fosters physical and cognitive growth. When they sleep children save energy, allowing them to gain weight and grow. Their vital organs also mature. Likewise, sleeping helps them wake up with enough energy to move, walk, learn, talk, and explore the world around them.

Around this age, children normally need only one nap during the day, sleeping for about an hour. This gives them more time to explore their surroundings and play during the day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleeping range for children that are 21-24 months old is between 11-14 hours a day. Some kids sleep more or less, however, experts don’t recommend that your little one sleeps above or below a 9-16 hour range at this age. If you think your child is sleeping more than needed, you can try shortening his naps and doing a lot of activities to ensure that he receives enough stimulation in the day. On the other hand, if your little one sleeps less, try to strengthen his sleep routines and remember to have a nap before 4 pm. Sleeping well allows your little one to keep learning and stay active. Your baby will receive so much stimulation and affection during the day, and while sleeping, his brain will consolidate the moments and new findings.

Remember not to worry too much about the precision of sleeping hours. It’s important to keep in mind the recommendations regarding hours of sleep, but remember that every child is different. The best way to know if your little one is sleeping well is by noticing if he is happy and well rested, or if he is tired and irritable during the day.

Fostering my little one’s autonomy at bedtime

You’ve probably noticed that your little one seeks more independence now. He is entering a stage in which he begins to define what he likes and doesn’t like, and wants to exercise his autonomy. If your little one is at this stage, and you notice that he resists bedtime, a good piece of advice is to allow him to participate in the routine. Here are different ideas that you can try at home to encourage your child’s independence and help him enjoy bedtime.

• Continue implementing your regular bedtime routine but give him the opportunity to express his opinion and to make his own choices.

• Give him pajamas options, let him choose the story you’ll read together, which stuffed animal to sleep with or even how many of them! Letting him participate will make your little one feel that he is in control of his own decisions.

• Decorate his room with his favorite stuffed animals, so he feels comfortable and enjoys it.

• Let your child choose his favorite night light.

• When providing options, the trick is to only give two or three options among which to choose from. Make sure that options are something that you would approve.

• Don’t ask your little one if he wants to go to sleep or not, because he can answer “NO!” Instead, ask “Do you want to go to bed before or after listening to the goodnight story?”

Remember that in spite of being open to giving your child options to choose from, you are in charge of his sleep. You have the final say, not your little one, so feel confident to establish the necessary rules for your child to sleep well. Sympathize with and listen to your child, you can say: “I know you want to stay up, but it’s bedtime. Let’s choose your pajamas and the goodnight book.” You can also ask: “Do you want to brush your teeth before or after putting on your pajamas?” Providing options allows you to reach your goal and fulfill your purpose as a parent: peacefully helping your child do what’s best for his well-being.

Recommended hours of sleep: 17 – 20 months old

A nice and well rested sleep is very important to restore our body and brain. Sleeping well is associated with a better mood, temperament, physical performance, and a positive attitude. Sleep is essential for our brain, during this time it consolidates and organizes the day’s events. In our children’s case, sleeping allows them to continue growing and to wake up full of energy, eager to keep learning and exploring their surroundings. Sleeping is very important for both adults and children.

Sleep is essential for children. It helps them restore their energy for the upcoming day and it fosters physical and cognitive growth. When they sleep children save energy, allowing them to gain weight and grow. Their vital organs also mature. Likewise, sleeping helps them wake up with enough energy to move, walk, learn, talk, and explore the world around them.

Around this age, children normally need only one nap during the day, sleeping for about an hour. This gives them more time to explore their surroundings and play during the day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleeping range for children that are 17-20 months old is between 11-14 hours a day. Some kids sleep more or less, however, experts don’t recommend that your little one sleeps above or below a 9-16 hour range at this age. If you think your child is sleeping more than needed, you can try shortening his naps to ensure that he receives enough stimulation in the day. On the other hand, if your little one sleeps less, try to strengthen his sleep routines. Sleeping is essential, as it helps strengthen your child’s immune system. Plus, he will be in a better mood during the day and more receptive to learning language, movement, and cognitive skills. You’ll probably be chasing your little one all over your house throughout the day; this is good because it means he has a lot of energy and will hopefully be tired for bedtime. Then, while sleeping, your little one will be reinforcing what he learned during the day, because the brain uses sleep to organize the day’s events.

Recommended hours of sleep: 13 – 16 months old

A nice and well rested sleep is very important to restore our body and brain. Sleeping well is associated with a better mood, temperament, physical performance, and a positive attitude. Sleep is essential for our brain, during this time it consolidates and organizes the day’s events. Similarly, getting enough sleep allows us to wake up feeling refreshed and full of energy. If sleep is extremely important for adults, you can imagine how important it is for babies that are still growing!

Sleeping is essential for children. It is a key aspect in the development of their central nervous system; their brains require it to develop properly and their bodies to grow. When a baby sleeps, he saves energy, allowing him to gain weight and grow. Sleeping allows little ones to wake up ready to explore their surroundings with enough energy to start moving around, walking, and learning about the world around them.

At this age, children should continue taking a nap during the day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleeping range for children that are 13-16 months old is between 11-14 hours a day. Some kids sleep more or less, however, experts don’t recommend that your little one sleeps above or below a 9-16 hour range at this age. If you think your child is sleeping more than needed, you can try shortening his naps to ensure that he receives enough stimulation in the day. On the other hand, if your little one sleeps less, try to strengthen his sleep routines. Sleeping is essential, as it helps strengthen your child’s immune system. Plus, he will be in a better mood during the day and more receptive to learning language, movement, and cognitive skills. Then, while sleeping, your little one will be reinforcing what he learned during the day, because the brain uses sleep to organize the day’s events.

Recommended hours of sleep: 10 – 12 months old

Sleep is essential for leading a healthy life. It allows our body to rest, and maintain good mental and physical health. Sleep is essential for our brain, during this time it consolidates and organizes the day’s events. Similarly, adequate sleep hours allow us to go through different stages of sleep, achieving a restorative sleep. If sleep is extremely important for adults, you can imagine how important it is for babies that are still growing!

Sleep is vital for babies. Their brains require it to develop properly and their bodies to grow. When babies sleep, they restore their energy, their bodies release growth hormones, and they consolidate the day’s findings. Sleeping helps them wake up ready to explore their surroundings with enough energy to move and crawl around. It also helps them be happy and in good spirits!

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleeping range for babies that are 10-12 months old is between 12-15 hours. Some babies sleep less, between 11-13 hours and others more, up to 19 hours a day. However, experts don’t recommend that your little one sleeps above or below this 11-19 hour range. If your child is sleeping more, you can try shortening his naps so that he receives enough stimulation during the day; if he sleeps less, try to emphasize his sleep routine. Keep in mind that after the first year, the recommended hours of sleep are 11 to 14 hours a day

Recommended hours of sleep: 7 – 9 months old

Sleep is essential for having a healthy life. It allows our body to rest, and maintain good mental and physical health. Sleep is essential for our brain, during this time it consolidates and organizes the day’s events. Similarly, adequate sleep hours allow us to go through different stages of sleep, achieving a restorative sleep. If sleep is extremely important for adults, you can imagine how important it is for babies that are still growing!

Sleep is vital for babies. Their brains require it to develop properly and their bodies to grow. When a baby sleeps, he saves energy, allowing him to gain weight faster and have a healthy development. Also, his organs mature and his immune system grows stronger to protect him from diseases and infections.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleeping range for babies that are 7-9 months old is between 12-15 hours. Some babies sleep less, between 11-13 hours and others more, up to 19 hours a day. However, experts don’t recommend that your little one sleeps above or below this 11-19 hour range. Sleeping less than recommended deprives their bodies of rest and the benefits provided by sleep. When your baby sleeps, he is recharging the energy necessary to crawl, move, sit, eat, and explore his surroundings. On the other hand, sleeping more doesn’t allow babies to get the proper food and stimulation needed in a day.

Recommended hours of sleep: 4 – 6 months old

Sleeping well is extremely important. It is essential for our body because it allows us to rest and maintain good mental and physical health. Rest helps our brain work at its optimum level. It helps us be alert, learn, and concentrate during the day and consolidate what we learned, forming memories during the night. Sleeping well also lowers our stress levels, letting us live healthier lives. If sleep is extremely important for adults, you can imagine how important it is for babies!

Around the fourth month, a baby’s circadian rhythm is consolidated. If you are consistent with routines, your baby learns to differentiate between day and night. The hours a baby sleeps at night increase slowly, but they still need naps during the day. In fact, sleeping during the day and sleeping at night are interdependent, because the amount of hours a baby sleeps during the day affect sleep at night. During the day, babies should sleep a minimum of two naps of 1 or 2 hours. There are children who even sleep three naps! The morning nap is regularly set 1 hour and half or 2 hours after waking up, while the midday nap is usually around 1:00 or 2:00 pm. The time you choose for each nap is not that important, but what is important is sticking to a fixed sleep schedule. That way, your little one will anticipate his sleep hours. You can create your own short pre-sleep routine, like having a feeding or reading a book, followed by putting him in his crib and slightly turning down the bedroom lights.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleeping range for babies that are 4-6 months old is between 12-15 hours a day. If your baby sleeps a bit less, like around 10-11 hours a day; or a bit more around 16-18 hours, it could be fine, however sleeping more or less time than those ranges is not recommended. A long overnight sleep allows your baby’s brain to go through the different stages of sleep, needed to have an optimal development. When your baby sleeps, the brain processes all the information received during the day and helping him learn. He will eventually reach a restorative sleep, and he’ll wake up happy and rested. Sleeping less or more hours during the day affects him too. If he sleeps less, then he will probably be overstimulated, and this will make it even more difficult to get some sleep during the day. On the other hand, if he sleeps a lot during the day, he won’t do so at night. Therefore, try to establish fixed sleep schedules to help your baby sleep 2 or 3 naps during the day and sleep through the night.