Types of attachment: Fostering a secure attachment in your baby

Have you ever wondered why some people struggle to maintain close and healthy social relationships, while others don’t? According to John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist and researcher, the emotional responsiveness of our first experience of attachment could be the most influential factor in human development. Bowlby found that primates seek for an adult’s protection when they are in danger, just as we do. According to this pattern of survival, Bowlby concluded that we are programmed to form attachments, and possess an innate willingness to seek proximity to a protective adult.

During their first two years of life, babies form attachments with their parents. This means that the quality of interaction between you and your baby will be very important for his social and emotional development. Some factors that may influence the type of attachment that your baby will develop are: physical contact and attention to basic needs. The critical period to form an attachment to a mother or father is during the first two years of life. It’s very important to foster a secure attachment in your baby, as this will influence the quality of interpersonal relationships that he will have in the future – including romantic relationships!

How to tell if your baby has developed a secure attachment?

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In Defense of Play

What characterizes play and makes it so special? Play is fun – babies giggle contagiously over peekaboo, kids enjoy playing hide and seek. Play is voluntary – it is something that we naturally enjoy doing and is not instructed to us. Play has a special structure, it has a pattern of repetition and variation. Family therapist Lawrence J. Cohen uses peekaboo as an example of this in his book Playful Parenting; during peekaboo, the baby can lose the connection and regain it. You can actually experiment with the time it takes to say peekaboo, from half a second, to two or three. You can find exactly the length of time that brings the most giggles. Too short and there is no mystery, too long and it gets scary – there is the essence of human connection and disconnection and reconnection. The gift of play is the way it teaches us to deal with the unexpected.

What are the various benefits of play? Continue reading

Baby on the move: Different crawling styles

Is your baby ready for crawling? Around 7-10 months most babies master the hand-and-knee crawling method, but others develop alternative styles of crawling that work well enough for them that they never progress to the traditional hand-and-knee crawling. Here are some types of crawling your baby can adopt.

 

Not all babies crawl in the traditional way- alternating hands and knees- some babies use their belly to move, others scoot on their bottoms using their hands to propel themselves forward, and some babies use one leg down in crawling position and the other foot in a standing position on the floor to move forward. But no matter what method your baby adopts, remember that the important thing is that he or she is showing a desire to move independently and explore his or her surroundings.

 

These are the different styles of crawling according to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics):

Classic hands-and-knees or cross crawl.

Your baby distributes her weight on her hands and knees, then moves one arm and the opposite knee forward at the same time. This is the most common type of crawling.

Bear crawl.

It looks like the classic crawl, but your baby keeps his or her elbows and knees straight, walking on hands and feet like a bear.

Belly or commando crawl.

Your baby moves his or her body forward while dragging his or her belly against the floor. This can be an efficient way of moving around but it will definitely result in dirty clothes!

Bottom scooter.

Your baby scoots around on his bottom using his arms to move himself forward. This type of crawling will never be as fast as the classic hands-and-knees crawl, but it gets the job done. Bottom scooters are also often babies who have really resisted tummy time.

Crab crawl.

Your baby will move backward or sideways like a crab, propelling herself with her hands. This type of crawling usually occurs when your baby is just learning to crawl. This phase usually doesn’t last longer than a week or two. 

Rolling crawl.

Your baby gets to his or her destination by rolling from one place to another. While not strictly crawling at all, some babies become so efficient at rolling that they never really develop the crawling stance because they simply roll over and over until they get to their destination.

 

Take in consideration that atypical crawling patterns do not necessarily indicate a problem, but asymmetry in crawling can be a red flag so if you have concerns about the way your baby is crawling, talk with your pediatrician or have your baby evaluated by a pediatric physical therapist.

 

If you’d like to learn more about crawling, visit our blog Crawling 101 or the following sites:

 

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Crawling-Styles.aspx

http://www.babycenter.com/0_baby-milestone-crawling_6501.bc

http://www.kidspot.com.au/baby/baby-development/milestones/baby-development-all-about-crawling

 

Gaining independence: How to teach my child to use the potty?

If you have noticed that your baby is ready to start learning how to use the potty, that’s awesome! Say goodbye to diapers and hello to the toilet. You and your little one will embark on a wonderful adventure and accomplish a major milestone in his development.

Knowing that potty training is not an easy task; we provide you with tips recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

• First of all, make sure that if you decide to start, it’s the right time for you and your little one. Avoid training when you are too busy, moving to a new house, welcoming a new baby in the family, etc.
• Invite your child to choose his own potty. You can even decorate it together so he feels less intimidated and motivated to use it.
• Place the potty in his bedroom or the bathroom nearest to him.
• Begin sitting your little one on the potty with his clothes on so he gets a feel on what it’s like to sit on it. While he’s seated, talk to him about the toilet, its use and how to sit properly on it.
• Give your child a chance to sit on the toilet when he shows interest, even if it is with his pants on. When he shows confidence try to sit him without a diaper. Remind him to keep his feet on the floor and tell him that what he did in the diaper now must be deposited in the potty.
• Incorporate sitting on the potty in your child’s daily routine, and gradually increase the times he sits on it.
• As he masters the potty routine, you can change his diaper on the potty and deposit his bowel movements in it so that he further understands his use.
• When your baby understands the process, place the potty where he plays and let him be a while without a diaper, motivating him to use the potty if he needs to.
• As he gets used to the potty let him play near the it with clothes and underwear. This way if he has an accident, he’ll realize that it’s uncomfortable.
• Remember to congratulate him if he uses the toilet successfully, but don’t scold him if he has an accident as this will only stress him out.
• When you see your child is using the potty, change the diaper to underwear but only during the day. Learning to control his bowels at night or naptime takes longer. Instead, motivate your little one to use the toilet before going to sleep and at waking.

Remember not to punish or shame your child if he has an accident, instead use positive reinforcement and encourage him as much as possible. Remind him that this is a natural and necessary fact, not something dirty or something to feel ashamed about. You can perform various activities to make the training fun such as decorating the potty or reading and drawing on it while sitting and waiting.

Does my little one have nightmares?

Nightmares are frightening! They can frighten us and even make us sweat! However, as adults we know that these dreams are not real, but do children also have nightmares? Experts don’t know exactly when nightmares begin, but they know that babies can have them. When your little one is about two years old, his imagination has evolved and if he has a nightmare he can definitely get frightened and wake up. If your child sleeps well and seems to wake up agitated and frightened, he may have had a nightmare. Nightmares usually occur during the second stage of sleep, so he may wake up scared in the morning. If he talks, ask him what’s wrong, he may be able to tell you what he experienced.

What should I do if my baby had a nightmare?

• Respect and acknowledge his fear.

• If he talks, let him narrate his dream and be sympathetic.

• Show him lots of love and security; caress his back until he calms down.

• Offer him a stuffed animal, and place it in his crib.

• Leave a nightlight on.

• Don’t overreact or make this a big deal. Your baby can identify your reactions and feel even more fear if you are anxious.

• Remind your child that monsters don’t exist and nothing will harm him at night.

• Remember: most habits are difficult to break; avoid bringing your child into your bed. If this happens once in a while it’s not a problem, but if it happens often it may soon form a habit.

How can I prevent nightmares?

• Strengthen quiet routines; read him stories with a happy thematic. If you find one about how wonderful night and bedtime is, awesome!

• Keep the room at a pleasant temperature.

• Have your little one choose a nightlight and leave it on all night.

• Provide your little one with a stuffed animal of blanket that works as a transitional object (one that can be associated with calm and security).

• Prevent your child from watching TV with content that may scare or worry him.

• Usually children have more nightmares when they are anxious or stressed. If he’s having recurring nightmares, try to find out what worries him in order to decrease his anxiety.

We hope these tips will help to consolidate your little one’s sleep and eliminate or diminish the fear of a nightmare.

Help! My baby will not sleep

When babies are around a year old, or maybe even younger, they may begin to experience separation anxiety and resistance to go to bed. They want to continue being with you or playing with you; they don’t like that the day is over and don’t want to be separated from you. If this is your case, don’t worry! Separation anxiety is a perfectly normal reaction and it means he’s forming a healthy attachment with you. However, this reaction can affect his sleep and yours too! If you are tired, even worried and frustrated, try the following tips:

• Continue strengthening the night routine to help your baby relax and let him know that it’s bedtime. This routine will give your baby security because it provides consistency and predictability.

• Check that his bedroom temperature is comfortable, neither too hot or too cold.

• Try not to let him stay up late, as it will be harder to put him to sleep. Similarly, don’t put him to him sleep very early; try to identify his biological rhythm and take him to bed at the right moment.

• Stay relaxed and confident. Despite feeling anxious yourself, or even somewhat frustrated, show him that there is no reason to be upset or afraid. If you act confident around your baby, he will be calm.

• Continue placing him in his crib while he’s drowsy but still awake and say good night. You can give him a kiss, rub his back and tell him you love him very much to give him even more security.

• During the day, play hide and seek and invite him to search for his stuffed animals to teach your little one that although he can’t see you, you will appear again.

• Comfort your baby if he wakes up upset and can’t get back to sleep, but try to not to overstimulate him by making it a short visit.

Reinforcing your baby’s bedtime routine

All parents want their children to learn to sleep at night, for this reason there are many techniques and guidelines that help out. The truth is that there is no perfect technique as all babies and families are different, but it has been found that babies thrive on predictability. For this reason, experts recommend establishing a daily nighttime routine so babies can predict bedtime and feel secure.

To ensure security and create predictability, begin your baby’s routine 15 or 20 minutes before bedtime. Usually this is 12 hours after your child usually awakens in the morning. It’s important to keep the routine short and sweet; if your little one is sleepy there’s no reason to entertain him longer.

The night routine gently lets your child know that it is bedtime. It also provides an opportunity to relax and settle down before sleeping, while bonding and fostering language development.

Example of a bedtime routine:

  1. Finish dinner.
  2. Go for a short walk to help with digestion (it’s not recommended to bathe your baby when he’s hungry or just after dinner).
  3. Have a peaceful and relaxing bath with background music.
  4. After the bath, pat him dry, gently massaging his skin. Then put his pajamas on.
  5. Bottle or breastfeed your little one while peacefully talking or singing to him.
  6. Brush his teeth if necessary.
  7. Read a bedtime story or sing a lullaby so that your little one gets sleepy.
  8. Lay him down in his crib once he’s drowsy.

Remember that there is no perfect routine, the best routine is the one that makes you, your family and your baby happy! So feel free to choose a routine that suits you. The only requisite is to be consistent with the routine, and learn to identify your baby’s cues, so that you don’t start the routine when he is overtired, or not tired at all.

Establishing a bedtime routine

When babies are born, they are yet to understand the concept of time. They do not know the difference between day and night. They are governed by hunger and their biological clock. Knowing this, it is important to respect their meal times and circadian rhythm; however, this does not mean we can’t help them establish a bedtime routine. Not only that, routines will help them feel safe as they learn to predict the day’s events.

How to establish a bedtime routine?

• Play with your baby during the day so they begin to associate light with play time.

• At night give your little one a relaxing bath and massage. Just try not to bathe your baby right after dinner, as this can cause reflux, or when he’s very hungry because he may get irritable.

• After bathtime, read him a story or sing a lullaby under dimmed lights.

• Continue feeding your baby in a calm environment, and then lay him in his before placing him in his crib while drowsy.

• You can turn on lullaby music or white noise.

• Keep him in a pleasant environment. He can start sleeping in a bassinet instead of a crib.

• Make sure the temperature is nice, not too cold and not too hot. Many pediatricians recommend 20 degrees Celsius as the ideal temperature; however, ask your pediatrician as recommendations may vary. Likewise, avoid placing your baby near the vent to avoid the concentrated air flow from hitting him directly.

• At this stage of 0-3 months babies are not mature enough to learn to sleep alone, and they need some support. Therefore, it is likely that your baby will require comfort or he might be hungry. Try not to let him cry during this period or development. Instead, respond to his tears and pick him up if necessary, there is no way of spoiling an infant.

• Finally, be consistent with the routine and soon your baby will learn the difference between day and night.

Developing healthy sleep habits

If you are like most parents, you’ve probably experienced sleep deprivation first hand. We know this can be very tiring. To help you manage we would like to offer you a few tips that can help your baby sleep through the night.

Around 4-6 months of age pediatricians recommend establishing or reinforcing a bedtime routine. If you would like to help your baby learn to fall asleep on her own, the following recommendations stated by the American Academy of Pediatrics can help:

• Establish a bedtime routine repeat it in the same order every day.

• Lay your little one down while drowsy but still awake. This way she will learn to sleep without much stimuli and not require help to get back to sleep if she awakes.

• Try not to put her to bed too late to avoid her being overtired. Also avoid putting her to bed too early as she will not be sleepy.

• If she cries, wait a minute and see if she can put herself back to sleep. If not, try to identify why she might be crying. It might be because she needs a diaper change, is hungry, or feels sick. If none of the above, refrain from turning on the light, playing or lifting her up. Instead offer loving and peaceful reassurance.

• If you change the diaper or feed her, turn only a nightlight on and keep very quiet so your baby knows that it’s not time to play.

• Remember: each baby is different and has different needs, continue to reinforce the bedtime routine every day and slowly and gently help her learn to fall asleep on her own.

How to dress and undress my baby?

Dressing and undressing your baby is a great moment to bond, interact and maybe even play a game of Peek-a-boo. It might seem a difficult task at first, but you’ll see that with time and practice you’ll be an expert clothes-changer.

First, make sure that your little one’s clothing is clean, comfortable, and suitable for his or her age. Prepare the change of clothes and place your little one on a flat, safe surface, like the changing table, bed or couch. Don’t forget to keep your eyes on him or her at all times.

How do I dress my baby?

1. Lay your baby on his or her back on a flat surface.

2. Take the garment you want to put on and scrunch it up from bottom to top, like an accordion. Lift your baby a bit and hold his or her head gently. Stretch the cloth from the neckline and gently pass it over your little one’s head, avoiding his or her sweet face.

3. Repeat the same accordion technique now for the sleeves. Start with one side, passing his or her hand through the opening and carefully putting your hand inside the sleeve, to help bring it down your child’s arm. Repeat this with the other arm.

4. Adjust the clothes on his or her body and fasten the buttons or clasps.

5. Repeat the same steps for every layer of clothing. If you put on pants, use the same accordion technique for each leg.

6. Finally, don’t forget his or her little socks.

How do I undress my baby?

1. Lay your baby on his or her back.

2. Take off his or her clothes one layer at a time so he or she doesn’t get cold.

3. If your little one wears pants, begin from there. Unbutton and gently slide them down.

4. Hold your little one’s head while you take off his or her shirt or onesie, one arm at a time.

5. Then, bring garment towards his or her neck, gently stretch it and pass your little one’s head through it, avoiding touching his or her face.

6. If you need to remove a romper, unzip or unbutton it and carefully lift your little one to gently slide the romper off, one arm and one leg at a time.

Remember that it takes several attempts to master this skill, but eventually you’ll learn the best way to dress and undress your baby and will identify how it’s easier for you and more comfortable for your little one.