All posts by Alice

Tantrum Survival Guide

Tantrums are extremely common in toddlers and preschoolers. They’re how young children deal with difficult feelings. It’s important to tune in to your child’s emotions to avoid situations that trigger those tantrums.

You don’t need to have a child to know the word tantrum. It is so notorious that everyone has either seen one or experienced it first-hand.

Tantrums are completely normal and expected in toddlers and preschoolers ages 1-3. They are an outlet for children to deal with big or difficult feelings. During this stage of development, toddlers are beginning to develop their independence but are still dependent on adults. They also don’t have the adequate skills or brain development to self-regulate just yet. To make matters even worse, children this age don’t have the appropriate language yet to voice their emotions, so expressing themselves via physical actions is their way to cope.

Tantrums can vary in type and intensity. They might involve crying, screaming, kicking, headbanging, back arching, falling to the floor or even breath holding. People making a tantrum are of the said to have ‘lost it’, and this situation is not exclusive for toddlers; older children and even adults can experience a tantrum when they feel overwhelmed by their emotions and can’t manage or don’t have the adequate skills to self-regulate.

What are the possible causes of a tantrum:

  • Temperament: Your child’s tolerance for frustration can influence his or her reaction. A kid who gets easily upset may be quicker to react and have more tantrums
  • Hunger, tiredness and overstimulation: These sensations are difficult to decipher for children. Ever heard the phrase hangry? Body needs have a great impact on our behavior and not noticing them can be triggers for tantrums.
  • Frustration and loss of control: If a toddler wants to complete a task above his or her developmental level or is faced with the will power of an older child or sibling, he or she might cope with a tantrum.
  • Big emotions: Emotions such as anger, shame and worry can be overwhelming for children.

 

Dealing with my child’s tantrums:

It is important to note that tantrums are a normal part of growing up, but there are things you can do as a parent to make them less likely to occur.

  • Have a routine: If you make sure your little one is fed and rested you can reduce tantrums due to physical needs.
  • Tune in: Become aware of your child’s feelings. Put yourself in your little one’s shoes and try to imagine what it must be like for him or her. Also, help your little one manage by naming the feeling and redirecting his or her attention to something else that he or she likes.
  • Know your little one’s triggers: If your little one always has a tantrum during an outing try to plan ahead with appropriate toys, make sure he or she is fed and rested, and try to choose environments that prevent tantrums.
  • Teach emotional literacy: Even if your little one does not speak yet he or she is always paying attention. If he or she has a fit and throws a toy instead of immediately reprimanding him or her, name the action and emotion that goes along with it. For example, “You threw the toy because you got frustrated. I understand it is hard, let me help you out so you don’t have to feel that way”.
  • Provide adequate toys and activities: Create a play-friendly space with toys that engage your toddler but are not way above his or her level of development because trying to complete them only causes frustration.

 

We know it is tough to watch your little one deal with a whirlwind of emotions. Be sure to care for yourself too. Here are some tips that can help you deal with these difficult situations:

  • Remember that your child’s brain is still developing and the prefrontal lobe responsible for self-regulation is not mature yet.
  • Take a moment to breathe, stay present and remain calm. Creating space between your child’s reaction and yours can help you regulate your response.
  • Acknowledge your child’s difficult feelings and your own too. Compassion and self-compassion are key!
  • Don’t try to reason or correct your child during the tantrum, let him or her blow off steam and intervene immediately and calmly if he or she is at risk of getting hurt or hurting someone else. It is important that your child understands that big feelings are not to be feared.
  • Be firm, kind and consistent. If you need to hold a limit don’t budge, empathize with your child, be unconditionally accepting and hear him or her out, but don’t give in if the limit is important to his or her wellbeing. Being consistent helps your child feel safe and learn the limits.
  • Finally, be sure to model self-regulation but ask for help too. If we ‘lose it’ too, we model this behavior to our children. But since we are only human, it is important that we also take a break, ask for help and repair when we make mistakes.

 

Teaching your child appropriate ways of behavior is essential to his or her development, but be sure to connect before you correct. Positive parenting experts agree that a strong connection between parent and child is the best way to teach and guide children towards the best versions of themselves.

For more information, be sure to check out:

It’s all fun and games

Babies and toddlers explore and learn about the world that surrounds them by playing with objects. By doing this not only do they have fun, but they learn essential problem-solving skills and practice having social interactions. Play is a must in childhood and understanding which activities and toys best suit your baby and toddler are key for the development of skills and milestones.

At first, babies don’t understand the difference between toys and regular household objects. Everything they see, touch, taste and feel is new and exciting. They will explore the object by mouthing, shaking, banging and even throwing, to see what happens. With time, babies learn to differentiate between toys and regular objects but will use them in the way that is most enjoyable to them. If a rattle makes a fun noise when thrown, then they will do this repeatedly.

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Newborn reflexes

During the first weeks of your baby’s life much of her activity is reflexive due to the fact that all babies have a limited amount of control over their body. To make up for this lack of control, mother nature made sure babies were born with a set of survival mechanisms that protect them from harm. For this reason, although your little one is very dependent on her caregivers, she is not completely defenseless.

Reflexes disappear within the first few months or year of your baby’s life once she does not need them anymore. Some even turn into voluntary actions once your little one begins to gain control over her body. These innate mechanisms usually have a short duration, but they are very important. For this reason, it’s crucial to make sure your little one has all her primitive responses present, as they indicate that the brain and nervous system are doing their job correctly. You could verify your baby’s reflexes at home but know that your healthcare provider will make sure your little one displays all her reflexes during her first check-up. If you’d like to learn more about these fascinating involuntary movements or actions, check out our list of the most common baby reflexes below.

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Finger dexterity: developing the pincer grasp

Since birth, your baby began developing and fulfilling an incredible amount of skills that allow him to interact with his surroundings. As a parent, it is amazing to see how our babies meet these challenges with eagerness and joy!

One of the great milestones that your baby will fulfill during his first year of age is the pincer grasp. This milestone is fundamental for his development and involves grabbing small objects with the index finger and thumb. Achieving this skill is not easy, it requires a lot of practice. This finger dexterity milestone will begin to develop around the eighth or ninth month of your baby’s life. At first, you’ll see him begin to use this type of grasp clumsily but little by little the movement will become more precise.

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Learning to communicate: non-verbal cues

It is hard to think of living a life without language as this is the main mean to communicate thoughts, desires and needs to others. Babies find themselves in this position every day before they learn to talk. Therefore they need to use other forms of non-verbal communication to make themselves understood.

Babies have a strong desire to connect with others. For this reason, even before they can talk they use non-verbal sounds and body language to achieve this goal. Babies are active communicators but they don’t have the language to speak just yet. If you observe closely you’ll see how they communicate without words. By doing this they seek to obtain a response from their caregivers and when they do, they learn to repeat these actions to get their needs met.

The moment babies take their first breath outside of the womb they begin to communicate. Crying, cooing and squealing are all non-verbal cues that they use to get a response from a loving parent. As they get a bit older, they learn to communicate via facial expressions such as smiling and eye contact. Babies also move their bodies to get a message across, for example moving their legs or arms when excited or in distress. As they reach the age of 8-12 months they further develop this skill by learning to wave, clap and point.

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My Baby’s First Words

Babies learn to talk by imitation. We do not need to teach them word by word, all we have to do is talk constantly to them. By naming the objects and people they see they will begin to associate the word with the object or person. Then when they develop the adequate skills for speech they will begin to repeat those words to form their first words.

Generally speaking, a baby’s first word is “mama” or “papa/dada” but when this words are first spoken they are merely babbles don’t mean that they have learned to associate “dada” with dad or “mama” with mom. After babies learn to pronounce disyllables such as the examples above, you might hear them experiment with different sounds, and although none have true meaning just yet they are preparing to communicate verbally. Some babies as early as 9 months begin to form word-like sounds, but if your little one is not there yet be patient, most babies begin to speak words with meaning roughly around 11 to 16 months of age. It’s even considered normal for babies not to speak until 18 months of age. When babies begin to pronounce words with meaning, “mama” or “dada” will actually mean “mom” or “dad” – such a sweet sound to a parent’s ear! Continue reading

The benefits of crawling!

The traditional hands-and-knees or cross crawl is full of benefits. Not only is it your baby’s first official means of mobility and independence it is an important part of your baby’s physical, cognitive and social-emotional development! If you’d like to learn some of the many benefits, continue reading:

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Fruit juice: New guidelines

Fruit juice is a popular drink among kids, and parents love them since they provide hydration and fruit servings (especially for picky eaters who reject whole fruits). But even though juice is natural and made from fruits, is it a drink that should be given freely without limits?

Fruit juice was allowed for consumption in moderation starting from 6 months of age on, but the American Academy of Pediatrics has just recently published a change in recommendations, suggesting new guidelines for juice consumption starting until after a year of age.

Juice consumption is notorious for filling children’s bellies and therefore replacing other solid foods or breastmilk/formula which babies need most. Although 100% fruit juice with no added sugar provides nutrients, it’s very high in sugar and low in fiber, putting children at risk for high-calorie consumption and tooth decay.

Whole fruit is always superior to juice, and if kids consume fruit, there is no need for fruit juice in their diets. Before age one, 100% fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit for babies. Once children turn one they can consume some juice to complement a balanced diet but it should be limited according to their age. If you want to feed your baby fruit juice make sure to follow the recommendations below.

AAP juice consumption guidelines: Continue reading

Ready for your baby’s first trip to the beach?

We know that the idea of taking your baby to the beach for the first time can be exciting as well as intimidating.

A baby’s first time at the beach is a complete experience. Being well prepared will make it an unforgettable time.

In this article, you will find tips and tricks that will help you prepare for your trip, as well as what to expect of it.

Sand is good- but not too much

Sand can be a positive experience for you baby. It will introduce new textures and stimulate your baby’s sense of touch, but beware, sand can get in your baby’s eyes and mouth and even irritate her skin. To prevent this, make sure you take a large towel or blanket and place it on the sand. Let your baby stay on the center of it with some toys ir snacks, this way, she will be away from the edge and less exposed to sand.

If you let her play on the sand, keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t eat or rub the sand on her face. If sand goes in her mouth, rinse carefully with water and use your fingers to try to get out as much as possible. If sand gets in your baby’s eyes, rinse with water, but never rub or let her rub them since this may cause more harm.

Supervise

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Why do babies put everything in their mouths?

Babies are known for putting things in their mouths. Even before birth, babies have been seen sucking on their thumbs and once born they continue to develop “oral gratification”. Babies love to suck and mouth for pleasure. As newborns, they can soothe themselves by sucking on a pacifier, breast, bottle, or even thumb and, as they continue to grow and develop, they purposely grab objects and put them in their mouths as means of exploration.

Why do babies put everything in their mouths?

  • Babies use all their senses to explore their world including the sense of taste
  • It allows them to calm and self-soothe
  • Mouthing allows them to develop coordination in their mouth, jaw, cheeks, tongue and lips
  • It allows the mouth to become accustomed to different textures and sensations, which is great for transitioning from breast/bottle to solids
  • It provides comfort when they are teething (note: the mouthing period does not necessarily mean your child is teething)

Is my baby at risk for choking? Continue reading