All posts by Alice

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

Baby signing: Communication through gestures

If you have been paying close attention to your baby, you have probably noticed that before he can even talk he has been trying to communicate with you. Crying, pointing, smiling and laughing are all forms of communication and although at first it can be a guessing game, with time and effort you can identify what your little one means to say.

If you wish to understand your baby’s needs and desires with greater ease you could try a personalized version of baby sign language.

What is baby sign language?

Baby sign language is a communication tool that seeks to motivate babies to communicate with gestures. It works by using manual signing that allows babies to communicate wants and even emotions before they can talk.

This form of communication decreases frustration, promotes language development, and helps increase the parent-child bond. The evidence regarding these claims is still limited but there has been lots of praise and positive anecdotes from parents and professionals who use this tool.

Complementing language with gestures and signing might diminish the frustration experienced by children who know what they want but still do not have the verbal skills to express themselves. Signing with babies is a promising and interesting field for research. Preliminary findings have identified that perhaps being attuned to their little one’s gestures motivates parents to be more mindful of their baby’s unique forms of communication leading to a decrease in miscommunication and therefore supports a healthy attachment.

So how do you begin?

If you want to try baby sign language you can begin at home with these easy steps. Continue reading

Laugh out loud: Encouraging your little one’s sense of humor

Laughter is the best medicine. – proverb

Laughter and smiles are one of the most basic human behaviors. Babies smile within hours of being born in response to a warm sensation or a sweet smell, but laughter takes a bit more time to develop as it’s mechanisms are more complex.

As you probably already discovered, babies and toddlers learn a lot through imitation, and the development of a sense of humor is no different. Research has shown that a sense of humor is nurtured at home and each silly event helps foster this wonderful trait.

The benefits of having a sense of humor include the development of a healthy self-esteem, empathy, and friendships; and it helps one laugh at themselves and become accepting of imperfections. Not only that, but research has shown that people with a sense of humor are happier and more optimistic, can handle differences and adversities well, experience less stress, and are at a lower risk for depression. What’s more, experts have identified that a robust sense of humor is a natural immune system booster.

So what can you do to develop your little one’s sense of humor? Continue reading

The magnificent benefits of music!

“Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato

Recent research using fMRI and PET scan technology have found that listening to music lights up multiple areas of the brain as sound was processed and all this happens in a matter of seconds. Further research has revealed that playing music takes the brain a step further, stimulating a full body workout for the brain. Now, teaching babies or toddlers to formally play instruments is not developmentally appropriate, but that doesn’t mean that an infant and toddler can not engage or benefit from music. On the contrary, listening to people sing, playing with everyday objects or toys to create sounds, and singing and dancing with caregivers are wonderful for your little one’s brain development.

During the first three years of your child’s life, neural connections form at their fastest rates. Exposure to music in early childhood fosters and helps develop many skills including speech development, audition, coordination, emotional development, and even social skills. Below are some of the ways music benefits this rapid development and growth, and a few activities to try at home. Continue reading

Tablets and Smartphones, should my baby use them?

Tablets and smartphones are great! They allow us to communicate with distant friends and relatives; they organize our day; have GPS that gets us to new places; help us make reservations, shop, read, and much more. They contain an infinite number of applications that even include an extensive catalog for children. Allowing or banning smartphone and tablet use for babies poses an ongoing debate that is very present in the area of early education. Should babies be exposed to screens? If so, for how long? The American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) first stance regarding technology and babies recommends no screen time the first two years of life. However, this position was first introduced 15 years ago, and today it has come to be questioned by specialists in the area of pediatrics. The AAP media committee has re-evaluated its screen time position taking into account the recent technological boom. They now agree that a total screen ban seems to be no longer viable. Therefore, a change in the AAP’s digital exposure guidelines is predicted in the coming years.

Continue reading

Picky eaters: tips and tricks to raise an adventurous eater

Have you ever encountered a “picky eater”? This behavior is also known as choosy or fussy eating. It involves rejection to eat new foods, strong food preferences, and eating the same foods over and over again.

Variety is important in our diets, and that includes eating fruits and vegetables. Therefore, knowing the importance of healthy eating, dealing with a picky eater can be pretty frustrating. Mealtimes can become stressfully painful and a parent-child power struggle can arise. Leading you to ask, “What can I do?” Don’t worry, continue reading and we’ll show you simple ways to tweak mealtime and go from fussy to foodie (or at least get your child to try new foods!).

Now, before we begin, it’s important to understand why pickiness arises in the first place. There are different theories surrounding this topic. According to research, the factors that affect choosy eating can include pressure to eat, temperament and personality, sensory sensitivity, genetics, parental feeding styles, and even specific factors such as absence of breastfeeding, and lack of variety or late introduction to different textures. And that is not all, let’s not forget about the “terrible twos”. Toddlers are notorious autonomy seekers. This is actually a good thing because they are learning to become independent, but it can lead to food rejection. This is totally normal, so don’t sweat it. Here are some tips to help you try to solve this pesky problem.

  • Snack attack: According to sociologist and feeding expert Dina Rose PhD, snack time is the best time to help your kiddo learn to eat healthy foods. Rose proposes we rotate fruits, veggies, yogurt, and even crackers or granola bars each day during snack time to add variety and nutrients to their diet and to help them eat less healthy snacks in moderation. This will also allow you to provide exposure to healthy foods – remember that it can take up to 15 exposures to a specific food for your toddler to try or like a certain food.
  • My little chef: Maya Adams MD, avid child nutrition advocate, advices moms to take their children to the farmer’s market or fruit and veggie section of the grocery store and have them help pick out ingredients for delicious meals. This provides a fantastic moment to teach your little ones what apples look and taste like, show them unpeeled oranges, and talk to them about how beets can “paint” a plate. Then, once home, take them with you to the kitchen and get them involved. Have them mix ingredients or toss ingredients into the skillet or blender, and even let them assemble their plate to give them a sense of control.
  • Role model: Studies have shown that toddlers are less likely to eat vegetables if either their mothers did not consume them or they identified their children as being picky eaters. This shows us the importance of modeling healthy eating behavior and not labeling our children. So show your toddler your love of greens and surround him with healthy eaters. Offer him a bite of what you are having or describe the taste. Let him get curious – play with him and set a plate of soft carrots and dip on the side. Who knows, chances are he might try it out!
  • Choices galore: If your toddler does not want to eat strawberries on their own, why not try a smoothie and strain it if necessary. As stated by Dr. Sears, there are lots of ways to help make mealtime more fun and delicious. Offer dips (yogurt, cottage cheese, nut butters) for fruit and veggies. Teach them to spread these same dips on apple slices, toast or crackers. Top food with cheese or guacamole or sprinkle cinnamon onto baked apples. Be creative and let your child “decorate” his food his own way.

Finally, remember to be patient and take introduction to new foods one step at a time. Toddlers are learning to interpret and control their world as they grow, and this might include food rejection. But don’t give in, keep offering a wide variety of healthy choices, set scheduled routines, don’t bargain or bribe with desserts, and get your toddler involved. Remember to make eating fun and keep mealtime stress to a minimum. On the other hand, if you fear your toddler is not growing appropriately or gags and vomits constantly when introduced to a new food, talk to your pediatrician. He will help identify any underlying medical condition or give you a specific feeding plan for your child.

Let us know how these tips work out and keep a look out for more tips and tricks to combat picky eating coming soon in our App!


For further information check out:

Picky/fussy eating in children: Review of definitions, assessment, prevalence and dietary intakes.

http://itsnotaboutnutrition.squarespace.com/home/2009/7/24/10-ways-improving-your-kids-snacking-will-improve-your-life.html

Child Nutrition and Cooking Coursera course (its free! All you need to do is sign up)

Prevalence of picky eaters among infants and toddlers and their caregivers’ decisions about offering a new food.

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/feeding-infants-toddlers/picky-eater

Big kids’ bed: Tips for a smooth transition

If your little one has found a way to escape from the crib even when the mattress is in the lowest position possible, it is a good time to move from the crib to a bed.

Falling down and getting hurt is a risk that can occur once toddlers learn the tricks that allow them to climb down from the crib. Now, the good news is that most children are happy to make the change to a “big kid” bed. Perhaps your little one will even agree with you that he should stay in bed all night. Nevertheless, this transition involves a big change, so reinforcing bedtime rules and routines becomes a crucial step in avoiding those dreaded nighttime visits.

Reinforcing the bedtime routine

  • First of all, make sure your child is not sick, does not need to use the toilet (if he is potty trained) and that you are not going through a major transition such as welcoming a new baby.
  • If you don’t have a bed just yet, don’t worry. For now, you can temporarily place the crib’s mattress on the floor.
  • Celebrate this new milestone together and praise him for growing up. If you make a big deal about this new change, the transition will be more attractive to him.
  • Continue following the same bedtime routine as always ​​but do not forget to add this last step: tell your child that he should stay in bed until you come for him in the morning.
  • Once your toddler is lying down in his bed and you have completed the routine, praise him for following the instructions, give him a big kiss a hug and gently leave the room.
  • Don’t forget to tell your little one you’ll look out for him at night. This will give him a sense of tranquility and safety.
  • Finally, if your toddler wakes up and leaves his bed, make sure to take him right back to his bed quickly and in the most boring way possible. The first night might pose many unsolicited visits but if you remain firm and consistent in taking him back to his room, your little one will learn to stay in bed at night.

Preventing bedtime battles

We are not going to lie, at first you’ll probably need to repeat the phrase “you can not get out of bed until morning” until you feel like a broken record. Try to remain calm, this is perfectly normal, your baby is simply enjoying his newfound freedom. Now, if you want your baby stay in your bed all night, try to ignore his protests, stand firm and strengthen the bedtime routine with positive praise when he sleeps in his bed all night. Remind him that the rules include all family members to sleep in their own bed until morning (with the exception of getting up to go to the bathroom). Finally prevent letting your toddler sleep in your bed or stay with the family past his bedtime if you do not want this to become a habit.

Tips for a successful transition

  • Place a night light in your little one’s room.
  • Incite your toddler to take one of his stuffed animals to bed with him if he does not do this yet.
  • Invite him to choose his sheets, duvet and even his bed!
  • Use a chart of achievements where you can place a sticker every time your little one stays all night in bed.
  • If you can, get a clock that changes color when you can get up.

Keeping my baby safe

Now that your bedroom is easier to access, verify that there are no toys on the floor or placed where they pose a hazard. If you live in a two-story house, ensure access to the stairs is blocked. Finally, try not to buy bunk beds since studies have reported that they cause accidents and head injuries.

Hopefully this information helps you on this important transition. Remember that the process can be tiring and difficult, but we know you can achieve it! Always follow your instincts and do what’s best for you, your baby, and your family; only you will know what is best.

Sweet dreams!


 

For more information make sure you read:

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/Big-Kid-Beds-When-To-Make-the-Switch.aspx

Your Child’s Health by: Barton D. Schmitt

Breastfeeding 101

Breast milk is a great gift from nature and a universal aspect of motherhood. Not only does it provide adequate and personalized nutrition for your little one, but it’s also a great way to form emotional bonds. It has so many benefits that the American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund and many other organizations consistently recommended breastfeeding as the best choice for feeding infants, at least during their first 6 months of life.

Giving your baby breast milk involves learning a new skill; and that requires patience and practice. You might even need to wait a few days before milk production is established. So don’t worry if your milk does not come out at first, once your ‘let down reflex’ kicks in your supply will increase.

What should I do to start?

Begin by taking in a deep breath and get your body as relaxed and comfortable possible. Try to let things emerge spontaneously, as that promotes relaxation and helps your baby feel calm too. Choose whichever position you desire to breastfeed. You can be sitting in a comfortable chair or lying down, as long as you and your baby are comfortable. Continue reading

Motor Milestones: Learning to sit independently

Watching your baby begin to develop independence can be exhilarating. Your baby enjoys this process too since he is able to explore with a different perspective the world that surrounds him.

One way your baby begins to gain independence is learning to sit on his own, but this does not happen overnight. First, a series of steps and motor skills are required for him to master this milestone.

Being able to sit upright means your baby’s neck and back muscles are strong enough to carry their weight in an upright position and he has gained control of his head.

According to Pediatrician Melissa Goldstein M.D. a baby’s development starts from the head down. At 4 months old babies are able to sit down with support from a caretaker or furniture. By 5-6 months old most can sit by themselves in a tripod position in which they position their hands on the floor in front of themselves for reinforcement. At 7 months old they will probably sit on their own for some seconds with no support and free hands to explore and grab objects around themselves. At this point they might even be able to sit up from lying down on their tummy by pushing themselves up from the surface with their hands. Finally, by the age of 8 or 9 months they are likely to sit steadily on their own for some time. Continue reading