All posts by Alice

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

Baby’s first camping trip

Fresh air, nature and a whole lot of family bonding.

A camping trip can be a rewarding experience for the whole family, however taking your little one will mean you must plan ahead in order to have a successful and enjoyable trip. The location of the trip will determine the preparations you must make to ensure a pleasurable experience.

Going camping in the woods will be wildly different from a trip up a mountain or a campsite near the beach. Regardless of the place, body temperature regulation in babies isn’t fully developed which is why your little one will need protection from the elements of nature. You need to make sure your child isn’t too warm or too cold, and the best way to do this is with the appropriate layers of clothing. Babies can lose body heat very quickly, possibly 4 times faster than an adult can. Inversely, they can also experience overheating if not careful.

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Introduction to solids: Baby-led weaning

Baby-led weaning (BLW) is becoming a very popular way to feed solids to your baby. It offers an alternative method to the traditional introduction to complementary foods in your baby’s diet. With this method, infants use their hands to explore food and to feed themselves, instead of being spoon-fed purees or baby food.

If you and your pediatrician decide this is the method you’d like to try, your baby can begin once he is six months old, sit upright, and can bring objects to his mouth. Once your baby is ready, place graspable stick-shaped family foods (food you eat at home without added salt or sugar) in the tray of his high chair and let him pick it up and put it in his mouth freely. As a parent, you decide what to offer to eat but the baby will decide what to eat (which should also be true for traditional spoon feeding). Always remember that food should not be forced and milk remains an essential part of your baby’s diet.

In theory, with BLW you expose your baby to a wide variety of healthy foods, teach him to eat food that the family enjoys and allow him to control his own intake. No grams or teaspoons are counted when preparing your baby’s food, nor is it necessary for your baby to finish it all. Eating should be a pleasurable experience. Continue reading

My baby’s social world

Babies are social beings. it’s in their nature and it’s a key aspect for their survival and to connect with others.

From the moment they’re born, babies begin to communicate with others through their very own language: crying. A baby’s cry prompts the caregiver to offer comfort and fulfill the child’s needs, be it food, a diaper change, or simply cuddle time.

By responding to your baby’s needs, you are helping her become more efficient at communicating with you, and soon all those sleepless nights will be rewarded with your little one’s first toothless grin.

Your baby’s first social smile will emerge between one and a half to three months of age. You’ll be able to differentiate this smile from her first reflex smile since this smile occurs in response to a stimulus and not a spontaneous body reaction. For example seeing your face or listening to dad’s voice will elicit a social smile. Respond to your baby’s smile and your baby learn that they can communicate with their parents in more ways than just crying. Talking, singing and making eye contact with your baby helps her learn to socialize and express her different emotions.

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Open-ended toys: Why your little one prefers a cardboard box over flashy toys

“Helping children thrive doesn’t mean providing the best toys or the most expensive gadgets. Quite the opposite; learning happens when children create their own play worlds” (Deruy, 2016).

Ever wonder why your child prefers a cardboard box over the flashy toy found inside?

Flashy and fancy toys, albeit very attractive, don’t offer the endless possibilities that the box offers. Your baby likes to use all his senses during play. With the box your little one can make use of his developing motor and cognitive skills to grab, toss, and put things inside! If big enough, your child might even explore its interior.

Cardboard boxes and other simple objects allow your child to play freely. This, in turn, helps him continue to develop cognitive, motor and even social and emotional skills. Then, as your little one continues to grow he will be able to engage in symbolic play, where these same simple objects not only allow for manipulation, but they can become a house, a fort, a spaceship – you name it, anything is possible!

According to Piaget, babies ages 0-24 months belong to the sensorimotor stage of development, a stage characterized by exploration of the environment. Newborns begin exploring objects with their developing vision. Then as they grow they continue learning about objects by grabbing them and placing them in their mouth. 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

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

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