All posts by Samantha

Can music benefit your toddler more than reading?

Music has become a natural part of a toddler’s development and growth, it can kickstart learning and has proven to offer lifelong benefits. Music boosts all areas of a child’s development and skills, such as cognitive, social and emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy. Exposing your little one to music early on helps him learn the sounds and meaning of words. In summary, music helps the mind and body work together as a team.

Learning that music is important for your baby’s development does not mean you should go and spend all your money on a Baby Einstein or Baby-Genius music collection. It does not mean either that you should enroll your 3-year-old in violin lessons. Unlocking a child’s intelligence and happiness may indeed lie partly in music – but it is as easy as making up songs with your toddler!

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Owning a pet can protect your baby from obesity and allergies

Whether it’s play or companionship, pets bring their owners’ plenty of joy. But did you know that the benefits go beyond cuddling and fun? A new study showed that having pets in the household can protect babies from allergies and obesity!

At first, it may seem counteractive as most parents want to keep their children away from furry pets such as dogs and cats due to allergies and sneezing. However, a research conducted by the University of Washington Department of Pediatrics found the opposite to be true.

Contact with dogs early on, especially around the time of birth, can help the child’s immune development and reduce the likelihood of certain allergic diseases. In addition, a recent study by the University of Alberta showed that babies from families with pets – 70% of which were dogs — showed higher levels of two types of microbes (Ruminococcus and Oscillospira) associated with lower risks of allergic disease and obesity.

As a matter of fact, the beneficial exposure can even be transferred to babies who are still in the womb. Yes, you read correctly – moms can reap the benefits while being pregnant! The presence of a pet in the household during the mom’s pregnancy can grant microbial advantages to the unborn baby’s gut microbiome.

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Early Loving Touch Has Long-Term Benefits

Have you ever wondered why picking your baby up feels like the most instinctive thing in the world? Turns out we are hard-wired to do so, it’s our maternal instinct to carry a baby.  When a baby is born, he or she is very vulnerable, with highly limited vision and underdeveloped hearing. This means that touch is the way your little one is going to explore the world for the first couple of months while other senses are starting to develop.

Touch is an important part of a baby’s development, but just how significant is it?

In a recent study carried out by Nathalie Maitre of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center and her colleagues measured the brain responses of 125 infants (including premature and full-term babies) and showed that a baby’s earliest experiences of touch have lasting effects on the way their young brains respond to gentle touch.

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Are babies who reach milestones early academically gifted later?

It’s an exciting time for parents to witness their little one reaching a milestone, whether it is the first time he smiles, rolls over, says his first babble or crawls. They will also, quite often, compare the milestones reached to the progress of a cousin, sibling or friend’s baby. Sometimes doing this will provide the parents with comfort about their baby’s development, while for others, it will be a source of concern. But do milestone timing say anything about a child’s potential for the future? For example: is a baby who talks early more likely to be academically gifted than the others?

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How to Cure Your Baby’s Hiccups

Everyone is familiar with hiccups. We have all experienced them from time to time. However, most first-time parents tend to worry when their newborns get hiccups. And they shouldn’t – hiccups are quite common in babies under one year old.

As a matter of fact, most parents may not know this, but their little one has probably been having hiccups since he was in the womb! Most likely starting around the 6th month of the pregnancy, when their little lungs were developing.

What causes hiccups in newborns?

Hiccups are usually caused by a full stomach, taking in too much air while feeding, or a sudden change in temperature. It’s important to note that they don’t typically bother the baby.

What should you do if your newborn gets the hiccups?

First, don’t worry and try to relax. It’s not dangerous to your baby. You could try burping her, but chances are you’ll just have to wait it out.
Check out the following 3 tips you can try at home:

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How to deal with the “Terrible Twos”

Is your baby’s second birthday coming up? Then you know that the “terrible twos” stage is approaching. Since it can hit at 18 months or at 34 months, it’s less of an age, and more of a stage of development – so you may be dealing with it when you least expect it.

But is it as dreadful as everyone says? It all depends on how you handle it!

Two-year-olds are just realizing that they are separated entities from their parents, which means they will be determined to define themselves, test their limits, communicate their likes and dislikes (as much as they can), and act independently.

The downside is that toddlers are just developing their skills, so they won’t be able to accomplish everything they set out to do and that is frustrating. At this age, your little one will have a hard time expressing his feelings and controlling his emotional impulses, so his anger and frustration tend to erupt abruptly in the form of crying, hitting, or screaming. During this period your little one will need your patience as well as loving guidance to help him navigate through the rush of emotions he will experience.

When you see a challenging behavior, it usually means that your child can’t figure out how to express his or her feelings in an adequate way or doesn’t know how to get his or her desires met. To cope with challenging behavior, your response should show a beneficial way to handle his or her feelings.

Here are some tips you can try to handle challenging behavior:

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The Benefits of Boredom

When pre-school kids and toddlers complain that they’re bored, parents often try to relieve their boredom right away. They feel responsible when they hear that word and some try to provide technological entertainment to solve the “problem”. But perhaps they are rushing in to help too quickly… what would happen if parents were to leave their children be bored every now and then? Would it affect their development?

Coping with boredom can be a real challenge for young children and their parents too. It may be tempting to fill every second of the day with activities. And even though classes such as art, sports, or music can certainly benefit a child’s development, children also need time for themselves. A time to rest their minds, to daydream and discover what truly interests them.

“If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves […] children need to learn how to be bored in order to motivate themselves to get things done. Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant.” says Lyn Fry, a child psychologist in London with a focus on education.

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How to raise a sympathetic child

In a world that at times seems to be full of conflict, parents and caregivers all hope that their children will grow up to be kind and polite to others. But is there something we can do to teach our kids to be sympathetic? How can children learn the best way to keep in mind the circumstances of others?

Sympathy is different from empathy in that it involves action. So, rather than just understanding what others are feeling, sympathy guides action – it makes people think of ways to relieve someone else’s distress. People who feel sympathy tend to engage in prosocial behaviors, such as comforting, helping, and sharing.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto, University of Plymouth, and University of Pavia, Italy explored how children of different ages shared. In their study, 160 four- and eight-year-old children received 6 equally attractive stickers. They were then given the opportunity to share any number of those stickers with a child in a picture. The child in the picture was shown in different conditions, which included: ‘needy’ (“She/he is sad”, “She/he has no toys”) and ‘not needy/neutral’ (“This boy/girl is 4 or 8 years old, just like you”).

The researchers found that children tended to share more with the ‘needy’ child and that 8-year-olds shared on average 70% of their stickers with the needy recipient (compared to 47% with the neutral recipient). The 4-year-olds shared only 45% of their stickers in the needy condition (compared to 33% in the neutral condition).

So the main question is why did 8-year-olds share more? Continue reading

What do I do if my baby falls?

No matter how careful you are, it might happen one day. You look away for a split second, and your baby can roll off the couch, bed or changing table onto the floor. It’s easy to feel like the worst parent ever. However, you are not alone, each year in the United States alone, 2.8 million children head to the emergency room for injuries related to a fall.

So if your baby falls, remain calm. Most of the falls are not serious, but you should learn about warning signs and what to do when it happens.

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Background noise may hinder a toddler’s ability to learn new words

Does your toddler find it hard to learn new words? Have you observed the environment he is exposed to when he learns? A new study found that too much background noise (TV, people talking or traffic blast) at home or school can make it difficult for toddlers to learn new words.

 

“Learning words is an important skill that provides a foundation for children’s ability to achieve academically,” said Brianna McMillan, a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and lead author of the study.

 

The study, published in the journal Child Development, was led by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It consisted of three experiments in which 106 children from 22 to 30 months took part in. In the study, the toddlers were taught names of unfamiliar objects and then tested on their ability to recognize the objects when they were labeled. In order to understand how different levels of background noise affected the toddlers’ ability to learn, the team repeated the experiment with different amounts of background noise.

 

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