All posts by Sofía Martínez

Mindfulness 101

As parents, we are always looking for the best for our children; we want them to be happy and develop their full potential. But what happens when we do not live in the best way possible? By being stressed, worried, hurried in our daily life, we ​​set this example to our children. Kids are like sponges, and they can perceive emotions even from within the mother’s womb. This means they’re much more capable of absorbing and perceiving things after they are born. So, how can we be better with ourselves and transmit the best to them? Continue reading to learn more…

Have you ever gotten home and don’t remember what you saw on the road? Left home for work and don’t remember if you locked the door on your way out?

We live with routines both at home and at work where we do things on autopilot without really paying attention to what we are doing. We call it “lunchtime”, but is it if we are thinking about the pending errands we have to run or we are answering mails or texts on the phone?

As human beings we have the ability to think about the past, present and future. Which is a true blessing, but we often let our minds wander to the meeting board of last week, we think about what we’ll do over the holidays or what you have to get from the store. Usually the most recurrent thoughts in our minds come from obsessing about the past or worrying about the future. So, what happens to the present?
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The motor skills behind using scissors

The use of scissors requires and enhances many developmental skills. Cutting allows children to build the tiny muscles in their hands since they have to continuously open and close their fingers. Cutting also enhances the use of eye-hand coordination, which means children must be able to move their hands, while looking at something. Since the brain is required to work with two systems, cutting might be a difficult task. But don´t worry, little hands can develop fine motor skills by learning the proper way to use scissors. Keep reading to learn more!

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Sharing is caring!

Having difficulties for sharing is part of every kid’s developmental process. In fact, the word “mine” is one of the firsts words to come out of a toddler’s mouth. During your kid’s second and third year, he will experience going from oneness to separateness, so you’ll start noticing comments like “This is mine!”, “I can do it myself”, etc. This is due to his growing awareness. So, don’t worry, there are a lot of ways you can help your child understand the concept of sharing. Keep reading to learn more!

Sharing is caring?

Sharing is a fundamental skill; it is how we keep our friendships, play and work well with others. This action teaches about compromise, fairness and, most importantly, gratitude. “Thank you for sharing your truck with me. Do you want to play with my teddy bear?”. Sharing teaches children that gratitude reciprocates. If we give to others, we will receive in return. Gratitude is the best policy. Sharing also teaches us about negotiation and coping with disappointment, two vital skills in life. Continue reading

How your baby discovers his hands

When babies are born, they are not capable of associating what they see with what they touch. You’ll notice that your baby seems to be looking in one direction, but moves his hands towards another. This is because babies younger than two months old don’t understand that their hands are a part of them. But don’t worry, there are many ways to stimulate your baby’s hand coordination. Keep reading to learn more!

How do babies discover their hands?

Hand coordination in infants is vital for the development of physical and cognitive skills. Since birth, babies start to learn about their bodies through sucking and grasping.

In babies, the discovery of one’s hands is something that can be stimulated through the senses and it works like a domino effect. Practice this with your baby by showing him and making noise with a rattle. First, its sound will get his attention and then he will focus on the object. As he sees the rattle, he will follow its movement and try to reach it with his hands. Once your baby gets the toy, he will begin to notice his own hands. Continue reading

Encouraging my little one’s discovery, art and science interests!

After your baby is born, getting to know anything is a new adventure, and of course the environment in which your child grows up has an effect on his experiences and greatly influences his development. Keep reading to find effective suggestions on how to foster your little genius’s mind!

 

You’ll notice your little one is adventurous and excited about everything, especially when it’s something new. When we are interested or motivated about something, dopamine is released inside our brain. And when this happens, it is more likely that we remember the activity we are doing because, upon dopamine’s release, the brain feels rewarded. When we reinforce our brain with positive outcomes, the rewards center will help us remember that activity and keep our brains motivated.

You will see your little one engaging with his surroundings spontaneously, wanting to discover and understand the world around him. As parents you can encourage your child to explore and find the sense of wonder in everything. Here are some ideas of things that you can do to foster your child’s discovery, art and science interests:

  • Kids love the outdoor world, and it exposes them to new, natural and colorful stimuli. Sit or play with your little one outside very chance you get.
  • Learn about water by grabbing an empty shampoo bottle and filling it up. Put a little bit of soap and watch how bubbles form when you shake it.
  • Make some paper planes to play outside to get him interested in understanding the differences of that one and a real one.
  • Explore around the kitchen. Do all fruits have the same number of seeds? Try classifying them!
  • What happens when you mix water with baking soda? Why?
  • After a storm, why are rainbows formed? How many colors can you see?
  • How about growing your own bean plant? Why does it need water? is it the same to place it under a light bulb rather than sunlight?

 

These are some suggestions to keep your little one interested about the world. Learning new and exciting things will increase his dopamine levels in a natural way and will reward his brain, reinforce positive outcomes, and increase his motivation and interest in activities!

 

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Important facts about pacifiers

As parents, sometimes it’s hard to know if or when to give your baby the pacifier. Overall around the subject there are mixed opinions as to whether the pacifier is beneficial for babies or not. Keep reading to learn more…

 

All babies are born with a non-nutritive sucking reflex, even before he is born your baby might be sucking his thumb inside your belly. Once he’s born, your son will learn that sucking means food. And sometimes he will also seek his hands or the pacifier to suck and find comfort.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pacifiers do not cause any medical or psychological problems, so it’s okay to give one to your baby to satisfy his need for sucking. Nevertheless, it’s important not to use the pacifier to delay meals.

For the first six months pacifiers are beneficial for your little one. However, later on the risks might outweigh the benefits and increase once your kid turns two.

 

What are some important things to keep in mind when using the pacifier with your little one:

  • Pacifiers should be properly cleaned and replaced regularly to avoid bacteria, infections and maintain a good hygiene.
  • Studies show that giving the pacifier to infants at the onset of sleep reduces the risk of SIDS.
  • Pacifiers can work as a comfort or distraction for your baby.
  • It’s important not to use it as a substitute for food.
  • Pacifiers are not for everyone, if your little one doesn´t take it, it’s probably not for him.
  • After six months the pacifier can change from a non-nutritive sucking object to an object of affection that gives your little one a sense of security.
  • It’s recommended to introduce the pacifier after breastfeeding habits are well established.
  • The use of the pacifier can be a hard habit to break, removing it might cause anxiety on your little one. Some alternatives include singing, rocking and soft music. For youngsters you can try activities, toys or other objects of affection.
  • Consistent findings show that the use of the pacifier after 3 years of age is associated with a higher incidence of malocclusion.
  • Use one-piece pacifiers, since two-piece models can break and become a choking hazard.
  • Don´t tie the pacifier to your little one’s crib since it can be a hazard.
  • Pacifiers provide a calming effect and have been used for anxiety prevention.
  • The use of the pacifier is a key method for pain relief in newborns and infants younger that six months undergoing minor procedures in the emergency department.
  • Pacifiers come in different sizes and shapes, try different kinds until you find the right one for your little one, always keeping in mind to look for a one-piece model.

 

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How to define and use technological tools with my baby

It’s the 21stcentury and technology is all around us! In fact, technology is what is allowing me to write this and you to read it. So yes! Technology is great, it allows us to communicate and better organize our daily life. But because technology is so ubiquitous in our modern life, children are exposed to it every day. So, what are the facts, guidelines and suggestions regarding children’s exposure to screen time? Keep reading to learn more…

 

Let’s start with the guidelines…

For children younger than 18 months the AAP recommends to avoid the use of any screen-media other than video-chatting. Parents who want to introduce digital media to children between 18 and 24 months of age should choose high-quality programming and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing. For 2 to 5-year-olds the recommendation is to limit screen use to 1 hour of high-quality programs per day. Also co-viewing media with them is very important since it helps them understand what they are seeing, and understand how to apply it to the world around them.

 

Some facts on the research

  • Researchers at the University of London that work on the TABLET project investigated the use touchscreen devices among 6 to 36-month infants and found that 99% of families own at least one touchscreen, 97% own multiples devices, and some have up to 14 of them. Also, they found that, on a daily basis, 51% of 6 to 11-month-olds use touchscreen for 8 min on average and 92% of 26 to 36-month-olds for 43 minutes on average.
  • University of Toronto researchers found that by 18 months, 20% of children have handheld a device for half an hour. Findings reported that for each 30-minute increase in screen time there’s a 49% increase in risk for expressive speech delays.
  • An AAP article on the effects of television viewed by infants younger than 3 years old reported that educational programs are effective in broadening children’s knowledge. They have an effect on their racial attitudes and increase their imaginativeness. It’s important to note that this study was only focusing on the effect of television content rather than viewing time.
  • Scientific Reports published a study about the association between screen time and lack of sleep in infants and toddlers between 6 and 36 months. The study concluded that every additional hour of tablet use was associated with an average of 26 minutes less of night sleep.
  • University of Princeton researchers have shown that well designed, age-appropriate educational screen time can be beneficial for children. Nevertheless, their report states that children might better understand and learn from real time experiences rather than video.
  • Interesting evidence from ScienceDirecton on how children transfer learning from a two-dimensional representation to a three-dimensional object concludes that children can imitate the actions they see on television (2D) using the corresponding objects on real life (3D). Although it also states that children younger than 3 learn less from television in contrast to live demonstrations.

 

Whether we like it or not, technology has become a part of our daily life. So, what are some suggestions on the use of technological tools around your little one?

  • Avoid using media as the only way to calm your child. Although there is some research where in certain situations, like airplanes, media is a useful soothing strategy, try not to use it as the only option.
  • Avoid screen time for children under 18 months unless is video-chatting.
  • Always try to choose educational apps of videos and, for 18-24-month-olds, try co-viewing so you can help them understand what they are seeing.
  • Limit the use of screen time for your toddler to 1 hour and try co-viewing so you can help him understand how to apply his new knowledge to his surroundings.
  • Avoid screens at meal times and one hour before bed.
  • Make screen time a family activity, like movie or game night. Ask questions about what you are seeing and learning.
  • Turn off the devices when they are not in use. Avoid having the TV on just for background noise.
  • “Monkey see, monkey do”. So, try avoiding answering calls or texts while playing with your little one.
  • Oxford Academy Pediatrics recommends parents to use screen time mindfully. Limit their own screen time and prioritize interactions. Also choose the media together and pay attention to the message it’s giving to your child. Helping him recognize and question advertisement or other content, or ensure that his media is free of such content.
  • Make a family agreement on screen time. The AAP states that when media is used appropriately it can enhance your daily life. Media should work for you and within your parenting style and values. That is why they created a Family Media Plan to help you become aware of when you are using media to achieve your purpose.

 

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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 before two years of age seems to be no longer valid.