Against all odds

When a child learns to walk and falls down 50 times, he never thinks to himself: “maybe this isn’t for me?”

You’ll find out soon enough just how persistent your baby can be. However small he may seem, he’s a strong-willed individual who’ll leave you amazed when facing challenges in his development. When your little one finally comes around to taking his first steps and begin to practice walking, there’s more to it than a simple developmental milestone.

To better understand this huge transition, we must first acknowledge that by walking your baby is giving up his “status” as a highly-skilled crawler, leaving his comfort zone and willingly choosing to be a low-skilled and uncoordinated walker. Being a skilled crawler, your little one can easily move through his or her environment, explore, navigate and avoid obstacles. On the other hand, being new to walking, he doesn’t have these perks. For him, every step is bumpy and falling is his go-to those days. So how come your baby persists to walk against all odds?

Need for speed. 

Even from such a young age, your little one can realize that despite the constant falls and the bumpy ride, he realizes that he can cover a greater distance at a faster pace than if he crawled. Moreover, what he gains both in distance covered and speed reached has huge implications for the level navigation and engagement with his surroundings. Continue reading

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

Creating a positive learning environment at home

 

Babies’ brains are like sponges – they are constantly absorbing, forming new ideas from stimuli in their environment. That’s how they learn. According to a recent study from NYU, there are a few things you can do to create a strong learning environment at home.

The study followed a group of children from birth through 5th grade, tracking the influence of early home learning environments on later cognitive skills. Researchers found that the learning environment at home plays a powerful role in shaping kids’ cognitive and linguistic abilities. They found that a strong learning environment has three main features: quality parent-child interactions, the availability of learning materials, and children’s participation in learning activities. Let’s break them down.

Quality interactions: Spend quality time with your little one every day. Sit and play on the floor, talk to him or her – engage! When you’re playing together, let him or her lead and then join in on whatever catches his or her attention. Point to objects he or she is watching and name them. Respond to your little one’s cues promptly – like identifying if he or she is hungry or in need of a diaper change. It’s important that your baby feels secure so that he or she is willing to explore his or her environment. Continue reading

Is your child overactive? You might want to read this!

Children are often told to sit still. This happens everywhere, and it’s necessary sometimes like at school, during mealtime, and at home and when they don’t, we often believe that they are misbehaving or that we as parents may be doing something wrong. When children become overstimulated, their high energy levels can often go through the roof. What can you do to help your little one calm down and focus?

  1. Let your child fidget
    • Your child can simply be bored and may feel the need to stand up and move around. A small amount of physical movement can help a child focus more. Loren Shlaes, a pediatric occupational therapist in New York City suggests allowing a child to hold a fidget toy such as a stress ball.
  2. Go outside
    • Moving around is a good way of helping your child pay attention so the more activity the better. Playing outside stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin – both neurotransmitters that are critical for attention, focus, impulse control and learning. Some children focus and listen so much better after taking a walk or just being around nature. Dr Swanson suggests children spend at least an hour a day outdoors. A recent study at Auburn University found a single 30-minute stint of exercise helped preschooler’s ability to pay attention in class, compared with being sedentary. Continue reading

Exactly how big a deal is drawing?

With the sudden boom on computers, tablets, and phones as convenient playtime devices, it seems we’ve lost a little touch of one of the most basic activities that can further develop your little one’s fine motor skills.

Between the age of 12 and 18 months, it’s possible your baby will want to write and draw anywhere he finds, be sure to encourage him to give it a try, directing his attention to an appropriate canvas! There is endless research that suggests drawing, doodling and scribbling play a larger role in child development than we first thought.

What are some of the benefits of drawing? 

  • Further develop your little one’s motor skills such as holding and hand-eye coordination, both of which will ultimately help him dominate writing and drawing on a higher level.
  • Get those creative juices flowing!
  • Even though they’re still young, children need outlets where they can express themselves, drawing is a perfect way to do so.
  • They can learn in a visual and easy way differences and similarities in shapes, colors, and sizes.
  • Understanding that when pen hits paper a mark is made, your little one gets to experience cause and effect first hand.
  • Drawing can serve as a great distraction and has been shown to improve mood.
  • Encouraging your child’s creativity has benefits in their ability to solve problems later on.
  • When kids feel good while creating something totally new it helps boost their self-confidence and later on, will feel the freedom to experiment and create new ways of thinking or doing something.

There are different ways to encourage your child’s creativity, independence and artistic skills. The following are just of a few of the infinite possibilities: 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:

Continue reading

Are pacifiers good or bad for babies?

Babies take everything to their mouths, from the smallest object they find to their own thumb, it is a stage where, through this activity, they discover the world. This primary reflex, which they use to adapt to their surroundings, is known as sucking. It is a way for them to calm down. Sucking is done in diverse situations: when they are sleepy, hungry, bored or nervous.

So, is it good or bad to give your baby a pacifier? The use of the pacifier has several advantages and disadvantages, which we are going to discuss next so you can keep them in mind when deciding whether or not to use it.

Pros

  • The use of the pacifier may decrease SIDS probability (sudden and unexpected death of an apparently healthy baby) when used during sleep.
  • It may relax your baby, reduce anxiety and help him or her calm down.
  • Reduces thumb suction time, which causes severe dental problems.
  • Its use can make any complicated situation such as air travel, blood tests, vaccines or injections much easier to take on.

Continue reading

The first years: fine motor skills

Your baby will reach countless milestones during his first year. The most noticeable and exciting will be gross motor skills like turning, sitting, crawling, standing and maybe even those first steps! But don’t look past your little one’s fine motor skill development, or his hand and finger skills – they’re quite significant as well.

Fine motor skills require the use of small muscles in the fingers and hands. They refer to the ability to make precise movements with the hands like buttoning up a shirt, picking up a cereal flake off the floor, or writing. The development of these might be harder to notice if you’re not focused on them – but they are just as exciting as gross motor skills because they lead to exploration, independence and learning.

When your baby was born, you probably noticed his hands were clenched tight most of the time. If you placed something like your finger in one of them, he held on tight because of the grasping reflex. After a few weeks, and getting used to being outside the womb, you’ll see your baby open and close his hands. Try placing a small object in one of them and he’ll probably hold on to it, maybe even give it a shake by three months. Continue reading

How to ignite bilingual learning!

Researchers have now discovered a play-based educational program that is capable of helping babies learn a second language in just one hour per day!

Scientists and parents have always been interested in knowing the advantages of learning a second language. What are these advantages and how do they aid in cognitive development? Bilingualism has been shown to improve cognitive abilities, especially problem-solving skills.

One question that parents and teachers always ask is how can we ignite second language learning? Can babies from monolingual families start to develop bilingual skills if we give them the right kind of opportunities and experiences? Continue reading

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