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:

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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.

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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

Your baby’s smile

You’ve probably seen his first reflexive smile when he sleeps, but when he looks right into your eyes and smiles, it’s a magical moment that you’ll forever treasure. How can you tell the difference between a social smile and a reflexive one? Keep reading and find out. 

Your baby’s first smile will be spontaneous, a reflexive smile, and it’ll probably happen when he or she is asleep. During REM sleep your baby’s body goes through physiological changes, and one of these produces a smile. However at this point it’s probably just a physical reaction, not an emotional one. This reflex can even be considered a part of your little one’s survival instinct, such as rooting, sucking and moro reflexes.   

After a few months, playtime gets more exciting! Making funny faces, voices and cuddling will make your baby smile in reaction to sensory experiences, not a social response. However, you can try and encourage a smile! This smile is known as responsive smile, and usually appears between 6 and 8 weeks of age. Continue reading

The Benefits of Baby Massage

Give your baby some peace, here are 7 benefits of massaging your baby!

  1. Relieves pain caused by cramps, gas, constipation, and teething
  2. Lets your baby relax and reduces stress
  3. Interaction boosts verbal and non-verbal communication skills
  4. Stimulates and develops your baby’s nervous and immune system.
  5. Increases your baby’s self-esteem and helps him or her feel safe and loved.
  6. Your baby will fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.
  7. Through touch, smiles, and hugs, your bond will strengthen.

How to give your baby a massage?
You can start massaging your baby to help strengthen his bones, muscles, and immune system, get him more active, get better sleep, relief colic pain, improve motor skills and enhance intellectual development! Continue reading

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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Ready for your baby’s first trip to the beach?

We know that the idea of taking your baby to the beach for the first time can be exciting as well as intimidating.

A baby’s first time at the beach is a complete experience. Being well prepared will make it an unforgettable time.

In this article, you will find tips and tricks that will help you prepare for your trip, as well as what to expect of it.

Sand is good- but not too much

Sand can be a positive experience for you baby. It will introduce new textures and stimulate your baby’s sense of touch, but beware, sand can get in your baby’s eyes and mouth and even irritate her skin. To prevent this, make sure you take a large towel or blanket and place it on the sand. Let your baby stay on the center of it with some toys ir snacks, this way, she will be away from the edge and less exposed to sand.

If you let her play on the sand, keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t eat or rub the sand on her face. If sand goes in her mouth, rinse carefully with water and use your fingers to try to get out as much as possible. If sand gets in your baby’s eyes, rinse with water, but never rub or let her rub them since this may cause more harm.

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Babies learn language in the womb!

Research has discovered even more evidence on the process of language learning in babies. There is more going on during the prenatal stage than previously suggested. A study looked at babies who were adopted right after birth and who grew up hearing a different language than what they heard their moms speak in the womb. Researchers can see how what babies hear before and after birth affects the way they perceive sounds. So what is the birth of a language?

“Researchers have known, for some time now, that newborns prefer listening to voices speaking the same language they heard in the womb”, says Anne Cutler, a psychologist and professor at the Marcs Insitute. Newborns can actually recognize the same voice they heard during the last trimester in the womb, especially their mother’s sounds, and prefer listening to similar voices than hearing the voice of a stranger. They also have a preference for languages with similar rhythms than languages with different ones. Newborns indicated this preference by sucking longer on rigged pacifiers that enabled them to hear one speakers voice versus another or a language versus another.

Dr. Cutler states that researches used to think that babies didn’t actually learn any language units — the smallest units of sounds that make up words and languages until the six months of life. However, new research includes recent studies that challenge this notion. Continue reading