The value of FaceTime: Do toddlers learn and bond with people over video chat?

Across the globe, people use tools like FaceTime and Skype to connect with family and friends. What about our children? Do they understand and grow from these on-screen interactions with loved ones?

A team of researchers from Lafayette College, led by Professor Lauren J. Myers, Ph.D., studied 1- to 2- year olds to find out what they got out of these FaceTime interactions, looking to discover if they form relationships and learn from people via video chat. In the study, 60 children under 2 years old were divided into two groups. Each group experienced one week of either real-time video chat interactions or pre-recorded videos of novel words, actions and patterns.

Researchers found that children paid attention and responded to both people in the video, but only responded in sync with the partner in the interactive video chat (such as imitating a clap after the person in the video did).  Likewise – after one week of video chatting, children in the live condition learned social and cognitive information. For example, they preferred and recognized someone they had talked with through video-chat and they learned new words and patterns. Continue reading

Bath time fun!

At first, you may find that baths can be uncomfortable for your baby. You take off his clothes and he feels cold, and then you get him wet without his permission! This can scare or startle him, causing an uproar. It doesn’t always have to be so, if we strive to make bath time as comfortable, relaxing, and fun as possible, our children may enjoy it.

To help our children adapt to bath time, we must be calm and confident ourselves. It might be something very new for you too and it can be a bit nerve-wracking, but remember that babies perceive emotions, so take a deep breath and empathize with your little one! You’ll soon see that bath time is a perfect opportunity to build affectionate bonds. Furthermore, studies have shown that our baby’s bath can relax us as well! During this stage, babies are too young to play, but they never get tired of our affection. With this in mind, you can do the following to make bath time an enjoyable, fun experience for you and your baby:

• Sing to your baby while you bathe him. He will surely love it and it will increase his music and language skills!

• Talk to your baby and guide him through the process. You can tell him a story or simply talk to him about what you’re doing. Use baby talk, children like it a lot and benefit from its intonations!

• Continue to stimulate your baby’s language by naming each body part while you clean it. You can use funny voices to make it more interesting. Don’t forget to show much affection!

• Finally, try to bathe your little one at the same time every day so that he begins to get accustomed to a routine and anticipate it.

Teaching my toddler how to get dressed

As your child grows, he will gain skills that will allow him to be more independent. At this stage, each new learning experience is crucial because it helps him adapt to the world that surrounds him. After around their first birthday, children start acquiring new skills that allow them to rely a little bit more on themselves. Some of these skills involve beginning to dress themselves, emerging at around 24 months. Every child develops at their own pace, so some children may start earlier, and others later. Most children acquire this and more milestones related to personal care by the time they’re four years old.

Once your little one turns two, it’s a good time to start teaching him how to dress himself. This is a challenging task, and it will take a while until your little one can get dressed alone, but he will gradually dominate this task, improving with practice. This is an exciting time for your little one, as it gives him a sense of autonomy – getting dressed like mom and dad do. It doesn’t matter if he just puts on one little piece of clothing, always remember to praise him, it’s a big deal for him! Likewise, don’t be surprised if your little one puts his shoes on the wrong way, it’s all part of the learning process. Start teaching your little one to dress himself as soon as possible, always looking for signs of interest and initiative from him.

The best clothes to learn to get dressed are:

• Pants with an elastic waist.

• Velcro shoes.

• Velcro on clothes instead of buttons or ties.

• Shirts with a wide neck and illustrations in front so he can easily identify which way to wear it.

Tips and tricks that will help your toddler learn how to get dressed alone:

• Always praise his achievements, however small they are. For our children everything is a big deal, and it’ll motivate them to keep learning.

• Let your little one choose between two or three options of clothes, this will give him a greater sense of autonomy.

• Remember to choose between clothes that are easy to put on.

• Teach your child to find the labels on shirts and tell him these always go on the back. Do the same for pants, explaining that the large pockets also go on the back.

• If he starts buttoning up his shirts, teach him to begin from the bottom up so that he doesn’t skip any buttons.

• For shoes, you can draw two happy faces and tell your child that when the faces are facing each other they are in the correct position.

• Establish a routine. To start, it may include a bath, getting dry, putting on pajamas, and having dinner.

• Make it fun! You can invent a song for getting dressed or simply playing a special one. You can also count to see how long it takes him to get dressed, many children love to race against the clock.

• Find a good, relaxed time to practice getting dressed and don’t forget to be patient with your little one.

What do I do when I’m in a hurry?

We know that even though we want to let our child get dressed alone every time, the world moves at a fast pace and there isn’t always enough time. With this in mind, it is important to explain to your little one that there will be days when you will have to dress him. Mention that instead, he’ll be able to practice at night with his pajamas, or at another time. Also keep in mind that you’ll probably have to repeat instructions many times, children learn fast but require practice, especially with such a challenging task as this one.

First visit to the dentist and dental care at home

Despite the fact that children’s teeth are not permanent – they’re going to fall off eventually, it is very important to take care of them since they first appear. Your baby’s teeth will form his mouth, help him chew well, and speak clearly.

Teeth normally appear starting with the first two lower ones. The first tooth may come out between your baby’s 6 and 10 months, and as soon it appears, it requires special attention and care. You may be wondering if you need to take your baby to the dentist since the appearance of his first tooth. Experts have many different opinions about this; however, they agree that before he’s one year old, your baby must have his first visit. With this in mind, you can decide to take precautions at home before taking your baby to the dentist.

How do I care for my baby’s teeth at home?

• When the first tooth appears, buy a toothbrush for babies, making sure the bristles are extra soft.

• To wash his teeth, use a pinch of fluoride toothpaste, no bigger than a grain of rice.

• Gently pass the toothbrush through your child’s mouth, cleaning his small teeth very well.

• Don’t worry about rinsing his mouth, just make sure that you use very little toothpaste and it won’t be a problem.

• Wash his teeth twice a day, once in the morning after breakfast and once in the evening after dinner or his night feeding.

• Finally, don’t let your baby sleep with a bottle of milk or juice in his crib; this can lead to many cavities.

Why should I clean my baby’s teeth?

It is very important to clean your baby’s teeth, as traces of milk or pieces of food can remain in the mouth, cause a growth of bacteria and the release of acid that can lead to cavities. Also, beginning to clean his teeth from this early age will encourage healthy habits. This helps make an easy transition when your child is old enough to brush his teeth alone.

If your little one doesn’t have his teeth yet, don’t worry about it – it’s just a matter of waiting, they will soon make their appearance!

How often should I sterilize my baby’s bottles?

Your baby’s rapid growth and development has enabled him to strengthen his immune system by acquiring new defenses along the way. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics and experts mention that it is no longer necessary to sterilize the bottle equipment after each use, as long as proper hygiene is practiced. Wash the equipment thoroughly with hot and soapy water and let it dry completely. Remember to keep your nails, hands, and kitchen very clean. If hygiene is not accounted for during the preparation of a bottle, sterilizing equipment becomes pointless. Remember that sterilization is necessary if the equipment is new, but after the first use you can wash it normally.

Around his fourth month, your baby will begin to take lots of things to his mouth, as a way of exploring them. He’ll be building new immune defenses for his body, so don’t worry too much about it. That’s also why sterilization is no longer a major factor at this point. Hygiene still remains essential, though. Sterilize your little one’s bottles occasionally to prevent germs breeding on them around milk residue. Sterilization methods include:

Steam Sterilization:

Electrical sterilization:
  • Follow instructions on the sterilizer (they vary).
  • Make sure your baby’s bottles are safe to steam.
  • Place the bottle upside down in the sterilizer.
  • Cover the sterilizer, turn it on, and leave it until it finishes and it cools down.
  • Most of these sterilizers keep bottles sterile for 6 hours, but remember to check the specific indications on it
Microwave sterilization:
  • You can put the bottles in the microwave or in a microwave steamer.
  • Make sure to separate all parts of the bottle before putting it in the microwave.
  • If you placed the bottles alone in the microwave, it takes 90 seconds to sterilize. If they’re inside the steamer it takes 3-8 minutes.
  • Remember to not introduce anything containing metal in the microwave.
  • Be careful when removing it because it will be very hot.
  • If you keep a lid on the steamer, the bottles will last about 3 hours sterilized.
  • If you did not use a steamer, try to use the bottle right after sterilizing it.
Sterilization solution for cold water:
  • Follow the instructions on the label. Usually, you have to prepare a special container with cold water and dissolve the solution there.
  • Insert the bottles to be sterilized in the container for at least 30 minutes. Cover and ensure that everything is under water.
  • Leave the bottles in the solution until you will use them. When you are ready to use it, rinse it with sterile water.
  • You need to change the solution every 24 hours.
Sterilization by boiling:
  • This method requires great caution to prevent injuries.
  • Before sterilizing, make sure that the bottles can be boiled.
  • Prepare a pot with water and get it to boil.
  • Insert the bottles in the pot, ensuring that there are no air bubbles so they’re all underwater. Cover it and lower the temperature. Leave the equipment at least 10 minutes in the water.
  • Things tend to get damaged faster with this method, remember to constantly check them.
  • It is preferable to take out the bottle just before you are going to use it.
  • If you are not using it immediately, seal the bottles with their lids to prevent contamination.

Caring for my toddler’s teeth

When your baby is almost 2 years old, he’ll probably have many teeth that allow him to bite and articulate words. Maybe all of his teeth haven’t come out yet, but they will soon appear. At this stage, the canines, commonly known as fangs, are due to come out and he will flaunt a beaming new smile!

Babies’ teeth, also known as milk or primary teeth, are temporary. As he grows, your baby will lose them to leave space for his permanent teeth. The fact that they are temporary doesn’t mean that we can neglect them. On the contrary, just like permanent teeth, milk teeth are subject to decay and dental infections if they are unattended. Also, keep in mind that teaching children healthy hygiene habits at an early age will help promote cleanliness in the future.

You’ve been taking care of your little one’s teeth and now it’s time to take the next step. It’s time to teach your child to spit after brushing his teeth. Tell him that after he washes his mouth, he has to spit out the toothpaste. Show him how to do it and then ask him to imitate you. Instruct him to spit only in the sink, after he’s done brushing his teeth. Avoid giving him water to rinse out his mouth, because at this age he’s more likely to swallow it instead of spitting it.

Practice this new habit daily. Your little one will probably want to take control of the toothbrush, that’s very good! Start teaching him the proper movements by holding the toothbrush together and brushing from top to bottom throughout his mouth. Don’t expect your toddler to master brushing his teeth immediately. It will take time for him to learn the right moves. That’s why it’s very important that you always accompany him and remind him how to do it. Remember to make washing his teeth a fun and engaging activity, and to let your child watch you wash your teeth, because children learn through imitation.

Is my kiddo too big for his baby tub?

Your baby has grown a lot, he is probably too big for the sink or his baby tub. Plus, he is splashing everywhere! If you’re wondering what you should do, here are a few options.
If you have a bathtub:

You can choose to get a bigger, portable tub for your baby and place it in the bathtub. To prevent slips, first place a rubber mat on the bottom of the large bathtub and then place your child’s tub in. You don’t necessarily have to use a portable bath at all. If your baby can sit up alone without any support, he is ready for this big step! All you need is a rubber mat at the bottom of the tub and his bath toys. Your child will have ample space to play in, so he probably won’t want to get out. Now, despite having more control over his body, he is still needs your absolute attention. It is important to fill the tub with little water, to prevent accidents. Check the water temperature with your elbow before putting your baby in. Don’t answer the phone or sort out other issues during this process. If you have an emergency while bathing your little one, first take him out, wrap him in his towel and take him to a safe place before you attend to anything else. Don’t forget to make bath time a fun and relaxing time for your baby.
If you have shower:

It’s no problem if there are no bathtubs in your home. You can choose a larger portable bath and place it in a shower. If your baby can sit up unsupported, he’ll be able to splash around in his comfortable bath and the water will fall into the shower. Bathing him in the shower is very simple; you must first place a non-slip mat so that his bathtub won’t move. When the tub is placed safely, fill the tub with warm water and check the temperature with your elbow or inside part of your wrist. Try to wear comfortable clothes; you’ll have to crouch down and sit on the floor. It is very important to never take your eyes off your baby; accidents can happen in seconds. So if for some reason you have to leave your little one first take him out of the bathtub, cover him with his towel, put him in a safe place and then attend to anything else. Bath time is a great way to start getting into a sleep routine, so try to make a pleasant time and show much love.

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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Help! My baby wants to stand up during bath time

Bath time can be very fun, but also a bit exhausting, especially when children want to exercise their independence and refuse follow instructions. At this stage, babies acquire lots of new skills; one of them being standing up on their own. This is a major developmental milestone, and as a parent you certainly are very proud! However, these new skills come with increased energy and restlessness to explore his surroundings. Keeping still during bath time may seem impossible!

As parents and adults, we know the accidents that can occur during bath time. We don’t want our children to slip and hit themselves, so to see them stand up in the bath can be quite scary. When your indications to sit down don’t seem to work, what should you do? Here are several techniques you can try instead:

• If your baby loves bath time and you don’t want him to stand up, you can tell him that if he stands up, bath time will have to be over. In a gentle but affirmative tone say “You are standing up. You’re showing me it’s time to get out of the bath.” If he doesn’t listen, he must be taken out. He will soon learn that if he wants to play during bath time, he can’t stand up.

• You can also choose toys that he can only use if he’s sitting down in the tub. If he stands up, the toys are taken away.

• Another option that’s recommended by experts is to let him stand. Sometimes it may be safer to bathe him standing up than to have a quarrel every time he takes a bath. If you decide to let him stand, you need to adjust the bathroom space to make it as safe as possible. Place a rubber mat on the floor around the tub or shower. Remove any object that can hurt him if he falls and make sure to always keep an eye on him. Sitting or standing, he must always have someone watching over him.

Hopefully, these techniques will help! Remember to use your creativity and to adapt techniques to your own style. There is no single correct answer, the key is to be consistent, affirmative, and always be present. Your little one is excited about his newly acquired skills, so be considerate. He is not challenging you; he does it because it is something new and exciting for him. Understanding this will help you establish the best rules for his safety.

Taking care of my baby’s skin

You have probably noticed that your little one’s skin is very soft and delicate. His skin is thinner than an adult’s and may easily become irritated, sunburnt, and/or dry. Therefore, it is important to take precautions to keep your baby’s beautiful skin healthy. The following tips can help:

1. Don’t use soap every time you bathe him. When you do use soap, make sure it’s hypoallergenic, unscented baby soap.

2. Avoid exposing your baby to direct sunlight. Try not to go out with your baby between 10 am and 4 pm, but if you have to, dress your baby with fresh, cotton clothing that covers his arms and legs. Don’t forget his hat and try to walk under the shade so that your baby has the least possible exposure to the sun.

3. Change your toddler’s diaper often to prevent a rash. Thoroughly clean the area with water and cotton, and make sure it dries out completely. If you use wipes, avoid those containing alcohol or fragrances because they can irritate your baby’s skin.

4. Make sure your baby is not exposed to harsh chemicals, like in some soaps and detergents. There is no need to buy special detergents; however, always make sure to completely rinse out all clothes and items that can be in contact with your baby. During these first months, it is advisable to wash your baby’s clothes separately from yours. After the first four months, you can combine them with the rest of the family’s clothes, but always make sure they are rinsed thoroughly.

Finally, it’s important to mention that your baby’s skin has a natural layer of protection so it doesn’t require moisturizers and creams. If you notice that his skin has become dry, you can use some unscented baby lotion on the affected area. Continue applying it only when necessary.