All posts by Alice

Water safety: Keeping children safe all year round!

Summer days and hot weather are the perfect invitation for relaxing at a pool, hanging at the beach, or swimming in the lake. These activities are loads of fun, but they’re also dangerous if precautions are not properly instilled. According to the CDC drowning is the leading cause of accidental or injury related death in children between 1 and 3 years old. Drowning is silent and quick. Children don’t trash around, they usually sink down to the bottom, and lose consciousness after 2 minutes.

Adequate water safety can save your child’s life. Continue reading this article to find out the safety guidelines to follow.

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Your baby’s emotional world: The appearance of your little one’s emotions

The development and appearance of your baby’s emotions follow an orderly process that goes from simple emotions, all the way to the complex ones we all know too well.

According to Michael Lewis, PhD, when your baby is first born he is able to demonstrate three basic emotions: interest, distress, and satisfaction. Your newborn will show these emotions due to internal processes, physiological changes, or as a response to sensory stimuli. As your little one continues to grow so do his emotional responses. Over the next 6 months these primary responses will evolve into happiness, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, and fear. These emotions, such as the ones stated above, develop in conjunction to the neurological and cognitive maturity of babies.

Once your baby is around 9-10 months of age he will go through a new set of cerebral development that will allow him to be pretty good at expressing a wide array of emotions. You might see your little one go from frustration, anger or sadness to happiness in a manner of seconds. This is completely normal and expected, so don’t stress out about it; you’re are doing a great job. When dealing with these intense moments remember to breathe and try to be the “container” that helps your kid regulate his emotions.

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Tantrum Survival Guide

Tantrums are extremely common in toddlers and preschoolers. They’re how young children deal with difficult feelings. It’s important to tune in to your child’s emotions to avoid situations that trigger those tantrums.

You don’t need to have a child to know the word tantrum. It is so notorious that everyone has either seen one or experienced it first-hand.

Tantrums are completely normal and expected in toddlers and preschoolers ages 1-3. They are an outlet for children to deal with big or difficult feelings. During this stage of development, toddlers are beginning to develop their independence but are still dependent on adults. They also don’t have the adequate skills or brain development to self-regulate just yet. To make matters even worse, children this age don’t have the appropriate language to voice their emotions, so expressing themselves via physical actions is their way to cope.

Tantrums can vary in type and intensity. They might involve crying, screaming, kicking, head banging, back arching, falling to the floor, or even breath holding. People making a tantrum are said to have ‘lost it’, and this situation is not exclusive for toddlers; older children and even adults can experience a tantrum when they feel overwhelmed by their emotions and can’t manage or don’t have the adequate skills to self-regulate. Continue reading

It’s all fun and games

Babies and toddlers explore and learn about the world that surrounds them by playing with objects. By doing this not only do they have fun, but they learn essential problem-solving skills and practice having social interactions. Play is a must in childhood and understanding which activities and toys best suit your baby and toddler are key for the development of skills and milestones.

At first, babies don’t understand the difference between toys and regular household objects. Everything they see, touch, taste, and feel is new and exciting. They will explore the object by mouthing, shaking, banging, and even throwing, to see what happens. With time, babies learn to differentiate between toys and regular objects, but they will use them in the way that is most enjoyable to them. If a rattle makes a fun noise when thrown, then they will do this repeatedly.

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Newborn reflexes

During the first weeks of your baby’s life much of her activity is reflexive due to the fact that all babies have a limited amount of control over their bodies. To make up for this lack of control, mother nature made sure babies were born with a set of survival mechanisms that protect them from harm. For this reason, although your little one is very dependent on her caregivers, she is not completely defenseless.

Reflexes disappear after a few months or a year, once your baby does not need them anymore. Some even turn into voluntary actions once your little one begins to gain control over her body. These innate mechanisms usually have a short duration, but they are very important. For this reason, it’s crucial to make sure your little one has all her primitive responses present, as they indicate that the brain and nervous system are doing their job correctly. You could verify your baby’s reflexes at home, but know that your healthcare provider will make sure your little one displays all her reflexes during her first check-up. If you’d like to learn more about these fascinating involuntary movements or actions, check out our list of the most common baby reflexes below.

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Finger dexterity: developing the pincer grasp

Since birth, your baby began developing and fulfilling an incredible amount of skills that allow him to interact with his surroundings. As a parent, it is amazing to see how our babies meet these challenges with eagerness and joy!

One of the great milestones that your baby will fulfill during his first year of life is the pincer grasp. This milestone is fundamental for his development and involves grabbing small objects with the index and thumb. Achieving this skill is not easy, since it requires a lot of practice. This finger dexterity milestone will begin to develop around the eighth or ninth month of your baby’s life. At first, you’ll see him use this type of grasp clumsily, but little by little the movement will become more precise.

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Learning to communicate: non-verbal cues

It is hard to think of living a life without language as this is the main mean to communicate our thoughts, desires, and needs to others. Babies find themselves in this position every day before they learn to talk. Therefore they need to use other forms of non-verbal communication to make themselves understood.

Babies have a strong desire to connect with others. For this reason, even before they can talk, they use non-verbal sounds and body language to achieve this goal. Babies are active communicators, but they don’t have the language to speak just yet. If you observe closely, you’ll see how they communicate without words. By doing this, they seek to obtain a response from their caregivers and when they do, they learn to repeat these actions to get their needs met.

The moment babies take their first breath outside of the womb they begin to communicate. Crying, cooing, and squealing are all non-verbal cues that they use to get a response from a loving parent. As they get a bit older, they learn to communicate via facial expressions such as smiling and making eye contact. Babies also move their bodies to get a message across, for example moving their legs or arms when excited or in distress. As they reach the age of 8-12 months they further develop this skill by learning to wave, clap, and point.

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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 sounds to form their first words.

Generally speaking, a baby’s first word is “mama” or “papa/dada”, but when these words are first spoken they are merely babbles; your little one hasn’t learned yet 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 children 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 they 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

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 also 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.

Physical benefits:

  • Gross motor skills derived from whole body movements
  • Fine motor skills developed thanks to the strengthening of hands and fingers
  • Balance and lower body stability
  • Strengthening of shoulder and hip muscles
  • Upper and lower body weight shifting necessary for when baby starts to walk
  • Control over body

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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 in moderation starting at 6 months of age, 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 the 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 better than 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.

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