raisingkidswithlove

You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

Look Before You Leave! Check the Back Seat!


 

Look Before You Leave!

Leave a child in a car?  Absolutely not!  Most of us can’t even imagine that EVER happening.  The truth is though it does, every year.  Overheating can become a life threatening emergency for a child.  Every year there are reports of tragic deaths of children who get left in cars for “just a second”, left in cars accidentally by distracted parents, or who get locked in a car accidentally while playing.

  • There is an average of 37 deaths of children left or trapped in hot cars a year.  In 2017 there were 42!
  • Most of these deaths, 52%, were due to children being forgotten in the car by a caregiver.  Most of us think…“Never would I forget my child in the car!”  When a child is accidentally left, most of the time it happens because a parent has changed a routine; the parent does not normally take to daycare and does that day, or the parent is stressed and overly tired.   All of us have had our minds very occupied at one time or another…it only takes a few moments of “forgetting” to result in a tragedy.
  • 30% of the deaths were due to children playing unattended in a car.  How many of us have let our child “pretend” to drive the car?  Children are curious and will get in a car to try it out or hide and then accidentally lock themselves in the car.  Keep your car locked and the keys out of reach!
  • Cars heat up quickly.   When the outdoor temperature is in the 80’s, the temperature in a closed car can reach a deadly level in 10 minutes or less.  A 70 degree day can result in a closed car with a temperature of 125 deadly degrees.
  • Cracking a window has no significant effect on the car’s internal temperature.

Source:  Jan Null, CCM, Department of Geoscience, San Francisco State University, http://ggweather.com/heat/

What can we do?

  • NEVER LEAVE A CHILD UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE.  NOT EVEN FOR A MINUTE!
  • IF YOU SEE A CHILD UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE CALL 9-1-1.  STAY WITH THE CHILD UNTIL EMERGENCY HELP ARRIVES.
  • BE SURE THAT EVERYONE IS OUT OF THE CAR WHEN UNLOADING.  DON’T FORGET SLEEPING CHILDREN!
  • ALWAYS LOCK YOUR CAR AND BE SURE THAT CHILDREN DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR KEYS.  TEACH YOUR CHILD THAT A CAR IS NOT A PLAY THING.  NEVER LET YOUR CHILD PLAY IN THE CAR EVEN WITH SUPERVISION.  IF A CHILD IS MISSING, ALWAYS CHECK THE POOL FIRST, AND THEN THE CAR, INCLUDING THE TRUNK.
  • KEEP A STUFFED ANIMAL IN THE CAR SEAT AND WHEN YOU PLACE YOUR CHILD IN THE SEAT PUT THE STUFFED ANIMAL IN THE FRONT WITH YOU AS A REMINDER, OR PLACE YOUR PURSE OR BRIEFCASE IN THE BACK SEAT AS A REMINDER THAT YOU HAVE YOUR CHILD IN THE CAR. 
  • MAKE “LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAVE” A ROUTINE WHENEVER YOU GET OUT OF THE CAR.
  • MAKE A PLAN WITH YOUR CHILD CARE PROVIDER TO CALL YOU IF YOUR CHILD DOES NOT SHOW UP FOR SCHOOL.

Source:  Jan Null, CCM, Department of Geoscience, San Francisco State University, http://ggweather.com/heat/

  • NEVER LEAVE A CHILD ASLEEP IN THE CAR UNATTENDED, EVEN WITH THE WINDOW CRACKED OR THE AIR CONDITIONER ON.

Together, let’s keep our children safe!  We each have a responsibility to protect ALL children.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

http://www.nhtsa.gov/safety/hyperthermia

http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Child+Safety/Keeping+Kids+Safe:+Inside+&+Out

Protecting your child from bug bites


Protection from ticks and mosquitoes is important for your child!

Today is beautiful, and I hope most of you have your children outside at some point!  Children both love and NEED to be outdoors.  Outside activity is an important part of a healthy child’s life, and it helps children get good and tired too!  I know one of the biggest reasons I encouraged outdoor play was that it provided me with a good long nap from my children in the afternoon.  A method to my parenting madness!

With spring and summer upon us, the pesky bugs will soon be too!   Not only are these insects just plain annoying, they can carry dangerous diseases to your children.  Most children have mild reactions to bug bites, but some children (are they just sweeter?) really seem to attract those insects and those bites result in large red welts that make them miserable.  West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and the recent outbreak of Zika Virus are diseases that could result from insect bites too.  So, if we want our children outside and we don’t have a protective “bee suit” in the house…what are we to do?

The use of insect repellents are recommended by the American Academy of  Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control.  Although most of us hate to put chemicals on our children, DEET used correctly is one of the best protectors for your child.  The amount of DEET in insect repellents varies from less than 10% to more than 30%.  Studies show us that the higher concentrations of DEET protect for longer periods of time, but not more effectively. So a repellant with 10% DEET will protect for about 2 hours, 24% about 5 hours, and at over 30% there is very little increase in protection.  The AAP recommends using a concentration of DEET between 10 and 30 percent.  Most of our children will not be outside in an area with biting insects more than 2 hours at a time…so 10% DEET should be enough the majority of the time.

How to use insect repellent safely:

  • Always read the label.
  • Do not use DEET on children under 2 months of age.
  • Do not use a concentration of DEET greater than 30%, usually 10% will be adequate.
  • Only apply the repellent to the outside of your child’s clothing and on exposed skin.
  • Use a small amount just to cover the area, thicker layers are not more effective.
  • Do not spray repellents on your child’s face.  Put the repellent on your hands and rub on your child’s face being careful around eyes, and mouth.
  • Do not put repellent on your child’s hands.  Do not apply to open areas like cuts.
  • Spray repellents in open areas, do not breathe them in.
  • Wash your child with soap and water to remove the repellent when he comes inside.  Wash your child’s clothes before he wears them again.
  • Do not use sunscreen/insect repellent combinations.  You will need to reapply the sunscreen and the repellent should not be reapplied.
  • Cover your child’s exposed skin with long pants and sleeves if you know he will be in an area with a lot of biting insects. This will decrease the skin area that will need repellent.
  • Try to avoid dusk, the “buggiest” time of day!
  • Remember DEET is NOT effective on stinging insects like bees and wasps.

Repellents that do NOT work

  • Wristbands with chemical repellents
  • Dryer sheets pinned to your children (A big trend a few years ago!  I once saw an entire preschool class of children on a playground all equipped with dryer sheets!)
  • Garlic (would keep other people away! )
  • Ultrasonic devices that give off sound waves
  • Bug zappers (may actually increase insects in the area)

Other repellents:

  • Permethrin is a chemical repellent.  It is effective and should be applied to clothing only, or items like tents, not on skin.  Use in concentrations of between 5 and 10 percent.  This repellent will kill ticks on contact.  Great for spraying on tents and sleeping bags.
  • Picaridin is as effective as DEET and some studies show it may be less likely to cause skin irritation in children.  It has been used in Europe for many years, more recently here in the U. S.
  • 2% soy bean oil and lemon eucalyptus has been shown recently to be as effective as 10% DEET.  Lemon Eucalyptus Oil is not approved for use in children under the age of 3.
  • Cedar, and Citronella essential oils are less effective and give very short term protection.

So the bottom line is, insect repellents are a better alternative that the potential complications from a disease carrying insect. Be smart and use repellents safely.  Protect your child with clothing and by avoiding the time of day/night and areas where insect bites would be more common.  Check your child for ticks daily and remove any tick with a tweezers and clean with soap and water.  Lastly, put this at the bottom of your worry list….outdoor fun is essential for children!  Protect them with common sense and enjoy the outdoors…don’t let the bugs scare you off!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Choosing a sunscreen for your child


Choose the right sunscreen protection for your child…and enjoy the summer!

The sun is shining…it is going to be a great day!  Whatever your plans are they must include some sunscreen.  If you are a bit confused about which one is best for you and your little one, then join the club!  Walking through a sunscreen aisle at the store can be very overwhelming.  We have SPF numbers, lotions, sticks, sprays, natural, baby sunscreen, discount brands, expensive brands, dry touch, water-resistant, and the list goes on.  Reading labels and comparing sunscreens feels like a parent should have a doctorate in chemistry.  The new labeling makes it a bit easier to figure out, but there is still room for lots of confusion.  So begins another spring/summer of walking the aisles of Target wondering which sunscreen is the best! Is it easier just to keep your child inside?  Definitely not!  Here are a few tips that may help your sunscreen decisions.

Sun safety tips:

Babies under 6 months

  • As much as possible babies this age should avoid sun exposure.  Dress your baby in lightweight long pants, sleeves and brimmed hats that shade the neck.  When you are not able to cover your baby completely and keep him or her in the shade, then you can apply a small amount of sunscreen to exposed areas.  It is better to use sunscreen than for your baby to get a burn!!
  • Be aware of reflection of the sun off water and other objects.  The best time of day for an infant is when the sun is not at its highest intensity.  Try to stay out of direct sun between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Older Children

  • Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside if you are using a chemical block.  Use sunscreen everyday as part of your routine.  Look for sunscreen of at least 30 SPF that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.  Make sure you are using enough sunscreen–about 1 ounce or a shot glass full!
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating.  Even water-resistant sunscreens need to be reapplied after swimming and towel drying.  Sunscreen sticks work well for under eyes and those hard to apply areas such as ears, and noses.
  • The best defense is covering up, use hats, sunglasses, and cotton clothing for your children.  I love the SPF 50 clothing that is on the market!  How simple is it to put an effective sunblocking long-sleeved shirt and hat on your child!  Give it a try!
  •  Try to be shaded as much as possible and remember that the peak hours of sun are between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Sunscreen labels

  • Just because a sunscreen is labeled for kids or babies does not mean that it is the best for your child.  The ingredients make the difference!
  • The label must say broad spectrum or protects against UVA and UVB rays.  Both types of rays cause skin damage.
  • SPF numbers can be misleading.  SPF higher than 30 does not provide much more protection, and there are sunscreens with a high SPF that do not provide broad spectrum coverage.  You must have both.
  • Try to stay clear of vitamin A.  There has been some research that vitamin A listed as retinyl palmitate on labels, can cause more skin damage when the skin is exposed to sunlight.  (doesn’t make sense to put it in sunscreen!)  Vitamin A is the darling of cosmetic companies right now, with claims of anti aging.  Vitamin A in vegetables is great…not so great in sunscreen.
  • Look for sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium oxide.  These are mineral based sunscreens.  They are effective immediately and are not readily absorbed by your child’s skin.  They are more of a physical barrier to the sun, not a chemical barrier.  Avobenzone is a common chemical used in sunscreen.  It takes 20 to 30 minutes for it to be effective.  There has been no real definitive research that proves it is harmful, but zinc and titanium oxide both have been shown to be easy on sensitive skin and there are no chemicals that are absorbed. Sometimes these ingredients will make the sunscreen thicker and whiter on the skin.
  • Water resistant sunscreens will be labeled effective for either 40 minutes or 80 minutes. If your child is in the water 5 minutes and towel dried…the sunscreen must be reapplied no matter what the label says!
  • Buy a cream or lotion rather than a spray.  There is concern about your child breathing in the small particles in the sunscreen spray and studies show us that parents do not apply enough sunscreen with a spray.  Remember, we need at least an ounce of sunscreen for good coverage.
  • Do your homework The Environmental Working Group reviews sunscreens each year.  Take a look at the best sunscreens   http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/and then make your decision.

So make some plans for the wonderful weather. We have been waiting for this!  Head outdoors with your child and have some fun!  But first, take a shopping trip today and find some sun protection for yourself and your child.  Purchase that all important sunscreen….and maybe a cute pair of sandals for yourself!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Get a little dirty…it is time to garden!


 

It is that time of year when I am doing a bit of grumbling about all the yard work, but also looking forward to getting my perennial beds cleared and blooming, my cut flower bed planted and preparing my vegetable garden for this summer’s crop of tomatoes, beans and of course sunflowers.  I definitely am not a Master Gardener, but I have a special place in my heart for gardening and getting a little dirty.  I have very fond memories of my Grandfather and his vegetable garden and beautiful roses.  I would walk through his garden when I visited and help water and weed.  With his garden gloves on and a hat perched on the back of his head, he was a true farmer at heart.  He showed me how to eat a fresh tomato right off the vine and how to pinch a peach so the fuzzy skin would pull back and I could eat the sweet inside.  I guess my love of gardening started by watching my Grandpa and then my own father take pride in their gardens.

So many of our children have no idea where their fruits and vegetables come from or even what a fresh tomato really tastes like! With the new fruit and vegetable pouches, I sometimes wonder if many toddlers even know what a real vegetable LOOKS like!  There are many life lessons that can be taught by simply taking a small plot of land or a small container and growing something with your child!  There is no better way to instill a love of nature and to encourage healthy eating than growing a fresh fruit or vegetable as a family.

Children are natural gardeners—they are curious, they learn by doing, and they love to play in the dirt.  Gardening is good for families, it gives your family time together outdoors, and time to let your child get dirty for a purpose!  Children love to look for worms, love to plant seeds, water,  watch plants  grow, pick their crop and even try the harvest they have grown.  What a great way to get them to try green beans!  This helps cultivate their curiosity about nature, the earth and maybe even foster a love of gardening.  Children will also love the special time they spend with you.  Gardening teaches patience, responsibility and is like having a science lesson without even knowing it!  You might even find yourself feeling a little proud and definitely loving the taste of a fresh homegrown tomato!

Tips on gardening with children.

1.   Plan a small container garden or a small plot of land that is theirs.  Talk about a plant’s  need for sun, water, and food.  Put the garden in an area that can be seen easily by your child.  A plastic storage bin or any other container with holes poked in the bottom for drainage works great for this!  Keep it near your back door so your child can see it often.  Tomato plants or lettuce can actually be grown in just a bag of topsoil that you open and plant the seedlings in the bag.  What could be easier?

2.  A “yardstick” garden is plenty big for a child.  Take a yardstick and measure a garden that is 3 foot square.  A young child can reach all sides of the garden and will take pride in that little plot he can call his own.

3.  Gardens do not have to be square.  A “pizza” garden can be planted with wedge sections.  Put different plants in each wedge.  Plant ingredients that would taste good on a pizza!  This is a great way to grow an herb garden!

4.  Use a little imagination, children will love a sunflower house!  Plant large sunflowers in a semi-circle.  As they grow, tie the top of them together and your child can have a “secret” hiding place in your garden!

5.  Watering and weeding is not as much fun as planning and planting ( I don’t like it as well!).  For older preschoolers or school age children, put a gardening calendar in the kitchen or in your child’s bedroom with tasks to be completed.  Don’t force it, remember you are instilling a love of gardening!  Keeping your child’s portion of the garden small should keep the time necessary to only a few minutes a day.  Using a container garden really keeps it easy!

6.  Child sized garden tools make it easier and more fun. I have seen tools in the dollar area of Target!  I know if I had young children, the gardening boots and clogs I have seen would be a must, so cute!!  A gardening hat is a necessity,  protect yourself and your child from the sun.  What is cuter than your toddler gardener in a wide brimmed hat!  Don’t forget the sunscreen too.

7.  Let your child dig the holes for the seeds or the plants that have been bought.  Digging holes is a natural for kids!

8.  Encourage your child by planting seeds that mature quickly and are easy for them to handle.  Radishes and lettuce are great.  They germinate in a couple of days.  Bean seeds and sunflower seeds are easy to handle.

9.  Be sure to put the seed packet on a stake in the garden to remind them what they have planted and what it will look like.  Some discount stores even have little garden stakes that your preschooler could decorate!

10. Children love the unusual.  Many vegetables are available in different colors or sizes.  Speckled beans, red carrots, miniature cucumbers and pumpkins, purple beans, and grape tomatoes are just a few examples.  Try something really unusual by taking a cucumber or pumpkin bloom and placing it inside of a 2 liter bottle.  Shade the bottle with leaves from the plant and let the pumpkin or cucumber grow inside the bottle.  It is a great “show and tell” item when there is a large cucumber or pumpkin inside the bottle!

11. Add a bird bath  to attract birds.  Children can be responsible for refilling the bird bath!

12. Think about planting bright colored flowers that are known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  Exploring the garden for butterflies, bugs, worms and caterpillars is great fun!

13. You might want to set a part of the garden for digging all summer.  Put your sandbox in the middle of your garden to make your garden kid friendly.  There were always a few cars or trucks around in the dirt of our garden.

14. You can have your child  make garden stones or markers for the garden.  Find larger stones and let them paint designs on the stones.  These make great Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gifts for Grandparents!

15.  Have your child help build a scarecrow for the garden.  This can be a fun activity for late summer especially.

16.  Measure the sunflowers that you plant once a week and chart their growth.  If you have older children, planting sunflower seeds that mature in about 90 days is a great way to measure the length of summer.  When they bloom, it is time to go back to school!

17.  Try to grow organically as possible.  Mulch is a great way to cut down on weeds which will prevent the need for weed killer and mulch will keep the soil moister during dry spells.  Mix compost and/or topsoil into your garden each year to provide nutrients needed for plant growth.  By growing without chemicals, your child will be able to eat a tomato right from the vine…there is nothing better!

18.  Let your child harvest their own vegetables.  There is nothing better than picking your salad fixings for the day!  This will encourage your child to eat their vegetables I promise!  Your child will love to eat “garden to table”!

19.  Keep it fun…start small!  Most new gardeners try something too big and then quickly become discouraged with the experience.  Just grow one tomato plant and supplement your “garden” with a trip to the Farmer’s Market!  We always had enough green beans from our small garden for at least one dinner.  The kids would always ask, “Our these our beans?”  With a little white lie, our kids ate green beans the whole summer!

There are some great children’s books that can be fun to read with your child as you start your garden:

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington
Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens
This is the Sunflower by Lola M. Schaefer
Whose Garden Is It? by Mary Ann Hoberman
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
Oliver’s Vegetables by Vivian French
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Alison’s Zinnia by Anita Lobel

Get a little dirty….plant a few seeds and you will see your child’s excitement grow as the plants grow, and who knows you might just raise a kid that likes his vegetables!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Loving Touch is Important at Every Age!


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This past Saturday I visited with our twenty something son. As he walked in, he gave me a big hug and I kissed him on the cheek.  As I was preparing for my parenting groups this week I was thinking about that moment.  The hug and kiss of my son, who is definitely a young man now, was as sweet ( albeit a bit more scruffy and I was on my tip toes) as the snuggle I would have with him as a baby.  Loving touch with your child is at the center of a parent and child bond.  The connection  between child and parent through touch is undeniable.  I am a firm believer in the importance of touch and our children….from birth, to toddler years, preschool, school age, and yes even in the awkward teens.  Continuing the physical hugs and kisses are important for your child and you.

Snuggles and touches are natural for most parents with an infant.   Infant massage has been proven to provide many benefits for babies.  Routine loving massage can help an infant

  • Gain weight
  • Calm
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve their latch for nursing
  • Increase bonding
  • Improve neurological development
  • Improve their immune system
  • Decrease teething pain
  • Decrease congestion
  • Learn body awareness
  • Learn that touch is a loving expression
  • and the list goes on…..

Getting started…

  • Turn off th TV, cell phone and other distractions.  This is time to concentrate on your baby alone.
  • Warm up the room and your hands.
  • Lie your baby on his/her back a warm towel or blanket.
  • Use a vegetable based oil.  (if you could eat it, then it is OK)
  • Make sure you are calm.
  • Make eye contact with your baby.
  • Ask permission to touch, show your baby your hands.
  • Lay your hands on your child lovingly.  Often babies prefer touch on legs and feet first.
  • Use light gentle touch, but not a tickle touch.
  • Move from the center out…upper thigh to foot.
  • Give equal treatment to both sides of the body!
  • Movements should be slow and relaxed…like a lullaby.  Sing while you do it!  🙂
  • Start with a short session and watch your baby’s cues.  If your baby wiggles away, fusses, looks away, then stop and try again at another time.  As your baby becomes accustomed to massage, the length of time may increase.  You don’t have to massage your baby’s whole body, just the parts that he or she enjoys!

Technique:

  • Make eye contact with your baby and sing or talk to him–or play music.
  • Breath, relax yourself
  • Hold one foot in one hand and use the other hand to milk the leg.  Squeeze thigh to foot, this is the “milking” motion.
  •  Roll leg between hands from thigh to ankle, like you are rolling dough or clay.
  •  Finish with long strokes from thigh to foot.
  • Press the sole of your baby’s foot with your thumbs.  Massage each toe.  Play “this little piggy”.
  • Repeat on other leg.
  • Follow same process of milking, rolling, and stroking on the arms.
  • Press the palm of your baby’s hand with your thumbs.  Massage each finger.
  • Slide your palm and fingers in a circular motion from the ribs downward.  Then move clockwise around the tummy.  Smooth the chest like pages in a book.
  • If you have used massage for a while, some babies will allow you to massage their face.  Massage face with light fingertips stroking across the forehead from the center to the sides.  Massage tears ducts.  Move down nose and on the sides.  Use a circular motion from the temples down the side of the face.
  • Massage shoulders and use long strokes down the back and on the bottom.

Remember…the intent of your touch is much more important than your technique!  Just relax and enjoy!!

I Love You massage for colic or gas

  •  Trace the letter “I” on the right side of your baby’s tummy.  Start just under his ribs and move down to your baby’s hip.
  • Now stroke from left to right on your baby’s lower tummy making the long part of the letter “L”.
  • Make a short downward stroke on the right side of your baby’s tummy making the short to complete the “L”.
  • Complete the “I love you” by making an upside down “U” starting at your baby’s left hip and circling along the top of the tummy and down the right side.
  • Continue these strokes to help calm a gassy tummy.

Massage can continue to some degree all the way through childhood.  There were nights that I sat on the side of my children’s bed and massaged an aching tummy or head, and I have massaged sore muscles after a big game or meet.  The continued touch with your child will keep you connected in many ways.  There were certainly times when I hugged my children in those teen years and I got an eye roll too…but because of those continued “loving touches” through the years, the hugs in the stands of a high school football games, college track meets, quick weekend visits at school, and now when our “adult” (they will always be my kids) kids visit those hugs and kisses  continue.  Don’t underestimate the value of teaching your child the benefits of touch as an expression of love.

Check out your local hospital for classes on infant massage.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Help take the “ouch” out of vaccines


Shots are not fun for you or your child…here are some tips to help with the “ouch”!

Check ups with vaccinations are difficult for parents and children.  That first 2-month-old check up is often dreaded by parents because the first round of vaccines is given at that time.  It is very difficult for a Mommy and Daddy to see their precious baby “hurt” by a vaccine.  Some parents who choose to delay vaccines or actually refuse vaccines do so in part because of the discomfort vaccines cause.  Most of us thankfully have never seen the “discomfort” of many of the diseases that a vaccine prevents. I always tell parents that the discomfort and the risk of any side effect far outweigh the risk of the disease.  The vaccination causes discomfort, but discomfort for a purpose.

Often parents don’t realize how quickly an infant comforts after receiving a round of vaccines.  A study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in April of 2012 discussed the use of the 5S’s technique of shushing, swaddling, side positioning, sucking and swaying, from Dr. Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block book.  Infants who were soothed using his technique after vaccines were calmed within about 45 seconds.  Surprisingly, babies self comforted without any help within 3 to 4 minutes.  So, worse case scenario for most infants is a period of crying of a couple of minutes after injections.

As a parent, most of us feel better when we have a plan to comfort our babies, toddlers, and even older children.  Here are a few age appropriate tips:

  • Prepare yourself before the appointment.  Every aged child will respond with an increase in anxiety if Mom and Dad are very anxious.  Bring someone with you for support if necessary.
  • Prepare your child.  Toddler aged children need an explanation immediately before the injection, older children should be prepared prior to the appointment.  Be honest about the “ouch”.
  • The use of swaddling, side positioning, swaying, shushing, and sucking has been proven to calm an infant quickly after vaccines.
  • Use of sugar has repeatedly been proven to help with pain relief for babies undergoing painful procedures.  Some providers will have a sugar solution you can dip a pacifier in prior to the injection.
  • Breastfeeding will calm a baby after routine injections.
  • Use distraction…it helps parents too!  Talk to your child, sing a song, count, say the ABC’s, talk about what you will do during the rest of the day.  A recent study showed that older children coached to try the “cough trick” during an injection experienced less pain.  Another technique that works is to have a child “blow” out a pretend candle during the injection, or “blow” their favorite color into the corners of the room.
  • Give an older child some sense of control. Explain what each injection is for and the reason it is needed.  The anticipation of a shot is much worse than the actual injection! Ask the child what distraction technique they would like to try, let them choose which arm to receive the injection if possible.  A sense of control decreases anxiety.
  • Try swabbing alcohol on the forearm of the opposite arm receiving the injection.  Have your child blow on that area during the injection. Our bodies can’t feel cold and pain at the same time, so the feeling of cold from the alcohol and blowing will decrease the pain of the injection.  This also will provide a distraction!

The fact is, that even with these techniques children and parents are usually anxious about vaccines and vaccines are uncomfortable.  However, the discomfort is very short-lived, children comfort quickly, and the benefit of protecting your child is priceless.  Don’t wait, vaccinate your child!  Share what techniques have worked for your child!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Taking Care of Your Child’s Teeth


This cute little smile cost us several thousand dollars later to straighten it out….but worth it!

There is nothing cuter than a toothless grin of a baby.  Next the cute little pearly whites that erupt create a darling smile, then there is a toothless grin again as the tooth fairy starts to make visits to your home, and then soon your child will have  two big front teeth that look way too big for their mouth.  As your child grows, their dental needs change too.  Why is dental health so important for children? Dental decay is the most common chronic childhood illness.  There are at least 4 million preschoolers that have had at least one cavity.  Forty to fifty percent of children will have cavities before the age of five.  51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental health problems.  The American diet is high in sugar, and we are using more and more  non-fluoridated bottled water for drinking.  This all adds up to an increase in dental cavities, and a decrease in dental health of our children.  Children with cavities in their primary or “baby” teeth have more problems with poor weight gain, iron deficiency, speech problems and poor dental health as adults.  Taking care of our children’s teeth is part of good health care!

I.  When do baby teeth form and erupt?

  •  The primary teeth or baby teeth begin to form before your baby is born at about the 14th 19th week of pregnancy.  The crown, or the white part of the tooth that is seen, continues to develop until several weeks to several months after your child is born.
  • Total of 20 baby teeth, 10 on top and 10 on the bottom by about age 3.
  • The first tooth to appear usually is the lower central incisors (the bottom two teeth) around 6 months of age.  Don’t panic if your baby’s first tooth isn’t the lower two teeth…some babies teeth to the beat of their own drummer!
  • Teething can be painful for infants.  Babies explore their world with their mouths, and during teething this can be uncomfortable.  There can be redness, swelling in the gums, drooling, increase in finger sucking, and the need to bite and chew on any object.  Some babies will pull at ears or rub their jaw line, teething pain is often referred to the ear area.
  • Sometimes parents will see a “blister” where the tooth is about to erupt, this is normal.
  •  Many babies  like a clean teething ring, frozen wash cloth, frozen fruit in a mesh feeder, frozen bagel or mom’s fingers to rub the gums.
  • You can give acetaminophen, or ibuprofen (after 6 months of age) to help with the pain.  Ibuprofen is a bit more effective for inflammation of the gums, but wait until your baby is at least 6 months to use this!
  • Do NOT place oral numbing ointments on your baby’s gums.  This can cause a decrease in the gag reflex and could be dangerous.
  • Teething pain usually occurs for 3 to 4 days prior to the tooth breaking through the gum.  Pain should decrease once the tooth breaks through the gum line.  There may still be some discomfort for a few days after.  It is not a month-long process unless your baby is cutting multiple teeth one after the other.
  • Teething does NOT cause a fever, vomiting, diarrhea or cold symptoms.  If your baby has any of these symptoms with teething, he or she is probably ill too.
  • Teething can cause an increase in drooling which can lead to a rash or irritation around the mouth and on a baby’s chest.  Keep the area dry by changing shirts frequently, using absorbent bibs, and “water proofing” the skin with ointments.

II. When is the first dental visit?

  • The first dental visit should be at about age 1 to 1 and 1/2 or 6 months after the first tooth.  It is important to have your child’s first teeth examined.  Dental problems can begin early.  Children with healthy teeth can eat better, develop better speech, and dental cavities can cause a permanent state of infection in your child.
  •  Usually the first visit is just a visual exam—usually on mom of dad’s lap.  Going to the dentist is just like a well child exam at your child’s doctor.  We want to be sure we support healthy teeth, not just see the dentist when there is a problem!

III.  How do you care for the first teeth?

  • Wipe your baby’s first teeth using a  wash cloth or gauze or a soft bristled baby toothbrush.  Ideally, your baby’s teeth should be wiped or brushed twice a day.  Once in the morning and once before bed.  The earlier your child becomes accustomed to wiping or brushing their teeth, the easier it will be.
  • You can use a small smear (about the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste on your child’s tooth or teeth until age 3 and then a pea size amount after age 3.  Fluoride is important!  It helps strengthen your child’s teeth and prevent decay.
  • You should help your child brush teeth until at least age 6.  Children are not coordinated enough to brush teeth well before that.   Sometimes this will be a battle, but it is worth the battle.  We want to form good dental hygiene habits early!  Do what you have to do to get teeth brushed.
  • Have your child sit on your lap facing out, or you sit on the floor and lean your child back into your lap to brush.
  • Let your child brush after you brush.  Use circular motions on the teeth and brush along the gum line.
  • Use stickers, games, songs, whatever it takes to get the tooth brushing done.  If your child cries, brush quickly…but at least the mouth will be open!
  •  Never put your baby to bed with a bottle of formula or breast milk.  This will result in decay in your baby’s first teeth!
  •  Never put juice or any other sugared drink in a bottle.
  •  Do not allow your child to walk around with a sippy cup of juice or milk all day long.  This will leave a continual coating of sugars on your child’s teeth.
  •  You can begin to floss your child’s teeth when they start to touch.  Again, this is a good habit to start young!
  • As your child begins to eat table food, try to avoid high sugar snacks.  Sticky snacks are the worst.  Fruit snacks, dried fruit like raisins and any other sticky food must be brushed out of your child’s teeth.

IV.  When do I worry about thumb sucking, finger sucking and pacifiers?

  • It is perfectly normal for infants and young children to need to suck.  Sucking decreases stress in young children and makes for a happier child!
  • It should be discouraged starting at about age 18 months.  Parents should limit pacifier use to bedtime and nap time.
  • All thumb sucking and pacifier use should be discouraged after age 3.
  • Most children stop on their own, but some need help.  Most will then quit with encouragement from the dentist and parents.   Do not use negative reinforcement like hot sauce on a thumb, taping fingers, or putting mittens on your child.
  • Prolonged sucking can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problem.   The fingers, thumb and pacifier all affect the teeth the same way.

VI. My child grinds his teeth, is this bad?

  • Teeth grinding happens in many toddlers.  The toddler’s molars are very smooth, and children will often grind.
  • Most children outgrow the habit by about age 6.
  • If teeth grinding continues after permanent teeth arrive, then speak with your child’s dentist.

VII.  What should I do if my child injures his mouth and teeth?

  • Be sure and ask your dentist when he or she would like to be contacted for a tooth injury.
  • If a child knocks out a permanent tooth, keep it moist or drop it into cup of milk and call the dentist immediately or head to the ER.
  • If a child is hit in the mouth–always call the dentist for an exam even if there is  no obvious damage.
  • If a child chips a tooth–call the dentist even if there is no sensitivity.
  • Your child should use a mouth guard for sporting activities!

Start good dental habits early…find your child a dental office home where both you and your child are comfortable.  Dental care should not be scary but just a part of good health.  Take care of your child’s smile, it is one of the most beautiful things a parent sees!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

www.ada.org

www.aapd.org

www.healthychildren.org

Let’s talk toddler!


Kaitlyn was a typical toddler, she definitely had an opinion!

You wake up one day, and it is a whole new ball game.  You now have a toddler.  Toddlers are so much fun, but can also be a challenge.  We are not used to our child having an opinion, and a toddler has one and often expresses it very loudly!  Toddlers can be having a tantrum one minute and laughing the next!

Your toddler’s biggest developmental task is to start to develop independence.  Your child will begin to separate from you at times, and be very clingy at other times.  Every day and sometimes every minute,is a new adventure when you have a 1 to 3 year old!

We know that toddlers are a bundle of energy.  Everything is an adventure!  Kitchen cupboards, knobs and buttons, computers, and even the drain in the tub is interesting.  Toddlers are busy discovering and really don’t have time for naps and potty training, although both are important for toddlers!  Toddlers are free little spirits and have very little self-control, which often results in your precious child throwing himself on the floor in a fit of frustration and anger.   To better understand your toddler, there are a few principles of toddler psychology…..

  1. A toddler is developing creativity, independence, curiosity, and imagination.  The whole world is open and exciting!  Your child is not misbehaving when he smashes peas, climbs on the table, or puts his finger in a place it should not be, he is exploring.  Exploration is developmentally appropriate for your toddler!
  2. A toddler has very little self-control and tolerance to frustration.  Sometimes it is so frustrating that a puzzle piece will not fit, or he can’t climb on the counter, or you break up his cracker that he wanted whole!  Because a toddler has very few words and a limited repertoire to handle frustration, the “logical” thing for him to do is melt down, kick, cry, and let his opinion be heard by all!
  3. Toddlers want attention.  Attention is attention to a toddler, whether it is negative attention or positive attention.  As parents, we need to limit our words of explanation to a toddler.  A 2-year-old doesn’t really care if he will fall off the table, he just wants to climb on it.  You will never convince him otherwise…there will be no moment of epiphany when he understands your safety talk!  We must not reinforce behavior by giving extended attention to unwanted behavior.  Give lots of positive words to positive behavior….very few words to negative behavior.
  4. Toddlers need predictability and routine.  Your child will behave much better when there is a routine in place at home.  The amount of frustration and the number of tantrums will decrease when you establish routines and rituals.
  5. Toddlers need some sense of control.  Give your child true choices.  “Do you want the bananas or the apple sauce?”   “Do you want to wear this shirt or this one?”  “Do you want to read your story before your bath or after?”  Do not give choices when there are no true choice.  Only ask a yes or no question if you are happy with the answer being “No!”
  6. Toddler temper tantrums are a result of frustration, being overly tired, being hungry and learning that they work!

 Between 12 and 15 months your toddler should: 

  • Have tripled his or her birth weight.
  • Start to combine syllables like saying  Ma Ma and  Da Da.
  • Start walking alone.
  • Bang two objects together.
  • Like to read interactively.
  • Follow one step directions.
  • Begin to use spoon or fork.
  • Begin to limit pacifier use to the crib only.  Use during waking hours will limit speech.
  • Like to explore.
  • Begin to point.  Respond by saying the name of the object he is pointing to.
  • Take 1 to 2 naps a day and sleep 11 to 12 hours at night.  Be sure to have a good bedtime routine.

By the end of the 18th month your toddler should:

  • Be able to walk backwards, walk up steps, and kick a ball.
  • Be able to say 10 to 25 words and name 3 body parts.
  • Be able to turn pages in a book.
  • Be able to stack 2 blocks.
  • Play next to a playmate, but not with a playmate.
  • Not be able to share!  Sharing does not happen without parental guidance until about the end of the 3rd year.
  • Attach to a “lovey” if one has been encouraged.
  • Continue to love to explore.
  • Take 1 nap a day and sleep 11 to 12 hours at night.
  • Not separate easily.  Separation anxiety peaks between 18 and 24 months.
  • Know the difference between how Mom and Dad parent and play.  Many will prefer one parent over the other at times.  Toddlers cannot intentionally do things to hurt your feelings at this age.  Connecting with one parent over the other may be because your toddler is learning male and female roles, may need more nurturing from mom or more physical play from dad.  Roll with it!

By age 2 your toddler should:

  • Be able to put on simple clothing with some help.
  • Be able to stack 4 to 6 blocks.
  • Be able to combine words into at least 2 word sentences at age 2.  Your child should have a vocabulary of over 50 words and be 1/2 understandable by others.
  • To follow two-step directions.
  • Know his body parts.
  • Continue parallel play with peers.
  • Have 1 nap a day and 11-12 hours of sleep at night.
  • MAY develop fears.  Explain loud noises, show what things are, introduce new people slowly, read books about things he is afraid of, and let him handle objects that are causing fear.
  • MAY continue to have separation anxiety.  Do not leave without saying good-bye.  If he cries when you leave, remind him you will be back.  Leaving and coming back helps diminish separation anxiety.

During the 3rd year your toddler should:

  • Dress himself.
  • Stack 9-10 blocks.
  • Walk up steps using alternating feet.
  • Be able to jump, hop, walk on toes.
  • Use his imagination for play.
  • Have a large vocabulary and use 3-4 word sentences.  Speech should be 3/4 understandable to others.
  • Be able to tell stories, sing nursery rhymes.
  • Be able to sort objects by shape and color.
  • Be able to play cooperatively now and share and develop friendships.
  • Show an interest in words, numbers, and letters.  No need to force learning these, but plan activities around this interest.  Show your child his name, write it out, point out letters on signs and in books, talk about colors, shapes, and point them out in your child’s world.
  • Still sleep at least 11 hours at night and have 1 nap a day or an extended “rest time” without the TV.

 Parenting activities for toddlers include:

  • Toddler “field trips”.  Bring your toddler to museums, parks, library story times, the post office, the grocery store, fire stations, apple orchards, and play groups.
  • Play matching games, sorting games, shape and color games and puzzles.
  • Read, read, read!  Try to read 30 minutes a day broken into short time slots.
  • Encourage crayons, finger paints, and clay to develop fine muscle control for writing.  Writing on an easel or blackboard is easier for young children because larger muscles are used.
  • Encourage water play, sand or dry rice play, filling and dumping.
  • Play with puppets.
  • Allow your child to feed himself, encourage use of utensils.
  • Help to expand your toddler’s language by talking to him.  Help him finish words and sentences.  If he says “cup”, you can respond, “You want your blue cup with milk.”
  • Play pretend with your toddler.  Play kitchens, dolls, stuffed animals, trains, cars, dress up….
  • Play follow the leader with your toddler.
  • Encourage rhymes and songs.
  • Play musical instruments with your toddler.
  • Respond to wanted behaviors with positive words and ignore unwanted behaviors.  Use time outs for behaviors like hitting, biting, and shoving.

At your child’s 18 month and 24 month well child visit, your physician should be screening for signs of autism.  Red flags that a parent might see are:

  • Your child repeats words but does not try to participate in conversations.
  • Your child does not respond to his name when you say it.
  • Your child does not make eye contact with you or others.
  • Your child avoids social contact or physical touch.
  • Your child has not developed speech or is losing words rather than building a vocabulary.
  • Your child does not play with toys like his peers and does not use imaginative play.
  • Your child seems to be under sensitive or overly sensitive to stimulations such as sound, touch, and texture.

Remember, if your child is reaching developmental milestones, no worries!  Many times children will not be able to do something that is expected because they have never been encouraged or have never had the opportunity.  Be sure to provide the opportunity for your toddler to reach milestones, even if it takes longer to allow your child to complete a task, or it is messy!!  If your child is not reaching developmental milestones, contact your doctor, and refer to your state’s early intervention program.  The earlier the intervention, the better the outcome.

Important links that will help you: 

  • “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” Campaign  
    This campaign educates parents about childhood development, including early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders, and it encourages developmental screening and intervention. It will give you tips on how to determine if your child needs screening.
  • Overview of Early Intervention
    Learn more about early intervention services from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.  Find out about your state’s early intervention program and how to access it.
  • Bright FuturesExternal Web Site Icon
    Bright Futures materials for families are available for parenting tips for children from birth to 21 years of age. This is provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Developmental Surveillance and Screening GuidelinesExternal Web Site Icon
    This American Academy of Pediatrics website provides guidelines on surveillance and screening for developmental delays in children.
  • National Association for the Education of Young ChildrenExternal Web Site Icon (NAEYC)
    NAEYC provides accreditation for early childhood programs and  preschools that meet certain standards. You can search for an accredited program or preschool near you.  NAEYC also provides resources, tools, and information for parents.

Toddlers can be exhausting, but exhilarating!  Looking through your toddler’s eyes, you will learn to enjoy the small wonders of the world again.  Tie up your running shoes, you have a busy toddler!   

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Oh what a difference a year makes! Growth and Development milestones the first year.


 

                                                       

From one day to one year, what a difference a year makes!                                                           

The first few months of my children’s lives sometimes felt like a blur.  Parents get VERY little sleep and are just trying to get to know their baby.  I can remember feeling that the first year just flew by and all of a sudden I would have a toddler on my hands!  There are so many changes that come so quickly with your baby that first year! 

During that first year, your baby is learning that he or she will be loved and cared for.  It is important to foster that development of trust.  Don’t let your baby cry for long periods of time, especially in the first 6 months.  Crying is your baby’s way of communicating.  Soon you will learn what different cries mean, like “I’m tired”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m wet”, “I need to be held”, “I am bored”….Responding to your baby’s needs helps your little one develop trust in you and the world.  You cannot spoil a baby!  Older children can be spoiled, but not infants, so just enjoy catering to their needs and loving your baby.

Growth and development should be steady and progressive.  That  is more important than comparisons with other children.  It is common for new parents to look at other babies and start to worry and compare.  Try not to compare, just know what important milestones your baby should be reaching.

How big your baby is at birth is a poor predictor about the size of your child by adulthood.  The size at birth has more to do with the conditions of uterine development.  Most children will find their growth curve and stay at that curve.  A child that is smaller than 75 percent of other babies his or her age can be perfectly healthy, that may just be the growth curve that child has.  By the end of the 2nd year, the size of your child will more truly reflect his or her adult size.

We parents know that our children are special!  However, reaching developmental milestones faster than other children does not necessarily predict your child’s intelligence.   As long as your child is reaching his or her developmental milestones on target, there are no worries!

By the end of the 2nd month your baby should:

  • Smile
  • Look at you!
  • Start to try to self soothe.  May bring hands to mouth and suck
  • Begin to smile at people
  • Start to coo
  • Turn towards sounds
  • Follow things with eyes
  • Pay attention to faces
  • Hold up head and begin to push up during tummy time

Activities for parents:

  • Talk to your baby
  • Show simple objects
  • Give your baby different looks at the world, change his or her scenery!
  • Play the silly face game, open and close your eyes, stick out your tongue etc.
  • Start the routine of a daily walk weather permitting
  • Help baby with tracking objects, babies love mobiles, shapes and movements
  • Imitate your baby’s sounds and expressions as your baby starts to learn to communicate

Your baby’s growth:

  • Growth will be about an ounce per day in the first 2 months
  • Growth will continue at about a pound a month after the first couple of months
  • Birth weight doubles by 5 months
  • Birth weight triples by one year

By the end of the 4th month your baby should:

  • Like to play and interact with you!
  • Copy some movements and even facial expressions like smiling
  • Babble even with expression
  • Cry in different ways for different needs like hunger, or being tired, or lonely
  • Reach for a toy or rattle
  • Track with eyes well side to side
  •  Be able to roll from tummy to back
  • Push up on elbows during tummy time
  • Like colors now and be drawn to them

Parent activities:

  • Continue to talk, talk, talk
  • Build reading into your daily routine
  • Respond to your baby’s coos and babbles…carry on a conversation!
  • Continue to show your baby the world!

By the end of the 6th month your baby should:

  • Recognize a familiar face and begin to have some stranger anxiety
  • Like to look at self in the mirror
  • Use vowel sounds when babbling and takes turns in a “conversation” with you!
  • Begin some consonant sounds when babbling
  • Respond when you say his or her name
  • Transfer things from hand to hand, easy to hold toys are important
  • Try to get things that are out of reach
  • Roll over in both directions
  • Sit with support
  • Like to “stand” with you holding and might bounce
  • Start to push up and may rock back and forth on hands and knees
  • Start to scoot and move arms like a swimmer
  • Sometimes show frustration if he can’t reach something he wants
  • Teething may begin with the average baby cutting their first tooth by the end of the 6th month
  • Should start the “dropping game” between 7 and 8 months (helps your baby learn object permanence)
  • Should begin clapping between 7 and 8 months

Parent activities:

  • Remember stranger anxiety starts at about 6 months and peaks at about 9 months.  This is normal.  Help your baby by gradually introducing strangers.  A stranger is someone your baby does not see everyday!  Never force a situation quickly when your baby is afraid of a new face.  Hold your baby, sit on the floor and let your baby explore with you holding him or staying near at first.
  • Start to teach finger games like “so big”, waving “bye-bye”, playing patty cake
  • Continue to read and talk to your baby
  • Make sure you are establishing routines, especially bed time and nap time routines

By the end of the 9th month your baby should:

  • Begin to have favorite toys
  • Understand the word “no”
  • Copy sounds you make and gestures you make
  • Pick up small things with thumb and index finger “pincer grasp”
  • Play peak a boo
  • Look for hidden items
  • Look where you point
  • Sit well without support
  • Start to scoot and crawl
  • Start to pull up to stand between 9 and 12 months

Parent activities:

  • Continue to play finger games like “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
  • Continue waving bye-bye
  • Build things for baby to crawl under and over
  • Let your baby play with every day objects like pots, pans, plastic containers
  • Encourage your baby to imitate your behavior like brushing hair, talking on the phone
  • Encourage pretend play with keys, phones, dolls, chunky trucks etc.
  • Play with pop up toys, a jack-in-the-box is a great way to teach object permanence
  • Play in and out games
  • Let your baby hold your fingers to walk

By the end of the 12th month your baby should:

  • Point at items
  • Pull up to stand and may walk
  • Cruise around furniture
  • Squat and stoop to pick up things
  • Throw a ball
  • Understand one step directions from you
  • Turn pages of a toddler board book
  • Look for missing objects in last seen location
  • Say Ma Ma and Da Da and maybe a few other words like ball, dog
  • Start to show fear, will cry when you leave
  • “Help” get dressed by holding out arms etc.
  • Put things in a container, takes things out, likes to dump items

Parent activities:

  • Help baby with push toys, wide based push toys that children can walk behind are fun!
  • Play games that the baby has a part in like puffing up your cheeks and letting her push the air out
  • Look at books and make up stories about the pictures
  • Teach body parts  Where is your nose?  Where is your tummy?
  • Play with musical instruments that shake and bang
  • Play music your baby loves to move and dance
 Enjoy the first year!  Your baby will grow and change more quickly than you can ever imagine.  Interact, smile, play, read to, cuddle, play music, walk, and just introduce your baby to the world!  The world is an exciting place through the eyes of a child.  Experience it with your child!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Helpful websites:

www.cdc.gov

www.aap.org

www.infirststeps.com

Infants need play time too!


You are your baby’s first toy! 

Play time is important for infants too!  Infants play by moving, by looking (especially you and that funny face), by exploring with hands, feet, and mouth, and by interacting physically (a little tickle), emotionally, and verbally.  The time your baby spends playing with you is invaluable.  You don’t have to “teach” as you play, your baby is learning by just interacting with you!  You are your baby’s favorite toy! 

Let your baby look at you! 

Your baby is completely enthralled with YOU!  Look at your baby and make silly faces.  You will be amazed by your sweet baby trying to imitate some of your silly faces!  Smile, coo, stick your tongue out…your baby will love it! If your baby keeps looking away, then he or she may have had enough of your silly face for a while, be careful not to over stimulate. This little game stimulates your baby’s social, visual, and emotional development.  This teaches your baby ways to seek and receive your attention and affection.  Who knew that you could be entertained by just looking at your baby!  You and Dad have a new evening entertainment!

Play with touch!

Who doesn’t want to touch that soft baby skin?  Touch your little one with different textures.  Tissues, a blanket, the tip of your finger, a cotton ball…explore different touches across your baby’s tummy or cheeks.  Talking makes this even more fun for your baby.  “Doesn’t that tickle? OOOh feel good?”  Watch your baby and you will be able to tell what his favorite is.  Soon your little one will start to kick and get excited when you just start to touch his little belly.  Touch teaches sensory awareness, verbal interaction and body awareness.

Give your baby something to look at.

A mobile is a great first toy for your child.  It can be colorful or black and white with some accents of red, but your baby will love watching it!  Be sure to take the mobile down once your child can reach it or is starting to try to sit up.  The mobile provides visual stimulation and spatial awareness for your baby.

Try a little game of “The Voice”.

No, you can’t tell if your baby has a singing voice yet, 🙂  but your little one loves the sound of your voice.  He or she has heard your voice even before birth!  Put your baby in the center of the room and walk around the room singing and talking or making funny noises.  Your baby will begin to look for where you are!  Combine a little “Peekaboo” with it!  Your baby will love it.  This will help your baby develop listening skills and it helps develop a sense of trust in you as you disappear and come back!

Take your child on a tour.

Your home and backyard may be familiar to you, but your baby will love the change in scenery.  Carry your baby around the house and you will find all kinds of neat things.  Talk about what you see and what things do.  Light switches are amazing!  Head outside and discover the grass, the leaves, brush a flower across your little one’s cheek, introduce your child to the world!  New sights, sounds and textures are exciting for your baby, and talking about them builds language skills too!  Introducing your baby to the world may just help you appreciate the little things again too!


The oldies but goodies…all the finger plays you used to know
.

Games like Peek-a-boo, So Big, Patty Cake, This Little Piggy, Itsy Bitsy Spider are fun for you and your baby.  These finger plays and songs teach socialization skills, fine motor skills, object permanence, and are just plain fun.  If you don’t remember these oldies but goodies, look them up online or check out a book at the library.

Make an obstacle course.

Your new little crawler will love to crawl over and under things.  Get those pillows and cushions off the couch and start encouraging your baby to climb up and over, crawl, and tumble.   This is fun and helps build gross motor skills and coordination.  It might get your little one good and tired for a great nap too!

Try the fill and dump game.

Once your baby is sitting up and is developing some hand coordination, filling and dumping will be a favorite activity.  Stacking cups, measuring cups, plastic containers all work well to fill up with water in the bathtub, sand, blocks, raw rice or any item that can be scooped up and dumped.  Your baby will work on fine motor control, hand-eye coordination, and words like “full” “pour” “all gone” “empty” and others.

Stacking and knocking over.

Stacking will soon become the next fun activity.  Those same stacking cups can be used to build a tower and knock it down.  Blocks, stacking rings, plastic cups, books…anything can be used to stack and knock over.  This helps with fine motor development and cause and effect.

These are just a few examples of the type of play your infant will love the firs 12 months of life.  Don’t rush out and buy lots of expensive toys, you will be your child’s favorite toy these first few months.  There is no rush to “get ahead”; your child will learn all that he or she needs to learn with simple play.  The pressure to get ahead often takes away the most valuable tool for learning…play.  Be a kid again and fill your child’s day with play!  Have fun!

What is your favorite activity with your infant?  Post  some of your ideas!

Follow Raising Kids With Love on Facebook for more tips!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

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