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Choosing Toys for Your Baby

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 10:00am
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Hitting the toy store when you’re a parent can be an exercise in being overwhelmed. There are rows and rows of shiny, colourful objects and it’s hard to know which ones are worth the price. First-time parents can be especially unsure, as it’s hard to know what their new baby will enjoy and what toys will help with her development.

In order to choose the best toys available, parents need to understand a bit about their child’s development. Our experts have created the following list of skills that a one-month-old has developmentally – these are great things to keep in mind when choosing toys for a newborn. But remember, your baby’s best toy in the first year will will always be you!

Typical Emotional Skills

  • Enjoys/needs a great deal of physical contact and tactile stimulation.
  • Responds positively to comfort and satisfaction.

Typical Fine Motor Skills

  • Stares at colourful objects 8 – 14 inches away.
  • Follows person with eyes while lying on back.
  • Generally keeps hands closed in a fist or slightly open.
  • When fingers are pried open from their usual fist position, baby grasps the handle of a spoon or rattle, but drops it quickly. 

Typical Gross Motor Skills

  • Lifts her head when held against your chest; his head sags, flops forward or backwards when not supported.
  • All arm, leg and hand are usually held in a flex position; when they do move it is with little control.
  • When lying on her back, you will see the tonic neck reflex which is characterized by the head turned to one side; the arm on the side that the head is turned is extended while the other arm is bent upwards.  The leg on the side that the head is turned is extended and the other leg is bent at the knee.  This is similar to the position that a fencer assumes.
  • When on her tummy, she turns her head to clear her nose from bed; may lift head briefly.

Typical Intellectual Skills

  • Cries when hungry or uncomfortable.
  • May make throaty sounds like ‘ooooh’ or ‘aaaah’.
  • Pays close attention to faces of those closest to him.
  • Responds to loud or sudden noises with a sudden start; this is one of the early signs of a developing response system.
  • Focuses on high contrast patterns and faces; prefers these to bright or big objects.

Typical Social Skills

  • Fixes eyes on your face in response to your smile.
  • Moves body in response to your voice during interaction.
  • Quiets down when looking at familiar faces.
  • Engages in eye contact.

Here are some kinds of toys your infant might enjoy.

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Your Crying Newborn

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 02:22pm
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It’s common for new parents to worry that their baby is crying too much. And, like most new parents, you are likely being bombarded by advice and ideas on how to deal with this from your friends and family.

“It’s completely normal for new parents to be concerned when their baby cries,” says Karon Foster, a Registered Nurse and a Parenting Expert. “Of course parents feel uncomfortable when their baby cries, but all babies do. It’s the main way they have to tell you that they need something.”

“Parents worry that if they always pick up their baby when he cries they will spoil him, but that just isn’t true,” Foster continues. “Your newborn isn’t crying to please or upset you – he doesn’t know how to do that yet. He’s just letting you know that he needs something or that he’s upset and unhappy. In fact, babies that are soothed when they cry actually cry less in the long run. Also, if you don’t respond to your baby’s cries on a regular basis it can interfere with his ability to trust you and other people now and in the future.”

Our experts have put together some facts about crying and some tips to help you cope.

  • It’s common for many babies to cry more during the first six weeks. Gradually, as they learn to soothe or quiet themselves down, they’ll cry less and less. It takes a while for this to happen, though. Some babies who have very sensitive temperaments, can take a long time to learn to soothe themselves.
  • It’s typical for young babies to cry many times a day for a total of about 2 hours in a 24 hour period. But you have to remember, every baby is different. Some cry more often or for longer periods. This can add up to 3 or more hours in a day. Most of these babies are healthy and growing well.
  • Talk to your doctor about your baby’s crying at your next appointment. Ask if she has any guidelines about when to call or when you should worry. There are no real hard and fast guidelines, but if you want to know what’s typical and normal try filling out a crying log to show to your baby’s doctor.
  • And never hesitate to call the doctor if you are worried about crying. The staff will ask you more specific questions and help you gauge your baby’s needs.
  • Babies cry for lots of reasons. He could be hot or cold or have a tummy ache. Maybe he is just lonely and needs to be held. Finding the reason for his cries is part of the learning – in time you will learn most of his cues.
  • Babies do not need to cry to develop their lungs. Most babies don’t know how to soothe themselves for at least the first six months and sometimes longer. So always try to soothe your crying, young baby.
  • Avoid letting him ‘cry it out.’ Keep trying to soothe him. Your baby needs to feel your presence.
  • If you feel frustrated or angry, you can let your baby cry until you feel calm again. Letting your baby cry is better than you feeling the urge to shake him or worse. Try calling someone for support; ask for help. It’s OK to need a break now and then.
  • When your baby is fussy try consoling him by walking, rocking and talking softly to him. Sometimes a warm bath helps or singing. Some parents find taking their baby for a drive helps, as the motion of the car can be soothing.
  • There are two red flags to watch for when your baby is crying: one is a very high-pitched cry and the other is a really feeble cry. IF your baby cries in either of these two ways, or if you’re worried about your baby, call the doctor or take the baby to the emergency room.

 

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The Role of Routines – Starting a Routine

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 07:36pm
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For some parents, the idea of babies having routines sounds crazy, while others knowingly nod their heads in agreement. Both new and seasoned parents strive to help create some order out of the possible chaos of the few first months and routines are a great way to achieve that.

Babies are born into a world where everything is new to them, and they arrive without much memory to help them remember from one day to the next. Their brains are growing at an amazing rate, though! The more the learning circuits in their brains are repeated, the easier it becomes for them to learn—about us and how we live.

Starting a Routine

While it is important to feed your baby on demand for the first several months of life, once you start to follow a pattern, you'll help your newborn learn to trust that you will soothe her hunger—if not right this minute, then soon. The same goes for sleeping. Newborns don't know the difference between night and day. Starting from the first day at home with your baby, follow a nighttime routine of bathing, changing, feeding, lowering the lights and eventually leaving the room. This will help your baby transition into the nighttime sleep routine, teaching her that night is the time for sleeping.

Don't expect your baby to understand or stick to a routine right away. The patterns that will become routines will soon be clear to you.

To help pave the road to a routine, do things in the same order each day, as you get a feeling for your baby's rhythm and for what works for both of you.

Our experts have created a list to help you understand why it can be important to have a routine.

Routines help your baby learn about all of the following:

  • Your baby will learn to trust you and know that you will make her feel safe and secure.
  • A routine will help your baby learn and remember things. Repetition helps build your baby’s memory as she learns to recognize predictability in her strange new world. This makes your baby feel safe and secure. She’ll be able to relax and will have the energy she needs to be curious, to want to explore and learn new things.
  • Your baby will begin to build social and language skills. For example, if you always say “goodbye” when someone is leaving, your baby will learn the word “goodbye,” the meaning of the word and the social response that goes with it.
  • Routines will help teach your baby about the concept of past, present and future. The repetition of routines helps your baby become familiar with things, which boosts her brain development.
  • Your baby will start to build skills. Routines, like a daily bedtime story, give your baby a chance to learn and practice skills, practice taking turns and understand new ideas, such as “wet” and “full.”

Click here for some common routines you might establish with your little one.
 

 

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Toddlers and Verbal Abuse

by Maxine
Posted August 27 2010 01:55pm
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Verbal abuse is defined as repeatedly insulting a child or calling a child names. Telling him that he is stupid, fat, lazy, useless etc, can be just as harmful as hitting him. These actions can result in him feeling as though he is no good. 

Children in these situations come to believe that they are worthless or stupid and they may feel that it’s hopeless to try to be anything different. A child needs to feel loved, wanted and safe in order to feel worthwhile.

Any type of abuse can lead to a whole range of behavioural, emotional and physical problems. 

If you or your partner are using verbal abuse with each other or with your child it may be difficult for her to thrive. You should speak to your doctor or a counselor in your area.

In Canada, anyone who believes a child is being abused is required to report it to the police or child protection authorities.

 

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