{     Offering the Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.     }

Posts Tagged ‘Infants’

Playful Parenting: Fun Activities for Newborns

Like all children, babies learn best by having fun. Here are some simple, play-based activities you can do with your infant to help him or her develop motor and learning skills.

  • Encourage tummy time. Tummy time is good exercise and allows your baby to practiceInfant_jpg
    moving. Lie your baby on her stomach and put one or two colorful toys in front of her or around her;
  • Read. Besides being an excellent bonding activity, reading to your newborn also prepares him for reading on his own and introduces him to shapes, letters and colors;
  • Talk to your baby. Simply chatting to your baby about whatever you’re doing keeps her entertained and helps to establish a foundation for language development;
  • Play with toys. Playing with age-appropriate toys helps your newborn exercise his sense of touch. Babies especially enjoy toys with different textures, such as crinkly fabric, satin and velvet.

Ten Tips for First-Time Parents

20120920_goddard_CA_0016Being a new parent is an exciting, life-changing experience, but it can also be scary. After all, nobody is born knowing how to be Supermom or Superdad. Here are ten helpful tips for first-time parents:

  1. Don’t panic. Babies cry, spit up and vomit, which is usually normal. Even if you’re worried, panicking will not help because babies can pick up on anxiety, and it can upset them.
  2. Be gentle but realistic. Supporting your newborn’s head when you hold him and washing him gently when you give him a bath are important practices. However, if your baby’s head isn’t fully supported for a second or if he gets some water in his eyes, he should be okay.
  3. Get close. Hold your baby close to your skin. Skin-to-skin contact is calming and soothing both parent and baby – really!
  4. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Your baby’s sleep patterns might be erratic for the first few weeks, so sleep when you can. If you have a partner, take turns getting up to tend to him.
  5. Avoid scheduled activities. At least at first. As your baby adjusts to a regular routine, your schedule will become more regular, too.
  6. Accept help when it’s offered. You can’t do everything yourself, and that’s okay. If a friend or family member offers to help you, ask him or her to do whatever will help you the most.
  7. Go outside. If you become a little stir-crazy, take your baby for a walk. If you can, let somebody you trust watch your infant while you get some fresh air.
  8. Take care of yourself. Eat properly, drink lots of water and sleep as much as you can. Taking care of yourself will help you maintain the energy you need to take care of your baby.
  9. Skip less important chores. Leave clean clothes in the laundry basket, don’t worry about the dust bunnies under the furniture and/or have cereal and toast for dinner occasionally. It’s okay to relax your standards a bit while you adjust to your baby’s arrival.
  10. Set limits with visitors. This means insisting that your visitors wash their hands before holding your baby or asking loved ones who are ill not to visit until they’re better. Also, let your friends and relatives know which days will work best and how much or how little time you have for a visit.

Concussions in Infants & Toddlers: Sung to the tune of “Five Little Monkeys Jumpin’ on the Bed”

By Jack Maypole, MD
Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Gravity sucks (well, actually, it pulls). If you are an infant or toddler, The Goddard Schoolanyway, it remains one of the greatest challenges you face. One does not need to be a phrenologist to know that the noggins of our littlest children get bumpy as they are knocked and bonked with zillions of pratfalls and tumbles each day. The question is: when is it serious? When should these kids be seen by a doctor?

To truly gain insight into this phenomenon, let us turn to the celebrated case study of the “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.”

To the less initiated, this case presented as follows. Five infant and toddler primates were performing gymnastics in a bedroom. In succession, each individual was observed to fall, striking some aspect of his or her brainpan.

Their parents wisely and serially put the question to the on-call clinician: how will I know if my child has a concussion?

Five little monkeys jumping on the bed,
One four-year-old fell off and bumped his head
Momma called the doctor and the doctor said:
“Look at the bump: is it bleeding, swollen or red?
As for the kiddo, check STAT for these signs
(as a pediatrician and dad who’s done this a few hundred times):
Most worrisome is a child who is unconscious or seizes
Or who oozes blood or fluid from their nose, mouth or earses.
If that happens, it suggests urgency,
Call 911, or get the to a room of Emergency…
Or — think right away, did he cry right after?
Was he quickly recovering with grinning and laughter?
That’d be reassuring, to see a smiling squirt-
Headbonked, perhaps, but likely not badly hurt.
There are some things in which you can trust,
That’ll manifest sooner or later, in a littlun concussed.
But then four little monkeys were jumping on the bed,
The 3-year-old fell off and bumped her head. Papa called the NP and she said:
“Cried right away! Good, she’s awake, and again busy?
Ask her if she feels a headache, pukey, or dizzy.
She might feel funky, get crabby, or throw up in your flowers.
These symptoms usually show up in the first six to eight hours.
For toddlers and up a mild headache or single throw-up can be par for the course;
I’d consider a callback to the doc if you think it gets worse.
These could herald a mild brain injury, or concussion;
To the ER or clinic you’d best go, to have that discussion.
And soon three little monkeys were jumping on the bed,
Then the 2-year-old fell off and bumped her head. Zen-like, Momma called the on-call doc and he said:
“Thanks for calling, now ask me your questions.
I’ll ponder the story, and make some suggestions.
Can she sleep? Sure. That the concussed can’t is a myth. (Lethargy is the concern, and is hard to miss!)
Might she be crabby? Somewhat is okay,
but unceasing crankiness get check’d, forthwith!
Most kids should respond to “supportive care”-
Hugs, chilling out and Motrin work there.
And, on cue, two little monkeys were left on the bed,
and the yearling old rolled off and bumped his head.
Papa called the clinic and the care provider said:
“For these kids who cannot talk yet,
Our approach is as much doctor as it is vet.
Fortunately, we consider lower risk for the kids with lesser falls,
Like sliding off a couch, stumbling over their feet, or careening off walls.
These tend to be a bit more tame;
(though we take ’em all seriously in the head injury game!)
But folks should check ’em out, just the same.
And for all kids who fell farther, or with a ’worse mechanism of injury’
Like a car crash or sledding accident when do you worry?
We’re extra cautious for them, as for babies of six months or less.
Consulting a doc for all these may be best.
And do a headcheck as a part of routine:
Kids with scalp dents or babies with big bumps may need to be seen.
Ditto for headaches, copious vomiting, or confusion;
Your clinic’s contact info might need using!
And then there was a six-month-old monkey snoozing on the bed
While stirring, she slipped, and down to earth she sped.
Momma called the doctor and then Momma said:
“I have successfully prevented an injury to her head!
Carseats, bike helmets, and childproofing our homes
Will lower the rate of bonks to lil monkey’s dome.
Not leaving babies unattended up on high places,
Closing my windows against where they press faces,
Are steps on the road to safety, a trip I’m starting,
To avert the dangers of head injury, as research is imparting…
Concussions happen, and can be treated, ’nuff said.
Oh, and there’d best be no more monkeys jumpin’ on the bed!

Observing Babies as They Learn

You love to watch your little one playing and learning, and so do Goddard School teachers. Observation is a core method our teachers use to assess what children are learning, when they are ready to learn new tasks and what their interests are.  We use these observations to track the children’s progress, develop lesson plans and share the children’s development with their parents. The Goddard School

As parents, we often teach our children, yet they can teach us a lot while we observe them. Children will inform us of their needs and interests if we pay attention to them. You may want to keep a notebook or record your observations on your computer or tablet. Observe your child at different times of the day, such as at mealtimes and bedtime. Over time, your notes will form an interesting record of your child’s behavior at different ages and help you notice whether a pattern of behavior is emerging. When you notice that your child develops a new interest, try to nurture it without overwhelming your child. Think about ways you can introduce some new activities that will appeal to those interests.

Through observation, you will gain a better understanding of your child and create a record of special memories.

Signing with Your Little One

The Goddard SchoolBaby sign language has been increasing in popularity for the past ten years, but is it really helpful?  The recent study from researchers from the University of Hertfordshire (2012) found no evidence that using baby sign language helps to accelerate language development.  The study did show that the mothers who had used sign language with their infants behaved differently. They were more responsive to their babies’ nonverbal cues and they encouraged independent exploration. When parents are more attuned to their baby’s thoughts and feelings, babies are more likely to develop secure attachment relationships.

At The Goddard School®, we start teaching babies simple signs for communicating their basic needs, and you can too.  Start with words like more, drink, food/eat, book, bed/sleep, diaper and, of course, Mommy and Daddy.  Many online resources demonstrate how make the signs.  Don’t feel pressured or anxious if your baby doesn’t sign right away and just have fun.

Tips to Avoid Separation Anxiety in Infants

Infant Boy BSeparation anxiety is difficult for everyone involved. The baby sobs, the parents feel guilty for leaving and the caregivers have the near-impossible task of calming the infant down. Thankfully, there are a few techniques to prevent separation anxiety.

  • Say ‘Goodbye’ and Go – One of the worst things you can do is to linger around for an extra five minutes with your infant. It gives your infant the feeling that the person he or she is staying with is not trustworthy. Then, if you’re lured back into the room, the infant might have an even worse reaction than the time before.
  •  Don’t Sneak Out – Although this may seem like the best thing to, it can damage your relationship with your child. You shouldn’t trick your child into thinking you’re still there when you’ve already made it into work. When the child realizes you’re not there, it can provoke a meltdown.
  • Put on a Happy Face – Your child needs to know that you feel good about leaving him or her with the caregiver. Even if you’re sad to leave your child, the child should believe that you’re confident as you head out the door.
  •  Start Early – Unless you can be with your baby at all times, it’s a good idea to familiarize him or her with other caregivers from as early as six months old. Practicing the separation is important and will also make going into preschool a bit easier. If you have a lot of family members willing to watch your baby, they could be good resources.

These tips are not guaranteed. Separation anxiety can happen to any child at any time, but there’s no harm in preparing your child for the future.

The Tender Touch: The Value of Parental Love

The way we handle our children physically is crucial to their developing self-esteem. We convey our children’s inestimable value through the ways we touch. As important as words are over time, the way we are with them from the beginning matters more than what we say.

In addition to the value of a loving touch, we parent best when we stay emotionally available and warm with our children. When we are able to sustain this availability as a constant through our “parental tone”–through feeding, bathing, dressing (when they are babies), meals, limit settings, awakenings and bedtime for older children–it helps us stay responsive to our children’s cues. That’s why it’s best to pick up those crying babies in the first six months of life and see what the problem might be, no matter how many times you have done it before. Or to put your arm around the pouting toddler and say, “I’m right here–what do you need?” If you are lucky enough to figure it out, the baby or toddler will respond instantly, and if you’re not, at least you’ve shared a good, if noisy, cuddle in the meantime. There is no harm in showing him you are there for him and you care enough to try.

Newbie-Doobie-Do: The Birth of a New Sibling

While you are eagerly awaiting your new baby, your older child may be feeling a whole swirl of emotions—including feeling a little left out. So, in addition to preparing for the “newbie,” now is the time to reinforce your child’s sense of belonging. As basic as it may seem, take some extra time to reassure your child that they will have just as meaningful a place in the family after the new baby arrives—and in fact, even more so since they will now get to be a big brother/sister!

Be prepared to talk about specific highlights and positive ways in which your child will be included, from helping to care for and be a protector of the new baby, to having someone to share the fun with, etc. If you have a sibling, share with your child some of your fun memories of growing up with a brother or sister.

Be sure to involve your child in the preparations for the new baby—let him or her select the outfit the new sibling will come home in, help him or her to create something special to hang up in the new baby’s room—even let him or her pick the color of the baby’s room (from colors you’ve narrowed down, of course).

Equally as important, be sure to make some extra special quality time for you and your child to bond—have a little picnic in the park, cuddle up for story time or bake up a batch of your child’s favorite cookies. Focus your attention only on him or her and steer clear of talk of the new baby during this quality time. Let your child know that these one-on-one get-togethers will continue even once the new baby has arrived—and be sure to follow through.

First Time Parenting

Becoming a parent is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. There are countless surprises in the event itself, even if you are in the minority of parents who were able to thoughtfully plan whether and when this should happen to you. Parenting is an important job we feel must be done well, which makes it all the more uncomfortable to feel so clueless about what’s happening to you, your marriage and your body. Moms are supposed to ’just know’ what to do, and fathers are supposed to ‘just know’ how to help them. Neither of these maxims helps much because they are mostly wrong and arcane. And if you are an adult when you become a parent, you are accustomed to knowing what to do as you work your way through your daily life – it’s probably been a while since you felt this inept, sacrificed this much sleep, effort and confidence and all for what – a few gassy smiles and some drool?

A few noteworthy first timer tips:

  • The ‘sensory surprise’ is my phrase for what catches many moms and dads off guard early on; holding the naked baby next to your skin (which is a very good thing to do) is calming and soothing for both you and the baby. Who knew? This touching, smelling, caressing stuff helps us find each other as sensory beings in this way too verbal world.  This is especially true for dads who have been in the cheap seats for the physical/sensory aspects of the gestation.
  • The ‘vocal surprise’ follows. When was the last time you found yourself singing or humming to anyone who would listen? Babies listen intently and seem to have an appetite for the human voice when it’s playing with sounds as in rhythmic speech, singing or cooing. Don’t hold back. This is the vocal equivalent of skin-to-skin cuddling and is just as enriching for both of you.
  • The next ‘surprise’ for the first timer might be the magical effect of swaddling on a fussy baby. Firmly but tenderly securing the babies arms and legs in the swaddling blanket keeps the baby warm and secure and is an important thing to learn how to do well. It seems to automatically comfort most babies and makes you feel like you know what you’re doing – especially important for first-time dads.
  • Two-thirds of his/her early life will be devoted to sleep, lumped into three-or four-hour segments at first. Sleeping through the night will come, but stomach capacities of the newborn aren’t initially adequate to this task. So get yourself informed about what to expect, problem-solving with your nurse/pediatrician ahead of time.  Sleep issues are among the thorniest for first timers, so listen to the seasoned pros about whether to sweat or not.
  • First time parents are often accompanied by first time grandparents. Here are a few tips for the first time grandparent:
    • Ask permission before rattling off advice. Egos are a little raw just now, so make sure you aren’t overstepping family boundaries.
    • Support the parents, both of them. Show them your tricks only if asked; this child is theirs, not yours.
    • Don’t expect much attention or entertainment when helping out.
    • When you help, help them both.  Helping your child’s partner is helping your child raise your grandchild.

Infant Language Development: Talking and Feeling

Words do more than communicate thoughts and facts.  They allow us to organize and categorize those thoughts and facts – just as numbering systems allow us to do arithmetic after we’ve run out of fingers and toes to count on, or file names let us access previous work on a particular topic.

Infant & Teacher B

Children weeks old begin to bubble and coo, then move to squeals and squeaks, then repetitive tongue and lip movements, all in a fairly predictable sequence.  As children age, they spend a fair amount of time experimenting and playing with sounds.

They play with giggles, cooing, wailing, grunting, moaning, bubble blowing on their way to their first word, just as they play with their feet or body parts on their way to sitting up, crawling, and walking.  The pleasure gained in the mastery of sounds helps drive development forward.  Be honest.  You know those sounds are fun to make because you mimic them just to see that little face light up.

While infants begin uttering sounds for the sheer delight of doing so, they won’t attach meaning to those sounds until around 12 months.  Once this happens, children discover the power of words to cause action – saying “Mama” is likely to bring Mom to the scene.  Children also discover that words can call forth mental images of the people or things the words mean – saying or thinking “Mama” will bring up a mental picture of Mom.  Such images can be very comforting to a child when Mom isn’t physically present, such as at bedtime.  Most parents are familiar with children’s nighttime chants, a mix of words, syllables that call up images of the child’s world that are temporarily out of sight when the lights go out.  While the uttered name may not magically or instantly produce Mom, the mental image or picture attached to the name provides important comfort until she actually appears.