Monthly Archives: January 2016

No Pressure Dinner

Your little person is now feeding herself.

It’s a wonderful task full of self-esteem. Never hesitate to give her a lot of praise as she is eating. Sometimes toddlers only get attention when they won’t eat something, and she thrives on your praise. If she only gets attention when she’s not eating she may refuse food solely to get attention from you. A toddler often thinks, as the saying goes, ‘any attention is good attention.’

If she doesn’t eat much at one meal, that’s okay! Never insist that she finish everything on her plate- this can make her anxious about food. Here are a couple of tips to create a healthy eater.

If your toddler doesn’t finish her food simply take away the uneaten portion without saying anything. If you feel frustrated that your toddler hasn’t finished the meal you’ve carefully prepared for her, keep in mind that she is learning to do things for herself; and that includes knowing when she is full. You are allowing your toddler to take important steps towards her very important independence. I promise she will not go hungry.

With this independence and your approval, she will eat all by herself.

Be consistent. This process takes at least 3 months, by the time she is 4 years old she will probably be a good eater.

Ouch

Sure, teething’s nothing new–both you and your baby endured plenty during that first year. But toddler teething pain can be just as tough or even tougher on your little one, thanks to the big molars that are about to poke through those tender gums.

Sure, teething’s nothing new – both you and your baby endured plenty during that first year. But toddler teething pain can be just as tough or even tougher on your little one, thanks to the big molars that are about to poke through those tender gums. Ouch for both of you.

Your baby is drooling, her chin is irritated and sensitive. Yep, molars are coming through.

Keep a super soft cloth handy to pat her chin. Aquaphor ointment will help any sign of irritating rash. Break out those rubber teething rings and toys again, especially ones that can be chilled. Try giving her some cold water, or rubbing her gums with your clean finger.

It’s not a good idea to give her those old standbys such as ‘chilled carrots’ (she can bite off a chunk and choke). Teething biscuits are messy, but can help soothe. If during the molar eruption, a little blood comes, it’s totally normal. Your toddler can now have acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.

Stay calm and smile because you will have a break until the second round in 12 more months. Avoid homeopathic remedies as they are not FDA approved and can be harmful if swallowed. Consult with your child’s pediatrician to discuss remedies you both feel comfortable with.

Picasso

There is more to scribbling than meets the eye. The mere act of using a crayon demonstrates newly acquired finger and wrist dexterity, a good pincer grasp, and improving hand-eye coordination. Children have a powerful instinct to scribble, just as they do to walk. Unfortunately they aren’t praised the same because when a child scribbles it’s usually on a wall, so all she hears is her parent yelling ‘stop that!’ Her art work really needs to be encouraged, she is learning how to express herself. As random as your toddler’s scribbles may seem, they are the basis of every ALPHABET in the world. Get drawing!

Provide your toddler with a wide sturdy unwrapped batch of crayons and lots of heavy drawing paper. The parents who don’t give their children safe opportunities for scribbling are the ones who end up with a house full of graffiti. Keep a close eye on your child, because she will still put things in her mouth. Cheer on her work.

Let her tell you what it is, and when she does, comment “Wow! I can see that, it’s wonderful! Let’s make another one.” Or, “where should we hang this great art work?”

Sharks Are Biting

This game is a great way to develop your little one’s sense of imagination. You can pretend that your living room is the sea and that he has to get to the other side of the room without getting his feet wet! This activity will encourage your toddler to strengthen his balancing skills.

Scatter some cushions around the floor as stepping stones. Show your toddler how to hop and jump his way across the living room. Point out ships, whales and mermaids on the way.

Oh yes… and watch out for those sharks!

Encourage your toddler to step carefully around the cushions. This is a time for your imagination to go wild and help baby to do the same. Have a lot of fun. Watch your toddler’s balance get better and better.

Slow Down!

Your baby’s visual abilities are very limited her first couple of months. In addition to only being able to see 8-12 inches in front of her face, she has very little control over using her eyes in tandem; that’s why you will see them wander or cross.

While she’s working hard to get both eyes to work as a team and focus, help her explore her world. Introduce objects to her by holding them within 8-12 inches of her face. Hold the object very still so baby can focus on the details, and don’t forget to name the objects so she knows what she is looking at!

As she gets the hang of focusing on movement, you will notice her eyes following the objects as you pass them in front of her. You can also try locking eyes with her while moving your head slowly from left to right, and watch as she’s mesmerized by your eyes and head movement.

Social Referencing

Your baby is showing a huge cognitive leap when she begins to respond differently to strangers than familiar people. She may seem more serious, or less relaxed with strangers; maybe even show very apparent discomfort. She’ll be looking to you for emotional signals to know if something is safe or not. This is what psychologists refer to as social referencing.

Throughout this time, your baby will look to you for reassurance in confusing or unfamiliar situations. For example, when an unfamiliar person approaches, your baby may cling very tightly until she sees your kind, relaxed interaction with the stranger. Another area social referencing plays a huge role in, is when dropping off your child at daycare. He will pick up on your fears and become upset. During this time, be reassuring, comforting and patient, while he develops a sense of trust and understanding for his environment and unfamiliar guests.

Soothe

The ‘self-soothing’ argument is an outdated rationalization.

Research on brain development shows that babies don’t learn to self-soothe by being put down. They learn not to depend on others, because no one will come when they call. Babies learn to self-soothe by being comforted, which teaches them not to panic and to realize that their emotions are manageable. Being soothed when they cry actually changes the brain chemistry and neural connections so that babies learn to soothe themselves.

All babies benefit from a certain amount of time to play independently, and to watch you from a safe place as you chop the onions for dinner or take a shower. Your job is to care for the baby, your own health, and well-being.

Babies learn how to be alone and do their own ‘work’ by being in your presence but not interacting, and that’s an important developmental task for all babies to master. Allow baby to sit in a swing and have some time alone to visually explore their world. Always be in line of sight. Dependency is the natural state of small humans, and feeling safe is essential to early development.

But don’t worry, many babies want you to put them down well before they can crawl, so they can explore and start tearing up your house.

Telling Stories

The constant babbling is an important stage in language development. Baby is practicing the mouth movements he’ll need to produce real words one day, and build the brain cells needed to make the leap from thinking to talking.

Other parents warned you once your baby began babbling that she wouldn’t stop; and boy are you happy about that! Even though it’s nearly impossible to understand baby babble, it’s still fun to listen to. The constant babbling is an important stage in language development. Baby is practicing the mouth movements he’ll need to produce real words one day, and build the brain cells needed to make the leap from thinking to talking.

Now more than ever, she’ll be using her tongue, teeth, palate, and vocal cords to make all sorts of funny noises. Consider all that babbling as her telling you very important stories. While she sits in her high-chair babbling away, respond to her story with delight, nods of understanding and then repeat parts of her ‘story’ back to her. ‘You don’t say?! Ah-goo baa choo?’ Then tell her a little story of your own. Make sure you slow down your speech and pronounce every word clearly, because your little story teller will be listening and learning!

Up and Easy

Studies show that 50 percent of 8 month old babies can pull themselves up to a standing position with some support.

When learning to stand, your baby will need to use her arms to hold herself up on something and may be standing wide legged on her tip toes until she gets into the swing of things. During this time your baby will begin to use less arm support, and may begin to shift her weight from side to side. She will need to get used to moving and controlling her body in this new position. Soon she will be able to rotate her body around and use one arm for grabbing objects. She will also be able to reach down from a standing position to grab items off the floor.

Take a couple of baby’s favorite toys and put them towards the back of the couch. Help baby pull herself up the first few times. She may plop back down on her bottom. Be prepared to catch baby as she falls as it may frighten her.

Show her the toys and encourage her to grasp the couch and pull herself up. This can be a slow process. To alleviate frustration give her a boost on her bottom to achieve success a couple of times. After a few successes allow her to try alone.

Once she gets to her toys she will become distracted and stand by herself without realizing it.

What Are Tantrums All About?

Many people think toddlers tantrum because they haven’t learned self-control. Is this really true?

Common myths:

  • Crying and raging cause stress
  • Tantrums are misbehavior that should be ignored or punished
  • Toddlers manipulate through crying and tantrums
  • Young children’s brains aren’t equipped to handle strong emotions

Research shows:

  • Crying and raging release stress
  • Stress and trauma (not crying and raging) can negatively affect thinking and learning
  • Children who are allowed to cry or rage when upset, and are accepted for doing so, become more successful learners

Crying while being accepted and listened to, safe in the presence of loved ones, helps children release stress. Research shows that tears release stress hormones from the body, and we all feel better emotionally after we ‘get it out!’

Think of it as communication. Your brilliant child knows what she needs and is thankfully still connected to her pure emotions! While it may seem difficult to accept her raging, your child will likely feel better afterwards, and you’ll create a strong bond by accepting her emotions!