How to enhance your baby’s development - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>3-6 Months

How to enhance your baby’s development

In the first three years of life your baby develops more than at any other stage in his life. When and how to develop your baby. How can I enhance my baby’s development? In the first three years of life your baby develops more than at any other stage in his life. His brain is like a sponge just absorbing stimulation. It is important to stimulate your baby through his senses. However, beware of over stimulating your baby. Baby Sense uses the TEAT framework to enhance development. Timing – Firstly always time your interactions with your baby according to the time of day and his state. Sleep times and the time shortly before sleep is the time for calming input such as rocking, a quiet walk in the garden and a calm sleep environment. Awake times are times for stimulation of specific skills according to your baby’s age and stage. But do not stimulate your baby indiscriminately when he is awake – the calm alert state is a good time to present fun and games but when he is active alert or fussing he won’t learn much from the well meant stimulation. The key to optimizing your interactions with your baby is timing them well. Environment – Instead of planning stimulation activities according to the time of day, rather structure your baby’s environment so that he can benefit from his interactions developmentally. In this way, opportunities for development enhancing experiences are always present. An example of this would be to have a mobile over his changing mat to enhance focusing or having a basket of tactile (touch) toys in your lounge for him to play with. Activities - These are games you play or interactions with your baby that affect all aspects of development. They can be either stimulatory or calming. You should implement the activities at the appropriate time and within the appropriate environment to enhance development. A good sleep time activity is reading a book, whereas for stimulation of reach you may want to put your baby under an interesting mobile with toys he can reach for attached. Toys - A toy is any object your baby can play with or tool you can use to provide calming or stimulating input. It includes everyday household objects, books, store-bought or home-made toys, music and outdoor equipment. There are wonderful toys for stimulation and even young babies will benefit from appropriate stimulation with toys. Once again it’s all a question of timing. Some toys are great for stimulation but should be used only when your baby is ready to benefit from the activity. A busy mobile or activity gym can enhance the development of a three-month-old in many ways as it can promote eye-movement control and eye-hand co-ordination. But trying to interest a tired baby in a mobile or gym is likely to over-stimulate him, pushing him into an overloaded state very quickly. Then he will neither benefit from the activity developmentally nor will he remain calm. The important principles are: Not to over stimulate babies Schedule stimulation classes for times in the day when the baby is most receptive i.e. in the calm alert state. Not to over schedule babies Have a balance between stimulatory and calming activities. By Meg Faure
Baby development from 6 months onwards - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>6-12 Months

Baby development from 6 months onwards

Most babies start to sit at around 6 months of age and so begin a relatively peaceful window in the first year. Most babies are fairly content to sit and play. Sitting gives your baby more control over his world and an interesting vantage point from which to interact. 10 activities to do with your 6-12 month old: After the lull of the 6 to 9 month period, when your little one seemed more manageable, arrives the 9 to 18 month period. This is without question the busiest and most exhausting time for parents. Your little one beings to crawl and move and with this activity comes danger – a little one who is into everything. You cannot take your eyes off him for even a second once he’s on the go. Roll the ball Roll a soft, bright coloured ball to your baby and show him how to stop it and push it back to you. Naming body parts Play naming games with your baby. Point to his nose and say "nose." Do the same with his eyes, hands and toys. Hunting teddy Hide a toy in one room of the house and carry your baby from room to room saving "Where's teddy?" and telling him what rooms you are looking in. Hide and seek Hide objects under boxes, behind couches, under blankets, or really anywhere, is a wonderful way to develop object permanence. Show your baby the object before you hide it, then hide it and say "Where's it gone?" Pouring games Pouring games are great to develop the shoulder muscles. Your baby will love pouring games and the bath is the best place for this. Give him beakers or plastic cups to pour water. Get that toy Tie a piece of string onto a toy so that your baby can pull it himself and retrieve it independently. This is most fun when done from a highchair. Animated conversations When talking to your baby, use exaggerated tones and gestures and copy the sounds he makes. Cycling Once your baby can sit stably, fasten him into a baby seat on your bicycle and take him for a ride. Sitting in the bath Now that your baby can sit on dry land, you can start allowing him to sit in the bathtub. Get a sitting frame for the bath, or a bath support, or at least a non-slip mat. Do not leave your baby sitting alone in the bath for even a second. Big shakers Fill empty plastic bottles that can roll, with small, colourful and/or noisy things e.g. bells, scrunched coloured paper and small stones. Make sure the lids are secure. Encourage your baby to shake them and make music. As soon as your baby starts crawling, you need to baby proof your house: Cover plug holes Take table cloths off tables Secure bookshelves to the wall Pick up all objects smaller than your baby’s fist (an older toddler’s small toys pose a real choking risk) Put the dog and cat food on a higher surface or in a room that baby cannot get to Do not leave any body of water uncovered (swimming pools, ponds etc) Secure the toilet closed Put door slam protectors onto doors Take the glass and breakables out of low kitchen cupboards and place Tupperware and plastic in the lower levels. NOTE on development: If your little one did not sit at exactly 6 months and is not crawling at around the time other babies crawl, don’t be overly concerned. Between 6 and 12 months, development varies extensively between babies. Some little ones sit at 5 and a half months and crawl at 8 months while another may sit at 6 months and crawl closer to a year. As long as your baby achieves each milestone in time, you do not need to worry.
Your baby’s development – crawling & standing - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>6-12 Months

Your baby’s development – crawling & standing

Your baby’s gross motor development will probably follow a predetermined trajectory from lying and playing on his back or tummy to rolling, sitting, crawling and finally standing. Kate Bailey, gives us wonderful ideas on how to develop the all-important stages of crawling and standing. Crawling Fun activity ideas to encourage crawling: When baby is in a sitting position, place toys out of reach and to the sides of him. This will encourage him to reach over to the side which is how he will initiate crawling. Placing baby in tummy lying will build up strength in arms and shoulders and soon baby will be pushing up on straight arms, tucking his knees underneath his tummy, and moving into crawling. Place baby in a crawling position over your one leg. His knees and hands should be on the ground. Place a mirror, water mat or playgym in front of him to motivate him to stay in this position to practice taking weight on his arms. When baby is crawling, encourage lots of practice, by using rolling toys or balls for baby to follow and crawl after. Provide textured surfaces for baby to crawl over and a few low obstacles such as cushions and boxes, so baby can practice motor planning and developing strength. The importance of crawling? Crawling allows your baby to explore his surroundings on his own. He learns about space as he explores under, over, around. Crawling teaches your baby about his own body in space. He will learn to judge distances and heights and then move his body appropriately. The crawling pattern uses both sides of the body, integrating and co-ordinating both sides of the brain. Crawling strengthens your baby’s shoulders, arms and hands as he bears weight through them. Standing Fun activity ideas to encourage standing: Provide surfaces for your baby to pull up against. The height of the surface should be approximately between her waist and chest height. Encourage your baby to stand against the side of the bath while you are undressing her. Place her standing inside a container that is stable and encourage her to take toys from inside and drop them out of the basket. Sit on the floor and allow baby to use you as a climbing frame, pulling up against you and standing on your legs. Place messy play activities on a low table and encourage your baby to stand against the table and explore the textures. Encourage baby to stand and hold the handle of a small trolley. Support baby in standing and encourage her to swipe and hit a balloon on a string. Importance of standing: To keep her body upright, she develops the control of her trunk and hips. In supported standing, she experiences the feeling of her body weight on her feet. This strengthens the hips, knees and tummy muscles. As she reaches and shifts weight from one leg to the other, she practices balance. This position motivates your baby to start moving along the furniture and eventually into walking on her own. By Kate Bailey, mother of three, Occupational Therapist and designer of the Moms and Babes program.
Your baby’s development – rolling & sitting - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>3-6 Months

Your baby’s development – rolling & sitting

Your baby’s gross motor development will probably follow a predetermined trajectory from lying and playing on his back or tummy to rolling, sitting, crawling and finally standing. Kate Bailey, mother of three, Occupational Therapist and designer of the Moms and Babes program, gives us wonderful ideas on how to facilitate each of these areas of development. Rolling Fun activity ideas to encourage rolling: When changing your baby’s nappy or dressing, roll him into a side lying position. He will get used to this new sensation and will soon be completing this movement and rolling onto his tummy. When your baby is in back lying, encourage him to reach up to a toy and then let him follow it across to one side. As he reaches across his body to get the toy, help him to roll over onto his tummy, (by rolling him at his shoulder or hip). When baby is in tummy lying, rock him gently from one side to the other, then straighten one arm out in front of him and roll over that side, onto his back. Repeat to the other side. Toys motivate baby to roll, so have a variety available to stimulate movement. Why is rolling so important? Rolling gives your baby his first sense of independent movement. Rolling stimulates baby’s tummy muscles, which need to be strong for him to achieve future milestones of sitting and crawling. Rolling causes baby’s body to rotate or twist naturally and this rotation is important for balance skills at a later stage. Rolling provides your baby with lots of touch stimulation through his arms, legs, tummy, back and head. Sitting Fun activity ideas to encourage sitting: Place baby in a box with cushions behind and in front, to give support and keep her upright. Pulling the box gently back and forth or around, will stimulate her postural control and balance in this position. Sit on the floor with your baby sitting between your legs, with her back against your body. Provide the correct amount of support to keep her upright. Hold a toy out in front of her to encourage her to look up and follow with her eyes. Place your baby in sitting on a large ball. Bouncing baby gently on the ball stimulates the muscles of her tummy and back, which can improve her sitting balance. Place baby on your lap and support her at her waist or hips (depending on the amount of support she needs), now lift one knee up slightly and the other, rocking her side to side to practice balance. Benefits of sitting: Sitting stimulates the neck and trunk muscles for postural control. Baby can practice balance in this position. Sitting frees baby’s hands so she can practice reach and grasp. * Carry chairs and other sitting devices offer too much support and do not encourage baby to use her muscles to develop postural control and balance. By Kate Bailey, mother of three, Occupational Therapist and designer of the Moms and Babes program.
Your baby’s development – tummy time & back lying - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>3-6 Months

Your baby’s development – tummy time & back lying

Your baby’s gross motor development will probably follow a predetermined trajectory from lying and playing on his back or tummy to rolling, sitting, crawling and finally standing. Kate Bailey, gives us wonderful ideas. Fun ideas for tummy time and back lying. Tummy time Fun activity ideas for tummy lying: Lean back in a comfortable chair and place baby on your chest. She lies on her tummy, looking at you. Your smiling face and familiar voice will encourage her to lift her head and push up on her arms. As baby’s neck and shoulders strengthen, lay further back so that she has to work harder against gravity. Lie baby over your lap with a pillow under her chest. This position is very effective for winding baby and it also encourages her to lift her head. Watching a brother or sister is a great way of encouraging her to stay in this position for a while longer. Lie baby on the floor with a rolled up towel under her chest. This gives her some support and decreases frustration in this position. A textured activity mat, favourite toy or mirror can be used to encourage baby to push up onto his forearms or hands, building endurance in this position. From 6 months, babies enjoy swiping and reaching for objects. Place baby on the floor on her tummy and encourage her to reach and swipe at a toy or a play gym. If your baby dislikes being on her tummy, don’t be discouraged and avoid this position. Practice for shorter periods of time, more often through the day. When changing her nappy, roll her onto her tummy and make some funny faces to distract her. Back lying Fun activity ideas for back lying: Sit on the floor with your back resting against a wall or couch. Lift your knees up and place baby, on her back, in your lap with her head against your knees. Kiss her hands, clap them together, touch them against your clothing or against her own hair or tummy. Play with her feet in the same way, encouraging sensory and body awareness. Place baby on the floor in back lying and encourage her to reach up towards your face or a favourite toy. This encourages midline control of the head and eye-hand co-ordination. Place your baby (from 4 months) on her back on the floor and attach a rattle to her foot. Encourage her to lift her legs up off the ground and reach for her feet. While lying on her back in the cot, let her kick at a few objects attached to a bungy cord which has been strung across her cot. When changing your baby’s nappy, massage her feet and legs. In this back lying position, encourage her to take hold of one of her feet in her hands. By Kate Bailey, mother of three, Occupational Therapist and designer of the Moms and Babes program.
20 activities to do on rainy days - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>6-12 Months

20 activities to do on rainy days

Summer in the UK can mean rainy, wet weather while cold wintery conditions in SA mean we are spending less time outdoors than we usually do. Wherever you are in the world when the weather is not too great it can be a battle to think of things to do with your tots indoors. Baby Sense to the rescue! Here are 20 fun and easy activities to try on a rainy day. 1. Bring out door inside Bring toys you usually have in the garden inside. You may find that they are used in different ways. A paddle pool filled with beanbags or soft toys is different to a paddle pool of water. A skipping rope becomes a bridge or part of a fantasy game. 2. Indoor construction site Allow your little ones to use pillows and blankets from around the house to build a den/fort. The different size and texture add a whole new dimension to construction as opposed to blocks or Lego. 3. Make a head box Find a large empty box. Cut off the lid flaps and one side so when you turn it upside down it makes a box that your baby/toddler can lie under and look at objects on the bottom. Cover the inside of the box with black paper and then hang and stick shiny objects onto the box like star stickers, glitter balls, shiny fish shapes, you choose. Your baby can spend ages just looking at everything. 4. Make a sand free sand box Find an empty trough/tub that your little one can sit in. Put dry pasta/rice at the bottom of it and add in measuring cups, funnels, Tupperware boxes, toy cups and sauces, anything your little ones can explore with their hands. 5. Shaving foam Shaving foam is great for tactile play. Use one that is fragrance free and for sensitive skin. Spray some into your baby’s hands or put it on his tray in his high chair to explore with his fingers. 6. Pasta / corn flour On the tray of your baby’s high chair give him left over pasta to play with or put some corn flour and a few drops of water. You can even add a few drops of colouring. Messy but great fun. 7. Toy Bath Time Use the opportunity to ‘bath’ i.e. clean toys like dolls, dolls clothes, special teddys, Lego, tea sets – anything that could do with a bit of a scrub. Do it where it suits you, in the kitchen sink, in the bath or in a tub. 8. Puzzles, games and cards Simple puzzles, board games or card games are fun to do if you have the time to play the whole game. Choose something age appropriate and let them win. 9. Movie day Have a movie day. Rent a DVD, take your duvets off your beds, bring all the pillows and make a comfy spot on your lounge floor. Make popcorn, have drinks handy and snuggle up under the covers to watch a fun and entertaining film. 10. Sort the toys Use indoor days to sort through your child’s toys. As you take games/toys out to be sorted your children will rediscover old favourites and breathe new life into them. Get them to decide what they want to give away to charity or hand on to other family members. 11. Record sounds Record everyday sounds around the house (dog barking, doorbell, washing machine) and have your little one guess what they are. 12. Junk modelling and box play We all know that when our kids get new toys it is often the box they play with the most at first. There is nothing better than an empty box your child can sit in. There are no limits to what that box could be in your child’s imagination. Collect clean boxes you can give your children to build with. Boxes come in different shapes and sizes so they are great for construction, special awareness and exploration. 13. Play with string Just as a box can be anything your child dreams up so can a piece of string. 14. Art and craft Collect art and craft materials and keep them aside in a box for indoor play. Paints, pencils, different papers, bits for cutting and sticking, old greeting cards, shiny stickers or sequins and glue. Lovely creative fun. 15. Baking Baking with your baby/toddler is a lesson in science and it involves all your senses, plus it provides opportunities to introduce different foods and ingredients. Try to cook savoury as well as sweet things and always allow a little extra to taste along the way. There you have it. 15 great ways to keep older babies and toddlers occupied, but what about my tiny baby you ask? With very little babies – under 6 months - keep things simple and not too busy. Focus on each sense one at a time and keep the focus only for a short time 10-20 minutes max. 16. Music Music, whale sounds, white noise or nature sounds will all grab your babies attention. Play music or sounds softly in the background and lie on the floor for a snuggle with your baby. Great bonding time. Try our Womb to World CD 17. Colour and movement Remember the days of cocktail parties? Paper umbrellas in your drinks and tiny food on wooden sticks. Well ditch the drinks and food and get yourself the little umbrellas and cocktail sticks with fun shiny bits on the end. They are sharp so make sure they are out of reach, but when your baby is calm and alert lie him on a blanket on the floor and hold the umbrella’s and cocktail sticks above their face to look at. Shake and twist them. Move them around for your baby to watch. 18. Massage One of life’s most special moments is when you get to massage your baby. Doing it after bath time is great, but also try and put aside other times during the week to be able to massage your baby. The deep touch and quiet will keep your baby calm and contented. 19. Texture mat If you are handy with a needle or know someone who is make a texture mat for your baby to lie. Get a large blanket and find different scraps of material with different textures. No need to buy especially, just whatever you can find, and sew patches of material onto the blanket. Anything from faux fur, sequins or old T-shirt material. Tummy time on this mat will be a great experience. 20. Grasping Give your baby plenty of opportunity to grasp at objects. Reaching out and grabbing build the muscles in their hands and arms, plus the added element of texture and shape makes for good exploration. You can use anything (make sure it is safe though) from soft toys, empty shampoo bottles, large Duplo blocks. As your baby grows encourage him to reach for objects.
5 ways to help your baby’s emotional development - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>3-6 Months

5 ways to help your baby’s emotional development

As parents we often look for ways to do things better and improve on our parenting skills. The pressure is immense to be a great parent. What should be prioritized as key elements to ensure a baby’s optimal development? Let’s first focus on what makes for healthy emotional development in infants. Firstly, enhancing optimal development involves specific interactions or activities with your baby – in other words, there is an element of good parenting that focuses on the baby. Photo by: http://neverphoto.com/ But equally important, there is a component of good parenting that has to focus on you - as women and men. Since you are a unit (a triad – mom, dad and baby), you need to make sure that you take care of yourselves and your relationship too. The perfect recipe (unachievable, I know) is thus an emotionally healthy and available parent plus focused time and interactions with your child. So with this in mind here are five fundamentals that really do make a difference. Slow down and spend time in the moment, making memories, with your baby. This is critical because only when you slow down do you make yourself fully available to read your baby’s signals and connect with him or her through play and communication. Resist the parenting rush and don’t multitask every moment of the day. Do not compare your baby or compete with other moms in the ‘parenting competition’ – comparing who is the better mother. We are members of the same side – moms doing the best we can. And your baby is not in any race of their choosing. Don’t compare your baby’s skills with the next baby. Never say “never” when it comes to parenting. Every time you say never, you set yourself up either to fail when you give in or to judge another parent for doing the so called - forbidden. Usually the ‘never’ is something unimportant like ‘never suck a dummy’ or ‘never use disposables’ or ‘never say no’. Value yourself as a mother and resist maternal guilt. You are the best mom for your baby and you are doing a great job of being a good enough parent for him or her. Balance your baby’s stimulation and calming activities, ensuring that he does not suffer undue over stimulation and irritability. By Meg Faure

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