Childhood Development

February 2018 Newsletter

NEWSLETTER - February 2018

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Original article by Meg Faure

Bonding has been defined as “The emotional and physical attachment occurring between a parent or parent figure, especially a mother, and offspring, that usually begins at birth and is the basis for further emotional affiliation.”

Bonding plays a critical role in your baby’s emotional development, which in turn is the basis for all future relationships. One cannot underestimate the importance of attachment and bonding.

The cycle of love

Bonding is more than a warm fuzzy feeling – it is a critical, deep emotional involvement with and trust in another person. It is a journey of getting to know, trust and rely on another person. There is a misconception that bonding occurs like ‘love at first sight’. The reality is that it is a process that develops over time. Bonding may begin in pregnancy or even before conception; it may occur like a flash at birth or may in fact take months to develop.

Falling in love in pregnancy

Some parents have waited a long time for their little one and being pregnant brings wonderful feelings of joy. For many pregnant mums, the hormones and expectancy lead her into a love relationship right from the start. In this case, you may begin dreaming of your baby and as you rub your tummy feel the swell of love for your baby. This process has been fast tracked by technology – we know we are pregnant way before women in the past years did. By 17 weeks most parents have seen their little one at least once. We share early photos of our baby in the womb and so begin to bond early. When your baby beings to move and wriggle you may feel love for this little person. In fact, many mums mourn the end of those fluttery feelings after her baby is born.

For others however, pregnancy may be difficult, unwanted or scary. Antenatal depression is being recognized more and more and we now know that it is not uncommon for a woman to feel very ambivalent towards her baby. Likewise, Dads may experience depression and anxiety in pregnancy and this will impact on their bond with their baby at that time.

The good news is that this is not reason to predict a poor or inadequate bond at a later stage. Most parents will go on to bond well with their little one later.

Falling in love in the delivery room

The moment we meet our babies we expect to feel overwhelming love. For some parents, this is the experience, as they look at this tiny, beautiful, helpless being they are flooded with feelings of love. Natural delivery of your baby will facilitate this emotional response as all the hormones released by birth create a flood of endorphins that give you a high. If the delivery is difficult or very long or either mum or babe are in danger, the feelings may be very different. Exhaustion and despair if things don’t turn out well can negatively impact on those love juices. Your feeling may be of gloom and being overwhelmed and this will mean you don’t feel like you are bonding. On the other hand some mums have a wonderful birth experience and meet their perfect baby and yet feel no love or great fascination with their baby.

Once again the good news is that this immediate emotional response does not predict your relationship with your baby and love and bonding may come later for you.

Falling in love after a period of months

For other parents, love is a long slow journey. There are no A-Ha moments, just a gradual development of a love relationship. If this love develops within the context of a caring, consistent relationship, it is no problem at all for your baby.

It is vital that mums know that not everyone is overwhelmed with love at the sight of their baby. If however, you never feel love towards your baby and your mothering role is a process of acting out the motions and you are overcome with depression or anxiety, you do need to get help for Post Natal Depression as this condition may impact on your baby emotionally.

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January 2018 Newsletter

NEWSLETTER - January 2018

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Original article by Meg Faure

Science and wisdom tell us that play is vital for a child’s development. The problem is that as a busy parent, it may feel like an enormous challenge to find the time to play or you may find that you are unsure about how to play with your little one. In chapter 10 of Baby Sense, we talk about 4 guidelines for stimulation and we use the acronym T.E.A.T:

1. Timing

Play with your little one when he is well rested and not hungry, preferably in the calm-alert state. This is the state that is best for learning and making brain connections. You will know your baby is receptive to activities, when he is calm, making eye contact – reaching for toys and showing interest in the world.

The opportunity can present it self in normal daily activities such as nappy change time, bath time or mealtime. In addition, it is worth setting aside 15 minutes a day to get onto the floor and focus 100% on your child.

2. Environment

To focus happily on play, you will want a space that is firstly safe – without hazards such as plug holes, loose book shelves and open water. Try to de-clutter the space and not have too many toys on offer. Put your mobile device away and get onto the floor with your child and offer 3-5 carefully chosen activities or toys. In this way the play environment is conducive to fun and learning.

3. Activities

An activity is simply an interaction with your little one that enhances development and is fun. Games such as peek-a-boo or reading a book together, learning a new nursery rhyme or finger painting are all examples of activities that spark interest as well as teach vital skills. 

4. Toys

Carefully chosen toys are a fabulous way to spark your child’s imagination and teach skills. Toys should be matched with your child’s age. The best toys require one of two things from your baby:

  • A toy may spark imagination – such as a doll, a toy phone or a pretend kitchen. These toys are brilliant for encouraging language, creativity and collaboration with you. You and your little one can take on roles and pretend play together.
  • A toy may enhance skills – such as a ball, shape sorter or a puzzle. These toys demand a certain level of interaction from your little one. Watch for interest in a certain area and offer a toy that will provide just the right challenge to your child.

Enjoy playing with your little one and know that through appropriate timing, a stimulating environment and the right activities and toys, you can spark your child’s brilliance.

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September 2017 Newsletter

NEWSLETTER - September 2017

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Original article by Meg Faure

Newborn babies (under 6 weeks) are generally good sleepers during the day. They are still quite sleepy and may even sleep from one feed to the next. They are very likely to wake to feed as often at night as during the day – usually 3 hourly.

If your baby wakes more often at night than during the day, she may be experiencing ‘day-night reversal’. In this case, you need to guide your baby towards more lively interactions in the day and less engagement at night.

It is relatively simple to improve your baby’s night-time sleep by keeping night feeds strictly business affairs. Here are 5 simple tips to differentiate night-time from day:

  • Unless your baby is premature or your doctor advises you otherwise, don’t wake your baby for feeds at night– take her lead for waking at night. This allows your baby to establish natural sleep cycles.
  • Try not to smile or talk to your baby at night – keep these happy interactions for day light hours.
  • Feed in semi-darkness – use a dimmer, nightlight or a passage light instead of the bright bedroom light.
  • Don’t change your baby’s nappy at night – buy the best nappy you can afford for night-time and leave it on from one feed to the next, unless she has soiled her nappy. A good quality gel nappy can be left on all night as they soak up all the urine and the bottom remains dry.
  • In the very early days (the first 6 weeks), do not ‘dummy’ your baby in an attempt to decrease night feeds. Rather feed her when she wakes for feeds at night, if more than two and a half hours have passed since the last feed.

Follow these simple strategies and in a short time, your baby will start to have one longer stretch between feeds at night and by 3 months should have a good 6-8 hour stretch once at night.

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August 2017 Newsletter

NEWSLETTER - July 2017

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Original article by Meg Faure

Just as you think you have got on top of your baby’s sleep routine, suddenly you will find that he changes the game plan. As your little one gets older, his need for day sleeps become less and so you will find that fitting all the day sleeps into the day with longer awake times, mean that bedtime is suddenly at 10pm.

Research has shown that the more attention given by parents to language development in the early days, the better the child will achieve in later literacy and communication skills.

How do you know when your baby wants to drop a day sleep?

There are four common tell-tale signs that its time to drop a day sleep at about these ages:

  1. Your baby/toddler is suddenly VERY hard to settle to sleep for day sleeps.
  2. Your baby/toddler starts to fight bedtime and it gets later and later because his last sleep of the day goes on too late
  3. Your baby/toddler starts to wake VERY early – like 4am – and won’t go back to sleep
  4. Your baby/toddler wakes at night and stays awake for a long period

When your baby shows one or more of these signs, its may well be time to drop a sleep

How to drop a day sleep

Every age can be done a similar way – incrementally. So lets look at dropping from two to one day sleep: At around a 12-14 months your baby will be at the right age to drop down from two to one day sleep.

  1. Move the morning sleep later – to 10am and the midday sleep to 2pm for a few days.
  2. Then move the morning sleep to 11am (with big snack at 10:30am plus a tiny milk feed – then to sleep). He will be dog tired with the new routine for a few days so you will need to entertain him to get him through to 11am.
  3. On these days, he will probably sleep from 11am until 1pm and not have an afternoon sleep. So bring bedtime back to 6pm.
  4. Every third day do two sleeps if he needs it for 2 weeks.
  5. Then in the third week, move morning sleep to 11:30 and eventually 12. That is your new routine
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July 2017 Newsletter

NEWSLETTER - July 2017

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Original article by Meg Faure

As parents we spend our lives trying to make sure that we offer our children the best opportunities in life.  We often obsess about their development and compare our babies with others to make sure everything is on track.  One of the biggest indicators about how your baby is doing is the development of their language skills.  Lets look at “typical” language development and how you can encourage your child’s speech.

Research has shown that the more attention given by parents to language development in the early days, the better the child will achieve in later literacy and communication skills.

Babies under six months of age communicate primarily by crying, blinking, smiling and facial expressions.  Your baby will respond to his name, turn his head to human voices and engage in eye to eye contact.  He will vocalize and begin to use intonation in his voices. As he approached the 6 month mark, he starts to learn to take turns and that a conversation is made up of two people ‘talking’ to each other.

By 12 months your baby will be aware of the social value of speech and the effect he has on you.  He will practice using his voice with endless babbling, and may begin to use a few words (or fragments of words) with meaning as he approaches a year of age.

At 18 Months your baby will have a vocabulary of approximately 20 words, mainly naming of toys and people he knows well, but he will continue to develop his language by repeating words or phrases that you say.  He should be able to follow a few simple instructions such as “put it in the box”.

When your baby reaches 2 years of age his vocabulary has exploded to around 300 words.  He will be beginning to put short sentences together, but his fluency is still poor.  He can use some prepositions like inon and under; as well as some pronouns like I, me and you, but he won’t always use them appropriately.

3 year old child can use pronouns correctly and is beginning to experiment with using tenses, but often doesn’t get them right.  Around 90% of what your toddler says at this age is correct and intelligible with a vocabulary of around 1000 words, predominantly made up of verbs.  He understands and can respond to simple questions as well as reason.

By 4 years old your child should be able to name and point to all his body parts, animals, colours, simple shapes and familiar objects in books or magazines.  He has mastered most vowel sounds as well as p, b, m, w and n.  When engaging in play and make believe he often chats endlessly about what he is doing

At 5 years old, your child uses descriptive words with ease and should be completely intelligible.  He has mastered all the vowels as well as m, p, b, h , w, k g, t, d, n, ng and y.  He can put together sentences of up to 9 words and can usually follow a string of 3 commands.  He now understands concepts of time, numbers (up to 10, sometimes more), opposites and size.  He should know his name, age, address and telephone number.

Language guides provided above are guidelines only.  All children are different and will develop at a different pace – if you are concerned about your child’s language development please talk to your paediatrician or a speech therapist who will guide you accordingly.

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