Monday, February 27, 2012

Feeding your baby

Anybody who knows me, knows that I am NOT a cook. Nutrician and feeding are not my areas of expertise at all and so I would like to recommend this website, Homade Baby Food Recipes (link at end of post). It is very comprehensive and includes recipes to make your own baby food. This is not as hard as it sounds, even for working mothers. As I said, I don't cook if I can help it and I worked outside the home when my children were infants and I was able to make most of their baby food. I had a small hand grinder and just popped in some boiled veggies or fruit and ground it up. It did not take long. The site has sections of food for different ages, suggestions regarding baby equipment, Hints and ideas about when and how to introduce self feeding and recipes for baby friendly food.
What I can say is that the current recommendation is to wait until the baby is 6 months old before offering food other than breastmilk of formula. Remember that milk or formula is the primary food that most babies need until they are 12 months old so starting at 6 months is a chance to practice eating and not as essential as you would think. Babies are not physically ready to eat solids much before 6 months (their digestive systems are not able to process many foods before that) but each baby is unique and you need to read about the cues that your baby will offer to tell you he is ready to eat solids.
Baby food should be simple so the recipes are not difficult to put together. You can also freeze baby food in ice cube trays and warm it for use during the week so you can make a larger batch at one time. Parent tips are welcome on this website so there are real life comments from people with the experience. There is a special section for mother's of premature babies. There is also an interesting section on Baby Led Weaning, which is where the baby is never fed but is offered food and allowed to feed themselves. As I said this is not my area of expertise so I will let you read about all of these things in the website at the link below. But I know, if I could do it, anyone can.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

baby games

             Baby Games

We all remember games such as “Peek-a-boo” and Pat-a-cake”.  We may have played them as children. We may have played them with young children when we were adults. Both the child and the adult laugh when these games are played. Both seem to enjoy playing them. These types of games exist in all cultures. There may be some variations. Some cultures are more physical and others focus more on the social aspects of games. Of course, the names and words change but the basic game is the same. 

There is a reason that these games pass from generation to generation and exist in different cultures. Baby games provide concepts babies need to learn in exactly the right format for learning. They are fun and non-threatening when played with familiar adults. Some of the activities, such as tickling in “This Little Piggie” and the surprise in “Peek-a-boo” might be thought to trigger fear but when performed by a familiar adult in a playful way, they produce laughter instead. It is thought that these games help babies learn appropriate emotional control in this way.

In addition, these games involve turn-taking or, at least, reciprical interactions. The parent usually initiates the game but there is a chance for baby to take the lead. “Roll the ball back and forth” is an example of this. There is some turn-taking in “Peek –a-boo and “Pat-a-cake” as well. This helps the baby learn about social sharing and about reciprical communication.

The cycle of social interaction is very important. At first the adult does everything, including drawing baby’s attention into the game. Soon the adult and baby share the action but the adult continues to give a lot of cues to the expected interaction. As the baby develops, the cues and actions of the adult decrease and soon, the adult becomes the recipient of the baby’s actions in the game. 

These games are repetitious. The words and actions are repeated within the game and the games are usually repeated, often at baby’s request. This gives the opportunity to learn and consolidate the concepts for baby.

They are often short, which is enough time to keep baby’s attention and not be boring to him. They are also often rhythmic. This aides in enjoyment and in remembering. They often have a surprise ending, which the child learns to anticipate. Anticipating what will come next is a useful skill for life.

According to Dr. Stanley Greenspan’s theory of social development (DIR theory) these social skills are very important to a child’s development. He must first learn to regulate himself so that he can be in a state to learn. She must learn to share attention, which means that she shows interest in things and people outside of herself. He must learn to be engaged and to engage others in a common activity. She needs to learn to relate to others before she can develop purposeful communication skills. These social skills can all be developed during the play of baby games. Do not underestimate them. They offer an entertaining way of developing very important social and communication skills. Use them. Play them. Expand on them as your baby grows. And have fun with them.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Since the “back to sleep’ movement was introduced babies have been spending more time on their backs. Think about the day, sleeping on back, moving to car seat, on back, then to bouncer chair, back against chair, then in the carrier, again on back. This means that baby is spending much of the day and night on the back. One consequence of this has been an increase in positional plagiocephaly which is a fancy word for a flat or misshapen head. This condition does not affect brain function and can be corrected by using a specially designed helmet during the first year of life but prevention is the best option. Prevention involves being sure that baby experiences various different positions during the day. First, instead of using the bouncer chair or the carrier, you can use a wearable baby carrier to move around with your baby. Secondly, tummy time needs to be included in your routines. Tummy time is important for baby’s physical development as well. Tummy time helps baby strengthen back muscles and control head and neck muscles needed for later crawling, sitting and walking. Tummy time is just what it says, spending time on the tummy. This time should be while baby is awake (see above regarding “back to ‘sleep”) and alert. It should be at least 30 minutes a day but the more the better.

Here are activities to encourage tummy time.

Activity  1. In the very first month, you can start tummy time by placing the baby on the tummy over your lap or on your chest as you lie back (comfortably on the couch with your head on the pillows so your back is at about a 45 degree angle). This should be for a few seconds or minutes depending on the baby. Some babies can hold their head up right away, others do not.  That is all normal but do not give up if your baby does not seem to enjoy it. Repeat the activity throughout the day for a short time each time.  Increase the time as baby gets stronger. Even when baby is bigger, they enjoy lying on your chest as you lay back because they have the contact with you. Talk to and look at your baby and he/she will try to hold his/her head up to look at your face.

Activity 2. As baby grows, place him/her on a clean surface such as a play mat or a blanket. A small blanket roll can be placed at about the baby’s nipple level to help keep the head up. The arms need to be over the roll towards the head.  You need to stay down on the floor too. When baby gets tired can no longer hold the head up, it is time to pick him/her up.

Activity 3.  Place baby on a blanket or mat on the floor on the tummy and lie down on your tummy so you are face to face with baby. Talk or sing to baby. There is nothing baby wants to look at more than your face. This is a good activity to do with older children. Have the child lie across from baby on their own tummy. Ask the child to sing a song or tell a short story to baby or just call him/her by name.

Activity 4. Again on the mat or blanket, place a standing mirror in front of baby and lie beside him/her on the mat. Point to baby in the mirror.

Activity 5.  Place baby on tummy on mat clean blanket on floor.  Gently roll baby toward side and then back to tummy. This activity should be started when baby can hold his own head up for a few minutes. It helps to sing a little song with this activity.