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Monthly Archives: June 2011

  • Helping your baby get to sleep

    Sleep is one of the most important ingredients for a child’s development and it is therefore vital to develop good sleeping habits at an early age. Newborns will typically sleep for around 18 hours a day, while young babies and toddlers will still sleep for 12 to 14 hours.

    A baby’s sleeping and waking is erratic in the first few months, but over time they will learn to distinguish between night and day. By six months they will hopefully sleep through the night and at this point, you can begin trying to establish a routine.

    If you put your child to bed when drowsy, this will help condition them to fall asleep at the appropriate time. By this age, you will also have an idea whether crying in the night indicates hunger, distress or whether the baby will most likely settle down again. If you always react to crying instantly, your child may feel it is a reward for waking up. It is also good to implement a ‘winding down’ regime before bedtime, which may involve feeding, then bathing, then settling.

    A lot of parents will remain in the room as their child falls asleep, but eventually you will need to encourage your baby to fall asleep alone. You can ease them into this by first sitting slightly further away from the cot, then after a few nights of this, sitting by the door, until finally you need not be in the room at all.

  • Many child developmental problems can be prevented by one-on-one interaction according to expert

    Sally Goddard Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester, has said that many children are being wrongly labelled as suffering from behavioural problems when they reach school age.

    She believes that many problems could be prevented by steering clear of electronic toys in early life in favour of old-fashioned one-on-one interaction with parents.

    “It’s alarming the proportion of children with immature motor skills when they start school, regardless of intelligence. A significant percentage of children have problems they don't need to have. They seem to have missed out on early stages of development.”

    Goddard Blythe encourages parents to interact with their children rather than relying on the TV, saying that simple games enable social interaction, helping children develop social skills and self-control. She also says that lullabies and song can help language acquisition, while fairy stories help in the development of empathy and morality.

    Electronic entertainment is an easy option for parents, but more traditional forms of entertainment, such as jigsaw puzzles, may offer more in the long term.

    Physical toys also help develop motor skills. A Northern Irish study found that almost half of children in their first year at school exhibited what were termed ‘baby reflexes’ which impeded their ability to carry out basic physical tasks, such as holding pencils or cutlery.

  • Feeding babies when they are hungry could prevent obesity

    A study presented at the European Congress on Obesity has concluded that ‘on demand’ feeding leads to healthier weights later in life compared to the more traditional approach where meals are scheduled more rigidly.

    Professor Lynne Daniels of Queensland University Technology in Brisbane, said:

    "Obesity prevention needs to start very early. Babies have an innate capacity to regulate their intake. We are advising mothers to trust their baby.

    “The parents provide and the baby decides. The mothers provide the nutrition and the baby decides how much it wants to eat."

    Professor Daniels had examined the feeding habits of 293 mothers and babies over a period of two years and had then measured the babies’ weights. It is often advised that parents feed their baby every four hours, as it is thought that this will condition the baby and get them into a routine. However, those who were fed to a stricter timetable generally weighed more. Daniels says that coercive methods teach children to eat for reasons other than hunger.

    Breast feeding is generally an easier method if practising the ‘on demand’ approach, as it is more convenient. However, it also pays to use a breast pump to express milk for when the mother might not be available and also because many women find them to be more comfortable.

  • Couples sleeping separately and parents sleeping with babies

    A recent study carried out ahead of the retail exhibition, The Baby Show, has found that growing numbers of couples are opting to sleep separately during the first year of their baby’s life.

    Around six in ten parents said they still shared a bed each night, but one in ten sleep separately and three in ten sleep apart at some point during the first year in order to get a decent night’s sleep.

    One factor influencing this is that greater numbers of women are returning to work. Sharing the caring responsibilities can also mean taking it turns to sacrifice a full night’s sleep. Three in five fathers get up in the night to tend to their baby.

    A great tool for the parent taking care of the baby on any given night is a co-sleeper cot, crib or bassinet. These allow you to sleep in close proximity to your baby without any danger of rolling over onto them while you are asleep. As your baby is so close, you can comfort them with ease and the mother can even breastfeed without too much disruption.

    Lack of sleep is frequently a major issue for new parents and the study also found that a quarter of mothers had taken over the counter sleep remedies. Parents in London were the most sleep deprived, getting by on just three-and-a-half hours a night, compared to eight in Manchester.

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