Tag: Baby Development’

Multiple intelligences and your child

 - by Sarah Lipoff

Now that the tot’s three, life is totally different. Really? No, it’s not. Things are moving and grooving in pretty much the same way other than she can say more words and sometimes figures out how to put them together into interesting sentences, such as, “I am so not good with being okay now,” or “You that now for me, right now, right now.”

Awesome.

I’m also spending a bit more time observing her play rather than directing it. She’s starting to be old enough to go off on her own and create her own emergency care center for her stuffed animals. While watching her (and also getting some of my work done) I’m finding she’s definitely leaning toward certain ways of learning, which is super exciting and a bit overwhelming.

How can I make sure she learns to her best ability?

Understanding that each individual child is different and special in her own way and also learns in her own way. Along with using her right and left-brain in combination, she has to make split-second decisions and tap into her emotional intelligence. But, along with all that, she has a special learning style that works best for her, and connecting with her multiple intelligences only boosts abilities to greater lengths.

Wait, what?

Yeah, that’s a bit of a chunk of information, but really, multiple intelligences aren’t as scary as you think…

Defining Multiple Intelligences

Multiple intelligences are the concept and understanding that individuals learn in different ways and are more apt to retain knowledge when information is presented in a certain way. Howard Gardner, a leading expert in the area of multiple intelligences, finds intelligence is the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural settings. According to Gardner there are multiple intelligences that can be valued and encouraged, creating a stronger and smarter individual, or ignored, stunting potentially important growth.

As parents, or educators, we want our kids to be smarter and think to their greatest capacities. Understanding and appreciating the different ways that kids learn and taking the time to encourage their abilities is an essential step to promoting positive life skills and development. Our brains are born pre-wired to lean in one learning direction more than another. And then, through experiences, our intelligence is increased. Multiple intelligence theory taps into the child’s intrinsic levels of motivation through natural talents, which encourages learning and development in a comfortable way.

The Multiple-Intelligences

So, what are the nine multiple intelligences? Some are interrelated and overlap a bit, but each child possesses each of these nine intelligences in varying amounts, and some are more dominant than others. They are:

-Verbal-Linguistic – This includes the ability to use words and language. If your child has a knack for picking up languages, understands and uses language properly, he probably has leanings toward being a verbal-linguistic learner. Your child may prefer to read a book than finish his homework, but finding a balance is key. Offer rewards, such as a trip to the bookstore, once academic goals are met.

-Logical-Mathematical – For children this includes the capacity to understand and recognize numbers and abstract patterns. A kid that enjoys concentrating on challenging math or logic questions and engaging in exciting science experiments has logical-mathematical leanings. You might have the next great mathematical genius on your hands, so find ways to encourage those skills through playing games such as Sudoku or tangrams.

-Visual-Spatial – This is the ability to visualize objects and special dimensions and to create internal images and pictures. It is thought that left-brain dominant learners also learn concepts best through visual-spatial activities. Your budding artist may have a completely disorganized room, but actually know where each important item is located. Find ways to encourage his skills by challenging his logical right brain, such as using toothpicks to construct a building.

-Body-Kinesthetic – The ability to use the body in a controlled physical way. Just because your child has a hard time sitting still does not mean he is a challenging learner, but that he finds moving his body an essential part of his learning experience.  Find ways to tap into your child’s bodily abilities by encouraging participation in sports that promote problem solving and quick thinking.

-Musical-Rhythmic – Recognition of musical patterns, sounds, and rhythmic beats. Kids that are excited to pound away on the piano or want to spend hours practicing the viola are learning through all that music. In fact, playing an instrument may encourage your child’s understanding of math concepts.

-Interpersonal – The ability to create personal relationships and engage in person-to-person communication. Often, children that easily empathize with others or want to help and lead others are interpersonal learners. Your interpersonal child probably loves talking, sharing and working with others, so encourage her skills by offering a video camera to use for making a movie collaboratively with friends.

-Intrapersonal – When a child has the ability to understand self-reflection and inner being. Children that are able to identify and regulate their emotions and behaviors are intrapersonally intelligent. Although it may seem that your child is withdrawn or quiet, she has a busy inner-life. Offer your child lots and lots of journals to keep important notes – and remember to respect her privacy if she does not feel like sharing.

-Naturalistic – The ability to understand, recognize and categorize items in nature. Kids that are all about digging in the dirt and exploring nature around them many have a stronger naturalistic intelligence. So head outdoors with your budding naturalist and take a trip to your local zoo or museum. She will love the experience and feel nurtured to explore the nature around her.

-Existential – Understanding and striving to learn more about human existence and question and learn about life, death, and what happens after. Children that like to question and have deep inquisitive thoughts are existentially intelligent. It may be time to hit the library or explore researching together on the Internet when you grow tired of the questions. But, teaching your existential child research skills will only benefit her for years to come.

Encouraging Multiple Intelligences

Now that you have an idea what multiple intelligences may be stronger in your child than others, what to do?

-Understand that teaching children with blanket educational styles will not promote positive learning. Getting to know each child individually offers the ability for educators, and parents, to tap into children’s intelligences and adjust learning and teaching experiences.

-As a parent, take the time to educate yourself on the multiple-intelligences concept through reading and learning more about your own learning style and intelligences. When you as a parent understand a concept, ideas are easily implemented in the home.

-In the classroom, allow students to take part in their own assessment and grading to encourage their own intelligences and self-motivation. Along with taking part in assessment, students can be included in lesson planning and encouraged to offer their opinions and ideas for teaching and learning certain topics.

-Learn more about your child’s special area of expertise and encourage it. Like earlier stated, this means that if your child is showing signs of being the next Mozart, find ways to encourage her musical talents. Even if it is not an area you are fluent in, find ways to connect and further educate the child to help promote her way of learning.

Multiple-intelligences are just another great way to expand your child’s learning abilities and learn more about the wonders of the brain.

 

Imaginary play and your child

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Things are pretty quiet in the other room and you begin to wonder what your child is up to. You sneak a peak around the corner and observe her sitting with a stuffed bunny delicately wrapping its ear with a napkin. You continue to watch as she gently places the wounded stuffed bunny on a blanket and pretends makes a nice pot of hot tea to share. You may think it is just fun and games, but your child is learning through that imaginary play, expanding her vocabulary, and encouraging brain development.

Imaginary Play and Learning

The understanding that playing expands learning and child development is an essential step in helping a child become the best she can be. The concept of play has been around for centuries, with play artifacts dating back to Ancient Egypt more than 3000 years ago. The found crude dolls, balls, game pieces, and carved animals prove that kids are kids – no matter what time period or location they are from. All children are intrinsically drawn to play and learn through the experience. They contain an internal motivation to try new things and copy behaviors of others. A child’s development is enhanced when she is encouraged to explore these new skills through play and rewarded internally through feeling a sense of accomplishment, which inspires further positive learning and behaviors.

While a child is exploring through imaginary play she is figuring out how things work and learning more about problem solving. Along with imaginary play, a child also experiments with imitative play, or copying the behaviors of others. Through imaginary and imitative play, a child is able to hone important life skills that cannot be taught through flashcards or academic drills. It also encourages the brain to think in new and interesting ways.

Development of Imaginary Play

A child’s first foray into imaginary play is often very repetitive. Around 18 to 20-months of age, she may discover that moving a small plastic animal from one place to another internally motivates her to say the name of the animal and then make a realistic representational noise for the animal. This may not seem like anything amazing to adults, but for the child, her brain development is being heightened through her ability to use her fine-motor skills to grasp and move the toy, her learning connection of knowing the proper name of the animal, and the language skills to make the correct animal noise.

As a child develops, her imaginary play becomes more experimental, and through the learning she obtains from imaginary and imitative play, she is expanding her knowledge of her limitations and abilities. Providing a child with basic props – even a large cardboard box – is a great way to encourage learning and development. Along with imaginary play becoming more complex around the age of three, it also becomes more interactive. This is an awesome opportunity to engage in pretend play with a child and learn more about her learning style.

All children develop and evolve at their own pace. If your child has not hit a developmental milestone at a time you feel is appropriate, do not assert pressure on the child to perform. A child will begin her experimentation with imaginary play when she is ready. If you feel there may be something hindering your child’s development, contact your family physician.

Ways to Encourage Imaginary Play

Encouraging imaginary play is as easy as getting down at the same level as the child. There are three simple ways imaginary play and child development can be encouraged in the home.

Create a space. Turn that unused corner of the kitchen or barely used guest room into an imaginary play panacea. Creating a dedicated pretend play spot allows the child to have a play place that will always be there when she is ready. Clearly define the location and remove any items that may interfere with the child’s play or cause concern, such as breakables. As an adult, create a balance between useable space for the home and space for the child while enjoying imaginary play. Placing a dedicated pretend play space next to the china cabinet might not be a successful experience for child or adult.

Create time. Our lives are busy, and often the television is turned on or a video game is played for entertainment. Instead of relying on electronics, turn everything off, which encourages the child, and yourself, to enjoy some pretend play. When a child feels motivated to turn to imaginary play instead of the television or a video game, she is motivating her brain and boosting her learning skills. Open-ended play builds a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Just a few of the skills built though executive functions include listening, waiting, self-control, self-motivation, and cognitive flexibility. And, for adults, taking the time to play encourages healthy bonding between and aides in lowering stress levels in adults.

Provide props. Before heading to the store for the latest and greatest pretend play toys, take a look around the home. Items that may not seem exiting to an adult could turn into an amazing spaceship or antennae for a creative costume. Before tossing out that packing box, why not paint the outside with the child and construct a castle? Bits of fabric can be turned into colorful capes, and paper bags can amazingly be transformed into hats or jackets with some simple cuts and the help of masking tape.

Imaginary play is not only fun, it enhances a child’s development and learning in amazing ways. And, you might find yourself having an enjoyable time, too!

*This is an article I originally wrote for Funderstanding.com, a great site with a wealth of information for educators, students, and parents – go check them out!

 

Brain food and your child

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

You are what you eat, and what you eat helps your body grow and develop in amazing ways. Even adults can continue developing and growing, especially when it comes to your brain. Several foods are extremely beneficial in aiding the brain to develop healthfully from birth through adulthood, and also assist with the aging brain, too.

The brain thrives on several elements, mainly glucose, vitamins, minerals, and other essential chemicals, with glucose, or a simple sugar that is one of the main components in carbohydrates, being the most essential. Glucose encourages the brain to create new connections and add myelin, or the fatty sheath to axons. Axons are long thread like parts of nerve cells where impulses are conducted from cell body to other cells. If the brain receives too much of one component or not enough of another, it is not able to function properly or create new connections.

Brain Development

From birth, the brain is ready for rich nutrients to aid in the healthy development of the central nervous system. At birth, the brain contains 100 billion neurons, the most the brain will ever have. Along with all those neurons, synapses, or connections between brain cells, are also rapidly developing. And, once born, infant’s that are breast-fed have a slight cognitive advantage over formula-fed babies. Diet is not the only thing essential to an infant’s developing brain. Those raw brain cells are ready to soak up as much information as possible, and engaging in interactive play and providing lots of physical affection aides in healthy development, too.

Once a child hits adolescence, the brain undergoes another big growth spurt – correlating with the body’s development. During these essential years, the teenager begins making more and more decisions for herself, including what she likes and dislikes eating. Through MRI research, it has been found the teenager’s brain goes through a “use-it-or-lose-it” phase where if certain neurons have not been exercised they are lost. The frontal lobe goes through great developments during this time and encouraging healthy eating habits aides in the brain’s development as well as the teenager’s day-to-day functioning.  There are even fun ways to sneak those healthy foods into school lunches that will not cause teens to toss their lunch but actually enjoying eating brain-boosting foods.

In older adulthood, memory can be boosted through various exercises, even meditation, but is greatly enhanced through proper diet. The adult brain continues to grow and develop and is greatly expanded by outside stimuli. Participating in new and different activities, staying social, getting a good night sleep, and exercising play a role. But, eating a healthy diet and maintaining proper hydration is what keeps the brain ticking. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be a main part of any adult’s diet.

Brain-Food Diet

No matter what your age, there are simple ways to change your diet to include brain-boosting foods the whole family will love. As adults, enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables models positive eating behaviors to children and encourages them to try new things. Other foods rich in healthy brain boosters include:

-Salmon: Not only is this fish full of flavor, it is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which helps brain cells function at their best. Tuna and sardines are also fishy options high in omega-3. Adding salmon into a family meal is as easy as broiling fillets, or adding canned salmon to your favorite pasta.

-Blueberries: These small sweet and tart berries are full of antioxidants and are rich in Vitamins C and E. Antioxidants fight aging as well as the effects of free radicals, which are unstable molecules found in everyday items and are also created in the human body during metabolism. Without antioxidants to fight them, free radicals can reek havoc on the body and speed the aging process. Adding blueberries to your morning cereal or even to a fresh salad adds a touch of sweetness as well as lots of brain-boosting power.

-Nuts: Along with seeds, nuts are full of fiber and lots of beneficial fats. A handful of nuts or seeds provides the body with long-term energy through their high concentration of complex carbohydrates and Vitamin E. The healthy carbohydrates found in nuts boost the brain productivity and alertness. Offering nuts or seeds as a snack keeps hunger away and is a healthy option instead of chips. Almonds are the best choice, with peanuts offering the least amount of healthy fat than any other type of nut.

-Green vegetables: Although not everyone’s favorite, green, leafy veggies are an essential component for a brain-boosting diet. Fresh vegetables are full of antioxidants, which along with fighting free radicals also reduce the risk of developing cognitive impairments. The best bets are spinach, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. Even if you are not a fan, adding chopped fresh spinach to pasta creates a healthy meal, and creating a purée of steamed broccoli makes a fun and different side dish for any meal.

So, what are you waiting for? Start adding some healthy brain-boosting foods to your diet today.

 

*This is an article I originally wrote for Funderstanding.com, a great site with a wealth of information for educators, students, and parents – go check them out!

 

Discipline and your babe’s brain

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Dean Lipoff Photography 2011

Kids do the darndest things, which sometimes lands them in a bit of trouble. The developing brain is full of adventure, and children often don’t think before they act – not because they want to cause mischief, but because they are interested in seeing what will happen. And, what sometimes happens is a couple of minutes in time-out.

The child’s brain is hardwired to be creative and inquisitive. The desire to explore is innate and some might say present from birth. A child is a motivated learner, and often the best learning happens through trail and error. As a parent, figuring out the best way to deal with a child’s misbehavior can be challenging. Parents often turn to time-out or other shame-based discipline to encourage different behavior from their child. But, is putting a child in an isolated spot to think about their actions helping or hurting his budding brain? Often the child isn’t excited about participating in time-out, parents get more frustrated, and in the end, nothing seems to have been resolved.

The Child’s Desire to Explore

From birth, babies learn from clues they observe around them. You might even say that babies are beyond talented at paying close attention to facial clues – able to pick up on mom’s adoring smile or older brother’s frustrated face. Babies take this learning and turn it into understanding of emotion and the beginnings of behavior, which is often mimicked and returned. When children are neglected or left to cry it out, there is a chance the brain is not encouraged to develop in positive ways.  A recent article from The Guardian suggests that leaving babies to cry for extended lengths of time without a loved one’s nurturing could lead to long-term emotional problems. When stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol, which in large amounts can be damaging to a baby’s developing brain. And, anxiety in young children, in response to being isolated or left to cry for extended amounts of time, can potentially last through adulthood.

The brain is split into two halves, the right and the left. The right is in charge of creativity, with the left taking charge of logical thought. The brain works together to create a harmonious being, and behavior is part of the brain’s processes. Along with the right and left brain, the limbic system contributes to the brain (and body’s) behavior. It is not just the brain in charge of decision making – environment and genetics are part of the equation, too. If a child is exposed to positive modeling for making smart decisions, they are more apt to follow lead. That means when parents resort to spanking or talking down when bad decisions are made, it does not necessarily mean that the child will do the right thing next time, but just that he might follow in his parent’s footsteps by hitting or yelling. It can also cause stress in young children, resulting in long lasting psychological impact.

Behavior and Discipline

Keying kids into the understanding that discipline and punishment are not synonymous is a step in the right direction toward positive behaviors. Dr. Robert Brooks, Ph.D, writes in his essay Spanked With Words: More Damaging Than We May Realize, that through his conversations with children, punishment often teaches children what not to do rather than reinforcing what they should do. Strong consequences should be put in place when bad decisions are made, but should not in any way be enforced through humiliation, fear, or embarrassment. Instead, children should be instilled with the knowledge and understanding of self-discipline and that certain behaviors are unacceptable. Part of a parent’s responsibility is to find ways to effectively discipline a child without shame-based tactics.

So, the next time your child is pushing his exploratory limits, determine if it is yourself that might need a moment to think about your next behavior and not your child. Taking a big, long breath before disciplining your child may be the most important thing you can do in encouraging him to do the right thing. Here are a couple of other helpful hints for creating interactions with your child that will produce positive behavioral connections:

-Redirect and change the situation. Most parents pick up on clues when their child is just about to misbehave. Step in and redirect the behavior by either asking your child what is happening or offering them another option or activity. Once your child is happily engrossed and has moved on, take a moment to talk about what just happened. Start the conversation with questions such as, “why do you think I encouraged you to do a puzzle instead of throwing the marker,” or, “what was making you so frustrated?”

-Share a quiet moment. Grab a book, select a puzzle, or just sing a couple songs, but move your child to a quiet spot with less distraction and frustration than the situation he was just in. If you’re at the playground and your child has tossed sand one too many times, take him for a walk around the perimeter singing a couple soothing songs. Once again, ask him about his behavior along with offering reasons why throwing sand isn’t a good idea – with real reasons other than, “because I said so.”

-Talk through it. Have a discussion with your child, almost like thinking out loud. You may feel like you are insane, but streaming about what is going on will soothe your misbehaving child as well as educate him on ways to behave better next time. Let’s say you are out for dinner and you know your child is about to have a temper tantrum over not being able to cut his own food. Begin explaining what you would like to see happen, such as, “I understand you would like to cut your own food, but I’m worried it will end up falling on the ground. Let’s cut your food together and see how it goes? I am going to use my knife to start cutting, would you like to cut with yours?” Yes, you may feel foolish, but might find your child encouraged to work with you instead of against you.

-Stay positive. Find ways to explain instead of just saying “no.” Give lots of positive reinforcement when your child shows good behaviors, encouraging him to continue to seek your praise. Be direct and specific, trying to avoid blanket statements, such as, “good job.” Tell your child how they are doing an outstanding job and why you are proud of them.

Your young child’s brain is ready for positive reinforcement and encouraging information on how to work through challenging moments. Take the time to model positive behavior to help create a healthy home environment for the whole family.

*This is an article I originally wrote for Funderstanding.com, a great site with a wealth of information for educators, students, and parents – go check them out! And, thanks to the hubs for the awesome picture of our wee tot!

 

 

Bye-bye baba

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

I started out this month with some pretty high hopes of getting the babe started on a couple of big transitions. My plans included getting rid of paci (I’m so not a fan – but the wee tot is), really starting potty-training, and no more babas. Yeah, we call the warm milk bottle at the end of the day a “baba” and that baba needed to go. The thing is, I think I want baba time more than the babe does.

Hmph.

During our last well-check, my pediatrician asked about the big bottle, “You aren’t still giving her a bottle, right?” Right, right.

Okay, so I lied. Are you going to tell on me?

I fully understand the baba could cause teeth issues, icky stomach stuff, and baby addiction problems. But, I sure like those few moments where I get to snuggle up with the babe. She’s SO active – it’s rare I get to wrap her up in a blanket and spend just a minute or two with her.

But, it’s time. The baba has to go.

So, yesterday, we picked up some big girl sippy-cups and figured it was as good a time as any to ditch those bottles. I tossed them far back in the cupboard behind the glasses, so the wee tot couldn’t see them, and handed her one of the new cups full of milk. She seemed happy enough – but that was the middle of the day.

Then, the true moment came. It was baba time.

I warmed some milk in the sippy-cup and offered it to the babe.

She took a couple swigs. Looked at it. Handed it to me, and said, “no baba.”

Well, bye-bye baba.

(I’ll miss you)

I think tonight we’ll try cozying up with a book before bed.

Healthful Mondays: Birthdays

 - by Sarah Lipoff

It’s my daughter’s second birthday today and as much as I can’t believe she’s two, I can’t believe how the time flew. I used to snort when others would tell me how fast time goes with kids, and now I get it. I really get it.

My daughter is two today and the time has crashed by like a big-ol monster truck hell bent on crashing through whatever gets in its way.

It’s funny because I was just talking with my parents about things we remember and our first birthday memories. I seem to have some lacking areas of brain as most of my early birthday memories are nonexistent. I have fleeting glimpses of cakes, party hats, crying (because someone didn’t do what I wanted), and more cake. There was a pretty special Barbie cake one year….

As we get older we put so much pressure on the whole birthday thing. We spend our early years trying to be older and then our older years pretending to be younger. We lie about our age, throw grand galas for ourselves, or hide in the dark eating ice cream all alone watching movies about being alone the rest of our lives and then eat more ice cream (that hasn’t happened to me – really).

My husband’s birthday follows our daughter’s and then mine pops up a couple of months later. Both the hubs and I grumble about our birthdays and get haggard thinking about how “old” we are.

Bah.

Here’s the thing, we can’t stop time. We are all getting older and older and older. Instead of hiding in the corner and shoving chocolate down my throat, I’m going to embrace this whole birthday thing and set a positive example for my daughter.

So, when I was trying to figure out if we should do it up for the babe’s second birthday or just make a cake and let her go at it, I figured I’d opt for just the cake this year. She’s got lots and lots of years ahead of her for planning big gatherings and enjoying overwhelming sugar-crazed madness with her friends. Her future birthdays can be about if so-and-so is invited or if it’s time for that big overnight-birthday sleepover. I think this year I want her all to myself (and her dada, api and oh-mama). I’m being selfish and enjoying through her this year.

And, this way we all get cake, and you know how I love some good cake.

Fine-motor skills

 - by Sarah Lipoff

 

There’s something amazing about watching a small child navigate a new toy or pick up a pencil and quickly transform that white wall in the living room into a masterful work of art (before you can get to her in time to snatch that pencil away). Fine-motor skills are developed through manipulating, playing, and experimenting with small toys, objects, and mark-making tools. Those wee little muscles in your child’s hands are honed while she is squashing play dough, drawing with a marker, or turning the pages of a book.

Most babies begin exploring the wonders of fine-motor skills through clenching and un-clenching their fists. Those little hands sure seem to have the ability to tug your hair or pinch that tender skin under your arms from birth! Encouraging fine-motor coordination at this age is as easy as offering things to your babe for her to reach, hold, and pull on – other than your hair and arms. There are tons of toys that will encourage her to grasp, but using simple around-the-house items, such as a clean rubber spatula, offers great picking up potential, as well as safe mouthing exploration.

As a child ages, her fine-motor skills advance, too. She’s able to pick things up, grasp and manipulate objects, and use items in ways you can’t even imagine. I think every mommy and daddy remembers that fateful day when some mark-making tool was left out without concern and was discovered by the babe to be used to mark up the new white sofa, freshly painted wall, or the carpet. Just about every mark-making tool the child can get her hands on is put in the mouth or used to scribble on everything! Offer your child lots and lots of art materials, which encourage her first experiences in art. Chalk is a wonderful option, and easily wipes off walls!

All that grasping and scribbling serves an important purpose – handwriting development! As the child begins to tire of scribbling all kinds of scribbles, her fine-motor abilities can be explored through drawing shapes above a line, following dots to form letters, or lacing string through holes or threading buttons and beads. Along with getting those small muscles moving and grooving, your child is developing her hand-eye coordination, which also benefits artistic endeavors, advancements in handwriting, and abilities for making cool stuff with her hands.

Remember that all kids develop differently and at their own pace. Some will be ready to use that pencil as young as one year of age while others may not be excited about drawing until the age of three. Go with the flow and provide lots and lots of positive feedback along the way. And, it doesn’t hurt to model positive behavior by spending some time doing fine-motor activities with your child, too. Rolling and squeezing play dough is fun (and great stress relief), and a wonderful way to bond with your wee-tot.

Don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician if you feel your child isn’t excited about exploring her fine-motor skills. Everyone has more fun learning through play, so keep things light and enjoyable when introducing new fine-motor skills to your child. Take the pressure off by doing the activities with her and incorporate learning into everyday situations – such as being in charge of holding the grocery list at the store! Even if she drops it, she can use her fingers to pick up and grasp that list as tightly as she can!

TV and your babe’s brain (a bit of a rant)

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

This morning I came across yet another article telling us mommies and daddies that plopping our kid in front of the TV diminishes language development. There are quotes from research, fancy important people sharing facts and ratios, and a couple of big words tossed in, too.

Really? I think most of us KNOW that using television as a babysitter isn’t the best for encouraging our wee tot’s brains.

What I did find interesting was that the article states that the stuff we like our kids to watch, like Sesame Street or Yo Gabba Gabba, weren’t taken into consideration in the study. Just shows not geared for kids.

Hey, guess what? My daughter doesn’t watch anything other than PBS kid shows and maybe an occasional Disney movie. I’m not cuddling up on the couch with her to catch a couple of episodes of True Blood.

And, if a parent IS watching that with their young child, that’s just not cool.

I think we are all aware that the television isn’t the best for encouraging brain development, stimulating learning, or motivating interaction. But, when a parent is watching WITH the child and enjoying the bonding time together, doesn’t that count for something? Stating that it is recommended that all children under the age of two aren’t exposed to ANY TELEVISION AT ALL seems a bit unrealistic, doesn’t it?

How about some research on which shows motivate kids to learn new things or develop language skills? Maybe some uplifting information on how Sesame Street is one of the longest running television shows dedicated to educate and inform? I’d love to hear about new and exciting educational children’s programs like Juno Baby!

So, until then, I’m letting my child enjoy her allotted 60-minutes of daily television, which usually includes our favorite, Sesame Street. Sometimes we get in some Sid the Science Kid, and a bit of another goodie, The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That!.

What television shows are you watching with your kids – or do you keep the TV off in your home?

Parenting tips

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

The other day I was chatting with some ladies at Parents.com about super-secret parenting tips – or sanity tips. You know, those things you’re not sure you should share with others, but are lifesavers in your house? When I sat down to think about what salvages my day, I discovered that my solutions are a bit silly more than any kind of secret!

*Start a nighttime routine and stick to it! The day we brought our daughter home from the hospital I started a bedtime routine – no joke. The essential part of our beddy-bye time is NOT making eye contact with baby after she’s in the crib. I give her a bottle, zip her into snuggly-soft jammies and then –without making eye contact, lay her down. If she causes a fuss, I wait five minutes, offer a pacifier, which she only gets during sleepy-times, and her blanky (no eye contact!). Most nights she falls asleep in 20 minutes – no crying. I know some of you hate me just a little bit right now, but that’s okay.

*Sometimes yelling isn’t bad, or some really loud music. Distraction is one of the best ways to change your babe’s (and your) mood. I’m not talking ear-splitting noise level or anything, but put on some Lady Gaga and dance around while holding your wee one. If she’s not into music, yelling out the ABC’s might do the trick. My neighbors probably think I’m insane, but when my babe’s a grump she seems to find it fantastically silly when I jump up and down and yell the ABC’s.

*INDULGE. I got a stroller as a baby gift and it wasn’t the one I wanted. I went and purchased the stroller I had put on my baby registry and have no regrets – even though it cost a ton! Splurge on the baby items that you’ll be with for a while (stroller, high chair, crib, car seat, etc.). If you do a lot of walking like I do, you’ll feel better pushing your wee tot around in the stroller you wanted instead of suffering with one that was a good deal.

*Take the baby in the shower/tub with you. This may be the only way you get clean. Seriously. Once my babe could sit on her own, I plopped her down with a couple of wash clothes around her for support. Now that she’s older, I can actually enjoy a shower while she enjoys some splashing. And, she ends up sitting on the wash cloths, which help her from slip-sliding away! I also put a towel right outside the tub so when we’re done, I can lift her directly onto a fresh towel and wrap her up. Often, she runs off dragging the towel after her, but at least she’s not dripping wet (and I wont freak out worrying she’s going to slip and crack her head open).

*Oh, and schedule “special time” with your partner. Sex makes you feel good and strengthens and the bond you have with your mate. When I feel wonderful about myself, I’m a better parent.

What are your secret sanity tips?

Taming those killer baby nails

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like a warrior bearing my various baby wounds – from the pinches, scratches and love bites, I’m all marked up. But, the worst are the itty-bitty baby nail scratches. Not only do they sting like a paper cut, once one is gone, another scratch shows up.

The best way to tame the scratches is to keep your babe’s nails nicely cut.

HA.

If you are able to easily and quickly cut your baby’s nails without any sort of fuss, please contact me as soon as possible with your amazing secret. I’ve tried it all, from clipping at night while she’s slumbering, first thing in the morning when she’s still a bit asleep, and even having someone else hold her while I attempt to cut away at the darn little things.

No matter what I try, she squirms and pulls her hands away, which inevitably makes me flinch and worry I will clip more than just her nail!

I was given a couple of baby nail care items before our daughter was born (a baby sized clipper, tweezers and nail file) and spent some time checking them out before trying them on the real thing. Infants like to keep their hands clenched – it’s a comfort thing – so even prying the small fists open can be the first challenge. Keep a smile on your face and try to remain calm even if you’re the one freaking out. Your babe picks up on your emotional cues, so if you are calm and cool, hopefully she will be, too.

At first my baby was all about having her small wee nails clipped. That was before she figured out what was happening. The nail file has become my new baby grooming friend, with its ability to calm those sharp nails without any clip-clip-clipping. It may take a little longer, but there’s no fear of cutting more than just your babe’s nails!

So, what happens when you make a bigger snip that you planned? Keep calm – your baby is going to cry (try not to yourself) but she will survive. Clean the cut with some gentle soap and put a small amount of baby-safe healing ointment on the finger. Before no time she’ll be good as new, although she might be a bit more resistant when she sees the clippers the next time.

Keeping your baby’s nails trimmed ensures she wont hurt more than just you. With tamed nails she wont cut herself OR cause any other kid damage during play dates or preschool.

Seriously – anyone out there have any special tricks to make nail trimming time a success?