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Encouraging your child's imagination

Encouraging your child's imagination

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Why is it important to encourage imagination?

The first few years of your child's life are extremely important. All the things you and your toddler do together, from reading, singing, and playing to eating and walking, help to jump-start his brain. 

Involving your toddler in stimulating activities helps to create connections in his brain. Through repetition, these connections build into networks in his brain that allow him to think and learn. 

This is an important time in your toddler's mental development because his brain is much denser than it will be when he's older. A connection that's used repeatedly becomes permanent, while connections that are hardly used may not survive. 

As you expose your toddler to new experiences, you open his mind to a bigger, more exciting world. By encouraging him to use his imagination ("Look, Mummy's a tiger in the jungle!"), you spark his brain to forge "imagination pathways" of its own.

How can I help my toddler develop his imagination?

You can help to spark your toddler's fantasy life by reading picture books about unfamiliar people and places together. While your toddler's naturally imaginative, these will help to broaden his vocabulary of words and images, too. (How can you imagine being a turtle if you've never seen one?) 

Choose books with lots of big, colourful pictures. You can make up anything you want before your toddler learns to read and insists on sticking strictly to the text. 

What his brain wants now is input. Show your toddler pictures of everything from beetles to dinosaurs. 

Make sounds for animals and vehicles, too. Use special voices for the different characters and talk about what happened or might happen to the characters. Try to limit TV and DVDs, which create ready-made imaginary worlds for him. Instead, allow your toddler's mind more scope to create pictures on its own.

Can I make up stories for my toddler?

Hearing you tell your own made-up stories is just as good, and maybe even better, for your toddler. As well as giving lots of scope for his imagination, they'll demonstrate how to create characters and plots. And using your child as the main character is a great way to expand his sense of himself. 

Soon enough, your toddler will start coming up with his own stories and adventures. He may start by copying you at first because that's how children learn. As his imagination develops, the inventiveness of his scenarios will astound you.

What sort of props will encourage my toddler's imagination?

Almost anything can be a prop for imaginative play. 

Towels can become turbans, plastic beads can become precious jewels. Your toddler's mound of stuffed animals transforms itself into an animal hospital or farm. 

The best props for imaginative play are often simple ones. As most of the action takes place inside your child's head, detailed costumes, such as those specific to particular movie characters, aren't that helpful. A Batman suit can only be a Batman suit. But with a plain hat and towel, your child can be lots of different characters. 

The best way to ensure he has lots of ideas is to expose your child to as many real people (of all ages), places and events as possible. 

Give your toddler a special box or basket to hold dressing-up bits and pieces. It will make imaginative games even more exciting, especially if you restock when he's not looking ("Let's see what's in the box today!"). By popping in two of any particular favourites, you'll ensure fewer squabbles when friends or siblings join in.

What will my toddler learn through pretend play?

Children learn a lot from dramatising their daily, and fantasy, lives. 

When your toddler invents a scenario, plot and characters ("I'm the daddy and you're the baby and you're sick"), he develops social and verbal skills. By replaying scenarios that involve feeling sad, happy or frightened, he'll work out emotional issues. 

Imagining that he's a superhero or a wizard makes him feel powerful. It teaches him that he's in charge and that he can be anyone he wants. Try not to ask your child too many questions about what they're doing. Instead, make comments, such as, "Wow, you look like you're on a spaceship!" This allows his imagination to take the direction he wants, rather than following you. 

Your toddler's also practising self-discipline as he makes the rules up himself or with a friend. He also learns about cause and effect as he imagines how a frog or a dog would behave in a particular situation. 

Perhaps most important of all, by creating imaginary situations and following them through, your child learns to solve problems. It's thought that lots of imaginative play at a young age can help your child to grow up to become a better problem-solver. So rest assured that all those hours spent on the carpet pretending to be animals is far from wasted time. It may help your toddler to cope with challenges and difficult situations when he's older, such as what to do if he finds he's forgotten a book he needs for school that day.

How messy should I let my toddler be?

Imagination is a messy business, there's no doubt about it. 

Pretending to be Hansel and Gretel means a trail of crumbs through the living room. 

Crossing the crocodile-infested river by stepping only on the cushions (or rocks!) means pulling the sofa apart. 

Having a few quick strategies for minimising mess helps a lot. For instance, old shirts worn backwards with the sleeves cut off make great smocks. You can also save table tops by insisting on plastic sheeting under a play-dough construction site. And use large sheets of lining paper to cover the table (or the floor or the walls) to prevent multicoloured splodges and splashes.

Is it fine to set limits on their imaginative play?

Setting limits (not using the "swords" for hitting) and enforcing them is crucial for you and your child. 

And while imaginary friends are fine, you shouldn't worry too much if your toddler starts blaming the friend for something he did. It's best simply to praise your child when he owns up to something but not to pay too much attention when he is dishonest. 

If and when you can, let your toddler live for a bit with the reminders of his flight of fancy. If the kitchen table is currently an igloo, you've got the perfect excuse to have a pretend picnic on the living room floor!

How can I avoid fights over my toddler's imaginary play?

When your toddler begs to wear his spaceman outfit to nursery for the fourth day in a row, you may be in two minds. Adults are used to obeying social rules, and rules that are just downright practical. 

So, after four days the spaceman outfit is likely to need a wash, never mind how suitable it is as daily wear. But toddlers don't think this way. 

When you find yourself forcing a confrontation ("You have to take off your spaceman outfit off now"), remember that your toddler doesn't have these boundaries yet. And that's fine. Rather than being lost in some fantasy world, he's just in playing mode. As adults, we think in terms of what we want to get done in a given time. 

We also worry about what others think, which can lead to feelings of embarrassment. 

We learn these habits because they help us to get along in society. In that sense, they're positive. But they tend to work against a free-floating imagination. In other words, although you may not realise it, as a parent you're carrying a lot of baggage. And it pays to be aware of this when dealing with your child. Toddlers are free spirits because they haven't yet learned to worry about not being productive or looking silly. Lucky them!

What can I do next to encourage my toddler's imagination?

Part of developing an imagination is learning to share it. And the best way to help your toddler move to this next step is by being a good listener. Toddlers' verbal skills aren't great, of course, but they get better with practise. 

Try trading off lines of a story. So while you're driving, say, "Once upon a time there was a dog. He lived with a little boy named Tom and one day ..." Then give your toddler a turn. If he's not up to a whole line, he can still join in. Ask him to name the little boy's dog. 

When your toddler draws a picture, encourage him to tell you what's going on in it. Instead of saying "What a beautiful house!", say "What lovely colours! What's this here?" 

Pretending allows your toddler to be anyone he wants to be, to practise what he's learned, and to make things come out the way he'd like. By listening to him you can stay in tune with what he's thinking. 

Who knows? You might even revitalise your own imagination in the process.


30 ways to entertain your kids while lying down

30 ways to entertain your kids while lying down

Woman playing with her son.

Maybe you're feeling under the weather. Maybe you've sprained your ankle or put your back out. Maybe you're just really tired! Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to keep your kids entertained while you're lying down.

Here are 30 fantastic ideas from Tony Toys parents to keep your kids entertained with little or no effort.

1. "My son likes to write his Grandma a 'letter'. I open up a blank document on our laptop, set the font to a large size, and he types letters and numbers." 
Cath

2. "This one is a winner. It's called 'What's on my bum?' You lie face-down on the sofa and try to guess what object your little one has perched on your bum. 'Is that a cement mixer on my bum?' Just hearing you say the word 'bum' is the best thing that'll happen to your child all day." 
Roberta

3. "My newly crawling baby loves playing fetch, which is lots of work for her, and not much for me!" 
Shahina

4. "We have a baby dance party. I turn on some kids' music videos, sit on the sofa, and ask them to dance for me. Sometimes they even put on a show, wearing crazy costumes and prancing around with paper flags or colourful socks." 
Angela

5. "My daughter and I set up a tent, which I lie down in. She pulls out a pile of books and we pretend we're camping." 
Christina

6. "If you don't mind thinking while you're lying there, try this storytelling game. I pretend I'm a very old man who can't move with an important story to tell. But I can only remember the story by looking at various objects that my children bring back to me. So I send them all over the house for things like scarves, stuffed animals, and various other items. If you can spin a story, you'd be surprised how long you can keep them running around." 
Andrew

7. "I love getting my two-year-old son to read me a story. He'll perch next to me on the sofa with one of his favourite books, and try to re-tell the story. Sometimes it's the real story, and sometimes he just makes things up. It's hysterical." 
Sally

8. "I have special colouring books tucked away that I only bring out when I'm unwell. I also allow my children extra time on the computer and I let them watch a film." 
Alice

9. "My daughter loves to get dressed up in her ballet tutu and put on a show in the living room. I have to be the narrator. I say things like, 'Wow, look at that pointed toe! What a jump! Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing a truly amazing show!' The best part is I can do this while lying on the sofa." 
Carolyn 

10. "My son loves playing doctors. I'm the patient and lie on the sofa or bed. Then he pretends to be the doctor, taking my pulse, bringing me 'medicine', and giving injections with his doctor kit." 
Briony

11. "If I'm under the weather, we have a pyjama day. My little ones stay in their pyjamas, make tents with pillows and folding tables, and take bowls of snacks into the tent." 
Monica

12. "We sit on the sofa or in my bed, draw, then play 'What did I draw?'"
Sam

13. "My daughter plays 'Special Delivery'. She picks a random toy or object in the house and wraps it up in newspaper. Then she knocks on the door and calls, 'Special delivery!' I invite her to come in, accept and open the package, and ooh and aah over it. Then she does it all over again with something else. She can keep this up for more than an hour, and I don't have to move!" 
Sumaiya

14. "My favourite sitting-down game is 'Fetch, puppy!' You sit in a deckchair or on a bench and throw a ball. Your little one runs after it and brings the ball back to you." 
Heather

15. "I lie on the sofa and say 'peekaboo!'. My daughter then runs to the end of the sofa, and hides so I can't see her. Then she pops up and does her best to say, 'I see you!'" 
Tessa

16. "I set up a fort with the sofa cushions and gate off the area so my son can't wander off. Then I assemble some toys and snacks for him and get everything I need around me, like tissues and the remote, so I won't have to get up. I play some toddler shows on the TV, which he loves. When he gets bored with that, he plays with his toys or has a snack." 
Chloe

17. "If you're feeling unwell, get your child to pretend, you're a queen who never gets off her throne, and that you must be waited on hand and foot. Just remember that when you feel better, it'll be payback time!"
Rosie

18. "Play dough guarantees me at least an hour of quiet. Even though it's messy, letting my boys play with it gives me time for a rest, which then gives me the energy to clean it all up." 
Mia

19. "I've taught my girls the quiet game. The first one to talk above a whisper loses, and whoever wins gets a prize! I get at least 30 minutes of somewhat quiet so I can rest." 
Zara

20. "I put my kids in bed with me. We play with toys in bed, or on the floor and nap together." 
Mel

21. "I fill each circle of a muffin tray with a different snack, such as fruit, cereal, cut-up meat, diced cheese, and little crackers. Then I leave it on a low shelf in the fridge where they can get to it themselves." 
Kate

22. "I lie on the ground under my daughter's crawling tunnel, and she pops out at me time and time again. She thinks it's the funniest thing in the world, as long as I say 'peekaboo!' each time. I have to keep my eyes open, but I get to lie down!" 
Phoebe

23. "A great game to play is 'beauty salon'. My daughter loves to brush my hair, put lotion on my legs, and so on. It keeps her busy for hours!" 
Helen

24. "When I can't be up and about with my kids, I start a game of 'Red Light, Green Light' up and down the hallway." 
Romola

25. "I'm a fan of playing 'Spa sisters', where I coordinate my girls in an effort to give me a back and foot rub. They're surprisingly good, and oddly motivated by scented lotion. 'Ooh! Would you like lavender or grapefruit, mummy?'" 
Jenny

26. "The game I like is 'I'm the baby'. I lie in bed and my kids pretend that I’m a baby they're putting to bed. My girls will stroke my hair, read me stories, and sing me lullabies. I drag that one out as long as I possibly can." 
Lucy

27. "I let my kids do something that's normally off-limits, like drawing on the driveway with chalk. The novelty of the activity keeps them occupied much longer than usual." 
Carl

28. "My five-year-old daughter loves shelling monkey nuts. It keeps her busy for long enough that I can actually enjoy the match I'm trying to watch." 
Simon

29. "I lie on the floor and ask my five-year-old to write on my back with her fingers. I love it! Even better is when I ask her to rub out each letter afterwards. It’s an instant back massage!" 
Anna

30. "Sometimes you just can't pretend. If my partner and I are both really unwell, we send our daughter to his mum's house." 
Jo


 

 

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Seven surprises to look out for as your child grows up.

Seven surprises to look out for as your child grows up.

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Life is full of surprises when you're a parent. We thought we'd prepare you for a few of them. 

Your child will say "I love you"

You may encourage your little one to say those three little words on a number of occasions. However, the first time he says "I love you" unprompted will take you by surprise and melt your heart.

Of course, your child will have shown his bond with you in many ways before he is old enough to say the words. The tantrum when you reunite after a separation, feeding you his dinner and those sloppy head-butt kisses all tell you how special you are.

Your child will get too big for your lap

There will come a day when you can't comfortably sit with your child on your lap anymore while you read a book together or watch a film. While you might feel sad when this time comes, you can still snuggle up in bed together on cold mornings and have big bear hugs.

Your child will want time alone

You may have become used to not being able to go to the bathroom without your little one waiting for you outside the door. So when you’re suddenly confronted by an unfamiliar silence, you'll probably rush to make sure everything's OK. What will you find? Your child playing happily alone. He may even have gone into his own room and shut the door behind him. While this might be a bit of a wrench for you, try not to feel too upset. It's all part of him developing his independence. 

Your child will teach you a thing or two

While you find yourself struggling to remember where you put your keys and what you gave grandma for Christmas last year, your child and his sharp mind will remind you. As he starts preschool and then school, he will also share with you what he's learning, which may well be things you've forgotten all about. 

Your child will hurt your feelings

Unfortunately, there will be times when your child will say things he doesn’t really mean. So prepare yourself for the day when he says he hates you. He'll also tell you how "mean" you are, and when he's much older, how "embarrassing" you are. And then there are the daily honesties that can be hard to hear: "Mummy, your teeth are yellow!" or "Daddy, your breath smells bad!" It’s best to stay calm and explain to your child that saying such things isn’t nice and can hurt people's feelings. 

Your child will show true bravery

Your child will be terrified of doing something, perhaps sleeping in the dark for the first time, but one evening you'll see him push through the fear and make it through the night. Prepare to feel immense pride. 

Your child will make you a better person

As you know your child is watching, you'll find yourself swearing less, being kinder to others and maybe even promoting a more positive body image. Enjoy setting a good example to your ever-surprising child. 

 

 

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Bathing your newborn

Bathing your newborn

Baby being held in a bath with rubber duck

Bathing your new baby may be about much more than just cleanliness. Giving your baby a bath can be a lovely way to strengthen your attachment to her. 

Some babies enjoy being in warm water right from the start, while others need a little time to get used to these new sensations on their skin. Whatever's right for you and your baby, we have plenty of tips for keeping your baby clean and contented.

What's the best way to keep my newborn clean?

Bathing is a good way to keep your newborn clean, but for the first week or so you may find it easier to top and tail. Topping and tailing means washing your baby from head to toe with a warm, damp sponge or flannel, and pieces of moistened cotton wool. 

Here’s how to top and tail your baby:

Before you begin, make sure the room is warm, and have a clean nappy and clothes to hand. Fill a bowl or sink with warm water. Undress your baby and place her on a clean towel so you’re ready to dry her quickly afterwards. 

Topping means washing your baby’s face, neck, and hands. Start by wiping each of your baby's eyes. Dip a clean piece of cotton wool in warm water and squeeze it out. 

Gently sweep the cotton wool across your baby's eye, starting from the corner near her nose. Use a fresh piece of cotton wool for each wipe so that you don't spread any goo from one eye to the other. 

Using fresh, damp cotton wool, wipe your baby's ears, and then wipe behind her ears. These areas can become milky and sweaty. Don’t clean inside the ears, as you could damage your baby's eardrum.

Use fresh pieces of cotton wool to wipe your baby's face, neck creases, and hands. If your newborn’s skin still has a coating of white, creamy vernix, don’t try to wash it off. Vernix is your baby's natural cleanser and is very good for her skin. It will wear off naturally quite soon.

Tailing means thoroughly cleaning your baby's genitals and bottom as part of her wash and after each nappy change. Baby poo has a higher percentage of fats than adult poo. You may find it easier to use a mild, liquid baby cleanser or sensitive, unperfumed baby wipes to remove the poo from your baby's skin.

Look for cleansers and wipes that are specifically formulated for babies. These should help to protect your newborn’s skin barrier. It’s a good idea to test any cleanser on a small area of her skin first, to check that it's sensitive enough. Avoid baby products made with soap, or baby wipes that contain alcohol or perfume, as these can disturb the natural balance of your baby's skin.

When you’ve washed your baby, gently pat her dry, paying particular attention to her creases. You may want to smooth on a mild moisturising lotion, oil, or emollient if her skin is dry. Wrap your baby in a towel, and give her a cuddle to keep her warm.

When can my newborn have her first bath?

If your baby is full-term and healthy, you can give your newborn her first bath as soon as you like. It’s best to wait at least an hour after the birth, and to keep the first bath short, no more than five minutes to 10 minutes. 

You don't need to wait for your baby’s umbilical cord stump to dry up and fall off, or for it to heal. A bath won't make an infection in the stump more likely, and it won’t slow down the healing process. Make sure you allow it to dry off properly afterwards, though.

It can be a bit scary the first few times you bathe your newborn. Try to stay calm and keep a firm hold of your baby when moving her in and out of the bath. You may like to have someone with you the first few times to support you and fetch anything you've forgotten. Until you get into a routine, you'll probably find this happens often! 

Handling a wriggling, wet and slippery baby takes practice and confidence, but rest assured you and your baby will get used to bathtime and enjoy it. Most babies are soothed by warm water and a bath may help a fussy baby to relax and calm down.

A bath twice a week or three times a week is enough to keep your newborn clean. Between baths, wash your baby's face regularly, clean her genitals and bottom after each nappy change, and wipe any grime off her skin. If you enjoy giving her a bath every day, that’s fine, too. 

If you live in a hard water area, bear in mind that too much tap water during the first month or so may dry out and damage your baby's skin. You could add a little mild, liquid baby cleanser or bath emollient to the water to protect your baby's skin. Though be aware that the emollient will make your baby slippery to handle.

When your baby is a newborn, you’ll probably bathe her during the day. After a couple of months you could start to make a bath part of her bedtime routine.

Where should I bathe my newborn?

In the first few weeks, it may be easier to bathe your baby in the kitchen sink or in a small, plastic baby bath. 

You could use your big bath, but it can be awkward as you’ll need to kneel or lean over the side. When you’ve just had a baby, you need to be careful you don't hurt your back. If you do use your big bath, a bath support for your baby may help.

How do I give my newborn a bath?

Choose a time of day when you're not expecting any interruptions and have time to devote to your baby. It's best if your baby is alert, contented, and between feeds, so she’s not tired, hungry, or full. 

Here's how to bathe your baby:

  • You need to keep your newborn baby warm at bathtime. Make sure the room and water are warm, and close any doors and windows.
  • Wash your hands, and then gather all the bath supplies that you're going to need. These may include a top-and-tail bowl, sponge or flannel, a cleanser, at least one clean towel, and at least one set of clean clothes and nappies. Newborns can wee and poo unexpectedly, so it’s best to be prepared.
  • Put cold water in the bath first, and then add the hot water, so the bath water is comfortably warm. If you're going to use a sink or a bowl for hair-washing, have the water ready in these, too.
  • Fill the bath with about 13cm (5in) of water, or enough water to allow your baby to settle in the water with her shoulders well covered.
  • If you have a bath thermometer, use it to check that the water is about 37 degrees C to 38 degrees C. If you don’t have a thermometer, gauge the water temperature with your elbow rather than your hand. The water should feel neither hot nor cold.
  • Undress your baby down to her nappy, and then wrap her in a towel. Keep her head uncovered so you can wash her face and hair before you put her in the bath. This way, you can give her a quick dip in the bath if she isn't enjoying it or a bit longer if she loves it.
  • Wash your baby’s eyes, ears, face, and neck as you would for topping and tailing.
  • Hold your baby so that her head is over the bath water and, using your hand or a flannel, massage her scalp with water. You could use a mild baby shampoo or liquid cleanser. If you don't want shampoo getting in her bath water, use a sink or a bowl for this bit. Rinse her hair carefully and dry it. Washing her hair just once a week or twice a week is enough to keep her clean.
  • Now take off your baby's nappy. If there's poo in the nappy, clean her genitals and bottom before putting her in the bath.
  • Gradually slip your baby into the bath feet-first, using one hand to support her neck and head. The water should be covering her shoulders so she doesn't get cold.
  • Wash your baby with water, or use a gentle liquid baby cleanser to protect your baby's skin.
  • If your baby's skin is dry or tender, you could add a little baby bath emollient to the water. Bear in mind that the emollient will make your baby slippery to handle.
  • If you prefer to bathe your baby in just water, it's still best to use a liquid baby cleanser or sensitive, unperfumed baby wipes to wash her nappy area. Using water alone makes it harder to wash the fatty poo off your baby's bottom.
  • Use your hand, a flannel, or a sponge to clean your baby from top to bottom, front and back. Avoid scrubbing your baby's skin. Leave any creamy vernix in her creases, as it helps her skin barrier to develop.
  • Rinse your baby thoroughly, and then lift her out of the bath and straight on to a dry hooded towel. Lift her with one hand supporting her neck and head, and your other hand under her bottom, with your thumb and forefinger around one thigh.
  • Wrap your baby in the towel, pat her dry straight away, and then put her nappy on. Wrap her in a dry towel or blanket again, and give her a cosy cuddle for 10 minutes or so to keep her warm.
  • If your baby's skin tends to be dry, you could smooth on a mild baby moisturising lotion, cream, or oil.
  • Now dress your baby in clean clothes. Newborns lose heat rapidly so, depending on how warm it is, you may want to wrap her in a dry, warm blanket, too. Then give her a kiss on her sweet-smelling head.


Never leave your baby alone in the bath, not even for a few seconds.

 

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Seven reasons babies cry and how to soothe them.

Seven reasons babies cry and how to soothe them.

Crying baby in front of toys

Your baby is fully dependent on you. You provide her with the food, warmth and comfort that she needs. When she cries, it's her way of communicating any or all of those needs and of ensuring a response from you. 

It's sometimes hard to work out which need your baby wants you to take care of. But as your baby grows she'll learn other ways of communicating with you. For example, she'll get better at eye contact, making noises and smiling. 

In the meantime, here are some reasons why your baby may cry, and what you can try to soothe her:

I'm crying because I'm hungry

Hunger is one of the most common reasons why your baby will cry, especially if she's a newborn. The younger your baby is, the more likely it is that she's hungry. 

Your baby's stomach is small and can't hold very much. So it won't take long before it empties. If you're breastfeeding, offer your breast, even if her last feed doesn't seem that long ago. This is called feeding on demand.

If you're formula-feeding, your baby may not need more milk for at least two hours after her last feed. Every baby is different though. If your baby is consistently not finishing her feeds, she may prefer to drink formula little and often. In this case, you could try offering her another feed early.

Your baby may not stop crying immediately, but let her keep feeding if she wants to.

I just feel like crying

If your baby's less than about four months old, she may cry more in the late afternoon and evening. This is normal, and doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong with your baby. 

Persistent crying in an otherwise healthy baby is sometimes called colic. Your baby may become flushed and frustrated, and refuse your efforts to comfort her. She may clench her fists, draw up her knees, or arch her back.

Some people associate colic with tummy problems, maybe caused by an allergy or intolerance to something in your breastmilk or a type of formula milk. 

These days though, we have a greater understanding of how normal this pattern of baby crying is. Some experts think colic is not linked to tummy troubles, but is instead a stage called the "period of PURPLE crying®". PURPLE is an acronym and the letters stand for:

  • Peak of crying. Your baby may cry more each week, the most at two months, then less at between three months and five months.
  • Unexpected crying. It can come and go and you don't know why.
  • Resists soothing. Unfortunately, your baby may not stop crying, no matter what you try.
  • Pain-like face. Your baby may look as if she is in pain, but it's unlikely that she is.
  • Long-lasting periods of crying. It can last for several hours a day.
  • Evening. Your baby is most likely to cry more in the late afternoon and evening.


Living with a baby who regularly cries inconsolably can be very stressful, but there are tactics you can try to help you cope.

I'm crying because I need to be held

Your baby needs lots of cuddling, physical contact and reassurance to comfort her. So her crying may mean that she just wants to be held. 

Swaying and singing to her while you hold her may give her added comfort.

When you hold your baby close she may be soothed by your heartbeat, the warmth of your body and your smell. You could try babywearing to keep her close to you for longer spells.

I'm crying because I'm tired and I need a rest

Babies often find it hard to get to sleep, particularly if they're over-tired. You'll probably become aware of your baby's sleep cues soon after birth. Whining and crying at the slightest thing, staring blankly into space, and being quiet and still are just three examples.

Lots of attention from doting visitors may over-stimulate your baby and make it hard for her to sleep. Try taking her to a quiet room before bed to help her calm down and switch off.

I'm crying because I'm too cold or too hot

You can check whether your baby is too hot or too cold by feeling her tummy. Don't be guided by the temperature of your baby's hands or feet. It's normal for them to feel cold. 

Use sheets and cellular blankets as bedding in your baby's cot or Moses basket. If her tummy feels too hot, remove a blanket, and if it feels cold, simply add one. 

Keep the temperature of your baby's room at about 18 degrees C. Place her down to sleep on her back with her feet at the foot of her bed. That way she can't wriggle down under the blankets and become too hot.

Take care not to overdress your baby, or she may become too hot. She'll generally need to wear one more layer of clothing than you to be comfortable.

I'm crying because I need my nappy changing

Your baby may protest if she has a wet or soiled nappy. Some babies don't seem to mind unless their skin feels irritated.

If your baby doesn't like having her nappy changed, it may be because of the strange feeling of cold air on her skin. After a week or so, you'll probably be a pro at quick nappy changes. Otherwise, distracting your baby with a song or a toy she can look at during changes may work well.

I'm crying because I don't feel well

If your baby's unwell, she'll probably cry in a different tone from the one you're used to. It may be weaker, more urgent, continuous, or high-pitched. If she usually cries a lot but has become unusually quiet, this may also be a sign that she's not well. 

Teething may also cause your baby to be more upset than usual. Babies are often irritable and restless in the week before a new tooth comes through. Learn the other signs of teething to look out for.

However, nobody knows your baby as well as you do. If you feel that something's not right, call your GP, midwife or health visitor. Health professionals will always take your concerns seriously.

Call your doctor straight away if your baby is persistently crying and has a fever, is vomiting, or has diarrhoea or constipation.

If your baby has difficulty breathing through her crying call 111 for advice immediately or take her to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E).

My baby's still crying. How can I soothe her?

As you gradually get to know your baby's personality you'll learn which techniques work best for her. If a cuddle or a feed doesn't do the job, these suggestions may help:

Play a constant sound 

In your womb (uterus), your baby could hear the beat of your heart. She probably enjoys being held close to you now because your heartbeat is so familiar. 

Other noises mimic the sounds she'll have heard in your womb. The repetitive noise of a vacuum cleaner or hairdryer may lull your baby to sleep. Or you could supervise her on the floor next to the washing machine. The steady rhythm of the machine can have a calming effect. 

You can also download white-noise sounds or a white-noise app to your phone, or buy a white-noise CD created for babies. 

Rock-a-bye baby

Most babies love to be gently rocked. You could rock her:

  • while walking around
  • in a rocking chair
  • in a baby swing


You could also try taking her for a ride in your car or for a walk in her pushchair.

Try a massage or a tummy rub

Using massage oils or cream, gently rub her back or tummy in a clockwise direction.

Doing this regularly may help your baby to cry and fuss less. However, the best time for massage is when your baby is settled and alert. If she is crying during the massage, then stop, because she's telling you she's had enough. 


Try a different feeding position

Some babies cry during or after feeds. If you're breastfeeding, you may find that improving the way your baby latches on helps her to feed calmly, without crying. Ask your health visitor or breastfeeding counsellor to check your positioning. 

If your breastfed or bottle-fed baby seems to have painful wind during feeds, she may prefer to feed in a more upright position. 

Burp your baby after a feed by holding her against your shoulder and gently patting or rubbing her back. If your baby cries straight after a feed though, she may still be hungry.

Let her suck on something

For some babies, the need to suck is very strong. If you're breastfeeding, you could let your baby suckle your breast for comfort. Alternatively, let her suck on your clean finger or knuckle. Most babies will never need a dummy, but this is another option to try if you think it may help her.

Give her a warm bath

A warm bath may help your baby to calm down. Check the water temperature before placing her in the bath. It should be about 37 degrees C to 38 degrees C. If you don't have a thermometer, dip your elbow into the water. It should feel neither hot nor cold.

Bear in mind that a bath may also make her cry more. Not all babies enjoy the sensation of being in water. In time, you'll get to know your baby's likes and dislikes.

What should I do if nothing seems to help?

It is normal for babies to cry, so try not to blame yourself if your baby simply won't be soothed. 

If your baby cries almost constantly she won't do herself lasting harm. But it's likely to put you and your partner under strain. If she's unhappy and resists every effort to calm her down, you may feel rejected and frustrated. 

But you are not the cause of her crying. Sometimes, simply accepting that you have a baby who cries a lot can help. If you've met your baby's immediate needs and tried everything you can to calm her, it's time to take care of yourself:

  • Put your baby in her cot and let her cry for a few minutes out of your range of hearing. Take deep breaths and let yourself relax for a moment or two.
  • If you and your baby are both upset and you've tried everything, call a friend or relative for support. Give yourself a break and let someone else take over for a while.
  • Find a local support group or parent-and-baby group. That way you can meet other new parents in the same situation and offer each other moral support.
  • Talk to your health visitor or GP about coping strategies before everything gets too much. Don't let things build up, as it could make things harder for you and your baby.
  • Call a helpline. Cry-sis offers support seven days a week for parents of babies who have sleep problems or who cry excessively. Contact Cry-sis on 08451 228 669.


This crying is probably just a phase. It is very common and it will pass. As your baby grows, she'll learn new ways of communicating her needs to you. And when this happens, the excessive crying will soon stop.


ATTENTION: All parents who dread bedtimes and want a full night’s sleep...

Discover the Proven Five Minute Sleep Secret  That Allows You to QUICKLY and 
EFFORTLESSLY Get Your Baby To Fall Asleep On Their Own, And STAY Asleep All Night Long
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...EVEN if you honestly believe you've tried 
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"5 Words Babies Use" - Dunstan Baby Language

"5 Words Babies Use" - Dunstan Baby Language

As a new parent, the joy your baby brings is often accompanied by the challenges of crying. There are moments in which you would give almost anything to understand, respond to and make your baby’s crying stop. What if we would tell you that is possible to achieve all that? How? By using a universal baby language called “Dunstan Baby Language”.

In the following lines, you can find some highlights of this system.

What  is “Dunstan Baby Language”?

Priscilla Dunstan is an Australian woman who possesses a photographic memory for sounds, a talent she discovered in her childhood and practiced during her adolescence while touring Asia and Europe as a concert violinist. Thanks to this talent, she was able to discover in the crying of her son, Tomas, patterns that she investigated further in studies and observations made on more than 1,000 babies. The sounds made by the studied babies confirmed that a specific cry has a specific meaning. After nearly 10 years of research, in Australia and worldwide, the sounds have been formally classified and thus created the “Dunstan Baby Language”, a system which enables parents to listen, understand and respond to their infants’ needs. Researchers have established that “Dunstan Baby Language” is most effective for babies between 0 and 3 months old.

 

  • The secret language of babies

Crying is the way in which babies and especially newborns communicate with their parents or caretakers. The “Dunstan Baby Language” (or DBL) teaches parents to listen and decipher the sounds their babies are making before actually starting to cry (these sounds are made in the “pre-cry stage”). By doing so, parents can detect and satisfy their babies’ needs before the crying escalates.

 

  • The five cries of babies

The studies conducted by Priscilla Dunstan have indicated that babies make the same pre-cry sounds, no matter their gender, race or nationality. Here are the five cries as stated by DBL system:

Neh – I am hungry

This sound is a response to the sucking reflex, one of the reflexes your baby develops in the wombs. The baby needs to be fed every 3 to 4 hours. However, feeding on demand – meaning when you hear the baby making the “Neh” sound - is essential in order to keep your baby happy and peaceful. Other signs that are associated with the need to be fed are: turning the head from side to side, fists’ sucking, tongue moving in his or her mouth or licking of lips.

Owh – I am tired

This is based on another reflex – the yawning one – and is a sign that your baby is ready to go to sleep. The baby’s mouth takes the shape of an oval as she or he says “Owh”. Responding immediately by putting the baby to sleep will enable her him or her to fall asleep a lot easier. Other signs which indicate baby’s fatigue are eye rubbing, ear pulling or bouncing movements.

Eh – I need to burp

When your baby’s chest is constricting, trying to force the wind up, you will hear this effort signalized by a series of short “Eh, Eh, Eh” cries. Newborn babies need to burp after a feed and also throughout the day and night because they lie flat for long periods of time. “Eh” cry is a very important one as responding to it in the proper manner  prevents your baby from crying for long periods of time. Other signs that help you recognize your baby’s need to burp are fussing during feeding or squirming while laid down.

Eairh – I need to eliminate gas

This sound is linked to the “Eh” sound: if you help your baby burp when he or she makes the “Eh” sound (by placing the baby on the stomach or by massaging the tummy), then the “Eairh” sound (which indicates the built up and movement of air and lower wind pain) will disappear taking with it potential long periods of crying that will make you and the baby feel distressed and uncomfortable. You can identify the need associated with “eairh” sound also by the tension of your baby’s body, the face grimaces or the legs pulled towards the tummy.

Heh – I feel uncomfortable

The baby up to three months old uses this sound to signalize that he or she needs a diaper change or that is feeling uncomfortable. Newborns lack the ability to regulate their body temperature and that makes them feel cold or become over heated. The expelling of air will help you identify the “H” from the sound “Heh” and separate it from other sounds the baby makes.

If your baby has cold hands or feet, if he or she is shivering or has a sweaty head or if the baby stops feeding, it’s time to check what is the problem and find solutions.

 dunstan baby language

  • How to decipher the newborn cries

Deciphering your newborn cries needs some practice, since the babies are slightly different than grown-ups. By actively listening to your baby’s cries, you will start to understand what he or she is trying to tell you. Each sound the baby is making is different and has a special meaning. In the first week after the baby is born, the parents will need to focus on learning the top 3 sounds, which signalize hunger, fatigue and need to burp. Once the parents manage to identify quick and correct these 3 words, they can move to the other 2 words (in the second week).

New parents can use “Baby Notes” as a journal in which they can write about the baby’s day. For example, this journal can contain, at first, notes about the baby’s feed to sleep cycle. Once you get to know better your baby, you will manage to write also about his or her crying periods and crying sounds and activities

By using Baby Notes, you will be able to find solutions that will make your baby feel comfortable at all time.

 

  • Basic elements of baby language

The newborn language consists mainly of crying, with a peak during 6 to 8 weeks old. In the first months, the way your baby responds to the changes in her or his routine will give you an idea about the baby’s temperament. You will know you have a sensitive baby if he or she is prone to over-stimulation or if the baby startles easily.

If your baby is easy to settle or comfort, then chances are that your baby will adjust without difficulty to new situations.

In the first 3 months, aside from the sounds mentioned above, your baby’s “vocabulary” will contain also a surprising “ooh”, lots of cooing, gurgling, arms and legs waving (as an indicator of joy) and, of course, plenty of smiles. :)

12 Parenting Tips Every Mom Needs (To Know)

12 Parenting Tips Every Mom Needs (To Know)

12 Parenting Tips Every Mom Needs (To Know)

Becoming a mom is an exciting, touching and sometimes stressful experience, especially when the first child arrives. You might worry about everything, from the temperature in the baby’s room or the impact of family members’ visits to the quality of formula that you are feeding him, the shape of his head or the noise made by your neighbors when the child falls asleep.

With so much on your plate, you may risk to overlook all the magic and beauty that maternity holds and slip into a state of permanent worry that can sometimes lead to anxiety or depression.

Learning some parenting tips from people who know what they are talking about – doctors/parenting books authors and some of them, parents – may help you realize that you are actually doing a good job and that nothing is impossible when you’ re a mom.

Furthermore, parenting advice shared by other moms will enable you to look more confident towards the future and enjoy the time spent with your little one – a time filled with joy and emotions.

Here’s our list of parenting tips – we are confident you will find it useful :)

12 Parenting tips …

1. Know your baby

Spend plenty of time with your child, get to know him so you can customize your actions and responses to suit the baby’s needs. After all, according to Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., author of “Smart Parenting for Smart Kids”, each child is a unique combination of strengths and challenges. And who doesn’t like a good challenge every now and then or, in this case, for the rest of your life? :)

2. Read to your child

According to Christine Hohlbaum, mother of two children and author of the book “The Power of Slow”, reading to your baby helps her or him build imagination. Moreover, we think this is one the best opportunity to bond with your baby, whether you choose to do it during the evening or in the afternoon. Remember that your baby knows your voice since he was in the wombs and that is one element that can soothe her or him in both peaceful and difficult times.

3. Trust your instincts

As a mom you might find yourself shelled by parenting tips in your newsfeed, “kind”, yet unrequested advices from your not-yet-a-mom colleague or nightmare scenarios in forums for new moms. That is why you always have to trust your instincts: knowledge comes first, yet, as Ari Brown, M.D., author of “Baby 411” says, even if you can’t know for sure what’s wrong when your child isn’t feeling well, your gut will tell you that he or she needs to be checked out.

4. Give yourself a break

Whenever you feel overwhelmed, angry or desperate, have a break. In any of these states, you cannot respond to your child in a helpful way. According to Dr. Kennedy-Moore, you don’t have to react immediately to very little thing that happens with your child. Instead, a short break can help you think things through and clear your mind so you can act properly.

parenting advice

5. Act silly

Despite all the effort implied by being a mom, you cannot have a serious attitude all the time. Acting silly, laughing, making funny faces will not only strengthen the connection with your baby, but will also show her or him that grown-ups are not some frowning guys that don’t know how to have fun.

6. Answer all the “whys”

Just like Raquel D’Apice, the founder of “The Ugly Volvo” blog has discovered, this is easier said than done.

However, answering to all your child’s questions will enable his curious mind to develop and to enjoy exploring the surroundings. Moreover, your child will be confident that you are a reliable source of conversation because even if you don’t have all the answers, you are still always willing to listen.

7. Relax – they will eat when they’re hungry

Be prepared for resistance to food. Your baby will refuse lots of meals by spitting or throwing the food, but if you provide her a variety of foods and if you are patient, the baby will eat when she’ll be really hungry :)

And that’s confirmed also by Connie Diekman, R.D. from “Washington University” in St. Louis.

8. Be present

We know, it’s hard: raising a child while cleaning, cooking, ironing, doing the laundry or shopping seems at times too much to handle. But you need to find the resources to live in the present, to be present in your baby’s life. The moments that pass don’t return so you have to share them with your baby.

9. Go early to bed

Just like Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., the author of “Sleeping Through the Night” says, going to bed early will provide your baby the sleep she or he needs and will also enable you to recharge your batteries for a fresh start in the morning.

10. Find your persons

Find people you can count on when you need to breathe – people who will speak only when they are asked and who will drop everything to help you out (just like you would do for them). As Lacey Dunkin, single mom of six puts it, “love them hard and thank them often”.

11. Let your partner help

Since the two of you are in this together, allow your partner to read, bath or change the diaper of the little one. This way, the baby will bond also with his father, while you will be able to take a break and reset your engines :)

12. All you need is love

Show your child every second of every day how much you love him or her and how special he or she is. There is no such thing as “too much love” when it comes to growing a self confident, positive and happy child :)

 … and one more parenting advice

The relationship with your child is one of the most important relationships of your life. That’s not just because you gave birth to a tiny human being who will become a person, but because the connection between a mother and her child is really capable to resist through time, difficult moments or distance. And sometimes just telling your child what to do isn’t enough. Sometimes, stating your adult rules might be confusing for the small person in front of you. And this can create frustration for you as a mom.

The solution is to become your child’s teacher or, if you prefer the term, coach. This means you will need to show in detail to your child how to behave, that you will help him or her practice a certain behavior and that you will encourage the child at each step of the way by providing constructive criticism when necessary.

Becoming your child’s teacher implies also helping him or her express how he or she feels and putting yourself in your child’s shoes.

A good teacher always listens carefully and uses a confident tone of voice to calm down an upset child. You will need to use open ended questions, don’t interrupt and repeat what you heard as a confirmation that you have listened.

Make sure you provide clear and simple directions that your child will understand and have him repeat when necessary.

Explore choices of how and when your child must comply a request – it will give her or him a sense of control over own life instead of feeling like a puppet on a string.

The results of a teacher working with kids aren’t always visible immediately, so expect small, yet important steps that your child will take in embracing the changes you have designed.

In the end, the most important advice is: think about how you would like to be addressed by a teacher, what type of rules and behavior from your teacher would actually help you achieve a goal and what actions or words from a teacher’s part would discourage you. 
Apply the good, remove the bad and just trust your instincts and your child.

 

The biggest challenges of a new mom

Becoming a mom is often different than what you expect after all that reading during pregnancy,  because no matter how ready you think you are, sometimes the reality beats the movie :)

One of the biggest challenges of your new status is the lack of sleep. Even if you have a so called “quiet child”, you still need to wake up to feed him, change him, soothe, walk or sing to him or her. And since this is happening, in the first weeks, every 2 to 4 hours, it’s easy to understand how exhaustion can soon be your permanent state of mind.

In order to “survive” the lack of sleep, remind yourself every second that this also shall pass, that is something every mom goes through and that will help you evolve as a person. Putting things into perspective can really help you through this period with less stress on your hands.

 

The struggle with breastfeeding is one of the toughest you’ll ever have! The pressure to breastfeed comes from everybody – doctors, family, friends, media, other moms – and in the first weeks you may have moments when you will feel like a bad mom because you don’t seem to do it right. But actually you need to think things through. Breastfeeding doesn’t come natural! Not from the beginning! It can take hours and hours of struggle and practice until you get it right. What if you don’t get it right? Well, as Lisa Spiegel (co-director of “Soho Parenting” in New York City and co-author of “A Mother's Circle: An Intimate Dialogue on Becoming a Mother”) and Jean Kunhardt say, “the most important thing is that feedings are comfortable for you and your baby”. Or, in other words: if you're always stressed and frustrated while you're nursing, you’re not doing any good to your child or to yourself.

So if breastfeeding isn't going well after few weeks, get help from a lactation consultant or other moms who have nursed their children. If a month passes by and you are still frustrated, without any improvement after receiving help, there is no CRIME in switching to formula: your baby won’t become ill, be cursed or die just because he or she wasn’t breastfed!

Feeling fat is another challenge you might face when becoming a new mom. The illusion that just like famous movie stars you will be able to fit into your pre-birth jeans in a second after your child is born will actually disappear as soon as you realize you don’t have a nanny, a masseur or a personal trainer who can help you exercise all day long. Don’t feel discouraged! Most moms need at least one year to get into shape. But not into their “before birth” shape. As Jean Kunhardt suggests, "childbirth comes with war wounds. Suddenly, you've got varicose veins, your hips are wider, and your hair is falling out - you may even be suffering from the baby blues."

You can cope with this if you remind yourself that those extra pounds serve an important goal: they are supplies that your body uses for breastfeeding. And if you can’t exercise “like a pro”, choose small steps, such as walking with your baby in the stroller.

As for what your partner might think about your new appearance, which doesn’t want to go away after you give birth, try to give him some credit: he will want so much that you reconnect as a couple, that he might not care about the extra pounds.

These are just three of the multiple challenges you might face as a new mom. Others wait out there. If you keep your calm, be patient, listen to your body and instinct and know your child, you and your baby will be just fine.

How the first child changes your life

The things written in this article have already given you a glimpse of how a child changes your life. Everything from sleeping time to being alone for 5 minutes, changes. But the most important changes, we think, are not those related to your schedule, career plans, daily chores, budget or regaining your silhouette. The most important changes that happen when your first child arrives are the inner ones.

Examples? We’ve got some :)

"Strange as it may sound, one overpowering new feeling I had when I had my first child was, 'Wow, so this is how much my mom loves me!' My love for my own child was so visceral, it made me appreciate my own mom so much more." That’s what Keli Fisher, a new mom said, when she was asked by a magazine about the changes maternity brought her.

Another mom, JeanMarie Morrise, speaks about being offered a new perspective: “you see the world in a different way. It's much scarier and more dangerous now, yet at the same time you get to see things through the eyes of an innocent child, with wonder and amazement. A crawling caterpillar is more entertaining than Dora, a field of dandelions is not weeds - it's hundreds of wish flowers – and lemonade is the best drink ever!"

For Leanne Kaufmann Wellert, another mom, it’s a change in self-confidence: "I was surprised by how confident I've become. When I look in the mirror, I think I look more beautiful than before ever, though I know I look no different. I just feel like being a mom gives me the confidence to not care so much what other people think."

These are the testimonies of three moms which began to see and feel the world differently when they had their first child.  And they prove once again that there is nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her child to feel comfortable, healthy and happy. And while spending quality time with your child, learning with and from him and just be present by active listening are few of the most important tools to provide all that, you can get some extra help from other sources.

Some of the most delightful moments spent with your child come when you dress him or her in a funny, cute or elegant outfit, when you see her playing cheerfully, when you take him out to long walks just the two of you or when you see your child sleep peacefully with little smiles every now and then while he’s dreaming.

To bring these moments closer, you have a wide range of baby clothes and toys to choose from. Here you can find everything you might need, from cute footie sets to adorable bunny tail Christmas romper, alongside giant elephant pillow toy and singing plush elephant doll.

Have a look! Do come in! Stay for a while and buy anything you like!