4 Myths about babies sleeping

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Myth 1:  Later to bed = Baby sleeps later in the morning

Sleeping in—it’s wishful thinking for many parents.  Actually, the thought that babies will sleep later if put to bed later is a common myth.  Babies sleep better, longer, and cry less if they are put to bed early in the evening. Babies who go to sleep late in the evening are often “over tired”, even though they seem to have energy.

Look for your baby’s “sleep signals” that show when she is tired.  Seize the moment before the “sleepy window” has passed. The first signs of tiredness—eye rubbing, yawning, slowing down—should signal a transition to the bedtime routine. This may occur as early as 6:00 or 7:00 pm for babies. 

Myth 2:  Babies should sleep through the night

Many parents dream of nothing more than getting their baby to sleep through the night.  Most babies have the capacity to make it 8 hours or more without a feeding when they are about 4 months and at least 16 pounds.  If babies at this age and stage are still waking up in the middle of the night, the problem is usually not the waking up…it’s the getting back to sleep.

Most babies (and adults) wake up one or more times during the night.  As adults, we usually just roll over and go back to sleep.  Babies typically wake 2 to 4 times a night.  But while some babies cry briefly and then soothe themselves back to sleep, others don’t.  They have not yet learned how to get themselves back to sleep, so they cry out for help.

The key is helping your baby learn how to get herself to sleep.  Creating a soothing routine of lullabies, books, and rocking before bedtime is very important.  Then put your baby down in her crib while she’s still awake.  This gives her the chance to learn what it feels like to fall asleep on her own.

If your child is over one year of age, consider offering him a “lovey” (stuffed animal or special blanket).  Babies will often comfort themselves with these objects, which helps them fall asleep.  You may also hear your baby singing or talking to herself before drifting off to sleep.  These are all ways babies have of putting themselves to sleep.  

Sleep Myth 3:  “Crying It Out” is bad for baby

Crying is a common and (understandable!) response to saying good-bye to a loved parent at bedtime.  However, learning to fall asleep on one’s own is an important skill that you can help your baby learn when she is old enough—at about 4 months.

Most experts and research agree that letting a baby or toddler cry as they go to sleep will not have any long-term damaging effects. A child who is well-loved, nurtured, and responded to during the day will not be hurt by fussing a bit before bed in the evening.  And the good news is that the crying at bedtime will probably only go on for a few days before your baby adapts and begins to learn how to put herself to sleep.

But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy choice for parents.  Many parenting decisions, and especially this one, involve understanding temperament—not only your baby’s, but your own as well.  If letting your baby cry herself to sleep is too emotionally painful for you, there are other options.  For example, you can go back to check on her every 10 minutes (but without rocking or nursing her).  Or, you can decide on a certain length of crying that you are willing to put up with (say 15 minutes) and if the crying goes beyond that, you will go in to comfort the baby.   

Sleep Myth 4:  Babies on solid foods sleep longer 

Many parents have heard that starting solids early (before 4-6 months) or adding cereal to their baby’s bottle will help their child sleep through the night. This is a myth. There is no research to support it, and in fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages feeding babies solid foods before four months of age. This is due to their immature digestive systems and their lack of oral-motor skills. Some studies even indicate that early introduction of solids can trigger food allergies.

It is normal and expected that babies younger than 4 months will wake during the night.  Beginning at about 4 months, you can start helping your baby learn to sleep though the night.  (See above on how to teach your baby to fall asleep on his own.)

Until then, your young infant will be plenty full on a liquid (breastmilk or formula) diet, without using solids.  Make the baby’s last feeding part of his bedtime routine.  And try to put your baby down while he is still awake, but drowsy.  

THE IMPORTANCE OF TOUCH FOR INFANTS

Touch is the foundation for babies’ survival 

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It is how they feel loved, learn, and communicate. Touch is stimulating, relaxing, gives relief and nurtures bonding and attachment. Touch is the foundation for early learning and brain development. Touch is how babies gain body awareness, learn the world around them and establish the foundation for reading, language, math, and science. These learning pathways are wiring during the first two years of life. During these early years, it is important to provide nurturing, loving and stimulating touch activities for babies. When we talk about touch we are talking about how we respond to stimulation of the skin. When a baby touches an object, four different pathways to the brain are stimulated. The baby feels the texture of the object, the temperature, the pleasure of it (comfortable or painful), and the movement or proprioception which involves the muscles and joints sending information to the brain. Therefore the early development of the nervous system and brain are connected to the stimulation of the skin. The results of touch can be seen when we look at babies who have been raised in orphanages of India and Romania. Those in India who have received an abundance of touch though they lack food, thrive while orphans in Romania who have received food but very little human contact fail-to-thrive or suffer from a range of neurological disorders.

Benefits of Touch

In primitive countries mothers carry their babies close to their bare skin. The result is more affection is lavished on the baby (hugs, kisses, stroking). The baby has increased language skills as well as a higher IQ. The four pathways mentioned above are stimulated when in contact with the parent.

The touch between parent and baby helps to form a secure bond and attachment. She feels that her needs will be met which allows her energy goes toward growth, her food absorbs better, she has a stronger immune system, she may sleep better and longer. Touch can relief discomfort of gas and/or colic and can reduce pain levels. With nurturing touch, a baby feels comfortable in his body, learns appropriate touch, and gains self-confidence.

Parent-Child Play – A great opportunity

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1. Majority of the development of a child’s brain happens in the first 5 yrs of life, out of which 0-3 yrs is the fastest growth period.

2. In addition to the child’s natural growth which is driven by genes or nature, the quality of stimulation and experiences of the child in these first few years can make a significant difference to the child’s growth and development.

3. A parent playing with his child is a key source of stimulation for the child, and this precious parent-child play cannot be substituted or compensated by a family member, teacher, nanny or any other adult playing with the child.

4. Benefits of Parent-Child play: a. Its a great way to enjoy your child: have fun together, share laughs & happiness

b. Builds trust and understanding between parent & child, strengthening the bond

c. Parent’s company makes the child feel safe & confident, enhancing Exploration

d. Parents get to know their child’s interests, learning style & development stages, helping them understand and participate better in their child’s development.

e. Its the leading source for Experiences that a child can have in the early years, making it the most powerful tool to influence the child’s early development.

5. All Parent-Child Play is NOT equal and differ in quality & end benefit achieved. Gymboree is a tool for parents to make their personal play time with their child more stimulating and productive, both in a Gymboree class as well as at home.

Creativity, Confidence, Friendship – It all starts at GymboreeAll Parent-Child play is NOT equal How Gymboree helps you make your play time with your child more productive

1. Some play environments are more safe, hygienic and stimulating than others. They’re better at catching the child’s interest and making the child more comfortable & confident to try new things, enhancing the child’s exploration.

o If a child falls down on the ground and hurts himself while experimenting on the play equipment in a park/school/home, he might hesitate a little in attempting a new physical challenge. At Gymboree we use a cushioned floor and unique play equipment made to the highest safety standard using foam & wood, reducing the chances of injury, This makes the child feel safe & confident to run, jump, slide etc, promoting physical exploration.

o Playground equipment at a park/school could spread infections from one child to another. At Gymboree disinfectant cleaning & sanitization is done every day to maintain the highest hygiene standards, reducing probability of transmission.

o Playground equipment is usually similar everywhere – parks, schools etc – and once installed its configuration is usually not changeable. Gymboree equipment on the other hand is unique/patented and something a child can experience only at a Gymboree Centre worldwide. It is bright & cheerful, and yet not a sensory overload for a young child. Its layout & configuration changes regularly, keeping it new, interesting and stimulating for the child.

2. Some play activities are more enjoyable than others – more fun & laughter.

o Sliding & Jumping might interest the child more than playing with a musical toy. o At Gymboree we facilitate a wide variety of fun play activities and therefore

there is a good chance that one or more of these catch the child’s interest.

3. Some play approaches are more interactive, where parents truly enter their child’s world of play and imagination. Such play is more helpful in building trust and understanding, and better at strengthening the parent-child bond.

For example a parent and child could play about pets in different ways:

o A parent might read out a doggie story for his child showing dog pictures, maybe use a dog toy to add excitement, and shout ‘whoff-whoff’.

o At Gymboree on the other hand the parent becomes an integral part of the play, pretending to be a dog along with his child. The parent moves on all fours and interacts with his child as a dog; getting fed and petted by his child.

Creativity, Confidence, Friendship – It all starts at Gymboree

4. Some play can be facilitated to be more experiential for the child than others, either by providing a wider range of experiences or by facilitating a greater depth of the experience, enabling better conceptual understanding.

For example the ‘dog-retriever’ concept can be explained in different ways:

o Using the doggie story the parent might read out that the ‘dog runs across the field to retrieve the ball’ showing pictures of the dog with the ball in his mouth.

o At Gymboree on the other hand the child will pretend to be a dog, move on all fours, and run & fetch the ball himself. This fun ‘fetching’ experience provides the child a better understanding of dogs being retrievers.

5. Some play activities are developmentally more appropriate than others. They’re more in sync with the age and growth milestones of a child, thereby contributing more to the child’s development.

o A parent could try to pretend play as dogs with his 1 year old at home, or encourage him in trying to climb the monkey bars at a park.

o At Gymboree encouragement is provided for those cognitive skills that are more developmentally appropriate for the child at his age. Pretend play is initiated only after the child is 22 months old, because it is only then that symbolic thinking ability develops in the brain. Understanding cause & effect and the process of communication are the type of cognitive skills that are encouraged for a 1 yr old.

o At Gymboree encouragement is provided on those physical skills that are more developmentally appropriate for the child at his age. Ramps, Steps, Tunnels are used to encourage 1 yr olds to crawl/climb since their upper body strength & overall gross motor growth is limited to that extent. The challenge of climbing/hanging on bars is introduced later, synchronized with the child’s muscular growth and other milestones of physical development.

6. Some play can address Social-Emotional development better than others.

o A child playing with the parent on a one-to-one basis at home is important for the overall social-emotional development of the child.

o At Gymboree also the child plays with his parent, but does so while interacting with and observing his peers play with their parents, in a group. This unique social setting, coupled with facilitation of a child’s individuality & self-expression while experiencing diversity of thought & interest, is what adds value to the child’s curiosity, confidence, relatedness and other social-emotional skills.

Creativity, Confidence, Friendship – It all starts at Gymboree

Did You Know: About The Physical Benefits of Art

Parents and educators alike know that if you want to keep a child, especially a young child busy, its best to give them an activity associated with arts and crafts.

But while keeping a child absorbed is also a benefit or a by-product of art and craft activities, the bigger benefits aren’t something that most people are aware of.

Let’s find out more about them.

Little kids usually seem to be mushing up objects they play with but they are actually using a gamut of actions and strengthening their muscles while they knead, pinch, mold,roll, squeeze and twist.  Read more about activities that aid in fine motor movements here.

Fine Motor Skills involve the development of the small muscles in the fingers and hand. Between the ages of three and five, children show rapid development of these muscles. For example, at four a child typically draws a person as a head and legs, can copy simple drawings such as a circle or cross, and can cut a straight line with scissors. By five, a child can draw a six part person, develop a tripod pencil grip, copy more complex drawings such as squares and triangles, and cut on a curved or jagged line.

If your child is showing weak fine motor skills, there are many things you can do at home to help their development. Let them practice holding and writing with golf or small pencils. Have them practice using crayons within the lines, drawing pictures, cutting out objects, completing dot to dot activities, matching pictures, using glue bottles and glue sticks in arts and crafts, tracing objects, finger painting or painting with a paintbrush.

Gross Motor Skills involve the movements of the large muscle groups in the body. The muscle groups are involved in jumping, running, hopping, skipping, catching, and eye-hand coordination. Children must develop gross motor skills before fine motor skills are mastered. Gross motor skills begin developing at birth and show rapid development until age 6 or 7. By age four, most children can stand on one foot for five seconds, jump with two feet, run with arm and leg coordination, and go up and down steps one at a time. By five, typically children can move up and down steps smoothly, balance on one foot for ten seconds, balance on tiptoes, walk backwards, attempt roller skates and jump roping, hear rhythm in music, and echo simple clapping patterns.

If you’ve noticed your child has weak Gross Motor Skills, problems with muscle tone, joints, foot bones or balance could be the problem. Exercises that increase your child’s flexibility, balance, and posture can help. Practice catching and throwing a ball with your child, walking and running together, balancing on one foot at a time, climbing on play structures, hopping, skipping, and playing structured ball games together will all help their gross motor development. Provide frequent breaks when your child gets tired and keep the activities fun!

Let’s find out how Art impacts the brain-

Professor Elliot Eisner of Stanford University said at the convention of the National Arts Education Association, “In the arts, imagination is the primary virtue.” Art encourages the brain to visualize and interpret things it cannot see, touch, feel, hear, or taste. This promotes creative, inventive thought as well as critical thinking skills.

What else do children gain from the arts?

  • Art offers children an important outlet for emotional expression and the assurance that their feelings are valuable.
  • Art contributes to cultural as well as individual identity, connecting children to their roots while allowing them to discover their own talents and interests.
  • Art provides a path to dialogue, a way to share and compare ideas.

From the young painter concentrating intently on her brushstrokes to the dancer learning to move with grace and agility, the arts promote growth in nearly all areas of development.
Most research confirms that young children learn best through experimentation, exploration, and multisensory activities. Art encourages all of these things, so there is no logical argument against placing a strong emphasis on arts in the preschool curriculum.

Excerpts taken from articles- http://www.cceionline.edu/newsletters/March_10.html#LETTER.BLOCK3

Gymboree Play & Music, the pioneer in Early Childhood Development has structured it’s Art classes along the same lines and the differences in the children is fantastic! While enjoying smearing of paint and sculpting objects out of modelling clay, their brains are growing by leaps and bounds and new concepts are getting formed.

Bring your child to Gymboree and watch them blossom into a well-rounded individual.

Do You Know: About Behavior Modification?

Parents don’t necessarily want their children to be angelic but they want their children to behave in a manner acceptable to society overall.

That is not to say that occasional tantrums will bring down the wrath of Gods on the kids but for children more prone to be willful and less inclined towards doing what they are told, a bit of behavior modification might be a good way to find out what your child responds to and give you multiple options for dealing with difficult behavior.

Let’s first understand what it is- Behavior modification is one of the five main types of child discipline. It’s based on an underlying principle that guides a lot of discipline strategies.

It’s based on B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning concept. It’s a fairly straightforward process that uses a behaviorist approach to explain the science behind behavior change. Although it was based on research with lab rats, it’s definitely applicable to humans as well.

Read more here.

How Is Parenting Funny

Your kids always have a way of surprising you. Always. And as frustrating as their methods might be at times, it sometimes brings a grudging smile to your lips.

Let’s see how they tweak our funny bone even when what they do makes our blood boil-

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One surefire way to give kids a good outlet for their creativity and expression is to give them access to programs and props which don’t curtail their personality and also give them a fairly large canvass to play around in.

Gymboree Play & Music has a very comprehensive Art program which don’t force kids to color within the lines and also exposes them to artistic methods which come naturally to them at a particular age.

For eg: kids like to pound on things when they haven’t found too many activities which entail fine motor movements. Giving them molding clay helps them fine tune their pincer movements, grasping movements and also allows them to manipulate the clay in a manner that comes to inherently to them.

Take your child to a Gymboree art class and see their creativity flow out and help them channelize their expression in an appropriate manner.

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