Entries by Mark

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Sleep Safety for Babies & Infants (New Guidance)

Sleep Safety for Babies & Infants (New Guidance)

Sadly, SIDS and other sleep-related issues are responsible for nearly 200 infant deaths in the UK & 3,500 every year in the U.S.June 2022 has seen the release of a new set of recommendations that outline ways to reduce the likelihood of sleep-related deaths amongst babies and infants up to the age of 1. This includes, but is not limited to, deaths related to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Sadly, SIDS and other sleep-related issues are responsible for nearly 200 infant deaths in the UK each year and up to a staggering 3,500 every year in the United States. Perhaps even more surprisingly, that last number has not reduced at all in the last 30 or so years. This new set of recommendations from experts in the U.S. aims to change that and is something that all parents need to take a look at if they have a baby or infant. Let’s take a look at the new guidance …

“…simple is best: babies should always sleep in a crib or bassinet [static cradle], on their back, without soft toys, pillows, blankets or other bedding.”

Things to Avoid:

According to the new 2022 report, parents and carers of babies/infants should follow the following guidelines:

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Nature & Its Incredible Importance to Children

Nature & Its Incredible Importance to Children

Nature is incredibly beneficial to children.It’s amazing how much nature benefits children, particularly in their early years when they’re finding out about the world around them — and also learning about themselves. There have been many studies into the importance of nature, to youngsters in particular, and the studies all reach a similar conclusion — nature is incredibly important and beneficial to children. Today we’ll explore the topic and learn why children should regularly access the natural world.

Multiple studies show that nature is incredibly important and beneficial to children.

Nature’s Benefits for Children, Particularly in their Early Years

So, let’s take a look at some of the many benefits of nature to children, especially in their early years.

Time spent in nature, even for just a short time, has been shown to restore children’s cognitive abilities, improve attention spans and boost mental resilience. Studies even showed this to be the case when just a view of nature was available from the classroom. For this reason, experts have suggested that education settings will benefit children more if they are made into more ‘green’ environments in terms of there being flowers, grass and trees nearby.

Another study showed that test results from children were improved after they’d spent time in a woodland environment. Improvements were seen in both accuracy and speed of answers. That’s an amazing result, when you think about it!

Stress is also reduced on both a mental and physiological level through exposure to a natural environment. In studies …

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The Benefits of Pets to Children

The Benefits of Pets & Regular Animal Interaction to Children

Today we explore the benefits of pets and animals for children and outline animal-related initiatives that we're undertaking at the nursery/pre-school in Streatham.Sooner or later, many parents will consider the possible benefits of pets and whether their child should grow up with one. Mostly, the answer is positive because growing up with a pet can benefit children in many important ways — and really enrich their lives. However, looking after animals is a huge responsibility, not least to the animal itself, so should never be taken on lightly. Today we explore the topic and also outline a couple of animal-related initiatives that we have undertaken at our nursery/pre-school in Streatham.

“Although no pet should be the sole responsibility of a child, they can learn to take on certain responsibilities (such as feeding or refilling water bottles) with the aid of a supervising adult.” (1)

The Benefits of Pets & Regular Interactions with Animals

Children are naturally drawn to the cuteness of pets.On a simple level, pets are incredibly cute and great fun to be around. As such, most children are naturally drawn to them.

At a deeper level, animals and pets can teach children a huge amount about nature, the similar sentience of non-humans and ultimately also about themselves. Looking after and living with animals can teach children countless skills and new pieces of knowledge. It can also encourage feelings of responsibility, empathy, compassion, loyalty and happiness — indeed, a pet can be the very best friend a child or indeed adult could ever dream of having. They can be a huge source of comfort when a child needs it, for example when facing one of life’s many challenges. Pets are someone a child can confide in, knowing they can trust them to keep their secrets safe. In fact, children often form deep bonds with pets, often just as deep as they would be with a brother or sister. More often than not, pets simply become part of the family.

A pet can be the very best friend a child could ever dream of having

Familiarity with animals and closeness to pets also teaches children respect for other individuals (whether human or non-human), including recognition of the consequences of their actions towards them. It shows them how to care for others too. It can also teach them patience (e.g. when training) and even …

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20 Ways to Childproof Your Home

20 Ways to Childproof Your Home
Young children will be fully mobile and even attempting to climb in no time at all.Once babies can crawl, they’re well on their way to becoming toddlers. Then, in no time at all, they can suddenly become fully mobile, able to climb and even be out of your sight in just seconds. With this new mobility comes exploration. With exploration comes the potential for danger and even possible injury. With that in mind, we bring you 20 ways to begin childproofing your home to keep little ones safer and further from harm’s way …

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15 Ways to Manage a Fussy Eater

15 Ways to Manage a Fussy Eater
It can be frustrating when children refuse to eat particular foods.It can be frustrating when children refuse to eat particular foods, often seemingly for no apparent reason. Much of it is new to them, though, if they’ve only recently been weaned off milk. So, firstly don’t get stressed about it. Refusing certain foods initially is quite normal for the very young. Often, all that is needed is a strategy for dealing with finicky eating and a little patience. Let’s take a look, today, at measures parents or carers can take to manage children who are fussy eaters. After all, it’s imperative that they have a healthy, balanced diet.

1. Be Patient

It may take as many as 10-15 attempts before a child will accept and trust a new food, particularly if it has a taste and texture that’s new to their palette. The secret is for them to keep trying it over a few days and weeks. More often than not, they’ll eventually accept it and indeed even realise that they like it if you’ve added it to their plate multiple times over an extended period.

2. Make Allowances for an Acquired Taste

It may take as many as 10-15 attempts before a child will accept and trust a new food.Similarly, some foods are an acquired taste, i.e. one that’s initially not liked, but is later appreciated and enjoyed. Avocados have a taste that’s quite subtle and delicate, for example. Because of that, some youngsters think they are bland — but may well love their subtle flavour and texture once they’re older. That’s an acquired taste. So, again, it’s worth encouraging your child to keep trying foods even if they don’t think they like them in the beginning.

3. Change the Format

Children will refuse some foods based purely on what they look like. For whatever reason, how they look may not appeal to the child. When this happens, one easy solution is to disguise the particular food type next time around. Examples would be chopping it up smaller, mixing it in with something else or even blitzing or liquidising it to use in soup, purée or sauce. They may then not even realise that they’re eating the food they refused previously.

4. Sneaky Pairing

Sometimes you can try disguising a food.If your child loves one food but not initially another, try using food bridges. This is when you pair one food with another food that you know they already like. You can start small and gradually increase the amount of the ‘new’ food. Adding cheese to potato or pasta is one example. Adding a small garnish of finely chopped herbs, vegetables or even fruit to pasta, rice, pulses or meat is another. These may slip under the child’s radar and this will …

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20 Ways to Prepare Children for School

20 Ways to Prepare Children for School

A guide to the ways parents can help prepare under-5s for starting school in Reception Year at age 5.In a follow-up to last month’s post about transitioning under-fives to nursery or pre-school, we now outline 20 ways parents can help prepare children for starting school as they approach the age of five. We’ve broken this down into a list of 20 easy-to-action suggestions:

1. A Good Early Years Education

Our absolute topmost tip is to ensure that children attend a good nursery/pre-school well before the age of five. Study after study has shown that a good early years education gives little ones a massive head start in terms of school readiness, with long-term benefits continuing even into adulthood.

2. Help Learning at Home

Parental involvement with children's early years education has also been shown to boost achievement, morale, attitude, behaviour and social skills.Parental involvement with children’s early years education has also been shown to boost achievement, morale, attitude, behaviour and social skills enormously. These are all things that will help them to hit the ground running once they start school. Home learning is even more powerful when designed to synchronise with what children are learning at their early years setting or school (like a two-pronged approach).

3. Read With Them

Reading with children in their early years can help boost language skills by 8 months — before they're even five!Reading with children, well ahead of them beginning school, has also been shown to boost their language skills, incredibly by the equivalent of as much as 8 months before they’re even five! The key is to read with them; not just to them. Learn more about the benefits of reading with under-fives here.

4. Forewarn Them

Forewarning children that they will be starting school around the age of five is also a sensible thing to do. It should be mentioned multiple times before they reach the age of five, so children learn to expect and accept it. Just treat it as normal (which, of course, it is to you and I) and be enthusiastic about it.

5. Listen Up

Listen to any reservations your child may have about the prospect of starting school. Listening is important, so be on the look-out for …

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How to Transition Under-5s to Nursery or Pre-School

How to Transition Under-5s to Nursery or Pre-School

Attending nursery or pre-school for the first time is a massive step for little ones. There are ways you can make it plain sailing for them.Whether or not you’ve finished choosing a nursery or pre-school, you’ll need to prepare your little one in the run-up to attending. After all, going from spending all their time with parents/guardians to attending nursery or pre-school is a big step — it’s a massive change for them. In a worst case scenario, they’ll suddenly be in a new, unfamiliar place, surrounded by children and adults that they simply don’t know — and you won’t be there. However, there are a number of things that you can do to make the transition stress-free and even enjoyable for them. Today’s guide shows you exactly how to prepare your little one for nursery or pre-school.

Forewarn & Reassure Them

Well ahead of their nursery/pre-school start day, forewarn them regularly that that’s where they’ll be spending their days in the coming weeks. If you mention it reasonably often, they’ll come to accept the plan and they’ll be more mentally prepared once they start.

Explain why the change will happen too, in terms they’ll understand. For example, you could say it’s so that they can make new friends, play with exciting toys and have fun on amazing equipment you just don’t have at home.

Always be positive about it. Listen to any misgivings they may have too — and don’t let on if you have any yourself, otherwise they may pick up on those and it could worry them. Reassure them that nursery/pre-school is going to be huge fun. And, of course, answer any questions they may have, in a suitably reassuring way. Always take time to talk it over with them if they ask about it.

Help Little Ones With Independence

In the weeks or even months before their first day, toddlers and preschoolers will also benefit from becoming more independent. You can help to encourage this. For example, you could help them with …

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The Quick Guide to Tummy Time

The Quick Guide to Tummy Time

Building upper body strength in arms, shoulders, core and back will help babies in their physical development and mobility.Welcome to our quick guide to Tummy Time. One of the most important things for babies during their earliest development is to build strength, muscles, motor skills and coordination. In particular, learning to lift and safely move their heads is one of the most crucial skills at this young age. Strength and muscle coordination in their neck is therefore very important. That’s not easy when they’re newborns in their first few weeks because their head is comparatively large and heavy compared with their little bodies at that age. Building upper body strength in arms, shoulders, core and back will also greatly help them in their physical development and mobility, essentially helping them to perform and survive safely as humans. Tummy Time is a key tool in learning to accomplish all of these goals — and many more.

Tummy Time will eventually help toddlers learn to crawl.What is Tummy Time?

Tummy Time is the period in the day where a baby under twelve months, under close adult supervision*, will be placed on their tummies (the ‘prone’ position) whilst awake. It can be started right from their first week and generally can take place for 3-5 minutes, two to three times a day. The idea is for them to learn to lift and move their heads, arms and upper body, mainly in order to build strength. There are, however, several additional benefits to Tummy Time …

What are the Benefits of Tummy Time?

As well as strengthening muscles in the neck, arms, core and trunk muscles, Tummy Time has a number of additional benefits:

  • Tummy Time allows babies to better explore to gain improved sensory perception of everything in their immediate vicinity.It helps to stop the development of deformations in the skull. ‘Positional plagiocephaly’ (or ‘Flat Head Syndrome’) might otherwise occur if the baby is only positioned in a limited number of positions, i.e. mostly on its back. Bear in mind, of course, that at this young age the baby’s skull bones are far more flexible than those of an adult, so such deformations are more likely if the baby’s head is always lying in the same position.
  • Tummy Time also …
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Flexible Working Requests — Your Rights as a Parent

Flexible Working Requests — Your Rights as a Parent

Perhaps you’d rather go part-time while your child is under five.If you were a full-time employee when you had your child, perhaps you’d rather go part time while your child is under five. Or maybe you want to explore the option of flexitime with your employer. Perhaps you’d like to ask if job sharing is possible, or whether you can work only on specific days of the week. What are the rules, though? Does your employer have to offer part-time or flexible working now you’re a parent, or are they under no statutory obligation to do so? Today we take a look at the rules.

In particular, new parents may start to re-think going back to work full time once maternity* leave comes to an end. The nearer their return date gets, the more new parents begin to think about the possible complications that may follow. These may include the ability to drop off or pick up their infant in time from the nursery, or even getting home in time to see them before their bedtime. Being apart can also be a real wrench after spending perhaps every hour of their parental leave with their infant.

Example

Florence works in sales of new homes for a large house builder. She works full time on weekdays, from 9.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. The sites where she works can be anywhere from 10 minutes away to over an hour-and-a-half from her home depending upon where she’s based at any particular time of the year.

Florence goes on maternity leave, fully intending to go back full time once it comes to an end. However, when the date for returning nears, she has a change of heart. Firstly, she’ll miss her child growing up too much if she goes back full time. Secondly, this may be compounded if her employer still expects her to work miles and miles away from home. That would make pick-up from the nursery in time impossible — indeed, she would have to find someone else to pick her child up. It may even mean that she will miss her infant’s evening bedtime on working days. She’s concerned that she just won’t get to see her child much and will miss out on a big part of their early childhood if her working pattern isn’t changed.

Florence decides to ask to go back part-time (3 days per week) and makes contact with her employer to make the request.

Considerations when making a Flexible Working Request

The rules state that employees can only make ONE request for a change to their contracted hours/days per year. This must be in writing and is called a ‘Flexible Working Request’. So Florence’s request will need to …

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Quick Guide to Milk for Babies & Infants

Quick Guide to Milk - for Babies & Infants

As promised in our last post, we next take look at the many types of milk for babies and infants in the UK. There really are a myriad of options, so this guide should prove useful and help make sense of the choices available.

Breast Milk

Breast milk really is nature’s perfect food for babies, however there are many reasons why formula milk may be preferred.Our “Benefits of Breastfeeding” post described in great detail how breast milk really is nature’s perfect food for babies. It’s tailored to the needs of the baby and even adapts as the baby grows. As well as essential vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins, it also passes antibodies, hormones and polyunsaturated fatty acids to the baby. All these things are incredibly important to the growing infant and many are simply not possible with formula milk and alternatives to breast milk. That said, there are many reasons why parents may switch to other alternatives and that’s where today’s guide should prove most useful.

Formula Milk

There is a confusingly large variety of formula milks on the market.The variety of formula milks is surprisingly large, not helped by the fact that different brands call some of them by different names. Some products and names also seem to have been developed in order to cover small niches, many of which are actually already adequately covered by larger, existing product lines (‘Toddler Milk’ and ‘Growing-Up Milk’ are two examples cited by the NHS). Then add in the fact that many are sold as liquid and also as powder that needs to be made up. The choice can be overwhelming, which is where the following guide can help …