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.”

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

Things to Avoid:

Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, opioids and the taking of illicit drugs during and after pregnancy.
Avoid allowing infants to sleep on their side and never let them sleep face-down. Some parents may have concerns about their child choking when placed (rightly) on their backs when sleeping, particularly if they suffer from gastroesophageal reflux (GER). However, the latest guidance explains how the child’s anatomy protects against choking and this is best explained in a short video.
Avoid sharing your bed with a baby or infant. Statistically, infants are at significantly greater risk of SIDS or injury in a shared bed. The AAP, authors of the new guidance, even go as far as saying that they do not support the practice under any circumstances.
Co-bedding (bed sharing) by twins, triplets, etc. is not recommended and the new guidance says that any perceived benefit of siblings co-bedding is simply outweighed by the risks.
Avoid the use of crib ‘bumpers’ because infants can roll against these, get into breathing difficulties and even die from lack of oxygen (as has sadly happened).

“Loungers and pillow-like products are not safe for infant sleep, due to the risk of suffocation,” (CPSC)

For exactly the same reason, avoid the use of blankets and any kind of pillow, including those not intended for sleep. Indeed, some ‘Boppy’ pillows and ‘loungers’ have been recalled after being linked to the death of several infants, according to USA Today(∞). The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has also issued warnings about Podster, Podster Plush, Bummzie, and Podster Playtime infant loungers.(∞)
In regard to soft bedding, avoid putting weighted blankets, sleepers, swaddles or anything else that’s weighted in or near to a sleeping infant.
Avoid the use of inclined ‘sleepers’ and rockers for sleeping infants — or anything that puts the infant into an inclined or scrunched-up position. An incline may cause the child to roll and then get into breathing difficulties. That could potentially prove fatal due to suffocation. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and latest guidance advises that you should never allow a baby to sleep on an incline of more than 10 degrees.

“Keep soft objects, such as pillows, pillow-like toys, quilts, comforters, mattress toppers, fur-like materials, and loose bedding, such as blankets and non-fitted sheets, away from the infant’s sleep area to reduce the risk of SIDS, suffocation, entrapment/wedging, and strangulation.”

Also avoid allowing infants to sleep routinely in car seats, strollers, infant carriers or slings and similar and certainly never leave them unattended in them.
The new guidance also states that couches and armchairs are particularly dangerous places for infants to sleep, so should be avoided. Data suggests that the risks to infants are anywhere from 22 to 67 times greater when they’re allowed to play or sleep in such places.
Avoid putting hats on your infant indoors as it could cause overheating. Exceptions, however, include possible use during the first few hours of life (under close supervision) or if deemed necessary by medical professionals, e.g. for new born intensive care.
The new guidance also suggests that parents should not rely on heart rate and pulse oximetry monitors as marketed to consumers. These, they say, may not meet the same standards as their professional, medical counterparts. Moreover, possible complacency stemming from use of such monitors in place of following the other proactive guidelines may ironically — and potentially tragically — turn out to be more detrimental to their infant’s wellbeing.

Things to Do:

Ensure the baby/infant sleeps on a flat, firm, non-inclined surface, lying in the ‘supine’ position (on their backs). Sleeping flat, on their backs allows optimum intake of oxygen and is also the best sleeping position for development of spine and hips. A completely flat surface also makes it less easy for a child to raise/flex their trunk and lift their head, which may otherwise make it easier for them to roll onto their side or back, each of which would represent a higher risk to their wellbeing.
Ensure bedside sleepers, cribs, bassinets (static cribs) and suchlike are suitably sized and adhere to your country’s safety guidelines. They should also have a tightly fitting crib mattress (so the baby cannot get trapped in a gap), covered by a secure, fitted sheet with no other bedding or objects around.
Instead of using quilts, swaddles, sheets or blankets to keep your baby or infant warm when sleeping (such things are potentially dangerous to them), dress them in appropriate clothing layers when sleeping or use ‘wearable blankets’ that fit in place around their bodies — but which, critically, cannot rise over their heads/faces or otherwise entrap or strangle them.
The new guidance also recommends that infants sleep in the same room as parents, on a separate (flat) surface that’s designed for infants, close to their bed. This should be for a minimum of 6 months ideally and evidence suggests that this alone could reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%.
Offering the baby/infant a pacifier encourages the tongue to move to a forward position, which reduces obstruction in breathing. Pacifiers also encourage babies to remain sleeping on their backs. It is indeed a measure that’s associated with reduced instance of SIDS, although the new guidance recommends that pacifiers are not offered until breastfeeding has been “firmly established”.
Where possible, human breast milk is recommended in preference to formula and is indeed associated with lower rates of SIDS. Furthermore, even better protection is achieved when infants are breast fed for a longer term. The new guidance recommends feeding human milk exclusively for the first 6 months when possible.
Other common sense precautions should be made, such as ensuring that there are no other hazards near the sleeping infant, for example, pull cords, window blind cords, electric wires, etc.
Regular ‘tummy time’ is also recommended each day to help babies/infants develop stronger upper bodies and enhance motor skills. These will be useful to the infant if they do manage to turn themselves over or onto their sides etc. Learn more about the benefits of tummy time and how much infants require here.

Tummy Time is just one way to help infants stay stronger and safer, even when it comes to sleep.PLEASE NOTE: we have summarised key points from the new guidance in good faith but advise parents/carers of babies and infants to do their own research. More information and greater detail can be read in the full AAP publication here. If you have any concerns about your child’s sleep, health or wellbeing, please seek the advice of a doctor or health professional. You can also explore the importance of sleep for babies, toddlers and preschoolers in our guide, here.

Looking for the Best Nursery or Pre-school in Streatham, Tooting or Balham?

Little Cedars Nursery and pre-school offers the highest quality childcare. Based in Streatham, it’s also convenient for weekday childcare near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood.

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Are you looking for the best childcare nursery or pre-school in Streatham, close to Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common or Furzedown? Little Cedars offers a wonderful childcare service in Streatham and is also conveniently near to Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. To arrange a tour of the setting, to apply for a nursery place, or simply to ask any questions, please get in touch and we’ll be delighted to help:

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, 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.

1. Safety Gates

Safety gates are a great way to keep your child confined to a safe, controlled area, particularly near stairs.Safety gates, strategically placed around the home, are a great way to keep your little one confined to a safer, controlled area. There are lots of different types available, whether new or second-hand, but make sure they’re made to UK safety standards. Some are suitable for doorways and others for stairs. Using safety gates to keep young children away from stairs, kitchens and other hazardous places really is a no-brainer and a great place to start with your childproofing exercise.

2. Clear Glass Safety

Clear floor-to-ceiling glass is also a hazard once children are mobile.Clear floor-to-ceiling glass is also a hazard once children are mobile. Therefore such glass, whether part of a window, patio door, glass partition or conservatory should ideally not be clear all the way down. Otherwise, an unsuspecting child — or even adult — could find themselves running straight through what they thought was an opening. An easy way to ensure glass can be seen as a barrier is to use strategically placed stickers dotted around on the glass. These could be fun and attractive, for example little flower or butterfly stickers. Alternatively, you can even buy modern-looking ‘frosting’ strips that, when applied in one or more horizontal stripes or shapes at an appropriate height, will make clear glass more visible to you and your child. Guards are, of course, another possible temporary option.

3. Cupboard Security

Even plants can be a hazard to young children.Whether they’re in the kitchen, on the landing, under the stairs or elsewhere, cupboards can represent a number of possible hazards to children. Fingers can be hurt if shut in the doors or near the hinges and the cupboards themselves can contain any number of dangerous things. Therefore, it’s wise to obtain some childproof locks, latches or catches for cupboard doors that you don’t want your child to be able to open. These are often simple, easy to affix (and remove when children are older) and can be inexpensive if you shop around.

4. Window & Door Security

Door and window security is essential around young children.Similarly, ensure that entrance/exit doors throughout your home are secure where they need to be. Front doors, doors to gardens, balconies and patios all need to be particularly well secured from access by young children, whether through locks, latches or specialist childproofing mechanisms (there are lots available on the market). Similarly, windows need to be secure and that’s never more true than when there’s a nasty drop the other side.

5. Door Stops & Wedges

Door stops and door wedges are a simple and inexpensive way to make doors safer to little ones. With children’s fingers small enough to get into hinges, under doors or to be potentially shut in them when they close, door stops, door wedges and ‘finger guards’ are a complete no-brainer and are quick and easy to affix.

6. Hazardous Machines & Gizmos

Young children should not be able to access ovens, hobs, cookers or any other dangerously hot appliance.Everything with a motor or moving parts is a potential hazard to small children. The obvious items to keep well beyond their reach are tools like drills and saws along with household appliances like vacuums, food mixers and coffee-makers. However, larger things like washing machines, tumble driers, dishwashers and any appliance with a door that they could climb into are also potentially very dangerous for little ones. It may even take a combination of precautions to keep children safe from such hazards.

7. Hazardous Products

Children should not be able to access the contents of cupboards containing hazardous products like dishwasher pods, bleach, etc.Another reason to keep little ones out of cupboards and certain areas of the home is to keep them safe from hazardous products. Some things will be poisonous and others may be corrosive. Dishwasher and laundry pods need to be stored well out of children’s reach as do medicines, cleaning products and DIY items like paint, solvents and glues. Any of these could prove fatal if they get into little hands. Remember, too, that children learn to climb, so even cupboards high up need to be secured.

8. Smoke Alarms

Countless lives are saved each year simply by placing smoke detectors/alarms around the home.Smoke alarms suitably located around the home are one of the most basic precautions any parent or carer can make. Countless lives are saved each year due to smoke alarms. Sadly, though, many are also lost due to them not being present or due to batteries having expired. So, ensure that smoke alarms are ideally in every room as well as being in hallways, stairwells and so on. Also test them regularly to ensure batteries are in good, working order.

9. Carbon Monoxide Alarms

It’s the same with carbon monoxide alarms although you usually need less of them (it’s best to follow instructions when you’ve purchased them). Carbon monoxide is a silent killer as it can’t be seen or smelt. Detectors are therefore wise in homes that have a heater or heating system, even if it’s in an adjoining garage or property (gas can travel). Remember to check and test batteries too, of course.

10. Electric Point ‘Protector’ Inserts — Good or Bad?

Electrical shocks are nasty, even when a household has circuit-breakers (as indeed they should). Therefore, many might assume that plastic socket ‘blanking’ inserts would be a wise addition to electrical outlets around the home, particularly as they are often located within easy reach of little fingers. Nowadays in the UK, however, power socket blanking inserts have become controversial and indeed the Department of Health has condemned their use due to safety concerns. More information about the dangers of socket inserts can be read in the Department of Health’s safety alert here. Ofsted, meanwhile, does not offer any specific guidance on the topic. Children also need to be educated generally about electrical hazards, of course, keeping away from power points, avoiding yanking out plugs, keeping water away from power sources and so on.

11. Wire Tidiness

It's wise to keep electrical wire cords tidy and out of reach of little ones.For similar reasons, it’s also wise to keep electrical wire cords tidy and out of reach of little ones. If they were to pull a kettle lead or trip over an electric iron lead, for example, the potential outcomes do not bear thinking about. Cords on telephones and electrical appliances are also choking hazards, of course. So, keep them out of harm’s way i.e. well out of grabbing and tripping distance.

12. Pull Cord Precautions

Dangling pull-cords have, regrettably, been the cause of several child deaths around the world.Dangling pull-cords on window blinds have, regrettably, been the cause of several deaths around the world. If they’re dangling down, small children could get these wrapped around their necks and potentially strangle themselves. Any toggle on the end of the cords can also be a choking hazard. So, if you have any of these in your home, ensure they are tied safely out of reach, ideally using the safety fitments that often come with new blinds, or are available inexpensively. The same kind of approach may also be needed in rooms where the electrical light, shower or extractor switch comes in a pull-cord form.

13. Heated Appliances

Heat sources are a terrible hazard for children and adults alike.Heat sources are a terrible hazard for children and adults alike. However, little ones will seldom realise the hazards, so parents and guardians need to ensure that all heat sources are kept well out of children’s reach. Examples include hair straighteners, irons, kettles, sandwich makers, pots and pans that have been on the cooker, and so on. With regard to cookers, hobs, grills, and ovens, it’s the children that need to be kept away from them, of course. Even a switched-off oven can still have a door that’s retained enough heat to burn little hands. A combination of several of the precautions outlined in this page may therefore help to make complete safety feasible in the kitchen and anywhere there are appliances that heat up.

14. Home Heating

Radiators, heaters and, of course, fires, stoves and any other heat source are terribly dangerous for children.Radiators, heaters and, of course, fires, stoves and any other heat source in fireplaces are terribly dangerous things for children. Therefore radiator covers, fire guards, permanent vigilance and a good dose of common sense should enable parents and carers to keep children well away from such heat sources.

15. Sharp Objects

Similarly, supervising adults must ensure that all sharp objects are well out of reach of little hands. Supervising adults must ensure that all sharp objects are well out of reach of little hands.Scissors, knives, razors, needles, hand tools like saws and screwdrivers must be locked well away and never left lying around. Even pens and pencils are sharp and dangerous around eyes, when you think about it. So, it’s imperative that parents/guardians are vigilant and supervise at all times when it comes to anything sharp or pointed.

16. Sharp Corners

Corners and edges of furniture or household equipment can be nasty things for children to bang themselves against, particularly corners of things like stone coffee tables or timber units. You wouldn’t want to fall and bang your head against a corner like that! Luckily, it’s possible to purchase ‘bumper covers’ (a.k.a. ‘bumpers’) that can pad hard edges and corners such as these. Then, if the worst happens, at least the child is protected.Anything that's small enough to potentially block a child's airway should be tidied away, out of reach. Vigilance will still be needed, however, as bumpers can only go so far.

17. Choking Hazards

Choking on small objects is, of course, a common worry for parents of the very youngest children. Anything that’s small enough to block an airway, or to make a child choke, should be tidied away to somewhere they can’t access it.

18. Tablecloths

Table cloths & table runners, if grabbed by little hands, could cause all sorts of things to crash down onto children.Table cloths and table runners may look attractive but are another hazard around children, albeit a less obvious one. They look innocuous enough, but should a child grab one end and walk or fall way, they could end up with all sorts of things crashing upon them. When you think about what goes on tables (e.g. glassware, candles, china etc.), this could potentially be disastrous. So, the best advice is to completely avoid their use around young children and certainly never to allow any edges to hang down at ‘grabbing’ height.

19. The Not-Always-So-Great Outdoors

Access to the garden or other outdoor space or environment should be firmly supervised for the youngest of children.Supervised access to the garden or other outdoor space or environment is good for even the youngest of children. However, they must never be allowed to just wander into the garden or street unaccompanied (of course). There are countless dangers outside, including poisonous plants, stranger danger, cars and many other hazards. Even in your own garden there are usually hazards, from steps, inclines and level drops to dangerous garden tools plus another type of hazard we’ll see in our last tip below. Therefore exit points in the property need to be secure (see tip #4 above) and supervised at all times around the very young.

20. Water Hazards

Garden ponds, swimming pools and hot tubs are particularly dangerous to young children.Gardens often have ponds or, if you’re lucky enough, hot tubs and even swimming pools. These are all hazards to young children. Even a puddle is a potential drowning hazard to the very young. It’s the same indoors, with baths and even basins of water being potential drowning hazards. So, once again, parents and any supervising adults need to be doing just that, i.e. supervising anywhere there is water. For different reasons, that’s even more the case around hot water, of course, and anywhere a child could potentially splash or pour water near electrics.

So, the main requirements for the safety of children are a continuous risk assessment, installing measures to reduce any risks identified, plus vigilance and supervision around young children at all times.

Little Cedars Nursery & Pre-school: an Outstanding Childcare Service in Streatham

Our Nursery is in Streatham, close to Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Are you searching for the best nurseries or pre-schools in the Streatham area? Little Cedars is a wonderful nursery/pre-school offering an outstanding weekday childcare service for babies and children under-five. Our childcare setting is also very near to Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood, so may also suit you if you live or work in any of those London locations.

If you’d like to apply for a place for your child, arrange a preliminary tour, or simply ask us a question, please get in touch. We’ll be delighted to help — please simply choose a button:

Safety Notice

The ideas above are only a starting point. Every parent, carer or guardian is advised to methodically risk assess their home and any environment their child is likely to gain access to — and to take the appropriate safety precautions for their own particular child and situation.

 

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 help with gradual acceptance.

5. Make it Attractive to the Child

Similarly, making a new food attractive to the child may help him or her accept it. This could entail using colourful foods to form attractive designs on the plate, rainbow colours, creatively shaped foods and so on.

6. Get Children to Engage with their Food

You can make the food into fun pictures, faces, etc.You could even make the food into fun pictures, all entirely made of the food you want them to eat. For example, peas could be made to represent a hill, broccoli could represent a wooded area, the yolk of a fried egg could represent the sun and so on. This approach will help children to see a fun aspect of food, and to engage more directly with it.

7. Food Themes

You could even ‘theme’ how meals look. For example, one meal could depict a scene with a rocket ready for launch (the rocket could be a carrot). Another food theme might be a treasure island, and so on.

8. Get Children Involved

Involve fussy eaters in food preparation, choosing foods, deciding how they are displayed on the plate and so on.You could even get children involved in the creativity and choices around food. With the requisite care around safety, you could involve them in food preparation, choosing foods, deciding how they are displayed on the plate and so on. This will again get them more engaged around food and make it into a fun, creative activity. Children will love that. Remember, though, that this should only be taken so far. After all, you do not want to encourage them to always ‘play’ with their food.

9. Use Fun Plates & Bowls

Plates and bowls and even cutlery that feature fun designs and characters may also help children enjoy the process of eating more. Perhaps a food they’re not yet convinced about could be used to cover the face of their favourite character. You can then encourage them to eat that food type so that they reveal the face and gradually they’ll reveal the whole scene if they eat all their food.

10. Praise Them

Praise will sometimes do wonders when it comes to little ones eating.When your child eats something that they’ve not been keen on eating before, give them positive feedback as this will encourage them. A well done here and a good job there will sometimes do wonders.

11. Send Good Signals

Similarly, sending good signals around food will help to encourage children to eat, for example, referring to a particular food as yummy or delicious. Food needs to be perceived always as a positive thing.

12. Try Home Growing Activities

Getting your child involved in growing food at home may also encourage them to try it.Getting your child involved in growing vegetables, herbs and perhaps even fruit at home may also encourage them to actually eat it. They’ll get an enormous sense of satisfaction if they grow something from seed, nurture it and finally get to eat it. It’ll also teach them new skills and about nature and where some food comes from.

13. Explain the Importance of Food

When they’re a little older and have good language skills, you could remind children why food is so important — giving them much-needed minerals and vitamins, for example, giving them energy, making them strong, ensuring their brain works efficiently and so on. This can be a powerful approach and you may even find them saying such facts back to you if you persevere.

14. Walk the Walk

It’s one thing telling children all the reasons they should eat a good, healthy, balanced meal. However, demonstrating that you are doing so is even better! So, lead by example. Ensure they are seeing that you too are eating a good mix of different foods and be a good role model. You could even educate them about each food type along the way. For example, you could point out that you’re eating potato because it’s high in starch (good for energy to power the body), or cheese because it’s high in calcium (good for bones and teeth) and so on.

15. Offer a Reward

If all else fails, offer a reward to a child who isn’t really cooperating over a particular food. For example, you could say, if you eat all your peas, we’ll go to the swings or similar.

Healthy Eating at Little Cedars Nursery

A healthy, balanced diet is important and never more so than in children's formative years.At Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham we know how finicky young children can sometimes be. So, we too occasionally employ some of the tactics described above. After all, food and a healthy, balanced diet is important and never more so than in children’s formative years. Study after study has shown this to be the case. Read our Healthy Eating Guide for Under-Fives for more details.

Our High Quality Nursery & Pre-school in Streatham

Near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.If you are looking for the best nursery or pre-school for your baby, toddler or preschooler in the Streatham area, please get in touch. We offer high quality weekday childcare for under-fives and the nursery/pre-school is also conveniently close if you are living or working in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood. Get in touch using the buttons below to apply for a place, arrange a tour of the setting or simply to ask any questions. We’ll be happy to help.

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 decreases the risk of the baby developing ‘Positional Torticollis’, which is a neck twisting problem that’s caused due to similar issues.
  • It also allows the baby to control his or her head more easily. That’s important in many ways, including being able to control what they see, to become aware of their surroundings from a safety perspective and to be able to interact with toys, objects and other individuals.
  • It may help initially to support babies with a rolled-up towel, blanket or similar.Making sense of sensory stimuli is also aided by the positive results of Tummy Time, as babies can better explore and gain improved sensory perception of everything in their immediate vicinity.
  • Tummy Time also encourages babies to use and strengthen their arms, to support their weight, to reach out for objects and so on. Such skills are all a part of improved coordination, better fine and gross motor skills and ultimately they will all help lead the infant to independent mobility as they grow older.

*A Word About Safety

Babies should only be placed onto their tummies when they’re awake and under continuous adult supervision. To avoid the risk of SIDS, babies should only sleep on their backs and never be allowed to fall asleep while on their tummies.

How to Encourage Tummy Time

Tummy Time may not come naturally to babies and indeed many babies will dislike it at first. That’s mainly because the very muscles that Tummy Time is designed to strengthen start out weak. Therefore, Tummy Time will initially be a struggle for many, if not most, and they may resist. It’s important to persevere, however. Parental encouragement is going to be required.

Try putting the baby in a prone position (on their tummy) on, say, a clean blanket or rug.Try putting the baby in a prone position (i.e. on their tummy) on, say, a clean blanket or rug. Lie down on your tummy too and face them, encouraging them to stay on their tummies by use of a game like peek-a-boo. If you can, try to get them to raise themselves onto their arms or, eventually, hands. Move yourself around a little, so they move too and strengthen their muscles. If they’re finding it too difficult initially, a rolled-up blanket underneath their chest may help to start them off. Don’t worry if at first they can only push themselves up on their arms or hands only for fleeting moments; they will gradually improve as they try more and more.

Tummy Time can also be practised in a cradle position.

You can also try the same thing with them lying on your tummy facing you, across your lap or cradled (supporting them underneath with a hand or arm), although the firmer floor option above will give them better resistance to push against, in order to build muscle strength. It’s also important to support their head when needed.

From the age of about 3 months, you can introduce toys and this will encourage them to move about more, e.g. to reach out and grab as well as change the direction they point their faces and so on. All of this will help build strength, motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

After 6 months, they should start to be able to support their weight on their arms in a raised, kind of 'press-up' position.After 6 months, they should start to be able to support their weight on their arms in a raised, kind of ‘press-up’ position. This can be encouraged with some support (and play) from you and they’ll get the hang of it with practise. Soon enough, they’ll also be able to roll sideways in either direction and get themselves back into the prone position when they want to. They’ll soon master the art of passing a toy from one hand to another at around this time. They’ll also be able to get themselves into a sitting position before they’re 9 months old, or thereabouts.

Between the ages of about 7 to 9 months old, you may well find they’ve progressed to crawling. By this time, there’s no huge need for them to continue with Tummy Time, although it’ll do no harm and will continue to build their strength, coordination and motor skills if continued.

Standing will usually come soon too, particularly if encouraged and, of course, supervised for safety purposes. Then, in the blink of an eye, the ultimate milestone will be accomplished as they begin walking and life starts a whole new chapter!

Childcare Places at Little Cedars, an Outstanding Nursery & Pre-school in Streatham

We hope our quick guide to Tummy Time is a useful reference. Of course, at Little Cedars, we also ensure that babies up to twelve months old get to benefit from Tummy Time sessions at the nursery — we know how important it is for their development.

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Little Cedars is a nursery and pre-school offering outstanding childcare services in Streatham. If you’re searching for a good nursery or pre-school near Streatham Common/Hill/Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec/Broadway/Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood, we’d make a great choice. Contact us for more information, to arrange a visit or to register your child for a place at the setting. We’re also always happy to answer any questions too …

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

Parents may want to change working hours so that timing fits in with nursery drop-off and pick-up times.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 cover all bases because she won’t get another chance for another request until another year has passed.

So, Florence’s particular application needs to include:

  • the request to reduce from five-days-a-week to just three;
  • the request, if applicable, to reduce or alter the working hours so that the timings fit better with nursery drop-off and pick-up times;
  • a request to only be sent to working locations within shorter distances, so she can still make drop-off and pick-up times for her child’s childcare.

If she misses any of these out, she’ll have to wait another year before being able to re-apply, according to the rules. This assumes her employer is sticking inflexibly to the rules, of course; kind-hearted, family-friendly employers may indeed allow more flexibility but employers are under no statutory obligation to do so.

It’s important to understand is that, while an eligible employee has a right to apply for a flexible working request and their employer is obligated to consider it, they are not obligated to accept it if it means that their business will no longer function properly.

The employee must also have been employed in the job for no less than 26 weeks (6 months) in order to be eligible to make the request, by the way. However, again, some more family-friendly employers may be more flexible even though they’re not obliged to be by law.

The Employer’s Response

The employer must consider the facts around flexible working applications carefully and fairly.The employer must give the employee who makes the Flexible Working Request a decision within 3 months unless the employee agrees to extend that time. This must be done having considered the facts carefully and fairly and without basing it on just a ‘personal’ opinion. They should also discuss the application with the applicant and, if it’s not possible to accept the specific suggestions requested, they should consider whether alternative options are possible.

Unsuccessful Applications

Employers can turn down requests outright if they feel their business will not be able to function properly if the new suggestions are put in place. Examples of reasons why an application for Flexible Working Requests may lawfully be turned down can be seen here. It is possible for the employee to appeal the decision if they feel all factors have not been considered or if the correct policies have not been properly followed. It’s also possible for them to take legal action (an employment tribunal) or to apply to the ACAS Arbitration Scheme in some circumstances (see previous link and scroll down for further information about that).

Successful Applications

If the employer approves the parent’s flexible working application, then the employee’s employment contract will usually need to be updated to reflect the new working pattern. Employers should also confirm the agreed changes in writing, including start dates, working hours, pay, location, holiday entitlement and so on.

Little Cedars Day Nursery: Good Childcare in Streatham

We hope this rough guide to Flexible Working Requests is useful and wish anyone making one the very best of luck for a successful outcome.

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.We are Little Cedars, an excellent nursery and pre-school in Streatham. We’re also very convenient for those looking for nurseries and childcare services near Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. Please contact us with any questions, to arrange a visit or to apply for a place for your child. We’ll be happy to help:

*N.B. we say maternity leave throughout this article for the sake of brevity. However, the rules also apply for those who have been on paternity leave, parental leave or even if parents haven’t been on leave at all — and simply want to alter their working days/times to better suit their young families.

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 …

Rough Guide to Raising Children as Vegetarians

Today we look at the types of foods and nutrients that are essential for children as part of a well-balanced vegetarian diet.In our last post, we asked “is a vegetarian diet safe for your children?” and, in essence, the answer was yes, so long as they get all the nutrients they need. What’s more, we discovered a huge range of benefits of vegetarianism. These included significant benefits to both health and to the planet. In today’s post, we’ll follow up by looking at the types of food groups, vitamins and minerals that are essential for children as part of a well-balanced vegetarian diet.

Infant Milk

While little ones are still drinking milk and haven’t yet moved onto solids, it’s fairly simple. Breast milk will obviously contain just about everything a baby or toddler could want, with one possible exception: Vitamin D. The NHS recommends that breast-fed infants should take a Vitamin D supplement, which is available in easy-to-administer drop form.

For those children still drinking only breastmilk or formula milk, it's straight forward.For those on dairy-based formula milk, it’s pretty much plain sailing too. Because vegetarians — as opposed to vegans — are OK eating dairy-based food, formula milk is generally fine for them. The most popular types are based on cows’ milk, although several other animal milks are also available. So long as dairy-based formula milk is high quality, given in the right quantities, consumed at the right intervals and is age appropriate for the child, it contains all the nutrients and vitamins needed. That’s without the need to give additional supplements too.

There are an incredible number of different types of formula milk, including specialist varieties and others that are not based on dairy milk at all. Formula milk is a huge topic in its own right, so we have now published our separate Quick Guide to Milk for Babies & Infants here.

The 4 Essential Food Groups After Weaning

Once they’re weaned off milk, a well-balanced diet for children will include food from all four of the main food groups. These are:

1. Dairy

It’s important that dairy products for children are all pasteurised, basically for the good of their health and wellbeing. Infants can have whole (full fat) cow’s milk mixed in with food or added during cooking, but must not use it as a drink until they’re a year old. We’ll go into much more detail in our milk guide next month. Dairy products are wonderful sources of calcium, Vitamin D and other nutrients.

2. Fruit & Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are generally full of vitamins, minerals like potassium and fibre.Fruit and vegetables are really a given because they pack so much goodness, including many vitamins, minerals like potassium and also fibre. Fresh vegetables and fruit are ideal but, failing that, frozen, tinned and even dried varieties are also OK.

3. Starch

Starchy foods provide energy by breaking down glucose as well as providing a range of nutrients like iron, calcium, folate and B vitamins. They are also another source of fibre, which is important for digestive health. Starchy foods include pasta, bread, potato, grains and cereal like oats. Wholegrain varieties are generally best for human health.

4. Protein

Protein is a little more complex for vegetarians, simply because they don’t eat the most obvious sources of it — meat, fish and seafood. However, there are lots of sources of protein, as we’ll see shortly. Protein is essential as a key building block for the body. It builds muscles, bones, hair, nails, tissues and organs as well as providing Omega-3 fatty acids, iron and amino acids. Health professionals recommend that children and adults get protein from a variety of different sources and have at least two portions of protein per day.

Sources of protein that are suitable for vegetarians include:

  • Houmous is a good source of protein but choose a smooth variety to avoid choking.Tofu, also known as bean curd, which is made from soy.
  • Lentils and pulses, including peas, beans, chickpeas, sugar snaps etc.
  • Houmous, made from chickpeas, is also therefore a good source of protein but ensure only the smoothest variety is given to infants, so as to avoid possible choking.
  • Grains contain protein, but should be served in ground form for very young infants, again so as to avoid possible choking. Examples include oats, barley, rice and quinoa. Quinoa is unique in containing all nine essential amino acids.
  • Nuts are also a great source of protein but should be served to infants in smooth ‘butter’ form to avoid choking risks. Examples include peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and walnut butter (a great source of Omega-3).
  • Seed butters are also great sources of protein.
  • Lastly, there is also a cross-over between dairy products (see above) and protein because cheese and yoghurt also contain protein.
  • For vegetarians who are OK eating eggs, these are also an excellent source of protein as well as Vitamin B12.

Please note: although great as a source of protein for adults, Quorn is not recommended as a regular meat replacement for children. While it’s great for protein, fibre and making them feel full, it’s low in fat, so will not offer sufficient energy release to children during their early years.

Special Mention: Iron

Iron is incredibly important as part of a healthy, balanced diet for children as well as adults. However, there are certain foods that block its absorption into the body. These include:

  • Tea.
  • Some whole grains and legumes i.e. those that contain ‘phytates’.
  • Dairy foods that contain ‘casein’.
  • Eggs and dairy foods containing a specific type of calcium.

In order to counteract this, firstly ensure that the child has a varied diet. In addition to this:

  • Vitamin C should be included in the meals as this binds to any phytates, which otherwise block the absorption of iron.any pulses, seeds or grains should be sprouted, cooked or soaked before consumption (as appropriate);
  • any foods that block iron absorption should be consumed separately to main meals;
  • Vitamin C should be included in the meals as this binds to any phytates, thereby neutralising their effect on iron absorption. Citrus fruits, berries and juice (diluted 1 part juice to 10 parts water) are rich in Vitamin C, as are vegetables including broccoli, spinach, greens, asparagus, tomatoes and many others.

We hope that this rough guide to bringing up children as vegetarians has been useful. If so, we recommending reading the NHS’s guidelines for bringing up a healthy child on a vegetarian or vegan diet here. It is also always wise to obtain advice from your child’s health visitor, midwife, doctor or other healthcare professional.

Vegetarian & Vegan Food at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & Balham

Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for at Little Cedars Nursery. These and any other special diets are supported fully by our in-house chef, who prepares food freshly each day as part of our healthy eating regimen at the setting. Little Cedars is one of the best Streatham nurseries and pre-schools for babies and under-fives. It’s also near Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. To register for a nursery place for your child, to arrange a visit or to ask any questions, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help:

Is a Vegetarian Diet Safe for Children?

This month is often referred to as ‘Veganuary’, which is why vegan and vegetarian food, facts and meal ideas are all over social media at the moment. Parents/carers have many different reasons for raising their children on a plant-based diet. Whether it’s for health reasons, for the protection of animals, to protect the planet, for religious reasons or simply a matter of taste, more and more people are ‘going veggie’. Raising children as vegetarians or vegans is a natural extension of that. Today, we’ll begin to take look at considerations around vegetarianism for under-fives and children in general.

Studies show that a well-balanced vegetarian diet is a healthy diet.Let’s first take a look at the benefits of vegetarianism …

The Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet

Study after study has shown that a well-balanced vegetarian diet is generally a healthy diet. That ‘well-balanced’ element is a crucial one, however, and we’ll come to that later. That said, it’s widely accepted that a vegetarian diet:

    • is good for the heart, reducing the risk of getting heart disease;
    • usually leads to lower levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL), which could otherwise cause strokes;
    • reduces the risk of developing cancer;
    • lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of developing hypertension;
    • There are a huge number of health benefits for vegetarianism.is linked to a reduction in symptoms for those with asthma;
    • promotes good bone health;
    • lowers the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes;
    • reduces the risk of chronic disease;
    • usually results in a lower body mass index compared to that of meat eaters.

Kindness to Animals

What’s more, an obvious benefit of a vegetarian diet is that it does not require the death of any animals. That benefits the animals themselves, of course, but also the planet as a whole as we’ll see below. And, of course, it’s a good lesson in kindness for children as part of nurturing their moral compass.

Protecting the Planet

“Research shows that meat and dairy products are fuelling the climate crisis, while plant-based diets — focused on fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans — help protect the planet.”
(Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

A vegetarian diet will help the planet enormously.Scientific studies conclude that switching to a vegetarian diet will help the planet enormously. That’s because significantly less greenhouse gas is produced in growing crops compared to raising livestock. What’s more, scientists believe that the necessary reduction in green house gas emissions will be achieved far more swiftly through a widespread switch to vegetarianism than through what’s currently just a gradual shift away from the burning of fossil fuels. Growing crops rather than animals also causes far less pollution in waterways and oceans and also uses significantly less water. The benefits of vegetarianism to the planet are simply enormous.

“A global shift to a plant-based diet could reduce mortality and greenhouse gases caused by food production by 10% and 70%, respectively, by 2050.”
(Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

Learn much more about the the benefits of a plant-based diet, for the health of both humans and the planet, here.

The NHS says it's OK to raise children as vegetarians or vegans so long as they get all the nutrients they need.Is a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Safe for Children?

Well, it’s good news there too. According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), it’s perfectly OK to raise children as vegetarians or vegans, “so long as they get all the nutrients they need.” What’s more, they’ll go on to reap all of those aforementioned benefits and will generally tend to live more caring, greener lifestyles as they grow older. And getting all the requisite nutrients is not at all difficult once parents or carers know what’s required.

The Importance of a Well-Balanced Diet

“Children need plenty of energy and protein to help them grow and develop. It’s also important that vegetarian and vegan children get enough iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.”
(The NHS)

In our next post, we’ll go into more detail about the types of food, drink, vitamins and minerals that need to be included in order to achieve a well-balanced vegetarian diet for under-fives. So, come back again on Monday 31 January and you’ll see that a vegetarian diet is perfectly feasible and healthy for your little one(s) when you follow a few simple guidelines.

Healthy Food at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & Balham

Our own in-house chef always caters for special diets including vegetarians and vegans, as needed. This is all part of a healthy food regime at the setting, where food is freshly prepared using only the highest quality ingredients. Food and drink are, of course, included in our standard fees. Little Cedars is an outstanding nursery and pre-school in Streatham that’s perfect for babies, toddlers and children under five. It’s also conveniently close to Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury as well as Colliers Wood. If you’d like to register a place for your child, to arrange a visit or simply have any questions, please get in touch.

Parents: Your Right to 18 Weeks of Unpaid Parental Leave

Our statutory maternity leave & pay guide from August 2021 briefly touched upon a parent’s right to unpaid parental leave. As promised, we now come back to the topic in more detail, below.

Employed parents are entitled to take up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave before their child reaches the age of 18.Your Right to Unpaid Parental Leave

It’s fair to say that many employed parents* in the UK are unaware of their right to take parental leave on an unpaid basis. In fact, employees are entitled to take up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave before their child reaches the age of 18. That’s significant time off in addition to any standard annual leave. It’s per child too.

*While we use the term “parents”, the rules apply to those with ‘parental responsibility’ over the child. This includes parents who are named on the child’s birth certificate or adoption certificate, or those who officially have, or expect to have, parental responsibility(i)  over the child. Foster parents are not eligible unless they are legally recognised as having parental responsibility e.g. via a successful UK court application.

Why Take Unpaid Parental Leave?

Parenting is an incredibly important task. However, it’s not always easy for working parents to find enough family time with their children, even at important milestones in their children’s lives. Aside from holidays and breaks, sometimes parents simply need additional time off to gain necessary time with, or for, their children. Unpaid parental leave can be useful when appraising nurseries, pre-schools, schools and further education settings.For example, there may come a time when parents need to look at nurseries, pre-schools, primary and secondary schools and, as children approach their mid teens, further education settings. Other reasons to take time off might include time for parents to visit relatives with the children, or to investigate extra-curricular activities such as sports clubs, or simply to spend quality time with their children.

The good news is that most parents who are employees in the UK are entitled to additional time off, on an unpaid basis, from their employer. Although it’s unpaid leave, it can be an absolute Godsend to busy parents, who may well appreciate the time off even if they have to go without pay during their absence. Rules apply, of course, but it’s fair to say that many parents do not make the most of this opportunity.

How Much Unpaid Leave Are Parents Entitled To?

Parents can take 18 weeks of unpaid leave per child until the child reaches the age of 18. The maximum they can take in any one year is 4 weeks (again, per child) unless their employer agrees to more. Unpaid parental leave must be taken in whole weeks rather than sporadic days. Should an employee only work for, say, 4 days per week, then their week off is essentially the same as that. Should their working pattern be more random, then an average of how many days they work per week is computed from working times over the whole year.

What if Parents Change Jobs?

Taking unpaid leave may be particularly useful when maternity or paternity leave comes to an end.It doesn’t really matter if you change jobs. The rules around unpaid parental leave apply in relation to your child(ren); not your employer. So, if you change jobs and have already used up 9 weeks of unpaid leave for one child during your previous job, then you can still use another 9 weeks, so long as it’s taken before your child reaches the age of 18.

What Other Rules Apply Around Eligibility?

In addition to the rules discussed above, an eligible parent must have been employed by their current employer for at least one year before making a claim. They must be an employee (not a contractor/sub-contractor, agency worker, ‘worker’ or self-employed).

Employers have a right to ask to see a birth certificate or other proof showing parental responsibility over the child in question. And, of course, the child for whom the claim is being made must be under 18.

Claiming Unpaid Parental Leave

Just 3 weeks' notice must be given to the employer, but they can postpone it for up to six months if there is good reason to do so.To claim a period of unpaid parental leave, just 21 days (3 weeks) of notice must be given to the employer and this must state the start and finish dates. It can be confirmed verbally although employers may request the notice in writing.

Given that 3 weeks’ notice is not long in the business world, an employer has the right to request a postponement of the unpaid parental leave if there is a fair reason for doing so. An example would be where such leave would cause significant disruption to the smooth running of the business — perhaps suitable cover cannot be arranged in time. However, in such a scenario, the employer must confirm in writing, within a week of the original request, why the leave is being denied. They must also suggest a new date for it to begin. This must be no later than 6 months after the original date and must be for the same number of weeks originally requested.

Make the Most of Your Parental Leave Allowance

So, all in all, it’s pretty straight forward to get extra leave off work to spend with, or for, your children. Although this particular type of leave is unpaid, sometimes time is the most precious commodity of all — often far more important than money. There’s also only one chance to make the most of your child’s childhood, so unpaid leave is worth thinking about from time to time, while you still have rights to it under UK employment law.

A Wonderful Childcare Nursery in Streatham, SW16

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamWe hope that the information brought to you here is useful. We are Little Cedars, a wonderful nursery in Streatham, supplying an outstanding childcare service in and around Streatham, Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Norbury, Balham and Colliers Wood.  Why not book a visit with your child to see the setting in action, register for a place, or contact us to ask any questions — we’ll be happy to help.

Apply for a Nursery Place Arrange a Visit or Email Us Here Telephone 020 8677 9675

Adult Interaction Helps Infants for a Lifetime

A baby's brain forms more than a million new connections every second when you interact with them.The Government’s Early Years Foundation Stage (‘EYFS’) framework prescribes how adults should approach the education and development of children under five. As such, it forms the backbone of the curriculum at childcare settings like Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham. The EYFS guidelines were expanded this year (2021) and one aspect of early childhood development discussed therein merits closer exploration: the affect of adult interaction on an infant’s brain development. Here we take a look.

“A baby’s brain forms more than a million new connections every second when you interact with them.”

That’s an incredible statistic and one that was recently revised upwards, from a lower figure, by Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child.

The centre explains that a baby’s brain develops through early experiences, not just because of inherent genetics. They go on to describe how experiences govern the architecture of the developing brain and form the foundation for all future learning, behaviour, and health. The growth in new neural connections is by far the most prolific during the early years.Their research suggests that constructive experiences will build on and enhance the structure of the brain, whereas “adverse experiences early in life can impair brain architecture, with negative effects lasting into adulthood.

It’s rather akin to the building of a house, starting first with the foundations during the early years and building on those gradually, to complete the full structure. The initial foundations of the brain may encompass things like control of motor function, hand-eye coordination etc. Further sub-layers of more complex skills are brought in on top, through billions of new connections generated in the brain, as the child grows and experiences more things. Interactions with adults are key to that.

Although it happens throughout an individual’s life, the growth in these new neural connections is by far the most prolific during the early years. Optimising the structure and depth of those foundations through varied and useful experiences during the early years is therefore incredibly important. Doing so ensures that the foundations for the individual’s future are strong.

How Can Parents Help With Infant Brain Development?

Serve & Return

There is only one chance to build the brain of a child optimally — during the early years.The Harvard Center on the Developing Child suggests that parents1 can help babies and toddlers develop their brain architecture in the best way through regular and strategic interaction between adult and infant. They call the process ‘serve and return’. Think of it as a tennis metaphor— we’ll explain. First, the child may indicate an interest in an object or activity. That’s the serve of the tennis ball, if you like. The adult should look out for such indications of interest, recognise them as a kind of invitation from the child and then get involved with that object or activity with the child. Responding in this way is like the ‘return’ of the ball in the tennis metaphor. It’s a great approach because the child is indicating what they are interested in and therefore, when a parent responds through activity involving themselves with the source of interest, the child will naturally get more from the interaction. After all, it was they who first indicated an interest and an adult can now help them to get the most from it.

What Kind of Things are ‘Serves’?

A ‘serve’ by the child could simply be them pointing to an object. Or it could take the form of discarding one toy or game and moving onto another. When they’re older, it could take the form of a question, of course.

The ‘Return’

In each case, the parent should join in and the two begin playing with and exploring the object or activity of interest to the child. With the adult involved, the child is able to get much greater insight about the activity or focus of attention. So, it’s about watching out for signals of interest from the child and interacting with them around that focus of interest. The research suggests that this is very effective compared to forcing other things onto the child that might, at that point in time, be of lesser interest.

It’s about watching out for signals of interest from the child and interacting with them around that focus of interest.

What Else?

Repetition is also important during the early years.Repetition is also important. This helps to reinforce circuits in the brain. Reminding a child several times about something will naturally help them to understand and remember the point under scrutiny.

The ‘serve and return’ approach doesn’t only inform the child about objects and activities around them; such interactions with adults also teach and reinforce good social and language skills. They also nurture appropriate emotional responses in the child. Together these set strong foundations for the child’s growing cognitive abilities along with enhancing their general wellbeing, in readiness to build upon them at pre-school, school and ultimately the workplace.

The responses from parents need to be reliable and appropriate, of course; otherwise it could lead to sub-par learning and brain development and even possible behavioural issues. In the worst cases, where there is regular toxic interaction between parent and child, issues with learning, behaviour and physical/mental health can regrettably instil themselves in the child’s developing brain. Such outcomes can go on to adversely affect the whole life of the unfortunate individual.

Did You Know …

By the time they are 3, an infant’s brain will have developed to over four-fifths of its adult size.

Up to three-quarters of every meal goes towards the building of your baby’s brain.

Conclusion

It's therefore incredibly important for parents to interact proactively with children from the moment they are born.The research, as well as a good dose of common sense, shows the incredible importance of parents interacting well with children from the moment they are born. Their interaction and guidance will help the developing child to understand themselves, the world around them, and their place within it. Millions of brain connections are built with every interaction, building healthy foundations upon which the baby will grow into a well-rounded individual with the requisite cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills to handle life. It all comes down to love, responsive and responsible care, with parents matching the infant’s signals and needs with positive, insightful responses. The reassurance and tools such interactions give the infant will allow them to confidently, safely and comfortably explore and learn about the world and, going forwards, their place within it.

Outstanding Childcare in Streatham, South West London

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamIf you are looking for a really good pre-school or nursery for your childcare in Streatham, please do consider Little Cedars Day Nursery. We offer high quality childcare in the London SW16 area, so are also convenient for those looking for the best nurseries, pre-schools and childcare services in Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood.  Book a visit, register for a place, or get in touch for more information by choosing a button below:

Apply for a Nursery Place Arrange a Visit or Email Us Here Telephone 020 8677 9675

1. We refer to parents throughout this piece for the sake of brevity, i.e. to avoid repetition. Parents is our placeholder to mean anything from parents to care-givers and guardians.