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New Parents: How to hit those Development Milestones (& create an activity fun packed day)

This blog is for the parent who is interested is different ideas to help you reach milestones with your child.

Intro: Explaining Milestones & Weeks vs Months referencing

Ever heard of Development Milestones? Your Health Visitor/Doctor may have mentioned them? Your inbox may be compounded by emails with them! Either way if you haven’t Im going to explain them here…

When you have a child literally from the moment he/she is born they’re expected to meet certain tests. Their first one in the UK is called an AGPAR Score — its a check on babies health…

From then on baby will be referred to as weeks old until a certain point (someone remind me) it switches to months! I think its 26 weeks (around 6 months) up until 36 months (aka 3 years old)! The reason for this is because baby should be able to do certain things by a certain age (based on an average) although some babies achieve either earlier or later – and if you had a prem baby their Development is marked differently until age 1. This is also in relevant to their weight and height development too.

Different Milestones – Warning to the obsessive Alpha Parent!!!

Each child/baby is different and should be treated as such – they should always be commended for their efforts and merit for attaining milestones no matter when they’re achieved

This blog post is to help you with resources not to add pressure – and should only be treated as a general guide.

Milestones

Lets use the following metaphor: Your child as a pie chart with each segment on 0 until you deposit into it giving that segment a value. There spheres you initially have, include physical, emotional, social, motor and linguistic development. As your child gets old the segments become more distinguished and detailed. Below are Development Milestones you may be familiar with or want to explore more:

Physical Development – Weight and Height is charted in the red book based on averages (percentiles) overall – however… upon doing research babies that are breastfed or are formula fed develop physically differently and there are known differences between the two – again on average. This enables you and medical staff to know how your child is doing in terms of Development compared to his/her peers for many many years to come. This is done by the age of the child weeks then months then years. Other influencing factors apart from diet is sleep but we can discuss that another time.

Motor Skills Milestones

Include can baby imitate you by poking out tongue (mine never did – just looked at me to say silly woman what are you doing?), do they respond when being spoken to? Can they smile? Do they lift, then turn their heads? Can they roll from side to side, stomach to back and visa versa?

Older babies – are they sitting up aided/unaided? Standing? Crawling? Cruising?

Pincer movement (hold something between finger and thumb)? Grab something with the whole hand – pass a toy from hand to hand?

Pre toddler/toddler

Walking? Running and stopping? Jumping? Can they do rings/stack blocks? Push? Pull? Put mega blocks together? Line up toys?

Potty training etc

Emotional/Social

Do they start to get distracted? Do they now show you you anger/ interest in what they want to do? Do they point? Do they interact yet by sharing/playing side by side or with others? Do they have a SCHEMA (a thing they’re obsessive with – like dropping things from height?)? are they laughing appropriately in social situations or sometimes inappropriately? Are they able to recognise emotions?

Linguistic/ Speech Development

Begins from just days old with a hearing test. Hearing tests may and should be repeated if there are any issues with your childs’ Speech or Behaviour Development.

Does your child respond when you clap your hands? Or when you call their name? Do they gurgle/ babble make ‘Ah’ ‘Ba’ ‘Fa’ sounds? Do they follow simple instructions? Are they able to say Mama or Dada or Gaga? What was Babies first word? Does yuck count??! Lol!

Creating an action packed day for You and your Child/Baby

Now you know the segments your looking to add value to, your choices in activities can be more informed.

Babies (this depends on age of child)

  • Always support babies head until they can control it themselves
  • Prop baby up in a safe space and walk around in front of them whilst talking and see if baby can turn their head. They may topple over as they try. But just keep trying. This is great to do whilst putting away the laundry!!!
  • Baby Gyms encourage eye/hand coordination but remember to put baby in at different angles and switch around/replace toys for extra stimulus.
  • Tummy time – can be on the floor, playing areoplanes, holding them face down, across your knees. Very important to help build stomach and chest neck muscles up.
  • To get them to roll from side to side use toys by putting them just out of reach
  • Changing a nappy? Finished – sing there were 10 bears in a bed and the little one said roll over rollover – as you roll over baby.
  • Once able to sit (ie support ones head confidently) whether aided or unaided – sit baby at the baby gym or surrounded by toys – put some just out of reach to encourage movement.
  • Bath times with bath toys add to playtime and social interaction- you can sing there was a tiny turtle… Pop!!! And 3 little ducks went swimming one day. Singing also helps speech development
  • Talk talk talk – name objects, sing songs – nursery rhymes and pop songs, dancing with them in your arms (helps them establish rhythm which helps with learning to walk and math skills).
  • Describe items big, small, colour object name – especially when issuing instructions.
  • Go baby sign language classes, messy play, music classes, massage classes for quality time to spend with baby in different ways and develop the above milestone skills
  • Do mouth exercises and sounds at baby every day – eventually they just think ur pulling funny faces but they will copy you
  • Red lorry yellow lorry / She saw seashells on the seashore : tongue twisters are great to help enunciation of words
  • Trips to the park/soft play/zoo/ museums. No art galleries if the baby is super small.
  • Get them to pick things up
  • Introduce topics of development through their favourite characters in stories as well using those stories to increase their vocabulary- such as introducing a sibling or potty training, please & thank yous as well as other behaviours you want emulated or not as the case maybe like not sharing or biting
  • Use TV shows as a different medium for education – babies first sounds through Baby Einstein on YouTube is great! Sesame street, Barney, different music such as relaxation or classical whilst doing quiet activities is good such as painting or drawing
  • Story time via a cd or story book is good too at bedtimes

Resources for this article include subscriptions to BabyCentre emails, Dr Sears, KellyMoms, HealthVisitor, own experiences and Positive Parenting by Alvin Eden MD

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Stopping Co Sleeping: Before you start

I feel it necessary before we start to advise of our ethos: we don’t judge ever!

So before we receive any judgemental posts about Co Sleeping etc we don’t care for those opinions. 

We did what was right for our family in order to give us all peace of mind and we believe that’s what we’re all trying to do at the end of the day.

Now that’s been said: we will begin with our journey;

It was the night after having our little one an anxiety switch flicked inside me and I couldn’t put him to lie down in the bassinet next to my bed on the maternity ward. All the crying babies; the lady next door…we’re all too much for me to bare including the added pressure of not being able to feed my little one. So I propped us up in bed and held him all night. 

There was also the fact he coughed and choked whilst laying on his back that made me change my entire thinking about the advice of putting babies to sleep on their backs.

So on the second night of literally no sleep, I contacted the other half and said we were ready to come home.

His Moses basket was ready. But no matter what we did he wouldn’t settle in there. He cried grunted and griped all night. He had colic. He wasn’t doing well with the formula we were on either.

He was settled only if he lay on a pillow for this heightened my anxiety further as I was scared he’d die. SIDS is a huge worry for me as a loss in my extended family had already happened years ago.

So much so I was crying out in my sleep asking for the baby, scared if my oh took him away out of the room so I couldn’t hear him cry. He was so precious I turned into a nightmare of over protectiveness that at nearly 17 months is just about easing.

The nightmares were vivid and the fear was controlling my every waking moment.

We researched how to cosleep safely with a baby. No duvet near them (you’d be surprised how quickly you get used to a colder upper body), no pillows & sleep with an arm stretched out to prevent you rolling. My oh also began sleeping in the spare room to give us more space.

So in January we decided (after numerous earlier attempts) he’d be in his cot by 18 months… Crazy New Year Resolutions

Fast forward 5 months and I’d finally psyched myself up to do it: sleep separately from my son.

It’s been no easy feat, but we know he sleeps on his own at Nursery. So we thought we’d give it a try.

First night we tried we were unsuccessful whether he could sense my nervousness and then stress, whether it was because it was just me trying to do it without the presence of my other half – who knows but after an hour or more of tears and not settling we aborted. I remember this was a Saturday night.

Over the lifetime of our little one we have researched several sleep training methods but a key thing that’s stood out to us, one advises your child will not be ready to transition if they cry for three hours! Im not going to distress my kid for 3 hours! 

So we decided if he wouldn’t settle after an hour we’d abort! So we did.

But the night he decided to sleep in his cot we had one of his nursery teachers come over to babysit and put him to bed. And it worked! He was ill that night though so bad timing but from that night he has been in his bed so mid June 2017.

We stayed at night to read him several stories, I slept on the floor and we did the waiting til he fell asleep before walking out and gradual retreating until eventually we can just put him in and walk away and he falls asleep on his own. If he cries out we go in and we still use the video camera to check on him.

He also sleeps with a sleepyhead but like last night he can sleep without it too.

Overall having a little one sleep on their own is great for you getting time back for yourselves but at the same time you should so it at your own pace in your own way x

Please feel free to ask any questions 🙂

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Breastfeeding – Ending Our Journey: Day 13

Officially I would say we are at the end of our bf journey. He barely asks for Boobie and if he does it’s not a demand for comfort. More of a fondness of a well thought of friend.

So now we have moved on to stage two of our plan… ending co sleeping. As I write this it’s 4.30am and he’s sleeping next to me seeking comfort now and again. We started three days ago… we’ll keep a note of that too.

Boobs still have a little milk in them, but nothing note worthy. No pain or discomfort now not that there was much any way.

Thank you for following our journey. We hope it helps you too if you’re contemplating starting yours.

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Breastfeeding – Ending Our Journey: Day 7

I’ve not posted for a few days because there wasn’t much to update you all on.

Little man is rarely asking for booby out right. Once a day if at all and he’s no longer helping himself or rummaging around my tops.

However the nights have been more restless. So much so I thought he might have an ear ache. Docs confirmed there’s nothing wrong they restlessness and calling out for MUMMY is BF related. So I’ll continue to comfort him with cuddles as we co sleep.

Oh and Daddy is getting up to make sippy cups of warmed milk… so no ending the BF journey does not mean your little one will sleep through the night. Myth busted!

How do I feel now it’s been a week? I feel sad it’s coming to an end. It was a real struggle in the beginning like the hardest soul crushing experience I ever made was to bf my little boy but it’s my biggest and proudest achievement. I am so proud we did it for over a year. I am also relieved to stop as well because I needed to get some me time back – in the form of sleep. It’s been well over two years I’ve had a full nights sleep due to pregnancy related health issues.

So if you’re thinking about starting your BF journey – it’s amazing! Do it if you can. We’ve enjoyed some really amazing moments and it helped us immensely when bottle feeding wasn’t working for us.

Boob wise – there’s literally little to no milk. I just express once a day. No engorgement or anything.

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Breastfeeding – Ending Our Journey: Days 2 and 3

So after a very tiresome first night without bf – everyone awoke feeling grumpy.

But little one didn’t ask for booby in the morning and went off to nursery ok. 

Feeling a bit full I’ve expressed a little in the morning.

Fast forward to the evening, he ate his tea and played without even asking for it again and he went to bed just fine – says daddy. Unfortunately I was in hospital getting a lump checked out… results in a few weeks.

Once I got home he awoke once – and slept through the WHOLE night!!!! He did however wake up at 4.30am!!! But none the less it’s a miracle!

Day 3 has been great too. Having woken up feeling more refreshed little monkey went to nursery just fine. Breasts are very engorged so having to express a few times today to feel more comfortable.

He’s asked for booby a couple of times but he’s not had a melt down like he did before and he seems to be accepting the explanation that it’s finished.

So far he’s been asleep for about an hour and a half and it’s 8.30pm nearly he’s not 100% settled but this feels amazing- a whole nights sleep…but we shall see what tonight brings…

Good night x

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Breastfeeding – Ending Our Journey: Day 1

Never did I think these things:

  1. I couldn’t breast feed
  2. I’d still be breastfeeding over a year from when our journey began 
  3. I’d struggle to stop!

You see, my little monkey is 16 months old meaning we have been breastfeeding (in one way or another) for just as long! This amazes me in light of just how tough it was in the beginning to even start this journey.

Born slightly prematurely my little monkey had trouble latching for the first month of his life. This meant sore nipples, frustrated baby (screaming) & mum (meltdowns) and sadly weight loss.

I saw midwives, health visitors and finally a Lactation consultant who was also a chiropractor specializing in babies, who came to me on Valentines Day… and no one could help. It was a skill baby had to learn. 

The hours I spent feeling like a failure determined to feed by breast, made me miserable. The engorged breasts those first few days were crazy painful – hot shower and rub them hard to avoid blocked ducts and mastitis!!!! Turned out I was doing everything right – he just wouldn’t latch.

Fast forward past the challenges of mixed feeding, blocked ducts, and finally settled routine of exclusively breast feeding (ebf), it’s time to end our journey. Why do I not wish to prolong feed my little one you might be asking?

Well I have a few reasons:

  1. Breastfeeding keeps up certain hormones in your body like when you were pregnant (albeit less) that means your body doesn’t fully resettle from the pregnancy. I had spd/pgp and so these hormones mean my body is still too relaxed and isn’t healing quickly enough for my liking resulting in pain (I’m hoping ending our journey will help)
  2. Lack of night time sleep. Whilst we have reduced our daytime feeds to bed time, my little one treats booby like an all night snacking bar. And without fail is up every 3 hours… I’m tired of being tired.
  3. We’ve heard once the all night snacking bar closes, transitioning to their own beds is made easier… don’t quote me on this… but this is our ultimate goal

So here we are at 1.25am on day 1 of attempt number 2 of trying to end the bf journey (tried to start 4 nights ago- but I couldn’t handle the screaming)…

Let’s back track to the beginning of the night at 6.30pm: He cried and howled but it wasn’t as bad as a few nights ago. I sung “it’s all gone” – a song he learnt from baby signing class which instantly resulted in him cleaning up!!! (Shocked and feeling dumb I didn’t think of this before!)

Throughout this process like everything communication is key. Here I’m trying to change the dynamics of our relationship not torture the little lamb. And I don’t think he understood it before but he does seem to now.

So having sung for ages various melodic albeit out of tune songs – including birds of a feather tv show songs he’s calm enough to attempt to put him down to bed… this included rocking as well.

Total time spent: 90mins

At which point his eyes sprung open and he lay next me cuddled into the fetus position and my body cocooning his. Seems to have worked … I fell asleep before he did through sheer exhaustion! Bouncing and singing does that to you after a full day at work.

He woke up at 11.30pm looking for his best friend (our other name for booby). But after a bit of distraction (trip to bathroom – I needed to go), he soon settled back into our cosy position with a firm “enough! It’s sleepy time goodnight”.

And he’s still sleeping now. Just the odd whine of booby has escaped his lips and I feel awful. But I remind myself my mental health is important too.

Please note my decision to stop now is down to my little boy being able to do the following:

Communicate what he does and doesn’t want – this includes words and pointing. He can ask and distinguish between booby and juice (water), say no and ask for his bed… so I know he comprehends what’s what.

He has a healthy appetite often asking for seconds at meal time albeit he isn’t a chubby monkey.

And overall he’s a happy soul. He didn’t take a dummy but used me instead and now it’s time to stop.

I think it’s important to pick the time to introduce a change in your little ones life. And if you can, manage the process.

He goes to nursery so doesn’t bf at all during the day most days, he can sleep on his own as he does so there. These were all challenges that we over came and now we’re ready for the next stage…

Hopefully you’ll find comfort on these pages as you start ending your BF journey too and can hopefully share your experiences too.

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First Time Mums/Parents: Eating Out with Baby

Avoiding eating out is just not an option as a new mum. My first trip out was horrendous, first of all it had taken me two hours atleast to get out of the hours and after an hour in the breast feeding room at Mamas & Papa trying to placate my screaming new born, I decided to go get something to eat in Carluccio’s.

Hard seats and bright lights didn’t help my plight, neither did the awkward table layout – as we were placed at a round table with the push chair sticking out and in the midst of room.

Baby of course started to scream his head off and I remember trying to settle him for a nap with a Muslim over his head, post partum hormones sweating out of my body thinking everyone’s looking at me! 

A savior in the form of the waiter helped me when he whisked away my plate so the chef could cut up my eagerly anticipated steak into child like bite sized pieces. I felt so silly – such the rookie mum but I was proud because we had finally made it out of the house on our own! And that’s no easy feat as a new mum!!!

That first trip was a disaster to be fair – I’ve skipped over some of the details. But what I learnt helped me to realize what both my baby and I need when out and about in order to survive.

1. Where to go to eat

Sometimes you don’t have many options, but if you can pick somewhere with comfy seats (for you :-)) and not harsh bright lighting – then you’re onto a winner

2. Pick where you want to sit

Don’t let the staff usher you to awkward spaces. Sometimes they have no experience with children and can’t identify your needs. 

The Centre of a restaurant is too awkward for buggies and breast feeding (even if your the most accomplished discrete person) unless you like people eyeing you whilst you see to your child. See if you can sit off to the side, leave your push chair somewhere. Don’t be afraid to ask for a rearrangement of tables

3. Pick somewhere with adequate changing facilities 

Parents shouldn’t be expected to change babies on the floors of restaurants toilets! It’s disgusting! Nor should you have to leave to find public facilities that are ages away thus disrupting your meal.

Once Baby can sit up:

4. High chairs

Different restaurants have different types. Definitely don’t hesitate to ask if they have any, nor to carry your own sterilizing wipes to clean them down before you put baby in – believe me some of them are left in disgusting states. But for me they need to have straps or a harness to keep baby secure. Without them, your little one will be slipping and sliding all over the place.

5. Carry the relevant milk/food you need to feed your little one. They most likely won’t make formula for you but may provide you with hot water if you ask.

6. Forgotten babies water cup ask for tap water with a straw – it’s a skill they learn very quickly whether bottle or breast fed. NO ICE! Ice can harbor harmful bacteria which isn’t good for baby when melting. Plus the extreme temperature may not be good for them as it takes quite some time before their bodies can do that.

7. Keeping little ones entertained is a feat. Place the child between you and another person if you can so you can take it in turns to eat.

Take toys, books – if weaning crudités (bread sticks, carrot, sweet peppers, cucumber sticks) are often available for the little ones. Cheddar cheese is another good one to keep them entertained. Talking to them throughout the meal also helps them to understand their surroundings.

8. Sit them away from where plates of hot food will be passing over them and if necessary guide the staff accordingly to avoid doing this and a burn on a baby can be fatal if they go into shock from the burn.

9. Try to relax and enjoy yourself and baby will too 🙂