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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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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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Fire Safety

The Grenfell Tower fire is an atrocity which is sitting deeply and uncomfortably in our hearts. So many lives were lost, including babies. So I wanted to help raise awareness of steps you can take to help your family.

If you are not confident or had training to deal with a fire, using appropriate fire safety equipment- leave the fire alone! Instead leave the building and raise the alarm!

Equipment that can help, fire extinguishers and a fire blanket.

You should also learn first aid for both adults and kids. So if there was an incident you could help deal with shock and any initial injuries.

Make sure you have the appropriate number of smoke detectors and fire alarms that are in good working order. Test them regularly in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.

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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 🙂

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Breast Feeding: Your Essential Guide

What to expect:

Think about the hardest thing you have ever done – now think breast feeding after child birth is the hardest. You have no control over it. When your milk will come in, how long you will be able to breast feed for (unless you chose to stop), and the agony you can be in is ridiculous!

Resources – websites/facebook page/books/classes/consultants/ breastfeeding groups

Website most useful was Kelly’sMom

Facebook pages: local breastfeeding support groups and NCT FB groups

Books: none lol

Classes: NHS vs NCT Ante natal classes – NHS won hands down.

Establishing Breastfeeding

It took a month with the help of a Lactation Consultant. 

Pumping: the advice is don’t pump for 6 weeks until your supply regulates… hold on but if my milk wont come in and baby won’t latch what do I do? PUMP & FREEZE! Freeze any excess so that you save those amazing antibodies and nutrients for later on!

Other fundamentals: drink plenty of water, eat lots of protein, sleep as much as you can as all these things affect your milk supply

Increase Milk supply: 

Lactation cookies/ oats/ oat milk/ hob nobs/ porridge/flap jacks / fenugreek tea (makes your pee smell like treacle lol)

What you need

A pump: manual or electric – you can rent electric ones however if your baby was premature you may be able to get one from your local PEER group via the HV.

Hot showers and flannels – when your milk comes your boobs are hard as hell! And sore!!! Omg the pain!!! So you’ll need to take warm showers and massage the shit (pardon me please here), as in form a fist and commit self harm kind of massage until your milk and tender boobs hurt no more. If you can’t self harm like this get help seriously… mastitis is worse from what I hear!

Breast pads for impromptu leakages

Maternity bras – god send!

Nipple shields/ nipple shells – the first can help to establish latching (though didn’t in my case) and the other catches any milk that escapes in your bra allowing you to give it later on

Pros

It’s natural & helps babies immune system for the first 6 months

Great time for you to bond with baby

It’s a lovely thing to do and helps create an amazing bond x

Cons

You don’t know how much baby is having and you depend on how many wet nappies. See our Facebook page for the picture on this!

Blocked ducts

Mastitis – requires antibiotics

Thrush of babies mouth your breast both require treatment!!!

Lipstick nipples mean poor latch! Painful nipples due to this or biting!!!

You feel judged for how and when and how long you chose to breast feed (bf)
We do not judge here so feel free to ask away

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Activity Ideas: Toddlers

Looking for some inspiration? Hopefully our list will help inspire you!

  • Set up some paints and get creative! Sponges, forks, potatoes mashers, leaves – get anything and everything to make a beautiful picture. Just have the wet wipes ready, and either a waterproof outfit or an old tshirt 4 the little one and make sure you’re not wearing something you’d hate to get messy!
  • Horror at the potential mess of Paint! Put the paper and a few blobs of paint in a ziplock bag to contain the mess!
  • Go to the library and take out some books and DVDs
  • Go swimming
  • Play doh – or make your own! We’ve shared a post on our FB page on how to make homemade play doh
  • Go to the park n have races, go on the slides, the swings etc. The fresh air really knackers them out!
  • Soft play centres especially on rainy days lets them burn off some energy
  • Ball Pits help them play independently for a bit
  • Bake some cakes or cookie with your little one – then they have some tasty snacks that they helped you to make
  • Sing lots of songs together
  • Make some shakers with plastic containers – think rice and pasta etc
  • Still couldn’t face paint … try crayons!
  • Puzzles & shape sorters – talk about what they can see, colours and shapes too
  • Go shopping – cheap n cheerful and let them pick a new toy
  • Make a sensory box which has different objects for your little one to explore
  • Go to a museum or aquarium, the zoo or even the local pet store
  • Summer time: go have a picnic
  • Visit the beach
  • Have lunch at a cafe/hotel – gets you out of the house!!!
  • Buy an activity book/ magazine and do them with your little one
  • Practice saying the alphabet and numbers
  • Practice writing letters and words
  • Visit a friend or older relative for an hour with a small gift either made or picked by your little one. Stay an hour tops if it’s an older relative
  • Skype distant relatives
  • Using pillows, cushions and blankets build a fort
  • Set up that car track n enjoy a few mins of fun watching them drive cars around
  • Play with all their cars by driving them everywhere: furniture the floor on the wall
  • Engage in imaginative play with soft toys  – you can do sounds or tell a story or just play with your little one taking the lead
  • Go to a farm or play with that farm set you got
  • Play a musical instrument
  • Listen to a story cd or tell a story
  • Read a couple of books and nursery rhymes
  • If your little one isn’t talking yet, try teaching him/her sign language
  • Colouring in books!
  • Watch a movie
  • Take some pictures or Better still let them take the pics
  • Let them help you with the housework – my lo loves doing laundry i.e. Chucking clothes on the floor whether they’re clean or dirty. We use this opportunity to name each item or talk about colours or the pattern/picture of the clothes
  • Bang on the pots and pans
  • Practice making funny faces and noises at each other
  • Research new places to go and plan day trips
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Pregnancy and Weight Management 

During the duration of your pregnancy you will hear about how important it is you have a wonderful and healthy pregnancy. Included in this rhetoric is how much you are expected to gain weight wise.

A good weight gain depends on how much you weighed at the beginning of your pregnancy. There’s usually 3 categories for the weight gain: underweight/average and overweight.

A good app to track your weight gain is:

Pregnancy +

This app helps you to track lots of aspects of your pregnancy including your weight. But it doesn’t tell you if you’ve gained too much or too little.

See our Pregnancy App Reviews for further information.

And a good website which breaks down your weight gain allowance per week is:

Pregnancy Calculator

Weight gain in pregnancy is different for everyone. Some lose at the beginning and barely put on the whole time and then there are others who put nothing on til the end and all of a sudden out comes a bump out of nowhere.

Follow the advice of your medical team and keep a healthy diet (with a few treats).

Below is a table from the Baby Centre website to help as a guide:


And remember most weight gain is after 20 weeks.