The Importance of Nurturing Your Baby’s Amazing Brain

Did you know, that when a baby is born, his brain is ½ the size of an adult brain? By the time he is 3 years old, his brain has grown to 80% size of an adult brain. This is incredible growth, in just 3 years.

How does the brain work, and how can we foster this development?

The Working Brain

Within the brain are billions of nerve cells, known as neurons. The neurons have to connect with other brain cells in order to work. Some of these connections are present from birth – for example, the ability to breathe, to suck, to cry, and others occur as the baby grows and develops. The connections occur when experiences or skills are repeated over and over.

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Communicating with Babies – What Parents Need to Know.

Babies begin communicating with us from the moment they are born – it’s just that we may not understand what they are saying yet!

 

It’s interesting isn’t it that if you were going to have an extended holiday in Spain or France, you’d probably make the effort to learn even a few basic words and phrases of Spanish or French. Yet when we are pregnant not many people learn how to communicate with the ‘soon to be here’ baby!

 

I’ve personally seen the huge benefits parents get when they DO learn how to do this, and the spin-off benefits to their baby such as: Read more

Telling Stories

As parents we know of the importance of reading to our children regularly, to encourage our children’s love of learning, and excitement about what books have to offer.

 

We also know that books can be a part of the night time routine, to help settle children down with quiet time before bed.

 

Reading to children is also useful when children have to sit whilst waiting at the Doctors, where they need to be quieter for a while.

 

Children often grow to love stories and books, via our enthusiasm and by the tone of our voice when we read to them.

 

Another thing which children grow to love is when you actually tell them stories. Read more

father playing with son

The Importance of Dads

For a long time now we’ve known the valuable role that mothers play in the development of children, through nurturing and play.

Research is now indicating the powerful role Dad’s play in the family dynamics generally, and in the long term well-being of their children.

The best gift a Dad can give his kids, is his time!

Being a Dad is probably the most important job you’ll ever do. The way you interact and behave with your children will have a huge impact on them – what they do, how they feel about themselves and how they turn out. As with anything that is important to you, being a great Dad requires time, energy and effort!
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Image by Woodley Wonder Works via Flickr

Music and Maths – an Unlikely Relationship?

This morning over breakfast I was listening to the radio, and was aware how the different pieces impacted on me – some more upbeat, some more gentle and calming. I don’t know about you, but I play different types of music for specific moods – if I’m feeling a bit ‘flat’ I put on something like “Pink”, and if I’m feeling hassled, I put on gentle classical music, or “Enya”. We can utilise this with children too – you can use music to enhance their moods, to help ‘lift’ them when needed, or to calm them at other times.

From an early age we use lullabies to soothe our babies, and often sing them to sleep – this is true whatever your cultural background. It’s the tone of your voice, which settles them. As they get older, they like things with a stronger beat – you’ll often see toddlers bopping to a beat. Toddlers also like nursery rhymes and songs, and will join in with the words and actions. Even a 1 year old will often wave their hands in the  air, to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

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Child sitting on the floor, intently doing puzzle

What are the best toys for children? One is…. Jigsaw Puzzles.

 

In my role as a Parenting Consultant, parents and grandparents often ask me about buying toys for their children or grandchildren. They want to know what are the ‘best’ ones. Obviously the age and ability of the child is a consideration, but 2 of my favourites are jigsaw puzzles and board games.

Puzzles can be introduced to toddlers around age one, with a toy which has balls to drop into a hole. This starts to teach them to hold an object, to position it, and then to let it drop through. The easiest shape to insert is a circle, as it will fit which ever way you hold it!

Next comes a shape sorter toy. You hold the container and let baby select a shape. Read more

Man and Woman hugging their young daughter

What Do Children Need from their Parents?

We all know that children need food, clothing and shelter to ‘survive’, but besides the basic needs, how do we truly grow them into curious, strong, resilient children?

When your baby cries, s/he is telling you something – eg I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’ve have wind. As parents our response determines what message the child gets. For example if the baby cries because they are hungry, and you feed them, they learn that you will give them what they need. As you consistently do this, they learn that they can trust you to continue to meet their needs, and this is called building Secure Attachment. When you do this, it also creates new ways of understanding for the baby in his/her brain, ie new brain cells (known as neurons) are formed.

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Toddler playing outside

What is my Baby Hearing?

Hearing is an important and necessary part of speech development. Babies are now given a hearing test at birth, as if there are any difficulties they are detected early so that measures can be taken to optimise the development of language and speech.

As with most development, it is an on-going process. So what can your baby hear at different ages?

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Young boy reading a book

Ready for Kinder?

Is you child starting Kinder (Tasmania) or Pre-school (NSW) in 2016? Are they ready? Are you ready?

There are many things you can do to help your child have a smooth transition into this new experience, both practically and socially.

In a practical way, is your child able to take themselves to the toilet unassisted – to wipe themselves, wash their hands etc. If not, starting showing them and encouraging them to take a more active role.

Can they open or unwrap the food you will be providing? Have a practice with undoing a foil wrapped biscuit or a glad-wrapped sandwich, as well as opening the lunch box or unzipping it themselves. While teachers and aides are very willing to assist the children, it may take a while if there are 10 -20 children requiring help! There’s also a real ego boost for your child when he/she manages to do these things themselves – a real sense of achievement!

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Mother and child walking through a japanese garden.

Going For a Walk

Today I went for a walk through a quaint little town, exploring it and the surroundings. As I walked, I noticed a beautiful feather on the ground and picked it up. Immediately it reminded me of walking with my young children some years ago.

We regularly went walking whether it was around our property (we lived in a rural area), around town, at the beach or in the bush. As we walked, I always seemed to have a ‘Collector’ with me….. at least one of my children would be in a collecting mode, and I learnt to always carry a small basket or bag for their collections. Sometimes it was leaves, other times it was shells, and sometimes it was stones – from pebbles to rocks! The child would decide if the speciman was ‘worth’ collecting….. maybe based on the colour, the size, the shape, some patterns on it, or just because they liked it! As they collected, they would be describing to me, what was special about it.

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