Cause and Effect Play

As Archer grows older sometimes we struggle with new games or activities to keep him challenged and learning. My Mommy & Me instructor gave us some suggestions to group types of play and then introduce one type for a few weeks then switch. For example there is Cause and Effect play, there’s reading, there’s stacking, there’s “balls”, there’s hike and seek, etc…

Archer loves anything that makes noise — whether by shaking it or slamming it on the ground. Such a boy! I bought these toys for him as his first set of “cause and effect” toys. He LOVES them! Especially the drum. He has figured out how to use the drum stick but mostly chews on it. It’s so cute though to watch him try to coordinate hitting the drum and when he does, he gets so proud of himself. He also loves to shake the bells and smiles doing it and the maracas, those are his second favorite behind the drum. Not only are they interesting shapes, but they make a nice sound and are fun to clack together (if you buy two).

 

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Teething

It’s so cute to see a baby with two little teeth sticking out, but it’s not so fun being the parent dealing with a teething child! Well, some parents are lucky and their kids have virtually no symptoms when their teeth begin to come in. We weren’t so lucky.

Archer got his first two bottom teeth in around 5 months. It started with night waking. He was sleeping through the night and then started waking several times a night. We figured out it was his teeth once we could feel them breaking through the gums. This night waking lasted 3 weeks! Now again around 7 months his two top teeth are coming in and not only have we had night waking (up 3-4 times a night) we also have had low grade fevers. I’ve since done lots of reading on teething symptoms and what you can do to help your baby. Here’s what I learned:

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Products: Starting Solid Foods

To get started with solid foods for your baby you really don’t need much: high chair, bibs, spoons, sippy cup, lunch box. Here are my favorites, details below:

High chair: It’s recommended that when buying a high chair you take your baby with you and actually try them out in the display models in the store — advice I was given by a friend who runs a baby club/website. Other questions to ask yourself: Is it important that the high chair is easy to store because you have limited space? Do you want the high chair to pull up to the table or have its own tray? Do you care if it matches your kitchen? I had researched a bunch of different high chairs and we ended up with the Peg-Perego Siesta. It was a splurge, but we figure it’ll be used 3+ times a day for years and for several kids so it was worth the $300 price tag. We also loved that it collapses, saves us space by fitting right next to the refrigerator. We also found when Archer was still a bit small for the high chair the Bumbo with tray worked well — a great option for anyone starting solids from 4-6 months.

Waterproof bibs: You’ll ask yourself why you need waterproof bibs, but trust me, you do. Baby food at the start is very watery and certain foods stain cotton. We were recommended Bumkins Waterproof Superbibs and they’re awesome! The pocket at the bottom catches any drips and the nice large size covers the entire front of the baby. They also sell some that have sleeves, which is also great for when your baby starts eating with their hands. Note the bibs with sleeves are bigger and won’t fit most 6-8 month old babies.

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Constipation — Keeping your baby regular

If you’re like my husband and I you will be in awe of the amount of time you’ve spent talking about poop over the last six+ months! Well, here we are again talking about poop, but this time what to do if there’s a lack thereof!

Constipation can happen once you start your baby on solids. If you notice a change in your baby’s bowl movements, no movements, or if they become firm and pellet like, you need to help your baby getting things moving. Here are a few tips that we’ve gotten to help:

  • water: give your baby some water while they’re eating solids
  • flax seed oil: you can put a few drops (very little) in your baby’s food (check with your pediatrician first)
  • foods that start with a “P”: peas, pears, prunes
  • prune juice and water: be careful with this one, if you give too much you can have an explosive situation on your hands. I wouldn’t give this at night, you’ll be up all night if the prunes kick in.
  • belly massage: you can do some belly massage in the share of an I, L and U (I love you!): with two fingers down their left side (inside of ribs on belly), then across top and down left side, then up their right side across top and down the left side of their belly.

Have any other tips!? Please share them here.

Of course, if you have any concerns or if your baby seems to be in pain call your pediatrician!

Starting Solid Foods — The “Rules”

I’ve been procastinating on writing this post because there are so many rules and I’m not really sure how I feel about any of them! I’ll share the “rules” that I learned for starting solid foods and then share what we’ve done. Please note that food is not a replacement for nutrition or breastmilk/formula until after your baby is over 1 year old.

1) Start baby no earlier than 4 months, but many pediatricians (including mine) say to wait until 6 months. There is some research that says allergy development and starting solid foods too early are tied. Another reason to wait is that baby should be able to sit up mostly by themselves and must have good head control. Losing the “extrusion reflex” is also key, which usually happens soon after 4 or 5 months. This allows them to keep solid food in their mouth and then swallow it vs. using his tongue to push food out of his mouth. Some people say your baby is ready when they show interest in food, but to be honest they’ll show interest in anything you’re doing once they can start to reach for things. I think it was great that Archer watched us eat for a few months, when we started him he was so ready and already knew how to bit and chew and drink from a glass just from watching us!

2) Start with rice cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula and make the consistency pretty liquid — once your baby is used to eating you can increase the consistency. Rice is the least allergic food and mixing it with breastmilk or formula will help your baby’s interest and transition. I didn’t like the idea of giving my baby processed rice as his first food, so his first food was actually mashed avocado. We do however give him Oatmeal cereal every morning for breakfast. We use Happy Bellies Organic baby cereal. Other good starter foods: banana, apples and pears.

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Article: How to Raise a Happy Child

Recently I was given an article titled: How to Raise a Happy Child. It occurred to me that I never really thought about this as a goal, raising a happy child, and always just assumed that it was out of my control whether my children ended up being happy. It was their job to make sure they live and participate in activities that make them happy.

It was interesting to learn that as early as 6 months of age you start impacting whether your child is set up to live a happy life. Simple things like smiling a lot at your baby so the act of smiling is imprinted in their brain or acting calmly and loving to an upset baby helps the baby learn that there is calm and soothing world around them.

You can read the article for all the details, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Learn to Read the Signs:
    • Learn their reactions so you can better address them when their emotional intelligence develops.
    • “While the youngest infants don’t really feel happy when they look happy, the good news is they’re not emotionally aware when they’re screaming, either. Eliot explains that the “cortical emotion centers” of your baby’s brain don’t begin to function until he’s 6 to 8 months old, when he starts to feel the emotions that seem so vivid on his face.”
  • Make Room for Fun:
    • “Connect with your baby, play with her. If you’re having fun with your baby, she’s having fun. If you create what I call a ‘connected childhood,’ that is by far the best step to guarantee your child will be happy.”
    • Unstructured play will allow her to discover what she loves to do — build villages with blocks, make “potions” out of kitchen ingredients, paint elaborate watercolors — which can point her toward a career that will seem like a lifetime of play.

What To Do If Your Child Is Choking or Not Breathing

It is important to know what to do if your infant begins to choke, especially once you start feeding them solid foods. I found these videos which gave a great overview on how to respond.

Conscious Baby is Choking:

Unconscious Baby is Choking:

Infant CPR — in this video they don’t state it, but when giving CPR to an infant your mouth should cover their mouth and nose.