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Bed time can be challenging if your preschooler is still playing and wants more time. These Nurture, Explore & Share tips can help make bedtime an easier time for everyone. Your child has a say in their bedtime and you’re not struggling to put them to sleep.

Bedtime might involve power struggles between you and your child. These Nurture, Explore & Share tips can help make bedtime easier for both you and your child. No more power struggles means that everyone is happier.

Warm summer days offer endless possibilities for fun in the sun! Planning activities can feel overwhelming at first but it may help to view activities in a different light. In support of your child’s lifelong learning, an activity can become part of a week-to-week adventure between you and your child, guiding a pathway to discovery through hands-on experience beyond home. The weekly project consists of many activities to build on your child’s interest and natural curiosity to learn about how the community is connected in one big circle. Project activities are special because they are intriguing to both children and parents and promote questioning to further understand the topic of interest (i.e. growing an herb garden).

You are partners in your child’s journey to learning about the world! Enjoy your child’s excitement for learning because the project you plan stirs up their curiosity. Parents are also learners, you are supporting your child’s curiosity by bringing them to environments for further exploration. For example, if your child asks how towers are built you might say “I don’t know exactly, but there are a lot of different materials and people with many skills to make that happen. Why don’t we find out about the materials first?” This is the opportunity for you and your child to connect by sharing a journey of knowledge together.

What we found out this summer!

Children create meaning based on what they see and do in the environment. Your child’s curiosity starts from anywhere and anything that catches their attention (ex: the grocery store, nature walk). You and your child are both investigators, working together to solve the mysteries of the world. For example, when your child moves food around on the plate, they could be wondering why carrots are orange in colour. You are the driving force to your child’s development of knowledge. A project starts with a question to discover what your child already knows about a topic. For instance, “Why do you think carrots are orange?”. Then, build on your child’s thinking by asking what else they want to know more about. For instance you might ask, “Do you wonder where we get carrots?”. A single topic will need multiple activities to understand beyond what is already known. With each question, an activity is created for you and your child to find new information that supports developmental domains such as social, emotional, and communication.

At the end of each week, you will create a special activity to celebrate your child’s discoveries. For example, hosting a picnic in the park after a week of learning the food groups and where food is purchased. Sharing and exploring curiosities with your child means you are investing in a lifetime of memories and creating a lifelong learner. Remember, children are always taking in new ideas and trying to make sense of them. We understand that spending time with your child is important and summer is a great time to start. In this summer guide, you will find 8 weeks of project approach ideas. For each week, a different topic is explored and organized into a simple daily activity appropriate for you to enjoy your child (toddlers and preschoolers). Remember, the provided project approach ideas can be changed to reflect your child’s interests and schedule.

Tips about Project Planning

  • Projects are about discovering how your child views the world before the project investigation begins;
  • Projects are about asking questions from your child’s perspective;
  • Projects are about searching for more information to provide a deeper understanding of a topic;
  • Projects are about using what you’ve learned and applying that knowledge to day-to-day routines.

« Download the Summer Guide Project Chart (PDF) »

« Summer Activity Guide Part 1: Everyday Moment Summer Activities »

Everyday Moments throughout provides you and your child memorable opportunities to learning through summer adventures! A time to capture sights and sounds where you and your child make new sensational experiences. Whatever you have planned for the summer, creating a summer routine adds memories to the precious moments you already spend with your child.

What are Everyday Nature Activities?

For new parents, summer is a great time to bring your child outside to explore nature using their five senses: hear, touch, smell, sight, and taste. This could be your child’s first time exploring nature; take it slow as they become more comfortable with their senses as you explore those moments together. For instance, you could point to a flower and describe the petal and stem colours. Then, smell the flower together to discover a particular scent. Being able to share outdoor Everyday Moments means your child will become more comfortable exploring nature-like features such as plants, animals, and weather conditions. A nature activities offers a variety in terms of materials, along with new ways of experiencing existing indoor activities. A planned routine could mean your child feels more prepared and confident to conquer the activities planned for the day!

Planning a routine is like having a tool box of activities to experience throughout the summer. Having a variety of activities on hand makes life easier for you and your child to plan activities and build your schedule. Summer time feels warm and light, feel free to change up activities to fit your child’s interests and environment. For example, if it rains when you initially planned an outdoor picnic, don’t be afraid to host an indoor picnic!

Activities Anytime Anywhere

Everyday Moment Summer Activities

› Wake Up Time

Infant : Massage your Baby: Arms and Hands
Toddler : Toddler Sees Mr. Sunrise
Preschooler : Preschooler Wake-up Routine

› Meal Time

Infant: Baby Feast Food Experience
Toddler: Toddler Picnic
Preschooler: Preschool Ice-cream Snack

› Play Time

Infant: Baby Nature Walk
Toddler: Toddler Playing Ball
Preschooler: Preschool Painting with Nature

› Tidy-up Time

Toddler: Toddler Cleans up a Mess
Preschooler: Preschool Tidy-up Time

› Change Time

Infant: Baby Tickles
Toddler: Toddler Colour Day Game
Preschooler: Preschooler Buttons

› Bed Time

Infant: Baby Bath and Wash Time
Toddler: Toddler Sees Twinkle Star
Preschooler: Preschool Bed-Time

Everyday Moments are precious moments in the day where nurture, explore, and share happen between you and your child (i.e. wake-up, meal time, bed time, story time). A summer routine is unique because children can respond differently to the outdoor environment (i.e. weather, plants, animals, scent). The outdoors provide another place to bond with your child. Bonding time supports your child’s emotional and social development to think out loud and describe feelings of other and of self. Activities in this summer guide are geared towards babies, toddlers, and preschoolers which you may find helpful to add to your summer routine.

Participating in summer activities is entertaining and enjoyable, however, planning the activity can be just as fun! Hunting for materials for an art project for example, can be a game in itself. One way to get into planning is to be as curious as your child is. For example, you might point at a beautiful rainbow and your child might ask “What is a rainbow? Add an outdoor element to your painting activity outdoors, by painting the colours of the rainbow with your child with sticks and leaves instead of paint brushes.

Spending time with your child creates a lifelong social and emotional connection towards a loving relationship. When your child is familiar with your voice and touch, they will respond with safety and security. Your child will thrive knowing you are there to support them even when they feel afraid. Is your child afraid of walking under a running water spray? To reassure your child’s fear, you might say, “The water is surprising, but if watch the rhythm of the fountain, you might figure out the best time to run through, watch me!”. Exploring new activities together in a nurturing environment helps to develop their understanding of fear and how to overcome those fears.

Did you know:

  • Pretend play helps your child to develop problem-solving and social skills to be able to share ideas and feelings.
  • Building independence means giving your child time to try a challenging task such as pulling their shirt over their head.
  • Sharing feelings develops your child’s emotional understanding of others and self.
  • Your child can overcome fears based on your reassuring voice. For instance, you pet the dog and say “This is a nice dog”. Wait for your child to pet the dog, then in a calm voice respond, “The dog loves to be petted by you, I’m right here”.

Complete Summer Guide PDF download coming soon!

« Summer Activity Guide Part 2: The Pursuit of Summer Fun »

For many new parents, the thought of an Everyday Moment might not represent anything particularly special. Perhaps those moments start to feel just like routine parts of every day.

But there is magic in the Everyday Moments you are already spending with your child. Magic in moments like waking up, meal time, diaper change time, bath time, play time, reading time, driving to the store, walking to the park, bed time.

In each of those Everyday Moments are opportunities to really connect with your child. And they are moments to cherish. Talking with your baby, pointing and talking about what you’re doing, cuddling and tickling when changing a diaper, singing when driving in a car, cuddling anytime is a good idea.

And here’s the magic part. If you do all these things while spending time with your baby through the Everyday Moments, you will be supporting your child’s healthy social, emotional and intellectual development as you interact with your baby. You do not have to plan a special event or buy a bunch of things…an Everyday Moment should feel natural because they do happen naturally throughout the day as you continue to nurture and share moments with your baby. Nothing complicated, only time with your baby is a moment well-spent in promoting developmental milestones (i.e. social, emotional, thinking, language, body and hand movement).

Example:

By sharing Everyday Moments your baby is learning many things at once, take this opportunity to be an explorer with your baby. An example could be when your baby is staring at an object (ex: trees, cars) or person; take this opportunity to describe what they might be observing. Say “you’re looking at orange leaves up on the tree” instead of “are you looking at that tree”. The more you describe, the more your baby hears words to build on language skills. This way, your baby will not only learn words but also become aware of the things in their environment.

One of the most common and frequent Everyday Moments is during bedtime when you tuck your baby in. This is an ideal moment because there is so much to do during bedtime. Some bedtime suggestions include:

  1. Cuddling
  2. Reading a story to your baby
  3. Sharing about your day
  4. Singing a lullaby song to your baby
  5. Talking to your baby (Remembering the food you ate with your baby or the time you spent together).

More Everyday Moments activities: Infants | ToddlersPreschoolers

DID YOU KNOW…?

  • When you respond to your baby crying middle of the night, you become more mindful of their different types of cries
  • Eye-to-eye contact with your baby provides a strong communication bond
  • Your hormones can effect bonding time with your baby (i.e. keep smiling)

Have you ever wondered how your child is learning, for example, learning languages? Little do we know, it’s all comes from the way we speak and how much we speak. In other words, repeating words and sentences to your child can improve their development in language and literacy—their ability to read and write. Below are some great tips that will support you as a parent in taking part in your child’s speaking, understanding, writing and reading skills.

Reading bedtime stories

What are the reasons behind reading to your child? There are many benefits but the most important is that reading helps your child learn new words and understand different languages. The best part is, you can read to your child in more than one language and they will still learn to speak and understand that language. The key is to keep reading to your child, as much as possible, especially the stories they are most interested in.

DID YOU KNOW:

  • A child needs to hear 1000 stories before they will learn to read
  • Reading aloud to babies builds their memory skills
  • Asking your child what’s not in a story could expand their thinking and imagination
  • Bonding– chemical change of skin to skin while reading

Repeating words & sentences

How is your child able to remember so many words? It all depends on how many times you repeat a word. Your child will learn as many words as you say out loud but the key is to repeat words again and again. For example, when you take your child grocery shopping, you can name the items you place into your basket such as “this is orange juice”. The more detailed the sentence, the better for your child to understand. Grocery shopping is not the only time to teach words to your child, you can teach your child at any time of the day or night: dinner time, bath time, cooking, play time etc. The everyday moments you are already spending with your child are the very best times to build language and literacy skills.

DID YOU KNOW:

  • 50% of words in English language can be learned by just sounding out the word
  • Children need to hear a specific word 250 times before they remember it
  • The more words parents use when speaking to their baby, the greater size of their child’s vocabulary by the age of 3

Singing songs

Songs and nursery rhymes are always a great way of leaning new languages. Usually, your child will end up getting bored by simply hearing the words but you can make it more fun by singing songs and nursery rhymes to them. This way, your child is not only having fun but also learning new words through the songs and nursery rhymes. The songs below may be enjoyable for your child because they consist of many repeating words:

More songs with lyrics »

DID YOU KNOW:

  • A child who knows 4 nursery rhymes by the age of 4 will naturally be a better reader by age 8
  • During the first few months, your baby just likes to hear your voice, so it doesn’t matter what you sing or read to them
  • When you sing, your voice soothes your baby

As you look back at history in our society, fathers typically have not played a significant role in the early years of their child’s development. More typically, mothers have taken on that role, becoming the primary caretaker through those early formative years. Fathers would participate less frequently in their children’s everyday moments such as feeding, bathing, bedtime, reading, etc. largely because they were working, but as often, because there was a general discomfort with knowing what to do and how to do it. In today’s world, times have changed. More and more fathers are breaking the stereotype, spending quality time with their newborns and taking a much more active role as Dads, particularly through those first 5 years. And it turns out- this is really important for the healthy development of their child.

DID YOU KNOW:

  • Father’s Day is celebrated the third Sunday in June in over 50 countries around the world.
  • In the underwater world of the seahorse, it’s the male that gets to carry the eggs and birth the babies.
  • Children highly involved with their fathers or a consistent male role model have a lesser chance of acquiring behavioral problems.
  • Québec has the highest “paternity leave” rate for fathers across Canada.

Just as a baby benefits from the love and nurturing of a mother, a baby also benefits from the love and nurturing of a father. There are special ways for fathers to become really involved in the everyday moments they share with their children:

  • Holding your baby near you and talk to them- this actually helps their language and literacy
  • Once Mom has finished breastfeeding, take the opportunity to cuddle with your baby with soothing tones – this will help you bond together
  • Read picture books daily; even infants benefit from you reading to them
  • Play – every day! You are your child’s #1 playmate!

As children grow older they often look up to their fathers for advice; they can share everything with their fathers, just as they do with their mothers. Studies have shown that children with involved fathers or a consistent and positive male role model, build meaningful relationships and are more ready to go to school.

With Father’s Day just around the corner (June 19th), we celebrate Dads!

1. Now is the time to start setting limits that go beyond safety.

Decide on a few rules that really matter. For instance, “be gentle” and “no hurting others” are good rules for a toddler. Try not to have too many limits or rules about little things that are not important. If you do, everyone will end up getting angry. Let your child know what the rules are and stick to them. Be firm and be consistent. Remind her of the limits before going out or doing something new. And make sure your child’s caregivers know the rules, too.

2. Toddlers respond better to limits when they feel loved. Try talking to your toddler in a positive way.

Say, “Please close the door quietly,” instead of “Don’t slam the door.” Pay attention to his good behaviour and tell him that you are proud of him. This can build your child’s self-esteem and he won’t want to battle with you all the time.

3. It takes time for toddlers to learn to make friends and get along with others.

Their social skills will improve as they learn to talk and control their movements more. Playing with your child will help her get ready to be with others. Talk with her in a happy, playful way. You can even act out ways of dealing with new situations that your toddler will face.

4. When you need to leave your toddler with a new caregiver, start by introducing them for short periods of time when you are there, too.

Try to let your child get used to the caregiver before you leave them full-time. For the first few days, stay with your child and the caregiver for a little while. This will help your child adjust and help you learn more about daycare. Stay for a little less time each day. This will make the first couple of weeks easier for you and your child.

5. Bring your toddler’s favourite toy and a snack when you go out.

Talk about where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. Tell him how you expect him to behave (“Stay with Mommy”). Also be careful about the time of day you go – children need their snacks and naps. If you think the outing will be too much for your child, leave him at home or with a caregiver, if you can.

6. Toddlers need routines.

They learn to expect what will happen next. This gives them a feeling of control. Bedtime routines are important and can make life happier for everyone. Set a regular bedtime hour. Make a routine that includes calming things like a bath or reading a book. To help your child learn the routine, tell her ahead of time what the next step will be.

7. Toddlers will get into mischief.

Faster than you can imagine! They are busy exploring the world around them. It is not difficult for them to break things or hurt themselves. Make sure your toddler has safe surroundings and is never alone for long.

8. All toddlers break the rules at times.

How you respond depends on the situation and your child’s age. Think about how your child is feeling. When he misbehaves, it’s often because he is upset. He isn’t trying to make you mad – he just doesn’t know how to tell you what’s bothering him. Try to figure it out. Was he bored without you? Was he excitedly trying new things? Understanding your child’s feelings may help you guide him better.

9. Your toddler needs to know that you will be there when she needs you.

A secure child will more eagerly explore the world around her. If you notice that your child is having difficulty, stop what you’re doing and go to help her. If she is finding it hard to be part of the group, try giving her a toy related to the group’s play to help her join in.

10. Being a parent can be tough.

Parents need to give each other support. Some parents form groups to talk and help each other out. Ask your local health unit, library or community centre to help you find one of these groups. It’s important you know you’re not alone. Research confirms that all parents both need and want help!

All babies need their parents and caregivers to provide sensitive, responsive attention to them. When you do this, your baby learns to trust you and forms an attachment to you.

Your baby will send cues to you when he is ready for you to engage with him, and will send different cues when he has had enough.

  • Crying: babies cry when their feelings are out of control. They cry when they are hungry, tired, bored or in pain. Find more on crying here.
  • Facial expressions: quivering lips and furrowed eyebrows usually mean your baby has had enough stimulation, and just needs some comfort, or some down time. A smile means she is ready to engage with you.
  • Eyes: wide open eyes are an indication your baby is ready for more contact. An averted gaze means, please stop whatever you are doing.
  • Gestures: even small babies can bat things away, when they are tired or irritable. And they quickly learn to hold their arms up, when they want to be picked up.

Your baby’s cues are signals for you to provide some attention, but what kind of attention? Here are a number of different ways you can engage with your baby:

  • Soothe him
  • Feed him
  • Hold and cuddle him
  • Provide body contact, or skin-to-skin contact
  • Show affection
  • Gesture back – mimic him
  • Change your facial expression
  • Sing, hum, whistle
  • Talk to him as if he can understand you
  • Do some physical activities, like running, skipping or jumping together

If your baby is feeling hurt, sick, upset, sad, frightened or lonely:

  • Comfort and reassure her by holding, kissing, and talking quietly and calmly
  • Take her to a quieter environment where it is calm

You can make it easy for your child to become attached to you by paying special attention to her when caring for her daily physical needs. For example, during:

  • Feeding – hold your baby comfortably, looking at your baby face-to-face, this is an opportunity to hold your baby skin-to-skin
  • Diapering/dressing – talk, sing, smile, and play games, such as peek-a-boo
  • Sleeping – sing a pre-nap song, recite a rhyme or tell a story, hold and rock your baby
  • Bathing – talk about the body parts as you wash and dry your baby

Were you warned? Many new parents are. Often, grandparents and other experienced parents pass on solemn warnings to new parents like you about the challenges of dealing with your baby’s willful misbehaviour. But, what is the truth and what is fiction? Is it possible that your baby is capable of defying you? Of being manipulative?

It’s hard to believe but, as your baby’s mind develops, it can happen: Your little angel demands to be picked up or refuses to nap. Our experts have put together some tips to help you find out when this behaviour starts and what you can do about it.

The Beginnings of Will

Let’s take a closer look at your baby’s will. What does “will” look like in the beginning?

You will begin to see glimmers of your baby’s will during the period from 4 to 6 months. By 4 months of age, your baby may begin to cry in an attempt to have you come and play with her. This behaviour doesn’t usually become regular or really purposeful until the end of the sixth month or later.

The onset of your baby’s deliberate crying to call for you indicates that she has trust in your relationship, because you have reliably met her needs when she has cried in the past.

This type of crying is different from regular fussy periods, which often appear at the end of the day. The fussy periods are more related to your baby’s adjustments to her nervous system, along with her ever changing sleeping, eating and activity levels.

What triggers will?

Your baby’s newfound ability to crawl around independently fuels his developing sense of separateness. From 7 to 10 months, your baby experiences a rapid growth in his awareness of what he can control or cause to happen. What a stage! Babies become accomplished at asserting themselves in both delightful and exasperating ways.

What is will?

At about 9 months of age, willful behaviours tend to emerge. Your baby will begin showing that she has an opinion that doesn’t always correspond with yours.

There is an important distinction you need to make regarding what it means for your baby to “mind.” Often, what distresses parents is the fact that their baby refuses to have the same mind set as they do. If your baby doesn’t mind, it’s because she’s following her own will rather than listening to you. With a 6- to 12-month-old, this rarely stands for real defiance (as in, “I won’t”).  At this stage, it almost always means that she is simply stating her wishes (such as, “I don’t want to,” or even, “I really, really don’t want to.”)

Defiance is rare before your baby’s first birthday and is not very typical before 18 months of age. If you think you see an early onset of defiance, ask your baby’s physician for a referral to a child guidance clinic. This type of challenge is most successfully handled in the early stages.

A Helpful Strategy

Remember—a strong will is a sign of good health. Your baby need’s a strong will to achieve all the milestones in the following months and years of life! Don’t be afraid of it. When thinking about and working with your baby’s emerging will, there are two aspects of Positive Parenting that are particularly important.

1. Positive Parents are understanding of their baby’s temperament.

You are an understanding Positive Parent when you:

  • Understand your baby’s temperament and work with it.
  • Build on your baby’s strengths.
  • Are flexible with your baby.

2. Positive Parents are reasonable.

You are a reasonable Positive Parent when you:

  • Are consistent and predictable.
  • Set and communicate clear limits and expectations.
  • Construct consequences for irresponsible behaviour that are natural and reasonable, but not disciplinary.

If you’re going to attempt to have your baby sleep through the night, you need a good plan! If you’re not sure how to proceed with this approach, we can help.

If you’re going to attempt to have your baby sleep through the night, you need a good plan! If you’ve done night weaning, have a good going to sleep routine and you feel like your child will respond well to Cry it Out, it’s a good idea to have a plan for how to start using the method.

Not sure how to proceed with this approach? This is where we can help. In the link below, we have outlined specific steps for you to follow. Remember that if you encounter too much resistance, wait a few weeks and then try again. The timing of this approach can vary so much—depending on your individual child and yourselves.

  1. Be prepared. This method requires a large amount of groundwork. The success of this method depends on both parents preparing themselves emotionally and planning their steps carefully in advance. To begin, if you don’t have a stable bedtime routine for your baby, give yourself at least two weeks to get that firmly established. Take whatever time you need to discuss together and agree on your Cry It Out plan.
  2. Put your baby in his crib when he’s drowsy but not quite asleep.
  3. Whisper your comfort words to your child—something like “night, night” or “sh-sh-sh”—and leave the room. If she cries when you leave, let her cry for your predetermined wait period
  4. If your baby is still crying at the end of your predetermined wait period, return, but leave the light off. Keep your voice quiet and reassuring. Don’t pick him up. Instead, pat him and reassure him for no more than a minute or two. If possible, lay him down and pat his tummy or massage his temples. Leave again while he’s still awake—even if he’s crying.
  5. If your baby is still crying, follow your plan, and stay out of the room a little longer than the first time. Follow the same routine. Stay out of the room for gradually longer periods. Each time, return for only a minute or two to pat and reassure your baby. Then, leave while she’s still awake.
  6. Follow this routine until your baby falls asleep—with you out of the room.
  7. If your baby wakes up again later, follow the same routine. Begin with the minimum waiting time for that night and gradually increase the intervals between visits. Do this until you reach the maximum for that night.
  8. Increase the amount of wait time before responding each night.
  9. Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate. Each day, ask yourself how things are going for you, for your relationship and for your family. During stressful times, it’s critical for you to stay open and honest with your partner. Let your combined creativity adapt this approach to your particular needs and desires.
  10. Decide whether to continue. The Cry It Out method doesn’t always work. For some families, it works just the way it is supposed to. After a few nights and a few tears, their child sleeps contentedly through the night. For other families, the tears continue and the promised sleep doesn’t come. When this happens, you need to try something else.

Hitting the toy store when you’re a parent can be an exercise in being overwhelmed. There are rows and rows of shiny, colourful objects and it’s hard to know which ones are worth the price. First-time parents can be especially unsure, as it’s hard to know what their new baby will enjoy and what toys will help with her development.

In order to choose the best toys available, parents need to understand a bit about their child’s development. Our experts have created the following list of skills that a one-month-old has developmentally – these are great things to keep in mind when choosing toys for a newborn. But remember, your baby’s best toy in the first year will will always be you!

Typical Emotional Skills

  • Enjoys/needs a great deal of physical contact and tactile stimulation.
  • Responds positively to comfort and satisfaction.

Typical Fine Motor Skills

  • Stares at colourful objects 8 – 14 inches away.
  • Follows person with eyes while lying on back.
  • Generally keeps hands closed in a fist or slightly open.
  • When fingers are pried open from their usual fist position, baby grasps the handle of a spoon or rattle, but drops it quickly.

Typical Gross Motor Skills

  • Lifts her head when held against your chest; his head sags, flops forward or backwards when not supported.
  • All arm, leg and hand are usually held in a flex position; when they do move it is with little control.
  • When lying on her back, you will see the tonic neck reflex which is characterized by the head turned to one side; the arm on the side that the head is turned is extended while the other arm is bent upwards.  The leg on the side that the head is turned is extended and the other leg is bent at the knee.  This is similar to the position that a fencer assumes.
  • When on her tummy, she turns her head to clear her nose from bed; may lift head briefly.

Typical Intellectual Skills

  • Cries when hungry or uncomfortable.
  • May make throaty sounds like ‘ooooh’ or ‘aaaah’.
  • Pays close attention to faces of those closest to him.
  • Responds to loud or sudden noises with a sudden start; this is one of the early signs of a developing response system.
  • Focuses on high contrast patterns and faces; prefers these to bright or big objects.

Typical Social Skills

  • Fixes eyes on your face in response to your smile.
  • Moves body in response to your voice during interaction.
  • Quiets down when looking at familiar faces.
  • Engages in eye contact.

Here are some kinds of toys your infant might enjoy.

Babies learn to talk long before they say their first word. Therefore, both you and your partner should talk to your baby, right from birth. Listening to and becoming familiar with the sounds of language help your baby’s brain get ready to speak. Try to talk to your baby as you feed, change, dress, soothe, bathe or play with her. For example, you can describe what you’re doing, or put what you think she is feeling into words.

Try to look at and smile at your baby, and be expressive and animated when you’re talking to him. When your baby starts to make sounds, try to repeat them and add to them. For example, if your baby says “ba-ba,” you can make it into a word, like “bye-bye” and wave as you say it.

Another way to prepare your child to speak is to talk about things your baby is seeing as you go through your daily routine. For instance, on a walk you could point out the leaves on a tree or children playing. And as your baby begins to reach for objects, repeat the name of what she is reaching for.

It’s also a good idea to read lots of stories and rhymes to your baby, and sing songs. It doesn’t matter if your baby doesn’t understand the words. The more he hears language, the more easily he will learn it.

Don’t think you can speed things up or avoid having to talk to your baby by playing tapes or the radio. It’s just not the same. Your baby needs warm interaction with you, the expression in your voice and the smile on your face in order to feel secure enough to learn. So, when listening to tapes or the radio, join in. Sing along, talk back to the radio and dance with your baby to the music.

During the first few weeks after your baby is born, you are probably not going to have the time, energy or desire to leave your baby. Eventually, though, you will want to spend time together with family or friends. Here are some tips on how to ease back into circulation:

  • Plan ahead for your outing, and how you are going to go out.
  • Look for a babysitter fairly soon after the birth or even before your baby is born.
  • Choose someone you trust, a family member or someone you know well to take care of your baby.
  • Have the sitter come over to help care for your baby while you are at home for the first few times.
  • Plan to go out for only a short period of time for the first few times.
  • Time your outings around your baby’s schedule.
  • Plan for plenty of time to give the sitter a thorough orientation.
  • Leave a number where you can be reached.
  • You may still experience some anxiety, so call home to check how things are going.

The first few times may be stressful, but your ability to relax will improve as you take more occasions away from your baby.

Babies are born with the need to form close relationships with caring and responsive adults – what childhood experts call “attachments.” If children don’t have the opportunity to develop close, uninterrupted attachments with nurturing adults during the early years, young children will find it more difficult to learn, to become confident and to trust others.

Babies can form consistent attachments with the people who are around them most. These few important relationships create a sense in your child of what kind of world this is and what her place is in it.

A secure attachment to caring adults helps your child learn to adapt to circumstances more easily, and to overcome difficult situations throughout his life. This kind of attachment helps your child to believe the world is a friendly and safe place. Having a parent or caregiver who learns to understand and respond to a baby’s signals, such as picking baby up and comforting him when crying, will help to form a secure, healthy attachment.

Relax, and don’t worry about making mistakes. It will take some time for you to learn what your baby is trying to communicate. All parents learn by trial and error. As long as your baby knows she can count on you most of the time, she’ll be amazingly flexible and forgiving.

Your baby’s sleep habits are very different than what you’re used to! If your baby isn’t sleeping or is sleeping poorly, we encourage you to check out our articles on those areas, but if you’re wondering what you can do to encourage good going-to-sleep habits (and hopefully more regular sleep), read on to see what our experts suggest.

Everyone wakes up several times each night for brief periods of time. As adults, we put ourselves back to sleep most of the time. We often do it so quickly that we don’t even remember the next morning. If your baby hasn’t learned to put himself back to sleep, he may wake up crying in the night, even if he’s not hungry, teething or lonely.

Before Night Time

Often parents don’t consider what they do during the day when they are trying to set up night time sleep routines. But good going-to-sleep habits don’t just begin at bedtime.

Make sure your baby has a regular daytime schedule

For the first month your baby’s day and night schedule does not vary much; she will eat and sleep about every 2-3 hours. By 3 months, your baby will have a period where she will be awake during the morning, afternoon and evening with a longer stretch of sleep usually between 7pm and 1 am.  For many babies, bedtime seems to go more smoothly if their daily schedule has been consistent. Have your baby nap, eat, play and get ready for bed at about the same time every day; she’ll be much more likely to fall asleep without a struggle.

Encourage your baby to get plenty to eat during the day

Except during those times when a baby is going through a growth spurt.  In the first few months this may happen around 2-3 weeks, about 6 weeks, 3 months and later; the spurts usually last for a few days although for some babies may last longer.  During these times your baby will need to feed more frequently. Feeding your baby more often will help to increase your supply of milk. As your baby gets older after 6 months this strategy is especially important if your baby becomes so involved in what he is doing that he forgets to eat. If you help him get enough to eat during the day, he’ll be less likely to wake up hungry during the night.

Establish regular naps

A consistent nap routine helps to regulate your baby’s 24-hour sleep/wake cycle.

Create a comfortable sleep environment

Create and tailor a comfortable sleep environment for your child. Some babies need more quiet and darkness than others. You may want to use recordings of soft music, nature sounds or the sound of a gurgling aquarium. These can be very soothing. Also, don’t overdress your child or overheat the room. If your child is a light sleeper and rouses easily with noise or changes in light, try using a baby monitor or video monitor instead of opening his door to check him.

For more about bedtime routines, see the following articles:

Click here to learn more about your sleep and your baby.

Want your baby to start sleeping through the night? It can happen! But, first you need to begin night weaning your baby. We can guide you through this process with some time-tested Comfort, Play & Teach® strategies.

Generally, it’s okay to start night weaning your baby after he’s 6 months old. But check with your health care provider to be sure there’s no medical reason to continue a night time feeding. Some babies wean themselves, while others are open to it if their parents take the lead.

In many cases, babies cry only a little for a night or two along this process before adapting to going through the night without waking for a feeding. However, if your baby cries inconsolably for several nights in a row, go back to your normal routine and try again in a week or two. He may be going through a growth spurt and need that feeding to satisfy his hunger. This is not spoiling him. In this situation, you are not training him to get what he wants by crying. Instead, you will be responding to his needs—and this is a good thing.

These activities can help you night-wean your baby

  • Timing is everything. Don’t try night weaning if your routine is changing or about to change—especially if you’re about to become less available. For example, it’s not good for your baby to attempt night weaning just before you return to work. Try to undertake night weaning a long time before or considerably after you make such a change. It’s also not a good idea to try night weaning during a vacation or shortly after a move. Your baby can be affected by these changes in her routine. She will naturally want to connect with you at night if she is in a strange place or if she has less of your time during the day.
  • If you’re the one who comforts your baby when he cries at night, try having your partner attend to the baby. The smell of you or your breast milk can make your baby want to feed.
  • Throughout the process, gently soothe and comfort your baby when he wakes. Explain that it’s sleepy time. Repeat gentle soothing, but firm words such as “sh,sh” or “night night” while patting his back or tummy. Even though he’s too young to understand your words, most babies gradually understand the meaning, and your presence soothes them.
  • Be sure to keep any play that takes place just before bed quiet and calming such as reading a book or giving baby a massage. A revved up baby may fall asleep in exhaustion, and then wake up in the middle of the night with energy left to burn off.
  • Don’t reward your baby with play in the middle of the night. Some parents feel that if their baby is awake, they might as well get up and play. Keep nighttime for sleeping and daytime for play.
  • Wean slowly and gradually. This is the most important key to successful night weaning. Remember that your baby is still young and has a tremendous need for comfort, closeness and reassurance—particularly from his parents.
  • Very gradually give your baby less time on each breast or a little less milk at each feeding.
  • Very gradually prolong the intervals between feedings by patting and comforting your baby. This will gently urge him to go back to sleep.
  • Make sure your baby gets plenty to eat throughout the day. Offer your child extra feedings in the evening so he won’t be hungry in the middle of the night. Wake him for a final feeding before you go to bed.

When it comes to young children and sleeping the most predictable thing might be how unpredictable their sleeping habits can be! It can be frustrating and exhausting when your child isn’t sleeping well. In this section you’ll find articles to help you better understand sleep and your baby.

There are valid reasons for parents to use either the Attachment Parenting approach or the Cry It Out approach. Let’s continue to look at what we believe:

The success of either approach depends on:

  • Is the approach done well? (For example, do it gradually for the Cry It Out method; avoid smothering your baby with attention with the Attachment Parenting approach.)
  • Are there other factors in your baby’s life? (For example: Did Mom go back to work? Is your baby teething? Is your baby ill? Is she having a growth spurt? This happens at around 6 months for some babies.)
  • Are you emotionally prepared for it? (For example, the amount of crying in Cry It Out; the amount of dependency in Attachment Parenting.)

Can you tolerate waking up in the night?

Not every parent can tolerate waking up in the middle of the night. When you respond to your baby out of frustration, anger or stress, your baby can pick up on your emotions.  If this is the case, the Cry It Out method may be more helpful. If any of the following apply to you, consider using the Cry It Out method:

  • Do you become sleep-deprived easily when your baby interrupts your sleep at night? Sleep deprivation may leave you unable to parent well during the day.
  • Can you control your emotions in the middle of the night? Some parents always feel anger when their baby wakes them up. They just can’t stop these feelings.
  • Do you need to conserve your energy and alertness for your daytime job? For some parents, their co-workers, patients, customers, students or clients count on their alertness, creativity and courteousness—even though these parents have a baby at home.

When it doesn’t work.

The Cry It Out method doesn’t always work! For some families it works just the way it’s supposed to. After a few nights and a few tears, their child sleeps contentedly through the night. However, for other families, the tears continue and the promised sleep does not come. When this happens, parents need to try something else.

When your baby’s bottom is red and sore, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve done something wrong as a parent. But almost every baby gets diaper rash at least once before outgrowing diapers. This can be painful for your baby and upsetting for you, so what is diaper rash and how can you prevent it?

Diaper rash is a form of dermatitis, which is a skin irritation or inflammation that’s confined to your baby’s diaper area around the buttocks, genitals and thighs. When your baby has a diaper rash the skin in one or more of those areas will appear red and puffy and will feel warmer than other areas of your baby’s skin. He might appear fussy or cry, especially when you touch him in that area.

When your baby is wearing a diaper, that diaper can keep his bottom warm and damp, which is the most common reason for diaper rash. If the diaper or other clothing fits too snuggly it can also chafe and irritate baby’s sensitive skin, leading to diaper rash. Other reasons include urine and stool irritating baby’s skin, a change in stool when your baby begins to eat new foods after six months of age, bacteria or a yeast infection and, occasionally, it is caused by a reaction or allergy to a product such as laundry detergent or lotion, or to the fragrance in such products.

While diaper rash can’t always be prevented, there are several things you can do to decrease the chance that your baby with get it.

  • Change your baby’s diapers often, especially when they are soiled with stool.
  • Clean your baby’s diaper area and then apply a layer of petroleum jelly or zinc oxide ointment over the area before putting on a fresh diaper.
  • Make sure the diaper isn’t over-tightened.
  • Diaper liners and breathable covers for cloth diapers can help to keep your baby’s skin drier.
  • Wash cloth diapers in hot water and mild detergent, after pre-soaking them if heavily soiled. Avoid fabric softeners and fragrances.

Most new parents have heard about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or “Crib Death,” as it is sometimes called. The sudden and unexpected death of a healthy infant under the age of one occurs more often than you would think – in Canada, three babies a week die from SIDS. Why this happens is still unknown, but certain factors are known to increase the risk of SIDS.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce the risk.

SIDS is a scary prospect for parents but through a few simple precautions there are some strategies you can use to limit your baby’s risk.

  • Put baby to sleep on his back. Unless your baby’s doctor has told you otherwise, the safest position for newborns to sleep is on their backs. Contrary to what lay people may have told you, this position is not more likely to cause your baby to choke. When babies are old enough to turn over on their own, you do not have to force them to sleep on their backs.
  • Ensure there is good air circulation around baby’s face. Check that the mattress is firm and flat, and that it fits the crib well. Don’t forget to throw away the plastic wrapping that the mattress came in. This will help prevent your baby from smothering. Also, to prevent suffocation, do NOT put pillows, comforters, stuffed animals or bumper pads in your baby’s crib.
  • Make your baby’s environment smoke and drug free. To reduce the risk of SIDS and other causes of disease and disability, moms should not use drugs, alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs before and during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding. As parents, you will need to make sure that nobody smokes near your baby. This is healthier for your baby and it reduces the risk of SIDS.
  • Don’t let baby get too hot. Babies need to be warm, but making them too hot can increase their risk of SIDS. How can you tell? Chances are that if the room feels warm enough for you, it’s warm enough for your baby. Feel the back of your baby’s neck, rather than your baby’s hands and feet – they’ll always feel cooler. If the back of his neck feels warm, your baby is warm. Put the same number of layers as you’re wearing on your baby, with maybe an extra light layer. Your baby should not be sweating.
  • Try breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not only the best way to feed your baby, it may also protect from SIDS.

No sleep environment is completely risk free, but you can do a lot to keep your baby safe. In addition to the recommendations above, The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends:

  • Place your baby in a crib that meets the Canadian Government’s safety standards. This is the safest sleeping environment for your baby in the first year.
  • Do not share your bed with a baby under the age of 1 year. This increases the risk of SIDS. If you want your baby near you at night, put your baby’s crib in your room.
  • Avoid air mattresses, waterbeds, pillows, soft materials and loose bedding. They are unsafe—even for temporary sleeping arrangements.
  • Avoid using foam wedges or rolled towels for positioning your baby for sleep.
  • Don’t use your baby’s car seat or infant carrier as a substitute crib—even when travelling. The harness straps could cause your baby to stop breathing.
  • Do not sleep or nap with your baby on a couch, recliner or cushioned chair. It could result in a fall, injury or suffocation.
  • Don’t leave bottles of milk or juice in your baby’s bed because these are choking hazards.

Click here to learn more about your sleep and your baby.

Your baby’s sleep habits are very different than what you’re used to! If your baby isn’t sleeping or is sleeping poorly, we encourage you to check out our articles on those areas, but if you’re wondering what you can do to encourage good going-to-sleep habits (and hopefully more regular sleep), read on to see what our experts suggest.

Everyone wakes up several times each night for brief periods of time. As adults, we put ourselves back to sleep most of the time. We often do it so quickly that we don’t even remember the next morning. If your baby hasn’t learned to put himself back to sleep, he may wake up crying in the night, even if he’s not hungry, teething or lonely.

At Bedtime

Once you have a good daytime routine, your bedtime routine should go more smoothly. Here are some tips to help:

Put your baby to bed early. Keeping your baby awake to make her more tired is a myth! This will not help her fall asleep sooner or sleep through the night. Be sure to put your baby to bed early. Overtired babies seem to have a harder time regulating their sleep at night.

However, if you need to move your baby from a later bedtime to an earlier one, make the change gradually. Don’t suddenly move her bedtime from 9:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Gradually move her bedtime a little earlier each night until you reach the time that seems best for you and your baby.

Stick to a bedtime routine. You and your baby will both benefit from a regular bedtime routine that is at the same time every night. For most, it’s quiet play, a bath, a book and then lights out. You may want to add or substitute a last feeding, a song or a quiet game. Just be sure to follow the same routine every night. Babies thrive on consistency!

Use words and sounds to signal that it’s time for sleep. Whisper something like “night, night” or “sh-sh-sh” over and over when you are soothing your baby to sleep—or back to sleep. Soon he’ll link the phrase with going to sleep.

Give your baby plenty of chances to fall asleep on his own. Put your baby in bed when she’s relaxed and drowsy, rather than nursing or rocking her all the way to sleep. This helps her learn to fall asleep on her own. Without this skill, she will probably need you to help her fall asleep when she wakes up during the night. Partial wakenings in the middle of the night are normal even after baby is 6 months old; a baby who can self-soothe will be able to fall back asleep without your help and you will be able to get the sleep that you need.

For more about bedtime routines, see the following articles:

Click here to learn more about your sleep and your baby.

You’ve decided to try Cry it Out, also know as The Ferber method after the doctor who popularized it, but you want to make sure that your baby is ready. Our experts suggest that you start the Cry it Out method no earlier than 6 months, and preferably wait until your baby is 9 months old or older. They base this opinion on many developmental factors of infants. But, you need to decide what is appropriate for your own baby and your family.

If you’re not sure whether your baby is ready, just give it a try. If you encounter too much resistance, wait a few weeks and then try again. Waiting doesn’t mean that you’re spoiling your baby; you’re simply responding to your baby’s needs.

There are a few things you need to do to ensure that you have a good chance for success with the Cry it Out method. Before starting, have a bedtime routine already in place, and wean your baby’s night time feedings as much as possible.

Once that’s in place, talk to your partner and determine that you are both totally on board. It is essential that both parents understand and agree with how to proceed and create a unified parenting front. Be prepared for a few difficult nights – it can be excruciating to hear your baby cry and you need to support each other if one of both of you finds it hard to do.

You should have a plan in place for how you’ll endure the periods of crying. Maybe you’ll want to watch TV or listen to music to distract you from the crying. If one of you finds the crying too hard take turns staying close to the baby while the other leaves for a bit.

You’ll also want to decide in advance how much crying you’ll allow before determining that this isn’t the right method for you or that your child isn’t ready. If you have a plan in place beforehand you will have an easier time then you would making a decision in the heat of the moment.

When you start the Cry it Out method make sure that both of you are relaxed. Maybe you’ll choose to start on a Saturday night or a long weekend when neither one of you has to be up for work the next day, and you have the emotional reserves to handle the first few nights of this method. You also want to make sure that the baby’s life is pretty stable. If you are expecting any major changes to your baby’s routine, and especially if you are going to be less available, it’s probably best to wait. Start the method well before or well after going back to work and don’t start close to vacation time or a move.

In Dr. Ferber’s book, he suggests the following intervals for crying:

  • Night #1: Let your baby cry for 3 minutes the first time, 5 minutes the second time, and 10 minutes for the third time and any other periods.
  • Night #2: Let your baby cry for 5 minutes the first time, 10 minutes the second time and then 12 minutes for the third time and any other periods.
  • Night #3: and beyond: Make the intervals a little longer on each subsequent night.

There’s nothing magical about these wait periods. You can choose any length of time, and any number of nights that you feel comfortable trying.

If you’re feeling frayed after a few nights try to relax and think about the end result. When it’s all over everyone in your household is going to sleep more easily and happily and that should make it all worthwhile.

Placing babies on their backs to sleep can decrease the risk of SIDS. However, some babies who sleep on their backs develop flat spots on the backs of their heads.

This does not affect brain development, but the flat spot can develop over several weeks and become permanent over time. This is often called Flat Head.

By alternating the way you position your baby in the crib or infant seat, you can help to prevent flat head. For example, one day place your baby with his head pointing toward the headboard of the crib; the next day, place him with his head pointing toward the footboard of the crib. Babies can turn their heads and will do this, especially if they have something interesting to look at, like a brightly-coloured toy or mobile. Make sure you place it close enough for your baby to see—about 10 to 15 inches away.

The other way to help prevent flat head is to be sure to give your baby some tummy time several times every day while your baby is awake.  Tummy time not only takes the pressure off the back of your baby’s head it also helps the muscles in your baby’s neck, to develop further.  You can do this in a variety of ways

  • Lay on your back and place your awake baby on your chest;
  • Place a blanket on the floor and place your baby on their tummy – you can even lay beside them and talk or sing to them;
  • If you have an exercise or birth ball you can rest your baby tummy-side down on the ball, hold the baby in this position and gently move the ball.

Some babies may not like being on their tummy, listen to your baby’s cues and try again at another time. Begin with short periods of time at first and gradually increase the amount of time they are on their tummy.

Is there anything more comforting to a child than the gentle touch of a loving parent? It is said that touch can speak louder than words and that touch is our first language. How true! When a father cuddles his baby or a mother rubs the back of a crying toddler, their touch is saying in no uncertain terms, “I care.” This quiet yet clear communication between a parent and child is powerful, and its positive effects on children cannot be overstated.

Research shows that babies will cry less if they are touched regularly. We also know that a parent’s touch does more than simply comfort babies; it has actually been proven that it helps them grow and develop.

In one study, premature babies who were touched and massaged regularly by their parents gained more weight and were more active, alert and responsive than babies who were not massaged.

So remember, when you comfort your young child, regardless of her age, touch can play an important role in how you communicate your affection and support.

It is also important for parents to be in tune with their children, and to read the cues and clues that children give about the type and amount of touch that suits them at a particular moment. Sometimes too much cuddling will make a baby cranky; if this happens, it’s time to back off. In fact, some children are naturally more reactive and sensitive to touch than others and at times may find too much touch over-stimulating. They’ll let you know when they need a break – your job as a parent is to recognize and follow their lead. Often, a casual touch on the shoulder is enough to let children know that you love them.

So read your child’s cues, and remember that touch can speak louder than words. When it’s used sensitively, it sends a powerful message of love and security.

Here are some tips that will help you encourage your baby to begin talking.

  • Try to respond to whatever type of communication your child makes, such as pointing and gesturing.
  • Provide your child with a model for conversation. For example, ask some questions and talk about what your child is doing and what you and other family members are doing.
  • Try to speak slowly, naturally and clearly to your child.
  • Read stories together.
  • Give your child lots of opportunity to be with other children to hear their conversations.
  • Try to help by putting your child’s feelings into words in situations that make him frustrated.
  • Sing and dance to music together.

If you find that your child makes no attempt to speak by 18 months, doesn’t use many gestures to communicate, or seems to have trouble understanding what is said, discuss this with your child’s physician, or call the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists at 1-800-259-8519.

Babies are born with the need to form close relationships with caring and responsive adults, which are called “attachments.” If children don’t have the opportunity to develop close, uninterrupted attachments with nurturing adults during the early years, young children will find it more difficult to learn, to become confident and to trust others.

Infants and young children can form consistent attachments with the people who are around them most. These few important relationships create a sense in your child of what kind of world this is and what her place is in it.

A secure attachment to caring adults helps your child learn to adapt to circumstances more easily, and to overcome difficult situations throughout his life. This kind of attachment helps your child to believe the world is a friendly and safe place. Having a parent or caregiver who understands and responds sensitively to a baby’s signals, such as picking baby up and comforting him when crying, helps the baby form a secure, healthy attachment.

Relax, and don’t worry about making mistakes.  All parents learn by trial and error. As long as your baby knows she can count on you most of the time, she’ll be amazingly flexible and forgiving.

Experts recommend that babies are always placed on their backs to sleep because this reduces the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS, also called crib death, is when a baby dies suddenly and unexpectedly, for no apparent reason.

Some babies, however, develop flat spots on their heads as a result of always lying on their backs. This occurs because the weakness in their neck muscles can cause them to turn their head to the same side over and over again, and this puts pressure on their soft skulls.

Head flattening does not affect brain development, but in some cases it can be permanent. There are some things you can do to prevent flat head. For example, when putting your child to bed, you can alternate putting a mobile to the left and to the right of your baby, so he turns his head a different way every night. It’s also important to make sure your child spends some time during the day lying on his tummy (learn more about tummy time), when you are there to watch him. In addition to helping you prevent flat head, spending time on their tummy is also important for babies’ development.

For more detailed information on SIDS and flat head and other practical suggestions on how to prevent them, visit Caring for Kids (from the Canadian Paediatric Society) If you continue to be concerned about your child’s flat head, however, talk to your doctor.

There are things that you can do to help teach your baby the difference between daytime naps and going to bed at night. It is suggested that starting with a consistent bedtime routine from the very first night. Routines really help ready your baby for sleep by gradually decreasing stimulation. New parents are often exhausted as they realize that their baby doesn’t know the difference between night and day – meaning many sleepless nights and a big adjustment to their usual sleep schedule.

Here are some suggestions you can follow to create a routine:

  • Give your baby a warm bath – keep in mind that some baby’s develop dry or irritated skin when bathed daily, so this may not work for your child.
  • Give your baby a massage.
  • Dress your baby in different clothing at bedtime, such as pyjamas.
  • Make sure your baby has a dry diaper.
  • Read a book to your baby (even though baby doesn’t really know what you’re reading, this can be comforting and it is a way to bond).
  • Quietly sing a lullaby or play soothing music.
  • Keep the lighting low – use a night light or draw the blinds.
  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
  • Feed your baby.
  • Walk, rock or cuddle to help relax and calm your baby.

If your baby wakes up, always respond. Once you’ve figured out and solved the reason for waking – hunger, wet diaper, etc. – keep talking and other stimulation to a minimum. This will make it easier for your baby to settle again.

For more about bedtime routines, see the following articles:

Click here to learn more about your baby and sleep.

It doesn’t take new parents long to begin to understand their babies’ sleep patterns…or lack of them. When new parents with young babies get together, one of the common topics of discussion is their babies’ sleep! Many ask the all-important question, “When will my baby start sleeping through the night?”

The term ‘sleeping through the night’ means different things for different parents. A baby’s sleep schedule is anything but predictable! For some it means their baby sleeps continuously from midnight until 7am, for others, it means 11:30pm to 5:30am with several awakenings in between that don’t wake the parents.

Babies often wake briefly several times during their sleep; if nothing stimulates them, they fall back to sleep again and parents may not even realize the baby was awake. If baby wakes and is hungry, that may cause some crying, it is the only way she is able to tell you that she needs you.

For the first couple of months, it may be easier to have your baby sleep in their crib next to you. You will begin to hear her stir and can feed her before she starts to cry, which means you may be able to return to sleep a little faster.

By six weeks of age, many babies begin to sleep for a five to six hour stretch between seven p.m. and 1:00 a.m. and have about six feedings in a 24-hour day. It’s normal for a seven-week-old baby to sleep 14-18 hours a day. They may sleep for five to six hours at night and then again in the morning and afternoon and then have a period during the day when they are awake and sociable.

Foster is quick to point out, however, that each baby is unique and that it’s important when your baby is little to do what works for him. If your baby still needs that 5:30am feeding, you should continue it. In another month or so, at around 10 to 12 weeks old, he may only need five feedings in 24 hours and he will adjust his sleep schedule.

Hang in there! Your baby’s night time schedule might not be ideal for you, but it’s probably very typical and likely won’t last much longer.

If you are concerned that your baby isn’t sleeping enough or is sleeping too much, be sure to contact your health care provider.

Click here to learn more about your sleep and your baby.

Both new and seasoned parents strive to help create some order out of the possible chaos of the few first months and routines are a great way to achieve that.

Here are some some common routines you might establish with your little one.

Bedtime Routines

Did you know that a nightly routine can help your baby learn to go to sleep and to sleep better? Now, what parent would turn that down? So how do you do it?

Watch your baby for signs of sleepiness; closing his eyes, squinting, rubbing his eyes or face, yawning, etc. Those signs present an opportunity to start a bedtime routine. If your baby likes water and relaxes in it, this would be a good time for a quiet bath, if instead a bath wakes him up or dries out his skin, perhaps soft music will help him relax. Once he’s dressed for bed, cuddle up together and read a few books. Help him to learn the difference between day and night by making his surroundings quiet, dark and cool when putting him to bed.

The same goes for naps. Creating a predictable routine to ease into a nap will help him learn to do this for himself. On another note, some babies have a very difficult time waking up, especially from naps. They rise totally disoriented and many cry very hard. A wake-up routine that provides them with the comfort they require is very important for these babies.

To learn even more about bedtime routines check out our articles on sleeping.

Mealtime Routines

Until your baby is 12 weeks or 3 months old, she should be eating on demand and she may still be feeding during the night. After that, you may notice that your baby feeds about five times a day at fairly predictable times. This pattern is actually the beginning of her future eating routine.

By the time she’s 6-months-old, her eating patterns will be more noticeable and predictable. This is also the time that you’ll start to feed her solids, iron rich foods, such as iron-fortified rice cereal and meats. Some experts feel this helps to establish mealtime routines. You can start your baby’s mealtime routine at this time, perhaps feeding her on your lap at the dinner table or using a high chair pulled up to the table, and using a baby spoon or plate.

Watch this Infant Mealtime Video for strategies and tips!

Play Routines

Talk to your baby from the beginning of his life, even though he can’t hold up his end of the conversation. Sometime during these first 6 months, he’ll start making the beginning sounds of talking, maybe even responding to your chatter. Now that’s exciting! Talking to your baby about what you see, what you’re doing, about everything, helps him to learn language and communicate.

Playing is the work of babies. It’s how they learn about themselves, others and the world around them. By the time your baby is 3 months old, set aside regular play time every day.

While playing with your baby, teach him about his world—the textures of items, the different sounds you can make with your voice, the different shapes and colours of objects. Everyday activities, such as diaper changing, bathing or helping your baby to wake up, all provide opportunities for you to make teachable moments from the everyday moments you spend with your child.

For some parents, the idea of babies having routines sounds crazy, while others knowingly nod their heads in agreement. Both new and seasoned parents strive to help create some order out of the possible chaos of the few first months and routines are a great way to achieve that.

Babies are born into a world where everything is new to them, and they arrive without much memory to help them remember from one day to the next. Their brains are growing at an amazing rate, though! The more the learning circuits in their brains are repeated, the easier it becomes for them to learn—about us and how we live.

Starting a Routine

While it is important to feed your baby on demand for the first several months of life, once you start to follow a pattern, you’ll help your newborn learn to trust that you will soothe her hunger—if not right this minute, then soon. The same goes for sleeping. Newborns don’t know the difference between night and day. Starting from the first day at home with your baby, follow a nighttime routine of bathing, changing, feeding, lowering the lights and eventually leaving the room. This will help your baby transition into the nighttime sleep routine, teaching her that night is the time for sleeping.

Don’t expect your baby to understand or stick to a routine right away. The patterns that will become routines will soon be clear to you.

To help pave the road to a routine, do things in the same order each day, as you get a feeling for your baby’s rhythm and for what works for both of you.

Our experts have created a list to help you understand why it can be important to have a routine.

Routines help your baby learn about all of the following:

  • Your baby will learn to trust you and know that you will make her feel safe and secure.
  • A routine will help your baby learn and remember things. Repetition helps build your baby’s memory as she learns to recognize predictability in her strange new world. This makes your baby feel safe and secure. She’ll be able to relax and will have the energy she needs to be curious, to want to explore and learn new things.
  • Your baby will begin to build social and language skills. For example, if you always say “goodbye” when someone is leaving, your baby will learn the word “goodbye,” the meaning of the word and the social response that goes with it.
  • Routines will help teach your baby about the concept of past, present and future. The repetition of routines helps your baby become familiar with things, which boosts her brain development.
  • Your baby will start to build skills. Routines, like a daily bedtime story, give your baby a chance to learn and practice skills, practice taking turns and understand new ideas, such as “wet” and “full.”

Click here for some common routines you might establish with your little one.

It’s common for new parents to worry that their baby is crying too much. And, like most new parents, you are likely being bombarded by advice and ideas on how to deal with this from your friends and family.

It’s completely normal for new parents to be concerned when their baby cries. Of course parents feel uncomfortable when their baby cries, but all babies do. It’s the main way they have to tell you that they need something.

Parents worry that if they always pick up their baby when he cries they will spoil him, but that just isn’t true. Your newborn isn’t crying to please or upset you – he doesn’t know how to do that yet. He’s just letting you know that he needs something or that he’s upset and unhappy. In fact, babies that are soothed when they cry actually cry less in the long run. Also, if you don’t respond to your baby’s cries on a regular basis it can interfere with his ability to trust you and other people now and in the future.

Our experts have put together some facts about crying and some tips to help you cope.

  • It’s common for many babies to cry more during the first six weeks. Gradually, as they learn to soothe or quiet themselves down, they’ll cry less and less. It takes a while for this to happen, though. Some babies who have very sensitive temperaments, can take a long time to learn to soothe themselves.
  • It’s typical for young babies to cry many times a day for a total of about 2 hours in a 24 hour period. But you have to remember, every baby is different. Some cry more often or for longer periods. This can add up to 3 or more hours in a day. Most of these babies are healthy and growing well.
  • Talk to your doctor about your baby’s crying at your next appointment. Ask if she has any guidelines about when to call or when you should worry. There are no real hard and fast guidelines, but if you want to know what’s typical and normal try filling out a crying log to show to your baby’s doctor.
  • And never hesitate to call the doctor if you are worried about crying. The staff will ask you more specific questions and help you gauge your baby’s needs.
  • Babies cry for lots of reasons. He could be hot or cold or have a tummy ache. Maybe he is just lonely and needs to be held. Finding the reason for his cries is part of the learning – in time you will learn most of his cues.
  • Babies do not need to cry to develop their lungs. Most babies don’t know how to soothe themselves for at least the first six months and sometimes longer. So always try to soothe your crying, young baby.
  • Avoid letting him ‘cry it out.’ Keep trying to soothe him. Your baby needs to feel your presence.
  • If you feel frustrated or angry, you can let your baby cry until you feel calm again. Letting your baby cry is better than you feeling the urge to shake him or worse. Try calling someone for support; ask for help. It’s OK to need a break now and then.
  • When your baby is fussy try consoling him by walking, rocking and talking softly to him. Sometimes a warm bath helps or singing. Some parents find taking their baby for a drive helps, as the motion of the car can be soothing.
  • There are two red flags to watch for when your baby is crying: one is a very high-pitched cry and the other is a really feeble cry. IF your baby cries in either of these two ways, or if you’re worried about your baby, call the doctor or take the baby to the emergency room.

As a new parent, one of the first things you discover is that your baby’s sleep patterns are very different than your own. A baby’s sleep pattern is not predictable and it can be a big adjustment! Some newborns sleep 16 hours a day, some 21 and some only 11 – and over the course of their first 6 months, they will pass through a number of different stages.

In the first few months, your baby will pass back and forth between periods of sleep and wakefulness, each amounting to about 3 or 4 hours. Once your baby is 3 or 4 months old, nighttime sleep tends to lengthen.

Adults tend to spend about 20% of their night in a light Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, but very young infants spend about half of their sleep there. It’s normal for babies to lie quietly or seem like they’re neither really awake nor really asleep. If nothing catches their attention, they may just fall back to sleep.

Sleeping and eating go together, so as time between feedings increases, your baby will have stretches where they will sleep for a longer period of time. But remember, babies wakeful times are not completely linked to food. Your baby’s internal clock regulates eating, sleeping, elimination and moods. As newborns, babies don’t know the difference between night and day – they sleep and wake at any time.

New parents are often at their wit’s end dealing with a baby’s crying. Sometimes it feels like the baby will never stop crying and nothing you do seems to soothe her. So what do you do when you feel like you just can’t handle one more minute of your baby’s cries?

It can be hard to walk away from a crying baby, but if you’re starting to feel especially stressed out or frustrated, the best thing to do is put the baby down in a safe place – usually her crib – and remove yourself for a few minutes until you’re calm enough to be safely with her. Remember that it’s normal for babies to have these crying spells when nothing seems to work and, while it’s important to try to comfort and soothe her, it’s equally important to know when you’ve reached the limits of your patience.

It is suggested that new parents have a back-up plan, someone who they can call to come help, or who can talk it out with you until you feel calmer. Unfortunately, sometimes a parent will get so frustrated that they will shake their baby to stop the crying. This is very dangerous and can lead to injury or even death. No one means to hurt their baby, but it does happen. That’s why it’s so important to put your baby in a safe place when you’re at the end of your rope.

When these moments hit, try turning on your favourite music, or running the dishwasher or washing machine. Sometimes white noise will help to muffle the sound a bit and it can give you a short break to calm down and a different noise to focus on. This white noise may even be soothing for your baby and help her to settle.

It’s also important to remember that your babysitter or other caretakers for your child may have the same frustrations. Babies are even more likely to have a crying spell when someone else is caring for them, so talk to your sitter about ways to cope if she feels like she’s losing her patience.

Never be afraid to call your doctor or go to the emergency room if you are concerned about your baby’s cries. You are the best person to judge the condition of your baby.

When babies are awake, it’s important for them to have some ”tummy time” every day. This helps prevent babies from developing a flat spot on the back of their heads.  It also gives them the chance to develop muscle strength and it encourages them to practice movements that are part of normal physical progress. Daily tummy time prepares babies for important milestones, such as pushing themselves up, crawling and walking.

Before you begin tummy time, wait until your baby’s cord has come off—about a week to 10 days. Be prepared to have tummy time right along with your baby. She may need to be coaxed at first because lifting her head is hard to do. However, she will love your company. Have fun!

Is there anything more comforting to a child than the gentle touch of a loving parent? It is said that touch can speak louder than words and that touch is our first language. How true! When a mother rubs the back of a crying toddler her touch is saying in no uncertain terms, “I care.” This quiet yet clear communication between a parent and child is powerful, and its positive effects on children cannot be overstated.

So remember, when you comfort your young child, regardless of her age, touch can play an important role in how you communicate your affection and support.

It is also important for parents to be in tune with their children, and to read the cues and clues that children give about the type and amount of touch that suits them at a particular moment. Sometimes too much cuddling will make a child cranky; if this happens, it’s time to back off. In fact, some children are naturally more reactive and sensitive to touch than others and at times may find too much touch over-stimulating. They’ll let you know when they need a break – your job as a parent is to recognize and follow their lead. Often, a casual touch on the shoulder is enough to let children know that you love them.

So read your child’s cues, and remember that touch can speak louder than words. When it’s used sensitively, it sends a powerful message of love and security.

Reading is one of those pleasurable activities parents can engage their children in, that provides so many developmental benefits. When done on a regular basis, reading helps young children to develop language and listening skills and prepares them for recognizing the written word. Most importantly, reading provides the opportunity for parent and child to enjoy each other’s company in a quiet, fun and emotionally satisfying way.

Make reading a part of your child’s daily bedtime routine. From the youngest infant to the oldest preschooler, reading at bedtime provides comfort and security. The nicest way to end the day is sharing a favourite story with a parent.

Pay attention to which pages or books become your child’s favourite. When you support your child’s interests he gets the message that what he likes or cares about is valued.

Describe the emotions shown in pictures or in the characters, e.g., “Baby bear looks sad. Do you think he needs a hug?” Young children need to hear and learn the words for feelings as they begin to make sense of their own emotions.

Take time to talk about the story together. Say, “I wonder what will happen next” or ask, “What do you think this girl is going to do?” This simple conversation stretches your child’s imagination and creative thinking. For younger children ask them to point to an object when you ask, “Where’s the cow?” or wait for a response when you ask, “What’s that?” Very young children will learn that communication is a two way process.

Change the tone of your voice and use lots of animation in your face, e.g., whisper for someone who is sleeping, or use a lower tone for something that is big. This will engage your child in the story and she will also learn to watch your face and listen to your voice for different emotions.

Reread stories that have become favourites and leave out key words or phrases. Your child will love to fill in the blanks, practice beloved rhymes or take the opportunity to retell the story in her own words. This will make reading an interactive experience.

Take the opportunity to talk about the colour, shape and size of objects. Your child will be into his preschool years before he’ll be able to identify and label the abstract concepts of size, shape and colour but books provide a simple vehicle to make them aware of such concepts.

Some toddlers are more expressive, some more timid. Some are very physically active, and some are more sedate. Some are sensitive to loud noises, while others are not bothered at all. Some thrive when surrounded by people, while others are content to play alone quietly. These differences are what we call temperament, and much of this becomes evident in the first few months after birth.

As parents, it is important to recognize and accept the basic temperament of your child, so you can respond appropriately. For example, if your child’s temperament is timid, introduce new activities slowly and allow time for him to build up confidence. If your child’s temperament is highly active, give advance notice of changes, so she doesn’t fly off the handle. And, if your child’s temperament is easy-going, remember that even though she copes well, you are still needed – so check in and stay connected.

At around 18 months of age, children will begin showing more independence, such as insisting “I do it myself.” It’s important to understand that your child sees herself as the centre of the universe – not in a selfish way, but in a self-centered way. In other words, she believes everyone is experiencing what she is experiencing; what she knows, everyone knows. This happens because, at this age, seeing herself as a separate being can be a bit scary and confusing.

You also may notice that your child’s moods swing rapidly – between being proud and bold, to whiny and scared, or even to being angry and throwing tantrums. This, too, is part of your child’s struggle for independence.

It’s around this time that children start experiencing the new emotions of pride and shame. Dealing with these emotions can be very tricky, so try to be careful not to make your child feel ashamed of his efforts to do something, even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you expected. For example, feeding himself is usually pretty messy at this age. But acknowledge his efforts and soon the neatness will come.

Socially, children will enjoy playing near other children, but not necessarily with them. At this stage, your child isn’t ready for you to teach her to take turns. That comes a little later. In the meantime, provide opportunities to have other children around, but be ready to gently intervene (many times) when her lack of sharing skills needs shaping.

Remember, each child is unique. Not all children develop at the same rate in each area, such as movement, communication and relating to others, so this information is meant only as a general guide. If you have concerns about your child’s development, you should consult your child’s doctor.

When you comfort your frightened child, you are helping him feel safe. This sense of security gives him the courage he needs to eventually face and conquer his fears. It’s normal for all youngsters to be afraid of something at one point or another, whether it’s thunder, large dogs, bees, the dark or imaginary things such as ugly monsters under the bed. And some children’s temperaments make them naturally more fearful than others.

Here are some things to consider when you are comforting your fearful child.

  1. Even if you don’t really understand what your child is afraid of, or you don’t think it’s something that should frighten her, remember that the fear is very real to her, so deal with it seriously. Never belittle the fear as a way of forcing her to overcome it. For example, it won’t help matters if you say, “Don’t be ridiculous! It’s just a clown.”
  2. It’s important to talk to your child about his fears. Words have a way of taking some of the power out of negative emotions and making them more manageable for young children.
  3. No child should be forced into dealing with something she is afraid of before she is ready. When you feel she can handle it, gently encourage your child to confront a fear by gradually exposing her to what she finds frightening. For example, if your toddler is afraid of the sound the vacuum cleaner makes, let her touch it when it is turned off, or have someone else turn on the vacuum while you hold and comfort her. Gradually, she will become less afraid as her feelings of safety and security increase.
  4. If you show excessive concern when your child is upset, you may unintentionally reinforce your child’s fears, giving him the impression that there really is something to be afraid of. Sometimes just providing age-appropriate information in a calm and reassuring tone can be helpful. For example, you might say, “That’s a very loud noise, isn’t it? It’s an ambulance. It must be on its way to help someone.”
  5. Prepare your child for things you expect will frighten her. For example, if you’re visiting a friend who has a dog, tell your child about the dog before you arrive, reassuring her that the dog is friendly and gentle and really likes children. Give her the opportunity to talk about any concerns she has in advance, and together you can develop a plan to help her cope when she eventually encounters the source of her fear. Maybe you’ll both pat the dog together, or she’ll offer him a biscuit to show that she’s his friend.
  6. Keep reminding your child of the things that he is no longer afraid of. This will help him feel empowered, and he’ll realize that it’s possible to overcome other fears, too. Learning to deal with fear is an important part of growing up and can greatly increase your child’s confidence. Therefore, you play a big role in gently and gradually helping your child confront and overcome his fears. But remember, let him work up to it. And if he gets upset, comfort him, hold him calmly and reassure him that he’ll be OK.

To help your child to talk more, it’s a good idea to talk to her whenever you’re together, carrying on a flow of conversation about what you’re doing, and about what she is doing. Try to be animated, using gestures and lots of expression in your voice. Emphasize important words and phrases. But you should pause frequently and for what may seem to be a long wait, so your child has a chance to digest what you have said and to respond. It also helps to have lots of books around and to read to your child often.

Try to encourage his talking by asking some open-ended questions (such as “How do you…?” or “What do you think?”) or by talking about subjects he is interested in. Sometimes, for very quiet children, a good beginning is to ask him to fill in words in familiar rhymes or stories that they know by heart. Really listen to your child, getting down at his eye level and looking at him when he talks. When playing together, follow your child’s lead and talk about what you’re playing with.

It may be tough, but try not to get frustrated by what sounds like “baby talk” from your child. And don’t correct your child’s speech too much. The best thing you can do is set a good example in the way you talk. If you are concerned that your child is behind in language, you may want to call the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists at 1-800-259-8519.

Here are several strategies from our experts that you can try to help your toddler stop wetting the bed:

Limit how much your child drinks after dinner especially any drinks with caffeine. Try and limit any fluids 2 hours before bedtime.

Use training pants and not diapers.  Diapers may interfere with your child’s motivation to get up and use the bathroom.

Make access to the bathroom easy. Place a nightlight in the bathroom or leave the hall light lit.

Encourage your child to empty his bladder a second time, just five minutes after the first time, right before bed.

Wake your child during the night to go to the toilet. However, some experts say that if she’s not really awake, it’s almost like encouraging her to pee while she’s sleeping.

And, place a portable toilet by your child’s bed so that if he wakes up and has to go quickly, he can.

Use of rewards and punishments is no longer recommended as an effective way to manage bedwetting.

If the bedwetting continues despite all your efforts, consult your child’s doctor for more specific strategies.

Work, household chores and social activities all put a strain on your time with your toddler but it’s really important to spend quality time together. This will help build a trusting relationship, and reassure your child that he can count on you. But you can’t turn on quality time like a light switch. It comes sometimes when you least expect it, if you spend enough relaxed time and do enough things together.

You will, no doubt, start by looking for things that you can do to free up more time for family, such as:

  • Deciding which household chores can be left undone or be done imperfectly in order to make more family time.
  • Leaving certain things until after your child has gone to bed to make the most of your time together.
  • Turning some routines, such as driving to daycare or doing the dishes, into quality time by singing together or talking seriously about what is happening in your lives.

There will be occasions when the time you spend with your toddler may have to be juggled around a bit, but try not to skip them entirely. Also, try to spend time alone with EACH of your children.

Remember that children like things that are predictable. So plan your quality times so that they can take place regularly. Maybe you can eat dinner together, or go to the park first thing every Sunday morning.

It is important to remember that no matter how old a child is, all areas of development are intertwined, and progress depends on nurturing every facet of development – social, intellectual, language, emotional, gross and fine motor. Each child develops at his own pace within a distinct period of time. Every child is unique and requires different care.

Toddlerhood is a balancing act for everyone, as your child struggles between the need to be independent and try so many new things and the need to rely on and feel protected by parents and caregivers. As a result, toddlers shift suddenly in their emotions, going from “me do it” to tantrums when they are frustrated. She wants help, but then again, she doesn’t – it’s all part of becoming an individual. Lots of patience and encouragement are essential, as parents and caregivers guide toddlers who need to do so much for themselves. Toddlers cope much better with separation and are better equipped to form new attachments. Although routines are important, so are flexibility and giving your toddler easy choices. Parents and caregivers are beginning to see a real sense of their child’s temperament and personality.

Your toddler demonstrates a new level of self-awareness – by how he calls himself by name, identifies body parts, recognizes himself and family in a photograph, dresses himself and has a simple understanding of having his own things. Practicing self-help skills is an important part of a toddler’s day, and many children begin toilet training during this time. Toddlers can communicate feelings, desires and interests using words and gestures. They also have a good idea of where things are located in and around the house or at child care.

By age two, many toddlers can play on their own and concentrate on an activity for a brief period of time. There is more and more pretend play with props, looking at books and singing simple songs. As toddlers gain more control over their bodies, they love to run, kick balls, jump and climb, get on and off chairs, step backwards and sideways, go up and down the stairs and push and pull toys. As the movements of the small muscles become more refined, toddlers can do simple puzzles, take lids off jars, fit a series of objects into one another, draw vertical lines, turn pages of a book one at a time, build bigger towers and use a fork. It is during this age range that children begin to sort and match things, count, tell the difference between “one” and “many” and start distinguishing colours and shapes.

Toddlers continue to play alongside other children. Sharing can be encouraged at this age, although it should not be expected to be perfect. At times, toddlers become very frustrated, especially if they are unable to make themselves understood, and may bite others as well as hit or pull hair. A lot of play is accompanied by language, as now toddlers have a vocabulary of approximately 50 words. They can name familiar everyday objects, use two-word sentences and communicate whole ideas with one word, such as “milk” for “I want a glass of milk.” Sometimes it can be a difficult task for parents and caregivers to figure out exactly what the child wants. Toddlers begin to have a basic understanding of time, such as “soon,” “not now,” and “after your nap,” but do not have a concept of “yesterday.” And “no” is still a very popular word with the two-year old!

It is very important to give your toddler plenty of opportunities to cooperate with household chores: setting the table, cleaning spills, cooking, loading and unloading the washing machine, sorting dirty clothes, etc. Your toddler has a fascination for all these activities and by allowing her to participate in them you are not only making her feel important and helpful to the family, but you are also giving her a great opportunity to develop inner aptitudes for concentration, order, calmness, coordination, and motor skills, as well as teaching her to take care of her environment.

Remember, no child purposely wets the bed. And while it can be frustrating or upsetting for both of you, there are ways to make it easier on everyone. Here are several of them.

Try to decrease the amount of fluids your child has before bedtime and especially drinks that have caffeine. Make a routine of having your child go to the bathroom immediately before bed.

Put a plastic sheet on your child’s bed and keep extra sets of clean sheets and blankets close by. You can even place a towel on top of the bottom sheet to help absorb any urine when your child doesn’t wake in time to go to the bathroom. This makes clean up in the middle of the night a lot easier on both of you, and you don’t have to worry about ruining the mattress.

Use training pants instead of diapers. Diapers can interfere with your child’s motivation to get up and use the bathroom.

Make access to the bathroom easy. Place a nightlight in the bathroom or leave the hall light lit. If the bathroom is a distance from your child’s room, consider using a portable toilet in your child’s room.

Be supportive. Tell your child you know it’s not her fault and let her know that many children take longer to develop this kind of control. Other family member such as siblings need to be supportive and not tease about bedwetting.

Don’t expect too much too soon, or punish or shame your child for bedwetting. If you do so, things will only get worse.

If your child is becoming embarrassed about wetting the bed, or you think bedwetting is going on too long, consult your child’s physician for more specific strategies. Most children stop by age 5-6 years.

These days, with both parents working in most families, mornings can be a difficult time as everyone tries to rush out the door. The result can be that each family member ends up unhappy and stressed — as if you’ve already put in a day’s work. But the bottom line is, you have to get to work, and your child has to get to school or childcare.

Consider the following reasons why small children dawdle in the morning:

  • Your child may not want to leave the comfort and safety of home for the outside world.
  • Your child may find it hard to move as fast as you want her to, because that speed doesn’t match their natural rhythms.
  • Your child may still be tired and sleepy in the morning, so if you push them to hurry, they become stressed. If your child is tired almost every morning, they may need to go to bed earlier in order to get more sleep.
  • Your child may be worried that you think your work is more important than they are.

Helpful tips for an easier morning:

  • If your child seems tired, reassure them, but explain that they still have to get ready. As frustrated as you might become, never yell at or physically hurt your child.
  • Lastly, when you drop your child off, let them know that you’re not angry with them and make it clear that you are coming back.

Learn more about making mornings more pleasant for you and your child.

You know what it’s like when your little one starts in with that whiny tone. It can drive even the calmest parent crazy!

When preschoolers begin to whine, the most important thing to do is not to give in.

  • If you do, it will teach your child that whining is a good way to get what they want, and they will do it again, and again. Instead, let your child know that you expect them to speak to you without whining.

Acknowledge your child’s efforts when they speak without whining.  If your child keeps whining, stay calm and ignore it until they speak properly. If you think your child is really overwhelmed by a situation, though, they may need a hug or a back rub to break the cycle.

Here are some suggestions from our experts to prevent whining:

  • Watch for situations where your child may get bored, and prepare for them.
  • For example, have a bag of toys for your child to play with while you’re on the phone.

  • Teach your child the difference between whining and asking properly.

  • Try to pay attention to your child when they talk to you in a normal voice.
  • If you ignore your child when they are asking for something nicely, your child may start to feel that the only way to get your attention is to whine.

Bedwetting is challenging for parent and child. There is the waking in the middle of the night, changing clothes, cleaning up, constantly laundering bedding and changing the sheets! It’s a tough time for you both.

Remember, no child purposely wets the bed. And while it can be frustrating or upsetting for both of you, there are ways to make it easier on everyone. Here are several of them:

Try to decrease the amount of fluids your child has before bedtime. Make a routine of having your child go to the bathroom immediately before bed.

Put a plastic sheet on your child’s bed and keep extra sets of clean sheets and blankets close by. This makes clean up in the middle of the night a lot easier on both of you, and you don’t have to worry about ruining the mattress.

Be supportive. Tell your child you know it’s not her fault and let her know that many children take longer to develop this kind of control.

Don’t expect too much too soon, or punish or shame your child for bedwetting. If you do so, things will only get worse.

If your child is becoming embarrassed about wetting the bed, or you think bedwetting is going on too long, consult your child’s physician for more specific strategies. Most children stop by age 5-6 years.

Adjusting to a new setting takes time. Your preschooler needs to know that you are on his team as he moves towards being comfortable in a new daycare or school.

Here are several ways to help your child adjust to a new daycare or school:

Let your child know that you realize change isn’t easy and that you know it takes time to adjust to new places, people and things.

Be supportive and encouraging, not impatient or frustrated.

Explore the new area, or new daycare or school with your child in advance of going there on the first day.

Along with your child, get involved with new groups and activities at daycare or school. This will help you feel more connected to your child’s new situation, too.

Help your child find the playgroups and activities she has always liked doing, and try to get her involved, outside of daycare or school.

Where possible, allow your child to stay connected with friends from his old daycare or school.

Ask your child what you can do to help – children often have great ideas about how you can help them feel better.

It would be a mistake to let your child stay home from a new daycare or school just because he is afraid and doesn’t want to go. But don’t force your child to get involved in outside activities too soon – he’ll let you know when he is ready. And try not to say things like, “We moved three months ago – aren’t you over it yet?” That will just make your child feel worse.

If you find that your child is sad, withdrawn, angry, acting out, doing unusually poorly in the new daycare or school, or showing physical symptoms of anxiety and things don’t seem to be getting better even long after the move, consult your child’s daycare provider or school teacher to see if they are noticing the same behaviour, and then consult your child’s physician.

By age three, your child is becoming more and more her own person and you’ll be able to get a real sense of personality. Your child will gain self-esteem and a sense of who she is. Children are not as afraid of being abandoned now, and are generally optimistic and cheerful.

Your child is probably more willing to please you, but that won’t stop him from expressing his own unhappiness and opinions about things. This is actually a step forward, because your child will learn to stand up for himself, so try not to discourage it totally.

Your three-year old will be sociable and capable of some cooperative play, although she still won’t be great at taking turns or sharing. She may spend more time negotiating how to play, and with whom, than actually playing. For example, “I’m not playing with you today, I’m playing with her.”

Your child will be getting better at pretend play, with themes and stories, not just roles. His play may often have a “danger and rescue” theme with him taking the lead as the strong character, like Superman or a lion. Try to give your child the opportunity for play, both alone and with others, as often as possible.

By now, your child will begin to understand simple rules and be better at controlling her impulses. There may be fewer tantrums, because she can express herself and her feelings better with words. She may label feelings, like “I’m mad” or “I’m tired.”

Your child will also begin to understand that other people have feelings too. He will have more understanding of what “no” means, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll do what you’re telling him. Setting consistent limits and expectations continues to be important at this stage of development.

Remember, each child is unique. Not all children develop at the same rate in each area, such as movement, communication and relating to others, so this information is meant only as a general guide. If you have concerns about your child’s development, you should consult your child’s doctor.

Pick up your toys! Eat your dinner! Hang up your coat! Sound familiar?

When you tell your preschooler over and over again to do something, she can become pretty good at tuning you out.

Here are several ways to avoid nagging all the time:

Talk to your child when everyone is calm, about what is expected, what the rules are and develop a schedule for the tasks.

When your child doesn’t do what you want, instead of nagging, go to your child, get her attention, ask what she is feeling about the task and why she is hesitant to do it. Then, after you’ve dealt with your child’s reasons, in a calm way make it clear what your child is to do.

If your child often refuses to do, or never gets around to doing what you expect, speak to other parents to find out if what you’re expecting is reasonable. And ask what they do that works, instead of nagging, that gets things done.

Don’t nag to the point where you’re yelling and making threats about what will happen if your child doesn’t do what she’s asked, especially threats you know you won’t carry out (“If you don’t pick up your coat, you’ll have to wear it for a week straight!”). This is usually ineffective. Once you’ve lost your temper, all that most children think about is how upset you are. Be calm and consistent. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Follow-through is very important.

When you and your preschooler argue it can be hard to keep your cool, but there are ways to handle these squabbles that will help resolve the situation and hopefully cut down the number of arguments you face.

An argument is hard on everyone involved. Tempers flare and it’s not always easy to stop and listen to what the other person is trying to say.

It’s important to remember that there are at least two sides to every argument. And that there are complicated feelings at work on both sides. While you may be feeling that your child isn’t recognizing your authority, your child may be feeling she isn’t being heard, and that her views and feelings aren’t important to you. Both of you are sure to be feeling frustrated and hurt.

It is good practice to repeat what you heard your child saying. For young children, they may have some trouble saying what they really mean and it is helpful to make sure you are getting their message. For example: “What I hear you saying is that you want to finish the show before you clean you room.” If your child agrees that is what they are saying you can then give your position.

When someone feels you are listening to them it is usually easier for them to listen to you.

Validate the child’s feelings. “I see that you are angry,” or “I hear that you are feeling upset,” are great statement to make that let your child know you not only hear what they are saying but what they are feeling.

Identify if feelings are getting in the way of solutions. When feelings are high it can stop anyone from listening, but especially a child, who sometimes stops listening and responding to you. You cannot reason with a child who is in the middle of a temper tantrum or starts to stomp their feet. Let the child know that you know they are angry, or upset, or frustrated, but they need to calm down before you can talk with them. Give them some space and time and do not get into any discussion or arguing while they are in their “temper.” This is a great life skill to teach a child while they are young and one that many adults have not learned well.

Also, if your emotions are overwhelming you, let the child know that you need to calm down before you go on. This is great modeling. Once you are in control of yourself you can sit down with your child to go through their side and to give yours.

Don’t go on forever. Once all has been said it is time for a solution or decision. If it is something small you may consider having the child make the decision. If it is something more important or a consequence is required then you need to make the decision. Once made, the message to your child is that the arguing is over. There is no appeal court. If your child continues to argue the best response is silence or to ignore them. Follow up on whatever the decision is and give them time to calm down and respond.

Acknowledge their behaviour, Comment when your child behaves in the way you want them to act; For example; “Thank you for saying what you think so clearly,” or “Thank you for calming down so we can deal with the problem.” Or “Thank you for doing what you need to do and not arguing anymore.”

Sleeping problems are very common between the ages of two and four, even in children who slept well before then. Teething, mild infections and bad dreams can also cause sleeping problems. Many parents are concerned about their children’s sleeping habits, especially problems around getting to sleep or staying asleep. Sleeping problems are troublesome because lack of sleep, by either children or adults, can lead to difficulties in functioning well during the day.

Here are some suggestions that may help you deal with sleeping problems:

Make sure you have a consistent bedtime routine. This means carrying out bathtime, storytime and any other bedtime rituals at the same time and in a calm way. Avoid exciting games, such as running or rough play before bedtime. Calm music and a warm bath can also be relaxing.

Encourage your child to sleep with a special toy or blanket. This can help your child feel more comforted about being separated from you at bedtime.

Leave a light on in your child’s room or the hallway. This can comfort a child who seems to be genuinely scared of the dark. If your child is afraid, do not minimize these feelings. Listen to his concerns, but let him know that you believe that he can cope.

Sometimes a child who has overcome sleeping problems may have them re-appear because of illness, bad dreams or a change in the family situation (such as moving house, her parents’ separation or a new sibling). This is to be expected, and you will need to re-establish the sleep routine and coping strategies. Gradually, when your child feels safe, secure and able to cope, she will learn to fall asleep and stay asleep on her own.

You can help your child cope with the death of a pet by helping her to understand that loss and grief are a natural part of the cycle of life. Encourage your child to tell you what she is feeling and answer any questions. There are also books available in the children’s section of the library about a pet’s death, that you can read and talk about together.

Remember, it’s not the size or kind of pet that matters, but how important it was to your child – so don’t say things like, “It was only a goldfish.” If your child feels you don’t approve of the depth of his loss, it just makes it harder for him to cope.

It may be comforting for your child to have some kind of a farewell ceremony for the pet. Put a picture of the pet in your child’s bedroom. Encourage everyone in the family to talk about their special memories of the pet.

It’s not a good idea, while your child is grieving intensely, to try and distract him with fun activities. It can be very hard to accept the loss of a pet that was really loved. Children need time to experience all their feelings and accept the loss. Don’t rush to replace a pet in an attempt to help the child feel happy. Grief is an important natural process for all of us to learn about.

It is not unusual for a child to feel strongly and intensely sad about the death of a beloved pet for a period of six to eight weeks. However, if it lasts longer than this, consult your child’s physician. It may also be helpful to consult your child’s daycare provider or school teacher to see if this behaviour is happening away from home, too.

There are many things that can cause your child to stay awake at bedtime or to wake in the night and stay awake. Some examples are illness, digestive problems, allergies, a move to a new home, or change in child care provider and even anxiety. You may not know it, but your child could be feeling genuinely anxious about being separated from you at bedtime.

The best way to make sure that both you and your child are getting the rest you need is to establish a regular bedtime routine. It should be at the same time every night, with no rough or active play just before bed. A nice bath and bedtime story is a great way to calm your child before going to sleep.

Be gentle but firm about your child staying in bed after being put down. Encourage your child to learn to stay calm by singing and talking quietly to herself, or cuddling with a pillow or stuffed animal. Leave the room with your child awake, so he can learn how to fall asleep on his own. It’s also important that while your child is falling asleep, she is not distracted by excessive noise in the home, such as loud television programs, or the sound of older brothers and sisters playing.

It’s normal for your child to call out to you in the night, but you don’t have to go running right away. Try calling back to him first, just to let him know you’ve heard the cries and are near by. If your child continues to fuss, go into the room and use your voice and presence to calm him. Instead of picking him up, pat or massage him gently.

And remember, almost every child goes through several phases of testing you to see how late they can stay up. Stay gently firm and consistent. Getting angry doesn’t help ease your child into sleep.

You and your child are enjoying a play date when suddenly, your toddler grabs a toy from the other child. What do you do?

Aggression in toddlers is normal and more frequently driven by frustration and the impulse to get what they want, than by the intent to hurt someone. Toddlers tend to fight over possessions; they just know that they want something and they want it now!

Learning to control their emotions is a challenge at this stage. Tantrums are quite common and sometimes go with aggression. Toddlers can easily use aggression to gain attention. They do it spontaneously or imitate others and experiment with different behaviours. “No!” is a word toddlers love to use to assert their growing independence.

While physical aggression increases with age – generally peaking between the second and third birthdays – the good news is that somewhere around age three, the frequency of physical aggression should begin to decrease.

When emotions turn into aggressive behaviour, help your child learn how to channel those feelings
into acceptable behaviour. Using these strategies to prevent or to respond to aggressive behaviour will help your toddler contain his emotions and get along with others.

  • Respond to aggression with words of acceptance for what he is feeling, e.g., “I know you are angry.” He needs to know someone understands him.
  • Talk about what might be making your child feel the way she is feeling, e.g., “I can see you are angry because I won’t let you eat that. Let’s go over here and talk about it.” Your toddler needs to know you care about her feelings and that you will help her to cope with them.
  • The life of a toddler can be full of “no’s.” Be sure to notice and reward his good behaviour.
  • Provide opportunities for pretend play during which your child can experiment with and express different emotions. Join in the play so you can act out different emotions and show your child ways to work out challenging ones, without becoming aggressive.
  • Have play dates with other children on a consistent basis and be present so you can help your child deal more positively with any frustrating experiences that might lead to aggressive behaviour.
  • If your toddler hurts someone, get involved immediately. Toddlers need your help to understand what is wrong and how to repair the harm. Stay calm and avoid overreacting as this can actually increase aggression in children who are using aggression to gain attention.
  • Look into your child’s eyes and speak calmly, but firmly. You might say, “No hitting/pushing/ biting people!” and point out, “Look. You hurt him and he’s crying.” Young children need to learn the consequences of their aggression.
  • As things calm down, give a short explanation of what went wrong, acknowledging your toddler’s feelings, e.g., “I know you were mad, but what you did hurts. We don’t hurt people.”
  • Teach your child to say, “I’m sorry,” and help your child learn how to patch things up.
  • Encourage your toddler to use words to describe his emotions through activities such as pretend play or reading books together. Language offers children an alternative to expressing anger and frustration through aggression.
  • During daily routines and activities talk about your own emotions or those that your toddler may be feeling and expressing.

Positive Parenting Strategies to Cope with Aggression

  • It’s not helpful to be harsh, but it is necessary to be firm. Your toddler’s memory is under construction, and she will test to see if you are definitely consistent in many different settings.
  • It’s important to be a good example in handling your own anger and frustration. Brothers, sisters, and playmates will be imitated, too. Remember, set a positive tone for your toddler’s behaviour through your own actions, those of your other children and by choosing friends for your toddler who will be good models to copy.
  • Provide lots of reminders about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. It can be frustrating having to tell your child something over and over again, but some children need to be told many times before they fully understand you.

Even very young babies can show aggressive behaviour, like howling and thrashing. But how should you react if your 11-month old hits another infant?

Some typical adult reactions to aggression include punishment, laughing at it, or just pretending it didn’t happen. Some even think it is best just to “let the kids work it out” and not interfere at all. Like anger, aggression is a normal part of a child’s development and dealing with it is one of the most important challenges of parenthood. How your child displays her feelings and behaves with others can be influenced by her temperament. Differences in temperament will cause some children to be more aggressive while others are hardly aggressive at all.

When infants display anger and aggression, it is often due to discomfort, pain or frustration. Older babies will use aggression to protect themselves, to express anger or to get what they want. When your baby is aggressive, it is because he has not learned a better way of behaving.

Use these strategies to prevent or respond to aggressive behaviour. They will help your baby learn more appropriate ways of behaving with others.

  • Your crying baby is telling you something and it is important for you to respond. When you do, your baby will learn to trust you and other adults and know that you will respond consistently and sensitively when he is uncomfortable or upset.
  • Use a soothing voice and gentle touches. Expressing warm feelings through touch is crucial for your baby’s emotional development.
  • Try to understand what caused the aggressive behaviour and eliminate as many sources of
    frustration as possible.
    This helps her feel safe and secure.
  • Create safe play spaces so your baby can move through the house without constantly being told “don’t touch” and “don’t do that.” Too many “no’s” will frustrate and anger your baby.
  • Provide your baby with periods of play with you or other caregivers throughout the day. Play is a wonderful way for your baby to learn about his environment and how to relate positively with the people and things that make up his world.
  • When playing with your baby, provide many examples of your own caring behaviour, and use simple words like “softly” and “gently” to describe your actions.
  • Talk to your baby, congratulating him on every effort. Even if he doesn’t understand the words, he understands he is important to you and this makes him want to please you which is critical when he needs to follow your directions.
  • Support your baby’s early efforts to soothe herself. Thumb sucking or hugging a soft toy or blanket are rarely hard habits to break, and they help your baby learn to calm herself.
  • Provide your baby with consistent daily routines, which are the prelude to rules. Taking the guesswork out of his day will help him develop a sense of what to expect and how to respond to your family’s routines and activities.
  • Infants need to learn to cooperate and share. If your baby is grabbing or hitting another child, let her know that it is not OK. Show her how to ask for toys how to offer toys to others or redirect her attention to another toy or activity.
  • Use simple words to let your baby know that her behaviour is too aggressive. Remember, it will take lots of repetition before your baby understands what “no” means.

Positive Parenting Strategies to Cope with Aggression

  • Stay calm.
  • Treat any child who may have been hurt by the aggressor.
  • Make sure no one is laughing or giving the child’s inappropriate behaviour attention.
  • Try to understand what caused the aggressive behaviour to explain it to each child involved.
  • Tell the aggressor (even a baby) why the behaviour is inappropriate and what she can do instead.
  • Be consistent with any consequences and follow through.