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Meal time with your preschooler can be difficult, especially if they are a picky eaters, but try to avoid rewarding your child for eating a food they don’t like with dessert. Use these Nurture, Explore & Share tips to help make mealtime a good time for everyone.

Meal time can be an interesting and fun experience as you help your child discover new foods. Use the Nurture, Explore & Share tips to help make meal time an exciting experience.

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!

Your baby rejecting new foods might get you down, but make mealtime fun with little games. These Nurture, Explore & Share tips will help make mealtime a fun time again! Anyone can participate and share a meal or snack together!

Your baby might want to start doing things themselves! Give your child the chance to try it and help them if they needs a little guidance. These Nurture, Explore & Share tips will help you make the most of out of meal time. Give your baby the opportunity to explore their food using their different senses of taste, touch, smell and sound!

Your baby is growing fast but is still developing relationships with people around them. Keep interacting with your baby during mealtime, and use these Nurture, Explore & Share tips to build on the bond with your child. Family members or friends your baby is familiar with can be a great help with feeding time!

Meal time with your newborn baby is such a valuable time to connect with your baby. You can use this time to bond with your child with some easy Nurture, Explore & Share tips. Breastfeeding or bottlefeeding, anyone can help with feeding time, not just moms!

Preschoolers will love to mix together the following ingredients, and squeeze, stretch and shape the dough into crazy creatures they can bake, butter and bite into!

You will need:

  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
  • Coarse salt, sesame or poppy seeds (optional)

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 425° F. Grease two baking sheets.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Combine the flour, sugar and salt, and gradually stir it into the water and yeast mixture. When enough dry ingredients have been added, begin to knead the dough on a floured surface. Keep adding the flour until it is all mixed in. Children can use small pieces of dough and shape them into snakes, dinosaurs, insects…anything! There is enough dough to make about 25 creatures. When all the dough has been shaped, place the creations onto the prepared baking sheets. Brush each creature with the egg mixture and sprinkle with salt or seeds, if desired. Bake for 25 minutes, and when cooled, enjoy!

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

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.

Remember that feeding time with your newborn should be a time for you and your baby to be close, both physically and emotionally. Holding your baby close, making eye contact and talking or singing to them when you are cradling them all help to increase their feelings of security and attachment.

Below are several do’s and don’ts that will help make feeding time a close time between you and your baby.

  • DO get comfortable. Find a comfortable position to feed your baby. Before starting a feeding, make sure you are comfortable and have adequate support for your back and under your baby. Feeding time should be a time for you to relax and feel close to your baby.
  • DO let your baby call it quits. A healthy baby knows when to stop feeding. If your baby drinks less during a feeding, try offering once more after his refusal, but don’t push.
  • DO go skin-to-skin whenever possible. There is a special feeling babies get when they make skin-to-skin contact. When feeding in private, this can increase your baby’s feeling of warmth.
  • DO switch arms. This gives your baby a chance to see things from a different perspective, and also gives your arms a break. This should usually be done mid-feeding.
  • DO take your time. Don’t rush. Follow your baby’s cues. At some feedings your baby may be faster and at other times slower. Breastfed babies may do non-nutritive sucking to satisfy their need to suck. You can also let your baby suck on a clean finger. This comforts them and satisfies their craving to suck. The closeness of feeding times can be extended by singing and socializing with your baby.
  • DON’T interrupt a feeding. Your baby will have to concentrate at the beginning, and will do better with fewer distractions or interruptions. This may mean restricting visitors or visiting times.
  • DON’T feed in a place where it is noisy and chaotic. Use quiet rooms for feedings, and turn off or down phones, televisions and radios. If there are other children around, try to redirect them to a quiet activity during your baby’s feedings.

When your baby is unable to breastfeed, be sure to take note of the following information:

  • DON’T prop the bottle. All babies, but especially newborns, need the emotional fulfillment that comes from cuddling during a feeding. Holding your baby also leads to a more satisfied baby, since propping the bottle can result in poor positioning, which may mean that your baby does not get as much to eat. There is also a danger of choking if the bottle is propped.
  • DON’T put your baby to bed with a bottle. In addition to the risk of choking, and your baby missing out on the closeness of a feeding, there is a greater chance of your baby developing early childhood tooth decay.

Every day, there are plenty of opportunities to use Comfort, Play & Teach: A Positive Approach to Parenting. The following examples from our experts show how you can support the social development of your baby while doing your routine errands.

When you are running errands with your baby, he often gets lots of attention from the people around you. He sees many new faces and hears new voices, so make sure to talk to him and let him see that you are close to him so he feels comforted by your presence. This will help him develop a sense of security and give him the confidence to face unfamiliar people and surroundings.

You will also find that your baby is interested in the other babies you meet along the way. Don’t hesitate to stop for a few minutes and let your child interact and play with them; they may “socialize” by making eye contact and communicating through sounds or gestures.

When you leave the house and return, say “Good-bye” and “Hello” to other family members. Over time, this teaches your baby that he always comes back to his family, and that he can trust them to return when they go out too.

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.

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.

When toddlers get upset, it can be very hard on them and the people around them. Here are several suggestions from our experts to make things easier on everyone.

  • Offer your child a safe quiet place to calm down, away from others, but where she knows she is not entirely alone.
  • Help your child regain control of his emotions by teaching him deep breathing and to think about good things.
  • Try to calm your child by gently changing the scene into something more positive, like baking cookies, going for a walk or cuddling together while you watch TV.
  • Encourage positive, fun physical activity, like jumping on cushions, to help release strong feelings.
  • Most importantly, try to keep yourself calm when your child is upset. Remember that you can’t be helpful unless you are in control of your own emotions.
  • During your regular daily life provide a good example of coping with your own emotions by saying things in front of your child like, “I’m sure I can get through this if I slow down and think about it.”

Here are some practical suggestions for helping your children to enjoy eating nutritious food at mealtimes:

Have meals and snacks at regular times, which helps children’s bodies learn to expect when they will be fed.

Offer your children only nutritious snacks between meals which won’t let them get too full. This includes carrot sticks, apple slices, peanut butter on celery, and fruity yogurt.

Encourage your children to feed themselves as much as possible, whether with fingers or utensils. Acknowledge your child’s behaviour-“You ate all your vegetables by yourself tonight, you are getting so grown up.”

Try to relax about the amount your children eat, and which foods they eat. This keeps the tension levels down and makes mealtimes more enjoyable for the whole family.

Try to give your children at least one thing you know they like at meals, as well as something you’d like to introduce them to. But don’t worry if they don’t eat the new food. Sometimes it takes several exposures before little children learn to like a food.

Let your children tell you when they are full. But before they leave the table, make it clear that they will not be allowed to return for snacks until some reasonable time has passed.

Try to make sure your children have eaten at least a little solid food before giving them a drink. Drinks can be very filling.

And, try not to nag your children about eating. Avoid being very disappointed or angry when they don’t eat much of what you have prepared. It will be easier for both of you over the long run, if you can take their refusal somewhat lightly.

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.

When it comes to a child’s language development, it’s safe to expect that by 24-months, or 30-months at the latest, the average child will be saying 50 different words and/or two-word combinations, such as “throw ball,” or “red ball.”

Although most children can say simple words in their first year and small sentences by age two, some children begin talking at a later age. We don’t really know why some children begin to talk faster than others, but it does happen.

For some children, language can continue to develop without many words. These children may need to have more time to recognize the patterns of language and how to say what they are thinking.

For others, particularly children who have older brothers or sisters, a pattern may develop where they let the older children speak for them – reducing the need to speak for themselves. But this doesn’t mean the late talker is less intelligent. When your child does start to speak, it may even be at a more advanced level than you’d expect.

Although it is better if your child can speak for himself, it’s okay to let older children speak for your child, as long as he tries to communicate in some way, like using gestures. No one should shame or criticize your child for not being able to talk – it’s something he can’t help.

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.

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.

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.

Learning to talk is a gradual process. It’s common for a child’s speech to become less clear as she tries to use more words with more difficult sounds, because these require more effort and motor control.

Your child may in fact end up saying as little as possible during different stages of learning to talk, or they may begin to act up, out of frustration at not being able to communicate the way your child would like.

It is very important for parents to pay close attention to their child’s attempts to communicate, and to encourage these attempts.

Here are some tips to use if you’re having trouble understanding what your child is trying to say:

  • If you don’t understand what your child is saying, encourage them to repeat it by saying things like “Tell me again” or “Tell me more.”
  • If you got part of what your child said, repeat the part that you understood, and ask them to fill in the missing parts.

Watch your child closely.

  • Watch for eye movements or gestures that might give you a hint about what your child is trying to say.

Ask your child for help. 

  • Make it appear like you’re having trouble hearing by saying things like “I didn’t quite hear that” and ask your child to say it again.

If after all of your attempts, you still can’t understand what your child is trying to tell you, you may have to apologetically say that you do not understand.

Usually children’s speech improves over time. If you are concerned that your child’s speech isn’t improving or if your child keeps acting up out of frustration over not being able to be understood, you may want to discuss this with your child’s doctor. You can also call the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists at 1-800-259-8519, and they will guide you to an appropriate referral if needed.

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.

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.

We often hear that children are like “sponges”, and that they can learn any language easily while they are young. This is true, but only when they have lots of exposure to the language. Children can only absorb as much as they are given. This means that for your child to develop his or her ability to use both languages equally well, your child must hear and eventually speak both languages often.

In some communities, this can happen naturally if both languages have equal status and the child is exposed to various people, in the family and beyond, who speak one language or the other (or both). In other cases, raising a bilingual child requires conscious planning and effort. Both parents will need to agree on their strategies for making this happen.

If one of you speaks English and the other parent speaks a minority language, like French in many parts of Canada, or any other language that is not widely used in your community, it is important to create opportunities for the child to be exposed to that language. Children understand from a young age that one of their languages is not used very much outside their home, and because they naturally have more opportunities to hear and speak English, their ability to use the other language may lag. This can lead to a situation where the child understands the other language, but does not speak it.

Here are some tips to help your child be bilingual:

Speak your own native language to your child. You are a better model for your child when you use the language you know best.

Develop a social network that includes both languages. Attending friendly gatherings, community events and doing other activities with people who speak each language provide opportunities to practice, and reinforce the message that both languages are useful and valued.

Ensure that your child develops a strong foundation in the minority language from a young age by enrolling him or her, if possible, in a child care or preschool where the minority language is the primary or only language spoken.

Research and create a list of services available in the minority language, and give them a preference (e.g. health professionals like doctors and dentists, as well as libraries, movie theatres, community centres, etc). This may involve planning ahead, or driving a little further, but your efforts will greatly benefit your child.

Make sure you have books, videos/DVDs and music in both languages in your home, and that your child is exposed to them. This reinforces your child’s language skills and strengthens your child’s appreciation of each of your cultures.

Arrange visits to and from family members who speak the minority language. Stays abroad or visits from extended family can give a boost to the language that tends to be neglected.

Depending on the languages you speak and the community where you live, some of these options may not be available. The important thing is to create as much balance as possible between the two languages, and to start doing this as early as possible in your child’s life.

Some children are picky eaters. They don’t like broccoli just because it’s green or they don’t like mushrooms because they’re mushy. Here are some suggestions for improving your child’s eating habits.

First of all, don’t call your child a “picky eater,” or he may become one forever. Children’s eating habits can develop and change for a lot of reasons. Their tastes are naturally evolving.

Have a wide variety of healthy foods available, recognizing that children do have different tastes.

Set a good example by following healthy eating habits yourself, including having a good breakfast. If your child won’t eat breakfast, make sure she has nutritious, high-energy snacks for getting to and from daycare or school.

Provide a variety of foods rich in calcium, not just milk. Include foods such as calcium-fortified orange juice, cheese, yogurt or calcium-fortified soy milk. Some children dislike milk.

Try to involve your child in planning, shopping for and preparing meals. Even two- and three-year olds can do this in a simple way.

Allow your child to help you make his favourite meals from time to time, even if it’s not something you really enjoy.

Try not to make mealtime a battleground by nagging, threatening or arguing about your child’s eating.

Try not to criticize your child’s choices, or say that some foods are “bad.” Instead, make sure that the foods offered are all healthy choices. Be creative.

Stay neutrals about all foods. Your child is sensitive to your cues and might how they see a food. Instead of calling food “bad”, whether it’s junk food or something you don’t like eating, give your child a chance to try and decide for himself.

Be patient. Your child’s tastes in food will continue to change.

If, however, you feel that your child’s eating habits are making her unhealthy, consult your child’s physician.

Doing chores can help your child learn to organize time, handle responsibility, set goals and learn various other skills. But that doesn’t mean your child will want to do them – sometimes it’s going to be a chore to get your child to do chores.

To make things easier on both of you, give your child a reasonable time in which to do the chores. Give him complete freedom to finish the chores, on his own, by the deadline. Avoid nagging your child to do them.

If the chores are not done by the deadline, don’t do them yourself. If you do, you give the message: “You don’t really have to do your chores unless you want to because, if you don’t, good old mom – or dad – will do them for you!” If a chore has to be done again because it wasn’t done properly, it is up to you to patiently and gently insist your child take the time to do it properly.

Remember, it takes all of the preschool years, and then some, for children to assume responsibility for chores without reminders. Just ask parents of teens! But do start early.

In September, many children will attend school for the first time. They will be expected to be able to communicate, to demonstrate basic knowledge, to socialize with others and to show independence. As a parent, you may wonder if your child is adequately prepared for these expectations in kindergarten. Do play experiences in the early years provide a solid foundation for your child’s school readiness? How can you, as a parent, and other care providers develop children’s academic skills through play? Here are some activities you can enjoy with your child which are examples of how play nurtures the skills that contribute to school readiness.

Communication: Play with Spoken and Written Words

  • Talk to your child often and show her the many ways she can use language. Engage your child in storytelling experiences. As she listens to the words and participates in telling stories, she will learn important conversational skills. Sing songs, recite rhymes and do fingerplays together to help your child to hear the intonation and rhythm patterns of language. Introduce your child to new and interesting words, to help her build her vocabulary. These are ways to teach your child to love language and to enjoy the wonder of words!
  • Show your child how writing can help him to express his ideas. When your child draws pictures, ask him to tell you a story about them and write down his words. This allows him to see the relationship between spoken words and text. Include paper and writing tools among his toys and dramatic play props so he can explore the different ways he sees writing used through his imaginative play (e.g. making lists or creating a birthday card). As he practices printing he will discover that the magical markings he is making have meaning!

Basic Knowledge: Play to Encourage Literacy and Basic Math Skills

  • Read to your child every day. As you enjoy your child’s favourite books together, help her to identify alphabet letters and to recognize and make their sounds. Explore words in the story. What do they mean? Can she find examples of different words around the house? Talk about the story and ask open-ended questions about the characters. Can she guess what might happen next? Invite your child to tell you a story about the pictures and then see how closely her words match the text. Story time can give your child reading skills that last a life time!
  • Build your child’s understanding of math concepts like counting, sorting, patterning, recognizing shapes and measuring through his every day play. Recite rhymes like One, Two, Buckle My Shoe to familiarize your child with number words. When your child plays with toys, count them so he can match the words to actual objects. At tidy up time he can sort the cars, people and blocks into separate baskets. Make necklaces from beads of different shapes, sizes and colours to create patterns. Provide building materials for your child or recyclable items for creating three-dimensional artwork. Make a growth chart so your child can discover how tall he is. Exploring math in ways that are fun will add to his math skills one by one!

Socializing: Play to Support your Child’s Interactions

  • Play and interact with your child every day. Parents are a child’s first playmate, so it is important to make time together for games and make-believe. When you play with your child, you will see things from her point of view and have the chance to follow her lead. She will also learn from your example and have your support as she learns about rules, other people’s feelings and solving problems. Entering the world of your child’s play helps your child to enter the world of school confidently!
  • Encourage your child to engage in dramatic play experiences with his peers. As children interact in an imaginary situation (e.g. doctor’s office), they talk, assign roles, create and follow rules and use symbolic thinking as they decide upon using one object to represent another (e.g. a block is a telephone). These are important social and thinking skills that they will use as they learn to co-operate, take turns and get along with others. Pretend play prepares your child for kindergarten in very real ways!

Being Independent: Play to Build Confidence and Self-Control

  • Help your child to develop strategies for controlling his emotions, behaviours and thoughts. Talk about the way people in storybooks and pictures are feeling, and talk about what might cause those feelings. This will teach your child the words for different emotions and help your child to describe his own feelings and those of other people. When playing games together, be a positive influence if your child gets upset. Help him to be calm, to try to remain positive and to know that he might not win or be first all the time. Being able to calm himself on his own will help your child be more excited about being and playing with friends!
  • Provide opportunities for your child to practice self-help skills. Including clothing in your child’s dramatic play props enables her to dress independently and to become more able to manipulate buttons, zippers, buckles, laces and Velcro. She will feel pride in her ability to do things for herself and develop the confidence to try when faced with new challenges in kindergarten. The success she experiences when learning skills through play will encourage her to achieve success in other learning areas!

There are many things that happen at home every day that help to build a strong foundation for your child’s academic success. Remember, the time you spend playing with your child now is an investment in her future!

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.