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If you don’t already know, being a parent in the 21st century is much more difficult than parenting in the past. Yes, we have a ton of modern gadgets and appliances that make our daily lives easier than our grandparents had it. However, when our grandparents were raising children, any questions or problems they had were solved by asking the advice of their parents or the women in the neighborhood. As a 21st century parent, we have the Internet with an entire world of advice at our fingertips. Having this information in our hands at any time often leaves us feeling more confused and insecure and just adds to our parenting neurosis. Parenting is difficult enough let’s try not to make it even more complicated by overthinking each and every move we make.

At It Takes a Village Baby Consultants™, we want to support parents to trust their instincts and be active participants in the care and development of their child. Our services include basic baby care and parent preparation, sleep consultation and parent coaching for toddlers and preschoolers.

With several years of experience in healthcare and early childhood development, the professionals at It Takes a Village Baby Consultants™ have gathered their Top 10 Parenting Tips for Babies and Toddlers. These suggestions are not our opinion nor are they meant to be yet another person giving advice. Some of the suggestions are based on research and some are based on our experiences working with families. As you read our suggestions, try to think of your own family and choose those that are realistic for you to do with your baby within your family’s routines.

1. Read your baby’s signs:
• Your baby is trying to communicate with you well before he can talk. Watch for signs that baby wants to interact (good eye contact and open mouth), needs a break (arms outstretched and hands splayed wide), wants alone time (crying or staring), and wants to go to sleep (yawning, turning away from faces). By reading these signals, and reacting to them, you will help your baby feel secure and safe.

2. Swaddling and Infant Massage:
• Swaddling your baby helps them feel safe and secure. You can swaddle your baby up to 6 months or until they learn to roll over. Newborns sleep longer and cry less when they are swaddled. If your baby is crying while they are being swaddled, this doesn’t mean they don’t like it. They have been in this position inside you for 9 months.
• Infant massage is a wonderful way to bond and have one- on -one time with your baby. Babies tend to sleep longer and are calmer when they are massaged. Massage is also good for relieving gas and helping with colic.

3. Have a good eating, sleeping and play routine:
• Having a planned routine in which the baby wakes, feeds, and plays helps you know when the baby is going to sleep. This helps you to get your work done and also helps your baby feel secure and safe.
• If you are not a person that likes a schedule, then watch your baby. Your baby will show you “sleepy signs” that he/she is tired, (yawning, rubbing eyes, staring, crying).

4. Tummy Time:
• This is the single most important activity you should be doing with your baby.
• Tummy time helps your baby build upper body strength which is important for rolling, getting in and out of sitting, crawling and pulling up on furniture to stand to walk.
• Being in this position (or up on hands and knees) strengthens your baby’s eye convergence that is needed later for reading and writing.
• Leaning on their hands while in this position strengthens hands for handwriting, and cutting with scissors.

5. Limit the use of baby equipment:
• Excersaucers, Swings, Bumbo seats and Bouncy seats are not good for development. They do not allow the baby to learn to move. Moderate use of this equipment is advised. Playing in a playpen or a safe place on the floor with their toys around is the best for babies.

6. Limit the time your baby or toddler is in front of the T.V., IPAD, and Smartphone, “screen time”:
• The Academy of Pediatrics recommends no “screen time’ under the age of 2. This is often unrealistic for most families. If this is the case, include “screen time” as part of an enriching day that includes outdoor play, structured play and family time.
• Against popular belief, T.V. does not help language development

7. Read to your baby or toddler:
• Reading, singing songs and finger-plays, are wonderful activities that you can do with your baby. It is great for language development and social-emotional development.

8. Play on the floor with your baby or toddler:
• Playing on the floor with your toddler is a small but amazing tool in helping your toddler decrease tantrum behavior. This means giving your toddler 10-15 minutes per day of undivided attention (on the floor with no cell phones, TV or IPAD) playing an activity that he/she chooses. This helps your child gain positive attention from you. It also helps you to connect with your little one on his/her level, giving them control they fight for and confidence they need.
• In addition to one –on- one time, playing with puzzles, blocks, shape sorters; pegs in a pegboard, stringing beads, etc. helps to build your child’s problem solving and attention. These are skills that lay the foundation of what your child needs to succeed in school.
• Play with toys that encourage pretend play, (cars and a garage, animals and farm, pretend food and dishes, dolls and doll house). Talk about what you are doing. These types of toys encourage language and social interaction.

9. Limit the use of electronic toys:
• Push button musical toys are all cause/effect. This is a 6-12 month skill. After that, toddlers are beyond this type of play. The manufacturers of these toys would like you to believe your baby is learning basic concepts such as language, ABC’s or numbers, but they are not! Your baby will learn language by talking with your family; ABC’s and number concepts are not skills that toddlers need to learn until after age 3.

10. Use food to help your child’s brain and language
• A diet of processed foods is not good for your baby or toddler’s brain development. Babies need real fruits, veggies, yogurt, cheese, and proteins (chicken, beans, meat).
• Babies after the age of 8-10 months need to eat foods that they have to chew in order to strengthen the muscles in their mouth. This helps them to produce the sounds they need for language. Most processed foods are soft and do not have a variety of textures.
• For toddlers, use straw cups and open cups instead of bottles and sip cups. These types of cups also help strengthen the muscles around the mouth that are needed to produce sounds for language.
If you are interested in our services visit our website http://www.villagebabyconsultants.com. Let us be there for your family, first as a resource then as a member of your “village”, professionals that you can go to with all of your parenting questions.



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