Category Archives: Uncategorized

Baby Signing

Baby Waving

Most babies and toddlers don’t start using their first words until they are at least one year old and it is not until they are somewhere between 18 months and 2 years before they start putting together 2 words to form very simple sentences. Their understanding of their world develops much quicker than their language skills and this can lead to frustration and tantrums

Giving your baby a few baby signs to learn will allow them to be able to communicate with you and help reduce down these frustrations for you both.  As a parent it’s just as frustrating for you as it is for your baby – you know they are trying to tell you something but they don’t know how to and you can’t understand them.

As your baby becomes a more effective communicator you will start to understand them more easily and will be able to be more responsive and sensitive to their needs and so increasing your bond with them.

Baby signing is simply an extension of normal gesturing that your baby will start to develop from about a year old: pointing, clapping, waving, putting their arms up to be picked up.

At Baby College we use the Makaton sign language. Makaton is designed to support spoken language – signs are used with speech, in spoken word order to help children and adults to communicate.  In class you learn a few new signs each week and we also have a sign rhyme to help you remember a few more.

At home it is recommended that you:

  • Use the sign or symbol for the important word in the sentence (only use one sign per sentence)
  • Always remember to speak and sign at the same time
  • Use clear, short sentences
  • Remember to make eye contact and use facial expression, body language and gestures
  • Use real objects and mime to give reference and meaning (sign ‘ball’ show them the ball and sign ‘ball’ again)
  • You may need to guide your child’s hands to help them to make the sign
  • Reward any attempt at communication and use the sign and symbol for ‘Good’ to give praise (thumbs up!)
  • Babies’ fine motor skills are not as good as adults so be aware that your baby’s attempt at signing will not be as clear as yours so make sure you are alert for their hand gestures

Baby College posts weekly Sign of the Week videos so that you can practice your signing at home and if you are interested you can find them @babycollegeuk on Facebook or book online into our infant or toddler classes at www.babycollege.co.uk

 

 

 

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Why Doesn’t My Baby Sleep?

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Understanding how your baby sleeps and why they sleep like they do can help you as a parent be more realistic about the length of time your baby may sleep for.  It will also allow you to make more informed and positive decisions which are right for your family.

There are many factors that affect how well and how long a baby will sleep. A baby’s stomach is roughly the size of their clenched fist, i.e. small, so the amount of milk a baby can take in one go is correspondingly small. When their tummy is empty they will be hungry and need it refilling and in the early days that is going to be often (probably every 2-3 hours).

Babies’ brain activity during sleep is different from adults. A baby has a shorter sleep cycle than an adult of about 60 minutes and, like adults, different phases of sleep. Unlike an adult who drops pretty quickly into deep “quiet” or “restorative” sleep within a few minutes of falling asleep, a baby will spend about 20 minutes in REM sleep or “active” sleep first. They can easily be awakened during this period. During this active sleep period the brain is busy making new neural connections and growing. There is recent research that shows that babies who sleep within an hour of learning something new are much more likely to retain that knowledge (a great reason for reading at bedtime).

With a sixty minute sleep cycle there will be regular times in the night where a baby can easily be wakened. It is not fully understood why some babies wake more frequently than others but there are lots of theories! Possible reasons are hunger, separation anxiety (usually from about 7 months), learning new skills and waking with the urge to practice them and of course teething or other discomforts. Learning your baby’s cues and understanding more about different development stages (you will find there are links with quite a few other Baby College topics) can help you respond to your baby’s needs in the night.

It is also worth reading about evolution to fully understand why babies sleep like they do and to make sure you set realistic expectations.

Anthropologists think about human babies differently to most other people — in trying to understand why our babies sleep the way they do, we look at humans as mammals and consider the importance of mammalian biology and evolution in understanding how we are and what we do. Western baby-care practices are rather recent developments, and the biology of human babies expects something rather different than 21st century families might provide.” – Infant Sleep Information Source (https://www.isisonline.org.uk/how_babies_sleep/why_babies_sleep_as_they_do/

During our discussions at the beginning of class and the handouts we give to all our parents we at Baby College help give parents lots of information about their baby’s sleep so that they can make informed decisions for their growing baby and toddler.

Visit a class near you to find our more

http://www.babycollege.co.uk

 

 

Sensory Development

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Research supports the theory that infants are capable of making sense of the world from birth. We are beginning to discover that babies are born with many abilities that help them begin to organise their world almost immediately. The basis for learning in infants is the sensory systems of touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight.  We, as caregivers, need to provide an enriched environment that uses abilities that children already have and enhances those that are emerging.

The senses of taste, smell, touch, and hearing are well-developed at birth and can be used as a foundation for supporting learning,

Taste

The sense of taste actually begins to develop pre-natally. Taste buds emerge at around 7 to 8 weeks’ gestation, and the amniotic fluid is rich with different taste experiences

Smell

The sense of smell is also well-developed at birth. As with tastes, the amniotic fluid is rich with smells. Within hours after birth, babies respond much like adults to a variety of odours. They prefer the smell of a lactating woman over a non-lactating woman and they prefer the smell of their mother to the smell of other women. The sense of smell is something that infants continue to use throughout infancy.

Touch

Touch is a very important sense that has been found to affect parent-infant attachment, cognitive development, sociability, ability to withstand stress, and immunological development. Touch and massage therapies for infants have emerged as a popular method of enhancing growth and development, reducing pain, and increasing attentiveness. Infants are born with a fairly well-developed sense of touch. For example, they respond to pain in similar ways as adults. Touching infants can have both positive and negative effects on development, depending on the type of touch.

Hearing

Apparently, it was originally believed that infants were born deaf! We now know that infants have a fairly well-developed sense of hearing at birth. In fact, recent research findings indicate that infants are hearing and learning about the world in utero. In fact, infants are born with a preference for their mother’s voice. Infant hearing is not as refined as adult hearing, but hearing does develop rapidly throughout the period of infancy.

Vision

Vision is the least developed sense at birth. Vision, like hearing, develops rapidly over the early years. Infants are essentially born legally blind, but do have some visual preferences that lay an important foundation. Infants are born with a preference for looking at light/dark contrasts.  The human face is endowed with such contrasts. The hairline, eyes, and mouth provide such a contrast. Research shows that these are favourite areas of focus for infants.

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Caregivers need to help stimulate the development of their baby’s vision. Fortunately, many forms of stimulation can be found in our everyday environment. However, we can also enhance the environment by increasing our own awareness. To enhance sensory development, we need to do the following:

  • Provide a safe environment for exploration
  • Provide materials that infants can explore, using all their senses
  • Call the infant’s attention to stimuli in the environment
  • Provide frequent opportunities for social interaction
  • Provide a variety of stimulation, including toys and environments (get out and about)
  • Put pictures and mirrors on the walls and floors
  • Move infants around the room during the day
  • Be aware of sensory overload
  • Remove items when infants lose interest

Remember, awareness and responsive caregiving are critical in supporting sensory development.

Come learn more about your baby’s sensory development and ideas to stimulate the senses in our weekly classes. Find out more at http://www.babycollege.co.uk

 

Learning Through Role Play

Role Play

“Imagination is more important than knowledge”
Albert Einstein

From around 18 months or so, children will start to use their imagination during play. It is also the start of what will hopefully be a lifelong curiosity to learn but this benefits from being nurtured.

Role play is an important part of child development as it builds confidence, creativity, communication, physical development and problem solving.

Role play can help a child develop self confidence as they have the opportunity to express themselves and explore language freely. Language skills are emerging and with it the ability to ask questions, and questions, and more questions. During play they can explore their feelings and find out about themselves and others. They also start to understand the need to develop co-operation, understanding of others and self control whilst playing with other children. Free play gives them the chance to make choices and decisions without the constraints of there being a right or wrong way of doing things.

Within role play a child will be able to operate within a fantasy world of their own making where creativity goes hand in hand with mathematical and science skills. Along with it being a fun activity, it also allows children to lose themselves in a character of their choice or they can act out real life roles. By allowing your child to act out real life situations you can help them learn about potentially stressful unknown situations, such as a visit to hospital. By role playing games at home beforehand you will better prepare them for real life.

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Older toddlers can come and try our Junior class at Baby College where we have a new play theme each week and parents are given lots of ideas of how to encourage their child’s imagination and creativity

www.babycollege.co.uk

Listening and Concentration

Music

Hearing and listening are two different actions: hearing is passive and listening is proactive. Being able to actively listen to sounds, music, instructions forms the basis of concentration. Parents can have a big influence on their child’s concentration by encouraging active listening games and especially encouraging quiet time where baby and parent sit and listen to music together,

How do you know if your baby is listening? For a young baby their reaction when listening is to calm and be still and possibly turn their head towards the source of the music. As they get older the reactions will either be the same (sitting still and concentrating) or perhaps wanting to move or sing along.  If your toddler is a fan of a particular nursery rhyme you may find them joining in.  The more you practice this at home the more you will really help to reinforce this skill.

It’s not just listening to music that can help with listening and concentration. It’s very easy to ignore natural sounds within our environment. Despite our noisy world it is important to try to give babies experience of hearing birdsong, or the wind in the trees or even silence (they need some quiet time with a parent away from the TV, radio and siblings). As a parent you should just sit, or rock your baby or toddler,  make eye contact and smile.

As your baby grows through infancy into a toddler and young child their levels of concentration will increase.  It is very important that parents give their babies plenty of opportunity to play quietly with their toys without disturbing their concentration.  Practice makes perfect when gaining new skills or understanding of the world and this takes time, persistence and concentration.

Learn more at http://www.babycollege.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Infant Reflexes

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At it’s core Baby College is a parent and baby programme which concentrates on your baby’s correct neurological development. One of our main themes throughout the classes is the replacement of your baby’s infant (primitive) reflex with more adult responses.

What exactly does that mean?

All babies are born with a set of infant reflexes which help them survive their time in the womb, the birthing process and their first few months of life.  These reflexes help ensure their survival and then their subsequent development.

Babies have no control over their body’s movements so nature (and a millennia of evolution) have developed a system which overcomes this problem and that is a set of automatic inbuilt infant reflexes.

A seconds old baby stroked gently on the side of the face will turn, purse their lips and root for the breast (Rooting Reflex) and if that breast is placed in the baby’s mouth they will suck (Sucking Reflex).  These reflexes make sure that the baby can feed but the baby has no control over this action; if you stroke their check their head will turn and, initially, they can’t stop this from happening. As this action is performed over and over again the infant develops muscle control and is able to override this reflex and then eventually they can move their head and suck whenever they want to and not be controlled by their reflex.

It is this process of repetitive movements that help use up your baby’s infant reflexes and within our expertly designed Baby College classes we use a set of age appropriate specific exercises to ensure that this process happen.

Why is it Important?

It is essential that for normal neurological development to happen a baby must use up and replace its infant reflexes at the appropriate time.  This is normally a natural process but it is not always automatic and retention of these primitive reflex can hinder correct development and can be linked to learning problems later in childhood.

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We use many different exercises throughout all our age groups to help ensure that the reflexes are used up and reduce down potential problems.  The key to this process is movement and we incorporate lots of fun movement activities in all our classes.

For more information come and try a class near you www.babycollege.co.uk

 

 

 

Social Baby

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Baby College classes provide a safe and secure environment for babies to interact with each other and with the adults attending the classes.

Having fun, learning through play and understanding how to connect with other babies and children is very important to us at Baby College. This is because interacting and playing with both peers and adults presents an immense amount of learning opportunities for young children. Toddlers and infants reap the huge cognitive and emotional benefits of interacting with others. The right socially interactive environment will help children develop strong language skills, creativity, social intelligence, and confidence.

Learning new skills requires practice, trial, and error. Our classes provide a comfortable setting for children to experiment with and practice skills such as sharing, cooperation, taking turns, and showing respect for others. Our very first activity within the classes is our Hello Song where every baby and child is welcomed into the classes so that even the youngest attendees can start to learn about social interaction.  Never forget your tiny baby is a social animal: look how they lock eyes with you from day one and within weeks they are smiling and cooing, pulling very firmly on those parental heartstrings.

Understanding how to interact with their peers can often be quite confusing for young children.  It’s not until they are approaching the end of their time at Baby College that they start to develop empathy for others.  Sharing and taking turns are hard concepts to accept when you are two!

“Isabelle starts full time school in September. She is definitely ready and is a lovely, inquisitive little girl. I believe the Baby College classes have contributed to her willingness to learn and the confidence to join in with other children.  

George and I are looking forward to starting the class in September.”

Marie, Isabelle (4) and George (10 months)

Find a class near you at www.babycollege.co.uk