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How to have merry munchkin moments over holidays and weekends

Busy, bored toddlers can often keep parents on their toes and feeling like they too want to shed tears! That’s why we’ve come up with some game ideas to keep your tot happily busy during the holidays.

Try these ideas for toddlers of 18–24 months

  • Take your toddler on walks of exploration.This should be at his pace, allowing him to investigate stones, shrubs, sticks, flowers and pods along the way.
  • Visit an animal farm.Ducks, peacocks, horses, donkeys and cows will impress your toddler no end, and he'll love feeding the animals. Take a picnic along, too.
  • Give your toddlera pile of socks of varying colours and encourage him to look for pairs. Praise his successes lavishly and help him when he starts to struggle.
  • Hide a few things and make a game of searching for them together. After watching you a few times, your toddler will cotton on quickly and greatly enjoy the search.
  • Sandpits are a firm favourite at this age.Keep the sandpit covered when you’re not using it, and make sure that the sand is cleaned or replaced regularly, but if you want to see your toddler's face light up, suggest some time in the pit!
  • Get your littlie to make some holiday gifts or cards.Sheets of firm paper, paper glue and a variety of garden things (sand of different colours and textures, fallen leaves, twigs and petals) can be assembled into the prettiest of pictures.                                                                                                                                       

Inexpensive toddler stimulation

Keeping toddlers busy needn’t be about expensive toys, or going on costly outings. Here are five ideas for home-made children's toys your tots will love:

1. Artwork ideas(3–5 years) 

    Cut veggies and sponges into interesting shapes, dip into paint and make prints.

    * Dip an old toothbrush into some paint, and holding it over some paper, run your thumb across the bristles to create an interesting effec

2. Obstacle course(2–4 years)

    * Make a hole in the bottom of an old bucket and get your little one to throw a ball through the hole.

    *Cardboard boxes can be used as tunnels, flower pots as stepping stones and old pillow cases stuffed with newspaper as punching bags.

3. Puppets(2–4 years)

  •     * Hand puppets can be made from old socks, using buttons for eyes and felt for the mouth.
  •     * Make a paper bag puppet by drawing a face on the bag, twist the corner for ears and hold in place with an elastic band.

4. Gardening(3–6 years)

  •     * Let your child plant herbs in pots. He should water these regularly and harvest the produce as it ripens.

5. Home-made puzzle(2–4 years)

  •     * Stick a magazine picture onto a stiff piece of cardboard. Cut this into different shapes and build the puzzle with your child. Your child can make puzzles if he’s old enough, too.

The best strategy for dealing with bedwetting

Bedwetting is the unintended, involuntary voiding of the bladder while your child sleeps, mostly at night. It can occur at any age, but 3-6 years is probably the peak period. Boys are more affected than girls and bedwetting even sometimes continues to 9 or 10 years and then resolves spontaneously. There is no ‘normal’ age for children to stop bedwetting - each child’s development is unique.

Parents often ask at what age they should stop putting nappies on their babies. This depends solely on the readiness of their baby.  My advice is to start to introduce this change to babies gradually. For instance, start by allowing your toddler of 18 months or two years to wear underwear during the day and at night still use nappies or pull-up trainer pants. Little ones themselves will mostly guide you with readiness cues, if you’re observant.

The most common mistake parents make is to scold and put pressure on their little ones when they wet the bed. You may think you need to fix the ‘problem’ immediately but instead, take it step by step – overnight dryness is a milestone which can’t be achieved in a day or two. Instead, simply clean up without a fuss and make practical plans, like using waterproof sheets and nappies for a longer time. If your child resists night nappies, explain that it will help to keep the bed dry, and also wait until they are sleeping deeply and then pull on trainer pants. In the long run, this approach, while honestly evaluating the causes, will yield most success.

Common bedwetting causes

There are three main considerations:

1.       Emotional triggers.Bedwetting might indicate that your child isn’t coping with stress in the home or daycare environment. Looking at what changed at the time the bedwetting started can help you to discover the underlying cause. It can also help to have a family discussion, talk to your child’s teachers or caregivers, or get professional help from a child therapist or counsellor.

2.       Potty training stress.If a child is forced into potty training using harsh measures or before she’s ready, it may delay night dryness.

3.       Genes.If there is a family tendency to bedwetting, your child may have inherited it! These children often sleepwalk and talk too, and they tend to sleep too deeply to register that their bladders are full and need to be emptied. This will inevitably resolve in time and calls for a gentle approach.

Sometimes bladder infections or structural abnormalities of the urinary tract can be the cause of bedwetting too. In most cases of what parents call ‘bedwetting’, it is however more likely to be due to pressurised ‘toilet training’ and undue emotional pressure.

Can you encourage your child not to wet the bed?

There are some approaches for dealing with bedwetting which include:

·         Bedwetting monitors – these detect moisture and sound an alarm, waking the child who usually instinctively pinches off the urine flow and empties the rest of her bladder in the loo. However, some children sleep through the alarm or find the monitor stressful.

·         Star charts – positive reinforcement schemes can work for some children, but may pressure others and make the problem worse.

·         Medication – this may be necessary if your child has a weak bladder sphincter, but it’s better to try homoeopathic remedies and use good quality nappies or trainer pants first, and save medication for a last resort. 

Play really is a child’s work

It’s also the cornerstone of a child’s development, and that’s what’s really important to know.  Just think about it for a moment. How often do children play these days? I mean, really play?

Children should dream up their own games, let their imaginations take them to distant worlds, and invent solutions to the problems they encounter in their child-world. Play should be creative, spontaneous and full of discovery, yet it often seems that modern toys leave very little scope for imagination. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all toys are bad – quite the contrary! Toys that have been developed with a child’s milestone attainment, imagination and problem-solving skills in mind can be absolutely wonderful!

5 Benefits of child’s play:

1.       Play helps a child’s brain to develop. Children learn to think, remember and solve problems during play, and in so doing, learn about the world. They also interact with and explore their environment.

2.       Both speech and listening skills are developed, which leads to an improvement in language use, vocabulary and communication.

3.       It’s an important part of self-expression, as children often express their experiences and thoughts while playing. They also learn how to cope with intense feelings such as being sad or angry.

4.       When children play together, it teaches them social skills such as sharing, patience, kindness and negotiation. Children learn to respect others’ thoughts and feelings; role-play in particular teaches children to consider other people’s viewpoints and opinions.

5.       Often, play can be quite physical, leading to more active and healthier children. What more could a mom want?

Toddler nutrition made easy

Baby still has a lot of growing to do when he reaches toddlerhood, so many parents are surprised when their tot starts eating considerably less than when he was a baby. Actually, a toddler’s growth will slow significantly from about one year and he’ll only need about 400ml of milk per 24 hours. Milk becomes less important at this stage as Baby gradually moves to solids, but it’s still important so don’t give Baby too many solids or other drinks which will ruin his appetite. When it comes to gauging whether or not Baby’s diet is meeting all of his nutritional needs, it’s important to keep the following factors in mind:

·         Eating preferences – many toddlers prefer small meals more frequently instead of three big meals a day. You can also allow your tot to simply ‘graze’ throughout the day and help himself to the healthy snacks you leave out for him, like fruit, vegetables, rice cakes, and leftover healthy meals. When your tot is two years old you can also give him avocado and unsalted popcorn.

·         Sweet and savoury treats – these have no place in the diet of a baby under three years old. Baby isn’t born with a sweet tooth and these treats simply spoil his appetite for healthy food and his body’s ability to choose the tastes and textures he needs most. Of course, it’s up to you to set a good example!

·         Family growth patterns – this is important when it comes to evaluating weight gain; if Mom or Dad has a small build, it’s quite possible that Baby will too. Growth spurts also tend to follow family trends too.

·         General health and energy levels – these are good indications of whether or not nutrition is good enough. Tots often have a six weeks cycle of enjoying certain foods and then dropping some, keeping others, and adding new foods. Don’t worry about making Baby’s meals balanced; his body will automatically crave what it needs most at the time.

·         Allergies – excess mucus, skin rashes, constipation, and allergies are indicators that you need to make some changes to Baby’s diet. It’s best to reduce or avoid common allergenic foods such as dairy and grain products, sugary treats, and highly processed foods.

·         Fruit and vegetables – tots usually enjoy either fruit or vegetables, but not both. This isn’t really a problem because they both have similar nutritional value. Most tots prefer fruits, although you should remember that vegetables like squashes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, tomatoes, pumpkin, and avocado are actually part of the fruit kingdom. It’s a good idea to give your tot fruit for breakfast as it’s got a high water content which cleanses the body’s cleansing cycle. If your tot rejects these healthy food options, try cutting out all unhealthy processed or fast foods for a week – you’ll be surprised at how your tot’s appetite for healthy food suddenly returns! It can help to leave fruit available and let your tot serve himself.

·         Illnessoften an ill child loses his appetite and doesn’t eat well. If this resolves quite soon it isn’t really problem, as long as your tot still gets lots of liquids. If your tot is constantly ill or fails to thrive and is behind on his milestones and energy levels, take him to be evaluated and get advice about supplementation and immune strengthening.

Mealtime tips

These should help to make meals fuss-free.

·         Let your tot eat breakfast at nine or ten if he prefers – breakfast doesn’t have to be eaten first thing in the morning

·         Be unconventional – let your tot have soup for breakfast!

·         Don’t force feed

·         Don’t give your tot treats just to get him to eat something

·         Remember that tots who eat well at day care often won’t eat much at home; if day care provides healthy meals and your little one is thriving there’s nothing to worry about

·         Start giving a wider range of foods when your little one is one year old, but keep meals simple

·         Entice picky eaters by threading cubes of fruit or vegetables onto a kebab stick – just watch for choking!

·         Give your tot firm but still soft finger foods and let him feed himself

·         Don’t think that you have to give Baby meat; he can get all of the necessary nutrients from fruit and vegetables

·         Remember that milk still forms an important part of a tot’s diet – especially as a source of protein, although you can add a tablespoon of ground blanched almonds to your little one’s food once a week too

How to choose a day care wisely

 

I am so often asked for advice on the best childcare choice, so I thought that I’d dedicate this blog post to tips on finding the correct day care. As with all things to do with babies, there is no such thing as only one perfect childcare option that’s suitable for every family. If Mom needs to work outside of the home, a trusted nanny, caring granny or loving day mother is best, but often, families need to send their child to a day care facility. 

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