Category Archives: Development

How to handle and hold a new born baby

You may be shocked at how fragile your newborn looks particularly if you have little or no experience of holding a baby. You won’t necessarily know how to do it instinctively but it will help your confidence if you know you know the correct way of holding and handling your precious little newborn. Here’s how:
The first cuddle
Emotions are high and your baby will need reassuring. I recommend being propped up in a bed (usually a hospital one) and placing your newborn on your chest (on his tummy), particularly if you plan to breastfeed. There is nothing like skin to skin between mother and baby. I wouldn’t worry too much about the ‘how’s’ as there will be a midwife to help you, however, if skin to skin is important to you, ensure it is in your birth plan and you or your partner have told the midwife this.

Picking baby up
Your newborns head is large and heavy when compared to the rest of his body, his neck muscles aren’t strong enough to support the weight of it. When picking your baby up, slide one hand under his head and the other under his bottom, you can then manoeuvre him into the position you want. The most popular way of holding a baby is either cradling or placing him on your shoulder.
If you have picked your newborn up as stated above and you want to cradle, you will want your newborns head to rest in the arm that is supporting his head. To do this, bring your little one close to your chest, slide the hand that is holding his bottom up to support his head (so your arm is under his back), at the same time, slowly move the hand that was supporting his head around his body to his bottom, his head should now be resting on your arm and your other hand can be free. This position is perfect for eye contact, talking and sleeping.
On your shoulder
Your baby’s head can rest on your shoulder but it will need supporting if you are walking around or going up and down stairs etc. one hand will always need to be under his bottom supporting his weight. This position is great for closeness as your newborn may be able to feel your heartbeat and is also good for winding (burping).
Passing baby around Everyone will want to have a cuddle with your newborn and some will be more experienced than others, the safest way to pass a newborn to someone else is to have them sitting down with their arms in the cradle position, you then pick your baby up as stated above and gently place him into the other persons arms. This is particularly good for children or elderly people want a turn!

Try to handle your newborn confidently, this will help to reassure him and make him feel safe and secure. This is fundamental to having a content happy baby. Remember, never shake your baby, never throw (in play or otherwise) or drop him and always support his head. If you do that, you won’t go far wrong. I hope you found this post helpful.

Resources: kidshealth, wikihow

20 tips to encourage your baby to talk

There are many things you can do, pretty much from day one, that will help your baby’s language development. Here are my top 20 tips on encouraging baby to talk.

From day one

  • Always maintain eye contact when you are talking or singing to him (more so than you would an adult).
  • When talking to her, nod your head enthusiastically at every sound she makes, it may help you if you say “yes” or “I know” when doing this.
  • Pull funny faces at him and make funny noises, stick your tongue out and make ooh (pout) and aaagh (think dentist trip) mouth shapes (with accompanying sounds).
  • Sing nursery rhymes with hand gestures such as the wheels on the bus, incy wincy spider, row row row etc. You may also want to look at a local baby signing class.
  • Read books regularly and enthusiastically. Discover things for the first time with your baby, over and over again. Point to the pictures and tell him what it is.
  • Be enthusiastic; over empathise words and your pitch, particularly when asking questions or discovering ‘new’ things.
  • As your baby grows

  • Continue talking and pointing out objects, people and all of the above
  • Allow her time to gurgle and reply with your own baby sounds, this will teach her how conversations work.
  • Keep the tv switched off – this is a distraction for you both.
  • Call your child by her name at the start of each conversation, this will help her to recognise her own name and help you get her attention.
  • Be patient with your child when he starts to formulate small sentences and never finish a sentence for him.
  • Restrict dummy use to sleep time only, it’s hard to talk and even harder to be understood when you have a dummy in your mouth.
  • Use as many hand gestures as you can, this helps to reinforce meaning and build associations.
  • Explain to your child what is happening on an ongoing basis “We are going to have some breakfast now, can you sit in your big chair?”
  • Give your child options, for example, show her some fruit and ask “Would you like a banana or strawberry?” Your child will soon start making her own choices.
  • Once your child can copy sounds

  • Point out colours
  • Discover animal sounds together – “Here is a cow, the cow says moo. Can you say moo?”
  • Count items
  • Discover new songs/nursery rhymes together
  • Continue to discover new things together with the same enthusiasm as before.
  • The most important thing is to talk and to listen to your child. Empower him to start conversations and encourage his inquisitiveness about the world around him. Always make time and take the time to listen to your child and never rush him. If at any point you are concerned about your child’s language development, go and see your GP. Don’t wait for a routine check! I hope you found this page helpful.

    References:NHS, Asha

    TV time for babies and toddlers

    watching childrens tv on a laptopTelevision is a big part of most of our lives, add to this the time spent on your phone, tablet and laptop and we are probably looking at back-lit screens for entertainment purposes for a longer period of time than any generation before us. Research has shown British children have regular access to an average five screens at home by the age of ten. But how much time should your baby or toddler be in front of the TV? Or watching nursery rhymes on your iPad? Or playing games on your phone? TV has been blamed for contributing towards childhood obesity, aggression and even ADHD. So, in a world where we are surrounded by shiny objects emitting bright lights that amuse and entertain, how can we get the balance right for our children? Or is there a balance at all?

    How much TV time is acceptable for a baby?

    In 1998 the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) advised every child under the age of two should watch no television at all, and children aged two and older should watch no more than 2 hours a day maximum. This includes time spent on video games and iPads etc. The AAP report said TV deterred children from interacting with their parents (or vice versa), and interaction is crucial to vocabulary development. So no tv for you and no tv for baby.

    What? No TV for 2 years?

    Baby sat infront of tvFirst of all, lets not forget children have been around a lot longer than television sets and have always been able to keep themselves entertained. At the same time, we can’t ignore the fact parents are busier than ever before, life can be hectic and sometimes the tv can be a life/sanity saver. My advice would be, don’t feel guilty about using the TV, just be sensible about. 5 minutes of TV for a baby and gradually increasing this as she grows will do your child no harm, the fear for paediatricians is parents using the TV as a babysitter or having it constantly on in the background disrupting free play and distracting your child. Sitting with your child, talking about the programme and commentating on what is happening is a sure fire way to turn your baby/toddlers TV time into something a little more productive. Once the tv is off again it may inspire you to create some imaginary play based on what you have watched together or sing songs you have heard. Most program’s aimed at young children often have their own catchy songs or incorporate popular rhymes into the program. Having your television on in the background is a distraction for you both and will ultimately result in your child thinking this is normal (which doesn’t bode well for later in life) and may be the cause or a contributing factor of a language delay. Babies need to differentiate between various sounds and tones as part of their language and speech development and the background noise of a television is more than capable of hampering this. Keep telly watching time short. A few minutes at a time is quite enough stimulation for a baby, this can increase slightly for toddlers but you should still watch the majority of programmes together.

    What about my baby’s older siblings?

    It can be an extremely difficult balancing act with two young children at home, in terms of getting the balance right with tv time my advice would be:

    Trust yourself, if you feel your toddler is watching too much TV then he/she probably is.

    One thing you can try is to allow your child to watch recorded programmes or DVDs – this way you can control when the program starts. You can then watch it together once baby is having a nap – it gives you some much needed one to one time and prevents too much passive/ background TV viewing for your baby.

    What is the harm in TV viewing or having it on in the background?

    Parents who watch their own programmes during the day or who leave the television on in the background aren’t doing their children any favours at all – your baby’s brain develops rapidly and in a unique way; between the age of birth to three, neural pathways are constantly being created which are essential to your child’s development, a child sitting in front of the TV or constantly being distracted by the TV will not be given as many opportunities to create and reinstate these neural pathways which could lead to concentration problems later in life. The more a television is on, the less opportunity there is for conversation or the more likely it is that conversations will be unfinished or unproductive. The bottom line is, turn your TV off if no one is watching it.

    Why watch it with my child?

    Surely it’s a time to do the laundry? Or clean the kitchen right? Wrong! Academic success is linked not only to how much TV viewing time your child has but also how the TV is viewed. A child who watches a moderate amount of television with a parent will score better academically than a child who watches the same amount on his/her own. It also sets a much better example if you watch it together. Why not watch the TV together then do the laundry together afterwards?

    In a study of more than 2,000 children, by D A Christakis of Seattle Children’s Research Institute, it was found that for every hour watched at age one and age three, children had just under a ten percent higher chance of developing attention problems that could be diagnosed as ADHD by age 7. A toddler watching three hours of television daily had nearly a 30 percent higher chance of having attention problems at school.

    Top tips for sensible TV time

    • Lead by example: Don’t watch your programs whilst you are with your child, or if you do make sure it is once in a blue moon.
    • Setting limits from day one : It is much easier to gradually increase viewing time as your baby grows than try to reign it in once you have realised it has gone too far.
    • Pick your viewing carefully: Watch age appropriate programs that offer some form of educational material.
    • Watch it together: Discuss the programme, refer back to it at a later date, create drawings and play it out together, don’t let your child be a passive viewer!
    • Don’t have on in the background: it will distract you and distract your child and may harm your child’s speech, concentration and your relationship with each other.
    • Use the pause and skip button : Pause it to discuss what is going on, skip it if you need/ want it to end soon (particularly if your child has been ‘sucked in’).
    • No TV in the bedroom: Your child should not have a tv in the bedroom and you should never watch tv at dinner time.
    • Trust your instinct: If you think your child may be having too much TV time, you are probably right. Try reducing it gradually and making it more productive.
    • Plenty of play time: Unstructured’ free play time is much more valuable for the developing brain than any electronic media however educational it claims to be.
    • Everything in moderation: This is the key. Just as it is for junk food. Be honest with yourself and do the best you can for your baby’s developing brain.

    If you are interested in further reading, you may find this study by D A Christakis of Seattle Children’s Research Institute interesting in which mice were overstimulated to simulate the effect of infants watching television.

    Your comments are very much appreciated. Do you agree with me? Do you have any thing to add?

    When do Babies Smile?

    Most babies delight their parents with their first real smile at around 4 to 6 weeks, although it has been known for some to wait until around 8 or 10 weeks, if you have already seen your baby smile before this age I would expect that it was probably wind and not a social smile. If you are still waiting for your baby’s first smile, try these following tips:

    How can I encourage my baby to smile?

    You can’t make your baby smile before she is ready, however you can help to encourage your baby to smile. After all, a smile is a sign of happiness, of your baby feeling content and wanting to socialise with you. From the day your baby is born you should talk to her, look her in the eyes and smile at her- this interaction is vital as it shows your baby she is important to you, helps to boost her self esteem and allows her to view your facial expressions and attempt to mimic them. Babies always respond positively to interaction, however, she will be more responsive when she is calm, relaxed and not hungry or tired:

  • Ensure your baby doesn’t need changing, isn’t hungry and isn’t tired
  • Hold your baby up under her arms so that you are facing each other approximately 30cm (12 inches) away
  • Look her in the eyes and just gaze softly into her eyes – take your time
  • Mimic her expressions for a minute or two
  • If your baby seems agitated, put her down and try again later – she will get used to it
  • Once you have mimicked her expression and held her gaze for around a minute or two – smile your biggest smile, if you find it hard to keep your smile going, it helps to nod your head and say “yes” or other positive words.
  • If your little one is babbling whilst you’re doing this, allow her to talk and respond to her when she has finished what she has to say
  • This interaction will boost social skills and confidence.
  • If your cheeky little monkey isn’t smiling yet – she will be very soon.
  • What does my baby’s smile mean?

    First and formeost it means that she is happy, happy because this amazing new world around is starting to make sense. She is realising the importance of socialising and is starting to figure out this very human trait, she has realised that by smiling she gets attention and that by smiling back at you she maintains your attention. It is also a sign that your baby’s brain development and communicaiton skills are on track. If you are concerned that you haven’t seen a smile yet and feel as though you should have (after reading this post or other information), we recommend you speak to your health visitor or GP who will be able to assess your individual child.

    I hope this post helped you to understand when your baby will smile, how you can encourage it and what his/her smile means. If you enjoyed reading this, please share it with your friends. I would appreciate that.

    When do babies start walking

    When do Babies Start Walking?

    Some babies are able to walk alone from around 10 months and others don’t start walking until they are around 15-16 months. If your baby starts walking within this age range then that is perfectly normal; the average age babies start walking is just over 12 months. The developmental progress your baby has to make to reach this great achievement of walking is absolutely fascinating and it begins in the womb.

    The starting point

    Whilst your baby is in the womb, she will – believe it or not, start to mimic the motion of walking. When real time ultra-sound imaging was introduced in the 1980’s, medical professionals noticed that at around 7-8 weeks post conception, human fetuses started moving their legs spontaneously in what looked like the motion and movement our legs make when walking. Very soon after your baby is born and long before she is able to walk, you will notice that she moves her legs in this very same alternating pattern that mimics the motion of walking – it is known as ‘cyclic alternating leg movements’. Your new born may do this when you hold her upright on the floor, on a table top or even in the air – this is what some call the ‘starting point’ of walking.

    Your newborn baby loses the ability to do this at approximately 8 weeks of age but will continue to move her feet in this ‘cyclic alternating’ pattern whilst lying on the floor until she is about 12 months of age, the same

    joint angles and muscle groups are used whether your newborn is moving her legs whilst being held upright or your older baby is moving her legs in this same way whilst lying down. The reason a new born baby can do this whilst in an upright position but not after around 8 weeks of age is due to your baby’s growth – she simply doesn’t have the strength to lift her much heavier legs anymore. Real walking involves flexibility and diversity, postural control, muscle strength and not to be forgotten – the motivation to want to go somewhere!

    Your baby’s route to walking

    Before your baby starts walking, she will most likely have rolled over, be able to sit up without support, will have started crawling, be able to pull herself up to a standing position, spent some time cruising along furniture and be able to stand alone. It is possible for you little one to skip certain aspects of development but still achieve the next one on time, or early. For example, she may not be able or want to crawl but decides she wants to walk instead.

    When do babies start walking - baby standing poised to walk

    Do all babies want to walk?

    Walking is special and it is no co-incidence that walking is and always will be the ultimate end point in terms of a baby’s physical development. We have already noted that motivation is key to your baby wanting to be mobile. However, being mobile and walking are not exclusive to each other. Once your baby has the motivation to want to go somewhere, she will find a way to get there. This may involve stretching, rolling, pulling, hoisting, propelling, bum shuffling, crawling, cruising or all of the above. If your baby wants to get somewhere, she will find a way, and walking may not be at the forefront of her mind, no matter how much you try to encouragement this.

    Confident walker searching a toy box

    How can I encourage my baby to walk?

    If you are trying to encourage a child with a disability to walk, we strongly recommend that you follow the guidelines and advice given by the specialist. If however you are interested in encouraging your child to walk and you have no reason to believe that he will have difficulties in doing so, the fact of the matter is, he will walk when he is good and ready. Obviously your baby’s surroundings and environment have an impact on when your baby will start walking and by allowing your baby to cruise you can encourage his interest in wanting to walk – once he is ready.

    How will I know when my baby is ready to start walking?

    Postural development is a bit of a roller coaster, your baby will quickly learn new things, forget other things and revert back to doing things she was doing 3 weeks ago and thus appear to have forgotten her new found skill. It is not easy to know why babies start walking at the age they do; it is a combination of changes in their brains and bodies and the many external factors they are influenced by. Without getting too bogged down by the technological and theoretical issues that determine when babies start walking, we can look at the visual clues to your baby’s development that will help you to determine when your baby is ready to start walking.

    Standing with support in soft play environmentThe 5 steps to walking

    There are many milestones your baby will reach before he starts walking. As discussed earlier, it is not essential to have reached these goals in order for your baby to achieve his ultimate aim – walking. We are therefore only looking at the steps (pun intended) usually needed to reach this most important milestone – walking.

    • Step 1 – Standing with support. (Average age 7 months) – Usually between 5-8 months. You will feel the strength in your baby’s legs whilst you hold her hands or hold her under her arms and help her to keep her balance. It isn’t unusual for a baby to want to hold both of your hands above her head, using you for support whilst she ‘walks’ around.
    • Step 2 – Pulling up to stand from a seated position. (Average age 8.5 months) – Usually at around 7-11 months. Your baby has just become a little more independent, he can see new things, reach new things and has a whole new perspective on his surroundings. When your baby firsts start doing this, you may want to be close by and try to minimise the risk of any slips and falls by baby proofing your house, particularly any glass furniture and exposed corners.
    • Step 3 – Cruising along furniture. (Average age 9.5 months) – Anytime between around 8-12 months. For some this will come soon after learning how to pull to standing position, for others it may take a little longer. It is a natural progression and not something you can rush. You can however encourage cruising by allowing your baby the freedom to explore areas in your house that are the perfect height (such as your sofa). You may find that your baby crawls towards such furniture in order to pull himself up and will eventually be attempting to pull himself up on anything and everything (tv cabinets, dining chairs, stair gates, toy boxes to name just a few). As your baby progresses further, you will notice that he is able to navigate gaps in furniture, can reach out for other objects without losing balance, is able to easily change direction and will eventually hold on to the furniture with one hand and turn around to face outwards – perhaps to give you a wave or to grab something else that he is interested in. Many parents think that by placing their babies in baby walkers, they are helping their baby’s muscles develop, this is not the case, a safe place to cruise is all your baby needs.
    • Step 4 – Standing alone (Average age 11.5 months) – Usually between 9 to 15 months. At first it will only be for a couple of seconds, it may be that you place him down on his two feet and he takes a small tumble onto his bottom after 2-3 seconds, or that he decides to let go of the furniture whilst cruising. Once your baby is able to stand alone, it really won’t be long until he is ready to start walking…
    • Step 5 – Walking alone (Average age 12 months) – Your baby will become a toddler (able to walk) between the age of 9 to 16 months. If you haven’t already, you must childproof your home. Your baby will have slips, trips and a quite a few falls. Whilst your toddler is still learning to walk, ensure he does so in a safe place where a fall won’t result in a serious injury. Once your baby takes his first steps, he is officially a toddler (although he will of course always be your baby!) and toddling is exactly what he will be doing; legs wide apart, steps hesitant and slightly clumsy and arms out to help him keep balance.

    When does a ‘toddler’ turn into a walker? And what next?

    Development continues with time, as does confidence. After 2-3 months of starting to walk your child may want to take on new and exciting challenges. Rather than just walking form A to B, she will learn to pick things up from a standing position, carry things around, pull a ‘pull-a-long’ toy and walk up stairs. After approximately a year to 18 months after taking her first few steps, your child will develop further and will be able to run and also jump from a standing position. This is an exciting time for your baby and even walking to the shops can be an amazing adventure. Allow your child the time to explore her environment and encourage her curiosity. Many parents choose to use baby reins to ensure their child doesn’t run off into the road, you know your child better than anyone so don’t let anyone elses opinion sway what you think is right for your child.

    What if my child hasn’t started walking yet?

    If your child is 15-16 months old and isn’t walking or is approaching this age and isn’t showing any signs of walking then we recommend you contact your GP or health visitor. When you talk to your GP, express your concerns, if you feel that they have not been answered or you are not comfortable with what you have heard, try to clarify this with your GP. If you still don’t feel satisfied with the answer you always have the option of a second opinion. Remember that a referral is not a diagnosis and the sooner a problem is diagnosed the easier it will be for you all.
    I hope I have been able to answer your question “when do babies start walking and any other queries that arise from this. If you have found this helpful please show your appreciation by pressing the line button and sharing this with your friends.