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Night-Weaning Your Baby

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 01:51pm
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Want your baby to start sleeping through the night? It can happen! But, first you need to begin night weaning your baby. We can guide you through this process with some time-tested Comfort, Play & Teach® strategies.

Generally, it’s okay to start night weaning your baby after he’s 6 months old. But check with your health care provider to be sure there’s no medical reason to continue a night time feeding. Some babies wean themselves, while others are open to it if their parents take the lead.

In many cases, babies cry only a little for a night or two along this process before adapting to going through the night without waking for a feeding. However, if your baby cries inconsolably for several nights in a row, go back to your normal routine and try again in a week or two. He may be going through a growth spurt and need that feeding to satisfy his hunger.  This is not spoiling him. In this situation, you are not training him to get what he wants by crying. Instead, you will be responding to his needs—and this is a good thing.

Our experts have created the following Comfort, Play & Teach® activities to help you night-wean your baby.

Comfort

  • Timing is everything. Don't try night weaning if your routine is changing or about to change—especially if you’re about to become less available. For example, it’s not good for your baby to attempt night weaning just before you return to work. Try to undertake night weaning a long time before or considerably after you make such a change. It’s also not a good idea to try night weaning during a vacation or shortly after a move. Your baby can be affected by these changes in her routine. She will naturally want to connect with you at night if she is in a strange place or if she has less of your time during the day.
  • If you’re the one who comforts your baby when he cries at night, try having your partner attend to the baby. The smell of you or your breast milk can make your baby want to feed.
  • Throughout the process, gently soothe and comfort your baby when he wakes. Explain that it's sleepy time. Repeat gentle soothing, but firm words such as “sh,sh” or “night night” while patting his back or tummy. Even though he's too young to understand your words, most babies gradually understand the meaning, and your presence soothes them.     

Play

  • Be sure to keep any play that takes place just before bed quiet and calming such as reading a book or giving baby a massage. A revved up baby may fall asleep in exhaustion, and then wake up in the middle of the night with energy left to burn off.
  • Don’t reward your baby with play in the middle of the night. Some parents feel that if their baby is awake, they might as well get up and play. Keep nighttime for sleeping and daytime for play.

Teach

  • Wean slowly and gradually. This is the most important key to successful night weaning. Remember that your baby is still young and has a tremendous need for comfort, closeness and reassurance—particularly from his parents.
  • Very gradually give your baby less time on each breast or a little less milk at each feeding.
  • Very gradually prolong the intervals between feedings by patting and comforting your baby. This will gently urge him to go back to sleep.
  • Make sure your baby gets plenty to eat throughout the day. Offer your child extra feedings in the evening so he won't be hungry in the middle of the night. Wake him for a final feeding before you go to bed.

 

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Reading with your Baby

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 06:03pm
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For some parents, the idea of reading to their newborn seems ridiculous. If the baby can’t speak or understand, why would they be interested in a story? But child development experts are quick to assure new parents that reading to their child is one of the most important things that they can do.

Reading to your baby right from birth, even during pregnancy, can make a big difference in your child’s development. It’s a way to communicate with your baby that will help him build his language skills. Through reading, you’re also comforting your baby. You’re involved by touching, rocking and speaking to him. And when you read, you’re playing with him. You can make sound effects or ask questions or try commenting on what he’s looking at. It’s a chance to teach your baby about colours, shapes, feelings, how people act and react and what the world is all about.

It may seem strange that all of those things help your baby before he can even talk, but there are even more benefits. Experts believe that early literacy helps your baby increase his vocabulary and attention span. He’ll develop an eagerness to read and learn. He’ll know how to handle books, understand how to put sentences together, predict what happens next in a story, increase his social skills, bond with you and identify his feelings.

The best time to start reading to your baby is actually during pregnancy.
There is evidence that reading to your baby while in the womb promotes bonding and baby comes to prefer his parents’ voices. In research studies, babies have even shown a preference for songs or stories that they had been exposed to before they were born.

With a baby, it can be tough to hold their attention to read them a story. Try to choose books with large print and pictures that will keep your baby interested. Speak in the slightly higher pitched, animated simple words that are often called “parentese.” Make sure your baby is comfortable, dry and fed so that he won’t be distracted as you read. And, as much as it might seem repetitive to you, try to read the same book every day for a while. It will help develop your baby’s memory, plus your baby will start to look forward to the pictures and words on the next page.

Let your baby touch the book you are reading. Touch is a central part of human learning. We all learn especially well when we can pick up and handle materials. For babies, experts generally recommend board books because they are safer (much harder to chew), plus they’re great for helping babies learn to exercise their fingers and hands.

If your baby fusses when you are reading, don’t try to keep reading or choose a different book. Put the book away and wait for a time when baby is calm. The last thing you want is to have your baby connect fussiness with reading. Always wait for a time when your baby is in a happier mood and then try reading.

Reading with your baby is Comfort, Play & Teach® time:

Comfort

  • If you make reading with your baby a routine, your baby will feel safe and comforted.

Play

  • If you routinely read in an animated way, your baby will be enjoying playtime with you

Teach

  • If you make reading a reading routine, your baby will learn to pay attention, pick up words for his vocabulary, and learn to think ahead.

 

Check out our Reading with Your Baby video for more tips and strategies for reading with your baby.

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Cues and Attachment

by Maxine
Posted June 21 2011 03:50pm
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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

 

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Talking: Setting the stage for your baby

by Maxine
Posted January 2 2012 07:38pm
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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.

How have you set the stage for your baby’s language development? Share your experience with other parents by leaving a comment below!

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