Practising that pincer grasp and fine motor skill development – with raisins!

developing pincer grasp and fine motor skills by grasping raisins, for baby.

Fine motor skill and pincer grasp practice for baby – with raisins

So we were eating snacks today, and LL (aged just over 10 months) always wants to eat what you’re eating if you eat in front of him. I was eating jaffa cakes and so decided he probably shouldn’t have these because they are covered in chocolate and quite sugary.

I gave him some nice organic raisins instead (still have sugar in them, I suppose, but natural sugars?). I put them in a plastic tub for him to fish out and practice his fine motor skills. This was probably a good activity to help him practice his “pincer grasp” as well. Here’s some pictures. He seemed to like the raisins

 

developing pincer grasp and fine motor skills by grasping raisins, for baby.

Baby enjoying his raisins, pincer grasp and fine motor skill development

 

 

 

 

Treasure Baskets & Heuristic play: Quick guide, Themes and Content ideas

10 treasure basket ideas for baby: ideas for themes, content and how to present them (trays, bucket, basket, treasure shoe box). Treasure baskets & heuristic play - what/why/how - from baby-brain.co.uk

Theme and content ideas for infant Treasure Baskets

I’ve decided to write a new post streamlining the Treasure Baskets and Heuristic Play post – in order to make a kind of:

Quick reference guide on Treasure Baskets: the what, why and how

- oh and with some more pictures of what me and the Little Lovely have been trying out too! Here’s 10 ideas on contents and themes

 

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Treasure basket out of a shoe box. Balls. treasure baskets and heuristic play: what, why & how. baby-brain.co.uk psychology resource perspective babies motherhood & blog

Treasure Chest – make an old shoe box into a treasure basket! I filled this one with balls

The What:

What are treasure baskets? A collection of objects, presented in a basket/container, for infants who are old enough to sit up but not old or mobile enough to get about and explore. Hence – you bring the world to them and let them explore and experience various sensory aspects (touch, sound, sight, taste, smell) through exploring the items in the basket and discovery – alongside developing hand-eye coordination skills.

 

The concept was originally introduced by  Elinor Goldschmied. You can read a bit more about her here in this article from The Guardian where the author describes her as “one of the pioneers of early childhood care and education”.

 

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The How:

Collect a range of items from around the room or house, that are baby safe, mouthable and excite the senses.

The parent/caregiver role is also important. After presenting the Treasure Basket to baby, sit close by, be attentive and available to the child if needed but do not direct the exploration or play; let baby explore at their own pace and make the decisions without giving in to the temptation to go through the basket yourself and show baby each item or demonstrate how to use them.
Resist the urge to impose your own ideas;
        • ⇒ Treasure baskets should be child-led and….
        • They offer very young children an opportunity to actually make decisions about what to play with and how  (an opportunity which they don’t usually get)
For my reflections on how difficult it was to resist, but how I experienced an interesting outcome, see “a personal case study” in the full treasure basket post here

 

Contents and theme ideas: 

Some themes we have tried

Treasure Chest:

  • Made out of a shoe box! (full picture above) – just be mindful of the corner edges, these aren’t soft and round like the baskets. I filled one with balls and LL enjoyed opening and shutting the lid
Treasure basket out of a shoe box. Balls. treasure baskets and heuristic play: what, why & how. baby-brain.co.uk psychology resource perspective babies motherhood & blog

Box of Balls (Treasure Box)

Kitchen set:

  • Lemon, orange, lime (smelly fruits), safe utensils from different materials like metal, wood (plastic if you are not being traditional)
     Kitchen themed treasure baskets and heuristic play: what, why & how. baby-brain.co.uk psychology resource perspective babies motherhood & blog

Baskets of Round and Circle shapes, and a basket of Assorted Shapes (in wood)

  • LL loves taking all of these shapes out of the basket, throwing, waving and bashing them around (9.5 months)

Assorted wooden shapes. treasure baskets and heuristic play: what, why & how. baby-brain.co.uk psychology resource perspective babies motherhood & blog

Round and circle shapes. treasure baskets and heuristic play: what, why & how. baby-brain.co.uk psychology resource perspective babies motherhood & blog

 

Treasure Tin: Mixed Circles

  • More shapes again

treasure baskets & heuristic play: how, why, what. mixed circles. baby-brain.co.uk

 

Treasure Tin of mixed colour fabrics

Treasure Bucket of different textured fabrics

  • Silky ribbon, thick fishnet, netting type material, cotton, and so on. LL enjoyed feeling all the various textures, the depth of the bucket (sticking his hand right in the the bottom and pulling the fabrics out), and the clatter of the tin and tin lid when the fabrics were presented in this.
treasure tin, mixed fabrics. Treasure Baskets: what, why & how. baby-brain.co.uk psychology resource perspective babies motherhood & blog
treasure bucket, mixed fabric textures. Treasure Baskets:  what, why & how. baby-brain.co.uk psychology resource perspective babies motherhood & blog

Wooden – or try grouping other materials, like metal

  • This set included some wooden kitchen bits such as a spoon, brush, a wooden rattle, baby hairbrush (soft goat hair), large coloured counters

    treasure baskets & heuristic play: how, why, what. Wooden.  baby-brain.co.uk

Colours

  • A basket of mixed green items

treasure baskets & heuristic play: how, why, what. The colour green.  baby-brain.co.uk

Noisy treasure basket- musical treasure box 

  • A little box of noisy toys, including a shaker, rattle, tambourine, cage bell

treasure baskets & heuristic play: how, why, what. Music box.  baby-brain.co.uk

In general – we have used different materials and ways to present the Treasure Basket contents, including

  • tins

  • baskets

  • shoe boxes

  • trays (e.g. baking tray)

  • buckets

LL has enjoyed the noises he can make with different materials, like the sound the tin box makes when banging the lid against the box, and the kitchen implements against the metal baking tray. He experimented with reaching into the bottom of the bucket and pulling fabric pieces out.

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The Why:

For development (senses, physical, emotional, and more), for exploring, for play, for fun….

Heuristic Play:
This is about discovery play-  used to described the activity of toddlers when they play with objects, how they experiment with objects and the environment. It’s called “experimental” because the child is interested in discovering what they can do with the objects. Treasure baskets are relevant here because they allow baby the opportunity to handle and mouth objects (sensory motor skills) so that they can find out more about them, and they offer new sensory experiences that allow the brain to grow and become more active (2). The term Heuristic Play is more relevant to children of toddler age, and Treasure Baskets to babies.

 

References

  1. Gascoyne, S. (2012). Treasure Baskets & Beyond: Realizing the Potential of Sensory-rich Play. McGraw-Hill. (access the introductory chapter to this book here, and read a more about sensory, heuristic play and Treasure Baskets)
  2. Hughes, A. M. (2010). Developing Play for the Under 3s: The Treasure Basket and Heuristic Play. Routledge

 

Other references influencing this post:

  • Goldschmied, E. & Jackson, S. (1994) People under Three. Young Children in Day Care. Routledge (see chapter 6 – The Treasure Basket)

Reading with baby – more added

i’ve added more to the Reading with baby page.

Please see Reading with baby: What, why and how to

There’s also a sample printable of high contrast, visual stimulation flash cards available to download

simple square high contrast flash cards for baby. Visual Stimulation. from baby-brain.co.uk

High contrast flash cards

Psychological research: “baby brain” and changes in brain during pregnancy

An interesting study on changes in the brain during pregnancy:

Pregnant women show increased activity in the area of the brain related to emotional skills as they prepare to bond with their babies,

according to a new study by scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London.

The research  found that pregnant women use the right side of their brain more than new mothers do when they look at faces with emotive expressions.

“Our findings give us a significant insight into the ‘baby brain’ phenomenon that makes a woman more sensitive during the child bearing process”, said Dr Victoria Bourne, from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway. “The results suggest that during pregnancy, there are changes in how the brain processes facial emotions that ensure that mothers are neurologically prepared to bond with their babies at birth.”

Researcher examined the neuropsychological activity of 39 pregnant women and new mothers as they looked at images of adult and baby faces with either positive or negative expressions. The results showed that pregnant women used the right side of their brain more than new mothers, particularly when processing positive emotions.

The study used the chimeric faces test, which uses images made of one half of a neutral face combined with one half of an emotive face to see which side of the participants’ brain is used to process positive and negative emotions.

Dr Bourne said: “We know from previous research that pregnant women and new mothers are more sensitive to emotional expressions, particularly when looking at babies’ faces. We also know that new mothers who demonstrate symptoms of post-natal depression sometimes interpret their baby’s emotional expressions as more negative than they really are.

“Discovering the neuropsychological processes that may underpin these changes is a key step towards understanding how they might influence a mother’s bonding with her baby.”

Teething Pains

Sleep has been terrible the last week or so. He was finally sleeping well, around 9 months, but now is waking up every hour or so. I wasn’t sure if it was teething because he just had his lower lateral incisors (the ones either side of the bottom front middle teeth) come in a few weeks ago (and sleep was bad then too). But, today we noticed a “teething hematoma” at the top back on his gum where the first MOLAR is supposed to come in. Molars already!! Would explain all the upset. But why at night? He doesn’t appear so upset during the day. Anyway, let’s see if a molar comes through. Quite early. Not sure what he’s planning to do with all these teeth!

A quick look on Google scholar comes back with this article (1. Teething: A Relook) 

 

INTRODUCTION: Your new bundle of joy is about to embark on a  beautiful journey through the rites of passage, commonly known as “Teething.” Now, if the “Tooth be told,” this journey is not going to be a bed of  roses; but take heart! This emotionally charged  experience is but one chapter in the beautiful novel of the life that “YOU” have helped to create… (pg 116)

 

Ok, sounds interesting….

 

As their teeth erupt, some babies may become fussy,  sleepless and irritable, lose their appetite or drool more than usual. Diarrhea, rashes and fever are not normal for a teething baby (2). Prior to tooth eruption, the gingiva [baby-brain does not know what this is] may appear bluish and swollen as a result of a transient hematoma. In rare cases, an eruption cyst develops. The tooth will eventually rupture this watery sac as it pushes through the gums…. (pg 116)

 

…. Nice

References: 

  1. Gugwad, S., Bommanavar, S., & Garud, S. (2012) Teething: A Relook. Int J Dent Case Reports, 2(5):115-120.
  2. Markman L. (2009) Teething: Facts and Fiction. Pediatr Rev, 30: e59-e64.

baby-brain.co.uk is on facebook – psychology resource, perspective, blog on motherhood and babies

baby-brain.co.uk psychology resource, perspective and blog on motherhood and babies, now on facebook!

My face is on a book?

baby-brain.co.uk (psychology resource, perspective, blog on motherhood and babies) is coming to facebook!!

 ◊♦    Here’s the facebook page   ♦◊

Ok, so i’ve finally set up a facebook page – or at least attempted to do so.
If you would like:
  • frequent updates,
  • mini links,
  • posts of interesting baby and parenthood related activities, crafts, psychological research
  • and more stuff that I haven’t thought of yet!
Then please like the page! I will probably post quick little things on there more frequently than on this site 

 

gentle sensory water play shower idea

Gentle sensory water shower for baby – a fun bath time activity! And it’s cheap, quick and simple to set up as well.

gentle water sensory shower, bath time sensory activity play for baby. baby-brain.co.uk. psychology resource, perspective, blog on motherhood & babies

Basically, get a small plastic milk carton/bottle. Carefully make some holes in the lid (I used a small skewer), and cut a hole towards the bottom of the bottle, like in the pictures below. The holes in the lid are obviously so that the water can sprinkle out, and the hole in the body of the bottle is so that you can fill it with water easily by dunking it in the bath water.

 

gentle water sensory shower, bath time sensory activity play for baby. baby-brain.co.uk. psychology resource, perspective, blog on motherhood & babiesMake sure the plastic edge of the hole isn’t too sharp or scratchy because the Little Lovely was quite interested in the bottle and ended up grabbing it (as can be seen in the pictures below). I used a nail file to smooth any rough edges. He probably chewed on it a bit as well so, again, safety first and make sure the lid is on tightly. Always supervise this project and be especially cautious around water

 

gentle water sensory shower, bath time sensory activity play for baby. baby-brain.co.uk. psychology resource, perspective, blog on motherhood & babies

Then, carefully introduce the sprinkled water to baby. We did this in the bath, but I suppose you could use it elsewhere if you don’t mind the water splashing about the place. Maybe in the garden on a hot day?

 

Here’s the Little Lovely enjoying the showery water sensation:
gentle water sensory shower, bath time sensory activity play for baby. baby-brain.co.uk. psychology resource, perspective, blog on motherhood & babies

What’s this?

 

 

He was quite curious about the bottle and enjoyed the sensation of the water showering on his hands, tummy and hair.

gentle water sensory shower, bath time sensory activity play for baby. baby-brain.co.uk. psychology resource, perspective, blog on motherhood & babies

 

Having a little shower

 

 

gentle water sensory shower, bath time sensory activity play for baby. baby-brain.co.uk. psychology resource, perspective, blog on motherhood & babies

You can’t tell very well, but LL is actually lying on a special baby seat in the picture below, and enjoying the water being sprinkled on his tummy and chest.

gentle water sensory shower, bath time sensory activity play for baby. baby-brain.co.uk. psychology resource, perspective, blog on motherhood & babies

 

 

first (assisted) steps

The Little Lovely took his first assisted steps this evening! He’s getting quite good at standing up now, with some assistance or by holding onto something. Once standing and holding my hands he can be encouraged to take a few steps. Well done LL! (He’s just over 9 months)

Park life boy – baby activity & maternal wellbeing

Baby activity: in relation to the maternal wellbeing and mental health page

Go to the park…..

go to the park with baby. activity ideas maternal mental health and well being. baby-brain.co.uk psychological resource, perspective and blog on motherhood and babies

Park life boy

 

And have fun on the swings

 

Go to the park with another family. Social activity ideas maternal mental health and well being. baby-brain.co.uk psychological resource, perspective and blog on motherhood and babies

Psychological research: winter babies crawl earlier than summer babies

Psychological research paper: are there differences in crawling age between winter and summer babies? baby-brain.co.uk. Psychological perspective, resource and blog on motherhood

Crawling baby

Psychological research paper: I saw this paper here, about crawling, thought it looked interesting:

Babies Born in the Winter Start Crawling Earlier Than Those Born in the Summer

Study shows a seasonal effect on the pace of motor development in babies

 

Babies born between December and May (“winter” babies) were found to start to crawl earlier compared to those born between June and November (“summer” babies – although November is bit a bit winter-ish if you ask me, but hey-ho). The study involved motor observations at home when babies were 7 months old, and following the babies up when they started crawling. Parents were also asked to record the stages in their babies’ development.

The average age at which the babies started crawling was 31 weeks. But while the babies born in the winter (who started to crawl in the summer) started to crawl at an average 30 weeks, those born in the summer (who started to crawl in the winter) began crawling at an average of 35 weeks, with no differences noted between the boys or the girls or in the initial style of crawling (belly crawling or using hands and knees).

They also used a measure that assessed 4 different positions: Prone (on the stomach), supine (on the back), sitting, and standing – the overall scores the babies got on this assessment was higher for winter babies, but, there were no significant differences in scores between the winter and summer babies on the scores for the supine position, sitting, or standing.

So what do the researchers conclude?

According to the researchers, the findings strengthen the assumption that there is a window of opportunity for starting to crawl and stress the effect of the season on the start of crawling.

The current study took place in Israel. They talk about the seasonal effect because other studies where there is quite a difference between seasons have found similiar results, e.g. in Denver, Colorado and Osaka, Japan. But, but a study that took place in Alberta, Canada, didn’t find any seasonal effect. Despite winters being “long and cold” there, the researchers write that the environment in the house is very similar all year round because of winter heating.

They write:

“Although the winter in Israel is comparatively mild…. it turns out that it nonetheless influences the motor development of babies because of the differences between summer and winter in Israel,”

⇒ So why does season and seasonal effects seem to be relevant to when babies start to crawl?

The study notes that:

“The season influences the babies’ experiences in a number of ways, including

  • layers of clothing that are worn

  • the opportunities babies are given to spend on the floor on their stomachs, and,

  • the hours of activity and daylight

Awareness of the seasonal effect is important so that parents will give their babies proper movement and development opportunities in the winter as well,” 

Ooooh I see, so it’s not necessarily anything inherent about winter vs summer children, but about environmental factors and what is going on in the baby’s home and environment when they are developing and reaching the age that they might start to develop crawling skills.

Those born in winter will approach crawling ready age in spring/summer where there might be more opportunities to go out, have more hours of day light in which in play, less restrictive or thick clothing on so that they can practice movement more freely, etc.

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