Tis the season – for sickness

So we just got over a bout of sickness that lasted nearly a week whereby I had to take the Little Lovely to the doctors 3 times. I now have a large supply of re-hydration solution sachets that contain all the necessary salts and sugars one needs when being sick. We didn’t need to use them much and LL didn’t like the taste anyway. And so the sickness came to an end, and then just over a week later he became sick again with a cough-cold-virus thing! He also has an occasional temperature. So cue going to the doctors again when he was sick and had a temperature a few days ago. They said he has some cold virus. He is quite miserable.

Simple colour match activity idea for baby and toddler

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Simple colour match activity idea for baby and toddler

A quick & easy colour match activity to try with baby and toddler, use existing items around the house. baby-brain.co.uk

Colour match activity idea: Easy and quick to set up

I Just set this up for the Little Lovely to play with tomorrow morning.

At 10.5 months he’s probably a bit young for colour matching (I think, but let’s see what he does tomorrow), but we will:

  • talk about the colours

  • and I’ll demonstrate (model) sorting them

I think these will be important aspects if the kid is a bit too young to sort the colours themselves → Learning through observation (vicarious learning), and also the social and fun aspects of doing it this way will be important.

Other things he might get from this activity: Motor skill development, sensory play (items have different textures and functions), exploration, learning about colours.



I used things that I already had about the house for this. The items are:

Blue: wooden round shapes, dolphin bath toy, a large lid from fridge pack of baked beans, linky loop, and a small plastic baby food pot

Green: crab bath toy, rattle, linky loop, and gum massager stick for teething

Pink: ball, wooden triangle shape, measuring spoon, and a roller with Velcro texture.

They are sitting on two pieces of LL’s clothing (blue vest and green jumper), and one of his toys (child safe mirror turned face down).


….. Hope he enjoys it!

Psychological Research: Does having children make you any happier?

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Research on: does having children make us any happier? 


See the full article from the London School of Economics, here


In summary:
The birth of a first and a second child briefly increases the level of their parents’ happiness, but a third does not, according to new research from LSE and Western University, Canada


“According to the research, published in the journal Demography, parents’ happiness increases in the year before and after the birth of a first child, it then quickly decreases and returns to their ‘pre-child’ level of happiness”


“Those who become parents between the ages of 23 -34 have increasing happiness before a first birth, however one to two years after the birth, happiness decreases to baseline or below.”


“The arrival of a third child is not associated with an increase in the parents’ happiness, but this is not to suggest they are any less loved than their older siblings. Instead, this may reflect that the experience of parenthood is less novel and exciting by the time the third child is born or that a larger family puts extra pressure on the parents’ resources. Also, the likelihood of a pregnancy being unplanned may increase with the number of children a woman already has – and this brings its own stresses.”
  • So – they’re not saying there’s any link between no increase in happiness and not loving or looking after the child! (phew). I like the idea of it being less novel though, kind of makes sense, or other social/economic factors that could affect the “third child” (or later children in general) such as pressure on resources.


  • Baby-Brain thinks: Of course, “happiness”, will depend on what you want it to mean and there are going to be many other “changes” that come with children – positive, not so positive (?!) or just differences to one’s life that come with such a significant thing as having a child!

Updates at 10.5 months – teeth, sickness and words

So what’s been going on recently for the Little Lovely? He’s 10 and a half months.
♥ He’s currently sick with some stomach bug that he picked up from who knows where. He got ill the evening after attending a baby class, so probably some other child at the class or he picked up and put something contaminated in his mouth that had been touched/mouthed by an infected child. Slightly annoyed, want to email the class and tell them he’s been sick now for 6 days, but babies put things in their mouths, but on the other hand, he’s never been sick before. Anyway, 3 trips to the doctor have been had and he is ok, but it could take 2 weeks to go. He’s not dehydrated and doesn’t have a temperature. If you’re concerned about or want to read more about Gastroenteritis in children, here is an NHS page about it! Have fun reading about the vomiting.
♥ He has a molar coming through on the bottom right. He had two hemotomas on the back of the top left and right gum, where I thought molars were coming through, his upper first molars, but no teeth have appeared. Instead one is coming in on the bottom (lower first molars), which is strange because according to information on appearance of teeth in children it’s usually the upper molars that appear first and then the lower ones at 12-18 months-ish.
♥ He can follow some simple instructions and pays attention when you say something to him such as “Little Lovely, can you say DaDa”, or “can you say cup” – and he’ll most of the time say DaDa or in the last few days can say “cup”, but says it as “bupp” – or something to that effect. He really just makes a “buu” or “bupp” noise but will say it specifically if you ask him to say “cup”, so I think this shows evidence of him listening to what you are saying and trying to speak.

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




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”.



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


  • 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.


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.



  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


  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 


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