Age: 3-6 months

Baby Water Sensory Play Activity

If you want to try this at home be more careful than me!

Dirtand boogers.com water play idea. Baby Water Sensory Play: baby-brain.co.uk, psychology resource, perspective & blog on motherhood

Dirtandboogers.com water play idea

What am I talking about? Well I tried to emulate this Baby Water Play idea (piccie to your right ) from a site called “Dirt and Boogers” (written by a “play therapist turned stay at home mom”; see whole article here with some nice pictures of baby playing with the water tray. There is also a range of play ideas from baby to preschool age on the site). This looked like a great way to introduce the Little Lovely (LL) to some sensory play of a different nature as we have never used water during play other than bath time I suppose, but I haven’t introduced any bath toys yet. I didn’t read the instructions properly and I think this activity is for babies who are not sitting yet, or at least is to be done in a non-sitting position.
Anyway, I set up a baking tray with some toys including linky loops, a sippy cup top and rattle (basically things that would glide about on the water), added water and put a plastic sheet under the tray so as not to spill water everywhere, as demonstrated in the picture below.

Water Sensory Play idea with baby | Baby-Brain.co.uk psychology resource, perspective & blog on motherhood

I sat LL down in front of it (aged 6.5 months) and IMMEDIATELY… WOOSH… the first thing he did was grab the bottom of the tray and tipped it up. The water all spilled out right across the plastic and on to the rug. Oh well, it’s only water.
So this might have been a good sensory experience activity but maybe do as Dirt and Boogers and put baby on their tummy (baby in the original article is 6 months – so similar to LL). Although, I’m not sure if LL wouldn’t have tipped the tray up anyway even if he was on his front.
Maybe I’ll repeat this at some point and see what LL does next time. And maybe I’ll add some balls. I’ve found another water sensory play idea here from Learn with Play at Home (written by a teacher and mother of 2) and they suggest using a high chair tray, which actually might have been a better idea for LL so he couldn’t tip it up, or maybe I could find a heavier or larger water receptacle that he couldn’t tip over. Anyway, try it at home, add some interesting toys/objects to the water that baby can push around and experience the feel and sound of the water. Oh, and at least LL had fun playing with the metal tray, tipping it up and bashing on it with some of his other sensory play objects after his water emptying handiwork was done. He was able experiment with making some nice sounds with the tray – so we got some sensory play after all, just of a different nature to what was planned! Here’s some pictures of him having fun (below).
Safety first! As always, always supervise activities and be careful with with water around your baby. Never leave baby unattended.

 

woosh Water Sensory Play idea with baby | Baby-Brain.co.uk psychology resource, perspective & blog on motherhood

Woosh went the water! As he tipped up the tray

let's make stuff from baby-brain.co.uk - baby water sensory play idea - | Baby-Brain.co.uk psychology resource, perspective & blog on motherhood

Playing with the now emptied of water tray

 

See more stuff the Little Lovely and I made and did together: ⇒back to Let’s Make Stuff!

 

Thank you for reading: Baby Water Sensory Play: baby-brain.co.uk, psychology resource, perspective & blog

Tummy Time for baby – and why it’s important

Tummy Time for baby - Why it's important! Tips & information, from baby-brain.co.uk

Tummy Time (TT) is important in that long road toward crawling and eventually walking. It involves baby working their muscles, coordination skills and learning to push up, sit up, roll over and other gross motor skills. It’s therefore important to give babies time on their tummy.

Since the Back To Sleep campaign (babies to sleep on their backs), babies were apparently getting less “tummy time” during the day, leading to some delays in reaching important developmental milestones such as crawling (according to this article from the BBC on the importance of Tummy Time for babies and their development). These children did catch up, however.
Some babies can really dislike tummy time, however. I found some tips on this site from a paediatric occupational therapist
– 7 tips for making tummy time a little less miserable, if TT needs some encouragement.
  • It writes about 7 steps to independent TT, starting each step a few times a day for a few minutes while progressing up the steps. It’s also a good idea not to do TT too soon after a meal otherwise there might be a bit of spit up.
  • The Little Lovely (LL) didn’t really mind TT, although in the first few months he could only tolerate a short amount of time on his tummy before making frustrated sounds. I think this was because he was working quite hard in trying to do mini push ups and so it was probably quite tiring for him.
There is a wealth of information out there on how to make tummy time fun and interesting for you both, how to assist baby with tummy time and what to do if baby does not like being on this tummy.
When I first started with LL we tried some assisted TT by rolling up a towel or blanket and putting this under his chest so that he could experience his chest being raised and pushed up from the floor, but without so much of the strain for him.
Tummy Time for baby - tips and information, from baby-brain.co.uk

Tummy Time

  • Make it a bonding experience – there are different games you can play while practising TT and baby doesn’t have to be on their own, tummy down on the floor. Try placing baby on your tummy, tummy to tummy so that you can both see each other when they lift their head. Or, lie on your back and put baby on his tummy on your legs.Lift up your legs, while holding baby securely, and pretend to be an aeroplane. If baby is tummy down on the floor, use toys to encourage them to reach, move, and lift their head. Or, talk or sing to your baby to encourage this. Always supervise TT with baby.
Some useful links:
Tummy Time is important in that long road toward crawling and eventually walking. It involves baby working their muscles and coordination and learning to push up, sit up, roll over and other gross motor skills. It's therefore important to give babies time on their tummy.

Have a Tummy Fun Time

High contrast flash card images for baby 0-6 months

Newborn visual development: babies prefer high contrast images because their visual system is still developing. They can find it difficult to distinguish between similar colours such as red and orange. The hard contrast of black on white (or any strong colour) therefore stands out well. Here’s some simple images to try out. Read more on visual development here.

 

high contrast shapes cards mixed

Download & print for free: High contrast images, newborn & baby, visual images, 0-6 months

high contrast shapes cards mixed sheet 2

Download & print for free: High contrast images, newborn & baby, visual images, 0-6 months

 

 

First days of weaning the baby (we are 6 months old)

The first week of weaning: what we ate and why. Baby-Brain.co.uk. Pschology, babies, motherhood

The first week of weaning: what we ate and why

So, we are 6 months old!

I tried to go away for the weekend. The baby did not like it. He wanted to be fed and wanted me there. I had to come back slightly early. Then I realised (slight second baby syndrome related delay about this) that hey he’s 6 months now and so I should think about weaning (also known as “complementary feeding”, CF).

 

When is baby ready for solids?

The NHS writes that:

Every baby is an individual, but there are three clear signs that, together, show your baby is ready for solid foods… It’s very rare for these signs to appear together before your baby is six months old.

1. They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady.

2. They can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth, all by themselves.

3. They can swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push their food back out with their tongue, so they get more round their face than they do in their mouths.

(http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/solid-foods-weaning.aspx)

 

The first week of weaning: what we ate and why. Baby-Brain.co.uk. Pschology, babies, motherhood

What you feedin’ me?

Where to start?

Question: How do you get your child to eat vegetables?

Answer: …feed them vegetables!

Some research suggests introducing vegetables in the first few weeks of weaning. Infants may be more willing to try and like new vegetables if vegetables are offered in the first few weeks of weaning – a variety of vegetables, both bitter and sweet, and trying each one a few times because baby may initially dislike or refuse to taste it (as discussed in this article here by Nicola Slawson, 2015). One study (3) reported that

Early exposure to a rotation of vegetable flavours first added to milk then to cereal increased intake and liking of these vegetables during CF [complementary feeding]

Why start with vegetables? – The first few years of life are important in terms of developing healthy eating habits (1) and new foods are more readily accepted in those early years (2). Once a food habit is established they tend to be quite stable (3). So introducing vegetables at the start of weaning/CF might make it more likely for the child to like and accept vegetables as they grow older

Several studies have now shown that CF with vegetables facilitates liking and intake of vegetables compared to CF with fruit (a, b, cited in Hetherington et al. 2015)

What helps a kid to like vegetables? Hetherington and colleages (3) report on different methods such as “stealth” to disguise vegetables in food, or adding other flavours that the child already likes. However, the most successful strategy in promoting vegetable eating is

Mere or repeated exposure…

 

…Early and repeated experience with vegetables serves to increase acceptance

So basically, giving them the vegetables, again and again, to promote “familiarity” (4) and “learned safety” (5). Vegetable presentation needs to be rotated with daily variety, in addition to the exposure (6). Hetherington et al (3) also report that adding vegetables to familiar and liked foods such as milk and cereal facilitated intake and liking of the vegetable. Adding milk to the vegetable can reduce any bitter or sour tastes due to the sweetness in the milk (both breast and formula milk) and dilution effect of adding it (3).

 

Our first foods

The first week of weaning: what we ate and why. Baby-Brain.co.uk. Pschology, babies, motherhood

Banana in a mesh self feeder

We started with baby rice mixed with his usual milk. In the first week we then moved on to a few spoonfuls of:

  • Cauliflower purée (mixed with his usual milk)

  • Avocado (in a mesh self feeder, see picture)

  • Banana (yeah I know this isn’t a vegetable but it was easy to put in the mesh self feeder)

  • Parsnip purée

 

Future planned foods for week 2:

  • Broccoli

  • Carrots

  • Potato

  • Butternut squash

Cauliflower Puree. The first week of weaning: what we ate and why. Baby-Brain.co.uk. Pschology, babies, motherhood

Cauliflower Purée

 

The weaning plan (read more on this useful sheet here):
  • Offer one vegetable at a time
  • Offer a variety of vegetables (because of issues as discussed above)
  • Repeated exposure, to vegetables! Keep trying and offer the food a good few times even if baby doesn’t seem to like it at first (increases chance that baby will eventually accept the food (7) )

 

 

 

 

References:

References 1-6 cited in Hetherington et al., 2015:

  1. Cashdan, E. (1994). 1994. A sensitive period for learning about food. Human Nature, 5 (3), pp. 279–291
  2. Lange, M. Visalli, S. Jacob, C. Chabanet, P. Schlich, S. Nicklaus. (2013). Maternal feeding practices during the first year and their impact on infants’ acceptance of complementary food. Food Quality and Preference, 29 (2), pp. 89–98.
  3. Hetherington, M. M., Schwartz, C., Madrelle, J., Croden, F., Nekitsing, C., Vereijken, C.M.J.L. & Weenen, H. (2015). A step-by-step introduction to vegetables at the beginning of complementary feeding: The effects of early and repeated exposureAppetite, 84, pp. 280–290
  4. Zajonc, R.B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Monograph Supplement 9 (2 Pt. 2), pp. 1–27.
  5. Kalat,J. W. & Rozin, P. (1973). Learned safety” as a mechanism in long-delay taste-aversion learning in rats. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 83 (2) (1973), pp. 198–207.
  6. Nicklaus, S. (2011). Children’s acceptance of new foods at weaning. Role of practices of weaning and of food sensory properties. Appetite, 57 (3), pp. 812–815
  7. Maier, A. et al. (2007). Effects of Repeated Exposure on Acceptance of Initially Disliked Vegetables in 7-month Old Infants. Food Quality and Preference 18(8): 1023-1032.

a) Barends, J. de Vries, J. Mojet, C. de Graaf. (2013). Effects of repeated exposure to either vegetables or fruits on infant’s vegetable and fruit acceptance at the beginning of weaning. Food Quality and Preference, 29 (2), pp. 157–165

b) Remy, S. Issanchou, C. Chabanet, S. Nicklaus. (2013.) Repeated exposure of infants at complementary feeding to a vegetable puree increases acceptance as effectively as flavor-flavor learning and more effectively than flavor-nutrient learning. The Journal of Nutrition, pp. 1194–1200

Tactile and Visual Entertainment Tubes – Crafty DIY Infant Entertainment

Tactile and Visual Entertainment Tubes – for babies and infants

 

sensory activity with baby - tactile/vsual entertainment tubes - Baby-Brain.co.uk - Psychology resource and perspective on babies and motherhood

Toilet Roll Fun - Tactile and Visual Entertainment Tubes - home made fun with baby. Ideas from www.baby-brain.co.uk

 

  • What was the idea originally supposed to be? – A baby play station (click on link for what the activity was originally meant to look like). I changed the idea slightly
  • Where did I get the idea/activity from? – This website called Kids Activities Blog 
  • Why did I make it? – I thought it would be a fun, creative thing to, and something that would entertain the Little Lovely and also allow tactile and visual stimulation

The original activity is to make a baby play station using toilet paper rolls, wrapping different fabric/materials around each roll, attaching rolls to a curtain rod and then watching them roll as baby plays/spins them around. I decided to attach them to some string and attach the string to the play gym for the Little Lovely to play with.

 

Here’s the steps I took to make it:

material/paper scraps: sensory activity with baby - Baby-Brain.co.uk - Psychology resource and perspective on babies and motherhood
Step 1: I found some materials to use that were visually stimulating and/or tactile . I used old wallpaper scraps that were bumpy and had a nice texture, and some shiny material.

sensory activity with baby - tactile/vsual entertainment tubes - Baby-Brain.co.uk - Psychology resource and perspective on babies and motherhood

Step 2: I carefully cut to size and glued the paper/material scraps onto toilet paper rolls, folding any excess fabric or paper into the inside of the roll.
sensory activity with baby - tactile/vsual entertainment tubes - Baby-Brain.co.uk - Psychology resource and perspective on babies and motherhood  Step 3: Leave to dry
Step 4: I threaded the tactile and sensory rolls onto thick string but you could attach to a rod as in the original idea, or something safe for your infant to play with. I then attached mine to hang between two poles of the play gym. 

 

….and voilà! Here are some pictures of LL enjoying his new toy

 

Toilet Roll Fun - Tactile and Visual Entertainment Tubes - home made fun with baby. Ideas from www.baby-brain.co.ukToilet Roll Fun - Tactile and Visual Entertainment Tubes - home made fun with baby. Ideas from www.baby-brain.co.ukToilet Roll Fun - Tactile and Visual Entertainment Tubes - home made fun with baby. Ideas from www.baby-brain.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safety first:

  • be careful of choking hazards when choosing materials and don’t chose things to wrap around the rolls that have little parts that could fall off or be pulled off easily.  I supervised play to ensure safety and the rolls were tied up so that LL could not get them down or his mouth around them easily
  • I am wary of using string with babies because of any risks they could get caught up it in. Therefore, always attach safely so that there is no string or materials free for infant to injure self on and only allow play in your presence and under adult supervision. Take the string down after use and put away safely. Do not copy random pages/blogs on the internet. I bought some child-friendly white craft glue for this activity, however all of the glue remains under the paper/material and so does not directly touch little hands or mouths.

psychological research: Do babies understand speech?

Do babies understand speech? What does the psychological research say - yes! Infant verbal understanding

Do babies understand speech?

I saw this interesting research paper today (1) about whether babies as young as 6 months understand that speech is used to communicate information (rather than random, interesting sounds that come out of our mouths).

 

→ Babies at 6 months appear to understand that speech transfers information between people

Some people might think – but of course! Others might think, wow, that’s early to understand such a thing.

 

 

 

The study also mentioned that:
  • Previous research (2, 3) has shown that 12 month old children can understand that speech transfers information, even when the speech is unknown or a new experience for them.
  • By 6 months, babies prefer speech over other sounds (4)
  • They also associate speech as coming from people, rather than other animals, for example (5)

 

What the experiment did:

The researchers looked at:

  • Whether 6 month olds could recognise that speech can communicate something about an object.
  • In the experiment the baby watched an actor reach for one of two different objects. There was also a second person present. Next, the actor could no longer reach the objects, but the second person could
    • so they either “spoke” to the person (they actually spoke a nonsense word, not a real conversation)
    • or made a non-speech communication (a cough).
  • The second person would then pick up one of the objects (there was a “target” object and a “non-preferred” object)
  • The results showed that babies looked at the actor for longer when they reached for the non-preferred object than the target object when they made the nonsense word, but not when when they coughed.

The study concludes that at 6 months, even though babies have a very small receptive vocabulary, infants have some abstract understanding of the communicative function of speech. This understanding may help with their development of language and knowledge.

Conclusion
Six-month olds infer that a vocalization that takes the
form of speech, even without any previously established
meaning, can communicate information about an object…….

 

…… even before knowing many words, infants can already use their understanding of the abstract role of speech in communication to evaluate the outcome of communicative interactions. (pg7)

The main points:
  • babies understand that speech is used to communicate and has a communicative function before they build their vocabularies and start to speak.
  • understanding that speech is used to communicate may happen before the child develops language, and this understanding may also provide a mechanism for early language acquisition:
  •  Babies start to learn quite early on that speech transfers information and may use this abstract understanding to learn about the meaning of individual words (6)

 

interesting!

 

References:
  1. Vouloumanos, A., Martin, A., & Onishi, K. H. (2014). Do 6-month-olds understand that speech can communicate? Developmental Science, pp 1–8
  2. Martin, A., Onishi, K.H., & Vouloumanos, A. (2012). Understanding the abstract role of speech in communication at 12 months. Cognition, 123 (1), 50 – 60. 
  3. Vouloumanos, A., Onishi, K .H., & Pogue, A. (2012). Twelve-month-old infants recognize that speech can communicate unobservable intentions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 109 (32),12933 – 12937.
  4. Vouloumanos, A., & Werker, J.F. (2004). Tuned to the signal:the privileged status of speech for young infants. Develop-mental Science.  7 (3), 270-276
  5. Vouloumanos, A., Druhen, M. J., Hauser, M.D., & Huizink, A.T. (2009). Five-month-old infants’ identification of thesources of vocalizations.  Proceedings of the National Acad-emy of Sciences of the United States of America,106 (44),18867-18872.
  6. Waxman, S.R., & Leddon, E.M. (2002). Early word learning and conceptual development: everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. In U. Goswami(Ed.),The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of childhood cognitivedevelopment (pp. 102-126). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell
For further references in relation to infant cognition and communication see this page here from the infant cognition and communication lab

Baby Play Gyms

I wanted to include things like play gyms and other apparatus, but wasn’t sure what category to put them under! I suppose they could come under sensory play, but also involve motor skills and creative play, to name a few. So here are some miscellaneous play elements:

 

Baby play gyms - developmental benefits

LL in his play gym

— Play Gyms — 

I was fortunate to be given a play gym from a friend with a one year old who had two play gyms and didn’t need one any more. She also didn’t want it back because they had a lot of baby stuff, so that was very nice. I don’t know if I would have bought one, or maybe I would have bought one a lot later and I think I would have really missed out. I got it when the Little Lovely (LL) was probably only a couple of months old and I have to say it’s been a GREAT piece of equipment. We hang lots of different toys from it, and alternate the toys. At 5 months he can usually knock or pull most of the toys down, but still seems to enjoy it. At earlier stages he was just lightly batting at toys in an uncoordinated manner, then grabbing, then grabbing with both hands, then trying to stuff them in his mouth. I really hope it’s aided his development in terms of sight, motor skills, been FUN and also importantly, for me, occupied him for a little while meaning that I could go do stuff like eat my breakfast!! (Something that was not possible for the first few weeks, or longer).

 

concentrated bapping - bap bap
concentrated bapping – bap bap
Our gym now has lots of stuff attached to it. It wasn’t always so complicated looking and we started with just one or two hanging toys that jingled when they moved.
From doing some brief research, gyms do indeed have developmental benefits: here is an article by “Mama OT” (a paediatric occupational therapist) on the Developmental Benefits of Using a Baby Play Gym. The article outlines some of the cognitive, visual perception, grasping and reaching skills, gross motor skills, self-awareness and sensory stimulation benefits of play gyms. 

 

s he crossing the midline? reaching for a toy on opposite side of body

Is he crossing the midline? reaching for a toy on opposite side of body

What I found of particular interest in the article was about gyms facilitating baby’s skills in bringing their two hands together at the midline of their body, such as while holding or reaching for a toy on the gym and therefore reaching across the midline of their body. Think of the midline as an invisible vertical line that runs down the middle of the body. Crossing the midline would involve touching one side of your body with the other, for example when you scratch your left ear with your right hand. I remember the occupational therapist that ran the baby massage classes I went to with LL talking about this and some of the exercises we did where LL “crossed the midline” by touching his left hand to his right foot and vice versa while singing a little song about a cheeky monkey.

 

The article writes that crossing the midline activity strengthens the Corpus Callosum (structure in middle of the brain involved in communication between left and right hemispheres), and is significant in learning to crawl and development of bilateral skills (using both sides of the body at the same time, e.g. using both hands together). Of course, other activities also help baby practice crossing the midline, like play and activities that we picked up at baby massage. Here’s a link to further information on crossing the midline with children.

 

Treasure Baskets and Heuristic Play

Treasure Basket Ideas and Heuristic Play

 

How to develop Treasure Baskets, the meaning of the baskets and heuristic play!

 

 Treasure Basket Ideas and Heuristic Play

Why and how to make and use treasure baskets, heuristic play with baby/infants. Some of the history, psychological theory and background, how to use them and ideas for treasure basket contents.

What’s this treasure basket stuff about then?

 

See this page here for a quick guide and summary:  Treasure Baskets & Heuristic play: Quick guide, Themes and Content ideas

Treasure baskets and heuristic play for baby: quick guide and summary, plus treasure basket ideas, themes, content and how to present ideas. From baby-brain.co.uk

Treasure Basket ideas and themes

 

 

I’ve been assembling and documenting use of Treasure Baskets with my Little Lovely (LL).  These could also be referred to as treasure or heuristic bags or boxes. They aren’t all technically “Baskets”, but are a range of themes and groups of items presented in baskets, on trays, buckets, etc. They are not “pure” Treasure Baskets because they are not all presented in a basket, i’ve grouped them into themes rather than a wider and eclectic selection of items, and also, traditionally the baskets would contain items made from natural materials only such as wood, metal, cotton, and so on. I’ve included plastic items because I decided to just include items I had around the house that I thought might be interesting.

And now some of the background information on Treasure Baskets. I really enjoyed reading around the theory and history behind these:

Age range: Originally the aim was for ages 7-12 months (1), although you will see baskets being used with children both younger and older than 7-12 months (5 or 6 months, 12 to 18 months and older), and also used with people with special educational needs. The Treasure Box idea was originally devised for infants who were 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. LL could sit unsupported, but was wobbly, I think from about 5 months and I probably started to introduce some boxes soon after. Because of the wobbles I put cushions all around him when sitting so that he can flop backwards without hurting himself. You’ll see the cushions in some of the pictures.

History: 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”. Three main contributions from Elinor Goldschmied were the Treasure Basket, Heuristic Play, and the Key Person approach.

What’s this “heuristic” thing?: A term first used by Elinor Goldschmied and Sonia Jackson (see their book: People under Three) – it’s about discovery play– the term is 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. This kind of experimentation continues into later childhood and as adults where we often experiment with what we can do with different materials and things (2).  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.

How to create and use treasure baskets

heuristic play, baby treasure basket theme ideas - group by different materials e.g wood, fabric, different textures of fabric, kitchen themes. Heuristic and Sensory play, encourage curiosity and discovery. From baby psychology resource baby-brain.co.uk Ok so what are some examples then?:  collect a range of items from around the room or house, that are baby safe, mouthable and excite the senses, so for example, the object has a bumpy feel to it, a certain smell, maybe it makes a noise when you shake it or hit it against another object. Goldschmied is quoted as saying that

The Treasure Basket provides a whole world in focussed form because it is deliberately collected to embrace a part of what is there” (2; pg 6)

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. Don’t forget other input such as verbal influences, like asking questions, making comments or suggestions for what to do with items and imposing your own ideas (1) …..

        • Resist the urge! ⇒ 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 (1) (an opportunity which they don’t usually get)

 

A personal case study

 

– Update: I was sitting with LL some days after I wrote this post  (aged 6.5 months) while he got stuck into a new treasure basket where I had mixed up the items and included some new little metal dishes that I thought he might like to bang around. I found it EXTREMELY  tempting to come in and suggest things to him,  I wanted to show him examples of what he could do with some items (like bang them together) so that he could imitate me and learn. But, I resisted and maintained the baby-led aspect and it was very interesting to see where he took it to himself – bashing things together, moving items, experimenting with them all of his own accord.

 

It was also tempting to hand items to him that had rolled out of reach or that he was struggling to handle. However, he managed to shuffle himself (in a sitting position) or stretch to reach things, adjust his hands so he could pick something up or manipulate it. It really highlighted for me the developmental aspects of the Treasure Basket through his experimentation and exploration- he was working out by himself how to do these things, developing his physical skills and problem solving skills. If I had intervened and “helped him out” by giving him items he would not have had the chance to independently initiate, practise and build on these skills, and for both of us to know that he could do these things! Actually – he probably knows he can do them, it’s just me that needs to catch up!

 

Although I was sitting close by, not commenting or interfering and so feeling a bit like “well what am I actually doing then?” about it, it was important for me to be there. LL occasionally looked up at me, made eye contact and smiled, then looked away and got on with what he was doing. He also definitely noticed when I got up and moved away from him, even though I was in the same room (I was just getting a drink or something). He paused his activity for much longer, strained to get my attention with eye contact and making noises, and didn’t seem to properly continue his exploration until I came back and sat down near him.

 

treasure baskets and heuristic play bags, history, how to and why, baby-brain.co.uk psychology resource perspective babies motherhood & blog

Treasure Tin – “round shapes” treasure basket idea

Babies get bored so don’t leave the basket out as a regular toy or else they will get bored of the items. Have a more specific session of treasure basket time instead, maybe 30-60 minutes, at a time when you think baby is set up to explore (i.e. well fed, rested, in a good mood, etc). Treasure Baskets can have 20, 40, 60 or even more items in them.

Over time you can replace and add items to the basket. Younger babies might need less items to begin with so that there is not too much choice, and you can then build on the collection and add new and unique items that baby has not seen before. Make your basket developmentally appropriate: for a younger baby, add a few selected items, ones that they are able to grasp.

Observe and see what your child is doing developmentally, and what they are about to move on to. For example, LL was starting to pick up an item in each hand, bring them together and also experiment with how two items might go together. I therefore wanted to include some things he could bash about in the “kitchen set” – see picture above- including a metal tray that he could hit with the pastry brush or measuring spoons and experience the noise. Once he moves on to grasping and manipulating smaller items I will look for more suitable things for his baskets (but be weary of any choking risks).  I noticed there are a few things that LL was not really interested in, such as the green wooden wormy thing in the Green Set (see picture below). It’s quite heavy, each segment can be moved and manipulated but maybe this is too advanced for him to use and requires more advanced fine motor skills than he had at 6 months when first presented to him. Maybe this is an item to add a bit later.

 

Safety first: ensure items are safe to touch and mouth, that there are no little bits that might pose choking hazard, that they are non-toxic, etc. Clean and wipe items first. Always ensure there is adult supervision with each activity. Please do your own risk assessment to determine which items are safe.   Here’s some more  details of some of the basket themes I’ve used – remember these are not purist treasure baskets! You can of course, and probably should, mix it up 

baby treasure basket theme ideas. Heuristic and Sensory play, encourage curiosity and discovery. From baby psychology resource baby-brain.co.uk

Some sensory and treasure basket/bin/box base filling ideas (pictures above)

Fabric

I collected fabric pieces of various shapes, colours and textures including satin feel ribbons, a baby wash cloth, netted and mesh-like pieces of material. I have presented them to LL in both a sand bucket and a small metal cake tin.  The bucket was possibly more interesting for him because he could dig through it and empty it out. I once hid a colourful ball in there which he quite enjoyed chewing on when he found it.

Green colour set

This basket includes a range of materials and items all of the same colour, including a wooden twisty wormy thing – this is what I mentioned earlier where I think it is too advanced for his age because he can’t yet twist it around and manipulate it. Some green fabric, a shaker, rattle in shape of a phone, large wooden counter, two card pictures.

Round Shapes

This tin includes a round ball, two sponges, large plastic lids, metal lids from jars, linky loops.

Musical

A little tambourine, cage bell, shaker and a lightweight rattle. This is more a little music box than a traditional treasure basket.

 

And here are some pictures of LL discovering his baskets

enjoying treasure baskets - why and how to make and use treasure baskets with infants, and about heuristic play - Baby-Brain.co.uk - Psychology resource and perspective on babies and motherhood

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:

 

Montessori Monday - heuristic play and treasure basket ideas for baby & infant from baby-brain.co.uk psychology perspective resource and blog, on babies and motherhoodThis activity is Montessori inspired. For more Montessori inspired activities check out some of the weekly ideas posted as part of the “Montessori Monday” collection at “Living Montessori Now“. 

 

 

 Thank you for reading: treasure baskets and heuristic play – why and how to make and use treasure baskets – Baby-Brain.co.uk – Psychology resource and perspective on babies and motherhood

Tooth for the price of one – again! (teething, biting & breastfeeding)

Biting, teething and breastfeeding

Is there just one upper central incisor coming in here?

So I thought I could see a new tooth coming in on the top, an “upper central incisor”. This would be the next tooth to come in after his lower front teeth according to tooth order information. However, yesterday it looked like, again, he decided to be efficient and grow two at the same time. And yes, indeed there is another upper central incisor coming in. So now we will have a scary mouth of upper and lower front teeth. Scary for me as I am the one feeding him. He has bitten me twice; I had already thought in advance what I was going to do if he bit me. I decided to yell and express that it hurt as soon as he bit me, to take him off, look at him and say “biting hurts mummy” – see this post on behavioural psychology and explanation of reinforcement and punishers for why – in a nutshell, I wanted to give immediate feedback and a consequence to the biting, and to show that it had an impact. He cried and I cuddled him.

Here’s a brief recap on punishment and reinforcement: 

  • Punishment” doesn’t necessarily mean there is a harmful or dangerous consequence, it’s a process where a consequence immediately follows a behaviour which decreases the future likelihood of that behaviour occurringPositive punishment is where a negative consequence is put in place after the behaviour, like sending child to “time out” or telling them off, and negative punishment where a good thing or desired outcome is removed after the behaviour occurs, such as removing cake/sweets. 
  • Reinforcement is where behaviour increases. Positive reinforcement is where a behaviour increases because  it’s followed by a positive/motivating consequence. Negative reinforcement is where behaviour increases because a negative consequence is removed, such as a kid does his chores (behaviour) to avoid being nagged to do it (negative).

So I suppose expressing my discomfort would be a positive punisher? I don’t know if it was the “right” thing to do but I don’t want to be bitten and in fear at every feed. It seemed to work and there was no biting again for a few weeks, then he bit slightly a few days ago, so I did the same thing. I don’t know if that was because he had a new tooth coming in and he was experimenting, or what.

nope, I decided to give you BOTH upper central incisors at the same time

nope, I decided to give you BOTH upper central incisors at the same time

Also, the Little Lovely (LL) appears to be teething a bit earlier than average; first teeth might not come in until between 5 and 7 months, according to this page on teething from the NHS, and upper central incisors at 6 to 8 months. LL was about 4.5 months when his first teeth came in so maybe his younger age impacts on biting and feeding issues? I don’t really know, I’m just thinking out loud.

What I noticed each time, however, is that he was not really eating and had probably finished. It feels like sometimes, toward the end of the feed he is just “mucking around” a bit.  I can tell this by playing with his hand or kissing on his arm. If he has finished eating then he will giggle a bit and smile – if he is proper eating and seriously concentrating on that, he does not react to this playing so I leave him to get on with eating. So, maybe he was just experimenting with his new teeth. I will need to retrospectively complete a behavioural analysis on the situation if he does it again! Indeed, from from having a quick search online babies are more likely to bite if they are full, and teething can also impact on biting. So looking at contextual factors in considering why baby bites might be helpful because LL was teething when he bit a few days ago because the other top front tooth was probably about to break through.

Here are some “tips to reduce and eliminate biting” from La Leche League (LLL). In summary, they write:

  • it’s physically impossible for baby to bite when latched on correctly and nursing actively. this is because baby needs to stop sucking in order to bite – so this supports my observation that his biting came at the end of the feed when he was “mucking about” and not actually eating as actively as he does at the start of a feed
  •  So, as a first “hint” of when your baby is about to bite, try and watch for a moment–usually after the initial hunger has been satisfied–when your nipple slips forward in your baby’s mouth. Often the tension in your baby’s jaw will change just before this happens.

  • when you notice this “change”, you can release the suction by placing a finger into the corner of baby’s mouth and take him off, keeping your finger in his mouth to protect the nipple. Pulling baby off might seem like an automatic response to being bitten, but it will be less painful if you release the suction!
  •  positioning may be relevant: pull baby in closer. If he begins to position himself away from the nipple, “be alert for a possible bite”. Great

 

See here for further information from LLL on “if your baby bites”, an interesting page that offers more details to the above points on what to do if baby bites, factors that might contribute to biting, positioning matters, preventing biting  and gaining perspective. The contributing factors section is interesting; it’s helpful to think about what is contributing to the biting when attempting to address it. For example, the page writes that colds (lack of clear airway could interfere with suckling correctly) teething and asking for attention can be contributing factors. Responses to and attempts to address biting might be different depending on different contributing factors.

 

 

 

 

 

The Sleep Lady

Baby sleep tips and issues, psychological perspectives and do you want to Wait It Out or Cry It Out? baby-brain.co.uk

 

sleeping cot

So yesterday the Little Lovely and I went to a baby talk thingy about sleep (aged 5 months)

We’d actually been to it before, a couple of months ago, and the session was being run again by a sleep expert woman that you can hire the services of for quite a lot of money. She kept it quite generic as there were a lot of mothers there with various issues but some common aspects among us, mostly being that baby was not sleeping as long as we’d like them to (of course) or issues with getting baby off to sleep. It was very interesting to go, normalised the sleep issues because, as we discussed, even if you have some “friend” or mother you come across that states that their child sleeps for 12 hours at night uninterrupted, that is the exception and not the norm. I’ll add though that the babies here were probably all under 8-10 months old.
It also made me think that maybe LL’s sleeping isn’t that bad afterall! Sure, i’m up about 3 times a night to feed him and I get about 2-3 hour stretches of sleep, but some of the mothers there were up 7 times a night and one spoke about how her baby scratches himself at night and only falls asleep by scratching himself. She had to put gloves on him. The sleep lady thought that the touching and scratching was something he did to stimulate himself and help get himself to sleep and suggested a comforter with tags or something tactile on it. Interesting situation; wish we’d spoken about it more but unfortunately someone with a louder voice took up a lot of the time (as is often the case in groups) about how her child sleeps from 8 until 5am, but she couldn’t get him to sleep any later than 5am and was tired of getting up so early. Someone eventually commented, when the group couldn’t find any satisfactory solution, maybe she should be happy that her child is sleeping for 9 hours at a time because most of us are not. Harsh, but true especially when speaking to a group of sleep deprived mothers who have been deprived for about half a year or more.

 

Other issues we talked about:
    • sleep associations
    • independent comforters – for example using a comforter, blanket, something that is independent from you and is not the breast, being rocked by you etc, so that baby can use this to feel secure and self sooth and you do not need to be there every time he falls sleeps. We tried this with LL but it never really took off. I bought a nice comforter blanket and slept with it for a few nights (as the sleep lady recommended, to get your smell on it) and got it out when feeding LL (the sleep lady recommended actually putting it between you and baby when feeding) but he wasn’t interested. Another thing I could have done but didn’t would be to play with it with LL and associate it with fun and get him more used to it.
    • putting baby down when sleeping/drowsy – using whatever method you use for baby to get sleepy e.g. rocking, cuddles, etc, but not using these to the point where he is actually asleep and therefore teaching baby the skill of falling asleep independently (much easier said than done, of course)
    • a good bedtime routine, nap routines including use of certain words such as “sleeping time now” or any other word cues. Basically, weaving some cues into the routine so that baby can start to recognise it’s nearly sleep time by using words, song, actions like reading a book
    • something called “wake to sleep” – i’ve not heard of this, I need to look into it more (note to self – look into this)
    • shaping naps with baby after 5 months of age – this was good to hear because i was thinking that we need to start getting a good nap routine and schedule in place and LL is nearly 5 and half months.
    • start with one nap at a time, focus on it and then build on it – building on the above point, to focus on one nap and work on that to begin with – also good to hear because I have been focussing on the morning nap with LL and making sure we 1) do one! 2) he is in his cot 3) he falls asleep in his cot which he mostly does although sometimes I need to go into the bedroom and shush/pat or pick him up and comfort him a few times. We were previously doing morning naps in the buggy because LL only fell asleep by being pushed back and forth in it.

 

We also spoke about whether you should let your baby cry at night and there were mixed views. There was the view that “happy parent makes happy baby” and so if baby cries for a bit during “sleep training” but then sleeps better as the outcome then everyone in the family benefits. I know that this could be a contentious issue as some are very firmly no cry, and others are not. I have also come across the view that leaving baby to “cry it out” and “controlled crying” results in an eventual reduction of crying, a quieter baby and better sleeping because it actually develops learned helplessness – the baby stops crying and sleeps because they have learnt that nothing they do in the situation can help and they have no control. They have learnt this because the times that they did cry, they were left to cry, or were comforted but didn’t receieve a feed or get picked up or whatever else they were expecting. Therefore, they are helpless and give up, rather than the view that the sleep training intervention resulted in baby sleeping peacefully because they “learnt” to sleep, learnt that it is night time and therefore they should be tired and sleep.

 

Ψ here’s a nice short video and further info on the traditional meaning of learned helplessness, observations/research that led to the development of the term (Seligman), and it’s application to mental health (attributions)

 

Erm, not sure about this myself, seems bit extreme, I mean, we’re talking about behavioural aspects here. Ok, say there is a behaviour going on that is not really very nice and leads to some problems for another person, say for example, your child goes around hitting another child and screaming in their face. Most people would address this and implement some kind of behavioural strategy, maybe some kind of reinforcement or positive punishment such as telling the child off, removing a reward (negative punishment) etc.

 

Ψ Here’s a good page that explains positive/negative reinforcement and punishers – for example, they explain that “punishment” doesn’t necessarily mean there is a harmful or dangerous consequence, it’s a process where a consequence immediately follows a behaviour which decreases the future likelihood of that behaviour occurring. Positive punishment is where a negative consequence is put in place after the behaviour, like sending child to “time out” or telling them off, and negative punishment where a good thing or desired outcome is removed after the behaviour occurs, such as removing cake/sweets/ice cream because the child was “naughty”. Reinforcement is where behaviour increases. Positive reinforcement is where a behaviour increases because  it’s followed by a positive/motivating consequence such as praise, reward, like giving a kid money (positive) for doing chores (the behaviour). Negative reinforcement is where behaviour increases because a negative consequence is removed, such as a kid does his chores (behaviour) to avoid being nagged to do it (negative).

 

Ψ punishers = want to decrease frequency/likelihood of a behaviour

Ψ reinforcers = want to increase frequency/likelihood of a behaviour

 

Anyway, what was my point~? I think it was that you might implement some kind of behavioural strategy or consequence for some behaviours but would we call the desired outcome, i.e. the kid stops screaming at and hitting the other child, an example of learned helplessness? Why implement the strategy in the first place? Well because not many people in the situation are benefiting – the other child isn’t, the parent isn’t, and what’s the child’s motivation or concern that is leading to him screaming and hitting? Because parents are “training” or “guiding” their child in something, be it sleep or other behaviours, why must the outcome be labelled learned helplessness? Each family and parent is different and has their own motivation and justification for what they do, and if by leaving their child to cry for a few minutes at a time while periodically comforting them (or not, depending on the parent), so that the outcome is that they can sleep and therefore better parent their children and cope with the day, then so be it.
I fell asleep

I fell asleep

And so speaking of which, I’m also going to start working on some of these night time feeds because i’m not sure how good it is for either of us to be waking up every few hours. I might start with one and see what happens. Did I mention that I’ve been sleep deprived for almost half a year?

 

 

 

 

Please note: there are of course many other views and approaches to the change to one’s sleeping patterns that comes with children. See, for example, this post on something called “wait it out” (rather than cry it out, I assume).
A quote from the article (I especially like point 1 about sleep being developmental, not behavioural):

WIO or the “Wait it Out” Method of sleep training is a method with a few core beliefs:

1- Independent sleep is developmental not behavioral. 
2- Needing comfort and closeness is an instinct not a preference.
3- Cries are communication not manipulation.
4- Babies can slowly and gently learn to be comfortable with independent sleep as they are developmentally ready.
5- The path each baby will take to independent sleep is unique.
6- The progression to independent sleep does not always feel like forward momentum.

 

Further relevant links:

 

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...