Monday, September 28, 2009

Organics: Where to Buy

Lachlan loves his organics! Many of his little friends have also jumped on the band wagon, (or should I say veggie cart?) We thought it might be helpful to share some tips on where to get organic produce.

  • Local Co-ops: Aberdoon Co-op
  • Chain Grocery Stores
    • In Australia: Woolworths, Coles (unfortunatley we have found the quality is not as nice as shops that specialise in organics) and Martenelli's
  • Local Farms: Warrah Bio-Dynamic Farm
    • Often also produce organic and/or free range eggs and dairy.
  • Farmer's Markets: Hawkesbury Harvest, Organic Food Markets, Sydney
  • Grow Your Own!
    • You'll safe lots of money and know exactly where your food came from.
    • You can't get any fresher when it's straight from your backyard!

Basket of Treasures

Every day seems to be a treasure hunt for Lachlan. Each room he goes into has something interesting to offer and his little hands are always eager to explore. The developmental milestones which he has accomplished thus far are allowing him opportunities to see more of the world around him. He works for objects by rolling over, reaching and leaning. He can also sit up which allows him to play with toys more freely. Lachlan was about 6 months when he began sitting on his own without support. I was very excited about this milestone because I was so eager to start introducing more little treasures for him to explore.

I've talked before about how important sensory development is in the early years of live. A child's neurons are not fully developed until the age of two; this is why you see children constantly putting things in their mouths all the time. The mouth is the most sensitive part of their body; with it they are able to explore the sense of taste and also texture. They generally pick up an interesting toy, stick it straight in their mouth, remove the toy to examine it visually and then back in the mouth it goes and the process continues. Allowing your child access to a variety of safe objects will help foster his sensory development.

Creating a 'treasure' basket is a wonderful way to provide various items for your bub to explore. The basket should be shallow enough for your baby to comfortably sit and lean forward to reach for objects. The objects should be small enough so an assortment will fit into the basket and also so your baby can easily grasp and play with them. The best thing about a treasure basket is that you can use various items around your house that are safe for your baby. Be creative. Think about all the different textures that you can introduce; soft, smooth, bumpy, course, fluffy- the list could go on and on! Take a look around your house and I'm sure you will find numerous things that would be appropriate for your baby to play. Here are some ideas for your basket to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Ribbons
  • Silky or Sheer Scarves
  • Sea Shells
  • Wooden Rattles
  • Wicker Balls
  • Pom-Poms
  • Small Glass Jars (filled with beans, rice, or beads)- Sealed Securely
  • Pine Cones
  • Large Gum-nuts
  • Spice or Salt Shakers (filled with lavender or rosemary leave, vanilla or cardamon pods, or coffee beans)
  • Fruit such as a lemon or apple

As with all toys, please supervise your child while he is playing. Ensure that any bottles that contain small pieces have lids that are securely tightened with glue or tape. It is also important to frequently inspect your child's toys for signs of damage to prevent hazards.

Your child will enjoy freely exploring his special basket filled with the many interesting objects you have given him. Glass jars will feel cold and smooth to the touch. Pine cones will feel bumpy and spice shakers filled with leaves of rosemary will waken his senses. The basket itself will likely be examined also. Baskets made out of natural fibers such as wicker or bamboo are more stimulating to the touch than regular plastic baskets. After three or four weeks, change out the objects with different ones to perk his interest. If there are particular items he favors, keep those in the basket and replace the rest. As your child gets older, add more challenging objects such as containers with lids he can open and close. You can also change out the open basket to one with a lid. Sewing and picnic baskets serve this purpose well and your child will be surprised when he peaks inside!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Chorus Line

        Piano Play          

There is NEVER a quiet moment in our household. How could there be, our home consists of a babbling baby, a loquacious mum, a noisy dad, a barking dog and of course...MUSIC! Oh, what would our home be like without music, beautiful music. It is certainly the key element that gets things shakin' (literally!) for us every morning. Before Lachlan was born, ABC radio was always playing in the background with classic music serenading us as we prepared breakfast. 80's hits are always a favourite in the car. While cooking in the kitchen, I generally like to spice things up with a little Cuban music. If it is a rainy day, my husband and I will sometimes lie on the couch together with a glass of wine listening to Pavarotti. Music can breathe life into any home, if you let it.
Naturally, when there is music, there is dance. I generally have to go solo on the dance bit, though occasionally my hubby has surprised me with a waltz in the lounge room. As soon my ears hear a beat, I am off twirling and whirling around the kitchen, skipping and hopping through the hallways and leaping into the bathroom. I just can't help it. I have 'happy feet.' Friends have even told me they have driven by our house and seen some lunatic dancing in the window. Well, that lunatic is me, and I'm proud of it! I'm also proud of my husband for marrying me after knowing what he would be getting himself into. He pretty much said "i do" to a walk-on part for an on-going musical. One of these days he'll pick up the choreography; until then, he'll have to stick with the chorus line. Of course, now I have a new recruit-Lachlan. He is always eager to join in the routine and often makes up his own moves. Sometimes he's in the orchestra, tapping on his high chair with a spoon, getting that down beat; other times he is in the audience, cheering me on on watching with a critical eye.
Children love music and rhythm. The instinctive draw towards rhythm first happens in the womb as the developing fetus is soothed by the swishing sounds of amniotic fluid and the thumping of a beating heart. Movement also creates a rhythm as the expectant-mum moves around all day, gently rocking her bub. Lachlan was very active in utero. The only times I didn't feel him move were while at spinning and aerobics class, where I'm sure he was very much jiggled to sleep! The same sensations continue after bub is born as he is rocked, bounced and 'shhh-ed' to sleep. Babies prefer these rhythymic patterns and sounds for the first three months of their lives, it isn't until after this time that they prefer the sounds of the human voice, generally the mother whose is most familiar.
Now that Lachlan is a bit older and his memory is lasting longer, he has been showing excitement towards morning music time. The routine consists of of my husband and I groggily preparing breakfast as he patiently waits in his highchair for his rice and fruit puree. An Elizabeth Mitchell CD that his Auntie gave him plays in the background. He often gets his baby groove on, waving his arms and kicking his legs. I sing along with the music as I feed him his breakfast. It becomes more fun as he is now starting to show preference towards certain songs. After breakfast he grows tired. He rests his sleepy head on my shoulder. We share a slow-dance around the dining table. I kiss his little neck and smell his hair- these are the moments that he won't remember, but will always be so precious to me.
Car rides are also all about him now. He has taken a liking to Dan Zanes, another CD that his Auntie, my sister, purchased for him. I don't know what it is, but every time 'Water for the Elephants' plays, he begins to squeal with excitement. I thank my sister everyday for the CDs she gave Lachaln as a gift. They are not your typical children cds. You don't feel like throwing them out of the car window after the 100th time that you have heard them. I've even caught myself riding in the car by myself singing to them. I have to remind myself that I can switch on the radio but I think,"Oh, let me listen to 'Thrift Shop' once and then I'll listen to my adult stuff." This might sound pathetic to you, but actually the music is just that catchy!
I have always been partial to children's music that has a 'folk' feel. Don't get me wrong, the classic Mother Goose lyrics are great and so easy for small children to memorise. I like children folk songs because they too can tell silly stories, but they also tell stories in which children can relate.
We have also recently put out music instruments for Lachlan to explore. He has some home-made shakers and drums, jingle bells, maracas and baby castanets. Yesterday I took the legs off of an electronic toddler keyboard so that he could experiment it with his hands and feet. Now that he sits up, he has gotten much joy discovering all of the keys. I expected him to really pound at the keyboard, but he daintily places his hand on the key board and wiggles his fingers. Who knows, perhaps we have a Mozart in the making! He did however discover that he could give the keys a nice pounding with his feet and has enjoyed that equally as well!
Music is wonderful for sensory development. Different instruments provides unique sounds for the ears and they will enjoy feeling the various textures. You certainly do not have to spend a lot of money on instruments for your bub. Here are some cheap ways that I have created instruments for Lachlan:

  • Buy a pack of round bells at a craft shop. Sew them on SECURELY (remember, small parts can be a choking hazard. Always supervise child) to a pair of baby socks. Place the socks on baby's feet or hands. As he moves he will here the bells jingle, which will encourage him to do it again. You can also purchase the larger bells, place one in a sock and secure with a knot. Which makes a hand held bell. This is a great activity for development of circular reactions and also creates body awareness.
Rattles & Shakers:
  • Take a few baby bottles or spice bottles and fill with a handful of small noodles or rice. Close securely with glue or tape. These are fun for baby to shake and roll around on the ground. 
  •  Start out buy giving bub one of his spoons while sitting in his high chair. He'll love simply hitting the tray. Also give him one of his food bowls to practice hitting. These items are small for him to manipulate easily.
  • Pots and wooden spoons are always a classic! (Long spoons are not suitable for infants as they can be dangerous without close supervision)
  • Recycled yogurt containers
  • Empty boxes; such as a shoe box taped shut. 
 Before you know it you'll have your own chorus line and orchestra right in your own home. Live it up. Show a little funk and groove to your bub and get the whole family involved!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Poo Poncho

It's a common fact that bubs are really good at eating, sleeping and pooing. They are certainly arts that will never be lost. Lachlan has particularly been 'experimenting' should I say, with the poo process. For a while now he's been testing just how long he can hold it in. I think he is trying to make publication in The Guinness Book of World Records, he may not make it but I think he might be a contender. His longest records has been 16 days when he was 5 months old. His dad and I had never so eagerly anticipated a poo as much as that one. Every time a little noise came from his nappy we would excitingly sneek a peek to see if the gates had finally opened; but there was nothing. We began to dread what the sight was going to look like when it decided to make its appearance.
A week went by and we were scared, two weeks went by and be were terrified. We kept thinking, how much can a small, little baby hold? Then one Sunday evening when I was singing pat-a-cake with Lachlan, his cheery face began to look very serious. It was the face that parents know too well. It was day 16 and the time had finally come. Being the smart parents we are, we decided to wait it out before we rushed to the change mat. After five minutes of silence we decided it was time to survey the damage.
I have worked with children for well over a decade and changed every kind of nappy imaginable. My husband on the other hand is a novice. Nothing could have prepared him for the sight he was about to encounter. As I undid the snaps on Lachlan's cloth nappy I braced myself for the unveiling. It was as if the little man dropped the A-bomb. He had definitely called out all the heavy artillery and unloaded all his ammo. He laid there in the soiled mess as his parents stared at his accomplishment in shock. I was stunned and somewhat impressed, I must admit. The look on my hubby's face was priceless. Lachlan on the other hand was quite proud of his work. Before we knew it he began moving his hips from side to side as if he was dancing the rumba. The sound of the squishing and sloshing will forever be imprinted in my mind. He giggled and laughed as his little hips shook providing sounds effects as we tried to get him all cleaned up. When he was born people called him Elvis. He had thick brown hair complete with sideburns. He now has the gyrating hips to go with them. He was so elated. We were just relieved that he was relieved. I'm sure in his mind he was thinking, "Thank ya, thank ya very much."  I figured well, it can't get much worse than that. I was wrong...
A week later I was feeding Lachlan one morning and he wasn't acting quite like himself. He was passing up his scrumptious organic apple puree which generally is not like him. He is an excellent eater (as proven by all the waste build up!) I tried several different times to offer him his breakfast but he wasn't interested. He didn't even want to breastfeed so I knew something was up. I checked his nappy and low and behold there was the problem. I took him to the bathroom and laid him down on the change mat. When I undid the snaps and took a look I was relieved that the mess was very manageable. I reached over to grab a wipe and as I'm holding his little legs up, more starts oozing out like a soft-serve ice cream machine. I yelled, 'Crap!' (no pun intended) as I saw that I needed to push his nappy under his bum more before it gets on the mat. I raised his legs a little higher to do so and like a car back firing, poo came shooting out of his tail pipe at mach speed. Instinctively, I leaped to the side to get out of the way and then suddenly I heard a splat. I turned around to figure out what just happened and I find a Lachlan Original splattered all over the wall. The boy had gotten some definite leverage! Worst of all, he hit a built-in vent. ''That's going to be fun to try to clean out between all the slats,'' I thought.
I looked down at Lachlan who just stares at me as to say, '"What? Did I do something." I'm just a little bit shocked as I've never seen poo fly throw the air like that before. I glanced down at my pants and it appeared that my cat like reflexes weren't fast enough. I stood there with poo splattered on the side of my leg. Now this, Lachlan 'gets'. This he thinks is funny and he starts giggling and doing his little rumba dance again. I call for my husband to come in from the garden and help me. He so obliviously walked into the bathroom not expecting the sight he sees. After all, it looks like a group of monkeys decided to have a fecal fight on our tiled wall and I just happened to be the monkey in the middle.
My husband stood there jaw-dropped for a moment and then left. I thought 'Geesh, this guy has a weak stomach.' He returned with a camera and stated, "I am taking pictures so that when this little guy is older he can see what he put his parents through." He then began photographing the scene of the crime. Due to the graphic nature of the photos and for fear that my child may disown me someday when he is older, I have decided not to post them.
Before you know it Lach is in the bathtub and daddy is cleaning up the mess. I don't know how I lucked out on the easy bit, but thankful none the less. I just can't help but to feel that part of this could been avoided if only I had some sort of poo poncho. It doesn't have to be anything fancy just something like what the Gorton's Fisherman wears. You know, bright yellow that shouts, "Aim, here! Hit me!" It would at least contain some of the mess. Some long wadders would be good, too. You could just hose down the area afterward and not worry about getting your shoes and socks wet. And of course, the yellow hat with the ear flaps would be handy for those poos that are really self-propelled and get altitude. Who knows, a handy item like this could make millions!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Wean Machine

Yes, you heard me right. The Wean Machine. Click here to check it out! I was gathering some links on BPA products for a friend and I came across this nifty little gadget. If your bub has begun solids this might be a handy utensil to have around; especially to keep in the nappy (or diaper, for my fellow Americans) bag. It mashes food to a consistency appropriate for you bub. It is portable, comes with a spoon and best of all...It is BPA-Free. Better yet, they actually sell it in Australia now and the price is quite reasonable for something you might actually use everyday. The sellers even have a since of humor, warning that it is not suitable to mash chicken wings or T-bone steaks. I suppose they need to speak in terms that even neanderthals will understand.

I will probably have a think about purchasing this for Lachlan. It is one of those things that I can see the convenience- I don't like to lug around spoons and a fork to mash with and then the bowl and a baggy to keep it all in so it doesn't get sticky goo all over your bag. At the same time I think, is my life so busy that I can't stop for a minute and mash my bubs banana by hand. Do I really need an over-sized garlic press to do so? But hey, it does look snazzy and since I usually wear spit up on my clothes, I don't even bother to snaz up my outfits these days. Perhaps this is just the accessory I need to impress my fellow moms at play group...

If you have the almighty Wean Machine, tell us about it. If not what do you think, is it worth it or are we a society obsessed with finding a short cut for everything?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Art Project

A Juicy Masterpiece

Today was a big day for Lachlan. He had his first experience as an artist! This experience came about as he was eating a strawberry for the first time today. We use a mesh feeder so he can gnaw away at the fruit safely without the worry of large chunks breaking off. It was hilarious as he initially just began sucking on the strawberry providing us with very interesting sounds effects. After about fifteen minutes he decided he had enough. He became very curious when he noticed all of the red juice left on his high chair tray. I too was curious to see what he would do with this new discovery. He didn't disappoint. As expected he got his little hands into the mess and started finger painting beautiful strawberry swirls all over the tray. I figured since his hands were a mess, why not get the feet involved. It was a great opportunity to introduce those cute little feet to some paint. I hadn't made any footprints with him yet so I was looking forward to the project. I quickly went into the kitchen and mixed together my homemade recipe for 'baby paint.' It is quick, easy and cheap! I prepare as follows:

All Natural Baby Paint
        Food Colouring ( I use Queen All Natural Colouring found at the grocery store which consists of plant  extracts.)

Directions: Spoon some flour into a bowl and add a little water at a time until you achieve your desired consistency. If using as a finger paint, thicker is better. Next, mix in food colouring. It is that simple!

I made up a green paint and applied it to Lachlan's feet with a paint brush. He was giggling and smiling so much when he felt the brush on his little feet. It must have really tickled! A great activity for sensory development. It's easiest to have two people when doing this. My husband held bub while I pressed his foot onto the paper. Heel to toe is the easiest and gives better results. If you are by yourself, sit bub in a high chair to brush paint on the foot. Put the piece of paper on a sturdy surface such as a clipboard or book and press foot on paper while he is sitting. If using a high chair, make sure he is strapped in securely and try removing the tray so his view won't be obstructed and he can watch the whole process. He will be intrigued to see what on earth you are doing with his feet!

        First 'Foot Prints'

To Jump or Not to Jump?

One morning when I was attending a Parent's Group, a young mum asked the early childhood nurse who runs the sessions what she thought about Jolly Jumpers. If you you haven't been exposed to the Jolly Jumper, here is a brief description: a contraption that to me looks like a medieval chastity belt that is attached to some suspension springs. It attaches to the top of a door frame. You strap your bub in and he can bounce up and down like a bobbing head on a car dashboard. Sound exciting? Now that I have intrigued you, I'll get back to the story... the nurse decides to side step the question and knowing that I am a developmental specialist, looks and me and says, "Meg, what do you think?" I'm thinking:" Great..."

I always dread answering this question because there is always someone who is an all out advocate for the Jolly Jumper. It is the one mom who thinks that it is the greatest invention on the planet, the next best thing since sliced bread (or the medieval chastity belt.) Like everyone else there, I'm a new mom trying to make new friends and I don't want to offend anyone so I answer with, "Let's just say my sister-in-law gave me an old one she had and I put it out on the lawn for curbside collection." Hmmm, perhaps I could have worded that better now that I think about it...

Listen, I'm not anti-Jolly Jumper or against the use of saucers and walkers for babies, as long as they are used in short spurts and in moderation; anything longer than ten minutes for a baby, I feel is excessive. I do understand that they can be useful for busy moms when they are trying to get dinner ready or hang out the laundry. I always say safety first and if it means that you can sit your child in one and it will keep him out of harms way, then all means go for it; just please make sure that you can supervise your bub at the same time. I've heard so many stories where children have gone down a flight of stairs when using the walkers, or babies flipping forward while in bouncy seats. To prevent these things, install child gates on doorways and stairs and make sure your child has not out grown the bouncy seat. When I say 'out grown' I don't mean just in size, I also mean developmentally. There are a lot of small babies that are quite strong and with enough momentum, will launch themselves forward in a bouncy seat. Before you can even say, "Houston, we have a problem," they have already crash landed on the floor. For this reason it is extremely important to keep these seats off table and counter tops.

Several of my friends have Jolly Jumpers and they say their little bubs absolutely love them. I have to admit that when my husband and I were at a baby and parent expo, we walked past a demonstration that consisted of five bouncy babies giving the jumper a test run and I was oo-ing and ah-ing over how adorable and hilarious they looked. Most seemed like they were enjoying it, though a couple looked like deer in headlights.
My stance is that nothing is better for gross motor development than good ol' fashion floor time that consists of at least ten minutes of tummy time a day; and guess what: it is totally free. All you need is a floor and a baby and if you are reading this chances are you got at least one of those! The problem arises when these items are used as babysitters, which is not what the designers intended in the first place. If a baby is confined continuously, she is missing out on time where she could be moving about freely and testing out abilities that can only be accomplished when unrestrained. I have assessed a number of infants who have had gross motor delays, many of which when parents were asked, said that the babies were mostly held all day or placed in a high chair or jumper. A better option is to set up a pack-n-play if you are busy and need your baby to be in a safe place. He will at least be able to move around freely in the space, with plenty of space to practice rolling over or sitting up. By placing it in the same room you are in, you can keep a watchful eye on bub and still interact with him while you are working. Adding some interesting toys such as cloth books and shakers can be a real treat for him.

It's pretty obvious that I don't own any of the above, and Lachlan has gotten along just fine. Believe it or not he has not suffered from boredom, despite this fact. I think you will find that most babies are content with being observers. They are happy to just sit or lay watching every move you make; this to them is fascinating and exciting stuff. I can't even describe how entranced  Lachlan gets by just watching me brush my teeth or folding clothes. That's how easy most babies are; just give them the simple life and they are happy!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why Organic?

During my pregnancy, I made the decision that I wanted to raise an organic baby for at least the first three years of his life. I came to this decision for several reasons. The first was because of my own beliefs and knowledge regarding organic food and products. I truly believe that they area better options than artificial or modified products. I also read Dr. Alan Greene's book, Rasing Baby Green, which validated all of my opinions about organic living. He discusses how the most important time of brain development is during the first three years of life and that if a parent is going to feed their child organic food for only a short period, it should be during this phase of their life. As a professional that specialises in child development, I couldn't agree more. Optimal nutrition is a key component to brain development, which I am determined to provide for my son. Greene's book inspired me to share these thoughts with my husband, Ky-Anh. I was very surprised how receptive he was about the choice to have our baby live an organic lifestyle. When he and I first met I tried to eat organically as much as possible (or as much as I could afford while being an in-debt, American university student!). Ky-Anh wasn't opposed to this lifestyle but he was what he calls more practical about the money he spent on food. Ky-Anh, however, being the good research scientist that he is, can be persuaded with enough evidence. I stated my reasons and the matter was agreed upon with a simple,"Okay." It was that easy.

I have to admit, since Lachlan has been born, I've been a bit of an organic fanatic. I certainly could be worse if I had access to more resources. For example, I would love to dress Lachlan in all organic clothing but: 1) there aren't that many places that sell organic clothing in our area, 2) in Australia, pure organic clothing can be really expensive and I can't justify spending that much money on infant clothing that he will grown out of in a month's time, 3) we use biodegradable laundry detergent, but it is not organic. I don't see the point of buying organic clothing if not washed in organic detergent. It defeats the purpose. (If you know of an organic brand that actually gets out tough stains let me know. We've tried several but as of yet can't find one that lives up to the other stuff.) I do however buy toys that are organic or made with all natural products such as the 'Under the Nile' cotton teethers or Heimess wooden toys. These are items that spend a great deal of time in his mouth so I try to make sure that they are as safe as possible. I don't like the idea of him sucking on plastic toys that are not BPA-free which could break down and leach chemicals over time.
I am also very particular about what products I put on Lachlan's skin. Unfortunatley, Lachlan inherited my skin: dry and very sensitive. We basically have to bathe him in warm water only or he will develop a rash or his skin will dry out. Luckily, Ky-Anh found that the salve base we use to create the organic skin products we make at home for our family is a wonderful moisturiser and doesn't irritate his skin. The salve base is made out of all certified organic ingredients including cocoa butter, shea butter and beeswax. It even makes a great all natural hair gel! After I massage it on Lachlan's skin, I use the excess on my hands to give him his stylish punk rocker hair that he often sports around. To protect his skin from the hot Australian sun, we use UV Natural Sunscreen. The company makes one formulated for babies and does not contain any nano-particles that may absorb into the skin. We tested this sunscreen out for the first time on our beach holiday visiting family in Florida last month and it worked really well. It was gentle on his skin and blended into his skin tone really well; non nano-particle sunscreen is made out of zinc oxide which is white and doesn't absorb, the UV Natural sunscreen is tinted to match your skin so you won't look like a ghost on the beach, or a cricket league player.

The biggest kick I have gotten on is making organic baby puree. I have literally gotten addicted to the process. We grow quite a bit of our own organic vegetables and fruit in our garden. There is something very beautiful about sharing my veggie garden with Lachlan. It is probably one of my favourite times of the week. He patiently sits in his ergo carrier while I pull carrots and cut sugar snap peas from the vines. I will pick some fresh herbs such as basil or rosemary for him to smell. It makes such a wonderful sensory exercise for him; one that many parents often forget to include in their daily activities with their child. We then make our way back into the house. He sits in his high chair and listens to the water run as I wash what we just harvested. He intently watches as I peel the carrots or trim the peas; he then hears the water in the steamer boiling, telling me that it is ready for the vegetables. As the vegetables steam he becomes engrossed in a toy, but as soon as he hears the food processor turn on, he perks his head up and stares at me like a wide-eyed possum. It isn't until I present him with a bib that he really gets excited. As soon as he takes a bite out of the sweet carrots, he wiggles around like there is a party in his mouth. I hope he will always be this excited about vegetables!

A lot of  nutrition theroists believe that organic fruits and vegetables are higher in antioxidants because they have to build up a strong resistance to fight off disease and pests. If this is true it really does make organics super foods. I certainly noticed the difference between the apples my husband buys for himself and the organic ones I purchased for Lachlan. I could smell the sweet fragrance from the organic apples while standing in the kitchen, which I never noticed with the other apples. If it means a few spots on my apples to get that kind of quality, I'll take it. Speaking of which, I'm sure there is something in the kitchen just waiting for me to puree so I better get to it!

A Love for Books

Since the day Lachlan arrived home from the hospital, I immersed him in books. I remember visitors coming to the house to meet our new bub for the first time and laughing when they saw I had board books out already. They smiled and said, "starting early are we?" The answer was, "Of course!"

Children learn to love books if you read to them from an early age. Obviously, you don't have to start your bub out on the great works of Shakespeare, simple board books with contrasting colours is what fascinates them the most when they are newborns. Lachlan was enthralled by the book, Flip-a-Face, Colors. This simple book has very basic shapes of children faces with simple terms such as, 'Hair' on the left side and 'No Hair' on the contrasting page. The picture only consists of a few colours as to not over stimulate and to make it easier to see various contrasts on the pages. After sitting down and reading this to Lachlan everyday, he began to get excited when ever I would take the book out. He displayed his enthusiasm by smiling, waving his arms up and down and eventually giggling.

Books continue to be an important part of his daily routine. When he wakes up in the morning at 6 AM and lies in our bed (while my husband and I try to get an extra hour of shut eye) he plays with a cloth book and giggles and squeals. There are also several cloth books out for him to explore during his play time on the floor and he even has a few bath books that he likes to read while mom gives him a scrub-a-dub-dub. The evening always ends with the reading of three books which is a great way to wind down before he goes to bed.

In adherence to principles of Dr. Maria Montessori, it is also important to allow children to explore objects on their own terms. Often we are eager to read a story and only allow babies to touch the pages for a moment and then move their tiny hands out of the way so that we can flip to the next page. I used to do that when Lachlan was a newborn, but now that he has become more active and his independence is beginning to emerge, I have enjoyed sitting back and watching to see what he will do with the books. One day when he was about five months old, my husband and I were reading him a story and we began to notice that he was trying to flip the page. At first we thought it was a fluke, but he constantly reached for the right side of the book and pulled the page to the left. It ended up becoming fixation for him. As soon as he turned one page he immediately grabbed the next boarded page and did the same thing. At that moment,  this experience was more beneficial than listening to me read words from the page. He had completely tuned out the rest of the world and was solely focused on this task. As Montessori stated, this repetitiveness is very important to children when it comes to exploring their environment and figuring out how the world around them works.

Currently, Lachlan is finding joy from touch-and-feel books. Our book time routine before bed has become a longer process as he likes to take several minutes exploring each page. I am fascinated as I watch him crinkle flaps, fold inserts of pages and daintily reach his little hand to brush soft textures. As I write this he is pulling a little monkey's tail in one of his jungle books. So I suppose I better go join in his fun monkey business adventure!

Lachlan's Top Book Picks (0-6 months)

Flip-a-Face Books
You're Not My...(series)
Lamaze Cloth Books
Taggies Books
Hello? Hello? (cloth telephone book)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tummy Time Tips

A common question I often get from new moms is; 'how can I make my child like tummy time?" It is a fact that many bubs don't particularly enjoy being on their stomachs. This time however is  very important to their development as it helps them build strength in their arms, shoulders and back. Lachlan wasn't particularly found of being on his tummy at first either but here are some tricks that made it much more enjoyable for him:

1. When your bub is on his tummy, get down on the floor in front of him so that he can see your face and share in your enthusiasm. Give him lots of praise for his efforts.

2.Give your little man (or girl) a massage! Lachlan absolutely loves being on his stomach during his evening massage. He enjoys arching his back as much as he can and turning his head to try to see what I am doing.

3. Use a bolster to help support his chest. This will make it much more comfortable for him while he is on his tummy and allow him to build strength in his arms. Simply use a bolster pillow or make your own by rolling up a towel and securing the ends with soft bands (make sure your baby can't take them off as they could be a choking hazard).Place the bolster under your bub's chest and underarms with his arms stretched out in the front. Lachlan doubled his tummy time tolerance after I made a bolster for him. If he got tired he simply laid his head to the side on the bolster until he was ready to push up again. It also allowed him to practice reaching for objects more easily.

4....and my most favourite!....Lie on your bed or sofa with your head and back propped up a bit as if you were comfortably lying and reading. Put your bub on your chest tummy down. Talk, laugh, sing songs and smile. Many bubs love this position as they can easily gaze in your arms, feel the warmth of your body and feel secure with your arms or hands supporting their bum so they won't slide off. A word of advice: put down a little towel of burb rag to catch any drool that most likey will fall you way!

The Journey Begins...

I have never been much of a blogger. Actually this is my first blog site that I have ever created but I hope it will be informative and create a few memorable moments in your household for you and your child.

So why did I create Learning with Lachlan, you may ask? For starters, Lachlan is my 6 month old son. My husband and I have family that live halfway around the world. What could be better than this blog for them to keep tabs on him? Secondly, as a mom, and a child and family development professional, I constantly have friends, family and clients ask me if I have any ideas for fun activities to do with their children. And the answer is-yes! I do... and lots of them! I hope that some of these ideas will be useful to you perhaps when you are stuck at home on a rainy day or looking out the window when the sun is shining and thinking what could we do on such a lovely day?

I also get a lot of questions regarding behavioural advice relating to temper tantrums, toilet-training, transitioning to childcare, etc. For helpful tips on these subjects you will have to visit my professional website at where I have numerous links and "Helpful Hints" articles full of useful information.

This site though, is dedicated to the learning journey I am taking with my first child, Lachlan. He has already taught me more things than I could have ever imagined, so much more than any of the sentences in my university textbooks ever could. Of course, everyone told me that my life would change once I gave birth to my son. I certainly believed them but never knew it would be as good as this. My husband and I feel blessed every day to be the proud parents of a beautiful, thriving baby boy. A baby boy who at this very moment sleeps tucked up in his cot right now, oblivious that he has begun the most amazing journey we call life. I hope you will follow me as I continue learning with Lachlan.