Friday, January 13, 2012

My newborn baby won't sleep!

Welcome to parenthood!  Those first few weeks of parenting are really, REALLY tough.  And, YES, you've gotten plenty of unsolicited advice about sleep, eating, and whatever else a baby needs.  But the bottom line is- you are tired!

What can you do to help your baby sleep?   First, relax and breathe.  When you are stressed or anxious- and we all get that way as parents- just stop and breathe.  Your baby will pick up on your feelings of anxiety or frustration  and sometimes that can cause more crying  for you and baby.

Create a healthy routine for your baby to get 15 hours of sleep in a day.   Newborns don't have an internal clock so you can't set it, but creating predictable routines calms your baby.  When your baby wakes up, nurse or bottle feed, then play and do some tummy time, and then put your baby down for sleep.

Create nap time and bedtime rituals that eliminate feeding to sleep.  Reading a book, singing soft songs, gentle tickling, touching to connect and loving  on your baby are wonderful ways to help you little one drift off to sleep.

Hold, snuggle, cuddle your baby during the day.  Don't worry about spoiling a baby, because you can't.  The more holding and snuggling you give your baby during the day- the better sleep your baby will have at night when they are away from you.

Remember a baby that sleeps 4-6 hours in one stretch is considered to be sleeping through the night during the first few months.  Newborns still have a need to feed during the night so don't withhold feedings. Be sure to discuss any changes to your feeding schedule with your pediatrician.

Enjoy, delight, and bond with your newborn baby!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Math- It's not so scary!

Math is so much more than numbers!  It’s about real life skills that we use every day! 

So what is the best way a parent can instill the love of math?  Start young and make it real.  Our children are a clean slate, a new sponge, and they are equipped to learn.  But don’t sit down with your child and flashcards or worksheets, just PLAY!

  • A baby delights at the sound of your voice.  They love listening to everything you have to say.  So while you are counting your babies toes, fingers, pointing out their body features and saying “where are your 2 ears?  One, two.   Where’s your nose?  Uh, you have 1 nose!  Touch your knees, One Knee, Two knees… you are not only introducing math- but connecting with your child.
  • Now your toddler and/or preschooler is ready to explore and learn all about the world around them.   Keep counting toes, fingers and body parts, but now it’s time to investigate.  Get on the ground and build with blocks.  Count, arrange, stack, sort, collect in a container or bag.  Use balls or other simple toys to repeat and reinforce the concept.
  • Get your child involved with cooking.  Talk about reading the directions for the recipe.  Show them how to measure out ingredients and make something delicious.  This is an easy way to introduce your child to measurement and fractions without making it scary.  Involving them in the process shows your child how essential math is for everyday life.
  • Identify numbers.  Addresses, phone numbers, price tags, or just count.  Kids love numbers. 
  • Give me 5 or 10, or 100.  Skip counting is an easy way to introduce multiplication.
  • Getting ready for a home improvement, involve your child in measuring out the room.  Introduce them to a ruler, measuring tape, and talk about the numbers and the importance of these tools. 
  • Point out geometric shapes in your home and in nature.  Count the sides and identify the characteristics.  This flower looks like a circle, it’s so round. The stop sign is red and it’s an octagon.  What does octa mean?  Can you make a square with those rocks?
  • As your child gets older they are ready for equations and word problems.  Set up the situation.
    • I have 3 strawberries and you have 4.  How many do we have all together?
    • Let’s eat our snack.  You have 10 pretzels.  If you eat one, how many will you have left?  If you eat another one, how many will you have left?
  • Don’t’ forget to sing and dance about math too!  Those monkey’s on the bed and other finger play that introduces numbers, counting up and down.
Math is all around us and should be something easy to share with your child. Take a moment to explore your surroundings and think of all the math lessons you can share with your child!  They’ll be excited to play with you; you’ll be excited to teach your child simple math principles that lay a strong foundation for learning and enjoying math!  Through simple play during the first 5 years of your child’s life, it will become second nature to know and understand math and your child.  It’s not so scary!