To compliment our post on the top 20 most popular names for girls, today we're publishing the top 20 boys names. In first place is 'Jack' which leads with an enormous margin compared to the next most popular boys name, or indeed the most popular girls name. There is a lot of overlap with our last survey in 2009 although Riley and Andrew have dropped out of the top 20. Without further ado, here are the most popular names, as registered children in ToucanLearn:-
It's been a long time since we looked at the most popular children's names in ToucanLearn, but now with over 15,000 children registered, we have a great sample to look at! The last time we published this survey was in 2009 when Madison was clear winner...now the name Madison has clearly fallen out of favour. Other names that no longer make the cut are Katie and Isabella. Ella stays in and is joined by Ellie.
Here are the top 20 most popular girls names registered in ToucanLearn:-
On hot, sunny days, your babies are going to be exposed to harmful sun rays even if you stay in the shade - make sure they are well protected with sun cream or sun block, but make sure that the products you apply are suitable for babies.
Sun creams work in one of two ways. Chemical creams bond with the skin to create a protective layer from the harmful ultra violet rays from the sun. Physical 'block' creams form a surface over the skin and, although mostly invisible, preventing harmful rays from reaching the skin.
Make sure you use blocking creams for babies. These are mineral based, usually listing titanium or zinc as their active ingredients, and characteristically don't rub in so well, often even leaving a faint glaze over the body. This may not look great, but is good news as you can see the sunblock in effect.
Sun creams marketed at children should be the physical sun block type so it is worth seeking out those products specifically, even if they are more expensive than adult sun creams and even if they don't appear to 'rub in' well.
There is also some concern that chemical based sun creams may be carcinogenic as tests on animals have shown that some ingredients cause cancer cells to multiply more quickly and have also led to developmental problems. Perhaps it's best that you also started using the kids' suncream just to be sure...
Babies love to feel textures and interacting with different materials exposes a developing baby to different feels, all part of exploring the world around them. Create a 'Sensory Basket' (or a plain old box!) at home or in their play setting by finding interesting objects that you can bring out whenever you wish. For safety, look out for large objects that don't shed parts and be aware that there will be a tendency to explore items by mouth, so ensure that they are clean. Here are some ideas of objects that you might include:-
- Scrubbing sponge: find a soft sponge with a scrubbing pad surface
- Pine cone: dry out a large pine cone
- Mirror: look for a plastic mirrored surface rather than a glass one
- Crinkly paper: look for crinkly wrapping paper with a foiled surface
- Brush: look out a new hairbrush or nailbrush
- Sanding block (available at DIY stores) or pummice stone (from a pharmacy)
- Ball of wool: leave it wound up
Look around the house for other objects that your little ones can explore with touch. Sifting through draws you will quickly come across items that are safe for babies to handle and that offer a fw moments of fun to explore and sense!
In line with everything else in life, the cost of having a baby is only going in one direction, and that's upwards. It's estimated that the cost of preparing for your baby is approaching £2,000 - that's the total for all your baby equipment such as cots and car seats, as well as your initital stock of nappies and clothes etc. Of course there are ongoing costs too, with the lowest estimates for caring for a baby coming in at £1,000 a year. These costs may be very conservative for parents who want to treat their baby to high end equipment - the upper costs associated with raising a baby can virtually be limitless!
All of this comes at a time when your earnings are likely to fall because of maternity leave. It's so important that you plan for this lifestyle change. Luckily we get good notice of a new baby arriving - typically nine months! Start putting aside a little bit of money as soon as you know that you are expecting, or start to spread the cost by buying pieces of equipment as you go along. Prepare your new baby's bedroom in this time and start kitting it out with the furniture that you'll need.
There are ways that you can save money - look out for secondhand equipment at boot sales, on eBay or at NCT sales. Look for good value alternatives such as supermarket branded goods. Don't feel that you have to buy one of everything that is available - make pragmatic decisions about what equipment you may be able to survive without.
There's no arguing that having a baby doesn't come cheaply, but hopefully you'll find the joy of having a new member of the family more than reward enough to see you through these early years. Costs don't necessarily decrease with time, but hopefully your budgeting will be more used to a larger family in time...
If you're expecting your first baby then it's a really good idea to attend antenatal classes - not simply because you will learn so much about the birth process, but also because you will meet other local mum's and couple's all going through the same experience as you. Antenatal classes are offered nationally by the NHS and the NCT.
NHS antenatal classes are offered for free in most areas and are open to both expectant parents although it's more usual just for mum's to attend. Classes are held by midwives and cover the birth procedures within a hospital environment. You will usually be able to attend a tour of the maternity unit where you are planning your delivery which is highly advisable so that you can familiarise yourself with the surroundings.
NCT classes are held by trained adult educators either in their own home or at a local venue. It's common for partners to attend these informal classes which run for several weeks prior to your expected delivery date. The NCT offers a variety of classes in addition to antenatal ones but your first contact will probably be for antenatal classes. You must pay to attend NCT classes but there are significant discounts (90%) for under 18's, students and those on support. The cost of NCT classes also includes optional NCT membership which you can choose to opt out of.
You don't have to choose between NHS or NCT classes - you can attend both.
As well as learning about the birth process and getting the inside track on your local maternity unit, antenatal classes give you the opportunity to meet other expectant mother's who live locally to you. It's common for these mum's to become close friends in the months following birth as you'll seek advice from each other, and start seeing each other in local playgroups, at the doctor's and you'll keep bumping into them in town. Use the opportunity to develop a local support network of other new mum's, it's an opportunity that you won't regret.
If you're a new, first time mum then you're probably bamboozled by the sheer choice of baby products available on the market. You need a car seat, but, oh my! There are thousands to choose from. You need a pram, but again, which of the hundreds of products on the market is right for you?! Which nappies should you use - hundreds of different packages stare out at you from the shop shelves, each one promising something slightly different! Baby listeners, car seats, educational toys...so much choice!
The broad choice available is quite simply bamboozling and life is too short to evaluate every product against dozens of criteria in order to ensure you make the right choice.
Well, here's some news...it needn't be that difficult. Here are two simple tips to help you wade through the aisles:-
(1) Remember that all baby products have to pass rigorous safety standards. This means that all products available on the shelves in our shops are fit for purpose. The £800 super-duper-buggy-stroller-expandable-supermarket-trolley is no more worthy than the £100 version that just doesn't have padded handlebars and dayglow wheels. They are both suitable for babies, they both do the job. The decision is just whether you want all the features promised by the high end version.
Decide on the feature set for whatever product you want to buy and then narrow your field of choice by those products that support the features you require. Be guided by price, cheaper products will still be up to the task.
(2) You're not the only new mum in the world...there are literally thousands of you. ...and you're all going through the same buying cycle, getting hold of all the new equipment required for your baby. A lot of these mum's are writing about their experience in blogs, but it's almost impossible to find all of these for any products that you want.
Instead, head to Amazon - they are shifting more products that anyone else in the country and act as a great barometer for which products to buy and which to avoid. They also receive and post reviews on their website, reviews written by real people and based on real experience. Go to Amazon, search for the product type that you are looking for.
Filter your search for products with average reviews of 4* and higher - these are the products that others are rating. Look at these products, sort by price if you wish. Be wary of any products with just one or two reviews, there isn't enough feedbcak to be meaningful. Instead, select from the products that are highly rated and that preferably have tens of reviews, if not hundreds. These products are the ones that everyone seems to rate well, make your selection from these.
Look at the individual reviews for the product that takes your fancy and check out the worst reviews - there are bound to be a few 1* and 2* ratings. Look at why they are bad - if the negative points they raise don't put you off, then you can probably bet that this product will serve you well. Of course, you don't have to buy it here from Amazon, you can now buy it from wherever you wish, either online or in the high street, but you may well find that Amazon offers the best price, and you can probably have it delivered in just a few days for free.
'No' is the ultimate negative command and should be used carefully when working with babies and young children. Although baby's recognise 'No' from around 6 months, they may not actually react and stop what they are doing until somewhat older as they approach a year. It's very easy to scream 'No' at our little ones the whole time, every time that we see them doing something that they shouldn't be doing, and especially as they start cruising and exploring the house in new ways.
Try to balance the negativity of 'no' with some positives and you will reap the rewards - you will find that your little ones become far more responsive. Instead of yelling 'No', explain why you are saying it. Perhaps use 'Hot' if you mean 'No, don't touch, that's hot!', or 'Bang' if you mean 'Don't pull that, it will fall!' and so on.
Instead of leaving a negative taste in their mouths, explain what your little ones CAN do. Demonstrate that they aren't to play with a small-easy-to-choke-on-object, instead give them something that they CAN play with. Rather than telling them 'No' when they start pressing buttons on the television, give them something that they CAN press buttons on, like a keyboard on a computer that is turned off or a remote controller with the batteries removed.
Balance 'No' with praise for positive things. When you observe your little one doing something good or safe, reward them and tell them they are doing well. This will discourage them from doing bad things simply to gain attention from you.
One of the joys of having preschool children is that you needn't be confined to your home - there are plenty of places that you can take young children that allow you the freedom to be out, and that extend their understanding of the world around them. When you think of places to go out with your children, some of the obvious places are the local park, playgroups and soft play - these are obviously child-oriented.
But consider also other places that might not otherwise spring to mind. Take them on a bus or a train - you don't need to head anywhere special, just take them for a ride. Take them to shopping centres not simply to shop, but to explore the spaces. Sit and talk with your little ones about what you can see. Go to your local library and swimming pool, visit any local museums or galleries.
Although you may not consider many of these spaces to be 'child friendly', preschool children will find plenty to keep them stimulated in even, what might appear to you to be, the most ordinary environments. Remember that the world offers so many new experiences for babies and toddlers and just being out and about will stimulate them far more than you might imagine. They are constantly taking in new sights, smells and sounds, and everything that they experience is building up their knowledge and understanding of the world. Babies and young toddlers will go wherever you take them and every day presents new adventures for them.
One of the requirements of the EYFS has always been to observe children and gage their progress against the areas of Learning. Observation should tell you what stage your children have reached in terms of development and will help you plan activities to challenge their current capabilities. Parents naturally observe their children but in an informal way, and it doesn't necessarily lead them to challenge their children.
There are two key modes of observing children. The first, formal mode, is to watch them for a period of time as they play in their setting. Watch what they do, what they say, how they solve problems, and make a record. Doing this on a frequent basis will let you notice patterns emerging and help you plan progress. The other mode of observation is simply noticing particular moments that strike you as funny, special, amazing. Young children are constantly amazing us, perhaps they do something in the way that you do, or say something that you would nomally do; maybe they achieve something that you really didn't think they could do, a baby rolling over, pulling a cushion off a sofa, pulling themselves up to a standing position. Note these moments too and again you will see patterns emerging over time.
Using ToucanLearn's Daily Diary, you can keep a permanent record of progress and come back to it over time. If you are a childminder, share the Diary back with parents and that way they can log in at any moment and see how their child is progressing, and what they are doing.
While Nannies, Childminders and Au Pairs are all there to help look after your children, the terms of engagement are very different, and that is what distinguishes the different roles.
A Nanny is paid to come into your house and help look after the children. A nany has set hours and will generally work to a routine, but usually only looks after your children, possibly alongside her own. You effectively employ a nanny and they have certain employment rights, including the ability to take paid maternity leave.
A childminder is someone who you pay to look after your children in their own setting. They may pick children up from your home or from school, you usually have set hours and may be responsible for paying additional for any overtime incurred. They will usually be OFSTED registered and inspected, and will look after a children from various families, often of varying age groups.
An au pair is someone who looks after your children, usually in return for board and lodging and a small amount of 'pocket money' (typically less than £100 per week). Au Pair's are usually foreign nationals and often young women and men taking a 'gap year' before or after higher education and are generally looking to spend some time in this country and improve their language skills. In addition to working an agreed number of hours looking after children, they may do light housework and other chores such as cooking meals. Usually an au pair is a 'live in' position so you must have a spare room for them to live in, and you must share bathroom and kitchen facilities as required.
You will generally have a contract in place for each of these types of role, and you should look at insurance cover to make sure that they are covered for the work they do for you. All may look after children of all ages, including babies, although they are restricted by law as to how many children of different age group they may look after at once. Therefore, for practical reasons, not all child carers have the necessary space to take on your children, and they may focus on offering services to children of a specific age or attending certain settings or schools.
Learning to recognise colours takes time and patience but it comes to all toddlers with practice. To help toddlers to learn their colours, undertake long term colour projects. Create a 'colour wall' in your home or setting, create a label for each colour, written in its own colour. Write balloon letters, coloured in for best effect. Attach the labels to the wall leaving space around them and you are now set to start your project.
Every few days, select a magazine or catalogue and look at the pictures with your little one. Identify an object in the picture that is primarily a single colour, point to it and talk about what colour it is. For children who aren't yet talking, tell them what colour it is, for young toddlers who are babbling, ask them what colour and see if they can guess correctly.
When you have talked about the picture and identified the colour together, cut the picture out and lift up your toddler so that they can stick the picture to the wall around the correct colour label.
Over a few weeks, your wall will grow into a great big colour chart with large swathes of each colour around each label. It will look pretty and serve as an aid for remembering colours and the repetitive nature of the project will help them to identify and learn their colours.
The first five years of a child's life are hugely important in terms of development and sets them up for the rest of their lives. Understandably the first five years of life sees enormous growth as a baby grows into an infant.
You can easily monitor a baby's growth in weight and size, but what is more difficult to monitor is the development of their brain. Over this critical period the brain is forming and the neurons are evolving into a network that will power your childs thinking for the rest of their lives. Scientific research has shown that the more a baby is stimulated, the earlier their brain develops and the more attentive and clever they will grow to be in time.
Stimulating a baby from birth will pay dividends in the long run. This is why you should constantly talk with your little ones, even if they are nowehere near being able to communicate back. This is why you should expose them to lots of different environments - take them on days out, take them on long walks (even if you are simply pushing them in a buggy) and show them as many different experiences as you can. All of this will help their brain develop early on and you will be rewarded with bright children in the future.
Encouraging your baby to be a social baby is important - even after just 4 weeks of life babies are learning their first skills in communication. They are hearing conversations, watching people move about, listening to noises and music, feeling vibrations as you talk.
Babies watch adults eyes and faces for cues and can hear different tones of voice when they speak. If you babble with a baby, they will often pause for a reply even though they are not speaking actual words or having a conversation, they have picked up the idea of pauses in conversation and that we take turns to speak.
Smiling is a vital form of communication. If you smile at a baby more often than not they will smile back. If you frown at a baby they are likely to frown back or cry. So, before they even utter their first word they are learning the vital skills of communication through observing and listening to the parents or siblings behaviour.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
As babies get older, tactile and textured toys are a great form of entertainment. Once they can hold and touch things they can learn cause and effect. If they shake a rattle it makes a noise etc. They also get to learn about textures of things and beginning to understand that items feel different. Similarly we can feel different: sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes frightened etc.
When they get older and can use words, they can then begin to notice and describe how items feel. A wooden spoon is hard, a cotton wool ball is soft etc. Once they have mastered this, they are more able to explain how they feel inside. They might feel scared or joyful etc and with this confidence they can go on to share that information and communicate how they feel.
It is very important to try and give children the chance to develop their emotional well-being and to have the confidence to share their feelings with others. So, get all sorts of toys and items that feel and look different. Talk about the texture: are they rough, smooth, fluffy, shiny. Then talk about how we all look different and can feel different when we are afraid, excited, happy, sad, worried etc.
During the first six months of a baby's life there are lots of games and activities you can do to help them make sense of their new world. Even when they are just born their senses are working and developing.
Here are some ideas for encouraging babies to use their senses.
- Sight - to begin with a baby's vision is very limited. Bright or contrasting objects and faces will be of most interest so rattles, plastic mirrors and coloured items will be of most benefit. They will begin to learn where they end and the rest of the world begins. They will start to track objects as they move in front of them and will begin to focus on more and more.
- Touch - For babies, being held and touched is vital and wonderful. They love the comfort of being held and the sense of touch can have a wonderful calming effect. Also, their own sense of touch, they they too can reach out and touch things is a key skill learned in their first six month of life. This learning happens through trial and error (and accidentally!) and can be encouraged by showing them how things rattle or move if they hold our a hand or shake a shaker etc.
- Taste and smell - Little babies have a great sense of smell. They can recognise the taste of their mother's breast milk and her unique smell before they can properly focus on her face.
- Sound - the sound of a mother's voice is the best thing in the world for a baby. It reassures the baby that the mother is near, it can sooth them and settle them. By four months some sounds the baby makes will be already based on the mother's own speaking voice and the rhythm of the language. So chatting to your baby, singing rhymes, reading books and talking in baby's presence is important.
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