An Australian toddler was so set upon getting himself some sweets from a vending machine that he climbed in through the tiny hatch and get himself stuck inside! The two year old boy climbed into the machine in an Italian restaurant, while his friends celebrated a child's birthday party nearby.
His Mum said she had been playing with him and then the food arrived so she took her eye off him for 2 minutes. The next thing she knew, he was inside the machine.
A local locksmith had to be called to set the little boy free. He had been inside for nearly an hour!
The restaurant has since removed the machine and gave the family a voucher to come back for dinner!
Ponds can look lovely, with neat little reeds growing tall, a few fish swimming around and perhaps a water lily decorating the middle, but, as the parents of the toddler who recently drowned in a garden pond in Cumbria tragically found out, they are also very dangerous for toddlers and young children.
The 23 month old child was discovered by his mother early evening just a few weeks ago. Despite calling for help and being rushed to the local hospital, the little one didn't pull through. He drowned in the pond in the family garden.
Earlier this year, another 2 year old was found drowned in his garden pond in Bristol. In this case, the mother was arrested on suspicion of child neglect, although she was released on police bail.
Every year on average, about ten toddlers and children die in garden ponds. It is tragic and it is an avoidable disaster.
Needless to say, no matter how pretty your pond, none is worth the loss of life, the anguish of the parents, friends and family who will never be able to change the course of events and bring their little children back.
Children and toddlers whether crawling or walking or running move fast. One moment they are there, the next they have scuttled off. That is the nature of children.
Don't bother with fencing, or raising a little wall around the water, or carefully explaining to the kids not to go near the water. Just fill it in, turn it into a sandpit even! It simply isn't worth it!
A happy child plays, exhibits curiosity, shows an interest in things and other children; an unhappy child tends to need constant attention, they are withdrawn, quiet, and don't eat much. They tend not to get involved with other children and don't ask questions or speak very much. However, if you have a shy child who doesn't interact a great deal, that does not mean they are unhappy. Being shy is not being sad.
P. Hollinger notes there are nine inborn signals that babies use to communicate feelings. The following signals can also be spotted in toddlers and are good pointers to how happy the toddler is.
- Interest - a positive feeling
- Enjoyment - a positive feeling
- Distress - a negative feeling
- Anger - a negative feeling
- Fear - a negative feeling
Dealing with Children and making them happy
Play - Toys, expensive clothes, lashings of ice cream: do these make children happy? Perhaps in the short term, for an hour or two, but what really makes them happy is having fun with parents, grandparents or their childminders. When they have fun and play games and laugh with you, that play creates joy. It also helps with their imagination, creativity and relaxation.
Talents - Help children develop their own talents. If they are good at something, they will feel happy about that. If they like modeling, keep some cartons and lids and let them create a robot out of boxes. If they like drawing, then let them make a picture and hang it on the wall. Help them master a skill and see how happy they will be.
Let them do what they want - Within reason, this is an important lesson for parents to understand. No matter how much you want them to learn piano, if they don't want to then they won't enjoy it. Try not to push them to do things they aren't interested in. Listen to their own ideas. If they are talking about going to football, rather than ballet, then give it a try. And, try not to stick to gender prejudices. Girls can play football, boys can do ballet!
Healthy bodies - To enable the children to play and run and enjoy life to the full, give them a healthy diet. With good food, and lots of sleep they will have the ability to really tackle tasks and situations with energy. Give them lots of time to run around.
Sad time - Being a bit sad is okay so don't try and shake them out of a mood if they are feeling a bit down. They need to be independent people and able to gauge their own moods. You can encourage them to explain how they feel and try and explain or get out of the mood together.
Be a Good Role Model - Children pick up on moods and are sensitive to other's feelings so try to be positive in your own mood and outlook. They will pick up on this and it will influence their own behaviour.
Researchers have carried out tests on 1,200 children and maintain that those children who have reached the stage of learning how to tell lies have actually reached a milestone in their mental development. They claim that the children who lied about turning round to look at a teddy while alone in a room, have better cognitive abilities than those who did not lie. They were able to make it look convincing, keeping the truth at the back of their minds rather than at the forefront.
By age 2, 1 in 5 children will lie. By age 5 about 90% will lie. However, this doesn't mean you have a delinquent on your hands! And, if your toddler tends to lie, then it does not mean they will cheat at exams. The age where children are most likely to tell fibs, is age 7. It is by then that you must make sure children do not lie about important things. White lies to protect someone or avoid hurting feelings shouldn't cause too much concern.
One test that will shed light on whether you child is good at lying or not is to carry out the 'Pinocchio Test'. If your child asks for a biscuit or treat, reply with, "What did Daddy say?". If they reply with a convincing "He said yes!" and look rightwards, this shows they are probably lying because their eyes are "seeing" an image of the treat rather than remembering an image. If they look left they were not lying as they are recalling an image that is actual rather than creating an image in their head. Try it out!
What do you do when your little one seems a bit down in the dumps? Saying, 'Cheer up', 'Stop being so moody', etc. certainly doesn't help. With little ones, its best to do something to lift the mood. Here are a few tips for getting little ones to perk up! You'll probably find you all end up having fun!
Make an observation and give out a bit of praise. Get them to do a picture and say how great it is. Praise them for something good they have done. It can work wonders.
Wash away the bad mood - if its sunny go outside and using a hose or a spray or a watering can, wash away the moodiness. Have a giggle while you wash and use some bubbles too!
Simply ask what's wrong - if they can tell you try and get them to explain why they seem unhappy. See if it's something you can help with.
Go for a run around the park or garden - Scoop your child up, put on some trainers and head off for a windy walk and a run in the park. Or go out in the garden for a wild run around, some chasing, a bit of high spirited screaming and giggling. It will do you all the world of good!
Think of things - ... that you love, that you like doing, that you like playing. Act them out, have a laugh as you try and enjoy yourselves. You will see the mood lifting!
Put on some music - dance your troubles away! Have a boogie and have some fun!
Toddlers are reknowned for falling over: although they try very hard to walk and run, they often end up in a pile on the floor; learning and falling over is all part of the process!
Every day your toddler is learning and through playing simple games they are constantly working towards acquiring new skills. Here are a few examples of what children are actually learning (without realising!) when they are playing with various toys:-
Ride-on toys (scooters, trucks, trikes etc) - strengthen muscles and improve balance. They also give your toddler a sence of mobility and the idea that then can get around the place in different ways.
Trundle truck (shopping cart or toy lawn mower) - these are great for balance and improving walking and running skills. They are also great for role play. Don't limit your children to the stereotypes though. Why shouldn't a boy have a dolly pram and a girl have truck?
Obstacle course - put some rope in a curvey line on the ground or a plank of wood if you have one. Make stepping stones with sheets of newspaper. See if they can negotiate the obstacles.
Rolling a ball - All children love balls. Although toddlers can't really kick a ball while standing on one foot, they can knee it or move it along with a push. This helps their balance and to understand the idea of cause and effect, that if you push a ball, it will roll.
So, give them plenty of opportunity to play with different toys and keep them active. Try out other people's toys and swap larger toys with other families so everyone gets a taste of diferent things to play on (without the expense!).
Give them plenty of encouragement and be enthusiastic when they ask to go out to play no matter the weather. Supporting children by keeping them enthusiastic and encouraged is vital. Give them freedom to explore too - if they want to walk along a low wall then give them your hand, put an arm round them and let them try it out! It will make them even more keen to try new things.
Having pets in the home is a great way for children to learn about responsibility as well as helping them to develop a nurturing, kind nature towards animals, and indeed, people! However, although it may seem nice to have a cat sniffing round your ankles or a dog wagging his tail at you, the reality of keeping a pet can be very different.
Not all animals are suitable for pets - unless you live in a rambling country house or a farm! To start with, go for something easy to look after (as it may be you doing the messy work rather than your children!) Choose something small, easy to keep, easy to exercise, cheap to maintain, and that fits your home and surroundings.
- Hamsters, rabbits, mice, guinea pigs: These are all nice and small and provided they are fed, watered and cleaned they will pretty much look after themselves. Vet bills are low as they need little with regards medical support unless there is an unexpected problem. Food is cheap and bedding is cheap. Hamsters are good to keep but do lots of sleeping during the day as they are actually desert animals and tend to come out when its cooler.
- Dogs: great for companionship, but they are expensive and need exercise. If you get one from Battersea Dog's Home, check their temperament, what their background is and whether they have a history of being with children. Also, check how big they will grow! Dogs also need training, need to be socialised and groomed and they are demanding when it comes to entertainment. They like to be played with and walked and to have a run. They need toys, lots of food, equipment such as leads, baskets, collars etc and their vet bills can be very expensiveeven just for vaccinations and health checks. Big dogs could bowl over a child but many are very patient with little ones pulling their ears or treading on their toes. Just keep an eye on the dogs and children when in close proximity.
- Cats: are fairly independent and spend much of their time out of the house. They need vaccinations and can require vets attention for various ailments. They also may chew or scratch furniture so need training. Cats and kittens are not really suitable for children under five. A toddler's affection could seriously damage a kitten! Older cats may be able to cope with the sudden noise and movement of children, but may also find being in a room full of noisy children rather threatening. They may run away or may swat with a paw. With regards a cat smothering a baby, it seems this is largely exaggerated. However, it is strongly advised that a cat should not sleep on a child's bed for fear of suffocation.
- Mini-pets: goldfish are a great option is your space, time and patience is short. Children love the idea of a fish as a pet and will enjoy getting involved with the feeding and cleaning. Avoid reptiles, unless you are already familiar with owning them, as they are expensive and need all sorts of specialist equipment.
Once your child becomes a toddler a whole new world of toys are suddenly available to them. They can shake and hold, throw and grasp, walk and run... it's a very exciting (and challenging!) time for parents and carers. But, how should a toddler's home or setting be equipped?
Toddlers basically play with whatever is available to them. They need stimulus and an actual 'thing' to play with but at this age it doesn't really matter if it's from an expensive toy shop or your kitchen drawers! They don't know if something has been passed down from an older cousin or if it's brand new.
It is, of course, difficult to put down exactly which toys your toddler needs, because it depends largely on what they like to do and what they already have, but as a rough guide, the types of toys for toddlers should probably fall into the following areas in order to give them a wide ranging and exciting choice.
The Natural World
In order to teach your toddler about nature and the world they need to learn about the natural materials available to us. Whether you live in a house with a garden or a flat without any outside space, there are so many ways to introduce the natural world.
- Go explore the park or woods and find lots of different things made from different materials. Find sticks, stones, leaves, grass.
- Go to the green grocer or market and look at all the different vegetables and fruits on offer. Look at the colours, textures and shapes. Even try one you've not have before and eat it together.
- Talk about your food and where all the things come from.
Fill a basin or an old baby bath and splash around with plain water, water will bubbles, warm water and cold water. Find spoons and sieves and all sorts of things to play with in the water.
- Add a few drops of food colouring to water and play with coloured water. Mix the colours to see what happens.
- Wash a doll or teddy. Splash around with bubbles and soap and have lots of fun. Dry them and at the end wrap them in a towel.
- Get various objects from round the house and see if they sink or float; whether they get wet (like fabric) or go slippery (like plastic). Fill and empty things and see that large beakers have more water in them than small beakers.
Buy some modelling clay or play dough, or make your own (log into ToucanLearn to find recipes) and just have a squidgey time! Make mud pies and mountains and get really messy. (Just make sure you protect your clothes, surfaces and floor!)
- Make shapes and roll the clay into balls. Squash it; pound it; prod it and see what happens.
- Add rice or lentils too and knead it into the clay to make it textured.
- Make pretend clay people, or food or animals. Snip straws and stick them in to make antennae for clay insects or arms for people.
Get a sand pit or go to the beach and build castles, make tunnels or simply add water and change dry sand into sopping wet sand.
- Make some sand mounds and stamp them flat. Count them as you go.
- Build some roads for toy cars or animals and put them in the sand. Drive them around.
- Wrap some stones with silver foil and bury them in the sand. Then try and find the buried treasure!
Try and include some building blocks in your toddler's toy box. They are great for building a make believe train, or a castle.
- Count them; sort them, build with them.
- Make a long line with them, match them and roll them.
Here we've offered just a few basic ideas. Toddlers with even some of the above stimulating equipment will have lots of brilliant experiences. Have fun!
Naps are vital for little ones for so many reasons, but they are also an essential time for Mums to have a break too. Keep you baby and toddler napping during the day for as long as you can, for their, and indeed your, benefit. Make sure you take time out when your baby sleeps: no cleaning or tidying or cooking. Just have a relax or a nap yourself!
Why do some babies not nap?
- Over tired. This is the most common problem for disrupted napping during the day. Once babies get too tired, they have trouble relaxing enough to sleep and they fight it.
- Change in routine or place of nap disrupts their familiarity with napping and causes them anxiety.
- Over reliance on sleep aids or other sleeping techniques that you later withdraw.
- Overstimulated prior to going to sleep or a nap. It's important to "wind down" and go to be in a calm and relaxed state. Overstimulated babies may wake fitfully because they were not relaxed on going to bed.
- Lack of routine. If a 9 month old knows that every day after lunch they have a nice cuddle, they will calmly go and find their teddy and snuggle up for a lovely nap, they wil get used to this idea and expect it. After lunch comes nap. This is very important indeed and can be an essential tool when dealing with sleep.
- The moment has passed. As soon as you see the signs that your baby is tired, get them to bed directly. If you delay, you could lose that window of opportunity and find yourself with an over-tired baby instead of one that was ready to be put down to sleep.
The key is to get to know your baby and when they are tired get them straight into their cot for a good nap - all babies differ, but you will learn to spot sleep signs quite quickly!
Signs that a baby is tired:
- They get fussy and moody.
- They rub their eyes.
- They yawn.
- You feel they have been awake too long.
How long do babies stay awake before they need a sleep?
- 0-6 weeks: about 15-45 minutes! (Seems short, but it's true!)
- 6-12 weeks: 45-90 minutes.
- 3-4 months: 2 hours.
- 4-6 months: 2-3 hours.
- 6-12 months: 3-4 hours.
- 1-2 years: 3-5 hours.
- 2-3 years: 5-7 hours.
- 3-5 years: 5-12 hours.