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Tags: baby

Quiet Please!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies , Tags: baby, david ferrer, hit ball, tennis

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A tennis star was openly booed recently when he hit a tennis ball into the crown towards a crying baby who had distracted him from his tennis game.

Spanish player David Ferrer was losing his match and the baby was crying so he threw up the ball, swiped it with his racket and aimed at the innocent baby.  He was clearly in a raging temper.

It was not a good shot - thankfully.  The baby was not hit, nor his father who was trying to comfort him.  However, the resulting mood-change of the spectators was tangible.  The crowd booed and showed their displeasure for the rest of the match.

It was a quarter final in Miami against American Mardy Fish.  Ferrer went on to loose the match.  He blamed a stomach complaint for the outburst.


The Love-Drug For New Mums

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Health , Tags: baby, bonding, love drug, mother, oxytocin, reflexes

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A new nasal spray has been developed for mums that are not bonding with their babies, the spray allegedly helps them become closer to their babies.   The trials of the new spray took place in Sydney last year where a chemical version of the naturally occurring oxytocin is created and used in a spray format.

Oxytocin is also known as the love-drug or bonding hormone.

For Mums with low levels of oxytocin, it is harder to respond to the needs of their babies.  They don't notice or respond to the baby's cries as quickly as other mothers. So the spray helps them with their low levels of oxytocin by giving it to them in a chemical format.

Oxytocin is vital during child birth as it triggers uterine contractions, and helps the delivery of the placenta and then it helps to stop bleeding. After the baby is delivered it helps in breast feeding by causing the 'let down' reflex which means milk will flow.

Bad Hair Day

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Health , Tags: baby, bald, eumelanin, hair, lanugo, wash

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Many perfectly normal hair conditions can cause concern to parents, but there is enormous variation in the occurrence and appearance of hair in newborn babies and indeed throughout their first year.  Don't panic!  Here are some of the common features you might encounter:-

Hair Colour

The colour of many baby's hair changes after they are born.  Those with light hair often find that their hair becomes darker over time. This is probably to do with pigmentation.  Eumelanin determines the colour of your baby's hair.  A lot of eumelanin means they will have dark hair; a small amount means they will have lighter coloured hair.  Hair colour is not 'dominant' which means your baby can have different hair colour and indeed texture to the parents and siblings.

Newborns and hair on shoulders and ears?

This is very common and can take the form of soft, dark hairs on the shoulders or tops of the ears.  It is called lanugo.  All foetuses grow it in the womb and it usually disappears by 36 weeks.  This means that early babies are more likely to have it. 'Lanugo' usually disappears over the first few weeks as it is so fine that it quickly rubs off.   

No hair at all?

Many babies get to one year old and still don't have any hair at all!  This is quite normal.  As long as the scalp and head looks clear and healthy it is just one of those things that can develop at different times.  If there is any soreness, marks or discomfort then do consult your GP.

Washing baby's hair

Too much washing can dry out the skin and cause cradle cap.  Baby's hair doesn't need washing unless it has become particularly dirty with something, like food, in it.  Unless it is grubby, don't wash it.

Bald patch

This is very common as so many babies lie on their back to nap and sleep.  It simply means their hair is being rubbed away.  Nothing to worry about at all!

Washing hair

If your baby's hair needs washing, support your baby and wet the scalp with water, add a tiny drop of a mild shampoo and lather gently.  Rinse well and chat with and engage your baby throughout.

Bath Time!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Parenting, Health , Tags: accessories, baby, bath accessories, bath time, bathe, bathtime, shampoo, thermometer, water

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In the old days, babies were bathed once a week in an old tin bath in front of the fire - if  there were older brothers and sisters they may get the bath after everyone else had washed and so it was not a fun (or safe!) activity.  Nowadays there are all sorts of gadgets and gizmos to entertain baby and keep them safe and bath time is often used as part of the bed time routine to lull baby into a restful sleep.

So, what do you need?  Surely just a bath and a wash cloth!  Not at all!  There are some fabulous, new accessories that are worth a look at.

  • Agua Pod: a slip mat with a back support and handle so baby can sit unaided on a non slip surface and slash around. Suitable for 6 moths plus, it costs around £25.
  • Foam bath support: a huge spongy support for babies to lie back and enjoy a splashy time without needing full parental support.  Suitable from birth to six months, priced around £10.
  • Thermometer: To test the heat of the water, ideally the water should be 36-38 degrees centigrade; costs  £3 - £15 for a digital version.
  • Baby bather: a deckchair for baby to lie back in and feel supported while in the bath, suitable from birth.  Costs around £10 for a toweling version, £20 for a more substantial fabric version.
  • Ergonomic baby bather: all plastic, ergonomically shaped bather.  Suitable from birth, costing around £16.
  • Tummy Tub Baby Bath: looking like a large bucket for baby to bath in!  Suitable from birth and costs in the region of £20.
  • Dry Eyes Shampoo Shield: an ideal way to keep shampoo from children's eyes.  Hold the shield during washing and it helps keep it from going in their eyes.  Suitable from age 2, this will cost about £5.

Baby Keepsakes

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, ToucanLearn , Tags: baby, birth certificate, daily diary, hand prints, keepsake, lock, photographs, toucanlearn

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Your baby grows up so quickly; before you know it, you have young children running around your house! When your baby arrives, why not make some keepsakes that will help you remember those precious early days? There are all sorts of keepsakes that you can create either yourself, or buy through services from professional companies. Here are a few ideas:-

  • Photographs: The simplest and yet most powerful of all keepsakes - make sure you photograph your baby from the early days so that you have a visual record of their arrival into the world.  Why not create a record of their early development in ToucanLearn's Daily Diary?
  • Hand and Footprints: There are plenty of companies offering hand and footprints of your baby in their first few weeks, but you can create these yourself too!  You can create prints in various mediums, such as paint or ink prints on paper, prints modeled into clay, even hand prints on ceramic mugs or other items that you can arrange in a local ceramics workshop.
  • Lock of Hair: You may want to keep a lock of hair from your baby.  You may have to wait a while before there is enough to cut, but this could be a keepsake that your baby appreciates later in life too!
  • Baby Book: There are plenty of baby books that allow you to record different aspects of your baby's early life, and early milestones.  If you buy one, make sure you fill it in and return to it regularly so that you create a full record!
  • Hand and Foot Casts: Similar to prints, casts can be made by professional outfits and will remind you just how tiny your baby was once they have grown up and you have forgotten just how delicate they were when they arrived
  • Commemorative Jewellery: Treat yourself and congratulate yourself on the arrival of your children!  Why not have a nice bracelet engraved with the names and dates of birth of your children, or add a charm to a charm bracelet for each baby?
  • Birth Certificates: When you register your children's births, you can request copy registration certificates for your own use.  Why not frame them and hang them in your house?

You can find details of professional services in your area who can help you create keepsakes in most hospital maternity wards, health centres, baby magazines, and, of course, online.  If you opt to create your own keepsakes, be careful to use safe paints, inks etc.  Use only water based materials and watch out for any sign of allergic reactions, your young baby's skin is very delicate.

Brighten up a Room with Stickers!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Babies, Parenting , Tags: baby, bedroom, decorating, nursery, stickers, wallies

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One disadvantage of not knowing whether your baby will be a boy or a girl is that it makes it difficult to decorate their bedroom before they arrive.  You don't want too much pink for a boy, or swathes of deep blue or green for a girl!

One way to overcome this problem is to decorate the room in colours suitable for either a boy or a girl, and leave the final decoration until after the baby arrives.  If you favour cream throughout your house, then you may opt for the same colour for the baby's bedroom.  If you like a splash of colour, or want to create a vibrant nursery for your little one, then why not paint in a bright yellow, baby blue or soft purples?

Once the baby has arrived, add character to your room using vinyl stickers.  In the USA these are generally called 'Wallies', but in the UK we are more familiar with adhesive borders and wall decals or wall stickers.  Wallies vary in size from just a couple of inches to a couple of feet for really brash ones.  As these are becoming more popular in the UK, you will find stickers available in many of the children's themes that you see in soft furnishings elsewhere but you'll also find non-branded imagery based around letters or numbers, animals, fish and many other themes.  Search online for a few minutes and you will quickly find that you have hundreds of themes to choose from.

Using wall stickers allows you to personalise your baby's nursery for a girl or a boy after they arrive.  They take only minutes to apply and there's no odour of paint, or any other decorating smells, if you apply them after the baby has moved in!  They are also usually 'reusable' meaning that they can be taken down and reapplied.  This is useful as you buy additional furniture over time and may find that you need to rearrange the stickers away from new items.  It also means that you can rearrange the look every so often as your child grows older.

One point to bear in mind when applying wall stickers - make sure that they are out of reach from a young toddler, and nowhere near the cot!  Although they are unlikely to create a hazard, you don't really want your little munchkin pulling down all the decorations!

There, There! How to Encourage your Child to Care

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Child Development , Tags: babies, baby, caring, empathy, relationships, siblings

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A great way to get children to care for and understand each other is to introduce younger children to the setting. Whether it be siblings or family or friends, seeing how a baby is cared for a loved by his or her mother can be very encouraging to children who don't have the experience of siblings and is a great way to teach love and respect by example.

See if you have a parent willing to visit with a new baby to show the children what they look like, what they do, and discuss the needs the baby has and how much love and care he or she needs.

Allow them to stroke the baby's hand or foot, taking care not to allow them too much access... and encourage them to be kind to the baby.  If the baby cries, chat about what could be wrong and how we can stop the crying.

This teaches children to empathise with others and gives those without this experience of babies, a little more confidence around new babies.  This kind of empathy at a young age may deter those who are inclined to bully others, because often the bully has no empathy with the child they tease or taunt.  This begins to sow the seeds of thinking about others.

Looking at and watching a mother with her child, is also a very calming thing for the children to witness.  They have someone to look up to who is not part of their normal surroundings and sees how adults act with children.

If possible, see if the parent and child will come in to visit on a regular basis to see the child's developments and how they grow over a year.  Get the children drawing pictures of the baby or making the baby a picture or a rattle to hold when they get to that stage in their development.  Handing over a home made gift is a great way to make the children feel very happy about their new little friend.

14 Week Premature Baby Survives!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Health , Tags: baby, premature, sandwich bag, survived

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A tiny baby, born 14 weeks before her due date and weighing just 14 ounces (that's just below 400 grams) at birth, has survived and has now left hospital.  The little baby girl was born at Worcestershire Royal Hospital (WRH).  In order to insulate her, she was placed in a sandwich bag taken from the hospital kitchens.  The baby, named Lexi, is now home aged 11 weeks old, with her mother, 17 year old Chelsea Rowberry.

Chelsea thought she was having a miscarriage in June when she had terrible stomach pains.  She rang the hospital and the maternity unit suggest she go back to sleep and not to worry.  Her mother later called an ambulance and she was rushed to hospital.

Once the baby was born, the doctors at the local hospital wanted to transfer the baby to the specialist unit at Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital.  They didn't have the specialist equipment to deal with a bay so very premature at the WRH.  However, there simply wasn't time.

Lexi is now at home and gaining weight slowly, but surely, thanks to that sandwich bag that effectively saved her life!


Living in a Cardboard Box

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Family , Tags: baby, cameron, cardboard box, cot, downing street, family, prime minister

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There's no doubting the fact that if you are the baby of a Prime Minister, you will grow up with some pretty remarkable stories, but perhaps none more unlikely than the story that emerged last week that David and Samantha Cameron's new baby Florence sleeps in a cardboard box!  That'll be some boast at school - that she used to sleep in a cardboard box in Downing Street!

Florence's early arrival into the world caught the Cameron family out; they were holidaying in Cornwall and didn't have a cot for their newborn daughter.  Six year old sister Nancy came to the rescue by decorating a cardboard box as a fitting crib for sister Florence.  When they returned to London, they decided to keep Florence in the cardboard box!

Nancy and four year old brother Arthur are reported to adore their new sister.  We're excited for the family too and wish them all the best, and hope they are able to find enough private time to enjoy being a family despite the pressures of dad's rather high profile job!

Baby Babble And How To Encourage Talking

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Learning Play, Child Development , Tags: babble, baby, chat, learnings, noises, speech, vocabulary, words

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Babbling is not just a load of nonsensical rubbish that babies produce, it is actually an important part of verbal development and without it talking would just never happen.  Most baby's develop at a similar rate and you can spot the changes as follows:-

  • Month 3 - this is the month when babbling and cooing and gurgling usually starts.  It becomes apparent to the baby that everyone likes it (because we all laugh and encourage it) so they do it more and more!
  • Month 6 - they will babble in conversation like a grown-up might.  They watch and copy and imitate as much as they can.
  • Month 9 - they can actually imitate the noises they hear and copy the adults and children around.

How to get your little one talking

By interacting with your baby, you can encourage your baby to learn to talk and to learn words and their meanings:-

  • Make your voice and facial expression seem encouraging.  Lots of smiles and praise to show you are happy with them and give them more confidence to do it again.
  • Try making baby babble back to your child and see whether they enter into a "conversation" with you.
  • Do some proper talking with them too: point to things and name them.
  • Use different voices as well as your normal voice to get their attention.
  • Sing songs, do rhymes and read books together - no matter how young the children are.
  • Use props too if you can when signing (animals for Old MacDonald's Farm etc.)
  • Use tools when chatting: baby microphone, toy telephone etc.

Milk Teeth Breaking Through!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Health , Tags: baby, milk teeth, poorly, symptoms, teething

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A baby's teeth start growing in the womb - while a mother is pregnant, the tooth buds appear in the gums and these are the foundations of milk teeth.  Between 4-6 months milk teeth begin to break through the gums although this differs between different children.  By age three, most should have a full set of teeth.

Teething pain

As each tooth develops, the gum above becomes very red and sore and swollen.  Baby's cheeks can look flushed and they may get restless and irritable for some time prior to the tooth appearing and indeed once it breaks through.  Eventually you'll see a tiny white bump on the gum.  This is the new tooth!

Help through teething

Offer lots of comfort during teething and lots of cooled boiled water to drink.  If your baby goes off food, try to offer more milk to keep them sustained and offer little meals more often, rather than trying to get them to eat if they don't want to.


  • 1 in 2,000 babies are born with teeth already formed!
  • Some babies don't cut their first tooth unti they are over a year old.
  • Premature babies may get teeth later than full term babies.
  • Most develop milk teeth when they are about to start eating solid foods.

Dealing with sore gums

  • Rub baby's gums or show them how to bite on a teething ring.
  • Keep any favourite chweing toys in the fridge as coolness will sooth the irritation. Try giving them cold things from the fridge to eat such as yogurt or cold apple.
  • Offer teething gels or granules (available from a pharmacy) to sooth the pain.

Be aware

Teething does not result in fever, chestiness, rashes, diarhoea or convulsions so if you baby gets any of these symptoms, take them straight to the doctor.

Baby's Jabs

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Health , Tags: baby, doctor, health, immunisation, injection, jab, nurse

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There are lots of things you can do to reduce the pain and stress of having your baby's jabs done.  Firstly, you should know that if you are nervous or anxious, the babies will pick up on it and it could make them more agitated and fretful.  If you are calm, softly spoken and make baby feel secure, they will be more inclined to settle and will feel less pain.

So, to avoid your anxiety, here are a few tips:

  1. Plan ahead.  Make sure you have easy to remove clothing that is not too hot.
  2. Get there early so you are not in a rush and arrive calm instead of all flustered.
  3. Take along a favourite toy or teddy so you can have a nice play in the waiting room before going in.  This will relax you both!  Laugh as much as you can and have some fun together.
  4. Keep smiling at your baby and have lots of cuddles before you go in.  This will reassure them.
  5. Remind yourself that every baby in the country has to go through the jabs experience, so take heart, you are not alone.
  6. Make sure you remind yourself too, that you are a good parent for going through with the jobs even though they are uncomfortable for both you and baby!  It could save your baby from illness and you from lots of worry by avoiding getting illnesses.
  7. When you go in, keep chatting normally to the nurse.  Have lots of tickles, giggles and chat while the nurse prepares.
  8. Have some Calpol ready for after the jab to dull the pain and swollen area where it's gone in.

Good luck!

Eczema - Some Advice!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Health, Food, Drink and Eating , Tags: baby, eczema, food, nutrition

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Eczema is a condition found in about 15-20% of children where dry, itchy patches of skin become uncomfortable, irritated and sore.  There is much discussion about the reason why eczema is so common but scientists do not know definitively why or how it occurs.

There is also much talk about how we can prevent eczema or make it less severe even before a child is born.  It  appears to run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition, and scientists are researching whether anything can be done to prevent or reduce it: should we avoid certain foods, or are there ways to adapt our lifestyles to reduce the impact?

Here are a few tips:

Breastfeeding exclusively for the first four months of a baby's life may help to protect against eczema.  Research has shown that this is the case and that longer term breastfeeding protects against other allergies too.  The Government recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby's life.

Cow's milk can have an allergic reaction and cause eczema in children.  However, if you fear this may be the case, you need to discuss it with your doctor as cows milk shouldn't be removed from a child's diet without careful consultation.  Even formulas that contain cow's milk could induce an allergic reaction, but again consult your doctor.  Soya based formula and goat's milk formula are not recommended but again, the doctor can advise.

Certain foods you eat while breast-feeding may result in a flare-up and if you suspect certain foods to be a trigger, you should consult your doctor.  There is no conclusive evidence to support this, but it may be the case.  Don't change your diet unless you have first discussed it with your doctor.

Probiotics as a supplement or in food such as yoghurt has been shown to reduce the chance of your child developing eczema.  Research continues in this area.

What can be done to help the situation?

Keep a diary - to help identify if food or other activities or environments trigger a bad reaction or flare up.

House mites are believed to trigger eczema although the evidence is inconclusive.  Try to reduce dust in the home by using a damp cloth rather than a dry one when cleaning.  Use cotton sheets and wash them at a high temperature each week.  Vacuum the mattress weekly and air the room frequently.

Wear cotton clothing as synthetic fibres may make things worse.

Keep cool and avoid overheating as this can make eczema more severe.  Keep homes warm but not hot.

Keep nails short to prevent children scratching too much.

Eczema can be a very difficult condition to live with, at best it's uncomfortable whilst severe eczema may have a severe impact on your child's ability to develop normally as they will be constantly distracted by the pain.  Whilst there is no final cure, follow the advice above and you may be able to relieve the symptoms.  Can you tell us any other tips that have helped relieve symptoms in your own children?

Why Won't My Baby Play?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Learning Play, Child Development , Tags: activities, baby, learning, play, toddlers, toys

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For many months a new born baby will not be interested in playing with their toys - no matter how colourful the toys or encouraging you are, toys are not something they seem really interested in.  Until the age of one, most babies will not be able or interested to play alone for very long.

In the early days, you will be far more interesting to your baby.  They'll want to follow you round with their eyes, try to mimic what you do, be around you and it's a great time to spend quality time together.  Even if baby does begin to enjoy playing with toys, make sure you are always near so you can share with the experience.

Toys present only one small way that children learn about the world and their place within it.  The brain develops more in the first two years of life than at any time.  Playing and interacting without people is the way babies learn.

How do Babies Learn?

As babies learn to reach and hold things, they become more interested in toys.  "What happens if I bang this?"  "What a soft feel this teddy has."  "I like the sound of that."

Then, they realise they can make things happen themselves.  "If I drop this, it makes a noise and someone will come and pick it up.", "If I shout, someone comes.".

Playing, chatting and singing of course is the way children babies learn about speaking and language.  From birth they hear your voice, the sounds of music, the noise of cars and talking.  All these influences go on to combine to make up their knowledge and understanding of words and language.  They pretend to chat on the phone, they sing and babble.

What Toys Could You Buy for a 6 month old?

Toys that are tactile and feel nice are always good.  Choose things with lots of bright colours and lots of fun shapes and sizes, things that make a noise and things that are easy to hold.

... and for a 12 month old?

Try things that move or pop open or have doors that shut, this begins to teach cause and effect: if I press this, then that happnes.  Physical aparatus to encourage moving is also fun at this age: tunnels and tents.

... and for an 18 month old?

There are thousands of manufactured toys for toddlers, such as building blocks, role play toys (phone, kitchen), puzzles and games, outdoor equipment and so on. But remember you are the best thing for a baby to play with!  There are so many things you can so easily do together:

  • Play in the baby bath with water and bubbles
  • Sit and read books together
  • Listen to music
  • Have some rough and tumble: swing your baby through the air, have a dance together
  • Go to the park: have a go on the slide, swings and climbing frames
  • Study leaves and flowers together, feel the texture and look at the shapes and colours
  • Look at photographs of people you know
  • Look through colourful chldren's catalogues and just chat about what you see

Lots of simple, easy, and non-expensive ways to spend time together.  Who needs toys?!

Nap Time: Great For Baby and Essential For Mum!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Parenting, Health , Tags: baby, naps, sleep, tiredness, toddler

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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?

  1. 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.
  2. Change in routine or place of nap disrupts their familiarity with napping and causes them anxiety.
  3. Over reliance on sleep aids or other sleeping techniques that you later withdraw.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

  1. They get fussy and moody.
  2. They rub their eyes.
  3. They yawn.
  4. 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.

Sleep tight!

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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!

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