Two Can Learn Better than One!

Tags: baby

Health Aspects of Breast Feeding

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Parenting, Health, Food, Drink and Eating , Tags: baby, breastfeeding, health, milk

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It has been claimed that if 90% of American women breast fed their new babies for at least six months, that the lives of 900 babies would be saved every year.  According to the research published in the Pediatrics journal, breastfeeding for these vital first six months could avoid health problems and actually save billions of dollars inmedical expenses.

The leading author of the paper, said the link has been "vastly under-estimated".  When you add up the medical costs associated with the ten most frequent childhood ailments and the cost associated with treating them, plus the hours away from work that parents have to take in order to look after their sick child.

The composition of breast milk is very complex and ideally suited to the needs of new babies.  It contains antibodies (that help fight infection), it affects insulin levels in the blood (which means babies are less likely to develop diabetes) and breastfed babies are less likely to develop obesity.


43% of American women breastfeed their babies to start with.  12% breast feed for as long as 6 months.

In Britain, the statistics are even less impressive.  76% of new mums breastfeed at the start and only 2% go up to six months.  It seems that as soon as they encounter problems, they are advised to get a bottle and feed with a formula rather than getting the support and help required to overcome problems and continue feeding naturally.

In Austrailia about 18% of new mothers are still feeding at six months.

The World Health Organisation recommends that ALL babies are breastfed until six months.


Many mothers, especially young mothers feel uncomfortable feeding especially when out and about.  But, it needn't be so.  There are so many tops designed for "easy access" and a muslin thrown over a shoulder while feeding can give ample cover and thus protect the modesty of any mum.  Once mums are confident at feeding, then doing it in public becomes second nature and should be encouraged!


Breastfeeding is also a wonderful way to bond with your child in a unique and special way. A few moments of calm, spent close to each other while having a lovely warm cuddle.

After all, breast feeding is the most natural and beautiful thing in the world for a new mum to do!



First Months Development

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, ToucanLearn, Parenting, Child Development, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: areas of learning, baby, development, early years foundation stage, eyfs, newborn, stimulation

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In the first few months following birth, your baby is experiencing the world through its senses, and it is those experiences that help form connections inside the brain and these connections that shape the individual mind of your baby.  At birth, a baby is barely able to see but they have an acute sense of smell.  At three days old they can recognise the smell of their mother's breast milk and the odour of their parents, yet they can still see only centimetres in front of them.  They have an innate ability to recognise faces and are attracted to faces close by.

By three months their brains have developed considerably and they are able to control themselves better - they can choose where to look rather than being fixated on moving objects nearby.  They might move their arms and legs seemingly randomly, but this is helping them to build up muscles, an essential component on the way to being able to roll, crawl and later walk.  This movement allows them to interact with their physical surroundings and this intensifies the rate at which the brain develops as it is exposed to new experiences.  Research shows that babies who are denied the opportunity to interact physically with their surroundings develop at a slower rate so it is particularly important to work with babies suffering physical or mental disability to ensure that they can develop as best they can.

Interacting with your baby is especially important even during these early months - try to spend time with your newborn baby stimulating them.  Stimulate their vision by exposing them to high contrast patterns and making movement in front of them; stimulate their hearing by playing background sounds and music, and rattling toys in front of them.  Stimulate their sense of feel by touching stroking them and letting them hold your fingers and baby toys.

It would be easy to ignore your newborn baby and leave them lying in another room for their first few months while you get on with the chores you have to do, but the more time you can spend with your baby, the more rewarding for both you and your little one!

Don't forget that here at ToucanLearn we have activities suitable from birth onwards.  Our early activities are simple and aimed at helping to stimulate early development in your child.  All our activities link into the Early Years Foundation Stage Areas of Learning and Development, so you can monitor that you are giving your baby a broad range of activities even at this early stage.

The cost of Bringing Up a Child

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Family , Tags: baby, benefits, cost, economise, expenditure, save

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During their first years, the costs associated with having a new baby in the house are visible, but there are wider and longer term financial commitments that should be considered.

When babies are new, it seems they need lots of equipment and expensive stuff around the house.  The cot, the car seat, the chair, clothes, nappies, shoes.  Something you may get as gifts, other things you may have to save for.  One building Society estimated that the average family spends £132 a week on children.  Over an 18 year period, that is a staggering £123,500!  It's practically a house!

One survey said that the value of a Mum was... wait for it... £32,800 a year!  If only someone would pay that for our services!

But, there are ways of reducing the cost of a baby - it just takes a bit of planning and careful thinking.

  1. Borrow or swap toys so you only have to buy one lot and your friend buys something else to share every few weeks.
  2. Find out what is worth getting - speak to parents and discover which toys their kids like best.
  3. Check out nearly new sales and boot sales for second hand toys.  You may be surprised at some of the bargains on offer.
  4. Look at own brand vests, baby grows, nappies and wipes etc.
  5. Breastfeed rather than buy formula - no waste and its fabulously free!
  6. Get family and friends to buy practical presents.
  7. Draw up a list of what you need and try not veer from that list.
  8. Make sure you get all the benefits, maternity pay and awards that you are entitled to.  Remember to register for child benefit, tax credits and  working tax credits.  A little research could make a real difference to what you are paid.
  9. Claim your Child Trust Fund money and invest carefully.


Newborn Baby Essentials

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Parenting , Tags: baby, car seat, clothes, cot, diapers, essentials, nappies, newborn

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If you're expecting your first baby, you probably don't know what to expect - here are some of the essentials that you'll need as soon as your baby is born!

  • Car seat: this is the single most important item because unless you live next to the hospital or are having a home birth, you won't be able to bring your baby home without a car seat. Safety equipment is best bought new because you don't know the history of second hand items. Make sure that the seat is properly fitted and that you are familiar with how to insert and release your baby's seat prior to the birth.
  • Diapers/nappies: Whether you decide to use disposable or cloth nappies, you'll need a plentiful supply as soon as your baby is home. A changing mat is useful but not essential as you can use towels to begin with.
  • Crib or cot: you'll want a bed for your baby as soon as he or she comes home. It's a good idea for babies to sleep in your bedroom for the first few months but not in your bed because there's a high risk that you might accidentally smother your baby. Have a crib, moses basket or cot ready.
  • Clothes: a plentiful supply of clothes is needed. You should have clothing ready with you in the hospital - vests, babygrows or onesies, cardigans, socks and mittens will give you a choice of clothing and layers. Hospitals usually recommend a hat to keep the head warm.
  • Bottle and formula: Even if you are intending to breastfeed it is a good idea to have a suitable bottle and formula ready just in case there are problems that prevent you from being able to feed your baby at any time during the first few weeks.

Don't panic if you get home and suddenly realise that there's something you have forgotten to stock in advance. You'll probably be able to get hold of most essential equipment or clothes from your nearest supermarket, even if it means asking friends or family to run an errand for you!

Take a Dip!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Learning Play, Health , Tags: baby, pool, relax, swim, water

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Getting your baby used to water is very important - taking them for a swim as soon as you are able can make them more confident in the water, more relaxed and open to learning to swim a few years down the road. It's good exercise for Mums and a great reason to get out of the house when you have a new baby. However, beyond all these benefits (and certainly not belittling them) is the wonderful twenty minutes you can spend with your baby or toddler being really close, playing games and having fun!

Tips for having fun in the pool with a baby

  • Have a practice run... play some games and sing songs together in the bath!
  • Try to go to the pool off-peak.  Avoid loud water aerobics lessons or school swimming lessons.
  • When you get in the pool for the first time, start gently by sitting yourself on the side of the pool and do some gentle splashing.
  • Once you get in, keep baby close and sprinkle water on his back and arms.
  • Keep plenty of eye contact, hold baby close to your body at all times and keep your face near her.
  • When you are more confident, move baby through the water, cradling and supporting at all times and keep them close to you.  Lots of body contact feels great in the water for you and for baby too!
  • The weightlessness of swimming feels lovely for baby too - so enjoy moving through the pool together focusing on the unusual properties of water and how it changes how you both feel!

When to get out

  • As soon as your baby begins to shiver, get them out and wrap in a towel.
  • Only start with short sessions to begin with - about 10 minutes may be enough.  Remember, you're not looking for value for money - you're introducing your little one to swimming!  Certainly if your baby is under one don't stay longer than thirty minutes.
  • Don't go if your baby is unwell or has a cold.
  • Check with your GP if your baby has dry skin or nappy rash.  Swimming may help or may irritate some conditions.

Dry your baby well and keep them warm after a swim.  Enjoy the time together and be as close and as cuddly you can.

Advice to Reduce the Risk of Cot Death

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Health , Tags: baby, cot death, night, sids, sleep, sudden infant death syndrome

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The number of babies being put to sleep on their backs - a sleep position considered the safest - has reached a plateau since 2001.  The Back To Sleep campaign launched in 1994 encouraged parents to place babies to sleep on their backs - rather than lying on their front.  It was discovered that this position resulted in less incidences of Infant Death Syndrome (commonly known as "cot death").

Cot Death is the sudden, unexpected death of a baby.  Even after a post mortem, the death remains unexplained.  It is referred to as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Do we know the causes?  Not really.  A single cause has not been named.  There could be various, even numerous factors that lead to the death, occurring when the babies are most vulnerable.

Are all babies at risk?  It seems so.  There is no evidence it happens to a certain race, or culture, or type of person.  It usually occurs when the baby is under 6 months and it can happen at any time - not just when the baby is in a cot.

Are baby boys or girls more prone?  It seems boys are slightly more at risk, as are premature babies and those of a low birth weight.

How can we reduce the risk?

  • Put babies to sleep on their backs
  • Do not smoke during pregnancy: you or your partner
  • Don't allow anyone to smoke in the same room as your baby
  • Consult your doctor if your baby shows any signs of illness
  • Buy a new mattress for each baby, don't use second-hand mattresses
  • Use a firm mattress but don't use a pillow
  • Avoid cot bumpers - there is growing evidence that these interrupt the flow of oxygen and may be a contributory factor
  • Lie your baby 'feet to foot' with their feet at the foot of the cot
  • Breastfeed your baby as long as possible rather than using formula
  • Keep your baby cool - don't allow overheating
  • Place their feet at the foot of the cot so they can't wriggle under the covers and don't cover their heads
  • Don't fall asleep with your baby in a chair and never sleep your baby in your bed
  • Keep your baby's cot in your own room for the first six months
  • Follow these guidelines for daytime naps too





Baby Travel: Flying

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Parenting , Tags: airline, airplane, baby, regulations, safety, travel

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Flying with a baby offers a whole new experience for regular travellers, but it's perfectly possible to take your little ones on planes for holiday or for general travel.  Airlines have many rules and regulations to enhance safety so it's important that you contact your airline before travelling to make sure that you are going to comply with their requirements.  Rules between airlines differ, so if you've travelled before with a baby on a different airline, don't assume the same rules apply.

Some airlines have a minimum age before they will take babies, this could be anything up to a month.  They also won't carry poorly children: if your baby has a hint of illness, take them to your doctor and seek professional medical advice.  Babies will probably have to sit in an adult lap, but airlines can often only accommodate one such passenger in each row because of the additional safety equipment in the plane.

When booking, see if you can arrange a flight around a nap time; having your baby sleep through the flight could make the journey that much easier!  Also, try to check in and reserve seats online in advance so that you can book good seats.  You should be able to board the plane before other passengers which also helps.  Many, but not all, airlines will take baby equipment at no extra charge - car seats, travel cots and strollers.  Make sure you know the allowances before arriving at the airport.

Flying with a baby can be challenging, but it's quite possible, and it would be a shame not to go on holiday or visit relatives just because you're worried about the experience.

Growing into a Name

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Parenting , Tags: baby, names

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One of the daunting things of becoming a parent for the first time is that you have to choose a name for your new baby.  You may or may not know whether you're going to have a boy or a girl, either way, it seems funny thinking of a name for a little baby that you've never met!  Of course, the reality is that as soon as you have your baby and you start calling him or her by their name, their name just sticks and seems totally natural. Bear this in mind and it relieves the pressure of choosing the 'right' name!  Very rarely can you look at a baby and think 'she's Daisy', or 'he's Jack'.  You will start referring to your baby by whatever name you choose, and very soon, your baby will seem to fit the name perfectly and you will never even wonder whether you chose the 'right' name or not!

Testing Reflexes

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Parenting, Child Development , Tags: baby, child development, galant reflex, infantile reflexes, moro reflex, plantar reflex, rooting, sucking

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Your new baby has a series of reflexes that disappear within months of being born.  The Moro reflex (or startle reflex) sees your baby startle, spread out his or her arms and then retract them, and may cause your baby to cry.  It occurs when your baby is statled by a noise or believes that they are falling and is believed to be the only unlearned fear in a baby.  The Plantar reflex occurs when you stroke the bottom of your babies foot - you will see the toes splay and curl inwards.  Stroke the side of your babies back and you will observe the Galant reflex, and they should sway towards the side that you stroke.  Babies also have a rooting reflex - stroke their cheeck and they will turn towards you looking for food.  This is related to their sucking reflex which ensures that they suck on anything touching the root of their mouth.  These last two reflexes assist breastfeeding.  All of these reflexes are gone by 12 months, some last only the first few months.  Test your baby for these reflexes - you won't cause any harm and it will help strengthen the bond with your newborn!

Why do Babies Stare at Me?!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Child Development , Tags: baby, fascinated by faces, milestone

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Babies are fascinated by people's face, in partcular they will stare at a face, focusing between the eyes and forehead.  We don't really know why this is, but believe it or not, this is one of your babies' first milestones!  You should notice them staring at people from just 2 - 4 weeks old.  Cut a picture of a face out of a catalogue or magazine and place it in front of your baby but out of reach - it'll keep them happy for ages!

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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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