Two Can Learn Better than One!

Tags: toddlers

Watch Your Language

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Health , Tags: illiterate, language, literacy, riots, school, speech, toddlers

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It has been reported in a recent study that language checks should become a routine for all toddlers and that speech and language checks should be as regular as those for checking a child's weight and growth.

It is said that without the necessary help, children with undiagnosed speech problems could suffer a life of failure if they go unchecked and unaided.  By two years old, children are already destined to failure or success at school.

The review stated that children with problems just slip through the net and that without help they could literally find themselves with greater problems in later school life. Waiting until school age is just too late.  By the age of five the problem is just too ingrained and children are likely to never catch up with their fellow school mates. They are more likely to be unemployed in later life and even end up in prison!

Although the screening and helping of children will cost money, it is estimated that for every £1 spent on children with impairments, the return on the investment is actually over £6.  It could be costly while the child grows up, but it will effectively negate the cost of dealing with problems in later life.

It was even suggested that better literacy and speech education may have prevented last year's riots, and it was estimated that 90% of the rioters were illiterate.

Sobering thoughts...

Sibling Rivalry is a Good Thing!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Child Development, Family , Tags: allies, bickering, pretend play, sibling rivalry, siblings, toddlers

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According to a new study, rivalry between brothers and sisters can be a good thing when they are toddlers and it can have a positive effect on their development. Cambridge University carried out the study over a five year time span and found that of the 140 children studied, their cognitive and social development was enhanced if they were a sibling.

The research looked at the younger of 2 siblings in various environments: alone, with the family, with friends and at school.  Their language, memory, planning skills and inhibitory control were studied and found that the younger sibling had a better social understanding thanks to the teasing of older brothers and sisters.  80% of children have siblings.

Pretend play was very interesting to the study authors, as it found that the younger siblings who entered into pretend play, games that often lasted in different sessions over a few days, were able to articulate, discuss their thoughts and feelings much better than those who didn't.

They also found that sibling bickering was a "useful" tool and that its the start of a skill to resolve disagreements in later life although they did say that sustained sibling rivalry into school years could be detrimental. Relationships change over time, that is natural, but the way that siblings are natural allies is a beneficial thing.

New Mums are Unhealthy!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Health , Tags: childbirth, exercise, fitness, healthy eating, mothers, toddlers, wellbeing

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Parents of young children lead an unhealthy lifestyle, according to recent research.  Despite the notion that parents of toddlers spend their whole lives running after the little ones trying to catch them and keep them out of trouble, they are, in fact, not exercising enough.

The study has shown that parents of toddlers eat less healthily than their childless counterparts. Women with children drink more sugary drinks and eat fattier foods according to scientists and they are less active than women of a similar age who don't have children.

This is partly because they tend to choose the quick, less healthy option when it comes to eating because they simply don't have the time or energy to do any different, and they miss out on exercise because of being too tired, busy or having no childcare.

The research was undertaken at the University of Minnesota and published in the journal Pediatrics. The study was carried out to help identify whether parents of young children are at risk and whether they would benefit from advice on diet, exercise and healthy living.

The study looked at the lives of 1,500 adults aged around 25, many of whom were parents with children under five. On average the mothers consumed nearly 400 calories each day more than their childless counterparts. In order to prevent weight gain they should be exercising even more (walking about 3 miles a day) to counter balance. However, in reality they were exercising less than 2 hours a week at a moderate pace.

There are limitations to the findings:

  • The study did not show how many women had just had their babies and therefore had retained their baby/pregnancy weight.
  • There was no information on single parents and the effect of having just one parent in the home.
  • There was no information on the psychological health of the women who if suffering from depression may have experienced odd eating habits etc.

These are interesting findings and we would welcome more information on how we should look after ourselves after childbirth.

Sand, Boxes, Spoons and Maths!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Activities , Tags: mass, maths, sand, toddlers, tubs, weight

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Maths for toddlers isn't difficult numbers and hard sums... it is much more fun than that!

Take a box of sand, some old cartons or tubes such as toothpaste cartons, little cereal packets, or stock cube boxes.  Take some spoons such as tea spoons, wooden cooking spoons, dolly sized spoons.  Ask you little ones to fill the tubes and boxes with their hands and with the spoons.  Then get them to empty the contents or transfer from one box to another.  Show them how to do it.  Make piles of sand, squash the sand and fill the boxes.  Then, ask them:

  • Which box is the biggest, the fattest, the tallest?
  • Which holds most?
  • Which spoon holds most sand?
  • Which spoon is best to fill the big box or the small box?
  • Ask which is heavier and how they feel when full and empty?
  • Explore and play together

This is the beginning of learning about mass and weight... its also great fun!

A Question of Safety

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Health , Tags: accidents, baby walkers, bunk beds, burns, children, ponds, scalds, toddlers

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We have to be so careful raising babies and toddlers in our homes - so much of what seems safe to adults can pose potential hazards to children.  A hazard isn't necessarily an accident waiting to happen, it just means that there we need to be more cautious than we might otherwise be.  If hazards are managed properly then our little ones can remain perfectly safe.  Here are a few questions of safety that you might ask yourself...

1. Should I use a Baby Walker? For many years it was advised not to bother with a baby walker.  They looked nice, but caused so many accidents its wasn't worth the risk.  There is now a standard required for baby walkers (BS EN 1273:2005), which has hopefully reduced the number of accidents.  However, do use with care.  Babies can still get around very quickly and could approach stairs or dangerous areas.  It may give them more height and therefore allow them to reach higher things on tables or work surfaces in the kitchen.  Some argue they help baby to walk: this is not necessarily true. Rolling, crawling, sitting, bouncing on you knee are far better ways of improving balance, and mobility for walking.

2.  Is there a safe age to use bunk beds? Usually not before children six.  This is because beds are designed with six year old as a minimum age.  The spaces between bars and and around the mattress is tested on six year olds and are not suitable for under six's because they could get trapped.  If you do use bunk beds, make sure windows are locked if they're next to a window and that there are no sharp corners (book shelves etc) below!  Perhaps have a night light so they can climb down in the night if they need to.

3.  When does a hot liquid get hot enough to cause a burn? Childrens' skin is thinner than an adults and will burn much more easily.  Even hot tap water can burn.  Certainly don't allow any child to turn on taps without your supervision.  Kettle water WILL scald immediately.  It's boiling at 100 degrees.  A cup of tea WILL scald.  Its about 70 degrees but still hot enough to scald.  Once tea has been left to stand for 15 minutes, its still around 55 degrees.  This WILL still be hot enough to scald in about 10 seconds.

4. Should we get rid of our pond? A toddler can drown in just 2 inches of water.  If you have a pond and don't want to get rid of it, keep it covered or better still, drain it until your child is older.  Turn it into a boggy garden area or a sand pit!

Take care!

Making Friends!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Learning Play , Tags: friends, happy, toddlers

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It's not always easy to make friends, especially if you are a toddler!  Some children find it very easy to make attachments and their affections seem to be reciprocated.  However, for many who are ready to make friends, it seems that it's not as easy.

It could be because they are just not mentally ready to develop friendships.  Toddlers are concerned primarily with themselves, and so the idea of a friend that you share with and be nice to is a bit difficult for some to understand.  Even if your child is ready, the other child may not be!

Here are some tips on how you can help:

  • Give them plenty of opportunity to make friends: see lots of people and do lots of different activities
  • Give them lots of praise when they do something kind to another person
  • Don't force them or try to make them form friendships with people they don't like!
  • Try not to interfere when they are interacting or playing!
  • Be bold, approach people at play group and get to know them yourself
  • Lead by example, chat to people and make friends yourself
  • Talk about being kind, sharing and being a good friend while you are at home
  • Support any efforts to make friends even if they fail

Get the Children Moving!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Kids Activities, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: activities, beans game, physical games, pre-schoolers, toddlers

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It may be getting colder outside, and play parks are wet and grass waterlogged, but there are some fun activities you can do inside even if you have limited space.  Try this easy game on your own, with friends or at your toddler or childminding group and see how much fun you all have!

Beany Fun!

This is a great game for toddlers and pre-schoolers.  You simply start them all walking around the room and you call out different type of beans.  The children have to assume the appropriate pose as quickly as they can!  You can choose from:

Runner Bean - the children have to run on the spot.

Broad Bean - they have to stand with their hands and legs as wide apart as they can.

Chilli Bean - they must shiver and pretend to be cold.

French Bean - they have to stand with one hand on their hip and say, "Oh, la, la!"

Baked Bean - they have to curl up like a tiny baked bean.

String bean - they have to all join hands.

Thin Bean - they must stand straight with their arms up high above their head.

Jumping Bean - they must jump around.

Frozen Bean - they freeze and stand perfectly still.

You could do it when walking in the woods or on the way to school or anywhere you need to distract them on a journey.  If you're in the car, try it with just your fingers!

Have fun!

Ouch! A Splinter!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Health , Tags: garden, glass, splinters, toddlers, wood

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Toddlers and pre-schoolers are for ever playing around the place and one day will inevitably get themselves a splinter.  Most can be brushed away or removed with a pair of tweezers or long finger nails.  However, if it needs a bit more attention, here are some pointers.

  1. If it's sticking out - Sterilize a pair of tweezers and wash your hands before you start.  Give lots of encouragement and reassurance to your child.  Try and get hold of the splinter at the base (where it comes out of the skin) hold tightly and pull out.  If it doesn't come out easily, don't force it as it might break and remain inside.
  2. If it's not sticking out or has broken inside - Sterilise a needle with a flame and cool.  Soak the area in warm water, and use the needle to create a slit in the skin and carefully remove the splinter.  It won't hurt, but the idea of it may scare your child, so give lots of encouragement and perhaps get someone to help hold your child still while you do it.
  3. If it's a big one! - If it's big, or curved, or glass you should take your child to the doctor.
  4. If it's a little one - You may find that leaving the splinter alone it will eventually work loose and fall out itself.  Try washing in warm water a few times a day.

If it gets infected

If it seems swollen, red or pussy, you must take your child to the doctor and make sure that your child's immunisations are up to date.

How to prevent splinters

  • Make sure your child keeps shoes on in the garden and wears slippers indoors if you have wooden floors.
  • If you break a glass use a vacuum and clear up all the tiny fragments carefully.
  • Keep away from garden sheds and any other wooden items in the garden that are not sanded down.
  • Be aware of wooden edges to pathways or climbing equipment at the playground that may be damaged.

Whilst a splinter can be rather painful, most of the time the pain subsides as soon as the foreign body has been extracted.  Take care.

Why Encourage Children to Play as they Grow Older?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, ToucanLearn, Child Development , Tags: babies, fun, learning, playing, toddlers

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Surely, once children begin to read or learn their numbers they should be doing that in their spare time, rather than playing?  This couldn't be further from the truth!  In fact, children that play tend to become better and more attentive learners on average, and what you must remember is that when chidren are playing, the are learning the whole time too!  This is what ToucanLearn is all about... sharing ideas of games, activities and crafts that are GREAT FUN, but we show you the learning elements too so you can see exactly what your little ones are actually learning about.  As they are doing the activities with you, they are learning even more (Two CAN Learn much better than one)!

Do you need special equipment at each age stage in order to encourage your child to play?

NO!  Play can involve anything (more or less!).  From wooden spoons and saucepans, to folded socks and a washing basket!  It can mean jumping in puddles to learn counting or throwing gloves to see how far you can get them or posting junk mail into a shoe box made into a letter box.  All sorts of things can be used as long as you are there to help the game along!

What do children learn through play?

They learn about the properties of objects and how they work.  That if you throw something hard, it will go far.  They learn about their own limitations: they may be great on the scooter but not so confident on a bike.  They learn about their environment (stairs and steps) and other places (on a walk to the park).  They learn how to play with other children and how to interact with adults.

Will playing make them better at school?

Many studies have concluded that children that play with their parents are more curious and interested in learning.  Playing is a great way to get them active and interested.  It may also help their social skills and helps develop healthy relationships with other children.

Plus, possibly most importantly, by playing with your children, you are developing and securing your won relationship with them - which is absolutley vital.

So, just get out there and do some ToucanLearn activities, fool around, have a laugh and enjoy these special years when playing can be so much fun for your both!

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?!

Babies and Pillows

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Health , Tags: babies, nursing pillow, pillow, pregnancy pillow, sleep, toddlers, widgey

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Babies should never be given a pillow before 12 months, and best advice is to wait until 2 years - even after that, if they sleep happily without one, then there's no reason why they shouldn't continue without one for longer.  You might want to place a pillow case under their head if they are prone to dribbling so that you can keep the top of their sheet clean.  Pillows present a danger to babies under 12 months with risk of suffocation.

If you do want to introduce a pillow for your toddler then there are a few considerations.  Although you don't have to buy a pillow sold specifically for toddlers, you should ensure that any pillow they use is firm but not thick because deep pillows can lead to bad posture.  If your baby suffers allergies, then an artificial  fibre presents the safest option.  You may also want to check that the whole pillow is washable so that you can clean it should the need arise.

Expectant mothers in the late stages of pregnancy may want to pamper themselves with a pregnancy pillow.  These come in various shapes (sausages, crescents and other patented shapes) and are designed to provide support for your back.  One of the more popular brands of nursing pillow is the Widgey!  Most pregnancy pillows double up as nursing pillows, helping you to cradle your newborn baby whilst breastfeeding, or helping Dad to support the baby while bottle feeding too.

Books for Toddlers!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Parenting , Tags: books, cosy, fun, reading, toddlers

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Toddlers can't read, so why do we bother with reading them books?  The answer is simple: one day they will have to learn to read and if they like books, associate them with fun and good experiences, they will be more inclined to want to learn about letters and sounds and eventually reading.

Being able to read a book is a huge and marvelous gift.  It opens the world up for little children and allows them to enjoy the fantastic stories that are available and help them learn at school.  So, by reading to the toddlers and even babies, you're helping them for when they need to learn to read at school and indeed helping on their journey through school.  Plus, even more important at this stage, introducing them to a wonderful world of stories and adventures!

So, what to do to make books fun!  Here are a few tips:

  1. Read as often as possible!  You can read a book in bed, while on a journey, in the morning.  Have some cuddly time together when you read and make it cosy and comforting for you both!
  2. Try and bring the stories to life by using lots of expressions and funny voices!  It will make your child laugh and will help you get through all the kiddie books without getting bored yourself!
  3. Talk about the stories together and try and guess what is going to happen.
  4. Let your little on choose the books.  Read the favourites as many times as they want!  Children love things that are familiar so they love hearing books over and over again!
  5. Try and encourage the children to say the rhyming bits with you or the catch phrase.
  6. Try and get as many book as you can!  Go to the library, book sales, car boot sales and get a wide selection.
  7. Allow children to handle books all the time.  Yes, teach them to be careful, but get board books if they are heavy handed and let the look at the pictures, feel the pages and turn the pages.  You don't need to have a shelf of pristine books that no one is allowed to touch.  Better a shelf of books that have been used, and read, and enjoyed for many years!

Look at the World Through Children's Eyes

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Parenting, Health, Child Development, Family , Tags: accidents, babies, health, home, safety, toddlers

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We are all so conscious of dangers when we take children out: cars on the road, tripping on pavements, falling from a swing.  However there are 400 children admitted to hospital every WEEK with injuries following accidents in the home.  This is a staggering number - especially when this is just those under the age of five!

What we have to remember is that children and toddlers and babies are constantly growing and experimenting and exploring.  The way they learn is to watch and copy us.  So, we need only take a look through their eyes to see what they might see and then we'll realise how accidents - that are totally avoidable - can happen.  And, we'll see how easy it is to prevent those accidents taking place.

Tablets and pills - many toddlers can take off the child-resistant caps on bottles of pills. The child-resistant caps make it more difficult to open, but are not impenetrable for a child.  A simple adult painkiller could poison a child.  They see you take a few, and it helps your headache.  If they get hold of them, they take a few and it could be disastrous.  Toddlers may think they are sweets, that they taste nice, that Daddy has them so why shouldn't I, that they make them grow strong.  So, keep bottles of pills well out of reach. 

Lighters and matches - children can ignite lighters by accident and can cause a match to inflame by just playing with them  They don't realise the danger they could cause.  There are 6,000 house fires every year caused by children under ten!  When they look at a match or lighter, children see the flash of light, the spark, it's like magic.  Keep the matches and lighters out of reach.

Stairs - About 800 under fives are taken to hospital each WEEK having fallen down stairs.  They develop the climbing skills need to get up stairs very quickly... almost without you noticing they could suddenly be able to get up a few steps. It can be dreadfully dangerous if they fall down.  Kids think its fun to go up, it's a challenge and everyone else does it so why shouldn't I?  Well, if they do they might fall and hurt themselves, get a stair gate and remember to use it!

Knives and utensils in the kitchen - It's so easy to forget that little ones can one day reach kitchen surfaces.    Make sure all knives, and heavy utensils are well back just in case they reach up and something comes crashing down.

Hot Drinks - tea and coffee can scald and burn a baby's skin.  Don't put hot drinks on low tables or on unstable surfaces.  Tea and coffee is made with boiling water and stays hot for a long time.  If they they go to try your tea without you seeing, and pour it over themselves by accident - it could scar your child for life!

It's not all gloom and doom!  But being very aware of potential dangers is vital in order for you and your child to have a relaxed home!  If you make just a few changes to the way you do things and if you just keep one step ahead if you can... you'll be okay!

A few final tips:

  1. Fit a smoke alarm and TEST it frequently.
  2. Keep all medicines, cleaning fluids in a locked cupboard out of a child's reach.
  3. Fit stair gates and safety guards round fires.
  4. Keep hot drinks on tables that are out of reach.  Don't drink hot tea with your baby in your arms.
  5. Keep saucepan handles, electric flexes etc well out of reach.

Excuse Me, Would you be Kind Enough to Pass the Salt?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Parenting, Preschool Children, Food, Drink and Eating , Tags: eating, food, table manners, toddlers

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Table manners are a tricky area for young families - you want your child to eat nutritiously whilst eating slowly enough to avoid gobbling and causing indigestion but fast enough to get on with the day!   You want meals to be a happy experience for everyone and for their manners to be good: eating with mouth closed, not tallking when chewing, no rude comments about the size, look or taste of the food and 'please' and 'thank you' are welcome too!

But, don't be too hard on the children!  They learn from example, so the first thing to do is show them (not tell them!) how to eat a meal properly.  Start by making sure the children (even toddlers) sit throughout the duration of the meal.  Make their time at the table as short as possible, so call them when their food is served and has cooled enough to eat.

Encourage them to stay at the table while you all eat.  Of course, when you consider it appropriate they can get down, but try and establish the idea that you all stay at the table together for the meal.  Don't expect too much though.  A toddler is doing well if they don't throw food, so don't expect correct utensil use at age two!

Teach all toddlers and children to wash hands before eating.  This is a good way to signify the beginning of the meal and is hygenic even if your child is beyond finger food.  When they do mess around, try not to get angry, just explain in a calm voice what they are doing wrong.

Try to use 'please' and 'thank you' yourself!  It's as easy for adults to forget but if the little ones see you saying it they will too! And, there's nothing nicer than a proper 'thank you' to the chef at the end of the meal!  Especially encourage it when you're visiting friends and you're bound to be invited back!

The result, hopefully, is calmer and easier meals for you all!  The earlier you start introducing good manners, the better the children will adopt the behaviour and do it without trying.  Remember,  mealtimes make for the most wonderful family occasions...every single day!


Your Growing Toddler

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, ToucanLearn, Parenting, Child Development , Tags: milestones, toddlers, toucanlearn blog

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Being a toddler is all about gaining independence, becoming more mobile and a keenness to learn about everything. Toddlerhood is a very rewarding time for you as a parent, as the baby that you have nurtured from their most vulnerable days begins to turn into the most amazing person. At this stage you'll see them doing so many new things like eating with a spoon, drinking from an open cup, climbing stairs, playing make-believe and so much more. These are rewarding days, but you'll quickly forget all the little things that made you stop and think along the way. Use your blogs in ToucanLearn to record all of those moments, and you will capture your baby's childhood in a way that you can look back over it in the future.

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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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