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Introducing a new baby to the family

Mia Von Scha &kidsBy Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.

We forget sometimes that wonderful events, like a new arrival in the family, can also be pretty stressful. If you look at the scale of life’s most stress-inducing events, the arrival of a new baby is up there with death in the family, divorce and losing a job. And often the one who feels this the most is the older sibling of the new arrival. So how can we help them to cope with this world-changing adaptation to their family?

1. Accept that this is a stressful event.
We sometimes become so focused on the positives that we forget that there are downsides, and we forget to discuss these downsides with our existing child. The age of the child will determine what kind of discussion you have, but it can be helpful for a while before bringing up the subject of the new baby to discuss how in life all things have an up and a down side to them. Then when you bring up the topic it can be a continuation of this and you can ask your child to help you to figure out the ups and downs of having a new baby.

2. Children cope better with all changes if they have some background information.
Read them books and watch movies about families having a new baby. Discuss with them the reality of a new baby. We sometimes want to brush over this and just focus on how fun it will be for them to have a new playmate, forgetting that children process the world very literally – a child may assume that they will be able to play soccer or snakes and ladders or hopscotch with the new baby from day one and then become bitter and disappointed when confronted by the reality of a crying, sleeping blob!

3. Take a look at your current situation and how your child is getting their needs met.
We all need some certainty, variety, to know that we are significant and loved, to have growth and challenges and a sense of contribution. Once you know how they’re currently meeting these needs, look at which needs will be challenged when the new baby comes and start finding alternative ways to meet these needs beforehand. For example, if their need for love and attention is currently all being fulfilled by you and you know you will have to divide your attention, start having a grandparent or friend come round and spend extra time with them long before the baby is born so that this becomes an alternate source of love and attention that they are used to and happy with.

Johannesburg_Family_Photographer_Leanne_Gundersen-2

Photo by Leanne Gundersen Photography

4. Think about where your child will be when you go to have the birth.
Will they stay with a grandparent or aunt or friend? Start making this a regular occurrence long before your due date so that they can become comfortable with the arrangement and even have it as something they look forward to.

5. Start implementing waiting times.
There will be times with a new baby where your older child will have to wait for something while you are feeding or changing or putting the baby to sleep. Get them used to this beforehand. A realistic waiting time will differ depending on your child, but you can safely say that they can handle about one minute for every year of their age. Ask a one year old to wait a minute, a two year old to wait for two. Start doing this regularly when they ask for something or need your help so that they are used to this and don’t blame your lack of immediate attention on the baby.

6.  Make sure that you set aside special one-on-one time EVERY DAY with your older child. They will need some extra love and attention. Keep in mind that the baby does not know what it is like to be an only child and will not fuss if they don’t get your undivided attention – your older child will. And never say that you can’t do something because of the baby – find another reason.

7.  All take turns saying what you do and don’t like about the new baby.
This is a very helpful exercise to do as a family. It gives your child an opportunity to vent feelings in a safe and open way and reinforces your discussions on the good and bad in all things in life. It can help for parents to go first and to genuinely be open about things they don’t like (for example, dad may say that he doesn’t like the baby taking away all his time with mom) – this shows the child that it is ok to have negative feelings, that he/she is normal, and won’t get into trouble for feeling resentful or angry or unloved. Children who are given an opportunity to express their negativity are less likely to act it out in destructive ways.

Getting used to a new sibling can be tough, and even if you implement all of these suggestions you may still find your child becoming angry, resentful, jealous, sullen and even regressing in behavior. Know that this is perfectly normal and be patient. Punishing a child for acting out on feelings they don’t know how to process or express only adds to the negativity. When in doubt, add some extra love and kindness. Good luck!

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Oh, pretty please for potty parity!

Tiffany Markman latest feb 13. jpgBy Tiffany Markman, copywriter, editor and mom to an almost-three-year-old, who tries to balance her workaholism with cuddles, books, caffeine & reining in her intrinsic kugelry. Follow her on twitter.  

I’m losing the battle with my husband when it comes to toddler toilet accompaniment in public. And I’m so frustrated that I need to open the issue to the floor, so to speak.

So, here we go …

The loo debate

You see, my three-year-old is in the last stages of potty training. Out of nappies during the day but unable to “hold it” for long. This means that when she expresses a possible need, I grab her and we bolt for the nearest loo — with me yelling “Let’s run! Let’s run!”, dodging passers-by and generally making a large, loud tit of myself.

The problem is: while we’re out as a family, my husband flatly refuses to take her.

Because he doesn’t want to take her into the men’s loos (in case she sees a penis there? What’s the problem?) and he will not go into the women’s loo (in case he sees a woman there? What’s the problem?)

I don’t get it

I’ve assured him that the kind of women who frequent the kind of places we take my kid don’t really mind if they spot a daddy in the ladies’ (even a large and heavily bearded one who walks the fine aesthetic line between hipster and homeless.)

I’ve also assured him that our little one is unlikely to be traumatised by the odd public penis in the gents’ (though I wouldn’t put it past her to make a cheeky comment).potty

But still. No go.

(Do you think he should take her? Which loo should he take her to? Or should I just man up — what a gender-inappropriate verb — and take her myself … ? Sound off in the Comments. I need some objective guidance here. )

Family loos

South Africa, it’s time for family bathrooms. For nappy changing and for potty training. We need potty parity. I’m asking nicely. For the sake of my egalitarian marriage.

I know that the US is currently engaging in the debate about daddy-friendly changing rooms, with things changing for the better in Miami, San Francisco and New York.

In fact, I recently read TODAY article quoting a guy I’ve followed forever: Doyin Richards, otherwise known as Daddy Doin’ Work. Richards says that the absence of mom- and dad-friendly changing facilities is “straight up saying only women change diapers … ” He says he doesn’t have a problem with establishments that don’t have baby-changing stations at all — some businesses just cater to adults. His complaint is about places that give mothers access to changing tables, while ignoring fathers.

The duty roster

In the States, 90% of dads report that they bathe, change or dress their children every day or several times a week (despite the fact that only 37% of their fathers did).

My guess — based on no data whatsoever, except social proof via my mates — is that South Africa, with our strongly patriarchal culture, has less egalitarian rosters of bath, dress and toilet duty. But I’d still like to be able to send my daughter off to the loo with her dad, so that I can sip my flat black in peace — before it turns to sludge.

Just one time in five.

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

Umhlanga Mobile Clinic reviewed

shannon RichardsReview by Shannon Richards, a first time mom of one, who firmly believes in attachment parenting. She stumbles her way through her family’s adventures, and loves every moment. Visit her blog or find her on twitter @Shazrich7

We all know the importance of vaccinating our children and it has been proven over and over again that it is the responsible thing to do. When the vaccines are costly and required every month when a baby is born, it can be very difficult for new parents to do the right thing. Government clinics are often the only answer but, have you ever tried waiting in a four hour-long queue with an eight week old? It is impossible. Babies screaming, sick people coughing in tight, cramped conditions. This is where the Umhlanga mobile clinic comes in.

Situated under a big shady tree, just across from Wakaberry in Umhlanga Rocks, the mobile clinic is a godsend. The friendly staff members are always efficient and polite. We recently took two babies there for their one-year immunizations. We got there early expecting a long wait but we were both back in the car (and by in the car I mean eating frozen yogurt at Wakaberry across the road) within half an hour. The babies barely cried as the sister who did the injection was kind and gentle with them, spoke to them and knew how to do her job. We were not rushed out and hurried along, and while we did umhlanga clinicwait for a few minutes to get started, we sat outside in the fresh air and chatted to a group of people waiting patiently for their turn. The injections are free and the sister knows exactly what she is doing. She will also discuss any concerns you have and give professional, knowledgeable advice.

The only downside is that the clinic does not weigh the baby (although they may do this with smaller babies, I am not sure!) or do a well baby check as clinics such as the Storks Nest do. To me, this wasn’t a big concern as I take my baby for regular weight-ins and feel that the government clinic is busy enough without adding on an extra 15 minutes of checks.

Overall, I was thrilled to have found this hidden gem, and will definitely be taking my baby there for all her future injections. When you go, all you need is your clinic card,that you received from the hospital when baby was born. You can find the Umhlanga Mobile Clinic in the open land across from the Wakaberry on Lagoon drive in Umhlanga.

Click here to find other baby clinics that can help you with your baby in Durban

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids or Gauteng – Jozikids.

The Day-By-Day Baby Book (Editor-in-Chief: Dr Ilona Bendefy; DK Publishing)

Review by Tiffany Markman, mom to a one-year-old, tries to balance her workaholism with cuddling her daughter, reading books, consuming caffeine & reining in her intrinsic kugelry. Follow her on twitter.

When I was pregnant, I read The Day-By-Day Pregnancy Book (editor: Dr Maggie Blott; DK Publishing) every day. That’s the point of a day-by-day book, I suppose.

It was (bizarrely, given that I’m such a control freak) the only preggie book I consulted during that time, and the best part was the daily access to extraordinary photographs, 3D scan pictures and illustrations that explained exactly what was going on for each of those 40 sometimes-blissful-sometimes-scary weeks.

Once my daughter arrived, it got harder, because the daily wisdom was gone, as was the time to read – and I didn’t have the inclination to pore through multiple books to find an answer. (I also didn’t love the What To Expect books, which are nannyish.)

How I wish I’d had The Day-By-Day Baby Book, which provides in-depth daily advice on baby care and development – from boob handling to bonding. Whether your baby is 7 days old, 7 weeks old or 7 months old, the info is there, and you can read on a page-per-day basis or just dip in for practical help as you need to.

Typically, the contributors and editor (Dr Ilona Bendefy) include experts in areas ranging from paediatrics and midwifery to psychology and nutrition; atypically, they don’t dictate what you should do, or promote agendas. What a nice change!

For instance, in the ‘Sleeping Arrangements’ section, you’ll find options: in my bed, in a portable cot in my room, in a full-size cot in his own room, etc. There’s info on changing a disposable nappy and changing a reusable nappy. There’s breast and bottle feeding. And there’s sleep training vs put-Baby-into-the-bed-right-away.

The only down-side of the preggie version, which isn’t the case in this new volume, is that they ran out of things to say, so by 39 weeks the advice was a bit fluffy and the content a bit weak. This doesn’t happen in the Baby Book, probably because parenting a baby is so multi-faceted (read: chaotic) that there’s loads to cover.

In short? If you buy nothing else, buy this. And it’ll make a wonderful gift as well.

 Click here to order this book onine from Red Pepper Books

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

Holiday entertainment & parenting workshops

If you haven’t discovered it yet, Jozikids.co.za is the most up to date and detailed resource for parents in the Gauteng region to find what you need including events, activities, venues, parties and lessons. You’ll also find us on your cell phone, twitter and Facebook.Many private schools are on holiday now and we reckon you need help. Here are some ideas.

Shows

The Purr Factory , SA State Theatre, Aug 14-Sep 2.  The Purr Factory, created by Corinee Farber, is an upbeat, toe-tapping rock musical aimed at children of all ages. The Purr Factory is where all the purrs for the kittens graduating from Suzie Swishtail‚s Academy for Kittens get produced. But disastrously, the purrs go missing just before graduation day. The kittens are distraught when they find out about it, as are Suzie Swishtail, Big Bottomed Bertha (the Academy chef) and all the teachers at The Academy. Vincent B Mouseander, the CEO of The Purr Factory is also beside himself with worry but he decides to hire Norris Norton Nackered, the greatest cat detective in the world.

Holiday Activities

Juniper Sandton, Aug 13-17, 20-24, 27-31, Sep 3-7.  Exciting Holiday Care Program. Our daily program focuses on team work based activities with old school style play such as gymkhana sport, craft and themed activities. Aug 13-Sep 7 

International Tennis Academy, holiday clinics, Craighall Park, Aug 13-Oct 5
Mini tennis: 8-9.30am., 3-6yrs
Half-day Clinic: 9.30am-1.30pm , 6-16yrs

Pirates Junior Cricket Clinic, Greenside, Aug 13-16, 27-30. For 7-18yr olds, 9-12pm.  Pirates Junior cricket is running a cricket clinic for young enthusiastic Cricketers.  The clinic aims to be fun,entertaining and highly beneficial with the following focus:

Batting, Bowling, Fielding, Video Analysis, Speed, Agility, Coordination and Balance Training, Specialised coaching from a Level 4 cricket coach and Sport Scientist.

Parenting and children’s workshops

Kidsdecor Workshop – Fourways Design Quarters Aug 24-25. Join us and learn how to decorate your kids’ rooms and nurseries. Sam Scaroborough, author of 3 decor books, her latest Baby Rooms & nurseries, talks to moms and decorators about how to get creative with their kids rooms

Worry Workshop, Wegger Warriors, Orange Grove, Aug 22, 8-12yrs. 3:30-5pm, R375 can be claimed back from medical aid. The Wegger Warriors Workshop will be a fun and creative session where kids will learn to identify worry, stress and anxiety and develop coping skills for dealing with worry. Kids will receive a workbook to take home and continue working on the skills that they learned with their parent or caregiver. Cost includes all materials, drinks, snacks and a workbook

Johnsons Baby Sense Seminars - Aug 25, Sep 15
Pregnancy, birth and newborn- all day from 8am-5pm – Workshops throughout the day focusing on issues such as feeding, sleeping, birthing options, massageAugust seminar is in Pretoria. September in Sandton.

 


 

Trust your instincts as parents

By Sholain Govender-Bateman, Pretoria based journalism lecturer who worked for The Star, Pretoria & other  publications. She is mum to two gorgeous girls, Isobel and Aishwari, and wife to Barry. Visit her on twitter @sholain.

Like any mum I worry about my kids. And after the year that I’ve been through with my little one, I’ve learnt that parent’s should always trust their instincts!

My hubby and I were typical first-time parents and devout worriers with our first-born. Isobel, who turns four in May, only got her first tooth when she was 13-months-old. I called her the ‘toothless wonder’ as she munched her way through any shape or form of food including carrots and uncooked pasta, using just her super-strong gums!

Doctors were consulted, books read, family histories researched so that we could solve the mystery of the missing teeth. We often heard: “Every child is different”, “Aaaaah, you’re first time parents right?”, “Don’t worry, she’ll be fine”, “Is she drinking enough milk?” and all the other well-intentioned comments you tend to get when you voice concern about your baby.

And then out popped that little tooth soon after her first birthday and off she toddled and before we knew  it, we had our very own walking, talking little monster princess.

So when baby number two arrived, we were calm. We had the books and some experience, we’d heard the comments and we just knew that Aishwari(16months) would do everything she needed to do in her own time and we were going to relax and enjoy it.

By 6 months, when she wasn’t rolling over or even trying to sit up and her sleep hours still far outweighed her awake time, I was worried but one doc assured me that her muscle tone was fine: “Let’s see what happens between now and her next check-up”, “No need for concern”.  Another specialist said that her muscle tone was weak but we shouldn’t worry.

She’s still sleeping so much was met with “You’re so lucky!”.

She isn’t moving at all: “At least you don’t have to run after her yet.”

Once again the well-intentioned cliches emerged: “Every child is different”, “She’ll be fine”, “You’re worried about nothing”, “I know of lots babies who only started rolling/sitting/crawling after they turned one”…

It was frustrating and scary, trying desperately to ignore my motherly instinct which was shouting: “Get her checked!” because everyone around me was saying: “Don’t worry.”

When she still wasn’t rolling/sitting/crawling close to her first birthday – I finally reached a point where I was not willing to ignore my instincts and took her to a physio, less than a week after her first session, she finally began rolling over.

She is yet to walk but her development over the last few months has been amazing. Within the space of a month she went from sitting sturdily, to pulling herself up, to cruising, to literally climbing onto everything within reach and to standing on her own for a few seconds at a time.

Every new milestone reached is a celebration and we are now waiting with anticipation for that thrilling moment when she takes her first steps.

Yes, every baby is different and they generally do things in their own time, but if you, as a parent have any worries – don’t hesitate to have it checked out so that you can be worry-free and enjoy your little one.

Baby Shower Games

By Natalie Lazarus – mother of 3  gorgeous boys. Self-confessed shoe addict. Owner of Beautiful Babies – striving to make every baby shower or baby gift unique

I’ve assisted with many baby showers and know that each group is different. Some prefer not to go the traditional route of
playing games while others look forward to them. There are a variety of games to choose from but it is important that the
mother to be feels comfortable with the games you choose. She is the guest of honour and shouldn’t feel self conscious at
the shower. It’s up to you if you want to give little inexpensive prizes to the winners

WORD SEARCH GAME

Personalilsed word search is becoming more and more popular. Go to the site www.wordsearchfun.com where you can create a personalised word search specific to the mommy to be. You can use their surname, baby’s name, siblings, names etc.

BABY SCRAMBLER

Another fun baby shower game is to choose around 25 baby related items and scramble the spelling. For instance, dummy can be changed to mydmu. Have the women unscramble the words. The one who gets the most right in 5 min receives a baby shower prize.

GUESS HOW MANY SAFETY PINS

(Materials- Safety Pins and Jar). Pass around a jar full of baby safety pins. The one who guesses the closest wins a baby shower prize. You could fill the container with any baby related item – nappies etc

COMPLETE THE NURSERY RHYME

(Material: pens and papers) The host reads out a nursery rhyme which the ladies need to complete. The lady with the most correct nursery rhymes wins a prize. The host should have the correct answers printed out beforehand!E.g. Jack and Jill went up the ….Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her … and …

BABY ALPHABET GAME

Give each woman at the baby shower a pen and a piece of paper that has the alphabet written vertically down the left side of the page. The object of the game is for the woman to write one word that has to do with babies next to each letter of thealphabet. Set a timer for two minutes and whoever has the most baby words wins. (For example: B=bottle, D=dummy)

BABY SOCK MATCH GAME

(Materials – different colour brand new baby socks and stopwatch) – Have two people at a time race to see who can match the most baby socks. Take 10 pairs of baby socks for each baby shower participant and givethem 30 sec to match as many as they can. Make sure to separate the baby’s socks before playing. A great way to have fun and also stock the mommy-to-be with new socks.

PIN THE DUMMY

Pin up a poster size picture of a baby and make copies of a dummy.  As in Pin the Tail on the Donkey, you blindfold each guest and tell them to tape their dummy to the baby’s mouth. The closest one to the mouth wins.

DON’T SAY BABY

Give each guest a nappy pin to pin on her shirt when she arrives at the shower. When you’re ready to begin the game,tell everyone they aren’t allowed to say the word “baby” or else they forfeit their pin to the person who catches the mistake. The winner is the person with the greatest number of pins at the end of the party

Have fun!

On the first night with new baby

By Nicolas Callegari , on the one hand – writer, gamer, full-time sci-fi geek, and future rock star.  On the other – first time dad, stumbling his way through parenthood one lesson at a time.  Visit his blog

I’ll never forget that first night when we brought our bundle of joy home from the hospital.  It was, without a doubt, the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever had.  And it’s something that all first-time parents will go through, guaranteed.

It’s not bad enough you’re up every two-to-three hours to feed, change and burp your baby, there will also be the inevitable interruptions when you’re trying to sneak in an hour or so of shut-eye between your attempts to set up the routine.

Here’s the reality: you’re going to sleep with one eye open, watching the movement on the LED lights on your bedside baby monitor, hoping to goodness that the apnoea monitor doesn’t go off.

You’ll check the volume about ten times before you go to bed, and while you’re lying there dozing off, every single little peep and sigh that your baby makes will have you out of the bed, down the hallway and at the crib side checking to see if the baby’s alright.

90% of the time, the baby is fine and all you’re reacting to are the natural sounds that the baby makes when it’s sleeping (they’re noisier sleepers than you think).

Trust me, if something’s wrong, the baby will scream – especially in those first two or three weeks when your baby only really has two settings: Awake-and-feeding, or asleep.

Funny story – because my son was born 7 weeks prem, he was pretty small and sometimes his weight and movement wasn’t enough to keep registering “life” on the apnoea monitor, so the alarm went off more than once (even though he was perfectly fine) and that was just game-over for my wife and I for the first few weeks before he actually started to bulk up a bit.

I can guarantee that even after reading this article, as a first-time parent you WILL feel hung-over the next morning, your eyes will look like a map of the Witwatersrand and all you’ll be capable of for the rest of the day will be as an extra in Season 2 of Walking Dead.

But rest assured, it’ll get better with time.  It took me and my wife a good few weeks to get over the fears that come with new parenthood.  As you learn the sounds that your baby makes in his or her sleep, you’ll calm down a little, but those two-to-three hour feeds will be the killer until your baby’s sleeping through.

One thing to resign yourself to: from the moment you bring your baby home, sleep will become a mythical creature.

Bottom line: You’ll get over the nervous parent phase.  For some it takes a bit longer, but if I can say one thing, you’re not alone.  Every parent will go through it and the sooner you learn to identify when your baby needs you vs. when your baby is just being a baby…the better.

Photographing your newborn baby

by Janine Giannini, mom to two beautiful daughters Michela and Gabriella  and owner of Moments and Memories Photographic Studio. She’s passionate about newborn baby shoots

I remember when both my little girls were born I constantly had a camera out capturing all the moments I could even when they were fast asleep, those beautiful angelic little faces. Even now my camera isn’t far away. They just grow up and change so fast it is scary; I can never have too many photographs to look back on.

I have so many clients and friends asking me for tips on how to take better photographs. Although professional photos can be great, I know as a busy mom it’s not always possible or practical to organize these shoots, besides the spontaneous shots at home and on holiday are special moments you can’t afford to not have pictures of.

Here are some tips so that you can record some of your own beautiful newborn photos in the comfort of your own home.

  • Find a room with good natural sun light that shines through a large window.
  • Generally mid morning light would be the best time, offering a soft and rounded light.
  • Mid afternoon light tends to be too harsh which can also create harsh shadows. Mid morning is usually a good time for mom and baby as well, as  in the late afternoons mom and baby can tend to be tired and a little “niggly” after the days activities.
  • The room needs to be at an optimal temperature, especially when doing shots without clothes on. Newborns can get cold very easily very quickly, so it is advisable to heat the room before the shoot if necessary. I would suggest the room needs to be at least 25 degrees if not a little more for baby to be comfortable without clothes.
  • Work around the routine and needs of baby. Feed and settle baby before taking photos.
  • Have all that you need ready before taking photos, spare wipes, nappy, that special teddy.
  • Placing baby on his or her special blanket or pretty cushion always makes for a lovely picture.
  • Make sure the background is uncluttered.
  • When taking photographs of baby don’t be afraid to try different angles, outfits, or baby lying in different positions. To vary your images try a few of the following:  lay baby in a softly padded basket, on some cushions covered with a soft fluffy blanket, white always works well however soft pink for girls or blue for boys is a nice way to add a little colour. You can also photograph baby on their back and on their tummy. Don’t forget to take close up pics of your little ones hands and feet, they are only this tiny and wrinkled for a short while.

    Sometimes I love to get my girls all dressed up and clean to take some pictures, much to their dismay, but I always keep a little camera in my bag…. often the perfect camera moments are when you least expect it.

    Happy snapping!

    Baby stimulation DVDs for parents reviewed

    by Tanya Kovarsky mother of baby Max, a magazine editor, and 8-time Comrades Marathon runner. Aside from her family and friends, she considers chai tea, her Blackberry, running shoes, baby jogger, Grey’s Anatomy, Glee and Twitter among the great loves of her life. Follow Tanya on Twitter @TanyaKovarsky

    EXPLORE  PLAY – Year One

    I have long stopped reading about where my baby “should be” with his milestone developments, so I was a little nervous about watching Explore Play, frightened that the experts would be telling me that my baby would be ruined for life since he wasn’t crawling or feeding himself with a spoon. I needn’t have worried, for on Explore Play, it felt like I had found friends, who encourage humour rather than strict rules when playing with babies, and who give extremely useful advice that any mom, new or experienced, can benefit from.

    Explore Play sets out to encourage play and support milestone development, and features the producer Tanya Haffern, along with Ann Richardson (of Baby Sense fame), and Shannon Eggers, a play therapist. The DVD is divided into four sections (0-3 months, 4-6 months, 7-9 months and 10-12 months) and features discussions and play ideas relating to each baby stage. The play section is divided in outdoor, kitchen, water and general, plus there are safety tips, and a helpful ingredients list (ie what you need for each game). Before each game, we are also told which skills are developed (eg physical, intellectual, language).

    One of the first bits of expert advice is that your baby is an individual with his own strengths, that no two babies develop the same way, and that milestones happen along a natural path of progression. My favourite advice though was that we should relax, take pleasure in our babies, enjoy playtime, and never make it a mission or chore.

    There are great discussions and advice around stimulation and overstimulation (echoing Ann’s BabySense philosophy), and how to understand your baby and read their cues. I felt it would have been useful to cross-reference to pictures or real babies while the experts were talking so that the viewer could have visually “got” what they were talking about.

    I liked many of the games, and appreciated that most of the materials can probably be found at home. The games are age-appropriate, though I’ve already tried some of the younger games with my baby, and he loved them, while two or three of the games in his category are a little bit too tricky. But as the experts in Explore Play say, if babies aren’t ready or enjoying a game, move on, and try again the following week. Our favourites have been water balloons and syringe squirting in the bath, a play drawer in the kitchen, and flowers in floating water.

    I will definitely follow Explore Play Year Two when we’re ready for more fabulous advice, reassurance and play ideas that come with no guilt or big expense!

    Click here for  information about Explore Play

    BABYNASTICS (3-6 months, 6-9 months, 9-12 months)

    With so many baby stimulation classes out there, I often worry that as a working mom, I don’t have the op portunity to participate with my 10-month-old son in them, plus I’m sometimes concerned that maybe he is not reaching his development potential. So I was ecstatic (and relieved of the guilt) when I came across a DVD that offers easy and accessible stimulation exercises at home.

    The exercises, formulated in conjunction with a paediatric occupational therapist, are aimed at encouraging brain and body development, and can be followed straight from the TV (think Jane Fonda aerobics for parents and babes!). The three DVDs have exercises and advice for each respective age group (eg learning when to stimulate for 3-6 months, developing skills for sitting, rolling and crawling for 6-9 months, developing gross and fine motor skills for 9-12 months). The DVDs don’t assume that your baby will definitely be at a certain stage, and so exercises are adapted, for example in cases where babies are crawling, and when they’re not.

    What I loved is that the exercises are easy to watch and do – they’re gentle and fun, and often done while singing songs or using basic equipment such as different textures, boxes, paper or a stability ball. What’s more, you’ll probably find that you do some of the exercises already, without realising it. The exercises aren’t too overwhelming, but when my baby did get tired or lose interest, I simply stopped and started when he was ready again, as per the suggestion.

    Another reason why I liked this DVD series is that there’s “real talk” from mom to baby – no baby talk or cootchie coos. My baby’s childminder has also watched the series and enjoyed it, and it feels like we’re effortlessly adding more stimulation exercises daily. Now if only there was an adult version of the DVD that could help one shed those last few post-preggo kilos!

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