Over the last 2 years I’ve joined several mommy groups on social media. They’re a great place for moms to share experiences and ask for advice. Recently I’ve noticed similar questions being asked especially by new moms about how to start life with baby. I was inspired by Simone of the Montessori Notebook and decided to create a Link Pack just for new mommies with all the links you may need to start your journey into motherhood. I’ll try to cover some of the basic topics like sleeping, feeding, care, play and positive parenting of course 🙂
Feeding & Sleeping
Development & Milestones
Becoming a Parent & Self Care
There are lots of great resources out there. I personally found these to be very helpful. Make sure to check back as I’ll keep adding more links whenever I come across something relevant.
Here is a list of fun ideas you can do with your baby with materials that are around the house or are easily accessible
This fun activity from The Imagination Tree is great for your baby’s fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination and sensory skills.Check out more Baby Play ideas on their site.
Also featured on The Imagination Tree. Playing with mirrors is great for exploring the self, textures and environment. Different mirror materials can be used, like toy mirrors, story box mirrors and other safe reflective surfaces.
Your baby can usually start rolling a ball between 8 – 18 months. Most children are capable of this when they are around a year old. It’s a great activity for developing eye-hand coordination, which is a skill needed later for drawing, writing and eating. Ball rolling is also great for physical gross and fine motor development. You can use small or big balls to keep your baby entertained and depending on her ability and age. Remember don’t force your baby into the activity, just giving her the opportunity is enough, she’ll participate when she’s ready.
Listening to music has been associated with increased spatial reasoning. Music and dance can have numerous positive effects on your baby; putting her in a good mood, helping her relax and just plain having fun. Dancing is an activity that can foster physical development as well as emotional and cognitive abilities. I’ve had experience with babies as young as 6 months moving their feet to the beat! Don’t be shy to give your baby some shakers or instruments to help her express herself and how she feels with the music.
Babies usually love water! Although they might find it stressful to take a bath in the first few weeks, most babies grow to love it and start crying when you take them out of the bath! Let your baby have some extra bath time and surround him with some rubber duckies and other safe play material. Some areas also offer swimming time for parents and their infants in groups. If you have access to a garden or beach, give your little one the chance to experience the wet mud and sand. It might be a hassle to clean up but you’re giving him a great experience in feeling textures and exploration which is great for his brain development. Remember never leave a baby in water unsupervised as it is extremely dangerous since babies can easily drown in a few inches of water.
Of course the most irreplaceable source of joy is you! Mom and Dad! You can provide your baby with all the stimulation and interaction he needs. Talking and singing helps his language, emotion, social and cognitive development. Your face is an endless screen of expressions that teaches him how social interaction works. Your actions are a perfect model to how baby should act and behave. Most of all you know your baby more than anyone and can give him what he needs at the right time 🙂
Check out more great activities to do with your newborn and baby on the Imagination Tree’s site and The Bub Hub
Cover Photo by Mariam El Mofty
I’m currently reading Dr. Penelope Leach‘s book on child raising called “Your Baby and Child“ which covers ages birth to 5 years. So far it’s an amazing read and I recommend it to parents, especially first time parents. The book gives detailed and practical advice on handling your newborn, toddler and preschooler. What I like most is that Penelope Leach has based this book on scientific research which I find adds credibility. As well as having the experience of raising her own two children which makes her more attuned to the practicalities of motherhood and parenting.
A common debate among parents is letting your baby cry, also known as “controlled crying” or “ferberization“. A lot of parents face this problem specifically at bedtime and resort (in despair mostly) to letting the baby cry herself to sleep.
Here’s what Dr. Leach has to say about this topic and how your baby interprets your behavior.
You can read more about the first year in Leach’s book “The Essential First Year”
Photo by phaendin
Bonding with your baby can help you form a secure attachment that will last a life time. Attachment is a deep bond that is formed between the baby and his caregiver in the early years. This attachment can greatly affect your child’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive development. Babies who form a secure bond with their parent have a better chance of being trusting and supportive adults themselves later in life.
An attachment bond is formed based on your (or other primary caregiver’s) patterns of interaction with your infant. Your baby learns that she can depend on you when she experiences a pattern of consistently responsive and attentive behavior from you that fulfills her need for food, security, warmth or comfort. Your baby is then able to form a secure bond with you (or other primary caregivers that show the same behavior) and uses you as a secure base from which to confidently explore the world. A common example is taking your child to a new setting: initially your child may seem shy to explore. However, given time and positive support by the parent he eventually begins to wander and explore his surroundings, all the while returning to his parent and venturing out again. Repeating this cycle and increasing his zone of exploration every time as he remains confident that his parent will still be there and respond if any trouble occurs.
Some parents are worried about spoiling their child if they are responsive to their every demand. However, there’s a big difference between being responsive to your child’s needs and your child’s material wants. Giving your child love, warmth and responding to her cries helps establish a secure relationship by letting her know you will be there when she needs support. This is completely different from answering your child’s needs by giving toys, presents or other material objects. Children with secure attachment tend to be more independent, not less.
Secure children have been found to have better peer relations, handle conflict better, develop faster than insecure children, show less behavior problems and have more positive romantic relationships as adults. A child’s attachment bond is related to different factors but most importantly is how sensitive his parents (and other main caregivers) are to his needs. It’s important to know that children form different attachment bonds with different people depending on the adult’s behavior.
What You Can Do
- Try to learn your baby’s cues and expressions. Be responsive to your infants cries for warmth, food, comfort or reassurance.
- Pay attention and encourage positive signals from your baby as well. Like smiling, laughing and other happy baby noises. Notice the touches, sounds and expressions that your baby enjoys.
- Support your toddler positively. Give him the space needed to explore new activities and places while being there to support if things get too tough.
- Don’t be over intrusive with your child’s initiatives. Avoid taking over your child’s activity and being over involved. This will just push your child away.
- Try to find a balance between giving your child independence and support. Your child needs to know you will be there when she needs help.
- Communicate with your child and explain things. Why you will leave him at daycare? Where will you go? When will you return?. Make sure to stick to what you say!
- Be positive when correcting your child’s misbehavior or when offering your child help. This helps give your child a sense of confidence and positive self esteem.
Taking Care of You
- Make sure to get enough rest to have the energy to be responsive to your child. Ask friends or family to help you out from time to time.
- If you’re dealing with feelings of postpartum depression, make sure to get professional help or talk to your partner about your feelings. Depression can lead to frustration and other behaviors that can affect your bond with your baby. By taking care of yourself you’re putting your family’s health first as well.
- You don’t have to give up your job and stay home for your baby to have a secure attachment to you. What’s important is the quality and responsiveness you shown when you are with your baby. Make sure other caregivers in your baby’s life are on the same page with your parenting ideas to give your child a consistent experience.
- Remember to have fun! Laugh, talk and play with your baby every chance you get!
- Work on your marital relationship. Studies have found that parents who have a supportive spouse are more able to be responsive to their child’s needs and provide higher quality of care resulting in more security.
- Everything in this post is directed to fathers just as it is to mothers. Research has shown that fathers play a crucial role in their children’s development and that the father-child bond is an important factor in your child’s life.
- Working fathers may feel they aren’t spending enough time with their children. Try to engage your baby in any opportunity that presents itself. Bottle-feeding, changing diapers, and putting your baby to bed can all be great times to bond.
- Read, talk and sing to your baby and let her hear your voice. Take time to play and participate in your older child’s interests as well.
- Remember to be positive when correcting or redirecting your child. Research has shown that positive parenting is very effective in correcting unwanted behavior while maintaining your child’s positive self esteem and secure bond.
Read More On..
- Tips for Bonding with your Baby, by the U.S Department for Health and Human Services.
- More information on attachment and what more you can do to promote the bond here.
- More great practical tips on what you can do today to bond with your baby here.
Photo from salwa4ct
The joy of reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. Letting your imagination go as you read through the words is an amazing feeling. Get your child into reading early on. You can start introducing books at a very early age, as young as 3 month. Here are some tips on how to choose appropriate books for your infant, toddler and preschooler. With a list of some of my favorites for every age. Enjoy!
Reading with Baby
Birth to 6 months
At this age try to choose books that are either cloth or board books. Avoid paper pages, they’re difficult for babies to turn and will tear immediately. Look for books with high contrast colors with simple, clear and big pictures with a character or two in each page. While reading through the book remember to point your finger at the object you’re describing. This way your baby understands what you’re talking about. Books at this age don’t need to have any text, you can improvise each time you read the story making it a new experience every time! Make sure to give your baby the opportunity to look through the book on his own as well and practice turning the pages.
Fuzzy Bee and Friends (Cloth Book) by Roger Priddy
Is a soft and colorful cloth book. Your baby can enjoy touching and squeezing the different insects in the book.
Baby Animals Black and While (Board Book) by Phyllis Limbacher
These high contrast black and white images will grab your baby’s attention while you talk to her about the animals.
6 – 18 Months
Babies at this age start enjoying more color in books as well as feeling different textures. Again stick to cloth or board books and include books with colorful and simple images. Add more books with textures, tactile experiences add pleasure to your baby’s reading experience and foster sensory exploration. Introduce books that encourage object labeling and everyday life.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? (Board Book) by Bill Jr Martin and Eric Carle Your baby will enjoy reading this book into her preschool years.
Touch and Feel Baby Animals by Dorling Kindersley
This book has beautiful and clear photographs of different animals. As well as different textures for each of them that your baby can enjoy touching.
Reading with your Toddler
18 Months to 2.5 Years
At around 2 years children start experiencing a language boom when words just start flowing and your toddler starts expressing himself easier. Toddlers can understand everything way before they can express themselves. Books that have more detail, a story line and encourage participation are perfect for toddlers. Lift-the-Flap books are great fun for kids and help develop fine motor skills. Encourage your child to lift the flaps and guess what’s under. You’ll soon find your child joining in with load exclamations of “YES” “NOoo” “It’s a LION” as you read along. Look for books that label familiar people and emotions, as well as books full of rhyme and rhythm. Point out objects that you see in your life. Try rhyming funny and made up words. Remember to often point to the text and images as you read.
For a great list of books for toddlers Click Here!
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss
This classic is full of fun characters and Dr Seuss signature rhymes. New editions are available as Lift-the-Flap books as well.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Watch how this caterpillar make it’s way through all sorts of yummy items and transforms into a butterfly.
Reading with Your Preschooler
2 .5 to 5 Years
Your child is developing very fast now. Language both expressive and receptive is increasing, your child is picking up more and more words and mimicking your sentences. At this age children also start enjoying dramatic and imaginative play. They are also developing skills like sharing and empathy. Books with imaginative and make belief characters are great for this age. Try to include books that foster creativity and imagination as well as those that represent real life situations your child can relate to. Books with a story-line and carry a message like sharing, kindness, etc can be engaging for children. Include your child in the storytelling experience by asking him what will happen next or to make up his own story.
For a great list of books for your preschooler Click Here!
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
A beautiful and imaginative classic.
Things That Go! by Richard Scarry
Your child will spend hours enjoying Richard Scarry’s illustrations and discovering new details every time!
I hope this gives you some tips on choosing books for your child at different stages. These are just guidelines for choosing books that children will generally be interested in. Remember to consider your child’s interests and developmental abilities when choosing books.
What do you think ? What are your child’s favorite books?
Picture from Toddler Lesson Plans