Science shows that human brains grow faster between the ages of 0-3 than at any later point in people’s lives, forming more than one million neural connections every second. Nurturing relationships, early learning experiences and good health and nutrition influence all areas of a child’s development, setting a strong foundation for the rest of his or her life. In order to help make babies a national priority, consider letting your policymakers know you care about the policies and programs babies need for strong starts to their lives.
Pushing for a Strong Start for Babies
(Family Features) More than 10,000 babies are born each day in the United States. Where they are born and where they live during the first years of their lives can make a difference in their chances for strong starts.
Science shows that human brains grow faster between the ages of 0-3 than at any later point in people’s lives, forming more than one million neural connections every second. Nurturing relationships, early learning experiences and good health and nutrition influence all areas of a child’s development, setting a strong foundation for the rest of his or her life.
According to the “State of Babies Yearbook: 2019,” published by Zero To Three, an early childhood development nonprofit organization, babies in many states face persistent hardships that undermine their ability to grow and thrive, such as staggering child care costs and lack of comprehensive paid family and medical leave.
“Families are struggling every day, in every state, and we are urging our leaders to act,” said Myra Jones-Taylor, chief policy officer of Zero To Three. “Most of our investments in early childhood start too late, at age 4 or older. By that time, some of the most important years of brain development have passed. Today’s babies become tomorrow’s workers, parents and leaders. Now is the time for policymakers on both sides of the aisle to make every baby a priority through policies built on the science of brain development and budgets that put babies and families first.”
To help ensure a brighter future for all babies, the organization is working with Congress through events like “Strolling Thunder” to help drive support for policies and programs that prioritize the needs of babies, toddlers and their families. Its policy agenda includes establishing a comprehensive national paid leave program that provides adequate time off to care for newborns or newly adopted children, and allows families to take leave if their child or another family member is experiencing a serious illness; expanding access to quality, affordable child care by increasing investments in the child care system while also working toward a comprehensive, long-term solution for working families; and increasing investments in programs that support babies’ healthy development, such as Early Head Start, and infant and early childhood mental health.
“As a director of an early childhood education program, I can speak firsthand to the struggle associated with providing high-quality care and education programs for young children while balancing that against what parents can reasonably afford to pay for child care,” said Jessica Carter, a “Strolling Thunder” parent from North Carolina. “As a mother of two, I can also speak firsthand to the fact that if I did not receive discounted tuition at my center, I would not be able to afford child care costs and would be forced to stay at home with my children. As a result, our family would not have affordable access to health care. Further, our children would not benefit from the social and educational benefits they receive in a group care setting.”
In order to help make babies a national priority, consider letting your policymakers know you care about the policies and programs babies need for strong starts to their lives, and join the team that’s fighting for their futures at thinkbabies.org/strollingthunder.SOURCE:
Zero To Three
From taking steps toward the stairs to learning that bubbles don’t taste good, exploration is a part of development for babies and young children. While it’s an exciting time, it also can be coupled with anxiety and hesitation as parents find themselves saying “no” or jumping in when baby discovers a new space. To help raise resilient, confident and adventurous humans, consider these tips.
5 Ways to Raise a Confident, Adventurous Child
(Family Features) From taking steps toward the stairs to learning that bubbles don't taste good, exploration is a part of development for babies and young children. While it's an exciting time, it also can be coupled with anxiety and hesitation as parents find themselves saying "no" or jumping in when baby discovers a new space.
An Open for Adventure survey from Babyganics found a majority of parents (69 percent) believe a child can learn to be more confident if he or she is allowed to explore freely as a baby. However, letting go doesn't always come naturally for parents.
Aid in discovery. Encourage and applaud baby's healthy risk-taking, such as mastering a challenging stair climb or pushing through moments of frustration and failure. Additionally, create teachable moments that introduce your child to necessary limits. For example, if you have hot coffee in the morning and your little one wants to touch the mug, let him or her gently touch a warm area of the mug with a fingertip and repeat that the mug is "hot" to help encourage exploration and flex baby's senses.
Let baby be free. While you may think baby gadgets are necessary for playtime, consider rethinking those toys. Instead of searching for stimulation through lights and sounds from a toy, allow your baby to explore the natural environment. Look for opportunities that allow him or her to make a manageable mess and even get wet or dirty. This could be as simple as playing with a container filled with water or letting your baby pull up grass in the backyard. These small unstructured play adventures can help develop independence and confidence.
Engage the senses. Exposing your baby to new flavors and smells helps engage him or her on a multi-sensory level. For example, allowing your baby (at an appropriate age, typically between 4-7 months) to try new foods can provide a feeling of accomplishment while also exposing him or her to different textures and flavors. Encourage even more sensory exploration by allowing your baby to smell the food and even play with it using his or her fingers.
Provide early exposure to new places. Bringing baby along to restaurants and other public spaces allows for positive exposure to new places, people and sounds, which can help build the immune system, encourage social interaction and support development. While letting a child explore in a public setting like an airport or train station can make many parents anxious, carrying products such as Babyganics Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizing Wipes can help ease parents' apprehension and keep little hands germ-free while on the go.
Wait a moment. It's common for parents to intervene the moment baby awakes from a nap or starts moving toward the stairs. Try pausing, allowing your little one to naturally find his or her limits while managing your own fears and worries. This tactic can allow your young explorer an opportunity for cognitive and social-emotional development with you as a safety net nearby.
"Parents often look to their own internal response to guide parenting: 'If I am worried then it must be dangerous, and I should not allow my baby to do it,'" Wegner said. "When in fact, parents should prioritize their baby's exploration and needs to provide learning opportunities rather than allowing their own anxieties to impede their children."
For more information, visit babyganics.com.SOURCE:
Being stuck inside with a baby during the colder months can leave even the most seasoned parents feeling a bit stir-crazy. Consider these activity ideas that you and your baby can do together no matter the weather or where you’re traveling.
Building Babies’ Brains
(Family Features) Forget Jan. 1. Parents know the real new year begins when you can smell the fresh pink erasers and hear the clatter of brand new pencils on still-smooth notebook covers.
Even if you don’t have kids in school, the end of summer and the beginning of fall is a great time to reassess, realign, hit the restart button and make resolutions that will help carry your family smoothly through until next summer – or at least until the holidays.
Here are some tips from parents about resolutions they’ve made for the coming school year:
Learn to love mornings
My Life and Kids blogger Anna Luther said she used to hate mornings.
“It was a disaster,” she said. “There was a lot of yelling, a lot of missing socks, a lot of arguments about eating a good breakfast – it was just not the way to start a productive, happy day.”
Luther decided to turn the first – and worst – hour of her day into one of the best by waking up earlier, exercising and turning on music.
Luther also changed the way she looked at breakfast.
“It doesn’t have to be from scratch,” she said, “but it does have to have protein – and be fast. We love frozen breakfast burritos, for example.”
Empower the kids
Luther said that another thing that made mornings exhausting was that she tried to do everything herself, from finding socks and brushing hair to heating up healthy breakfasts.
But kids are eager to help, she said. Just like adults, they feel empowered when they can do things for themselves.
Luther decided to empower her kids and simplify her life at the same time by creating “Get Ready Buckets,” which hold everything they need to get moving in the morning, from hairbrushes to socks.
That same message of empowerment can simplify and improve other stressful times of day. Do the kids walk in the door hungry and cranky and leave you feeling the same way? Stock the freezer with hearty snacks, such as El Monterey Taquitos, that kids can heat up on their own.
Blogger Kristyn Merkley of Lil’ Luna, has resolved to show the teachers in her life how much she and her family appreciate them.
“Our teachers put so much time and effort into their jobs,” Merkley said, “and we’re so grateful for that.”
While she usually gives teachers a gift card at the end of the year, she doesn’t wait until then to send notes and emails with a simple, “Thank you.” She also makes sure to say thanks in person – and in front of her kids.
Make fun a priority
There are plenty of must-dos on your list every day, but is fun one of them? Merkley said it should be, and she’s making family fun a resolution this school year. She collects activities on her blog that kids and adults can do together and plans family fun nights around them.
“When we laugh and make things and learn things together,” she said, “we’re making memories. I want my kids to remember their childhoods as more than just getting to school on time and cleaning their rooms.”
Be a team
Kristy Denney, of the Boys Ahoy blog, is raising three wild boys, as she calls them. But even the wildest of kids wants to know that you’re on their team – and they’re on yours. Denney and her husband, Brett, chose a family motto for the school year so that everyone on their family team knows what they’re working toward.
As their motto, the Denneys chose, “Work hard and be nice.” It’s simple, succinct and sums up what they want for their family.
Fuel up with real food
Kids have to eat, and most insist on eating three or more times a day. Denney said she loves to cook from scratch, but she doesn’t want time in the kitchen to keep her away from her family. So, this year, she’s resolving to focus on what’s important: real ingredients.
“Sometimes I’ll buy the ingredients myself to cook from scratch and sometimes I’ll look for foods I recognize on the label,” she said. “When I pick up El Monterey Signature Burritos, I see ingredients like fresh-baked tortillas, real cheddar cheese – foods I would buy anyway for my family, so I feel great about that.”
Make snacks work hard
Jess Kielman, who writes the blog Mom 4 Real, said that snacking can sometimes be a problem in her house. Kids (and adults) sometimes snack because they’re bored – or just out of habit, so she’s reining in snack time and making snacks work just as hard as meals.
“Protein and real food – that’s what I’m going to look for in afternoon snacks,” she said. “Something that fills the kids up and gets them ready to get back out the door and play, or buckle down and do their homework.”
Cheer on #momwins
Kielman said that this year her resolution is to start giving herself a little more credit for her “mom wins,” big or small.
“Checking off every last thing on my spring cleaning checklist is a win, for sure,” she said, “but so is a good, smooth morning with my family. So is a sit-down dinner that didn’t stress me out. So is feeling good about what we’re eating. So is every little hug. Those are all #momwins, and I’m going to give myself a little pat on the back for every one.”
For more breakfast, snack and dinner ideas to help you keep your family resolutions, visit ElMonterey.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family eating)
(Family Features) Learning shouldn’t stop just because school is out. In fact, stepping too far away from the books can result in a learning loss. However, research has shown that encouraging kids to read just six books, or 20 minutes a day, over the summer can help prevent the summer slide.
The key is finding ways to make reading fun, combining education and entertainment for an activity kids can truly enjoy, said Kate DiCamillo, a two-time Newbery Medal Award-winning author and the 2016 Collaborative Summer Library Program National Summer Reading Champion.
“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty, but rather as a gift that emphasizes the fun of opening a new book and celebrating the satisfaction that comes from reading another story,” said DiCamillo, who is also the 2016-17 Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program literary partner.
Summer schedules can get busy, but with a little creativity it’s actually quite easy to fit in those 20 minutes a day, even when you have other activities planned.
The sooner you start a habit of reading every day, the better your child will be prepared when school – and the annual BOOK IT! Program – kicks off again. The program, available to kindergarten through sixth-grade students, runs from October through March each year and motivates students to read by rewarding them for their reading accomplishments with recognition and pizza. Learn more about the program and find more summer reading tips and activities at bookitprogram.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
American Academy Of Pediatrics
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Centers For Disease Control And Prevention
Early Childhood Education
High School Prom