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Toddlers : Smarter Baby
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Parent Information for Sending a Baby to Day Care


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December 16, 2008


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Difficulty Rating: Moderately Easy
Introduction
You’ve done your homework, researching and investigating day care centers until you found the right one for your baby. Now comes the hard part: going back to work and leaving her in the hands of someone else. Preparing for the big day can go a long way in relieving the anxiety—yours and your baby’s. And since babies feed off their parents’ emotions, the calmer and more self-assured you are, the happier and less stressed your baby will be.

Things You’ll Need
Well-stocked diaper bag: diapers, change of clothes, extra bottles, diaper rash cream, sunscreen
Baby’s comfort items, like a favorite toy, pacifier or blanket
Parent contact information and an emergency contact

Steps
Step 1
Get your baby used to the day care center. Before you return to work, go to the center with your baby. Show her the facility, the toys and the caregivers. Leave her for an hour, then 2 or 3, gradually increasing your time away.

Step 2
Keep things loud at home. Day care centers are not quiet places; get your baby used to napping with noise by playing music or TV while she sleeps.

Step 3
Make sure your baby’s immunizations are up to date. Day care centers can be breeding grounds for germs and disease.

Step 4
Request a certain caregiver if your baby (or you) seems to have a preference for that person.

Step 5
Give the center a list detailing your baby’s habits and schedule—for example, when she eats or sleeps and what she likes to play with.

Tips
Make your good-bye short and sweet—a quick kiss and hug—and then be out the door, even if your baby cries. Prolonged partings can be stressful for both you and your child.

Warnings
The bigger the day care setting, the greater the chance your baby will get sick. The more kids there are in one place, the more germs there are floating around.
————
Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others. Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines. She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her husband and two children.


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The Importance of Nutrition in a Babys Intelligence


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December 16, 2008


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It’s a no-brainer: your baby’s body—from her head to her toes—is fueled by the food you put in it. Give her brain development a head start by offering the kind of healthy foods she needs to get and stay smart.
Facts: In the first few months of life, your baby will subsist on milk, be it breast milk or formula. So giving him the most nutritious milk available is key. If you’re breast-feeding, make sure your diet is rich in proteins (for example, lean meats, milk and eggs), essential fatty acids (like omega-3s, found in salmon and fortified eggs), iron (good sources are meats and iron-fortified cereals) and carbohydrates, like whole grains. If you’re formula-feeding your baby, choose an iron-fortified one. Once he’s on solid foods, look for iron-fortified baby cereals and baby foods with pureed meats, vegetables and fruits. Low-iron diets in kids have been associated with slower learning.
Time Frame: Most of your baby’s brain development takes place in the first 3 years of her life. While good nutrition will be important her whole life, the early years are an especially critical time.
Theories/Speculation: In terms of nutritional value, breast milk is considered optimal to formula. Breast milk naturally contains the essential fatty acids DHA and ARA—important for brain development. In one study published in the “Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Maternal,” children breast-fed for 8 months or longer scored 6 points higher on verbal IQ tests than those who weren’t breast-fed.
Misconceptions: While you may prefer to feed your baby organic baby foods to reduce his exposure to pesticides and chemical additives, be aware that the American Academy of Pediatrics has not found organic baby food to be better for babies than regular baby food.
Resources
http://www.pregnancyandbaby.com: She Knows: Pregnancy and Baby for more information on nutrition and its relationship to intelligence
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov: Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
————

Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others. Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines. She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her husband and two children.


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Important Foods for a Babys Brain Development


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December 16, 2008


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Your baby relies on you for just about everything—including proper nutrition. Since the brain is only a fraction of its size at birth (in fact, its size triples in the first year of life), what you choose to feed your infant can have a huge impact on how her brain grows, develops and works. While your baby’s pediatrician is your best source on nutritional guidelines for a growing infant, here is some food for thought.

List:
Breast Milk: Opt to breast-feed your baby if possible—the longer, the better. Breast milk contains the perfect balance of calories, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Fortified infant formulas are good, but breast is still best. In a study published in the “Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Maternal,” babies who were breast-fed for at least 8 months had verbal IQ scores 6 points higher than nonbreast-fed infants.

Fats: The brain is about 60 percent fat, and the better, higher-quality fats you feed it, the better it will develop. Make sure your baby has a diet rich in fats like DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, found in breast milk, fortified formulas, meat, eggs, soy products and seafood. Your pediatrician can give you information on which fish to avoid, due to mercury content.

Complex Carbohydrates: Your baby’s brain will need energy to get up and running. Feed her complex carbohydrates—which release sugar slowly into the bloodstream—like whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables to keep her brain powered.

Iron: Iron is essential for carrying oxygen to the blood, where it then circulates to all parts of the body, including the brain. While babies are generally born with iron stores that last through the first 6 months of life, they’ll need to get iron from their diets or supplements after that. Iron-fortified baby cereals are a great way to get the nutrient into your baby as you introduce solid foods. Also look for iron in meats, eggs, leafy greens, tuna, salmon and tofu.

————
Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others. Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines. She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her husband and two children.


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How to Prepare a Baby for Day Care


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December 16, 2008


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You’ve done your homework, researching and investigating daycare centers until you found the right one for your baby. Now comes the hard part: going back to work and leaving her in the hands of someone else. Preparing for the big day can go a long way in relieving anxiety—yours and your baby’s. And since babies feed off their parents’ emotions, the calmer and more self-assured you are, the happier and less stressed your baby will be.
Difficulty Rating: Moderately Easy
Things You’ll Need
Well-stocked diaper bag: diapers, change of clothes, extra bottles, diaper rash cream, sunscreen
Baby’s comfort items, like a favorite toy, pacifier or blanket
Parent contact information and an emergency contact

Step 1: Get your baby used to the daycare center. Before you return to work, go to the center with your baby. Show her the facility, the toys and the caregivers. Leave her for an hour, then 2 or 3, gradually increasing your time away.

Step 2: Keep things loud at home. Daycare centers are not quiet places; get your baby used to napping with noise by playing music or TV while she sleeps.

Step 3: Make sure your baby’s immunizations are up to date. Daycare centers can be breeding grounds for germs and disease.

Step 4: Request a certain caregiver if your baby (or you) seems to have a preference for that person.

Step 5: Give the center a list detailing your baby’s habits and schedule—for example, when she eats or sleeps and what she likes to play with.

Tips
Make your good-bye short and sweet—a quick kiss and hug—and then be out the door, even if your baby cries. Prolonged partings can be stressful for both you and your child.
Warnings
The bigger the daycare setting, the greater the chance your baby will get sick. That’s because the more kids there are in one place, the more germs there are floating around.
————
Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others. Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines. She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her husband and two children.


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How to Choose Baby Music CDs


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December 16, 2008


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With literally hundreds of baby music CDs available, there is a great variety to choose from, including instrumental music, classic nursery rhymes, adapted classical, jazz and white noise. You even can make your own mix of songs. Any CD you buy should come from a reputable company, have great-quality sound and be age-appropriate.

Step 1: Consider your baby’s personality. If your baby is playful and enjoys upbeat music, such as pop and country, choose a music CD that contains nursery rhymes and riddles set to catchy, upbeat tunes. However, if your baby is easy-going, he may enjoy the adapted classical and jazz music that isn’t so verbally stimulating.

Step 2: Choose something that is consistent and repetitive. Babies love music and word repetition, and this repetition helps them learn. They also will be more attentive if the music is consistent, with little breaks between songs or words.

Step 3: Choose a music CD that both you and your baby will enjoy. Listening to music together is a great bonding experience. Choose something that you will enjoy listening to over and over, and preferably one that you find relaxing. Also, babies love to watch your mouth and hear your voice, so sing along in front of your baby.

Step 4: Keep it simple. Your baby will most likely enjoy music with simple styles, rhythms and melodies. Look for music that keeps the tempo down as well.

Step 5: Read the reviews about any CD before you buy it. Parental reviews can help you make a smart decision about whether or not a particular music CD is worth your money.

Step 6: Ask for recommendations. If you just aren’t sure about what you want, join a parenting group or mothering board and ask other parents what they recommend.

Tips:

Some children’s CDs contain white noise, such as the sound of a vacuum cleaner or washing machine. Many babies prefer white noise over music.
Watch your baby’s reactions. If the music seems to disturb him, turn it off.
Make sure that you choose an age-appropriate CD. The label should indicate for which age group the CD is recommended.

Warnings:
Do not play the music too loud. Studies show that loud sounds can harm babies’ ears. If you can’t talk over the music, it’s too loud.

References:
http://www.lovelybabycd.com/ Lovely Baby Music
http://www.sleeplullabies.com/ Sleep Lullabies
http://www.slumbersounds.com/baby-sleep-help.htm Slumber Sounds
————

Heidi Gonzales is a midwife, childbirth educator, doula, American Heart Association BLS instructor, author and editor for the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association e-mag.
She has attended over 60 births in Louisiana and has helped over 150 families through birth consultations. She volunteers as a childbirth educator at a pregnancy crisis center in Louisiana and also as an online career mentor.


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Baby Einstein Toy Reviews


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December 12, 2008


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Baby Einstein has long been a leader in the world of educational baby toys. These toys are designed to help parents and babies discover the world together with interactive experiences for the family. Baby Einstein toys use music, art and real-life objects and experiences to encourage babies to explore the world around them. Here are a few favorites for your baby’s first year.

• Sea Dreams Lullaby Soother: Your baby will drift to sleep as peaceful ocean scenes play on this crib-side soother. You can control the functions of the soother from up to 15 feet away with a remote control. The soother also plays nature sounds and classical music, and the lighting can fade out quietly. The soother attaches securely to most cribs and sells for around $40.

• Count and Compose Piano: This musical toy is intended for babies 6 months and older. Babies can create piano, flute and xylophone sounds and listen to the numbers 1 through 5 in three languages. In the composer mode, your baby can press keys that will activate melodies and dancing lights. The Baby Einstein Count and Compose Piano sells for around $15.

• Connect and Play Zone: Intended for babies 6 months and older, this product combines five toys in one. The toys can be played with together or on their own. The Connect and Play Zone includes a baby-safe mirror, a ball drop, the naming of shapes and colors in several languages, peek-a-boo pop-up characters and a bead chaser. Selling for around $45, this toy is bound to be one of your baby’s favorites.

• Lights and Melodies Discovery Center: This toy can be used as your baby grows and develops new skills. The Discovery Center adapts to your baby as he lies, sits and eventually stands. Equipped with hanging toys, spinning wheels, lights, songs and sounds, this toy will delight babies as they develop hand-eye coordination, language and grasping skills. The Baby Einstein Lights and Melodies Discovery Center sells for around $35.

• Discover and Play Color Blocks: These soft and textured blocks are easily grasped and provide different touch sensations. Each block is decorated with a Baby Einstein character, real-life photos, images of everyday objects and other features. As babies play, they’ll also hear jingle and rattle sounds and feel vibrations. The blocks sell for around $13.


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How to Teach a Baby to Read Without Spending a Lot of Money


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December 12, 2008


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There are several ways to introduce words, sentences and stories into your baby’s life—and do so without spending a lot of money. Creating the right learning environment for your child will encourage him to start recognizing words and letters with ease.

Step 1: Play with coloring books. Many coloring books are actually miniature storybooks that contain words or short sentences. Allowing your infant to color in these books will help him recognize words and letters, and you can read along while he colors so he can start saying the words out loud.

Step 2: Use reading software. Software programs that tell short stories or animated clips with subtitles can help your infant learn new words and practice them in a specific sequence. You can find reading software at your local library for free or purchase it from a store or online.

Step 3: Play reading games online. There are dozens of websites that offer free reading lessons and interactive puzzles that can help your baby recognize sounds and words. Sit in front of the computer with your infant and work through the lessons together as you read out loud or listen to narratives.

Step 4: Join a storytelling session at your local bookstore or library. Follow along with your own copy of the book or just watch the storyteller read directly from a book and highlight different words. This highly stimulating environment can also help your infant develop important social skills.

Step 5: Use bath books. Bath time is an excellent opportunity to do something creative and encourage learning. Bath books are made with soft, waterproof materials and are relatively cheap. The short stories written with oversized words and designed in attractive colors can encourage learning and help your baby understand new words.

Step 6: Download and print reading lessons from the Web. There are hundreds of educational websites and blogs for parents that feature lesson plans and activity pages. You can download and print these to create your own library of reading activities.

Step 7: Watch “Sesame Street” and other television programs such as “Blue’s Clues.” These shows are designed to teach children to identify words, letters and symbols and develop language. Encourage your infant to watch these programs and read along or sing with the characters so that he learns new words.

Tips
Break up the day into different learning activities so your baby has time to absorb and process new information.
Reading out loud will help your infant understand and recognize new words.

Warnings
Take the time to work through each reading level so your child has a chance to master her skills before moving to the next level.
Don’t put reading and learning on “auto pilot” with television and software; play an active role in your infant’s development as often as possible.

Sabah Karimi is an experienced freelance writer who enjoys writing about lifestyle, parenting, and childhood education topics. Sabah runs a web copywriting and marketing consultancy business in Orlando, Florida.


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How to Teach a Baby Sign Language


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December 12, 2008


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Teaching your baby sign language can increase her communication skills and encourage her to express her needs. The simple movements of sign language can overcome many communication barriers while your baby is developing her speaking skills, and it doesn’t take long to teach children how to use sign language for simple requests or expressions.

Step 1: Use picture books to identify objects and symbols. Choose picture books that tell simple stories to teach the basics of sign language. Point to a picture, and then sign the object or word so that your infant can make the mental connection. Encourage your baby to repeat the motions each time so she can learn by repetition.

Step 2: Use sign language before a new activity. If you’re getting ready for naptime, “explain” that it’s time for a nap using sign language. If you’re preparing a meal, sign “meal” or “food” whenever you serve it so that your infant can make the connection between the activity and the signing motions.

Step 3: Identify objects by pointing and signing. Take your infant on a tour of the home and point to different objects as you sign their meanings. This helps your infant identify each item around her environment. Next time you point to the object, your baby can respond with the signing motion.

Step 4: Employ signing to teach colors. Use a book or point to different-colored objects while signing. This is another way for infants to make the mental connection between the color and its matching signing motion; repetition will encourage them to do this each time you point to a color.

Step 5: Use signing at the grocery store. Pointing out or picking up new objects, and then teaching your infant the matching signing motion forms new connections and definitions about what your baby sees. Do this every time you go to the grocery store to encourage your baby to sign different items while you shop.

Step 6: Describe people with sign language. In addition to introducing friends and family members using their first names, encourage your child to identify the person’s gender or who he is (for example, an uncle or a brother) by using the appropriate signing motion.

Tips:
Repetition will make signing a habit in your child’s life.
Use every opportunity within your environment to teach signing; everyday activities can easily be turned into an educational lesson.

Warnings:
Avoid signing before infants have developed basic speech and communication skills. Allow babies to integrate signing abilities into their everyday lives, but not to the point that it replaces their natural speaking abilities.

Resources:
KinderSigns’ Baby Signing Dictionary
Signing gestures from SignWithMe.com

Sabah Karimi is an experienced freelance writer who enjoys writing about lifestyle, parenting, and childhood education topics. Sabah runs a web copywriting and marketing consultancy business in Orlando, Florida.


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Best Educational Baby Toys


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December 12, 2008


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Being a parent means you want what’s best for your children. While the basic wiring of babies’ brains are in place at birth, it is the experiences they have after birth that stimulate and reinforce connections and synapses. Providing a nurturing and learning-rich environment is part of your job as a mom or dad. Educational baby toys can help you do just that.

One Step Ahead Whoozit See Me Mirror: From the beginning, babies are attracted to the human face. The symmetry, contrast and movement of the face both fascinate and soothe a baby. The Whoozit See Me Mirror can be safely tied to a baby’s crib, propped up like an easel or laid flat while the baby enjoys tummy time. Seeing her own face promotes self-discovery, and the soft fabric frame, toys and ribbons provide tactile stimulation. Designed for use from birth, the mirror sells for around $20.

Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack: This classic cone with rainbow-colored donut rings for a baby to stack is a must-have. Hand-eye coordination and visual stimulation are encouraged as well as problem solving and sorting by color and size. Gross motor development is enhanced when your baby learns to bat at the rocking stack to watch it move. The Rock-a-Stack sells for approximately $5.

Lamaze Sorter Toy: Lamaze toys are designed with the Lamaze philosophy of parenting in mind. A baby’s world should be Buy Viagra interactive Viagra Online and encourage learning. The Lamaze sorter toy is a soft box of bright, colorful patterns that comes with soft, textured, filled shapes that are easy to grasp. Each shape can be sorted and dropped into the correct opening. Each shape makes a different noise, and the toy is also scented with green apple to stimulate your baby’s sense of smell. This toy sells for approximately $15 to $20 and is designed for ages 6 months and up.

Right Start Infantino Tummy Time Surf Mat: With the new safe sleep recommendations that babies sleep on their backs from birth, parents must be sure that their baby has enough tummy time. Tummy time is important for the development of upper-body strength; it also encourages babies to look at their surroundings from a different angle. Tummy Time Surf Mat will help your baby reach those goals as well as stimulate his vision with floating sea creatures and linking play pals. New textures and sights along with a new perspective will encourage your baby to explore his world. This mat sells for around $30.

Lara Alspaugh is a freelance writer living in Michigan. She is a Registered Nurse and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Michigan State University. Her writing has been found in parenting and fitness magazines nationwide and the Internet, addressing health and fitness as well as wellness concerns of families.


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Best Baby Reading Programs


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December 12, 2008


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While the way a baby’s brain develops is largely a mystery, even to those who spend their lives studying it, one thing we do know is that a baby’s window of opportunity to learn language opens early in life. Using a baby reading program can facilitate that learning by adding letter and sound recognition and preliminary reading skills to your baby’s repertoire.

Your Baby Can Read! Dr. Robert Titzer, Ph.D., developed this reading program for babies after researching infant learning and development. His philosophy is based on the idea that we miss the optimal window to teach our children how to read by waiting until kindergarten. He believes the natural window to learn language is between birth and the child’s fifth birthday. Titzer also believes that early reading leads to a greater affinity for reading later in life. A broad range of products support his “Your Baby Can Read!” system.

Little Reader: Brillbaby.com touts this method, which uses a quick succession of flash cards to focus the baby’s attention. The “Little Reader” method encourages parents to keep it fun while they work with their babies on reading (or memorizing) whole words. As children age, they learn phonetics to sound out words, something they should be able to do by kindergarten, when they can more easily identify letters and sounds.

Orton, Shichida, Doman, Montessori-Based Method: This reading method also utilizes flash cards. The first category babies learn is the phonic codes of the English language, followed by whole words. This method uses right-brain, left-brain and whole-brain learning strategies. Right-brain learning encourages the baby to learn words on sight while taking advantage of a baby’s photographic memory. Using the whole brain promotes the baby’s long-term learning objectives.

Hooked on Phonics: This classic phonetic system for teaching reading also has a version for babies entitled, “Discover Reading Baby Edition Deluxe.” This method employs singing and reading to enhance vocabulary and memory skills, excite the imagination and foster a love of reading for the 3- to 18-month-old. The program uses books, songs, rhymes and games.

Lara Alspaugh is a freelance writer living in Michigan. She is a Registered Nurse and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Michigan State University. Her writing has been found in parenting and fitness magazines nationwide and the Internet, addressing health and fitness as well as wellness concerns of families.

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