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Blog : Smarter Baby
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How to Do Yoga With a Baby


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December 16, 2008


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Babies reap the same health benefits from yoga—improved balance, increased flexibility, deeper relaxation, better sleep and fewer digestive problems—as adults do. And when you do yoga with your pint-sized Buddha, you’re also establishing a physical and emotional bond that both parents and babies crave.

But don’t expect your 3-month-old to be striking her own downward-facing dog pose. When you take a yoga class with your baby, expect some deep-breathing exercises (for you), baby-massage techniques (for the diaper set), a few stretching and balancing poses (some incorporating your baby and some not) and a chance to meet with other new parents and enjoy some time interacting with your baby.

Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Things You’ll Need
Comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
Yoga mat, blanket or towel

Step 1:
Create a calm, relaxing environment. Dim the lights; play soothing music.

Step 2:
Say some chants softly, holding your baby near as you do.

Step 3: Hold your baby close to your body and take some deep breaths, inhaling by filling up your belly and then slowly exhaling. Since babies naturally belly-breathe, you can even place your hand on your baby’s belly and mimic her breathing rhythm.

Step 4:
Place your baby on her back and bend her knees up to her chest, then let go. You can also perform a cycling motion with her legs. This promotes digestion and prevents constipation.


Step 5:
Stretch your baby’s arms and legs, even tracing her fingers and toes with your fingertips. This relieves muscle tension and encourages relaxation.

Step 6: Place your baby to your side and concentrate on some poses that will help you get your body back in shape. Roll your shoulders forward and backward to relieve tension. Tilt your pelvis off the floor as you lie on your back to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.

Tips

Don’t worry if your baby starts acting up. Yoga is supposed to give you peace and relaxation—not create angst. Just go with the flow and remember yours is not the first baby to interrupt a class.
Check out yoga and baby exercise tapes at bookstores; for classes, call health club centers, visit your local Y or even inquire with your obstetrician, pediatrician or local hospital.

Warnings
Get your doctor’s approval before beginning any postpartum exercise regimen.
Check with your pediatrician to find out if your baby is old enough to start baby yoga.

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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Newborn Baby Stimulation


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December 16, 2008


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Your baby’s brain development is shaped by her genes—and her environment, interactions and experiences. Give her brain power a boost by engaging her in the world around her—talk to her, touch her, look at her. By stimulating every sense, you will encourage your baby to make the kind of associations that make learning possible.

Facts: Your baby’s brain triples in size from birth to her first birthday. She goes from being completely helpless at birth to walking, talking and eating solid foods by around 12 months. Regular sensory stimulation promotes her learning.

Significance: Think of your baby’s brain as a blank slate. What you expose her to is what she will learn.

Types: You can stimulate your baby in a variety of ways. Give her a change of scenery by moving her crib or bouncy seat. Keep her in the kitchen while you make dinner; it can fire up her visual and olfactory senses. Hold her close and sing to her; you’ll be creating a great bonding experience, and you’ll also be exposing your baby to language. Place her on her belly for some play time; she gets a different vantage point of her surroundings while strengthening her neck and head muscles.

Time Frame:
While brain development occurs all through life, most of it takes place in the first 3 years after birth. Make the most of your baby’s waking time by engaging her in the world around her.

Warnings:
Pick up on your baby’s cues to learn. The perfect time for one-on-one stimulation is when she’s quiet and alert. If she’s fussy, hungry or tired, wait for another time to engage her.

Resources
http://www.pregnancyandbaby.com: She Knows: Pregnancy and Baby
http://www.kidshealth.org: Kids Health for more ideas on how to stimulate your baby
————
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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Brain Development in Infants


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December 16, 2008


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Your baby is growing by leaps and bounds—and so is her brain. At birth your baby could breathe, kick, cry and suck. But by 3 months her brain development allows her to do so much more; she can babble, smile and turn toward your voice. By a year she may be able to walk and say a few words, and she has developed a strong attachment to you. And that’s just the beginning. Brain development goes on for life—but the most critical time is first 3 years of life.

Facts: The brain starts developing about 3 weeks after conception and is only partially developed at birth—coming in at only about one quarter of its adult size. While brain neurons and connections alter throughout life, most brain development takes place in early childhood.

Significance: An infant’s brain is like a sponge; it can absorb sights, sounds, tastes and smells and make connections based on those experiences. For example, when a baby hears the sound of his mother’s voice, he may coo with anticipation.

Considerations: Genes and environment play a big part in brain development. While genes are responsible for creating the cells and connectors in the brain, environment can influence how the brain responds to stimuli. For example, a baby who is regularly talked to, sung to or otherwise exposed to language may be more verbal at an earlier age than a baby who isn’t given that kind of stimulation.

Misconceptions: You can’t make a baby smarter. But you can make her more apt to learn by providing a warm, safe, nurturing environment.

Expert Insight: Good nutrition post-birth can play a crucial role in brain development. Babies need adequate amounts of protein, fat and iron in their diets for proper brain cell formation. Breast milk and formula provide fat, protein and calories. But some babies—especially breast-fed ones—may need an iron supplement.

Resources:
http://www.fcs.uga.edu: Better Brains for Babies
http://www.zerotothree.org: Zero to Three: Information on infant brain development
————
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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Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /var/www/vhosts/smarterbaby.info/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

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Infant Milestones


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December 16, 2008


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Your baby’s first year of life is a remarkable journey of development—physical, visual, verbal and emotional. She enters the world barely knowing how to suck, sleep and cry. Yet by the time her first birthday rolls around, chances are she’s crawling—maybe even walking—chomping away at finger foods and not just recognizing her caregivers but even calling them by name. While all babies progress at different rates, here are some milestones worth mentioning.

By 3 Months of Age: Baby holds a rattle and shakes it, follows moving objects with eyes (also called “tracking”), smiles and imitates others’ facial expressions and holds chest and upper body up with arms when resting on belly.

By 6 Months of Age: Baby rolls from belly to back, moves objects from one hand to the other, sits with support, laughs and plays peek-a-boo.

By 9 Months of Age: Baby gets fist to mouth, responds to her name, possibly understands simple commands like “No” and stands while holding onto something for support.

By 1 Year Old: Baby crawls, walks by holding on and perhaps even takes a few steps unassisted, puts objects in and takes them out of a container, grasps small objects with forefinger and thumb (aka the pincer grip), communicates by shaking head for yes or no and pointing at objects he wants, responds to simple verbal commands like “Stop,” eats finger food unassisted and starts to develop a preference for particular caregivers—such as his parents over his grandparents.
Resources

http://www.aap.org: American Academy of Pediatricians for more on childhood milestones and development
————
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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Baby Toys for a 6-Month-Old


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December 16, 2008


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By the time babies reach the age of 6 months, they are ready to develop skills beyond listening, crying and sleeping. Infant development toys can teach these babies to use basic motor skills, increase communication abilities and improve hand-eye coordination as they learn to balance and touch different objects. Colorful toys with different textures and puzzle games are among the most appropriate toys for a 6-month-old. You’ll need toys that stimulate all the senses and encourage your baby to play for extended periods. Here are a few ideas to add to your 6-month-old’s toy chest.

Colorful Mobile: Mobiles are a must for newborns and infants at every stage of development because they simultaneously provide mental and sensory stimulation. Mobiles made with simple, bold images can help babies to distinguish between different shapes and improve their vision skills. Babies love to watch patterns and colors, so this toy can keep them occupied for a long time.

Caterpillar—Plush or on Wheels:
The classic caterpillar toy is a longtime favorite for toddlers and young children and gives your 6-month-old a chance to play with different noises, buttons and textures. A colorful plush caterpillar designed with Velcro straps and shoelaces will help babies develop important motor skills, while the caterpillar on wheels can help them develop hand-eye coordination and navigation skills as they begin to move on their own.

Water Mat: Water mats are typically filled with gel-like substances, swirling toys, glitter and other objects that may keep your 6-month-old mesmerized for hours. Water mats can help babies distinguish between different shapes and colors while helping them develop their tactual skills as they learn to press and push certain areas of the mat to create different effects.

Bottle Sets: From soda bottles to shampoo and bath collections, a set of different-sized bottles can develop your baby’s matching skills and improve manual dexterity. Give your baby large, smooth bottles so that she can develop her natural grip and become comfortable with holding and carrying objects. Remove the lids and thoroughly clean and rinse the bottles before giving them to your baby.

Plush Picnic Basket and Food Sets: Toys designed to imitate food and other everyday objects can help babies become familiar and comfortable with the world around them, and plush picnic baskets filled with imitation food and picnic supplies are great toys to start with. Your baby can learn to distinguish between different shapes, textures and colors while engaging in creative play.
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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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