Infant Insights

Holiday Hustle & Bustle

  The busy holiday season is quickly approaching.  Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas give us reasons to celebrate and help bring family and friends together. As parents it can also be a stressful time and we need to realize that it can be stressful for our infants.  Everything from that cute Halloween costume to the overstimulation of holiday lights and decorations can cause your baby to become irritable.  Here are some ways to minimize the factors that may bring stress to your infant during the holidays.


  1. Remember to remain calm and realistic in your own expectations.  Your baby can feel it if you are stressed and upset.  He/she will take cues on how to respond to a situation from you.
  2. Try to maintain your child’s routine as much as possible.  Keep feeding and nap schedules as normal as possible and try to plan your events around you baby’s schedule.  Remember not to over schedule and plan as much down time as possible.
  3. Plan ahead when traveling to other peoples’ houses.  Will you need a portable crib/play yard?  If there a quiet space that you will be able to go to if your baby is getting irritable?  Will you have enough formula, food, diapers, and wipes for your visit?  Did you remember infant Tylenol and gas drops just in case?
  4. Limit the length of your shopping trips when you have your infant with you.  Everyone wants the perfect costume and present but going from store to store can wear on you and your child.  Have a list and a plan before you leave or do a majority of your shopping online.
  5. When decorating your home for the holidays remember to keep it child friendly.  The new decorations and lights will catch your infant’s attention and if they are mobile they will not be able to resist getting their hands on them.  Keep decorations out of reach and consider leaving the bottom portion of your tree undecorated.
  6. Most importantly remember to enjoy all of these new firsts with your infant.  Do not get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and forget to take in each moment.


Infant Insights

Suggestions for Tummy Time

Providing your young infant with tummy time each day will help promote his/her growth and development as well as help prevent flat spots from forming on his/her head.  Most infants will resist being placed on their tummies at first and some will even cry and struggle with the task.  A parent’s persistence is critical though because strengthening the muscles groups used during tummy time will later help his/her child with gross motor skills such as rolling over and pulling up.

Here are a few tips to help make tummy time more enjoyable both for you and your baby.

  1. Start very early.  Placing your baby on your chest while lying down or reclining will help him/her get used to the feeling of pressure on his/her tummy.  You can also place your baby across your lap.
  2. Make sure you start gradually.  Tummy time is a work in progress and you do not want to tire your baby out or frustrate them by leaving them on their tummy too long.
  3. Distraction is a fantastic tool to use during tummy time.  Use rattles, music, brightly colored objects, etc. to get your baby’s attention and to get them to hold his/her head up high.
  4. Get down on your baby’s level.  Lie down on the floor facing your child and talk or read to him/her.  This can be a great time to bond with your little one.
  5. Schedule tummy time into your regular routine.  If you set aside a specific time to do tummy time with your child each day it will eventually turn into a habit.
Infant Insights

Bonding with Your Baby

In the first year, babies develop bonds of trust with their parents and other primary caregivers as part of their social and emotional development.  The basis is being set at this early age for how your baby will interact not only with you but with others.

Here are some tips that can help them foster positive relationships:

  1. Talk to your baby as often as you can.  Take advantage of routine care opportunities such as diapering and bathing to talk to your infant. Be sure to use a soft, calming voice.
  2. When your baby is making sounds you need to answer them by repeating the sounds and adding additional words.  This helps them understand the give and take of conversation.
  3. Read to your baby.  Not only does this help you make a connection and build language but it also helps foster a love of reading which your child will carry with him/her through adulthood.
  4. Sing to your baby often and play a variety of music.
  5. Praise your baby and give his/her lots of attention.
  6. Provide frequent physical contact such as cuddling to help your baby feel secure.
Infant Insights

Outside Time for Infants

Many parents are leery to introduce their infant to the outdoors at an early age especially during the summer.  The benefits of doing so are many and it is worth putting aside your concerns.  Infants are trying to make sense of their world and being outside helps him/her experience the unfamiliar sights and sounds that they do not have the exposure to inside.

Outdoor Play has many physical health benefits.  Not only does being outside help with large muscle development and physical fitness but it also provides the best source of Vitamin D and fresh air exchange with less risk of germs.  The mental and emotional health benefits of being outdoors include fostering independence and stress reduction.  It is important to note that these benefits are also for you as a parent.

It is important to set up a safe environment for your infant while you are playing outside.  Make sure you take a blanket for your baby to lie on while he/she is outside.  Also make sure that there are areas of shade and monitor that length of time that your infant is in direct sunlight. Bring some of their favorite inside toys outside with you but also allow them to touch the grass and other natural objects.  Talk to your infant about the chirping birds, moving leaves, blowing wind, etc.  This helps expand the vocabulary that your infant is being introduced to throughout the day.  As your infant gets older introduce tunnels, balls, sensory tables, and riding toys.  This time should be enjoyable for both you and your baby and it will hopefully ignite a love for the outdoors that will continue through adulthood.

Infant Insights

Language Development in Infants

Many people think that language development is measured only by whether or not your child is beginning to make sounds or starting to speak.  In fact there are many different areas of language development that you should look at when evaluation your child’s language development including their ability to comprehend language, express language, and social communication.  Some examples of each area are listed below.

Clues that you baby is starting to comprehend language range from turning his/her head when there is a loud sound to pointing to specific a object when asked where it is located.  When your infant starts to recognize your voice or reach for their bottle when ask “Do you want your bottle?” their language is developing.  Eventually they will begin to bring you or point to objects that you are requesting.  They may not be able to name the object but they do understand what you have said.

Your child expresses himself/herself from birth.  Normally it does not take long to learn your infant’s different cries and what they mean.  Your infant will begin smiling and cooing to express himself/herself.  Before you know it you will start recognizing vowels and consonants and then eventually words to indicate your baby’s wants and needs. One word with turn into 2 words strung together and at some point a sentence.

All of the items listed above will help your baby with social communication.  When your infant coos you will begin to notice that they pause and wait for you to respond.  They are having a “conversation” with you.  They will begin to wave bye-bye when someone waves to them and begin to play peek-a-boo.  They are slowly learning the art of conversation.  All of these things factor into your infant’s language development.

Infant Insights

Motor Development

All areas of development are important in your infant’s development but only his/her motor development can affect your infant’s development in all other areas.  Parents need to nurture and support their baby’s development by providing a safe space for exploration and by challenging them to progress towards the next milestone.  Every infant will progress at their own rate but there are milestones that should help you make sure that your baby is developing appropriately.  Any concerns should be discusses with your pediatrician.

Between birth and 8 months of age you will notice that your infant will begin to make meaningful movements in order to move his/her body and to interact with the environment.  One of the first things you should notice is increased head control followed by rolling over and then your infant’s ability to support his/her upper torso turning tummy time.  You baby will also start to coordinate the use of his or her hand, fingers and sight in order to manipulate objects in the environment.  You should start to notice that your baby blinks when the sun shines in his/her eyes, follows a moving person with his/her eyes, and reaches for and grasps an object.

From 6 to 18 months you will see large advancements in your infant’s large and small motor development.  Your infant will begin sitting up independently, start crawling, and even start walking during this time period.  You will begin to notice your infant transferring toys from one had to another, turning the pages of a board book, and using their index finger and thumb to pick up food to feed themselves.

Infant Insights

Teething in Infants

Teething tends to cause a great deal of uncertainty among parents because it is not as cut and dry as other infant milestones.  Infants can cut their first tooth anywhere between 4 to 7 months of age and can show symptoms for months before it actually occurs.  Some infants will cut their first tooth as early as 3 months and others will not get one until after a year.  Regardless of when your infant’s first tooth appears he/she should have 20 teeth by the age of 3.  Typically your baby will get his/her bottom 2 front teeth first followed by his/her 2 upper teeth but this also is not set in stone.

There are many clues that let you know your infant is teething.  Most children will start to drool and will have swollen gums.  It is not uncommon for your infant to be irritable and to refuse food.  All of these symptoms can also lead to sleep problems for your infant.  Some children will run a low grade temperature but anything over 101 is typically not caused by teething.  Acidy, loose stools can also be a symptom of teething but if it is persistent a trip to your pediatrician is a good idea to make sure that something else is not present.

There are things that you can do during this time to help your baby be more comfortable.  You can pick up a teething ring or keep a wet washcloth in the freezer so that your infant has something cold to chew on during the day.  A normal teaspoon can be placed in the refrigerator as well but you must monitor your infant closely while they are chewing on it.  Sometimes your pediatrician will recommend acetaminophen for your baby to help ease the pain especially if it is causing them not to eat or sleep.  As always watch for your baby’s cues to help them get through teething as easy as possible.

Infant Insights

Coping with Separation

As a parent it can be very hard to leave your child with another person.  This becomes more difficult if your baby is experiencing separation anxiety. Separation anxiety usually occurs between 9 and 12 months.  The intensity and length varies from child to child.

Although it is a very normal stage that a majority of children go through it can be very traumatic for you as a parent.  Even if your baby has been attending the same center for months it is not uncommon for them to suddenly become clingy at drop off.  It is an important part of a baby’s development and is happening because your child is realizing the concept of object permanence.

There are ways that you can make this difficult period easier on your baby.  Make departures as short as possible.  Start a routine that is consistent each morning such as sitting them down in a center, giving them a kiss, saying goodbye, and then leaving for work.  Do not sneak out because that approach tends to make separation anxiety more intense and occur for longer periods of time. Also make sure that you keep your emotions in check when you are leaving your baby because they can feel it if you are nervous.  Keep in mind that this is only a stage that will pass in time.  You and your infant will get through it even though it won’t feel like it at the time.

Infant Insights

Ear Infections in Infants

Unfortunately a large majority of infants will experience at least one ear infection during their first year of life.  It is a very common illness in young children due to undeveloped Eustachian tubes and still developing immune systems.  For some infants there are tell tale signs that they have an ear infection but for others the infection may go unnoticed until diagnosed by a physician.  Some things to watch for are a fever, rubbing or pulling at the ear, crying when sucking on a bottle, discomfort when lying flat, and a loss of sleep or appetite.

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