Explore the space in front.
Explore the space behind.
Explore the edges of the space.
Navigate the uneven terrain.
PUSH-TOYS and SPATIAL AWARENESS
When babies play with push-toys it develops their awareness of the space immediately around them. By focusing their attention on the moving object at the end of a stick they train their focus to be a bit further in front or behind them. This skill is important for baby safety because it trains the child to notice when a stair in coming up in front of them or if a toy is lying in their path that might cause a fall. This awareness is key for developing advanced skills later such as riding a bicycle. When riding a bicycle a child must keep constant attention on the space in front of them (where they are going) as well as the space around them (so no one runs into them). Baby develops a clearer sense of the space around them as they also discover the edges of the space. The edges define the space.
PUSH TOYS AND BABY STRENGTH
Exploring space both inside the home and outside, at a park for example, develop strength in muscles as well as spatial awareness. The uneven terrain at a park requires more movement of the joints and more strength in the muscles to navigate. A gradual sloping hill, an edge of a sidewalk next to the grass, a stair, or a metal plate are examples of changes in the terrain that a baby may encounter in an outside play environment. Each of these requires more demand on the muscles and joints to change the level (on a hill or a stair) or to move from one texture to another (sidewalk to grass). The open space at a park invites baby to travel a lot and explore which is wonderful motor skill development.
HOW TO CHOOSE A CAR SEAT FOR BABY
Safety is one of the top priorities of a parent when choosing a car seat. With several models available on the market that is no easy choice to make. Who do you listen to? Your friends, your mother, the reviews online? We recommend collecting as many pieces of information as possible. A car seat is one of the most important investments to make for baby’s safety. These photos show the Cosco car seat which was highly recommended by parent reviews on amazon.com as well as by the highly respected publication Consumer Reports. It is also helpful to talk with parents who have used a product for awhile rather than to someone who just purchased the product. Experience with a product over time may result in advice containing more pros and cons for your consideration. You may also want to ask the parent how the product suited the baby as she grew.
CAR SEAT AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF A BABY
Please choose your car seat with the consideration of baby’s development of bones and muscles. Today many car seats are on the market with little if any padding behind baby’s back. There may be padding under the hips and legs, but there may not be any padding under the back. It is extremely important to keep baby comfortable and cushion her developing bones and muscles. Try and purchase the product in a store or view one in person before ordering so you can take your hand and run it along the back of the seat. You should be able to push down and have the fabric spring back. If you push on it and you feel the hard plastic right under the thin layer of fabric then you know it is not soft enough for her to be comfortable.
Occasionally the padding may be asymmetrical from right to left side, which may lead to asymmetry in the skeleton if baby spends enough time in the car seat. Once in a while a piece of one of the straps may get stuck under the padding and cause discomfort to baby. Take a moment every so often, specially if she is crying in the car seat, and run your hand along the padding to see if anything is poking up which may cause pain. The above photo shows a well-padded portable car seat. Baby should be both comfortable and safe.
TIPS FOR CHOOSING A CAR SEAT:
- Read parent reviews on sites such as amazon.com
- Ask the opinions of other parents experienced with the product
- Research Consumer Reports studies on the product
- Consult teachers of infant classes
- See the car seat in person before purchasing
- Feel the padding with your hands to ensure baby’s comfort
SUMMERTIME BABY PLAY
Family holiday parties, afternoons at the beach, outings to the park, and pool parties are favorite family summertime activites. When spending time enjoying the summer weather and outdoor activities, plan some fun baby play time. If you are planning a picnic at the park, bring a large play mat for baby to explore and crawl around on. Include some swim lessons for baby in your weekly schedule to introduce baby to some play time in the pool which is fun and important water safety training. Then baby will enjoy spending time in the water with you at the pool. Wach a toddler swims across the pool using the same technique taught at several swim schools for babies. Remember that babies were in water before they were born and enjoy playing in the water at an early age.
TIPS FOR INTRODUCING BABY TO SWIMMING
One of the most important things to remember when you are ready to take baby swimming is to find an instructor who is trained in water safety and teaching infant swim lessons. It is important not to try and teach baby to swim without a trained instructor. Bring lots of simple toys to the pool for baby to play with such as the classic rubber duck. Pack some food because baby will be hungry after a short time in the water. They get a lot of exercise while in the water, which is why it is a recommended activity as part of an anti-obesity campaign. Swimming is also very strengthening and develops strong legs for early walking. Most important of all, make swim time a fun time for baby.
WATER SAFETY TIPS
Remember to practice safety at all times when at the pool, near a body of water such as the ocean or lake, or at a home where there is pool. Never take your eyes off of baby or allow her to go out of your arm’s reach when near water. If you have a pool at home consider installing a safety fence with an experienced baby proofing company such as Family First based in Los Angeles. Also, remember that babies need to be watched closely when in the smallest amount of water, including bathtubs at home. Of course, one of the best water safety tips is teaching baby to swim.
DANGERS OF TEXTING
A recent Wall Street Journal article by Ben Worthen explored the potential dangers of texting while parenting. Watch the above video from WSJDigitalNetwork’s youtube channel for a summary of the article. Emergency room doctors suspect that the recent rise in children’s injuries, especially in children under the age of 5, may be due to parents engaged with their smartphones while they were supposed to be watching their child. “Non-fatal injuries to children under age five rose 12% between 2007 and 2010, after falling for much of the prior decade,” writes Worthen. He cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the source for the data, and states that they based the statistic on emergency-room records.
DATA SHOWS INCREASE IN TEXTING
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, texting is the dominant use of a mobile phone. The percentage of adults engaged with a smart phone in the activity of texting is approximately 65% of smart phone usage, while email is 47%, talking 45%, and listening to music is 29%. This data is cited from a Consumer Electronics Products and Usage Report from 2010. It clearly reveals that people are engaging with their phones to text more that any other e-activity.
To keep baby safe, it is important to keep your eyes on her. This is important especially once she masters her motor milestones of crawling and walking. The problem with texting while parenting is that you need your eyes and your hands to text, so that means you must direct your focus away from your baby to text. And, as the WSJ article points out, once we respond to a text we might check email, facebook, or search for something on the net while looking down at our phone. We know that when baby masters her motor skills she can move very fast. In one second she can climb the couch or pull something heavy off a shelf. Practice safety at home, at the pool, and at the park by asking people who may need to contact you to phone only so you can keep your eyes on baby. When you can, turn off your phone. This may be especially important at places such as the park where there are many new and unexpected situations that may present danger if baby is not closely supervised.
- Turn off your phone when possible (at parks, pools, etc.).
- Ask important contacts to call you rather than text.
- Be aware of your eyes. Keep them focused on baby.
- Baby proof your home to help prevent accidents.
BABY GEAR: infant SEATS IN THE NEWS
More than four million Bumbo Baby Seats were voluntarily recalled last Wednesday by Bumbo and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Although there was a previous recall in 2007, serious accidents have continued to occur. Almost two doen reports of infants wiggling out of their seats and suffering skull fractures led to the recall. Last March we posted articles from the Chicago Tribune which exposed the “Grave Concerns About The Popular Bumbo Seat.” The recent recall news immediately hit most of the major news outlets in print, online, and television. Here are just a few links:
LEARN TIPS TO IMPROVE BABY POSTURE
The recall recommends contacting Bumbo directly and they will send you a “repair kit” which incudes a “restraint belt” which is basically like a seat belt. This helps keep the child in the seat, according to Bumbo. However, we recommend getting rid of the seat. A baby’s head is very heavy and if they arch backward, the weight of their head may tip them over and take the chair with them. Instead, read some of our posts about how babies develop the sitting posture so you can guide your infant toward beautiful posture through exercise and play:
“Batteries Shown to Pose Risks for Kids,” Anna Wilde Matthews, Wall Street Journal, 5/14/12.
ELECTRONIC GADGETS BELONGING TO PARENTS
Babies love to hold and play with objects that are part of the every day life activities of mom and dad. These objects include remote controls, cameras, watches, and cell phones. Parents often smile as they watch their little babies hold the cell phone to their ears or try and push the buttons on the remote. However, a recent Wall Street Journal article warns that these electronic gadgets contain batteries which pose potential safety risks to babies and children. The number of visits to the emergency room stemming from batteries put in noses, ears, or mouths is rising across America.
ELECTRONIC TOYS IN THE NURSERY & BEDROOMS
The rapid increase in electronics includes a proliferation of electronic toys for children and babies. Nurseries and bedrooms of older siblings abound with blinking, flashing, and vibrating toys that entertain because of a battery. Babies don’t understand how life threatening a battery can be. Please supervise all use of electronic equipment. Better yet, limit the number of electronic toys in the home and choose instead the toys that encourage developmental play and foster motor skill development.
EMERGENCY ROOM VISITS: ACCIDENTS WITH BATTERIES
The journal Pediatrics published a new study which found that the number of visits to the emergency room by children under the age of 18 doubled between 1990 and 2009. In 2009 the number of children 5 and under swallowing the button shaped batteries was 10.1 per 100,000. Research has highlighted the dangers of these button batteries which are small and shaped like a shirt button. Swallowing batteries is potentially life threatening because it can become lodged in the esophagus and can give off electricity which can kill nearby tissue within two hours, according to Gary A. Smith, an author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Stellar Caterpillar suggests parents add to their baby-proofing list locking all battery-containing devices in a drawer or cupboard.
SOME ELECTRONIC OBJECTS TO KEEP OUT OF REACH:
- electronic toys
- remote controls
- cell phones
- hearing aids
For more in our series on babies and technology please read “TV and Babies,” “Baby Toys: Unplugged vs. Electronic,” and “Baby Books: E-Books on iPads.”