Tag Archives: wisdom


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An article published last year in the New York Times examined the question that many mothers ask, “Do pacifiers affect baby’s teeth?”  The article, written by C. Claiborne Ray, explored this question by consulting Dr. Abhinav Sinha, director of the pediatric dental clinic at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.  The pediatric dental concerns discussed by Dr. Sinha were related to the development of baby’s teeth and bite.  For example, when the jaw is closed, a noticeable gap may be seen between the upper and lower teeth. Or, the child may develop an overjet which is a somewhat horizontal protrusion of the front two upper teeth.  Bite problems include the development of an overbite, when the upper front teeth significantly overlap the lower front teeth, or a crossbite, when the upperback teeth fall inside the lower back teeth.  Dr. Sinah recommends weaning the baby from the pacifier before the second birthday because most of these problems arise primarily after extended or “chronic” pacifier use such as babies using the pacifier well into toddlerhood such as after the age of five.  He also recommends using the pacifier only when baby is going to sleep.


One of America’s favorite pediatricians, Dr. Harvey Karp, makes a very important point regarding babies and the affects of pacifiers.  In his best-selling book The Happiest Baby on the Block, Dr. Karp encourages the use of pacifiers to assist in quieting a colicy baby.  It is one of his 5 S’s for calming baby–sucking.  Dr. Karp strongly recommends weaning the baby from the pacifier at the age of 5 months.  Rather than comment on the affects of the pacifier on baby’s teeth, he reasons that with continued use past the age of five months the child will become emotionally attached to the pacifier since it provides a very soothing feeling.  He explains that by the age of 5 months a baby can learn to soothe themselves by sucking a thumb or fist, so it is not necessary to give them the pacifier.  If they learn to soothe themselves with sucking their hand, they will be OK without the pacifier and will not need to go through the difficult process of weaning from it.

Watch the adorable twins in the above video from jefferinhutt’s youtube channel.



MOTOR SKILL JUNK FOOD:  Movements baby enjoys but for which her bones and muscles are not yet strong enough.


The easiest way to understand motor skill junk food is to compare it with dietary junk food.  Every mother knows dietary junk food when she sees it.  She also knows how much her kids love it because she has to pull it out of their clinging hands at the market.  Why, then, does she still refuse to give it to them?  The answer is obvious: JUNK FOOD IS NOT GOOD FOR THEM.  When children are growing and developing their brain and their organs, parents know how important proper nutrition is.



The term “junk food” is also used to refer to non-edible items.  For example, the dictionary.com definition includes the quote “the junk food offered by daytime television” to demonstrate the use of the term for certain television programing.  Merriam-Webster.com’s definition includes author Cleveland Amory’s phrase “The ultimate in junk food for young minds.”  Stellar Caterpillar uses the term to describe certain movements with babies that parents think they love and yet they are not good for the development of their bones and muscles.



Like dietary junk food, the above “Motor Skill Junk Food” does not contain any real value for the development of the muscles and bones.  Baby’s bones are soft and she should not be put in a movement activity that she can not do on her own.  Read stellarcaterpillar.com to learn more favorable options for the development of a baby.  Also like dietary junk food, babies LOVE motor skill junk food.  When I explain to a parent not to put the baby standing on his feet because his bones are not strong enough and his muscles are not strong enough, she tells me that “He LOVES it!  He DEMANDS it.”

Why don’t some parents respond the way they do with the dietary junk food by recognizing that it is not good for motor skill development and choosing a better option?  I think the answer is summed up by Martha Boesing who was quoted on the dictionary.com junk food definition page.  She expressed her confusion as a mother about how to guide her children toward wise decisions for themselves.  She describes teaching them to eat what their body wants and then learning to tell them “No more junk food in this house!”  Her quote ends with a golden sentence, “I flounder like this because I have no training and very little support for this work and there are days when I’m the one who needs the parenting, even more than [my kids] do.”

Stellar Caterpillar was founded by Donna Eshelman as a place for parents to receive training in how to support heathy, skillful, effortless, joyous movement in their beautiful babies.  Although each of us can not be experts in everything, we can become students of anything and benefit from learning.  Baby’s milestone journey starts with birth and stellarcaterpillar.com offers parenting tips to guide the way.




I am frequently asked, “I have a baby shower to go to, is there a book you would recommend?”  or “My niece just had a baby, is there a toy or rattle you could suggest for a baby gift?”  With the abundance of books, rattles, toys and baby gear on the market and the millions of dollars in marketing promoting them, choosing gifts wisely has probably never been more difficult.  Today we share:

5 Unique Baby Shower Gift IDEAS

1.  Stellar Caterpillar Lessons (private, class, or virtual):  What an original baby gift for a new mother to gain a few tips on how to best guide baby’s motor skill development!  We coach mothers on buying developmental gear and toys  and how to cultivate a strong self-image for baby through movement.  A private lesson, group class, or virtual lesson also offers mom playful activities to try at home with baby.  Contact Donna to customize a baby shower lesson gift.

2.  Infant Swimming Lessons:  Is there a pool in your area that offers swimming lessons for baby?  This is the fun baby shower gift that probably no one else will think to get.  Parents will love taking baby into the water for a fun outing.  Read our post “Can Babies Swim?” to know what to look for in a swim school.

3.  Developmental Rattles (a single rattle or a set):  Read our posts on “Best Baby Rattles” to learn how to choose one that a tiny baby can learn to shake. Add in a few more spanning a developmental time period or offering a range of sounds.  One of the best baby shower gifts is a set of 5 rattles ranging from a tiny one for a newborn to a larger squeaky one for a 9-month-old.  Think simple in shape and construction and interesting in sound. That is all she needs!

4.  Baby’s First Library:  A dear friend, a literary agent, shared with me her creative baby gift.  Choose a selection of board books from our Amazon Listmania “Best Books for Babies” list.  Favorites for the newborn include “Pat the Bunny,” “Goodnight Moon,” “Black on White”/”White on Black,” “Moo, Baa, La La La,” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

5.  Books for Mom:  “Diary of a Baby” & “What’s Going On In There?”:  A shower gift of these two books provide some of the best information for moms on development.  “Diary of a Baby” is a quick and easy-to-read book on emotional and physical development that can be read at various stages.  “What’s Going On In There?” makes a great reference book, as it spans five years of baby’s development.  Both are listed on the “Best Books for New Parents” Amazon Listmania list.




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A confident, coordinated, and physically active baby often is tempted later in toddlerhood to climb furniture and jump on the bed.  A wise grandmother offered the following parenting tip, “Teach baby the song, ’5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed’.”  She explained that later when baby is climbing the furniture or attempting to jump on the bed, mother sings this song as you take her away from the furniture.  As she grows older, singing the song may be enough to get her to stop jumping on the bed.  My friend, the grandmother, said she would sing one or two verses and then her grandchild would stop.

Add this board book to baby’s first library and sing the song when you read it to her.  It is also a counting book for learning to count to 5.  Although there are many tunes for the lyrics, we posted above “5 Little Monkeys” from DavidOsaka’s youtube channel.

Five Little Monkeys:  retold and illustrated by Eileen Christelow.  (New York:  Clarion Books, 1989).



  1. Challenge with a movement  they can do on their own.
  2. Teach in small increments at a time.
  3. Good mood is important–baby must not be hungry, tired, or fussy.
  4. Praise with enthusiasm and descriptive words.

When practicing the tips on Stellar Caterpillar blog, please remember these important tips.  First, try to challenge baby with whatever is just within reach of her ability.  For example, holding a 3 month old baby on her knees is not something she can do on her own.  Instead, try placing a rattle with a narrow diameter handle into the palm of her hand, closing her fingers around it, and gently squeezing  them. This is probably something she can do on her own after you show her a few more times and is the motor skill of grasping.

Recognize that learning occurs in very small steps, or should we say “baby steps.”  Detecting these small differences is not easy for a parent unless they have spent many hours analyzing babies’ process of learning to move.   Through motor skill education, a parent can learn to see the mirco-skills making up a motor milestone. This is one of the goals of stellarcaterpillar.com–to teach parents to see the tiny learning stages of physical development.  For example, mom discovers how to roll baby on her side for awhile before moving her onto her tummy.   For tummy time, Dad learns that at first baby can only lift her head for a few seconds before needing to put it down.  With daily practice she will lift it up for a lot longer.  To force baby to be in a sitting position when she can not yet hold her head up on her own for very long is detrimental to her development.  Instead, put her in the position where she can lift her head on her own and put it down to rest when she needs to.

Challenge baby when she is in a good mood to discover something new. A baby who is tired, sick, hungry, or fussy will not learn.  It is a waste of time and energy.  Let them have what they need – either rest, sleep, or food – and try working with her a bit later or the next day.  Babies learn quickly when they are happy and comfortable.

Last but definitely not least – praise!  Babies love to receive praise from mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, auntie and uncle, brother and sister, teacher and friend.   Praise them with specific words telling them what they are doing.  Rather than saying, “Good job, Ivan,” when he crawls a few steps, say “Good crawling, Ivan.”  Always tell them what it is they are doing by using the name of the physical skill they are learning.  Babies understand your words long before they can speak.

With these 4 parenting tips for encouraging motor skill development, baby learns to try new challenges when they are presented.  Because she develops a bank of successful experiences,  she then feels confident to try new movements.  If she could talk, she would say, “Excellent parenting, Mom!  Great coaching, Dad!”



The “Wisdom” series presents observations spoken by experienced grandmothers that should be heard by all mothers.

The following passage is rather well known but worth reflecting upon once in awhile.  As we welcome in the new year we post it for you to read with the thought that motor skill development is some of the earliest confidence building one can receive.  The grandmother that passed this quote to me obtained it from an Intercultural Relations Workshop taught in 1962 at the University of New Mexico, and was used by Dr. Burton Henry of Los Angeles State College.  We do not know if Dr. Henry wrote it himself.  My friend distributes the text to all parents in her parenting classes.  Enjoy the reading and HAPPY NEW YEAR from Stellar Caterpillar!


If a child lives with CRITICISM, he learns to CONDEMN…

If a child lives with HOSTILITY, he learns to FIGHT…

If a child lives with FEAR, he learns to APPREHENSIVE…

If a child lives with PITY, he learns to FEEL SORRY FOR HIMSELF…

If a child lives with RIDICULE, he learns to be SHY…

If a child lives with JEALOUSY, he learns to feel GUILTY…

If a child lives with TOLERANCE, he learns to CONDEMN…

If a child lives with CRITICISM, he learns to be PATIENT…

If a child lives with ENCOURAGEMENT, he learns to be CONFIDENT…

If a child lives with PRAISE, he learns to APPRECIATIVE…

If a child lives with ACCEPTANCE, he learns to LIKE HIMSELF…

If a child lives with RECOGNITION, he learns it is GOOD TO HAVE A GOAL…

If a child lives with FAIRNESS, he learns JUSTICE…

If a child lives with SECURITY, he learns to have FAITH IN HIMSELF and in those about him…

If a child lives with friendliness, he learns the WORLD IS A NICE PLACE in which to live…