Friday, December 29, 2017

10 ways to bond with your younger child:

        This is my last blog post of the year, and before I go into what it's all about, I want to start by saying a big THANK YOU, to each and every one of you - whether your reading my page for the first time, or the 100th, because this blog, really started as notes on my phone while nursing, and I cannot believe what a community it has become. Not just on here with the 140,000 readers now, but the 60,000 + of you, on social media too, and while you get information, love and lots of humor (I hope) from me, I get a lot of strength, positivity and empowerment from each one of you that shares, likes, comments, sends feedback or even reads my posts - so really, thank you! Tons more to come in the New Year, and some hopefully incredible updates that I have been working hard on - so stay tuned for that! xx

When it comes to babies, it’s not always love at first sight, and that is really okay. Parents often pressurise themselves to feel as strongly as they believe they should right from the get-go. Understanding your child, and their personality takes time, and similarly the bond will develop and keep getting stronger. Post-delivery, we are dealing with stress, exhaustion, hormonal changes and a host of other physical changes that we are just starting to get a grasp on, try not to pressurize yourself even more.

There is even more stress the second time around as we worry about how our elder ones will adjust, we miss them while we are in the hospital and we are coming to terms with our new family dynamic. Some find it even harder to feel bonded the second time around and I often get questions not only about integrating your younger child into the family dynamic but also about feeling as bonded to the baby the second time around when we are already so busy with the first.

While I feel equally close to both, I do constantly feel the struggle to make sure that I spend as much time with my little one and not get too consumed by the demands of my elder one. Specially since my elder one is now at the age when he wants to play board games and needs my attention more to sit down and do things with him. While the shuffle can be stressful, it is also normal for your elder one to need more of your time right now specially since they are likely able to express their demands and scream for them. However, your younger one will eventually catch up too and learn to demand the attention they need.

We may all say that are children are equal to us, and to many they are, but if you are not feeling as bonded with your second (or subsequent) baby as you did with your first, or if you just need some ideas of things to do with your little one while juggling, here are some pointers.

(For tips on building sibling bonds or how to build relationships between your children, click here.)
My loves (photo credit: Ruchita Jain photography)

10 ways to bond with your younger baby:

1. Nurse: for as long as you are able to. Nursing is a lot more of a commitment when you have a toddler or an elder child impatiently waiting for you to be done. However, the most dedicated time I was able to give my daughter was while I was feeding her. She was a cluster feeder who would need to be attached up to 8/9 hours a day! And in hindsight, it was her way of getting her fill of me. Because, I haven't been able to sit down in the day, since she stopped nursing, I'm so caught up juggling the two, what they want to do and my work commitments. 
         Learn to inculcate your elder child into this routine, have easy things he can do while you are nursing - lacing, drawing, sticker books, reading, story telling - so that he can sit next to you, chat with you, be engaged and a part of the process, while you nurse. You will feel less divided, and you are still bonding with your younger one in the way they find the most essential - while cutting out on any guilt.

2. Take them along: My daughter has spent her first year doing my son's carpool pick up and drop off (something I didn't do before I had two but now I do it as a way to bond with both of them in the mornings),  going to several 3rd and 4th birthdays, play dates, play areas and garden time - kind of like a mini 3 year old who you have to carry everywhere (and yes, initially be comfortable nursing or giving a bottle of pumped milk anywhere). And as a result, I find that she's grown up faster  - bitter sweet but great too because at 16 months she's talking in full sentences, singing entire songs, counting till 10... all of which she has learned from her brother. 

3. Make them part of more than the conversation: I would find that most of my conversations would still revolve around my son, just because he did more, said more and I had to plan more things for him. However, make your little one a part of it too - try to remember that she didn't just roll over - she actually rolled over!! (and you were likely extremely excited about this the first time around). 
         However, making them a part of more than the conversation is about more than just talking about them - it's about engaging with them too!

4. One on one time with your little one:  As your little grows, beyond that tiny infant, make sure to take them on outings alone, even if it's to the grocery store, or your dragging them along to lunches with friends. My daughter has been on girl's nights and out for dinner with us to friend's houses - half asleep in her car seat. Just because - it was the one time I got with her. 
         Closer to 1, I enrolled in a mother toddler program, so that I would get dedicated one on one time with her multiple times a week. It really is a great way to get to see their budding personality emerge.

5. Start your day with your little one: Maybe not the first thing in the morning, but once your elder child is off to school, or busy with something, get  a few one on one minutes with your younger one every morning. Make it a habit. Even if it's literally a few moments to sing them a song, tickle them, play pat-a-cake, or cuddle. 
       A little goes a long way in telling them that they are important to you, and telling your elder child too, that the younger one is an important member of the family (this becomes important as they grow up too). 

6. Sing to them together: We started with singing, while I was nursing, or while we were playing. Little rhymes and things that I would sing, and now, my son sings them to her all the time, and repeats the rhymes like " this little piggy" while playing with his baby sister. I have also realised that they put on the music and dance together when I am not home. Music - something that's always helped keep me sane - has not only helped me bond with my little one, but ties my two babies together too even more strongly. 

7. Make them laugh: This may seem obvious, but it's something that in the midst of all the other chaos in our lives we sometimes forget to take time to make our babies laugh. And I mean - specifically - take time to make your younger one laugh. It will endure you two to each other more, hormonally, through the endorphins too , and because how can you help but fall in love with a baby's laughter? 
         As they grow, you will also get to know them better through this - as you will see that it will get more difficult to do so, however, you will also come to understand appreciate - as I have - the intellect of the child, once they start to understand more complex jokes and situations, while we discover how to humour them.
This one is so appropriate for me and my brother!

8. Try to feed them a meal in the day: Particularly once they stop nursing, try and dedicate at least one meal, where you feed them (particularly for working moms like me, or those who have help at home).  You could feed both (or all) your babies together yourself, but make time to do this. 
       It amazes me how fast my daughter has learned to feed herself certain foods - another thing she has picked up from being a younger child I assume. However, this feeding relationship is short lived so enjoy it while you can. 

9. Dedicated activities that only you will do: Keep a dedicated activity that only you will do with your child. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. For example - no one else bathes my children but me. It's been a rule since they were born. They sometimes ask for my mom or husband to help, or watch but bedtime and bath rime is mama's territory which they well know. Now that both my babies sleep at the same time, I put my son to bed while my husband walks my daughter (as it is no longer possible for me to put both to bed as I was doing so before). However, one of these activities, or any other, should be reserved just for you.

10. Let them be little: Not that we really have much of a say in this, but the younger one grows up just so much faster - they speak sooner in many cases, are in more of a hurry to do everything their elder one wants to do, (my daughter for instance only wants his toys, so I cannot get her to sit down and really play with baby toys, unless I pretend like I bought them for her brother), they drop their naps sooner and in a blink of an eye they are walking, talking little toddlers.
       If I could freeze time, I would, and trust me - like everything else, I would share my secrets with you too. However, all I can say is - let them grow at their own pace and not rush them to grow up any faster than they already do... it's gone in a blink of an eye as it is.

Happy New Year Mamas and Papas! Hope you all have healthy, happy, and successful 2018s! 

MUCH more to come in the New Year!xx

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be replicated or reproduced without permission. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

11 fine motor skill building toddler activities:

     Most people who read my blog or follow my social media page regularly, particularly my Instagram stories, know that my son and I are constantly working on different toddler activities. One of the particular areas that we have been spending time on off late is his fine motor skill development. While he is working on writing readiness, and colouring in school, my son, being a very playful and very boyish boy, much prefers to jump  on the bed (or on my head) and play with his cars than to sit down and colour, or do a structured activity. He is an introvert much like me so he loves to be home but lately I find that he has a penchant for the unstructured. 
     So, sitting him down to get him to do activities is a task - it never used to be, but lately it is. However, what is much harder than pulling teeth is colouring..... Proof attached!! Any guesses on what that is supposed to be? He boasts often about how he loves to scribble! However, inspite of his ability to scribble, we have had some progress.

any idea what this is???
I have been up against a lot and have to come up with creative ways to work on his fine motor skills that don't necessarily involve a crayon and pencil, some of the fun ways are below. 

11 ways to enhance your toddler's fine motor skills:

1. Crayon skills: Okay, this one is obvious. But I don't mean you have to get a huge coloring book and make them fill in all the little crevices. You can give them a blank book and make a small square and tell them just to color in that much. Then, clap and make a big deal when they do it. Then, a slightly bigger square and make them color in just thattt much. You can also use a "Grip" (Lakeshore is one of the brands that makes these), if they need help with their grip.
       There are also some coloring books (form brands like Kumon) where most of the picture is colored in except for a tiny little part that is whited out. Kids like to fill in the blanks so to speak, and this is a great way to get them to engage even with activities they don't normally love.
      Asking them to draw shapes and colour in the tiny shapes they have drawn is also a great way to motivate them to start colouring and drawing small areas (or draw in the shapes yourself if they are not ready for this).

drawing straight lines.. and she's trying to bead..
2.Peeling potatoes: No, there isn't an Irish famine but potato peeling is a great way to work on their fine motor skills! It gets the pincer grip working, teaches them to concentrate and surprisingly is something than many kids enjoy.

3. Pulling things apart: You heard me, they get to pull things apart. Holding three fingers though. Putty, and dough kind of soft mouldable, not just your house (and sanity).

4. Wall ball game: (atleast that's we call it). It's taking and holding a small hard ball with three fingers, and rolling it up a wall, this can also be done against their body. A variation of this is to toss the ball and run and catch It (which gets them more tired), or to toss it at a target, but again holding only 3 fingers.

5. Separating pulses: This is exactly how it sounds. Mix different pules in a bowl and have your little one sort them out. Once they are adept at this, you can complicate it by having them separate it using a tweezer.

6. Tweezer work: Tweezers are fabulous for fine motor skill development. That doesn't mean we have to wait to find splinters or let them have their way with your eyebrows, instead, let them play games with tweezers (blunt ones please), like sorting games, picking things up, and there are several board games that use tweezers.

7. Board games: There are several board games that enhance your fine motor skills too. Operation and Bed bugs for example use tweezers. There are also others like Match it, that needs you to put shapes in their corresponding holes to an hour glass, and that too teaches coordination and fine muscle activity.

8. Stickers: Sticker books too are a great way to build fine motor skills, specially reusable ones because it is really the peeling of the sticker from the packet or page, and then sticking them without doing too much damage, that is a task for them at a little age (Specially for toddlers like mine who are always in a hurry to do everything).
my little one, starting early with stickers...

9. Chalk everywhere: (this is for kids who are not allergy prone, mine for example have inherited perpetual sniffles from their father !!) and so I cannot have a chalkboard  in the room even if it's the non dust type, however, the chalk decals - like wall paper, are amazing to keep them motivated to draw, and build a past time that involves fine motor skills! Similarly a chalk board easel for be kept out, but this will retain their attention for much longer. Sidewalk chalk too is a fun activity for the kids to indulge in!
chalk wallpaper decals, at a creative friends house

10. Mazes and Matching: Books, books and books, but the kind they have to draw into. These, along with mats that have fun activities, mazes, odd one outs, join the dots, and matching activities, are enthralling for the kids, build their grip in small doses, and get them ready to write.
maze books!

11. Beading, and lacing: Similarly, beading and lacing activities, build concentration, three finger grip, logic and fine motor skills!!

some progress with our colouring!!! 

Not only are these great ways to keep your little ones building skills, they are super ways to keep them occupied too! 

More to come!

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be reproduced or replicated without permission. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Building Immunity for your Child

Hi Moms & Dads, 

      Cold and Cough season is amongst us, particularly with the monsoons going on (at least for those of you in the tropics) and I have been getting a lot of questions via Instagram on how to deal with colds, coughs and all the pesky virals that are going around. Instead of focusing on recovery tips, which I have covered in the past, I would like to focus on why exactly our children are so susceptible to getting sick, and how their immunity affects them through the years.

    Our immune system is kind of the security guards of our bodies, in a way. It fights off foreign bodies (that is, germs, bacterial and viral infections) by trying to figure out if they are good or bad and by making antibodies (infection fighting proteins) to combat them. 
    Your child's immune system development is also something to be aware of when you want to answer questions about how long you should nurse for, whether to give your child immune supplements or not, whether you should be sanitizing every time you touch your baby or toddler, and then your child.

     After 2 to 3 months of age, a child’s body starts to make its own antibodies independent of the mother's body and antibodies being passed on (though antibodies continue to be passed on too by nursing mamas). In addition to this, the vaccines given to children at set intervals train their bodies to recognise specific diseases as highly dangerous and fight them at the first sign of contamination. Good, nutritious, healthy foods also protect the body's cells. Food based nutrients such as zinc (found in fortified cereals), or folic acid (found in egg yolks), actually build up a child's immunity and are only two of the many minerals and vitamins that are enhancing our children’s immune systems through food. However, there are also foods that can suppress their immunity - processed foods and sugar (including juices which that are very high in sugar) on the other hand, suppress it. Adequate amounts of sleep as well, have found to have benefits on immunity (these points are for adults too! The more sleep deprived you are, the more likely you are to fall sick).

        As our children grow, the more germs and infections they are exposed to as well, the more their immunity and immune system develops (isn't that a shocker?). It's true though. Early exposure to germs, surprisingly reduces the chances of asthma and allergies and have been shown to strengthen the immune system. Study after study now support this "hygiene hypothesis" that shows that auto-immune diseases (diseases wherein the immune system is weakened or where the body's antibodies attack the body itself) are more prevalent in developed countries where antibiotics and anti-bacterials are used more heavily!

I hope this explains a little about why I talk about the importance of breast feeding,
vaccination schedules, sanitisers being overused for children who are not new-borns,
antibiotics and cough and cold medicines not being needed unless the child has a persistent
fever (and the doctor prescribes it), and the importance of sleep and good nutrition. It all
affects your children, their immunity and how well or healthily they get through flu season!

More to come!

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be copied or replicated without permission.