Wednesday 31 August 2011

Making a cardboard postbox and letters

The good thing about making toys for toddlers is that they have such a good imagination that you don't need to be too realistic! We made this postbox from a cardboard box that happened to enter our house the other day, we seem to end up with loads!

Post box pretend play for children

It's about the size of a cereal box, but made of sturdier cardboard. I cut off the bottom, cut a slit in one side, then we painted it bright red.

Child painting a box

While it was drying we made some letters. I used various odd envelopes, and we used stickers and crayons to decorate. I've since discovered that Twinkl Resources have a fantastic Post Office Role Play Pack (Twinkl subscriber resource) that is full of fun printables to make your own post office with signs and stamps that you can print out. On our Beach Themed Day we also made postcards using the blank postcard templates (free download) which would also work really well.

Child writing

We made a letter for everyone in the house, plus one which Harry decided was for "People". He had a lot of fun making these!

Child made letters and postcards

Then when the postbox was dry Harry could post the letters.

Child with homemade postbox

I don't think that these letters will last very long, so I might make some more up and laminate them (I do love my laminator!) to make them a bit sturdier. When Harry is a bit bigger there is a lot of potential to develop this activity. I love the blog post on ikatbag where they have made not only a general postbox, but personalised individual ones for each member of the family! There are also loads of ideas on this blog for other things to make out of cardboard boxes.  

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Monday 29 August 2011

10 things to do with toddlers and garden canes

When we moved into our house we inherited loads of garden canes in the garage. We discovered lots of things that you can do with them, but do be careful with them and only use under supervision as they can be dangerous. Don't allow toddlers to wave them near others or run about with them. Here are some ideas:

Things to do with toddlers and garden canes

  • The classic - make a tent, either for your toddler or for their toys. Use elastic bands, string, clothes pegs and old sheets to secure, with stones around the bottom if you have any. Not for a windy day unless you are very solid in your construction!

Child in a tent made from garden canes

  • Stick some canes upright into the ground in a row and run in and out of them.

  • Stick some canes into the ground closer together and use for weaving string or ribbon.

  • Lay them out on the ground in a line or circle to make roads or train tracks, either for your toddler to run along himself or for cars or trains.

Child playing with sticks and trains
  • Make a goalpost for football or for target practice with the ball.

  • Make two parallel rows of sticks stuck into the ground, drape a cloth over the top and you have a tunnel to crawl through.

  • Mark out a square on the ground and throw beanbags or small stones into it.

Child playing with bean bag
  • Tie long ribbons or streamers to the end and run and dance about.

Child playing with streamers

  • Use a stick to push a light ball around a bit like a golf club (you can use some of the aforementioned structures as obstacles).

  • Poke the canes into things, like holes in the wall or fence, make holes in the ground, dig in the flowerbeds and just generally wave them about.

Any more ideas? Add them into the comments!

Friday 26 August 2011

How to make a construction play mat

After the success of the racing car play mat I was inspired to think what other play mats I could make. I've got a few ideas, and the next one was a construction play mat.

All you need is a sheet of A3 card, or you could make it as large as you like! The different elements are cut from coloured construction paper and glued into place. Harry enjoys having the roadways to drive his vehicles down, and the different coloured areas can represent whatever he likes - sand, mud and so on. There's a little hut for the builders to rest in when they are not at work.

How to make a construction play mat for children

I laminated the finished play mat to make it more sturdy, and it folds in half for easy storage. I'd love to make a whole series of play mats that all connect together! It's quite open-ended, so Harry can use his imagination for the different areas. I hope he likes it!

You might also like my other playmats - a racing car play mat and a car park play mat.

If your toddler is obsessed with diggers, you can find some more digger crafts, activities and resources here!

Thursday 25 August 2011

Realistic play food for the toy kitchen

How to make some realistic play food for the toy kitchen

Our toy kitchen has easily been one of the favourite toys in this household. So much so that it inspired me to write a whole blog post about it - our beloved toy kitchen! But before we had this gorgeous play area we had to make do with a small Mini Sizzlin' Kitchen from Early Learning Centre. It was ideal at the time as it doesn't take up too much space and everything fits neatly inside.

I gave the children dried pasta and rice to play with, but I really wanted to find a fun way to increase the number of dishes that can be cooked, and so I came up with a way to make some simple play food inserts for the saucepans and plates.

Simple play food for pretend meals

All I did was to search Google images for some close up pictures of different types of food (of course, only use images from other sources if you are making this play food for personal use only). You could also use pictures from cookery magazines or it might be fun to take your own photographs of the food that you normally cook for the family. Print them out in full colour and cut them out into a circle slightly smaller than the inside of the pan. If you want them to last a bit longer you can laminate them or back them with thin cardboard.

How to make simple play food

I'm really pleased with how well they turned out, they were super quick to make, and they take up next to no space to store! I can see me making a whole range of different food - soups, pasta dishes, desserts, and all sorts!

If you are making play food you might also like some of my other posts:

Homemade salt dough and felt pizza
Felt cookies and party rings
Felt sandwich

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Making and icing biscuits

Making and icing biscuits with children

I've been making biscuits with Harry since he was about a year old. We've been on a bit of a hiatus lately as my old scales broke, but shiny new ones arrived today so we set to making some, just to test out the scales of course.

The biscuit recipe that I use is a simple shortbread recipe:

50g caster sugar
175g plain flour
125g butter
1tsp milk if required

Stir together the flour and sugar. Add the butter in cubes and rub between the fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Squash together until you have a dough, add the milk if it's still a bit dry. Roll out, cut out the biscuits and place on baking tray. Bake at 180 degrees (lower for a fan oven) for about 14 minutes.

Then when they have cooled they are ready to decorate. My icing recipe:

Several tablespoons of icing sugar
A few drops of food colouring (colour chosen by toddler)
Enough water to make it quite runny

Mix it all up together, adding water and icing sugar alternately until you reach the desired consistency. Quite runny is best as it is easier to spoon over the biscuits.

Messy icing biscuits

Place the biscuits on a tray, hand the toddler the bowl of icing and a spoon, a plate of decorations, and let them at it. Try and persuade them to put some of the decorations onto the biscuits rather than into their mouth.

Child decorated biscuits


Tuesday 23 August 2011

The end of the fourth trimester

The early stages of pregnancy are a strange time. You need to change your behaviour and lifestyle (no drinking! no soft cheese! no heavy lifting!) but you aren't ready to tell everyone why. You can't help but relate everything to how your world is about to change, and yet you are afraid to discuss it out loud. Twelve weeks marks a huge milestone. The risk of miscarriage drops significantly, you have a scan to confirm things, and you feel confident enough to tell everyone. There's a long way to go, but you can start to make plans.

The early weeks with a new baby are a different sort of limbo. Life is turned upside down, and it takes time for the pieces to fall back down into their new positions. You exist in a world of constant feeding, nappies and rocking. It's difficult to think about anything else apart from what the baby needs and when the next feed is due.

Mia is twelve weeks old today, another milestone. Things have settled down, and our new family unit has stablised. I'm still breastfeeding, and Mia shows no sign of anything close to sleeping through. But I'm glad that those difficult early weeks are out of the way.

Monday 22 August 2011

The toddler and baby relationship

Before Mia arrived we were naturally anxious as to what Harry would make of her. He can be a touch possessive and demanding, he doesn't like it when I talk to anyone else when he is around - "No Mummy, talk to meeeee!" 

Toddler and his baby sister

I was expecting either indifference or jealousy. I wasn't expecting smothering affection.

Toddler and his baby sister

Even now, as Mia approaches 3 months old the novelty hasn't worn off. It's no longer Mummy that he demands first thing in the morning, it's Mia. When he comes in with Dad from a trip out, his first question is always "Where's Mia?" as he runs in to find her. He gets upset if he can't see her anywhere. If she's asleep he puts his face to hers and says "Wakey wakey!", if she's awake he'll announce happily "She's awake!". 

He talks to her, he tells her about how she came from the hospital, he tells her when Mummy does something funny, when she cries he says "It's okay Mia, there there". He can't stop himself exclaiming "She's so tiny!" at any opportunity. He pushes his face right into hers and makes baby cooing noises. He tries to put toys into her hands, and waves them in her face. He is absolutely delighted if she smiles at him, and any noise that she makes is hilarious, regardless of which orifice it came from. He triumphantly announces "She said hello!" with every grunt or whimper, and "She said thank you!" if he gives her something. 

If I'm holding her he'll say "Put Mia in the chair" or "Put Mia on the mat". At first I thought it was because he was jealous that I wasn't cuddling him. Then I realised it was so that he could have easier access to her.

Toddler and his baby sister

I didn't expect to be able to leave them alone in the room together, but that was because I thought he might try and hit her with a piece of train track, not because I thought that he would knee her in the stomach when climbing on top of her trying to cuddle her.

I wish I had some advice to offer on how to deal with an over affectionate older sibling. Obviously, it's much better than the alternative, but sometimes I do catch an anxious expression on her face which disappears when I take her away alone, and sometimes feeding her can be a bit of a pain while trying to fend him off. 

Toddler and his baby sister

But I'm so pleased that he is so taken with her. It will be very interesting to see how he reacts when she begins to move around and go for his toys, so for the moment long may it continue!

Sunday 21 August 2011

How to make a quick racing car play mat

Harry has been to watch the racing cars at Silverstone this weekend with his Dad, so while he was out I made him a racing car playmat for when he gets home so that he can re-enact all the things that he saw. 

How to make a racing car play mat

It's very simple to make, you just need a sheet of A3 green card with shapes stuck on from coloured construction paper. The lines down the middle of the track were made with cut up blank white stickers  and the "people" in the stand at the top are hole punches. The little racing cars were from Tesco, they are actually designed to hold birthday candles. They are a bit cheap and cheerful but a nice size, and also the wheels go round.

Racing car play mat

It folds nicely in half, and I have now covered it with sticky backed plastic to make it a bit more durable. I don't expect the toys that I make for Harry to last forever, but it would be nice if it lasted for a little while! I'm really pleased with it!

You might also like my other playmats - a construction play mat and a car park play mat.

If you have a toddler that is obsessed with racing cars, find lots of racing car games, activities and crafts over on Toddler Things, my other blog!

Saturday 20 August 2011

Things Harry learns at nursery

Also known as the Mysterious Bubble Song.

Harry has been attending his nursery for a little while now, but it's only recently that he's developed the language to actually tell us what he's been up to. We had already picked up some intriguing clues from the new words that he was coming out with (see-saw, painting, ready steady go) and the substances that he came home covered in (purple felt tip, glue, spaghetti). 

But one thing that was really baffling us was the bubble song. It was accompanied by the action of spreading out one's arms to indicate a bubble getting bigger, and the words went "bubble, bubble, bubble, POP!". He was getting very cross that we wouldn't sing along with him. I was puzzling over this for ages until I thought to google it (I googled "bubble bubble pop song"). So I can now reveal that the song, previously unknown to me, goes as follows:

I had a little turtle
I called him Tiny Tim
I put him in the water
To see if he could swim

First he drank the water
Then he ate the soap
Then he went to bed
With a bubble in his throat

Bubble bubble bubble, bubble bubble bubble, bubble bubble bubble, bubble bubble pop!

Toddler blowing bubbles in the garden

Now if only we knew the correct actions to "Harry in the Middle" (yes, we've tried the obvious) then we'd be sorted!

Friday 19 August 2011

(Breast)feeding a baby with a demanding toddler

Before I had Mia, when I asked other Mums how to breastfeed and simultaneously entertain a toddler, the response I invariably received was "Well, X watches a lot more television than they used to..."

I was very lucky in the early weeks because I had a lot of support from family to enable me to establish breastfeeding. Without this, I really would have struggled. I found that Mia would feed for a little while, have a break, and then come back to it. If it had just been me and Harry, that initial feed would have been all she received. It also got Harry used to the idea that Mia needed her "Mummy Milk" (okay, a bit twee, but it got the point across!). 

Unfortunately, although Harry does watch television, he will very rarely just sit there and watch it. He needs to be doing something else at the same time unless he is very tired. If I tried to settle down in front of the television feeding Mia with him next to me, it would last for a matter of minutes before he would be demanding further entertainment. Even though I am becoming something of an expert at one-handed train track assembly, and snack preparation with a baby attached to me, it's not ideal. 

So I set up a small bag of bits and pieces which I called "Harry's Special Mummy Milk Bag" and I keep it next to the sofa where I usually feed Mia. Into this bag went a variety of small toys -  crayons, jigsaws and the like. It soon became apparent however that my salvation was going to be in stickers. In particular, the foam stickers which I buy from Tesco. They each have a sticky back which a toddler can remove independently, but which is fiddly enough to keep them occupied for at least a minute at a time, and provide a sense of accomplishment once detached.

My local Tesco is a Tesco Extra so carries a large range of craft items. I've found two designs - mixed transport and flowers/butterflies/hearts. They cost me £1.50 a pack unless you can catch them on special offer, which is a little pricey but for me worth every penny.

Tesco foam stickers
Obviously bottle feeding presents challenges too, for one thing both hands are occupied!

So what other ways have you found to keep older ones busy while feeding a baby? Add in the comments!

Toilet roll tube owls toddler craft

Like many people I do love owls and I've often featured them in my crafting. I was inspired to make these toilet roll tubes by some that I saw on Pinterest (link unfortunately no longer available), I love how simple they are to make and how you can really personalise them.

Cardboard tube toilet roll tube owl craft for children

This is an easy craft for little ones with a bit of help. Along with a few crafty bits you just need some toilet roll or other cardboard tubes, and if you have several different sizes then you can make a whole family of owls. Take the tube and bend the top over on each side to make ears, then tape down. If you use masking tape then you will easily be able to paint over the top.

Paint the owls, and when they are dry add a beak and wings cut from coloured paper, fabric or felt. You could also use felt pens to add extra details like feathers. To make the eyes I used white felt but big googly eyes look great too. Here is our owl family!

Toilet roll tube owl family

You might also like some of my other owl crafts - I made a framed felt owl picture which takes pride of place in our bathroom, and a small owl from Fimo that was a lot of fun to make. We also had a lot of fun using toilet roll tubes among other bits from the recycling bin to make some minibeasts and bugs from rubbish.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Harry shows off his artistic side

After plenty of practice on his magnetic drawing board while sitting on the potty before his bath for the last few months (an activity which he indulged in for the pleasure of some quality time with Mummy or Daddy rather than for actually producing anything of note in the potty) Harry is now starting to churn out some recognisable drawings! He is a dab hand at Button Moon, he can draw a car with two wheels and a roof and also produce a fair rendition of a face, with a bit of prompting to add in the various components.

Child's first drawing of a face

These magnetic drawing boards are brilliant, creativity with no mess. You just have to be handy with the camera to catch the masterpieces before they disappear forever.

The picture above is a face by the way.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

10 things to do with a very young baby

In my experience, babies begin to go through a difficult stage when they are around 10-12 weeks old. They are starting to stay awake for longer and be more aware of what is around them, but are too young to be properly playing with toys, which means that they can get very frustrated. So here are some ideas for things to do with small babies that are not yet sitting up by themselves in the times between feeding and sleeping.

Ten things to do with a very young baby

Reading - a baby is never too young to look at books, and if you have an older child this is an ideal way to entertain them both. Read picture books and talk about the pictures, point things out, try texture books like the "That's Not My..." series. Don't just stick to books aimed at babies, also read books aimed at older children such as "The Gruffalo" or other books by Julia Donaldson, particularly those with rhymes. You can also read poetry or song lyrics, or go through a magazine and look at the pictures. Look through photograph albums and point out family members. There are a range of books called Baby's Very First Book which we loved and I've written about some of them here - books for very young babies.

Singing - either traditional nursery rhymes or modern songs. Turn on some music and dance around the room with her, especially to songs with a strong beat which can often calm a grumpy baby. When singing nursery rhymes like Incy Wincy Spider or Hickory Dickory Dock involve the baby by walking fingers up and down her tummy.

Tummy time - this is very important to develop a baby's neck muscles when they are used to sleeping on their backs. Lie down with him and talk to him or place a mirror in front of him. At first they may only be happy for a minute or two, so stop as soon as baby complains.

Baby lying on tummy

Baby massage - this is a simple way to bond with your baby and all you need is some oil, for example olive or sunflower oil. It might help to have this demonstrated, so look out for classes running locally, for example at Children and Family Centres, or ask your Health Visitor. Otherwise there are many resources online, for example here at Babycentre. Don't do this just after feeding!

Different textures - touch her hands onto different surfaces - smooth, rough, soft, warm (not too warm!) and cool, wet and dry and talk about them. 

Walk around the house - talk about what you are looking at e.g. family photographs, mirrors, out of the window. Notice what he is most interested in so that you can return for another look. 

Give her a bath - blow some bubbles, do some gentle splashing. It is more comfortable if you have a baby bath seat or support so that you have both hands free, but of course remember never to leave her unattended.

Simple baby yoga - lie him on your lap or on the change mat and gently stretch out and cross over his arms and legs, perform a cycling motion with his legs to help digestion. When baby is a bit older this can be developed further, perhaps by looking for a class locally.

Nappy off time - after removing a dirty nappy let her kick on the change mat with no nappy for as long as she is happy. Great to get some fresh air down there, and also gives her the chance to kick her legs and get some exercise. I usually pop an old towel underneath the bottom just in case.

Go out for a walk - if he is grumpy, get out for a walk and some fresh air with the pram. If he is not asleep, talk enthusiastically about what you are seeing to keep him interested. "Look! A tree! Trees have leaves!"

I hope that this post gives you some ideas if you are struggling with a grumpy baby, I remember those times well and it can be very hard!

Amazon link is affiliate.

Monday 15 August 2011

Button Moon

Harry is very into Button Moon at the moment. I must admit that this is because we have pushed him towards it in a fit of nostalgia (Bagpuss is also on the to watch list).

Unfortunately, being an old programme, there aren't any toys available. But who needs plastic toys when you have cardboard boxes and a pair of scissors?

Playing Button Moon with cardboard shapes

Of course we only allow him to watch it because it is educational. He has expanded his vocabulary (telescope! spaceship! egg cup!) and improved his counting. Except that he now counts backwards (5, 4, 3, 2, 1, blast off!).

Saturday 13 August 2011

Getting more sleep with a sleep training clock

I am obsessed with sleep. Every morning I count the hours of sleep I have had, and feel pretty good if it's more than six.

Harry has never been a good sleeper. The early mornings (4.30am at one point!) started when he was about 4 months old. We've been woken for months at a time by him rolling on to his tummy and getting stuck, standing up in the cot and not being able to get back down, nightmares, many months of nights with two hours of continuous screaming, two months of waking up at 9.30pm on the dot every single night.  

The early mornings were the worst. We put him to bed earlier, we put him to bed later. We gave him more naps during the day and we reduced his daytime sleep. Some evenings he had a big dinner, some evenings a small dinner. We got up with him at 5am, we left him screaming until 6am. We went in as soon as he woke up and told him to go back to sleep, we ignored him as soon as he woke up and left him until 6am. We even tried going in to rouse him an hour before he normally woke up to see if that settled him back into a deeper sleep. Nothing worked, and fed up of hysterical morning screaming we learned to put up with getting up earlier.

At two and a half we had settled down to one wake up per night, settling quickly with a drink, and a morning start of around 5.20am. He was starting to drop his daytime nap and was getting so grumpy during the day due to lack of sleep that it just wasn't any fun at all for any of us. And with a new baby in the house, we were getting a bit desperate.

And then, one night in the early hours while I was up feeding the baby, Ram found the Gro-Clock Sleep Trainer (affiliate link) on special offer and so we thought we'd give it a go. We didn't really expect it to work. 

To our utter astonishment, a little over a month later, we now have a toddler that mostly sleeps through the night without waking - and more importantly 9 times out of 10 is staying in bed until the sun comes up, sometimes even later! 

So if you have this problem with your toddler, no matter how stubborn you think they are, I would absolutely recommend one of the many types of clock that are available. Here are some tips based on our experience:
  • Wait until your child is old enough to understand the concept. Harry was two and a half. They need to have the vocabulary and communication skills to understand about the sun, the stars, staying in bed and so on. 
  • We gave Harry the clock in its box and told him that it was a present for him, a "special clock". He quickly referred to it as his "morning clock". We let him unpack it and explore it.
  • The Gro-Clock has a demo mode, so we set it up during the day and practiced lying down when the stars were out, and getting up with a "Hooray, the sun has come up!
  • We started off setting the clock for a time before he usually woke up, in our case about 5.10am. Then after a few days we did a bigger jump to about 5.45am.
  • We continued moving the wake up time on the clock forward very gradually, by only about 5 minutes a week. It's still set to 6.15am. We're just not sure how much to push our luck!
  • The Gro-Clock comes with a little bedtime story book which reinforces how important it is to "stay in bed until the sun". We read it together. Every night. We can both quote it verbatim. 
  • When Harry did wake up before the sun came out in the early days, a few times he got very cross and continuously got out of bed. We returned him to bed with minimal fuss and emphasised that he needed to wait until the sun came up. When it did, we would go in and give him lots of praise for staying in bed (even if he hadn't exactly!) But this only happened a handful of times.
  • We talked a lot during the day about what a good boy he was for waiting nicely in bed until the sun had come up. 
  • You could think about a reward system, such as a sticker chart, but we found we didn't need one.

Of course, I may come back in a few months time and report that it's all gone pear-shaped. But we are still in shock at how well this seems to have worked! And we are much happier now with his sleeping, even if we do now have less time to get us all ready in the mornings. I would certainly recommend giving it a go. And we can forget for the time being that we have many more sleepless nights ahead until we do it all over again with the littlest one!

You can find some more tips on using a sleep training clock here - How to use a sleep training clock for an early rising child

Chessington World of Adventures

Chessington World of Adventures feeding a goat

Ram took Harry for a day out at Chessington yesterday. He had a great time on the rides, but his favourite part was brushing the goats in the Children's Zoo!

10 things to do with toddlers and tin foil

Here are some ideas for ways to entertain your toddler using tin foil!

Tin foil activities for toddlers

Rip it, tear it, scrunch it and create sculptures. Make cups and bowls for a tea party.

Drop it flat from high up and watch it float down, then crumple a piece and drop it and see the difference.

Wrap up and unwrap small toys.
Child wrapping toys in tin foil

Screw pieces up into small balls and post into a bottle or box.

Child posting tin foil

Make a tin foil river in the garden - a really fun activity for a summer day!

Lay a piece over textured objects on a hard surface and rub over with fingers, for example coins, leaves, brick, sand, small beads, spaghetti.
Stick pieces onto paper and paint over them, or dip scrunched up pieces into the paint and use to stamp with.
Pour some olive oil onto a sheet and paint and swirl with fingers.
Lay a sheet out on a soft surface, poke holes with a cocktail stick and hold up to the light or a window to see the patterns.
Child playing with tin foil

Lay a piece out on a soft but firm surface such as carpet and stamp patterns with household objects, for example duplo pieces, bottle and jar lids. Run over it with toy cars or tractors to create roads and train tracks.

Tin foil pressing toys

Friday 12 August 2011

How to make sensory bottles for babies and toddlers

Even really small babies like to watch you shake sensory bottles, and older babies and toddlers enjoy playing with them too. They are really easy to make, most materials are readily found around the home, and they will last for ages. All you need are some clean plastic bottles and some imagination. Just fill the bottles with interesting things and seal them tightly. 

How to make simple sensory bottles for babies and toddlers

For my sensory bottles I used lentils, quinoa, dried mung beans, coloured water, water with washing up liquid and coloured water with sequins and glitter. 

I used plastic bottles I had collected from free samples of fabric conditioner, and I sealed them with electrical tape. You could make smaller bottles with hotel sized toiletry bottles or use larger drinks bottles. You could either make a matching set, or use a selection of different sized bottles for variety.

Some other things that you could put into sensory bottles:

Rice, try dying some with food colouring
Olive oil
Tiny toys, such as those from from Christmas crackers or small Lego pieces
Coloured beads
Coloured shredded paper
Pieces of fabric
Confetti, or pieces of coloured paper
Tiny pictures, or letters and numbers cut from magazines
Dried pasta

There are also many resources on-line with further ideas. Child Care Lounge has an excellent list of suggestions, including more educational bottles which would appeal to older toddlers, for example magnet and counting bottles. 

Sensory bottles for babies and toddlers

Make sure to seal the lids of the bottles very well with tape or a glue gun, and only allow babies and toddlers to play with them under supervision. Check them periodically to make sure that they are still safe for your child.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Time for Mia

I was feeling a bit bad after posting the other day that I hadn't unpacked any toys yet for Mia. So I hauled down the big box of rattles, plastic teethers, rattles, sensory bottles, balls and books. I lay her on the changing mat and let Harry loose.

Baby on mat with lots of toys

It was fascinating to watch Harry interact with her, he loved playing with her. The game consisted mainly of Harry taking out one toy at a time and dumping it on her tummy with accompanying commentary:
"Here's a pretty one, Mia" 
"There you go, Mia"
"This one's got water in it!"
"I like this one!"

Although she didn't seem to be paying much attention, and did look a bit bemused, she was obviously entertained, and although not grabbing toys yet she was feeling the different textures in her hands and mouth. It kept them both entertained for quite some time, which is always a bonus, and it helped me to realise that it won't be long before there will be activities which I can do with them both together at the same time.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Why do babies cry?

I frequently find myself with reason to wonder about the reason why babies cry. Obviously, I understand that it is their only way to communicate that their needs are not being met. But sometimes the baby is fed, changed, winded, rested, at the correct temperature, entertained and cuddled, and yet they still cry and cry. 
From an evolutionary perspective it just doesn't make sense to me. Surely a baby crying for no apparent reason than cannot be soothed is only drawing the attention of unwanted predators? 

I found a very interesting article from The New York Times - A Darwinian Look at a Wailing Baby.  

It's a great article and summarises the thoughts of several scientists. It's obvious, but something that particularly stood out for me - the odds of an infant surviving to adulthood go up if it gets a lot of food, protection and care. Therefore natural selection should in fact favour genes for the noisier children because they will get more attention.

So it seems that although a louder baby would be easier for predators to find, a quiet baby would be ignored or passed over in favour of others, and therefore not have its needs met and risk not reaching adulthood. The benefit in alerting parents that one's needs are not being met therefore outweighs the disadvantage of being a potential advertisement to predators. 

Very interesting, and something for me to think about further as I pace up and down the corridors trying to soothe my own little one!

Why do babies cry?

(Please note that in the picture above Mia has just been fed and changed and is being walked about in my arms, she is crying because she is tired, I didn't make her cry just so that I could take a photo to illustrate the post!)