Communication: It’s all in the actions..

Communication: It’s all in the actions..

 

Are you thinking “she is off track”? “What the heck does the action have to do with communication??”

 

Well, hear me out…

If you pay attention to what your child is doing you will quickly see that they can communicate with you through their actions or behaviour.

When a toddler is throwing an epic tantrum what are they saying? “Help me”, “I’m done”, “I don’t like not getting my way”, “It is frustrating not being able to do what you can do”, and the best one “Why don’t you understand what I am trying to tell you?”

When you lay an infant down on the floor and he begins to cry what is he telling you? At first, you may think “He doe not like tummy time” or “he only wants to be held”. When in fact he may be hungry, tired, or not sure what is going on. If you get down on the floor close to him and give him eye contact or talk in a soothing manner the crying could stop before you even pick him up. Does this mean you have to stay on the floor with him all the time? Nope, it is just something to try to help him like it. You can sing or talk to him from a distance as well.

An older child may have a number of words but they often cannot use them to effectively express how they are really feeling. Their behaviour can be a very clear sign of how they are feeling or what is going on in their world. A great example of this is when our little (not so little guy – 7) is bouncing off of the walls or not able to follow simple requests. It can mean that he is super excited about something, he is worried about something, he has the energy to burn, or he is just having fun.

So I do believe that I have made my point very clear that children communicate with their actions or behaviour. You may be thinking that is great but what can I do?

 

 

Ways to Help Your Child Improve their Communication through actions?

 
1. Pair their action with words:

Give them the words. For example: when your infant is crying and you know they are hungry crying say ” I think you are hungry”. It sounds ridiculous but honestly, it is very helpful. This is especially helpful with toddler and preschool-aged children.

2. Respond to the Action

Give them the chance to communicate their needs. Children as young as 8 months can gesture but usually, it is closer to 10 months before a child can gesture for what they need. If you acknowledge that you know what they are asking for they will continue to use gestures.

3. Teach Sign

When children are responding with gestures you can teach simple baby language signs. The key is to pair the sign with words so they learn to communicate with words as well.

4. Use Visuals

You can have a series of pictures available for your child to use to express their needs. A child around 16 months can start to use this technique. Ask your child to “show me” what they want and they can start that at just over 12 months but it gets better closer to 16 months.

 

What do some actions mean:

Rooting:

This is when a child shows an action towards a breast. This can mean that the child is hungry (the most common reason); however, it can also indicate that a child is tired.

Crying:

When your child is crying you will be able to figure out what the various ones mean. Obviously, the high pitch very loud wail means “I want you now”. you will also know what tone of cry your child uses to let you know that are tired or hungry, trust your instincts on this.

Hitting:

This can often mean that child is frustrated or angry; however, it can also mean that a child is really excited. So depending on the reason, you can act accordingly.

Biting:

The main reason for this is pain or discomfort while teething. In infants this can be a sign of hunger. With Toddlers and Preschool-aged children it can be a way for a child to indicate that they are frustrated, angry or excited. Here is a link to a previous blog post that can help with biting,

Twirling hair:

This can mean that a child is trying to seek comfort from anxious moments. This is another behaviour that can indicate that a child is frustrated.

 

 

 

You are not mean, you are setting the limits!!

You are not mean, you are setting the limits!!

As we all know parenting has many amazing moments and some moments where you feel pretty crappy.

I really dislike being the “bad guy” but I do know that when I enforce a rule or expectation it makes life easier for us all in this house.

Some of you may have heard this analogy before but here it is as a reminder…

When we are watching or playing a game of football, we are excited when there is a touchdown and we know when the ball goes out it is out of bounds.

Imagine if there were no rules or expectations in the game of football. It would be confusing and not fun to watch or participate in.

This goes for being a child as well!

When your child knows what is expected they will know what has to be done and they feel safe/secure in their surroundings.

Yes, your job is like the one of a referee. It is your job to set the limits and expectations. Your child’s job is like the role of a football player, running around but pushing the boundaries as much as they can. It is your child’s job to push the limits.

So when your child is expressing their emotions remember that it is their way to check to see if this is really the boundary. If you stick within the limits you set your child will know what the expectations are. Children get very confused if the limits and boundaries are constantly changing.

“Set the Limit and stick within it”!!

Day Night Reversal

Day Night Reversal

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our new babies were born knowing the difference between night and day? Unfortunately, this is not the case meaning when you are exhausted and ready for sleep, your baby is ready to play! It is very common for newborns to want to sleep more during the day and be awake and feed more at night.

When you were pregnant, your baby was rocked to sleep when you moved about. When you slept, your baby became active and moved about. Remember those 2 am kicks? In addition to this, your baby was receiving melatonin from you. Melatonin is a hormone affected by light that sets our circadian rhythm. It is what helps us sleep at night and be awake during the day.

When your baby is born, he needs to rely 100% on his own body. The catch being that his body isn’t ready to produce melatonin yet. This doesn’t start happening until after 12 weeks of age. Your baby’s circadian rhythm doesn’t fully develop until 5-6 months of age.

This all sounds like bad news, but there are things that you can do right from birth to help your baby begin to understand the difference between night and day. This is a work in progress so don’t get discouraged if you do not see any changes right away. What you are doing is laying a foundation for when your baby is ready.

1) Twelve hours of “Day,” Twelve hours of “Night”

Marking when the day starts and when it ends is not only important for your baby, but it is the beginning of a routine for you too. As much as possible, divide 24 hours into two blocks – 12 hours of the night, 12 hours of the day. If you decide that 7 pm is the official “bedtime” then 7 am becomes “daytime.” The activities you do at night become different to the activities during the day.

2) Establish a bedtime routine

The bedtime routine is the main activity that distinguishes between night and day. After the final nap of the day, and you have offered your baby a feed, the bedtime routine becomes the “play”. Bath is the main activity that really cues you and your baby that all other sleeps from now until morning are different. Initially, you may not have a lot of time before your baby is tired so the bedtime routine may be quite short until your baby can stay awake longer. Your routine will adapt to it. Examples of bedtime routines may be:

Example 1

  • Bath
  • Diaper and Pyjamas
  • Feed
  • Swaddle
  • Kisses
  • Say “its sleep time”
  • Into bed

Example 2

  • Bath
  • Diaper and Pyjamas
  • Feed and song/story
  • Swaddle
  • Kisses
  • Say “its sleep time”
  • Into bed

Example 3

  • Bath
  • Diaper and Pyjamas
  • Baby massage/tummy time
  • Feed and song/story
  • Swaddle
  • Kisses
  • Say “its sleep time”
  • Into bed

3) Location of the Feed

Your baby is going to need a feed every 2-3 hours in the first few weeks. Trying to stretch out a feed during the day will not help with the day/night reversal. In fact, It may backfire as your baby will become really overtired which leads to not feeding well. Not feeding well leads to your child not being able to sleep well.

The 12 hours or day/night rule will determine where you feed your baby. During the day, you want to feed your baby where the action is. Noise and natural light during the day will mean this is a daytime activity. Talk to your baby and interact (as long as he isn’t too distracted to eat).

When it is nighttime (and this includes the feed in the bedtime routine), feed your baby close to his sleep space, keep the lights low, and keep stimulation to a minimum. Try to avoid watching television or being on your smartphone at night as the light and sound will mimic daytime but more importantly, it will keep you awake meaning you will have trouble sleeping after the night feed.

4) Light

During the day you want to expose your baby to as much natural daylight (and fresh air) as possible. When his body begins to produce melatonin (after 12 weeks), this will be especially important as the level of natural light triggers the hormone. During the nap, try to darken his room as much as possible, but it does not need to be as dark as nighttime.

Try to keep your baby’s room as dark as possible during the night. Depending on the season, you may need to invest in a “blackout” blind or curtain. A good one is the “Gro Anywhere Blind” as it is portable. When you are feeding your baby at night, have a dim lamp close by in a yellow hue. Green and blue lights are to be avoided as they actually stimulate your brain to be awake. Newborn babies do not need nightlights.

5) Stimulation

During the day, your baby can only sustain being awake between 45-75mins. During this short time, you need to change his diaper, feed him, and “play.” Playtime can be misleading because really your baby isn’t ready to “play” just yet. Playtime refers to interaction with you. Talking, singing, or being cuddled with his eyes open is really “play” in the early stages. You may only get 5 mins of this time before your baby is ready to sleep again. Fear not as this will increase as the weeks go by.

During the night, you want little to no stimulation during or after the feed. When your baby wakes in the night, change his diaper (this is to make sure he is ready for that feed), feed your baby near his sleep space, swaddle him, and finally return him to the crib. During the nighttime feeds, as much as you can, try to keep your baby awake to ensure he is having a feed that will sustain him for the next 2-3 hours. You may need to stop and start a few times during the feed. Keep your voice soft and low.

These different daytime and nighttime activities will all help your baby begin to reverse their confusion with night and day. 

Time Change Coming

Time Change Coming

Yippee (sarcasm inserted here) we have a time change next weekend! We will find ourselves moving our clocks ahead an hour. So if your child usually wakes up at 7 am the clock will say 8 am!!! You will look at the clock and smile but realistically it does not mean much 🙁

There are a few things you can do; however, you first have to decide if you are okay with the morning wake time.

 

If you are happy with the new wake time then do the following:

 

1. Naps will occur after the proper amount of wake time. This will make it seem like naps are now on hour later than they were the day before the time change. It is the clock playing tricks on you.

2. Bedtime will be one hour later than usual.

3. Maintain this new schedule.

 

 

If you are not okay with the new wake time then do the following:

 

1. Wake your child at the desired wake time. Expect your child to take a few days to adjust to being woken up.

2. Naps at the proper amount of wake time.

3. Plan for bedtime to be at the regular time which may feel like an hour earlier to your child. It will take time to adapt.

4. Be patient as this will take at least a week for your child to adapt to the time change.

 

 

The third thing you can do is go with the flow and adjust with your child as their bodies adapt.

 

This is most likely what we will do. I will put on my big girl panties and be patient with the little man while he gets used to the clock changes.

 

 

The final and most important thing is that you do not stress out!!

 

As with everything related to children, the calmer you can be the easier the transition is.

 

Take Care and Happy Sleeping!!

May the Weight be with you..??

May the Weight be with you..??

“Just one more hug”, “I can’t sleep”, “Can you lay with Me?” … Sound familiar?

Your little one may be stalling the bedtime routine or really needing that hug or snuggle to calm them before sleep. How do you know if it is a stall tactic or a need?

First, you have to trust your instincts. Second, if your little one likes pajamas a bit tight, loves to be curled up in the blankets or falls asleep with a hug you have a little one that loves the deep pressure.

Welcome to the club!!

If your little person loves deep pressure then a weighted blanket may be a great investment for you.

I have to say that a weighted blanket was a game changer for our son. He had a number of worries that would come out at night. He would often request extra snuggles. I started to really consider our options.

Now there are many cost-effective products available so I felt we had nothing to lose! (a few years back a weighted blanket would set you back $300 plus).

Before you go out and buy a weighted blanket, try using a heavier blanket on your child’s bed. Not all children will like the feeling of the weight. Also it is best to purchase a blanket that is no more than 10 to 15% of your child’s weight.

If your child likes to cover their head with a blanket then please refrain from using a weighted blanket.

If you are unsure it is the proper route for your child you can speak with your doctor or an Occupational Therapist for more information. 

If you are unsure if a weighted blanket would work then looking at a compression sheet or clothing is another option to look at.