26 June 2022

Playtime, anytime!

In the first 1,000 days of life (first 3 years), your child’s brain develops faster than at any other time. Even more incredible is that before young children can even talk, you can help with that brain building. How? Through serve and return! >>Watch Building babies’ brains through play: Mini Parenting Master Class   With help from our…, What is serve and return?, Serve and return is a series of back and forth interactions between a child and parent or primary caregiver, where an adult responds lovingly and appropriately to a baby or toddler’s noises and gestures. Think of it as a game of ping-pong: it’s all about the back and forth — and having fun! The most important part is showing your child that you…, How do I practice serve and return with my child?, Building your baby’s brain does not need to be complicated and better yet, it can be built into every day routines and moments. Any moment with your baby can turn into a playful opportunity to learn! Here are some easy ways you can start incorporating serve and return into your everyday interactions with your little one.  , The 'name game', Rebeccka and her baby Naybare Sheba (5 months) at the POC (ISIS Point of Care Clinic) Mbarara RRH (Regional Referral Hospital) South Western Uganda. Add some fun to your morning routine! Dressing your child is a great opportunity to help her make important language connections. As you observe her interest in each article of clothing you put on,…, Food time fun!, On 23 July, 2019, Joaquín, 2, is offered broccoli by his mother, Rosina, during lunch at their home in a rural area of the department of San José, Uruguay. Explore your kitchen with your child – it’s full of exciting sights, colours, shapes and smells for your baby to explore. Support and encourage your child’s curiosity by paying close attention…, Bath time play, Daw Nyo Nyo Aye bathes her daughter Kyal Zin Naing (10 months) at her home, Lay Bway Chaung Village, Kan Gyi Daunt township, Irrawaddy region, Myanmar. Grab some bath toys or a ball and get ready to play! Let your baby pick the toy that grabs her interest first. Play with her back and forth, and when she’s ready to move to the next toy make a…, Point and learn, Zakir smiles as he watches joy on his son's face in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Whether it’s in the car or around the neighbourhood, there are lots of things to see when walking outside. Pay attention to what your baby seems interested in through his gestures, gaze or sounds and point to it while telling your baby what it is: “Oh do you see the bird? That’…, Food swap, Refugee mother feeding her baby at ADRA community centre in Belgrade, Serbia. When feeding your baby a snack, take turns in who does the feeding. Feed her one piece and let her pick up the next piece herself. Even if it takes some time, wait for your child to respond. Taking turns helps build her confidence and social skills. This would be a great…, Did you find this content useful? 
25 May 2022

What to eat when pregnant

Congratulations on your pregnancy! With all of the excitement comes a lot of questions, a common one being: What do I eat? It is important to follow a healthy diet at any time in your life, but it’s especially necessary during pregnancy. A balanced diet will help your baby to grow, develop and maintain a healthy weight. Read on for our tips on how…, How do I follow a balanced diet during pregnancy?, A nutritious diet is one that includes a variety of healthy foods from each food group (click to expand):, Fruits, Fresh, frozen or dried fruit are all great choices. During mealtimes, half of your plate should contain fruit and vegetables., Vegetables, You can eat raw, canned, frozen or dried vegetables. For salads, dark leafy greens are a nutritious choice. During mealtimes, half of your plate should contain fruit and vegetables., Grains, During mealtimes, make half of your grain servings whole grains. Whole grains are those that haven’t been processed and include the whole grain kernel. Some examples are oats, barley, quinoa, brown rice and bulgur., Protein, It is important to eat a variety of proteins each day. Meat, poultry, beans, peas, eggs, nuts and seeds are all examples of protein-rich foods., Dairy, When choosing dairy products, make sure they are pasteurized. Milk and milk products, such as cheese and plain yoghurt are good options to choose., Oils and fats, Limit solid fats, such as those from animal sources such as duck fat. Healthier fats can be found in other foods, such as some fish, avocados and nuts. Oils in food come mainly from plant sources (such as olive oil and canola oil)., What vitamins and minerals do I need during pregnancy?, The key vitamins and minerals you should make sure you’re getting throughout your pregnancy are (click to expand):, Calcium, Calcium is important for building your baby’s teeth and bones – aim for 1,000 mg each day. Some great sources include plain yoghurt, milk, cheese and dark green leafy vegetables., Iron, Try for 27 mg of iron every day. Iron helps red blood cells deliver oxygen to your growing little one. You can find it in lean red meat, poultry, peas and beans., Iodine, 220 mcg of iodine daily essential for your baby’s healthy brain development. Sources of iodine include dairy products, seafood, meat and eggs., Choline, Choline is integral to the development of your fetus’s brain and spinal cord, and you should be getting 450 mg per day. Milk, eggs, peanuts and soy products are good choices to add to your plate., Vitamin A, Carrots, sweet potatoes and green leafy vegetables all contain vitamin A, which helps your baby’s bones grow and forms healthy eyesight and skin. 770 mcg a day should be your goal., Vitamin C, 85 mg of vitamin C every day helps to promote healthy gum, teeth and bone development. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes and strawberries., Vitamin D, Sunlight, fortified milk and fatty fish such as salmon and sardines all help to provide the 600 international units of vitamin D you should consume every day while pregnant. Vitamin D helps to build your baby’s bones and teeth and helps to promote healthy eyesight and skin., Vitamin B6, Vitamin B6 helps your baby to form red blood cells – aim for 1.9 mg a day. Beef, pork, whole-grain cereals and bananas are all good sources of vitamin B6., Vitamin B12, The development and maintenance of your little one’s nervous system and the formation of red blood cells are just some of the benefits of vitamin B12. Meat, fish, poultry and milk will help you to reach the recommended 2.6 mcg per day., Folic acid, Folic acid is especially important for pregnant women. This B vitamin helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spine and supports the growth and development of the fetus and placenta. Peanuts, dark green leafy vegetables, beans and orange juice will help you toward your goal of 600 mcg per day. However, food alone is not enough to reach 600…, How can I make sure I’m getting enough folic acid?, Because it’s hard to get 600 mcg folic acid from food alone, you should take a daily prenatal vitamin or folic acid supplement with at least 400 mcg to make sure you are getting everything you need. If you are planning a pregnancy, start taking these as soon as possible or as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed. Speak to your healthcare provider…, What foods should I avoid when pregnant?, Pregnant women may be more susceptible to certain food-borne illnesses, which can result in pregnancy complications. During your pregnancy, foods to avoid include: Raw, unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk. These may contain  Listeria , a bacteria that can cause an illness called listeriosis. Food past its expiration…, How do I safely prepare foods while pregnant?, Wash hands with soap before eating Wash all eating utensils thoroughly after use Cook meat thoroughly Wash uncooked vegetables, salad leaves and fruit carefully before eating Store food at the appropriate temperature Consume food immediately after cooking  , How much more do I need to eat when pregnant?, During the first trimester, you don’t need to eat any extra portions. In the second trimester, you will need an extra 340 calories per day, and in the third trimester, about 450 extra calories a day. To get the extra energy you need, try to keep healthy snacks on hand, such as nuts, plain yoghurt and fresh fruit. To find a plan that works for you…, Can I follow a vegetarian or vegan diet while I’m pregnant?, If you are following a vegetarian or a vegan diet, it is important to make sure that you are getting enough iron, zinc, calcium and vitamins B12 and D. To find a solution that works for you, speak to your healthcare provider or registered dietitian/nutritionist. , Did you find this content useful?, Loading...
25 May 2022

How to teach your child to love reading

A love of reading opens the door to adventures, learning new things and a whole host of key language skills such as speech development and vocabulary building. Spending time with books also creates special moments for you to bond with your child and enjoy each other’s company. Just 10 to 15 minutes a day with a book is enough to spark your curious…, Start right away, Reading to your newborn helps to give them the best start in life. Babies learn language from adults who repeat and read words to them. When you read to your little one, talk about the characters and objects in the book or the sounds the animals make. Hearing your voice helps give meaning to the letters and pictures they are seeing. As you read,…, Model what a good reader looks like, It is important for children to see reading as something fun and pleasurable to do rather than a difficult task. What better way to teach this than to show them the ropes yourself! If your children see you reading often, it is more likely to encourage them. This will also help to promote time away from screens. If you have been away from reading…, Take turns, As your child grows older, take turns reading out loud to each other. If you have an early reader, this can be as much as asking your child to point out letters and words he recognizes. Next, take turns reading sentences. As his abilities grow, you can take turns reading pages and eventually chapters. As you read together, ask questions about what…, Listen to your child, As your little one grows, pay attention to her interests. If she is particularly drawn to a particular topic, like dinosaurs, try to find children’s books about that subject. This will help to reinforce that books are tools for learning more about the things we care about and she will be more likely to read if the subject matter is her favourite…, Make it a routine, Making reading an enjoyable part of your child’s life starts with incorporating books into your daily routine. Create a special reading time before bed or while taking public transportation. While you are together, make sure to limit distractions like mobile phones and television. Your time should be all about each other! Part of learning to enjoy…, Reading milestones, While every child is different, here are some of the milestones you may observe as your child's reading skills develop: Birth – 18 months Understands some simple phrases Looks at books and tries to turn pages Imitates speech At around 1 year can say one or more words 18 months – 3 years Can say 250 – 350 words at around 2 years and 800 – 1,000…
25 May 2022

Child regression: What it is and how you can support your little one

If you have noticed that your child has taken a giant leap forward (like finally mastering toilet training!) only to then take a step back (refusing to use the toilet!), you are not alone. Regression is common in growing children – especially toddlers. We spoke to Nancy Close, PhD, an Assistant Professor at the Child Study Center at the Yale…, What is regression? What causes it?, “I like to pair regression with the idea of progression,” says Close. “Most children have a very strong urge to move forward in their development (progression). There is a natural energy in children to explore, manipulate and master their world.” However, along with the excitement of being able to do new things comes stress. For example, a baby…, What do regressive behaviours look like?, Regression can vary, but in general, it is acting in a younger or needier way. You may see more temper tantrums, difficulty with sleeping or eating or reverting to more immature ways of talking. If a child has achieved something like getting dressed by herself, you may see a loss of some of those skills. “All of a sudden, your child cannot do what…, When does regression happen?, You will typically see regressive behaviours in toddlers and preschoolers, but it can really happen at any age – even with infants and older children. If there is regression in an infant it might not necessarily be as evident. A baby may be a bit clingier, need to feed more, be a bit whinier or cry more often than usual.  , Is regression common?, Rest assured, regression is common. In fact, it is to be expected and it’s very helpful to further development – think of it as your child’s way of preparing themselves for taking on more responsibility. “I see some children who may regress right before they’re about to make a big leap forward, or they regress right after they’ve made a leap…, How can parents help support their children through regressions?, Reassure your child. Let them know that they are safe and supported. Try to show them that you notice the regressive behavior without shaming them. Close suggests trying the following: “You are learning to do so many big boy things. That is such hard work. Sometimes you feel like you need my help.” Play can also be a helpful tool for working…, When should parents be concerned?, Some regressions can last for a few weeks, but it varies from child to child. Usually, if you can pinpoint what might be going on and provide children with support, they will be able to work through it. If it seems to be lasting longer than you think it should, around two to three weeks, Close recommends reaching out to your child’s healthcare…, Did you find this content useful?, Loading...
25 May 2022

How play strengthens your child’s mental health

Play is how young children learn and make sense of the world around them. While they are having fun, they are working on critical parts of their development like building motor, cognitive, social and emotional skills. But the power of play extends beyond early learning: it also plays a key role in building your child’s mental health – and yours…, Play helps to strengthen the bond between you and your child, Sharing in joyful moments of fun and learning helps bring children and their caregivers closer together. As your little one's first playmate, you have the ability to provide opportunities for learning and connection right at home. When you play together, you get to see the world from your child’s perspective. By providing your child with love,…, Play helps reduce stress levels, Playing games, dancing and singing are great ways to relieve stress for both your child and you. When you’re enjoying fun moments and laughing together, your body releases endorphins that promote a feeling of well-being. Even short periods of play together can serve as a powerful reminder for adults of their ability to support their child, and…, Play helps children process difficult emotions, When children are dealing with complex emotional issues, it often shows up in their play. Giving children space to play allows them to work through feelings such as pain, fear or loss while being able to still act like a child. Play gives them a way to express things they are struggling with that they don’t yet have the words to fully explain. By…, Play helps to build confidence, Solving problems and coming up with creative solutions during a game or while working on a puzzle give children a sense of accomplishment and competence. When you take time to play with your child, your little one is learning that they are valued and fun to be around. It is important that you give your full attention during playtime and invest in…, Did you find this content useful?, Loading...
25 May 2022

How to recognize signs of distress in children

Children have different reactions to adverse events in their environment. Culture influences the ways in which we express emotions. In some cultures, for example, it is not appropriate to show strong emotions like crying loudly, while in others it is widely accepted.  Some signs of distress may not be so obvious. Here are some of the signs of…, Common reactions to stress in children, Many of these reactions only last for a short time, and are normal reactions to stressful events. If these reactions last for a prolonged period of time, the child may need specialist support.   Age Reaction 0-3 years Clinging to their caregivers more than normal Regressing to former (younger) behaviours Changes in sleeping and eating patterns…, Emotional check-ins, The COVID-19 pandemic has been an emotionally difficult time for everyone and many children have been greatly affected. You should check in regularly on how your child is feeling. To check-in emotionally is to ask children “how they are” in a direct or indirect way. One check-in method is to ask your child to draw or paint a picture. Ask them to…, Activities to reduce stress and support your child’s well-being, These activities can be done with your child to help reduce stress and provide them with positive coping strategies that support their well-being. These activities are also beneficial for you and can be done with your child together.  Belly breathing Often when we are stressed our breathing becomes shallow, high in our chests, and we forget to…, Did you find this content useful?, Loading...
25 May 2022

How to raise a healthy eater

Good food and nutrition are the foundation of children’s health and bring benefits that can last a lifetime. Teaching your child about healthy eating from a young age will help them to have a positive relationship with food well into adulthood. And believe it or not, shaping these habits can be fun and healthy – not just for your child, but your…, 1. Promote positive habits, Your little ones watch everything you do – including at mealtime. You can be a good role model by reaching for healthy foods, beverages and snacks yourself, and engaging in fun physical activity. Choosing to put healthy, whole foods on the table sets a great example for your child. Try including your children in food shopping and preparation. They…, 2. Maintain a healthy relationship with food, Having a healthy mindset around eating is key for lifelong health and protecting against illnesses like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. You can help guide your young child by: Helping them understand whether they are physically hungry. This will help them to become in tune with their body’s needs. Staying away from using food as a reward or…, 3. Let go of “clean your plate!”, Although you might think this could help your child get the nutrients needed from food, these behaviours can lead to disliking foods and having negative associations with mealtime. If you can’t get your child to eat their veggies, try to have them see you eating and enjoying them yourself. Your little one learns about food choices from you, so try…, 4. Make portion control a priority, Oversized portions can lead to weight gain, so it is important to teach your children about how much food they should have on their plate. An easy way to teach your child about child-portion sizes is to use visuals for example: A closed fist is recommended for a portion of pasta, rice or cereal. A meat portion should be about as big as their palm…, 5. Start the day with a healthy breakfast, Mornings can be a rush for many families, but starting the day with a balanced meal helps your child get the important nutrients – such as calcium and fibre – needed for their growth and development. Try to create breakfasts with nutrient-dense ingredients like plain yoghurt and fresh fruit instead of sweetened cereals or pastries, which tend to…, 6. Make activity fun, Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Why not join in the fun? Try to plan family activities that get everyone moving such as after-dinner walks or swimming. And be spontaneous when you see an opportunity, like dancing together when a favourite song comes on the radio. It is also important to encourage your child to limit…, Did you find this content useful?, Loading...
22 April 2022

Talking to your child about climate change

Climate change is happening and nearly every child in the world will be affected. Talking about climate change with our own children can feel hard for many parents. It’s natural to want to protect kids from harm and worry. But if your child is a certain age, chances are they are already hearing about climate change, whether at school, online or…, 1. Do your homework, No one has all the answers about climate change and it’s okay if you don’t either. There are many reliable resources available online including talks, videos and articles that can help you brush up on the science. NASA has some great child-friendly resources on the topic. Speak with other parents to find out how they approach the topic with their…, 2. Listen, To start the conversation about climate change with your child, find out what they already know and how they feel about the topic. You might be surprised by how much your child already knows and can express. Use it as a chance to listen to their fears and hopes for the planet. Give them your full attention and don’t dismiss or try to minimize any…, 3. Use simple science, You know your child best, so make sure the information is appropriate for them. A good starting point can be to find ways to relate climate change to their daily lives and explore the basic facts together. For example: “Humans are burning fossil fuels like coal and oil to run cars, fly planes and light homes. These all release greenhouse gases…, 4. Go outside!, Try to expose your child to nature as much as possible. Encouraging them to play outside helps nurture their enjoyment of and respect for nature. When you’re outside together pause and point out interesting sights, whether it’s a tree, a cloud, a cobweb or a bird. The simple act of slowing down and taking the time to appreciate nature can help…, 5. Focus on solutions, For every problem you discuss, try to show a solution. Explore with your child examples of people who are working on ways to address climate change. Discuss positive and inspiring stories you see on the news or in your own community. Talk about what steps you are taking as a family, such as reducing waste in your home, saving water, recycling, or…, 6. Empower action, Young people around the world are taking climate action into their own hands and to the doorstep of governments . Others are building new ways to use energy more efficiently, sharing solutions on social media and walking in weekly climate marches. Let your child know that many young people are standing up for our planet and they can too. If they…, Did you find this content useful?, Loading...
30 December 2021

COVID-19 and the holidays: How to reduce your risk

Planning a trip or end-of-year celebration? For many people, this time of year is associated with gatherings of family and friends, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the new Omicron variant raise many questions on how to stay safe. Whatever you have planned for the coming weeks, we hope these tips help you and your family enjoy a healthy…, Be risk aware, The level of risk depends greatly on where you live. Follow guidance from your local authorities and stay informed about COVID-19 transmission and vaccination rates in your area. In places with low rates of COVID-19 transmission and high rates of vaccination, there is less risk for fully vaccinated people, but unvaccinated people, including…, Get vaccinated, WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and have been shown to be highly effective at protecting against severe illness and death from COVID-19. The vaccines also help to protect those around you. No vaccine offers 100 per cent protection though, so it is important to continue taking precautions to protect yourself and others even once vaccinated…, If you are feeling ill, stay home, Do not attend or host gatherings if you or someone in your family is sick or has symptoms of COVID-19. Stay home, seek medical advice and help stop the spread of COVID-19.  , Consider any travel plans carefully, All travel comes with some risk of getting or spreading COVID-19. Before you travel, check if COVID-19 is spreading in your local area and in any of the places you are going. Do not travel if you or your family are sick, have any symptoms of COVID-19 or have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Unvaccinated family members who are…, Take precautions while in public , Here are some of the key precautions you and your family can take when outside: Avoid crowded places, confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, and try to practice physical distancing from people in public, keeping at least 1 metre distance between yourself and others Wear masks when in public places where COVID-19 is widespread and…, Avoid large gatherings, Crowded, confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation and mass gatherings such as concerts, events and parties can be especially risky. If possible, outdoor gatherings are safer. If you are planning a get together with friends and family from different households, consider taking extra precautions before you meet, such as taking a COVID-19…, Consider the needs of your loved ones, The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for everyone and many people will be worried about being around groups of people, even their loved ones. If possible, try reaching out to your friends and relatives before meeting to see how they are doing and to talk about any concerns. Consider postponing any visits to unvaccinated family members or…