Play is incredibly important — perhaps more so than many people realise — especially during a child’s formative years. That’s why under-fives, in particular, must be given ample time and encouragement to play. In short, allowing a young child the tools, time and guidance to play regularly will help them with many elements of their learning and development — and that’s critical. Indeed, that’s why good nurseries, pre-schools and childcare settings encourage children to learn in large part through play.
“Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children” (Paediatrics Journal)
The Benefits of Play
Regular play, starting from when children are babies, helps children in a myriad of ways as they grow to become first toddlers, then preschoolers, and beyond. The many benefits of play include:
- Firstly, it’s fun for them and is an essential part of a happy childhood;
- Play helps babies, toddlers and children to learn about the world around them, by interacting with all the things in it (under adult supervision, of course);
- Play helps to educate children about themselves, their abilities, strengths, weaknesses, skills and preferences;
- It teaches them about all the things they interact with too; from size and weight to texture and a variety of other properties;
- It improves cognitive function and aids healthy brain development …
Even newborn babies should be encouraged to be active, in order to learn and develop their abilities through interaction and play. At this age, this is achieved largely through activities known collectively as Tummy Time. This is an incredibly important tool for their early development. Tummy Time pretty much describes the essence of the activities — i.e. time spent awake and active on their tummies during their first year.
There’s a very good reason why high quality nurseries, pre-schools and other early years professionals encourage under-fives to learn largely through play. It’s the most natural way that they will develop physically and socially, learn about the world and develop skills like communication, language and problem-solving along the way. The beauty of learning through play is that it’ll also be great fun for the child, so won’t seem like a chore at all. It’s no different when children are babies and that’s where, for them, Tummy Time comes in.
The Benefits of Tummy Time
You are your baby’s favourite playmate! Babies, particularly newborns, totally rely on their parents for play as well as for everything else. Tummy Time should be a part of that.
- It helps them to build physical strength, particularly in their upper body, and helps them achieve various developmental milestones.
- Encouraging them to lift their head regularly will strengthen a baby’s neck. That’s important because their head is rather heavy for them when they’re first born and an otherwise weak neck will be a potential safety risk if not strengthened. They need to learn to control its position.
- Raising themselves onto their arms whilst lifting their head will take this a step further to increase strength in arm muscles, shoulders, core, back and torso generally.
- Doing all of this will also …
Continuing the entertainment theme from last month, today’s post looks at some popular jokes for preschoolers and toddlers. These are great for childcare professionals and parents to keep up their sleeves and are sure to bring a smile to children’s faces. Each one passed our own ‘chuckle test’, so are popular with adults too.
Take a look below (click for a larger view) — after all, who doesn’t need a bit of silliness and happy children to brighten the day!
Please feel free to share these on Pinterest, Instagram and other social media and to bookmark them in your web browser. The jokes are downloadable, so can be printed out for display, to brighten everyone’s day any time …
It’s surprising how many times Willesden and Willesden Green have made it into modern culture. After a little research, we’ve found that they’ve featured countless times on TV and in several pop songs, they’ve helped to launch careers of a myriad music legends and even shaped the global music industry. Take a look …
Willesden: Regular Filming Location for ‘Jonathan Creek’
Willesden and other north-west London areas close by feature regularly in the long-running BBC mystery crime drama Jonathan Creek. This popular series stars actor and comedian Alan Davies as the main protagonist. Other occasional stars who appeared in the series included Griff Rhys Jones, Rik Mayall, Jack Dee (who we’ll hear more about below), Bill Bailey, Nigel Planer and even Bob Monkhouse.
Jack Dee’s ‘Lead Balloon’: Also Filmed in Willesden
Actor and dead-pan comedian Jack Dee co-wrote and starred in ‘Lead Balloon’, a BBC4 comedy series that first ran on British TV from 2006 to 2011. The first episode actually achieved the highest ever ratings for a comedy on the channel at the time and the series later aired on BBC2 and to audiences on BBC HD. There were three series in total, with the first two being filmed in and around Willesden. Indeed, the main characters Rick (played by Jack Dee) and his partner Mel (played by Raquel Cassidy) live in a house located in Willesden. A café called ‘Michael’s Café’ in series one and two is, in reality, ‘Gracelands Café’, which is located just a stone’s throw from Willesden in Kensal Green.
‘Minder’ Used Willesden as a Film Location
Willesden also features in the British TV comedy-drama ‘Minder’ that was extremely popular on ITV/Thames Television from late 1979 through to the mid-90s. One of the two key protagonists, Arthur Daley (played by George Cole), kept a lock-up garage in Willesden and this is where he kept all his …
We previously covered the importance of healthy eating and exercise in children’s early years. Both play clear roles in a healthy lifestyle and in fighting potential weight and fitness problems. In today’s post we’ll take a closer look at obesity in young children, how to recognise it, and why it’s important to try to overcome it.
Obesity occurs when excess body fat accumulates in quantities that can be detrimental to health.
How to Recognise Obesity in Children
Apart from any obvious, physical signs, the easiest way to check whether your child has possible weight issues is to check their Body Mass Index (‘BMI’). While it’s not a perfect system, it’s an easy starting point to get a quick overview. The NHS has a great tool for measuring your child’s BMI, which you can access here. It’s quick, simple and free. Select the ‘Child’ tab at the top, enter their height, weight, date of birth, sex and the date of the measurements and then click the ‘calculate’ button at the bottom. Simple! The results are almost immediate and also include some useful guidance and links. Your child will fall into one of 4 possible categories:
- Your child is underweight;
- Your child is a healthy weight;
- Your child is overweight;
- Your child is very overweight.
You may find that BMI results reference centiles. These are a way of comparing a child’s BMI to those of other children of the same age. They use data from Nationwide surveys, which offer a useful comparator. For example, a boy who is on the 60th centile weighs more than 60 out of 100 other boys of the same age in the survey. The healthy weight category for children falls between the 2nd and
When it comes to breastfeeding vs. formula milk, there’s a good reason why the phrase ‘Breast is Best’ holds true. In fact, there are many benefits to breastfeeding including several for both baby and mother. Here are our top twenty-five:
15+ Breastfeeding Benefits for Babies
- Breast milk is nature’s totally natural food for newborns and little ones, containing nothing artificial or added.
- It’s tailored perfectly to the needs of the growing infant, adapting to their needs as they grow.
- It passes on antibodies straight to the newborn baby.
- It contains everything the baby needs for healthy development, including all the right proteins, vitamins, fats and even hormones.
- Breast milk also contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for the baby’s developing brain.
- Data suggests that at least 6 months of breastfeeding protects against the possible development of childhood leukaemia.
- It’s also likely to protect against the development of Sudden …
Last month, we mentioned what a huge topic formula milk is. So, in this post, we thought we’d explore all the different types of milk available to infants in the UK.
As a rule of thumb, the best type of milk for your baby is breast milk, given in tandem with suitable Vitamin D supplement drops. We’ve written a separate post about the benefits of breast milk here. Suffice it to say, though, that breast milk is best and has an enormous number of health benefits to both mother and child, including many that simply can’t be achieved by formula milk. That said, there are many reasons why formula milk may be the only viable option and we’ll explore the different types available in our Formula Milk Guide below.
First, though, some words of warning. There are several types of milk that you should never give to your baby if they’re under 12 months old.
Milk Types to Avoid Giving Babies Under 1
- Condensed milk a.k.a. ‘Evaporated milk’ should be avoided. This is milk (usually from cows) that has been thickened by evaporating off about 60% of the water. It is usually also sweetened by adding sugar and has a slightly darker colour than standard milk.
- Dried milk a.k.a. ‘Powdered milk’ or ‘Milk powder’ should also be avoided. This is liquid milk that has been evaporated until it’s turned into dry powder.
- Cow’s milk, goat’s milk and sheep’s milk should also not be given to babies under 12 months of age except when used in cooking and only then when it’s been pasteurised. After the age of 1 it’s OK to drink so long as it’s pasteurised.
- Soya milk, Oat milk, Rice milk and Almond milk, along with other similar drinks described as ‘milks’, should be avoided by babies under one.
- Rice drinks should also be avoided right up to the age of 5 due to the presence of arsenic.
What Types of Formula Milk Can Your Little One Drink?
Baby and infant formula milk comes ready-made in liquid form or as a powder that needs to be carefully and hygienically made up. The liquid variety is usually the more expensive of the two and needs to be used sooner, due to its shorter shelf life. Whichever is used, labels should be carefully checked to ensure suitability for the age of the particular baby/infant in question.
Note too, that there are many kinds of formula milk and one could argue that many of them are simply attempts by manufacturers to introduce niche products that appeal to a particular market or situation. As you’ll see, however, according to the NHS, some of the
More and more parents are bringing up youngsters as vegetarians these days, so we thought we’d put together a rough guide to raising babies, toddlers and preschoolers as vegetarians. When doing so, certain considerations will need to be made, including ensuring that meals are nutritious, containing all the necessary food groups, vitamins and minerals needed by the very young.
Babies will usually have breast milk or formula milk up until they are at least 6 months old. If they are only receiving breast milk, it’s recommended that they are given a suitable Vitamin D supplement, available as drops.
Vegetarian Formula Milk
There’s no need for Vitamin D supplements, though, with high quality, age-appropriate formula milk, as it’s already included. Formula-fed babies under six months should, of course, be receiving ‘First Milk’ (otherwise known as ‘First Infant Formula Milk’) and this contains everything they need during the first six months. It can be supplemented by solids once they start weaning, usually from the age of 6 months through to a year old.
The good news is that formula milk that’s suitable for vegetarians is available. Parents may ask their midwife or health professional for any recommendations in regard to types or brands, particularly if one formula milk disagrees with the baby. However, whichever brand and type is chosen, the formula milk must be formulated for the baby’s specific age. This is usually obvious on the product label.
Vegetarian formula milks are usually based on cow’s milk although many other alternatives are available. Parents who wish to limit how much dairy products their infant consumes therefore have quite a wide choice but, if they’re avoiding dairy, they need to ensure that the formula milk is fortified with extra calcium and is unsweetened. They also need to read up because formula milk is a surprisingly big topic and can be a little bit of a minefield. There are several concerns over soya milk and rice milk, for instance, but those are just two examples. Check out our Formula Milk Guide for much more information about all the different kinds available as well as which formula milks to avoid.
Moving to Solids
From around the age of 6 months, your baby will usually start the process of weaning off of milk and begin to eat solid foods, albeit given in puréed or liquidised form initially. This is when parents then need to be mindful of their child’s nutritional needs and this is even more pertinent when bringing up a child as a vegetarian.
The four main food groups that need to be covered are: