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Preparing Your Child for School

Foresight and preparation will help them transition smoothly and stress-free.Following up from our post last month about preparing children for nursery, we’ll now take a look at preparing them for school as they approach the age of five. Preparing them well will pay dividends on many levels, not least to make it as stress-free for them as possible. Foresight and preparation will also help them transition smoothly.

Any good nursery or pre-school will, of course, help your child to prepare for starting school. Indeed, attending a good nursery/pre-school is one of the best ways to ensure that your child is well-prepared, in readiness for school, so they can hit the ground running from day one. At Treetops Nursery School in Willesden, ensuring they are ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave us is one of our key goals.

Aside from educational and learning factors, how can parents help prepare their children for School? We’ll explore some of the options.

How Parents Can Prepare Children for School

There are quite a few ways in which parents can help children prepare for the start of Reception Year at school:

  • Your child will be more at ease if they know another friendly child starting on the same day.Have you sat down with your child and forewarned them what’s going to happen, when, how and why? Put their mind at rest so they’re mentally well-prepared, ahead of time.
  • Make sure you ask them if they have any worries or concerns. Allay any fears with common sense advice and ensure they know who to speak to at school if they have an issue.
  • Make it sound like a new adventure! Focus on the positives. Explain how exciting school will be. For example, there will be new friends, new activities, new games and new, exciting opportunities.
  • Tell your child which of their existing friends will be starting at the same school. If there aren’t any, try to reach out to another parent whose child is starting on the same day and arrange a play date for the two. Having a friendly face there from day one will really help them settle in.
  • Ensure your child gets sufficient sleep in the run-up to starting school. In the one or two weeks prior to starting, it is a good idea to get them used to getting up, getting dressed and eating breakfast at a particular time. Doing so will help their body clocks adapt in readiness. In the evening, of course, they should be going to bed at a sensible time so they get enough sleep. The last thing they will need is to feel unable to stay awake in their first week of school.
  • Most schools have a prospectus, brochure or website. Take a look through these together. Point out interesting and exciting aspects of the new school. Find answers to any questions your child asks and be positive.
  • Tell them about your first day or week at school, assuming it wasn’t awful, of course. It’s OK to mention if you were a little apprehensive, but that it all turned out well in the end and you made some excellent new friends etc.
  • It will help your child if they visit, so they're familiar with where to go, where to hang their coat and so on.It’s also great if you and your child have already visited the school previously, for example during an open day or evening.
  • Try to ensure that your child can take care of some of their personal needs independently. For example, in respect of the use of the toilet, hygiene, tying shoe laces, dressing and eating.
  • Social skills will also help them. So, a knowledge and confidence in their own communication abilities, social skills, table manners, understanding of right and wrong and so on will stand them in good stead.
  • Encourage them to have a desire to learn. So, give them an insight into all the amazing things they can discover about the world – and themselves – if they delve a little deeper and have an inquisitive nature.

Parents Themselves Must Also Be Prepared

It’s also important, of course, for parents to be prepared.

  • Ensure that your child's uniform is ready, fits nicely, and is labelled with their name.As a parent, you’ll need to know where to go and at what time. That’s the case for both drop-off and pick-up. Ensure you know whether the first day is going to be the same as a ‘normal’ day.
  • Ensure your child knows who will be collecting them and drill them about safety in this regard.
  • Ask the school, well ahead of the start, what safeguarding process they have in place in regard to picking up your child at the end of the day. There may be details you need to know on arrival.
  • Ensure that your child’s uniform, if applicable, and any equipment like sports kit is ready for your child to take. Does everything fit? Are clothes labelled?
  • Make sure you know what equipment your child will need. Ensure he/she knows where it is e.g. in a rucksack, bag or pencil case.
  • Does your child need a packed lunch and/or any snacks? You need to find out.
  • Do you have all the necessary contact details of the school or staff? Do they have yours?
  • Is everything prepared and ready so that your child is not late on the day? Have you timed the route at the appropriate time of day, so you know how long the journey will take? Turning up late will cause unnecessary stress, including for your child.

It almost goes without saying, of course, that enrolling your child in a nursery or pre-school setting well before they’re five will help them educationally, developmentally and in terms of preparedness for reception year.

Are you Looking for a Good Nursery in Willesden, Harlesden or Kensal Green?

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops is a wonderful nursery and pre-school in Willesden, conveniently close to Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green. It is one of the most popular nurseries in north west London, with high demand. For this reason, do get in touch as early as possible if you are interested in a childcare place your baby or child at the setting:

Preparing Your Child for Nursery or Pre-School

Parents & guardians can really help toddlers ready themselves for nurseryGoing from living a life at home with the family to suddenly being thrust into a new environment full of strangers would be daunting enough for anyone. It’s especially true, though, for under-fives starting at nursery or pre-school. So, the key is to prepare children for the change and, of course, for the nursery/pre-school to be very welcoming and accommodating. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the things that will help toddlers and preschoolers transition as smoothly as possible.

How to Help The Transition to Nursery/Pre-School

Firstly, and most obviously, it’s a great idea to talk to your little one so they get used to the idea of going to nursery or pre-school. Although they may not initially grasp what to expect, the more you talk to them about it and give regular reminders, the more they will be mentally prepared when the time comes. Describe it to them, focus on the positives like making new friends, taking part in new activities and games, having access to exciting equipment, and so on. Maybe even role-play some of the things they should expect, perhaps as part of a game (make it fun!).

Arrange a Visit

A familiar face will help to make them feel more at home right away.Once you’ve selected the best nursery or pre-school for your child, arrange a visit. At Treetops Nursery we’re always happy to show both parent and child around the setting, so they can see what’s what, meet the staff and children, and ask any questions. Both child and parent can even sit in on activities during an arranged visit to see if they feel at home, before committing. It may even turn out that they know some children already there and that also helps to break the ice and to hit the ground running once they enrol. If not, perhaps encourage interaction with one or more children that’ll be in their cohort during the visit. They’ll naturally then gravitate towards them once they start properly. Another tip during your visit is to make a note of whether any of the books, toys or games at the nursery are the same as you have at home. Anything familiar to the child will always help to make them feel more at home once they’re at the nursery.

Encourage Independence

Helping children become a little more independent will really help with their self-confidence once they start nursery or pre-school.Helping toddlers with toilet training, personal hygiene, speaking, communicating, following rules, tidying up after themselves, hanging up their coat, fastening shoes, packing their backpack and suchlike will also help them with their self-confidence once they start nursery. If they are a little more independent and able when they start, they will naturally also be a little more self-confident and relaxed at the new setting.

Listen & Reassure

Giving your child a voice is also important. Encourage them to ask you questions and take time to properly answer them, so they know what to expect. Find suitable responses to reassure them if they have any concerns and always be sure not to reflect any concerns you have onto them.

Set a Routine

A week or two before their start date, try to get them used to a daytime routine that mimics the timings at the nursery. For example, snack times, meal times, times for a daytime nap and so on. In tandem with this, get them used to a suitable routine for getting up in the morning, getting dressed (as independently as possible) and going to bed. Their body clocks will soon adjust to this in readiness for a similar pattern once they’ve started at the nursery. Sufficient high quality sleep will be essential, of course.

Keep preparations relaxed, soothing and feeling as natural as possible for your child.

On the First Day of Nursery/Pre-SchoolEnsure you and your child are fully prepared, on time, and stay positive on the first day.

When the first day of nursery arrives, ensure you and your child are fully prepared with everything you need, on time too. You don’t want to cause your child stress by being late or disorganised. Also ensure that each of your mindsets is positive. Focus on the positives and reassure your child by reminding them what fun they’re going to have and how exciting it is to now be going to nursery. Your child will only get one chance to get a good first impression of going to nursery! It’s also helpful to hide any negative feelings or anxieties you have about leaving them at the nursery (your child may pick up on these if not), so keep it relaxed, natural, free of fuss — and positive. Also remind them, of course, that you’ll see them later (N.B. be on time!) and can’t wait for them to tell you all about their exciting first day at the nursery. In any case, though, you may find they can’t wait to get through the door and don’t give you so much as a second glance, particularly if they spot a friend or staff member they met at the earlier nursery visit.

Consider putting your child’s favourite teddy bear or comforter into their backpack, so they don’t feel alone.

Consider putting your child's favourite cuddly toy or comforter into their backpack, so they always have a friend with them.Our childcare professionals have many years of childcare experience, so helping children settle in is second nature to us. Rest assured, we will ensure that your child has fun, feels relaxed and is safe at all times. We will ensure that this milestone in their lives goes as smoothly as possible and that their time at the nursery/pre-school is a resounding success.

Nursery Childcare Places in Willesden, Harlesden & Kensal Green

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops is a high quality nursery and pre-school in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green. It is in very high demand in the Northwest area of London, so please get in touch as soon as possible if you would like to enrol your baby, toddler or preschooler, or to arrange a visit. Please choose an option:

The importance of play for babies, toddlers & children under 5

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. Play is incredibly important, especially during a child's formative yearsIn 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:

  • Play is an essential part of a happy childhoodFirstly, 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;
  • Play helps children to improve their dexterity through fine motor skills like holding, rotating and moving small objects in precise ways to suit their intended outcome, all at the same time as honing their hand-eye coordination;
  • As they grow older, play also helps children to improve and develop their gross motor skills, enabling them to confidently and precisely control their limbs to lift, throw, extend, pull, push, move and eventually walk, run, jump and so on;
  • Play also helps children to learn from their mistakes just as much as from their achievements. That’s an important lesson that we’ve all gone through even into adulthood;
  • Doing so also helps children to get a more balanced view of the potential risks and rewards associated with carefully-considered actions and the comprehension of cause and effect;
  • Regular physical play helps children to remain active and more fit. After all, lying inactive or sat in front of a TV or other electronic screen has the opposite effect;
  • Playing helps children to improve social skills, make friends and form closer bonds with supervising adultsPlay also keeps children mentally fit as it stimulates their senses, brains and sense of adventure;
  • Regular and varied play also helps children to identify their own talents and interests;
  • Play stimulates children’s imaginations, leading to greater creativity and new ways of thinking;
  • Improved problem-solving and critical thinking is a natural, positive outcome of this;
  • Children also learn to interact with others through play, thereby improving social skills including communication, speech, negotiation, teamwork, leadership, cooperation, role-play and so on;
  • Children develop closer bonds through play, including with other children as well as any supervising adults. Through play, friendships naturally form;
  • With all of these benefits, children naturally become more self-confident individuals, becoming more able to tackle things independently i.e. with less need for adult direction;
  • Their emotional development also benefits;
  • Play is also a great way to relieve any stress, even diverting attention away from pain;
  • Playing with children also helps the supervising adult to immerse themselves into their child’s world, becoming more able to see the world from the child’s perspective.

Playing helps children to be more creative and to think differentlyAll in all, play fosters both physical development and mental development in children. Doing so sets them up with improved physical and cognitive abilities as well as incredibly important life skills. Combined, this also sets under-fives up beautifully for school-readiness when they leave pre-school.

We may follow this post up, at a future date, with some suggested play activities and guidance.

One of the Best Nurseries in Willesden, Harlesden & Kensal Green

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenAt Treetops Nursery in Willesden, our childcare professionals create carefully-planned opportunities for play using a huge array of stimulating equipment, facilities and programmes. That’s all part of the learning and development plan that’s customised for each individual baby or child at the nursery. It’s widely accepted that children, particularly the very young, learn best through play. This approach, together with the individual attention of our exceptional childcare professionals, is why little ones absolutely thrive at Treetops. It’s also why Treetops is so popular and in-demand as a nursery and pre-school in the NW10 area.

If you are looking for one of the very best nurseries in Willesden, Willesden Green or close to Harlesden or Kensal Green, please make contact while we still have some childcare spaces available. Please choose an option:

Call 020 8963 1259 Book a Visit Message/Email Us

Tummy Time for Tots: a guide for parents of babies including benefits, suggested tummy time activities & more.

Learning and development for babies is helped through activities known collectively as Tummy TimeEven 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 also 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.

  • Encouraging them to lift their head regularly will strengthen a baby's neckIt 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 begin to nudge them towards becoming more mobile and coordinated as they improve their fine and gross motor skills.
  • As babies get more used to Tummy Time, it will also give them more access to new sensory experiences as they can increasingly explore the world, suitable safe objects and textures around them.

Tummy Time can also happen with the baby facing you, to encourage them to strengthen control of their head and coreAnother important benefit of Tummy Time is that it helps babies avoid conditions like positional plagiocephaly (otherwise known as ‘flat head syndrome’) and positional torticollis (i.e. a twisted neck) because it allows them to change position more often.

Safety note: babies should only be on their tummies when playing and only ever under close supervision. They should sleep on their backs, as it is safer for them and reduces the chance of SIDS. So, it’s important not to let them nod off when playing on their tummies.

Example Activities

Tummy Time can include a variety of activities, each of which will help the baby develop those new skills and physical strength. Initially start with shorter sessions, for example 1-2 minutes and later 2-5 minutes at a time. Increase this gradually as they build up strength. By the time they’re 3 months of age, they should be doing Tummy Time for a minimum of an hour, split up into smaller sessions, over the course of the day.

Up to 3 months of age:

  • Several Tummy Time positions are possible, including supporting their weight lengthwise from underneath.You can lie the baby on their tummy (while awake of course) on a soft blanket or rug on the floor. Get down low so you can interact with them and play games like peek-a-boo at their level.
  • Alternatively he/she could lie across your lap with you supporting his/her stability with a helping hand and laying against you for extra support …
  • … or even position him/her on their belly on top of yours, so you’re face-to-face.
  • In any of these positions, you can ensure that you keep the baby safe while you encourage them to prop themselves up on their hands, elbows or arms and lift their heads, even if only fleetingly initially. A rolled-up blanket can help as support and to give them reassurance.
  • Another great Tummy Time position at this age is threading your hand and lower arm horizontally underneath their length, so you support their weight lengthwise from underneath, rather like you’re carrying them. Their limbs can hang down either side of your supporting arm (so they’re a little like a lion lying along a branch in a tree). You must, however, support their head and neck with your other hand/forearm. This position will give the baby the opportunity to take turns in supporting their own head and limbs, so strengthening muscles and developing motor skills etc.

3 to 6 months:

  • From the age of 3 months, you can try to encourage greater control from the baby by tempting them with toys and rattles. You can even move these around a little to encourage greater motor control like reaching out, following the direction of movement with their head position, as well as giving them the opportunity to practise and improve their visual tracking.

From 6 to 9 months:

  • Encourage the baby to support their own weight on their hand and arms (like a ‘push-up’ position) for short periodsEncourage the baby to support their own weight on their hand and arms (almost like a ‘push-up’ kind of position) for short periods. This can initially be done by helping to support them with a hand, lifting them under their chest or tummy. They’ll soon catch on and help to push themselves up and support their own head more and more.
  • Soon enough you’ll notice that they can pass a toy from one hand to the other.
  • At this stage, they should also start to be able to roll sideways from the tummy position, in either direction, going from tummy to back and reverting to their tummy position again.
  • Toys can be used to encourage them during these activities, so they practise reaching out and swivelling bodily to grab them. It’s like a full upper-body workout!
  • Before long, your baby will be able to site unaided, using their own arms for support.
  • Soon thereafter they’ll begin to crawl (usually around 7-9 months of age). Once they’re achieving this, there’s no real need to continue with Tummy Time exercises although spending some time on their tummy will continue to benefit them and build strength and motor skills etc. while they’re playing.

Then the real fun begins! Before you know it, they’ll begin to stand on their own two feet, supporting their own weight while holding on for support. Walking will be the next major milestone thereafter, on their amazing journey of life.

Are You Looking for an Outstanding Nursery in Willesden, or near Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green?

Tummy Time is all part of the excellent childcare services available to our youngest babies at Treetops Nursery in Willesden. As well as being a nursery for babies, we offer the highest quality weekday childcare for children up to the age of 5 and aim to get every one of them ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave us. If you are looking for outstanding nurseries in Willesden, or near Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green, please get in touch while places are still available — we’d love to hear from you and show you around:

Call 020 8963 1259 Book a Visit Message/Email Us

Jolly Jokes for Toddlers & Preschoolers

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.

As well as being entertaining, laughter is good for us. It lightens the mood and can cut through anxiety, stress and even pain. We’ll cover many more benefits and the importance of laughter in much more detail in a future post, so watch this space.

Nursery Places in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden & Kensal Green

The childcare team here at Treetops Nursery hope you and your children enjoy this light-hearted article today. We are an outstanding nursery in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green. We offer the highest quality weekday childcare for babies, toddlers and children under five in a safe, secure and well-equipped childcare setting. For more information — or to arrange a visit to the nursery/pre-school for you and your child — please get in contact today:

Overcoming childhood obesity — & why it matters

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 Exercise & active play are key tools for fighting obesity in young childrenguidance 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 91st centiles — quite a wide range.

If you are at all concerned about your child’s BMI or weight (whether overweight or underweight), consult your GP. They may be able to offer guidance or a healthy lifestyle programme referral. However, not all weight issues stem from incorrect food or exercise levels and can occasionally be the result of an underlying medical condition — another reason to check with your GP.

Why Does Childhood Obesity Matter?

The reason this is important is summed up perfectly by the NHS:

“If your child is above a healthy weight now, they’re more likely to be above a healthy weight as an adult, which can lead to health problems in later life.”

Statistics around childhood obesity, and their ramifications, are startling:

  • The age at which children are becoming obese seems to be getting worse i.e. reducing.
  • By the time they start school, 1 in 5 children in the UK are either overweight or very overweight.
  • Between year 6 and the age of 15, 1 in 3 children are overweight or very overweight — a very concerning statistic.
  • Once children are obese, there’s a much greater chance that they will remain so as they grow older.
  • By the time they reach adulthood, obese people are 7 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Heart disease and depression are also statistically more prevalent in obese people.
  • Premature death is twice as likely if you are obese.

Healthy, balanced eating habits also help to fight obesity at any ageSocio-economic background matters too:

  • Under-fives from deprived backgrounds are 2 times more likely to become obese.
  • 11-year-olds from low-income backgrounds are 3 times more likely to become obese.

And society is suffering due to obesity too:

  • More is spent by the NHS each year tackling the adverse effects of obesity than is spent on the fire service, police and judicial system combined.

All in all, fighting obesity early really matters!

How to Tackle Childhood Obesity

There are two clear ways that parents, guardians, carers and childcare professionals can help to ensure that children avoid weight problems and potential obesity. In essence, both come down to the child maintaining a healthy lifestyle:

  1. Through regular exercise, ideally starting from a young age so that good habits are formed early. Read our Guide to Early Years Exercise & Why it’s Essential here for full details.
  2. Through a healthy, balanced diet; one that contains the right food groups in the right amounts. Again, children should be doing this right from an early age so that eating healthily comes naturally as they grow older. Read our Guide to Healthy Eating for Preschoolers here for further information.

Both are great guides with some excellent background information, tips and more. So, perhaps bookmark the links and feel free to share any of our articles on social media or online. All we ask is that you link back to our original post(s).

A Healthy Start at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenThe childcare professionals at Treetops Nursery do, of course, follow exactly this approach. We supply healthy, balanced, meals and drinks, which are freshly prepared on site each day using only the best ingredients. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers also get ample, rich opportunities for active play and exercise as part of their tailored learning and development programme. All this, together with the excellent early years curriculum at the nursery, gives them the very best start in life and clean, healthy foundations to build upon once they leave us to begin school at age five.

If you are searching for the best nurseries for your baby or child in Willesden or near Willesden Green, Kensal Green or Harlesden you’ll find Treetops Nursery very hard to beat. Facilities and resources are excellent and the setting has a wonderful Ofsted report. If you’re considering a place here for your child, please contact us. We’ll be happy tell you more and to show you around. Please choose from the following:

Call 020 8963 1259 Book a Visit Message/Email Us

The Top 25 Benefits of Breastfeeding

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

  1. Breastfeeding benefits babies enormouslyBreast milk is nature’s totally natural food for newborns and little ones, containing nothing artificial or added.
  2. It’s tailored perfectly to the needs of the growing infant, adapting to their needs as they grow.
  3. It passes on antibodies straight to the newborn baby.
  4. It contains everything the baby needs for healthy development, including all the right proteins, vitamins, fats and even hormones.
  5. Breast milk also contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for the baby’s developing brain.
  6. Data suggests that at least 6 months of breastfeeding protects against the possible development of childhood leukaemia.
  7. It’s also likely to protect against the development of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (‘SADS’).
  8. Premature babies are also more protected against the bowel disorder Necrotising Enterocolitis (‘NEC’), which can be potentially serious.
  9. Babies are more protected against asthma if they have been breastfedBabies are also more protected against asthma if they have been breastfed.
  10. Breast milk protects children against allergic rhinitis.
  11. Children are less likely to suffer from severe eczema, wheezing and respiratory infections if they were breastfed as babies.
  12. Children who were breastfed as babies are also statistically less likely to suffer from ear infections.
  13. Evidence also suggests that continuing with some breast milk once a child starts weaning onto solids (usually around the age of 6 months) may protect them against the development of some food allergies.
  14. Breastfed babies are also less likely to develop gastrointestinal infections and diarrhoea.
  15. Many of the benefits of breastfeeding during early childhood actually continue to benefit the individual once they’re adults, which is remarkable.

10+ Breastfeeding Benefits for Mums

  1. Breastfeeding also benefits mothersBreastfeeding a baby reduces the chance of mothers developing Type 2 Diabetes.
  2. Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast cancer.
  3. They’re also less likely to develop ovarian cancer.
  4. They’re less likely to develop osteoporosis.
  5. Breastfeeding mums are also less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
  6. Their weight is also more likely to return to its normal level following pregnancy if they breastfeed.
  7. Breastfeeding a baby reduces the chance of mothers becoming obese.
  8. The uterus of mothers who breastfeed also returns to its normal size far sooner.
  9. Periods return later in mums who breastfeed, which could help with family planning.
  10. Last but not least, breastfeeding allows closer bonds to quickly form between baby and mother.

Treetops Nursery offers a private space for nursing mothersOur top 25 benefits of breastfeeding really only scratch the surface. Breastfeeding and breast milk have many more benefits including anything from saving money and being more convenient (nothing needs buying or preparing) to being better for the planet. With breast milk, there’s no packaging to throw away and it’s a totally sustainable food source, direct from nature. Incredible when you think about it.

Milk at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Parents/guardians of babies and children at Treetops Nursery are welcome to supply their own preferred milk, whether that’s bottled breast milk or specific types of formula milk. If supplying the latter, there’s no need to make it up as we can prepare it for your child, so that it’s more freshly prepared and the right temperature etc. Please do label your child’s milk/bottles/etc. with your child’s name, though. It’s also best to supply them in a cool bag, please, also clearly labelled. Nursing mums who wish to breastfeed their child at the nursery are also offered an appropriate, private space in which to do so.

Our Outstanding Nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden & Kensal Green

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenAre you looking for the best nursery for your child? If so, you’ll find Treetops Nursery very hard to beat. Our nursery is in Willesden, so is near to Willesden Green, Kensal Green and Harlesden in London NW10. It’s suitable for babies, toddlers and children aged up to five. Fees are competitive, facilities and equipment are excellent and we received a glowing report from Ofsted. If you’re potentially interested in a nursery place for your baby or child while some are still available, please get in touch. We’ll be happy answer questions and show you/your child around too. Please select from the following as preferred:

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Formula Milk Guide

In this guide, we explore all the different types of milk available to infants in the UKLast 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?

A young boy feeds bottled formula milk to his siblingBaby 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 suggested benefits have no compelling evidence to support them.

Parents can look out to see if any particular types or brands of formula milk disagree with the baby and consider switching if so. It’s wise in these cases to take advice from your Health Visitor or midwife.

  • First Infant Formula Milk, a.k.a. ‘First Milk’ is the first type formula milk that babies should be given unless otherwise directed by a GP or Health Visitor. If they’re not being given breast milk, your baby can drink this from birth right up until they are 12 months old. It can also be given while the baby is weaning onto solids (usually from 6 months of age). It’s based on cows’ milk and contains easy-to-digest proteins (casein and whey) along with all the vitamins and nutrients that your growing baby needs.
  • Goats’ Milk Formula is an alternative to cows’ milk-based formula and comes in several varieties, each with the same standards and nutritional values as the corresponding cows’ milk formula. It’s also suitable from birth. However, if a baby or infant is allergic to cows’ milk, they are just as likely to be allergic to goats’ milk formula due to the close similarity of the proteins involved.
  • Hungrier Baby Formula a.k.a. ‘Hungry Milk’ is, as the name suggests, marketed as suitable for hungrier babies and contains a higher proportion of casein protein. However, parents should ask their Health Visitor or midwife for advice before giving their infant this type of formula milk. They should also know that there is no compelling evidence that it has any benefits compared to the standard formula milk option.
  • Guidance on the different types of formula milkComfort Formula is another type of formula milk based on cows’ milk, but the milk proteins it contains are already partially broken down (partially hydrolysed). It is marketed as being easier for the infant to digest and, as such, a formula milk that will reduce the chance of constipation or colic. However, there is no evidence to back up such claims. It’s suitable from birth but parents should ask for advice from their Health Visitor or midwife before giving their baby this type of milk, and certainly not use it if their infant is allergic to cows’ milk.
  • Hypoallergenic Formula Milk should be used only under professional medical supervision but, when approved for use, is suitable from birth. This type of milk contains fully broken down (hydrolysed) milk proteins and helps when your baby is allergic to cows’ milk-based formula milk.
  • Anti-Reflux Formula a.k.a. ‘Staydown Milk’ is thicker than standard formula milk and is designed to prevent babies from bringing up their milk during or after feeds. It’s another type of formula milk that is deemed suitable from birth but only under the professional medical supervision of a Health Visitor, GP or midwife. It’s also critically important to follow instructions on how to make it up or, better still, speak to one of the aforementioned health professionals about it due to temperature and storage safety issues inherent in this particular type of formula.
  • Lactose-Free Formula is designed for use by babies who are lactose intolerant, although this is rare in babies. It should be used only under the medical supervision of a Health Visitor, midwife or GP.
  • Follow-on formula milk is suitable for babies aged 6 months or older (never less) although evidence suggests that babies are better off continuing with First Infant Formula Milk for the whole of the first year rather than switching to follow-on formula at 6 months. Ask your Health Visitor or midwife for advice if considering switching to follow-on formula and always read the label carefully.
  • Good Night Milk is another type of formula milk that’s available. Marketed as a milk just for bedtime, it contains cereal, but there is no evidence to suggest it has any benefits whatsoever over standard formulas. Certainly it should never be given to babies less than 6 months of age so, as with so many of these special formula milks, ask for advice from your Health Visitor or midwife before giving your infant this type of formula milk.
  • Soya Formula Milk is, in theory, suitable for babies aged 6 months or older. It may be marketed as an alternative to cows’ milk formula for those who have an allergy. However in reality, it should only be given to a baby or infant when prescribed by a Health Visitor or GP. That’s primarily because soya contains phytoestrogens, which mimic oestrogen, the female hormone. As such, there is a concern amongst medical professionals that the developing reproductive system in babies and young children could be adversely disrupted. Soya-based formula milk also contains glucose, a sugar that can potentially harm teeth.
  • Growing-Up Milk a.k.a. ‘Toddler Milk’ is marketed as being suitable for toddlers aged 1 year or older and as an alternative to whole cows’ milk. However, there is no proof to suggest that it has any benefits over cows’ milk, so parents are advised to seek advice from their Health Visitor if they’re considering giving it to their child.

Milk After 12 Months

  • We explain what milk children should drink after the age of 1From the age of 1: your baby can move onto drinking whole pasteurised cows’ milk as their main drink (or alternatively sheeps’ or goats’ milk so long as it’s also pasteurised) as part of a healthy, balanced diet. It should not be given to children before they’re one because it does not contain enough iron.
  • From the age of 2: they can switch to semi-skimmed cows’ milk if they’re growing well for their age, are not underweight, are a good eater and have an overall healthy, balanced diet.
  • Do not give children skimmed or 1% milk if they’re under the age of 5. It simply does not contain enough calories for their requirements.
  • Daily vitamin supplements are recommended from the age of 6 months up to the age of 5 although do not need to be taken during their younger period when they’re drinking the requisite amount of age-appropriate formula milk because that will already be fortified with the vitamins. Otherwise, though, vitamin A, C and D are available for children in drop form until they’re five.

Looking for Outstanding Nurseries & Pre-Schools near Willesden or North West London?

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenWe are Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10, and offer outstanding childcare services for babies and children up to five. We’re open Monday to Friday, 51 weeks of the year. If you are looking for the best nurseries, pre-schools and childcare services near Willesden, Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green, please contact Treetops Nursery and we’ll be happy to tell you more, answer any questions and even show you/your child around. Please choose a button below to start the ball rolling, while a few nursery spaces remain:

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Raising a Vegetarian Infant - Rough Guide

More and more parents are bringing up children as vegetariansMore 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.

Breast Milk

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.

Formula milk is available for vegetariansThe 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

There are four main food groups that need to be covered in a child's dietFrom 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:

  • Starch, which can come from foods like pasta, cereal, potato and bread;
  • Fruit and vegetables, whether fresh (ideally), tinned, frozen or dried;
  • Protein, which we’ll come to in a moment;
  • Dairy, which is OK for most vegetarians but not vegans. Dairy products need to be pasteurised, though, and full-fat versions are appropriate for little ones.

Sources of Protein for Vegetarian Children

Protein is often seen to be the most tricky of the food groups to cater for when bringing up a child as a vegetarian. With meat and even fish out of the picture for avid vegetarians, what options are available?

  • Many fruits and berries are great sources of Vitamin CWell, tofu and other soya products will contain good quantities of protein.
  • Nuts will too but you need to avoid whole nuts due to the potential choking hazard. So, smooth peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter or seed butters will help with protein. Walnut butter is a wonderful source of Omega-3 too.
  • Perhaps consider serving them on rye crackers.
  • Indeed grains are high in protein but should be provided in ground form for babies to avoid choking. Similarly oats, barley, rice and quinoa are great protein sources, quinoa itself containing all 9 of the essential amino acids.
  • Lentils, pulses, peas and beans are also great sources of protein.
  • Houmous (based on chickpeas) is also great for protein but, again, keep it smooth to avoid choking hazards in the very young.
  • For those not going the more strict vegan route, eggs and dairy products like cheese and yoghurt are good sources of protein. Eggs are a brilliant source of Vitamin B12 too, while dairy products are a great source of calcium and Vitamin D.

Your infant should have at least two portions a day of protein and these are essential in the absence of meat or fish, otherwise your child could miss out on not only the protein but also Omega-3 fatty acids, iron and amino acids (essential and non-essential varieties). So, protein from a variety of sources is advised.

What About Quorn?

Many vegetarian parents will eat Quorn (a popular mycoprotein) to replace meat. Is this any good for babies and infants?

While it is a great source of protein, it’s not recommended as a regularly eaten meat alternative for children under three because it can fill them up without giving them the necessary energy. That’s simply because it’s high in fibre but low in fat.

A Note About Iron

Some foods block the absorption of iron but there are ways to counteract that, including eating foods rich in Vitamin CIron is essential for growing children and can be found in many of the foods mentioned above. That said, it’s worth mentioning that some foods block the absorption of iron. Such foods include tea as well as whole grains and legumes containing ‘phytates’, dairy products containing ‘casein’ and eggs and dairy products that contain particular forms of calcium. The simple solution to many of these is as follows:

  • a) ensure the child has a varied diet,
  • b) for them to eat such foods away from main meals,
  • c) to include Vitamin C in the diet (as it will counteract the affect of phytates by binding to them) and
  • d) to soak, cook or sprout the grains, pulses or seeds.

In regard to giving Vitamin C to help increase absorption of iron, children can try satsumas, oranges or tangerines after meals, a drink of well-diluted fruit juice (e.g. 1 part fruit juice to 10 parts water) or to include vegetables and fruit high in Vitamin C as part of their meals. These include many fruits and berries plus many vegetables including asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, spinach, leafy greens, green or red peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and squash.

Vitamin Supplements

Age-appropriate vitamin drops may give parents peace of mind if their children are being brought up on a vegetarian diet. In fact, some parents on one or more specific benefits can receive free vitamin drops for children aged up to 4. These contain Vitamins A, C and D are suitable for vegetarians, also containing no milk or eggs. Note, however, that vitamin supplements are not required for children drinking the appropriate amount of nutritionally complete, age-appropriate formula milk each day.

We hope that this rough guide to raising an infant as a vegetarian is useful. It should only be used as a quick, introductory guide, though, so parents should do further research to get a more complete picture. It is also always wise, of course, to ask a health professional, GP or Health Visitor for their opinion on anything health-related for their individual child.

An Outstanding Nursery in Willesden

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops Nursery offers the highest quality, freshly-prepared food using the very best ingredients available to our in-house chef each day. Children’s dietary requirements are all catered for and that includes those on a vegetarian diet. This is all part of the excellent weekday childcare services and healthy approach to nutrition provided at our nursery and pre-school. We cater for babies and children aged up to five.

If you are looking for an outstanding nursery, pre-school or childcare service in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden, Kensal Green or London NW10, please contact us by selecting a button below. We’d love to hear from you and to show you and your child around the nursery, so you can see for yourself what an excellent setting it is and how well your child will fit in. Please make contact as soon as possible to avoid disappointment, while a few places remain available:

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Screen Time for Kids – The Benefits & Potential Pitfalls

Every parent knows that children love playing on handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets, as well as using computers and watching TV. To the very young, all these screens open up a magical world connecting them directly to colourful images, videos, music, sound and games. These can be almost addictive in their entertainment value for young children. However, is that a good thing?

When children are very young, they are at the pinnacle of their ability to be able to hoover up and absorb information and knowledge about the world. This makes them even more susceptible to being stimulated by the almost limitless array of entertaining content that electronic screens offer. So, surely giving them access to such screens is a good thing? Well … in moderation and with access to the right content it’s potentially hugely beneficial. However, there are compelling reasons why little ones’ access to electronic screens should be strictly managed. With that in mind, we’ll take a closer look at the topic to help parents make more informed decisions about how much time they allow their children to spend using mobile phones, tablets and computers, and watching TV.

Electronic Screens Teach Kids Stuff, Don’t They?

Toddlers and young children can have fun with handheld tablets & phones, while learning at the same timeOf course, that can be the case. What’s more, such handheld screens are a great way for parents to keep children entertained when perhaps they need to get on with other things. Electronic handheld devices also teach children about technology and introduce them to IT; essential skills for them to master in this day and age. Even games can be educational, with some designed to improve children’s numeracy etc. while at the same time being enormous fun. The key, though, is for parents to ensure that children are looking at the right content and not for extended periods of time. Ideally, it should be content that’s informative — i.e. content that will teach them something new, introduce them to new topics and allow them to make discoveries that will educate them. So, the content needs to be chosen and curated by parents — not the child.

Parents will need to bear in mind, though, that the content also needs to be fun and entertaining. Children will not watch for long, nor learn anything, if the viewing material chosen by parents is stuffy and boring, so a fine balance needs to be struck so that the child gets the most benefit, particularly from an educational perspective.

Dangerous Content, Screen Hours & Parental Control

At the same time, though, bad content must be out of children’s reach at all times. There are many dangerous and disturbing things on the Internet at all times of the day. There are even some on TV that are totally unsuited to young children, particularly after the 9pm watershed. So, parents must stringently vet what their children are watching and hearing on the Internet (especially), as well as on TV. As we said before …

Parents need to be in control of content choices, not the child.

Parents need to control what children view and listen to on handheld screens and on TV - not the children.There are some tools available to help parents accomplish this. While we don’t endorse any particular online safety application over any other, applications like Norton Family is a good example of one application that offers tools to help parents teach “safe, smart, and healthy online habits” to their children. And it certainly seemed to tick all the right boxes in a limited test that we undertook. Their ‘Parental Controls’ allow parents to be informed about sites their children are visiting and to block unsuitable ones completely. Android apps can also be controlled or blocked — useful if children attempt to use inappropriate apps or begin to get hooked on mindless games — or worse. The parental controls even allow parents to lock devices remotely, so children can’t use them should the parent feel their children have already had too much screen time.

Parents can also pre-set screen time limits and schedules for each day for each device their child is likely to use. This combination will help children to focus on what they should be focusing on, for example homework and useful learning materials, whilst keeping them from straying into dangerous online territory. The scheduling feature is also very useful to ensure children don’t spend too long staring at an electronic screen on any given day, perhaps at the expense of physical exercise or active play.

Of course, parents should also directly involve themselves in what their children are watching or interacting with on handhelds and TVs. After all, even the most clever app is unlikely to ever fully match the control possible through accompanied viewing from an adult.

Inactivity vs. Exercise

It goes almost without saying that regular extended periods of inactivity are not good for health and fitness. In our previous article Early Years Exercise & Why it’s Essential, we went into great detail about how exercise and active play is critically important to all humans, but especially in the early years. At that age group, it has been proven to not only help in the avoidance of some serious health issues like strokes, cancer and cardiovascular disease, but also to help children achieve better grades, improve cognitive performance and experience a whole raft of additional benefits. Those are incredibly important reasons why screen time should be limited and not allowed to replace active play and exercise. Click the bold green link above for full details.

Additional Health Concerns for Handheld Devices

There are real medical and scientific concerns over exposure to RF wireless radiationHundreds of scientist and medical professionals around the world are convinced that handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets are potentially harmful to humans, especially unborn children, when connected to Wi-Fi. They say that this is due to the ‘RF wireless radiation’ that the devices emit when connected to the web (etc.). What’s more, they appear to have some compelling science and research to back up their claims.

Some of the professionals concerned are involved in The Baby Safe Project, which aims to warn pregnant women and parents about the potential risks to health associated with wireless radiation used in handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets. As these risks may extend to harming unborn children, it’s a serious concern for pregnant women and parents to consider. Learn more about the possible risks of RF wireless radiation and ways to mitigate them here.

Technology for Little Ones at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenAt Treetops Nursery in Willesden we understand both the value and potential pitfalls of technology when used by little ones, so ensure we get the balance just right. Technology is great for education when used correctly and indeed is included as an area of early years education within the ‘Understanding the World’ element of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum at the nursery. However, staff at the setting fully understand that any screen time needs to be limited and, of course, the type of material being viewed is stringently controlled.

Please do get in touch if you are interested in a potential nursery place for your child at Treetops Nursery in Willesden. The childcare setting is also near to Harlesden, Willesden Green and Kensal Green in the London NW10 area, so may also suit parents who live or work in those locations. Please select a contact method from the buttons below to get started.

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