The ability to speak a language has often been cited as the attribute that distinguishes human beings from animals. Languages are highly complex: they convey more than a simple, objective message – they reveal our feelings, our intentions, our expectations and our experience. Reading between the lines is often seen as more accurate than listening to the words. This is exactly the case with babies! Their way to mastering a complex language is long and requires a lot of practice. Their learning process begins by careful listening and reading between the lines. Though they may not understand the word “no” yet, they know exactly what it means. By frowning, raising the voice and making clear gestures baby will grasp very quickly what is asked from him.

While adult language learners have to be taught actively, babies simply acquire the language, just as they learn to walk. Nobody has to explain to them how to form a sentence or how to convey a certain message. Right from the start babies know how to communicate their needs and desires.

It is also fascinating how the milestones of language acquisition within a limited time frame are strikingly similar across all languages although communicative interaction can be extremely diverse in different cultures. While Japanese may sound extremely complex and difficult to learn to a native English speaker, babies feel no level of difficulty because the acquisition of one language is practically identical to the acquisition of another language.

When babies’ hearing has developed in the womb, they listen to their mother’s voice attentively; and right from birth, they learn to look and listen how sounds are produced and what they could mean.

In fact, tests have shown that they can already distinguish between their mother tongue and a foreign language after 4 days by means of rhythm. Every language has its own rhythm which allows infants to distinguish languages early on.

Read on to find out how baby’s first language acquisition is structured.

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The La Lèche League advises to exclusively breastfeed baby for at least 6 months. You can continue to feed your baby exclusively after this time, if you wish so. However, many babies develop a desire to try solid food or they need filling up more. Banana or baby rice are a great choice for starting baby on solids. Your baby can also try pureed fruit and vegetables, raw or cooked. They are easy to digest and taste great. He will also enjoy nibbling a bread crust or rusks. Please read more tips about baby’s first food baby’s first food here.

Happy mother and baby

Your baby’s physical development:

Baby should be able to hold an object in his hand and feed himself i.e. with a cracker. He smiles often and confidently when being interacted into play and talk. Baby can sit without support and bear some weight on his legs when held standing. He may also be able to pull himself up into a standing position when sitting. He will object if you try to take his toy away from him and also try to reach for a toy by moving towards it. Baby is becoming more independent by the day – and more confident. He looks for a dropped toy and tries to pick up an object in his fist. When hearing somebody baby turns his head towards the direction of the voice. Peekaboo is now a great game!

He may already be able to creep or crawl by now and pass an object from one hand to the other. Maybe he can also get into a sitting position from lying on his front. Waving bye-bye and clapping hands is another challenge which some babies may have already learned. A few babies can also pick up tiny objects with their finger and thumb and walk whilst holding on to the furniture (so-called cruising).

Your baby’s emotional development:

At this age, baby is learning about cause and effect: when his hand releases the ball it will fall onto the floor. This is an important discovery and will take some more months and plenty of experiments to understand.

Slowly, baby starts to understand the meaning of often repeated words, such as “no”. This little word has a strong meaning and will thus be picked up quicker than other words.

Baby simply loves social interaction: play, talk and cuddles are all important for developing his confidence and trust. He is keen to imitate sounds, simple movements and facial expressions. This helps him to communicate as well as to get to know his physical abilities. He loves attention, especially when he feels frustrated about not being able to reach his favourite toy. Baby can express his anger very strongly now and your duties as parent will shift from caring to taking a standpoint when being confronted with his strong emotions.

There are a lot of games and activities that he will enjoy now. Take a look at our activity list for some inspiration here.

Whilst baby required around the clock care and attention during those first few months, he is now discovering fun and play time! If babies are already extremely active, their parents may get the impression that their offspring needs constant entertainment. Though this may be true for some babies, it is not difficult to offer a variety of toys and stimuli: your baby will love to sit in between mountains of washed clothes and watch you sort them and put them together. While cooking or ironing, you can tell your baby everything you do and why you do this. Your baby loves to hear from you even though he does not understand the words yet. Communication is an important aspect of baby’s relationship to you as he can already pick up your mood and intentions. It is also a vital factor in showing baby respect and appreciation. If baby indicates that the best place is near you, try a sling or carrier when going out, whilst doing some of your housework or simply to help him to calm down.

Naturally Baby\'s Best

Your baby’s physical development:

Your baby can hold his head steady when he is held in an upright position and raise his chest right up when he is on his stomach and supported by his arms. He will study very small items (though you should keep them out of baby’s reach) and grasp an item such as a rattle. When he is pulled to sit he can keep his head level with his body. He can roll over one way and already try to bear some weight on his legs. He may possibly be able to sit without support and some babies can even pull themselves up into a standing position when sitting. He may also move towards a toy that is out of reach. The development of his fine motor skills may allow him to pass an object from one hand to another and pick up tiny objects with his fist.

Your baby’s emotional development:

Baby will turn his head in the direction of a voice and smile spontaneously and in response to your smile. When trying to take a toy of his hands he may object and show disapproval by shouting and pulling his fists and body together in anger. This is a sign of becoming increasingly assertive as he develops his own will. You should respect his newly found independence and he will show real pleasure when he achieves something of his own doing. Baby can also be distracted more easily now as he likes to play during meals. In addition, he will be able to differentiate between members of his close family and strangers. If he suddenly starts to be scared of strangers, respect this and try not to force him to be held by those he does not know as well. He should be given time to feel comfortable around strangers.

There are a lot of games and activities that he will enjoy now. Take a look at our activity list for some inspiration here.

It struck me the other day: I picked up my little ones from nursery, just after lunch, which I always do. We went home and got ready for bed when my 2 year old monkey decided to make a scene. She threw herself on the floor, crying and whining. I kept absolutely calm and actually smiled. I was slightly surprised about myself because I remember those early days when both my youngest baby and my still very young daughter cried from the top of their voices and I was running around in despair trying to calm them. What a stressful time that was! I certainly didn’t feel in control then and it took me some time to manage both. But when did I become the “role model” of a parent? When did I become the parent that I always wanted to be: calm, in control, knowing what to do, fighting off other well-meaning parents with ease and simply devoted? Certainly, those early days displayed a completely different picture of me and I wouldn’t have blamed anyone criticising me for how I dealt with stressful situations because frankly, I had no experience.
Becoming a parent does not happen overnight though. It may technically be so but certainly not in reality. It takes a lot of time to grow in confidence by getting to know your baby and more about yourself through your baby.
To start with, baby’s developmental stages are challenging: they grow from being 100% dependant on their parents to wanting freedom to explore. Though as parents we grow too: from understanding the kind of care they need around the clock to finding out how much freedom we feel we can give to them. It is a balancing act to learn what we as parents feel most comfortable with. While some are happy to let their little toddler climb onto the table others will quickly take them off it again. Every little discovery seems to become an addition to the balancing act as the parent-child world expands into the real world.
Another question is how to control the baby’s ever changing behaviour? Some are likely to resolve the issue loudly while others try to explain everything with great patience. This again is a moulding process: we understand different aspects of our characters through our children. The continuous interaction allows us to discover an appropriate way of how to deal with them: a way that we feel comfortable with because we see that it works for all of us and a way that our children feel happy with, at least in the long term.

For more information about myself and inspiring articles visit www.babysbest.co.uk

Breastfeeding is one of the most enjoyable experiences in life. Though many first time mums have no difficulty embracing this new challenge, a lot of mums encounter a painful and often frustrating struggle when breastfeeding their baby. Here are some helpful tips to get you through the most common breastfeeding problems – the natural way.

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Engorged Breasts

During pregnancy, your breasts have prepared for breastfeeding which may have resulted in your breasts gaining in significant size. What is more, a few days after birth, once the milk shoots in, the breast can feel painfully tender, hot, hard and swollen. It is probably even more difficult for the baby to latch on as the nipple may be flat, thus creating more frustration. This phenomenon can occur within a few hours and once the breastfeeding process – supply and demand – is more established to work in tune, it will diminish quickly, usually within a couple of days. In order to ease the discomfort you can take the following steps:

• The best and quickest solution to reduce the pain of engorged breasts is to breastfeed frequently and long. Through your baby’s sucking the production of milk and the supply will start to run more normal.

• If the engorgement is too painful to wait for the next feed or your baby has obvious difficulty to latch on properly, try to express a bit of milk by hand before nursing.

• Wear a well-fitted nursing bra which is not too tight around the breasts. Some women may even prefer not to wear any bra in the beginning.

• If the breasts are still painful after nursing, you can try to ease the discomfort by putting chilled cabbage leaves on your breast (cut a hole in the middle for your nipple). Take them off as soon as the discomfort vanishes.

• Try a warm shower or put a warm towel around your breasts to help the fluids flow better.

Sore Breasts

First time mothers often suffer from hyper sensitive or even cracked nipples. While breast milk is usually the answer for every ailment, including cracked nipples, it may not always give sufficient protection.

• You can use Calendula ointment to speed the healing process and to prevent infections through the nipple. Even though it is safe for baby to swallow it is generally better to wipe any excess off before putting baby on the breast.

• In order to prepare the nipples for breastfeeding you can use Olive Oil in your late pregnancy stage – apply a drop twice a day. This will make them less sensitive and thus less likely to crack once you start to nurse your baby.

• Place wet tea bags, preferably chamomile, on your sore or cracked nipples. The properties in the tea will help with the healing process.

Breastfeeding during Illness

Breastfeeding is the best way to strengthen baby’s immune system and to make her resistant to germs and other bacteria. If you catch flu or some other virus, you do not have to stop breastfeeding your baby as you won’t be able to pass it on through your breast milk. However, your baby can become infected through other contact with you so it is important to wash your hands before handling your little one.

Too much Breast Milk

If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of breast milk, there are several things you can do.

You could donate your breast milk to The United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking. Thanks to breast milk donors human milk can be given to those babies who are unable to be breastfed naturally. It has proven invaluable for a healthier start for premature babies, thus allowing them to develop their immature system more positively. For more information about breast milk donation visit their website here.

However, if you decide not to donate your breast milk, you can also decrease your supply by taking two to three sage tea infusions per day. It can be very effective and will also help with weaning your baby, as it reduces the milk production slowly.

Lump in Breast and Mastitis

If you feel a lump in your breast or your breast is very hard and painful, please see your doctor or a breastfeeding specialist immediately. They will be able to give you necessary medication and/or advice.

Nurture your baby naturally at www.babysbest.co.uk

crying_boy.jpgMy two babies have been very poorly. They endured all the symptoms of a real cold, including shaking and fever. It was a living nightmare – as it is for every parent of young children or babies! I found myself rushing around the house to find some medicine – any medicine to make them feel better. In fact, one night my daughter’s fever seemed so bad that my husband got the sachet of Calpol out (the last we had in the house). His panic of that moment made him think that she needed something instantly! I forbid him to give it to her. The alternative paracetamol that she can take was in the kitchen so I made him walk downstairs to get the right medicine. We had a big argument about what to give to her as I would not give in. I explained to him that Calpol is full of food dye and E-numbers which are absolutely unnecessary. We once spilled some of it on our new beige carpet which is now stained forever as the dye is simply too strong! My point is that the added chemicals in this drug cannot be good for our daughter’s young and immature system – at least not in the long run.

I think our biggest problem that night was to find out what we believe to be best for our daughter: is it a fast solution to help relieve her pain and discomfort as quickly as possible or are we prepared to let her suffer that little bit longer just so that she will be healthier in the long run? What a dilemma! Every health-conscious parent has experienced the same dilemma – I’m sure of that.

We are faced with a conscientious decision as we try to give our babies the best start in life, yet reality can be in the way of every well-meaning parent. As babies and kids are most vulnerable when they are poorly, they fully rely upon their parent to help them feel better. If we decide to use herbal remedies, we know that it may take that little bit longer until the effects can be felt and seen. It can be difficult to explain to little ones why they are still poorly. With time and experience parents as well as their children learn how remedies work in the individual and how the weakened body tends to recover.

My two little ones have eventually found their feet back on the grounds and are now jumping and shouting again J

I hope you have been enjoying this blog as much as I have sharing some of my thoughts with you; I look forward to hearing your thoughts and questions.

Good health to you all

Tina Rychlik

Nurture your baby naturally at www.babysbest.co.uk

Not enough breastmilk?

March 18, 2008

Breastfeeding is highly influenced by the mother’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. Low levels of stress, healthy nutrition, plenty of fluid intake, emotional support and nipple stimulation through baby’s sucking are all important contributors to breastfeeding success. However, living circumstances often don’t allow perfect breastfeeding conditions: another child in the family, the death of a loved one, money worries etc. all add to an increase in stress levels. Other factors such as breast surgery can contribute to low amounts of breast milk. It has also been found that more women who gave birth by caesarean section encountered breastfeeding problems. This may have various reasons such as the initial separation between mother and baby or the physical pain as a result of the surgery which ultimately affects the mother’s ability to enjoy the breastfeeding experience.

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While the WHO’s (World Health Organization) guidelines of how long to breastfeed clearly state that baby’s physical and psychological health benefit most when breastfed for at least six months, inexperienced mothers often despair when they feel they do not produce enough breast milk to satisfy their baby. It can be an emotional rollercoaster when new mothers have to face personal stress as well as the fact that breastfeeding does not go “according to plan”. This downward psychological spiral inevitably results in the production of lower amounts of breast milk. Consequently, mothers often give up breastfeeding much earlier than the recommended minimum time of six months.

The following suggestions may help to increase the production of breast milk by either calming mother’s nerves and her system or by encouraging the body to produce more.

It is vital to rest when breastfeeding, so rest when baby is sleeping too.

The following herbs are known to help increase breast milk production:
Fennel, Raspberry Leaf, Alfalfa, Nettle, Hops, Blessed Thistle and Goat’s Rue.

o Fennel tea: It helps in different ways: it encourages natural breast milk production and helps soothe indigestion and baby’s colic. Its compounds help balance the female hormone levels and are thus very good for calming the nerves.

o Raspberry Leaf tea: It is recommended to be taken well before giving birth, in the third trimester, to help soften the uterus and thus ease the birth process. It is also very good to be taken after birth as it is full of vitamins and minerals and it is proven to help with the recovery.

o Alfalfa is a more common galactogogues (breast milk increasing herbs). Alfalfa proteins are rich in amino acids which are known to supplement any lack in nutrition and thus, help the improve milk quality and production.

o Nettle tea: like Alfalfa, nettle is full of vitamins and minerals which will help improve the quality of the milk.

o Hops: it has been known for centuries that it helps with breast milk production; however, it should not be taken over a long period of time as it can cause depression and make you sleepy. If you tend to have a depressive nature, it may be better to stay away from hops.

o Blessed Thistle: it is known to stimulate milk production effectively; it is a breast milk booster in combination with Raspberry Leaves.

o Goat’s Rue: it is very powerful and has shown to increase milk production by up to 50% in some cases as it may also stimulate the development of the mammary glands. It has no reported side effects.

Another more hands-on way of promoting breast milk production is simple pumping. As nipple stimulation helps the milk supply it is important to let baby suckle as long as possible or necessary. After a few days milk levels should be increased.

In our modern world many may find it difficult to relax and to rest. Having a baby, giving birth and breast feeding are all dependent on the body’s efficient work force. Please remember to allow yourself time to sleep and relax as much as possible in order to experience a more enjoyable time with your baby!

Nurture your baby naturally at www.babysbest.co.uk