Friday, July 24, 2009

Singing Songs With Little Ones

You need not be a contestant on American Idol for a young child to like your singing. In fact, I can't sing in-tune very well at all, yet young children like when I sing to them. Whether it be "Wheels on the Bus", "Pat-a-Cake", or some song you just made up off of the top of your head, go ahead and sing to your precious little child. If you teach at a preschool, daycare, or church, then build time for singing into your lessons.

Some ideas on how to make singing fun are:

  • Choose songs with motions. Kids love marching to "The Ants Go Marching", moving back-and-forth to "Row Your Boat", and clapping to "If You Are Happy & You Know It"

  • Make up silly verses and actions for that verse

  • For a child who is 10-18 months, pause intermittently and wait for them to say the next word of the song. For kids this age, stick to singing just a few songs over-and-over until they get the words and motion. Then, add new songs to their repertoire

  • Find books that are song books. I have the "5 Little Monkeys" book and my daughter likes to act out the motions as she looks at the book

  • Listen to kiddy music during car rides or when playing around the house. Many cable plans have music stations. Also, many CDs and tapes are available with children's music and nursery rhymes

The above ideas stimulate the senses. They are good for the tactile (touch) sense such as when clapping or turning the pages of a book. They stimulate the vestibular and proprioceptive senses when moving around and balancing during actions made to the song. The ideas also stimulate the visual sense, especially when the child watches your mouth to sing or imitates your actions. Of course the number one sense that is stimulated when singing is the auditory sense!

If you notice that your little one has problems with imitating motions or is sensitive to noise, then consider that he or she may have problems with sensory integration and processing. See for "red flags" to sensory processing problems.

Alertness & Crying

Alertness & Crying

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to Identify Sensory Overload in Your Baby |

How to Identify Sensory Overload in Your Baby

How to Stimulate a 7-Month-Old's Senses |

How to Stimulate a 7-Month-Old's Senses

How to Stimulate a 3-Month-Old's Senses |

How to Stimulate a 3-Month-Old's Senses

Tummy Time

As I write this blog I hear a little giggle in the next room over. I don't even have to go look, because I already know what is happening. My husband and 13-month old son have this little game where my son lays on his tummy over my large yellow exercise ball while my husband rocks him back-and-forth or slightly bounces the ball up-and-down. I am convinced that my son likes this position because I worked on him tolerating "tummy time" when he was a small baby.

Tummy time is when you lay your baby on his belly. Some babies love this position for play or sleep whereas others don't care for it too much. There are ways to help a baby like this position more. Why even bother you ask? Well, tummy time is a position that helps promote:
  • Good head control to look up and turn the head to either side
  • Less spit-up in a baby with reflux due to the position that the belly is in
  • Arm strength when the baby learns to push up
  • A pre-cursor to learning to roll (3-5 months) and crawl (7-10 months)
  • Visual development and eye tracking
  • A position that might motivate the baby to reach and grasp for toys. This develops fine-motor skills in the hands which is a pre-cursor to writing, cutting, and manipulating utensils to feed yourself.

And the list goes on. One saying is "Back to Sleep and Tummy for Play". It is not recommended to leave a young baby on his tummy while unattended, especially if he can't lift up his head. This is due to the concern that the baby will re-breathe carbon dioxide that he exhales and can suffocate.

My experience with tummy time with my two children was a good one. They both loved it. But for some reason my now 5-year old daughter had to be entertained a bit more than my toddler son did in order to stay on her tummy for over 5 minutes. I bought a tummy-time activity mat, used a Boppy pillow, or got down on the floor to sing or talk to her. Many babies need a little coaxing. Unfortunately, some parents are afraid that their baby is in pain if the baby fusses. Another reason they may not put the baby in this posture is they are afraid the baby will spit up. If waiting 15-30 minutes after a meal this should not be a problem. In fact, it should help with the reflux symptoms after that time frame. A few problems that may exist when a baby really resists tummy time are:

  • tactile (touch) sensitivity: the most sensitive body parts are the face, belly, soles of feet, palms of hands and genitals. Often babies who have developmental delays, born prematurely, have genetic syndromes, or have had medical problems tend to have an over-responsiveness to touch. This issue can be addressed by slowly building up the time the baby stays in tummy time. Also, the baby could lay faced down on your chest as you lay on a bed. Also, the baby could lay over your thigh.
  • vestibular (movement) sensitivity: the vestibular system is the sensory system in charge of movement and balance. Some children do not like their head and body in different positions. Once again, slowly work up to longer time increments. For these babies, start out by having them against your chest as you are slightly reclined. Then, progress to laying flat so that the baby is on his tummy on your chest. Then, advance to putting the baby on the floor, a pillow, or your thigh on his belly. Some may even like to lay over an exercise ball.
  • A baby that has had heart or other surgeries on his chest or abdomen. This sensitivity will diminish once the scar tissue heals.
  • hypotonia (low muscle tone): some babies have floppy muscles, but they still need to be put in tummy time. In order to build up strength, put the baby in tummy time multiple times per day for small amounts of time. Also, these babies may do better if giving them motion input first such as bouncing them on your lap or "swinging" them in the air while supported in your arms.
  • Visual impairment: depending upon the visual impairment, some of those babies might only want to be held upright by an adult or sleeping on their side.

Those are just a few ideas to promote tummy time and give you reasons why it is important! So, go on, go play with your baby while he is in tummy time. You never know, he may grow up to be a teenager who likes to watch TV and play video games while lying on his tummy!