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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Baby Led Weaning

As babies grow from the newborn stage, through infancy, and into the toddler years, there is a natural and healthy progression toward independence that blossoms when a secure trust-foundation is in place. That trust-foundation is forged through the consistent meeting of a baby’s needs lovingly, gently, and empathetically by a primary caregiver.

When a baby is breastfed, his mother is naturally close and available and, when parenting by following her maternal instincts, tends to be in tune with her baby in a beautiful symbiosis of unspoken communication. At some point, a baby will begin to ‘taste-test’ foods, learning through oral exploration about the textures and tastes of foods other than breastmilk. This progresses to a decrease in need for mommy’s milk for nutritional purposes, but is often accompanied by an unexpected and dramatic increase in demand to nurse which can be quite disconcerting, not to mention annoying!

Parents have a tendency to assign motives to their children’s behavior, typically based on their own childhood experiences and/or their adult perception of the circumstances. In the case of the increased demand for nursing which seems inversely proportional to the need for nursing, the motives parents often assign to their toddlers are ‘testing’ or ‘pushing boundaries.’

But think of it from the toddler’s perspective. They have been gradually moving away from their ‘source’ of all things and exploring what can be a big, scary world for a little person. No longer are they completely helpless, entirely dependent on another person for everything, but, as their independence has increased, so has their awareness of the world around them and their smallness by comparison. It is at this point that the all-important source of nutrition shifts into a support role, becoming, literally, a touchstone of security. A toddler’s increased need to nurse is, in fact, a need for reconnection and reassurance, not discipline!

Obviously, nursing every five minutes isn’t practical and can be downright uncomfortable, especially with the accompanying toddler ‘gymnurstics’ (thanks for that fun term, twitter friend!). But this is an excellent time for a parent to learn how to remain in tune with their child as the ages and stages go by. Paying attention to the needs behind the behaviors is an essential element in a healthy parent/child relationship, and, once a little one progresses beyond the basic needs stage, that learning curve can get pretty steep. This is a time when parents can begin experimenting with new ways to engage with their children to meet those reconnection needs in age-appropriate and relationship-building ways, an important skill that will serve parents well in the teen years!

Here are some things to try when faced with a toddler insisting on nursing every few minutes:
Babywearing is one of my best tools, and I have a sling nearby for any time my toddler seems to need some closeness.
Reading picture books is also a daily (actually, multiple times a day!) standard at our house, and when my little one toddles up to me, book in hand, I’ll plop down on the floor in whatever room I’m in and take a few minutes to read a book and talk about the pretty pictures.
Sitting down together in the chair my toddler is used to nursing in and cuddling, reading, playing pat-a-cake, watching a DVD together, or even offering food or snacks to share, gives them a sense of sameness that is very reassuring.
Playing games, making silly faces in the mirror, playing dress up together, taking walks, going to the park, anything that assures my toddler that I'm still available to her and enjoy being with her helps to meet the underlying need driving the nursing demands.
Oddly enough, offering to nurse my toddler several times a day is very reassuring and actually decreases the frequency of the demands!

The main message here is to try different things until you find what works for you and your child, always focusing on staying connected and responsive to your little one's needs. Change can be difficult for both parents and children, but it can be an exciting time, too, as you get to grow with your child into the next stage of life!

L.R.Knost, author and homeschooling mother of six, is a Gentle Parenting advocate, writer, speaker, and founder of the advocacy and consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources. The Wisdom For Little Hearts series by L.R.Knost is a tool for parents, teachers, and caregivers to use in implementing Gentle Parenting techniques in their homes and schools. Other works by this award-winning, Christian author include a devotional guide, numerous church plays and dramas, a children’s homeschool language arts curriculum, and children’s church curriculums.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

FACS - Educate yourself with the 'Fac(t)s' about FACS. Pregnancy & Medication

This is a guest post blog by Emma. She has a personal and difficult story to tell.

As my first blog to be honest I don’t no what I’m doing. As me and my family deal with the effects of FACS SYNDROME I’m taking you on my adventure. FACS is caused when an Epileptic mum to be is obviously taking her medication to control her seizures, being great for the mum but has a devastating effect on the foetus. I had never heard of this condition until I was pregnant with my 4th child Erin. Being a nursery nurse and now a mum I always knew something wasn’t right with my babies’ as they weren’t progressing the way they should have been, nor were they reaching milestones. My mum had died very suddenly whilst I was pregnant with my 1st baby. She was 40 and died of breast cancer. This was a complete and huge shock and to this day I will never get over losing her. I was diagnosed with depression as my world crumbled. As the kiddies were getting bigger there was always something niggling at me. As Id been diagnosed with depression everyone was always telling me "Emma, you’ve got depression stop being paranoid the Kids are fine." I knew they weren’t. I was adamant and banged on about this, causing many arguments with my fiancée, family and friends. I got a call one day from my sister urging me to turn on Granada Reports. There was a lady on the TV appealing for women who had taken "Sodium Valproate- Epilim” to come forward as this could cause FACS Syndrome, she listed the symptoms and seeing that article on the news was like a light switching on and to this day has saved our lives. At that point I turned to my fiancée saying, "The kids have this." That is where were up to now.

All 5 of my children have been diagnosed with FACS SYNDROME and the symptoms we as a family deal with every day are: -

Cerebral Palsy, Severe Laxed Ligaments (hypermobility) Valgus foot, Asthma, Incontinence, Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Noise Intolerance, Facial Dysmorphia and many other symptoms.
I no you’re asking yourself "WELL WHY DID SHE HAVE SO MANY CHILDREN????" Quite simply I was never told of this condition throughout my pregnancies. I attended all anti-natal appointments with my fiancée and Doctor appointments. Never once ever was this mentioned. I was always advised to continue with my medication as it was controlling seizures relatively well and to increase my Folic Acid. THIS IS WHY I AM SO KEEN TO RAISE AWARENESS OF FACS. WOMEN OUT THERE ARE IN THE SAME CONDITION. FACS SYNDROME is now on the rise as all Epileptic Medicines such as:

• Epilim (Sodium Valproate)
• Carbamazepine and
• Tegretol

are being prescribed for DEPRESSION, MOOD SWINGS, PAIN RELIEF, ADHD, BIPOLAR AND AMAZINGLY MIGRAINE. Should this be allowed to continue???? No it should NOT. The Government is fully aware of this. As Trustee for OACS Charity and FACT Trust, our aim is to provide as much help and support to children with this condition and to educate the public about this. We have already taken it to Downing Street, (See picture). If it takes me highlighting my families’ difficulties and struggles to get the condition recognised then as a mum this is what I have to do. This is the journey my family and I are on.

Twitter: Emma4oacs

x x x

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

All you need to know about communication and kids...

Guest blog post for Vivien Sabel on communication and relationships
Dr Rosina McAlpine, Founding Director of Inspired Children,

We are social beings and connecting with others is at the heart of living a successful, loving and happy life. Imagine what it would be like to not be understood, to not understand others and to have no deep bonds with special people in life. Being able to communicate effectively is a valuable skill for nurturing personal relationships with family and friends and for building professional relationships as well. So good communication skills and the ability to develop key relationships are extremely valuable life skills for any child to develop.

Vivien Sabel’s Blossom Method™ is all about communication. Vivien can help parents develop their own ability to understand and communicate with their baby from day 1. This helps a baby to communicate and connect with its parents providing a great foundation for learning and life. As children mature their vocabulary and their understanding of communication grows. However, as you well know in your own day-to-day activities – effective communication is not easy and having a good understanding of the complexity of social relationships is even more difficult.

Helping your children to develop strong communication skills and to be able to nurture relationships requires more than just trial and error and a simple understanding of the use of ‘manners’ and social ‘protocol’. Communication and social skills need to be continually practiced and developed over time. As is age appropriate, your child’s understanding and skills can become more sophisticated through continual modelling, interaction, experience and most importantly your prompts for reflection, your guidance and your child’s continual development through daily practice.

It is so heartbreaking for a parent to hear the words “I’ve got no friends, nobody wants to play with me” or “I’m sick of being bullied. I hate school”. Yet the reality is that these are daily life experiences for many children. Helping children understand the complexity of social relationships, manage conflict, knowing what it means to be a good friend and developing their communication skills will help them make and keep the right kind of friends and navigate life successfully.

Here are some ideas for how to support your child’s development. Help your child understand that:

• communication is about an exchange and so there are times when they need to listen and there are times when they can speak.

• relationships are complex and often people don’t actually say what they mean and their words don’t match their true feelings or thoughts. It’s helpful to give examples or to point out and reflect on real examples of the complexity of relationships and to invite your child to practice using more than just their ears when they communicate with others. For example, invite them to observe a person’s body language and to learn to trust their instincts when they feel a person is not being truthful with them.

• learning how to cooperate and work in a group as well as understanding when to lead and when to follow are valuable skills. Other social skills include understanding how to avoid unnecessary conflict and how to be a good negotiator.

• by identifying the qualities your children are looking for in a true friend - they are more likely to attract and nurture supportive friendships and avoid unhealthy relationships.

• feeling angry is a normal and natural part of life. Things can go wrong and people can get angry! However, some people take their anger out on others and this can destroy relationships. You can help your children manage and express their anger in a way that does not hurt others. For example, you can model or encourage your children to walk away from a situation when they feel angry and take time out to look at the situation calmly. Once they have some perspective they can discuss what has upset them with more clarity and less emotion.

Helping children develop effective communication skills is essential to help them attract and nurture personal and professional relationships and to live in a productive, harmonious and enjoyable lives.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Silent Sunday

A friend of mine sent me some amazing pictures of Mother Nature at Her Best....I just love the smiles on this shot..

The photographer is unknown to me and the shot was discovered on the internet.