We have lots to say about the importance of what we do...
This week, our friend Melanie took over our Instagram to talk about all things baby nutrition! Melanie Venuti is a Nutritionist, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and owner of MV Breastfeeding and Parental Support. Along with teaching New Moms support groups, and offering private practice support, she has been working with families in various aspects of infant feeding and pediatric nutrition for almost a decade. As a Mom of 2 boys, Melanie understand the challenges that come along with the early weeks of breastfeeding, pumping to return to work, picky eating in toddlerhood and planning healthy meals for the family!
You can check out the whole take over in the video above, but we wanted to share with you a few key morsels of magic Melanie shared with us!
Imagination is innate in children but being over-scheduled can impact their ability to play creatively. One of the greatest gifts of this quarantined Spring is that children get to slow down and PLAY! Imaginative play encourages problem solving skills, both creative and logical thinking, and emotional skills such as self-regulation and empathy. Tune into your child’s ability to use their imagination. Are they talking or singing out loud as they play? Are they making up their own pretend stories with toys? When faced with a challenge, how quick are they to ask for help? How can you encourage them to come up with their own solutions before you solve the challenge for them? As a caregiver, you play an important role in supporting them as they build this muscle of the mind.
In order for imaginative play to take place, children must be given the chance to to lead AND make a mess. Your job as their grown-up and playmate is to provide a safe space that they can explore freely. If you are participating (which you do not always need to be), you must also go along with their narrative. If they want to be a green cat on its way to mars, your role is to be the fellow cat astronaut in the spacecraft. Adults can help children to stretch their imagination by asking open ended questions.
Use this video to help your child activate their brain and body! The last song “Magic Freeze Dance” by Hip Hop Jen can be used as a playtime starter. After the video ask your child to recall the characters in the song. Ask them to tell you a story about their favorite one. Remember to follow up with open ended questions and to commit you your character! The more engaged you are, the further their mind can run!
Books and stuffed animals are gold for early childhood development. Everyone has them and almost all babies love them. In today's at-home Baby Playtime video, I use these props in 3 different ways to foster baby's development. Enjoy doing this video with your baby or use it for inspiration as you come up with your own ways to play at home!
1. Using a plush puppet to teach body parts
Using an elephant puppet and the song "Elephants Have Wrinkles," we tapped each of our body parts as they were called out in the song. This can be also done to a simple song you know like "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes!" Baby will enjoy interacting with the puppet while also feeling the tactile sensation of the puppet tapping them from head to toe. Puppets are also great for pretend play, distraction during tantrums, and for younger babies- eye tracking practice! Just remember for eye tracking, puppet should travel up and down as well as left to right to balance out both the horizontal and vertical eye tracking muscles.
2. Using Mini Mouse to show levels
As you learned in our recent post about Conceptual Movement Education, our classes for babies, tykes, and toddlers build foundational brain and body skills through exploring movement concepts. In this video, we explored the concept of levels using auditory stimulation (music) and visual stimulation (mini mouse) to match high sounds with high movements and low sounds with low music. There are so many ways this can be done which are displayed in this video but the idea is that the stuffed animal is captivating baby's attention and hopefully after a few repetitions, baby notices the contrasting patterns in which the stuffed animal is moving. Depending on their personality, will show they are learning by staring intensely, giggling, or trying to participate perhaps by following and reaching for the toy.
3. Using the book "Where's Maisy" to build language skills as well as object permanence
Books like "Where's Maisy" and "Where's Spot" are awesome for babies 4-12 months old as they are developing object permanence skills. Rather than things being out-of-sight-out-of mind, babies are learning that something can be hidden and found which is SO MUCH FUN. These books use simple words and illustrations making them easy to understand while also using flaps to make it an interactive to find the main character. It's an absolute blast for baby and seeing them enjoy it will be a thrill for you too!
Music is a powerful force for all of us! Not only does it help us to express ourselves and connect to others but it is also a tool that supports early childhood learning. Our Little Beats classes are guided by music and the same can be said for almost all preschool classrooms around the world. As Jessica Baudin-Griffin, Intellidance founder, says "babies are born with rhythm" so it only make sense to pair academic concepts with music and movement!
In this video from our Little Beats From Home collection "Spring Yoga With Dani", you will see how the song "The Ants Go Marching" helps children to learn how to count. Pairing this song with the action of marching will help to further engage little learners so that counting can become automatic. This song is also great because it Is very repetitive. Repetition is important for children because it helps them to master different concepts. There are many other songs that can be used to support early math and literacy skills including:
If you'd like to learn more about the benefits of music for your baby, toddler, or preschooler, check out our blog about Learning Through Music in Early Childhood!