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Tips for Giving Your Toddler a Haircut at Home

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 09/16/17

It’s a necessary part of life, but also a great way to drive your toddler crazy: the haircut. From about a little over a year old to sometimes up to 5 or 6 years old, some kids find haircuts to be one of the worst, most torturous things ever. It may be the sharp scissors coming at them, it may be having to sit still in the chair for 15-20 minutes, or if you take them to a barber shop, it may be all the strange new sights, sounds, smells, people, etc. Whatever the case, a haircut, while it may be necessary for your toddler, may be one of the most excruciating experiences for both you and them.

But still, unless you’re trying to grow your own personal Rapunzel, your child will probably have to get their hair cut at some point. If you are the one to give them their haircut, it can save a lot of money, and can possibly make the whole experience easier for them to tolerate as well. If you do the haircut together at home, he may be more comfortable than he would be at a barbershop, in a completely new and different environment, with an unknown person.

Here are a few tips to help giving your toddler a haircut at home be a smoother experience for the both of you.

1. Gather the appropriate supplies

At the very least, giving your child a haircut will require a chair, comb, and pair of barber shears. You can certainly try with your regular pair of household scissors, but barber shears will be much sharper and cut more precisely. You can use any chair, but a higher chair will be kinder to your back.

2. Let them get in on the fun of wetting their hair

If your child doesn’t want to get his or her hair wet, you can use a spray bottle to dampen it while you cut. It may help to let him have a turn at spraying your hair first and maybe his own, so he sees how it works, and give him warning before you do it to him so it doesn’t startle him.

3. Do the front first

They’ll probably be more apt to sit still in the very beginning so do the part that people will actually see then. Start with the bangs, and go from the outside of one eyebrow across to the other to keep it even. Use one head to gently secure his head to remind him not to wiggle around and so you don’t accidentally poke his son or eyes.

4. Work swiftly, but take just small snips

Of course when working with a wiggly little one, you’ll want to do it quicker than slower, but if you take small pieces, you can fix any mistakes more readily than if you cut in large chunks.

5. Tell your child how great their new haircut looks

Some big (and genuine) oohs and aahs go a long way for positive reinforcement for both his cooperation and how great he looks in his new ‘do!

Happy haircutting! 

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

Teaching Your 18-24-Month-Old

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 09/09/17

Many people are curious about what they should be teaching their toddler at each age interval. Toddlers in the 18- to 24-months range are a lot of fun and easy to teach! What they should be learning most can be found in all the teachable moments found throughout the day in just normal life with you.

Toddlers love to be with their parents. They love learning to help and be involved in the household, your life, and the world around them. The best thing you can do to help teach your child things at this age is to enjoy being with them, and just keep sharing and exploring the world with them.

Talking to them throughout the day is especially important. They may not be able to converse back with you yet, but they understand so much more than they can say. Explain and name all the things you’re doing as you go through your daily routine. If you’re putting laundry in the laundry machine, tell your child, “I’m putting laundry in the laundry machine,” etc. They will pick up on what these things mean and start to be able to mimic what you’re doing if you give them verbal instructions.

By 18 months old, you’ve probably found that they’re able to follow simple and even increasingly complex directions or games that you give them. If you just naturally involve them in your activities, they can learn even more, and even start to help out a bit!

Additionally, toddlers often enjoy certain things in batches. If you find that your child is taking an interest in music, indulge that new interest and explore it with him from lots of different angles. You can sing songs to him and play songs on the radio one day. The next day you could make a makeshift instrument out of pots and pans or things that can make a shaker, or play him a real instrument if you have one, show him how to play something simple like the xylophone or a recorder, etc. Another day you could go to a concert in the park, or something of the like. You can read books and stories about music. Or watch a tv show or movie specifically about music, or play a game. Get creative and find all the different angles you can share more about whatever is interesting them.

You can also incorporate life changes in a similar way – if you want to get a small pet for the family, like a fish, you can similarly read books about fish, do fish art, visit the aquarium, do a fish puzzle, cut out fish and fish-related shapes for a storyboard, make fish faces at each other at dinnertime, watch a fish movie (Finding Nemo is always a favorite, of course!), etc., and then follow it all up with the big climax: buying your fish at the pet store and bringing him home!

Teachable moments exist everywhere in everything for an 18-24-month-old. Get as engaged with them as you can, and have fun with it!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

Building Your Little Reader’s Library

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 09/03/17

Although Summer is almost over here in Vancouver, it’s as important as ever to keep reading with your kids. Here is a summer edition for adding some summer reading books to your little reader’s library. 

1. Little Bird’s Bad Word
By Jacob Grant

Little Bird has just picked up some a new vocabulary word from Dad bird, and unfortunately doesn’t realize it’s a bad word that shouldn’t be eagerly shared with his friends, or he’ll get into trouble. A great read and important lesson with fun illustrations to share together before your little one heads off to summer camp or grandma’s house, where they too may be exposed to a lot of new words.

2. Welcome to the Neighborwood
By Shawn Sheehy

Summertime is the time for camping and canoeing, hiking and playing in the woods, rivers, and lakes, having campfires and spending time in nature, exploring everything you can. This fun book has great pop-ups for lovers of animals and bugs to delight in, either before or after your big outdoors outings this summer. The pop-up animals are the kinds of animals you can find in the woods, ponds, or even in our own backyards, so your child will have the chance to see them first in the book and then try to find them outside as well. They’ll love it!

3. Good Night, Firefly
By Gabriel Alborozo

One of many people’s favorite childhood memories is getting to run around chasing and trying to catch fireflies. Nina is afraid of the dark and manages to get one to keep in a jar in her room to ward off the shadows. When her firefly’s light begins to grow dim, however, Nina must figure out what she needs to do for her firefly.

4. Toot & Puddle: You Are My Sunshine
By Holly Hobbie

Toot & Puddle: You Are My Sunshine tells the story about two friend pigs, Toot and Puddle. Toot is in a bad mood one day, despite it being beautiful outside, so Puddle takes to the task of trying to cheer up his friend on this wonderful day. He bakes Toot his favorite berry cobbler, takes him on a whitewater rafting adventure, even heads into the woods and invites friends over for a game of hide and seek in the trees. But nothing seems to help – until a big thunderstorm comes through. If you like this Toot and Puddle story, you can check out others in the series as well. Toot and Puddle fast become a beloved favorite for many children.

5. Ice Cream Summer
By Peter Sis

Do you love the sound of the ice cream truck coming around the corner in the summer? Your kids probably do! One little boy, Joe, has an incredible fascination with ice cream, and the bright, rainbow of watercolor illustrations presents fun facts about the invention of ice cream that kids will enjoy and find entertaining. Have them point out the ice cream incorporated into each picture for bonus fun!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

5 Books for Building Your Little Reader’s Library

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 08/26/17

One of the very best gifts you can give your child is the love of reading. Reading helps build vocabulary, broadens their horizons and imaginations, and can calm little minds before sleep. Reading also helps to strengthen the emotional bonds between you and your child when you engage in a ritual of reading, such as reading bedtime stories together every night.

But there are so many children’s books out there with colorful illustrations and bold covers, and titles that cover a mind-boggling array of topics these days. It can be overwhelming to know where to even start – how do you select good books with so many options?

Start building your child’s reading library with some of these children’s favorites:

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
By Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of childhood’s simplest but most beloved stories, with its fun mixed-media collages, and a history that dates back to 1969. The baby caterpillar eats his way through chocolate cake, ice cream, a pickle, cheese, salami, a lollipop, a piece of pie, a sausage, a cupcake and more, all of which are great interactive fun for little fingers to poke through the holes he leaves behind in each on his way to his metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly.

2. My Very First Mother Goose
Edited by Iona Opie
Introduce your little one to more than 60 nursery rhymes, illustrated with various fun animal characters. Enjoy this lovely book and have hours of fun together with the classic sing-song language of nursery rhymes, many of which you will know well from your own childhood, as well as some that are lesser widely-known.

3. Goodnight Moon
By Margaret Wise Brown
It seems that by the end of the toddler years, every parent knows this book forward and backward by memory. The tale of the young rabbit saying goodnight to all the things outside his window as well as in his room is a great story perfect for settling your children into bed at night. It has both black and white drawings as well as colored illustrations which will delight young eyes as their eyelids grow heavier as sleep approaches, both for the little bunny, and for them.

4. Guess How Much I Love You
By Sam McBratney
One of the only good ways to try to one-up someone else is to learn how to love and express it as much as possible. In another tale with a young bunny in it, that’s just what this bunny and his father lovingly do with each other in Guess How Much I Love You. Beautiful watercolor illustrations depict the sweet story about the two family members declaring how big their love for each other is.

5. Are You My Mother?
By P.D. Eastman
A baby bird falls out of the nest and takes off on an epic quest to find his mother. Is it the kitten, or the hen, the dog or the cow? None of them are his mother! Take your little one on the great journey with the baby bird to find his mother – and use the story as a good teaching point for what to do if your child is ever suddenly accidentally separated from you!

Join us again soon for more books for building your child’s reading library!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

Songs for Roadtripping with Kids That Won’t Drive You Nuts!

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 08/20/17

Knee-deep in summer, you’re probably out there with the family cruising around on some fun road trips all around the country to Disneyland, Grandma and Grandpa’s house, that timeshare you’ve been looking forward to all winter, the lake, and more.

Music is an important, quintessential part of the great American road trip with the family. Not only does good music help pass the time and the long miles, it becomes an unofficial soundtrack to your memories and your trip. But a lot of kids like music that’s different than what you like and it can get incredibly tedious and annoying.

If you’re sick and tired of your kid’s taste in music but want to keep them happy with upbeat songs and even singalong music, here are some ideas to pop on your car’s stereo to keep everyone happy.

1. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams

Who doesn’t love a song all about being happy? Kids will love the catchy tune and won’t be able to help smiling along with it.

2. “Firework” by Katy Perry

Katy Perry is always an upbeat favorite, with her peppy spirit and bright voice.

3. “Pompeii” by Bastille

This song by Bastille has a really catch chorus and bass beat.

4. “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus

The kids will love the chorus drop – just be ready to hear “I came in like a wreeeecking baaaaalllll!” pretty regularly!

5. “Royals” by Lorde

Smooth and soothing, Lorde’s song Royals has a darker, husky but still catchy feel and sound to it.

6. “Wake Me Up” by Avicii

If you need a song to wake you right up and make you all dance, this one by Avicii is it!

7. “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic

A fun song by One Republic, you and the kids will probably enjoy singing right along with it.

8. “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper

The kids will love this one for obvious reasons!

9. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

One of the most classic singalong songs of all time, it’s not only a joy to teach your little ones this one, but it’s probably some sort of official duty to do so!

10. “Piano Man” by Billy Joel

Another classic singalong, the kids will enjoy hearing the piano and the harmonica, instruments you don’t get to hear very often in contemporary music.

11. “We Will Rock You” by Queen

Let the kids stomp it out for just this song, and they’ll get some of that energy out and also have a blast!

12. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole

This is a great song that every kid should definitely hear and will enjoy. Soothing, calm, and fun to sing along with.

13. “Life Is A Highway” by Rascal Flatts

Obviously you have to play Life is a Highway on a road trip! Roll down the windows, and let the whole family rock out!

14. “American Pie” by Don McLean

A nice long, multi-versed song that also weaves a story and gives a good teaching opportunity about a moment in history and some big voices in music, the epic American Pie is both fun and educational!

These should be some great alternatives to an endless loop of “Let it Go” for your next road trip, so pop them on your car stereo, drive safe, and have a blast singing!

3 Great Summer Travel Destinations with Kids

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 08/05/17

Ready to round up the kids and get out of Chicago for a vacation? The air is getting warmer and traveling with your kids during summer is one of the best ways to make some great lasting memories. So fill up the car, pull up that airfare site, it’s time to brush off those summer travel shoes!

Here are 3 ideas for great destinations to head to with the kids this summer:

1. New York City, New York

The Big Apple is always a classic for summer vacation destinations, and if you or your little one has never been, there’s no time like the present to go check out America’s most famous city. Towering skyscrapers, famous (and infamous) landmarks, a unique and unforgettable culture – you and the family will have so much fun exploring the distinctive and various neighborhoods and boroughs of New York City. Cruise the shops or play games in the coffee shops of the East Village and Brooklyn, marvel at the opulent spending options down Fifth Avenue, and explore the many museums like the Museum of Natural History to see the dinosaurs. You can catch a show on Broadway, wander around the busy and bustling Times Square, take them up to see the city view from the Top of the Rock, go get silly and play some Frisbee in Central Park and ride the merry go round or visit the zoo, go for a free ride on the Staten Island ferry and see the views of the city and Statue of Liberty, pop into the Staten Island Children’s Museum for lots of hands-on exhibits, and enjoy just wandering around and exploring the delightful streets of New York City with your family.

2. Houseboating at Lake Powell

For a really fun but relaxing vacation with family, friends, and the kids, houseboating is a great option. You can rent a houseboat without any kind of water vessel license and take it to cruise around the incredible sandstone canyons and coastlines of Lake Powell. Once you have your houseboat, you have free rein of the whole lake, and you can stop wherever you want to play, camp, have a campfire on the land, or you can just stay out on the water and go fishing, frolic on the boat, slide down your boat’s waterslide, waterski or tube. This area is one of the most beautiful of the country. Also worth checking out in the broader area, if you can make a larger road trip of being in the Southwest, is the incredible corkscrew Antelope Canyon, the massive and picturesque Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley, Four Corners where your kids can have fun standing in 4 states at once (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico), and, of course, a little farther south, the rightly famous Grand Canyon. Every kid should go see that great hole in the ground at least once!

3. Whistler, Canada

This beautiful hotspot for winter sports also makes for a fun, friendly, adventurous and naturally beautiful summer destination. The kids will love splashing in and around the sparkling lakes while you’ll love watching them enjoy nature with an unreal backdrop of snowy, craggy peaks and brilliant blue skies. The Whistler Blackcomb Mountain, located about 80 miles north of Vancouver, sprawls across more than 8,100 acres of land and you can go hiking, biking, or even bungee jumping. Take the kids on the adventurous and impressive PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, which connects the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in one of the most beautiful rides you could ever ask for. The area also boasts a collection of good art galleries and museums with fun and informative exhibits, summer concerts, and tons of shopping and dining options. Happy Travels!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

Building Your Little Reader’s Library

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 07/29/17

Summer is here in Vancouver and it’s as important as ever to keep reading with your kids. Here is a summer edition for adding some summer reading books to your little reader’s library. 

1. Little Bird’s Bad Word
By Jacob Grant

Little Bird has just picked up some a new vocabulary word from Dad bird, and unfortunately doesn’t realize it’s a bad word that shouldn’t be eagerly shared with his friends, or he’ll get into trouble. A great read and important lesson with fun illustrations to share together before your little one heads off to summer camp or grandma’s house, where they too may be exposed to a lot of new words.

2. Welcome to the Neighborwood
By Shawn Sheehy

Summertime is the time for camping and canoeing, hiking and playing in the woods, rivers, and lakes, having campfires and spending time in nature, exploring everything you can. This fun book has great pop-ups for lovers of animals and bugs to delight in, either before or after your big outdoors outings this summer. The pop-up animals are the kinds of animals you can find in the woods, ponds, or even in our own backyards, so your child will have the chance to see them first in the book and then try to find them outside as well. They’ll love it!

3. Good Night, Firefly
By Gabriel Alborozo

One of many people’s favorite childhood memories is getting to run around chasing and trying to catch fireflies. Nina is afraid of the dark and manages to get one to keep in a jar in her room to ward off the shadows. When her firefly’s light begins to grow dim, however, Nina must figure out what she needs to do for her firefly.

4. Toot & Puddle: You Are My Sunshine
By Holly Hobbie

Toot & Puddle: You Are My Sunshine tells the story about two friend pigs, Toot and Puddle. Toot is in a bad mood one day, despite it being beautiful outside, so Puddle takes to the task of trying to cheer up his friend on this wonderful day. He bakes Toot his favorite berry cobbler, takes him on a whitewater rafting adventure, even heads into the woods and invites friends over for a game of hide and seek in the trees. But nothing seems to help – until a big thunderstorm comes through. If you like this Toot and Puddle story, you can check out others in the series as well. Toot and Puddle fast become a beloved favorite for many children.

5. Ice Cream Summer
By Peter Sis

Do you love the sound of the ice cream truck coming around the corner in the summer? Your kids probably do! One little boy, Joe, has an incredible fascination with ice cream, and the bright, rainbow of watercolor illustrations presents fun facts about the invention of ice cream that kids will enjoy and find entertaining. Have them point out the ice cream incorporated into each picture for bonus fun!

Happy summer reading!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

Want to raise successful kids?

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 07/22/17

Want to raise successful kids? Nurture your child’s *emotional* intelligence

When emotions run high, people do and say things they normally would not. When you’re a young child, this is what you do all the time.

Emotional self-regulation, a large component of emotional intelligence, is the ability to manage one’s experience and expression of emotions. With practice, children improve their capacity for emotional self-regulation. By age four, most children start to use strategies to eliminate disturbing external stimuli. In other words, they cover their eyes when they’re scared and plug their ears when they hear a loud noise.

It’s not until age 10 that children consistently use more complex strategies for emotional self-regulation. These strategies can be broken down into two simplistic categories: those that attempt to solve the problem and those that attempt to tolerate the emotion.

When a child can make a change to address a problem, they engage in problem-focused coping by identifying the trouble and making a plan for dealing with it. When they deem the problem unsolvable, they engage in emotion-focused coping by working to tolerate and control distress.

All of these strategies are a part of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence encompasses awareness, understanding and the ability to express and manage one’s emotions.

While the world has been focused on academic achievement in childhood, emotional self-regulation has been largely ignored. This is a poor strategy, given that research suggests emotional intelligence is twice as strong a predictor as IQ of later success.

Self-control, one piece of emotional intelligence, is particularly important in predicting achievement in children. Children who are able to inhibit impulses (often driven by emotions) and avoid distractions are able to engage in more prosocial behaviors and accomplish their goals.

A particularly powerful study tested school-aged children on self-control and conducted follow-up studies on those children in their 30s. The study demonstrated that self-control predicted success better than IQ, socioeconomic status, and family environment. Those children high in self-control were also healthier, made more money and were less likely to have criminal records or trouble with alcohol.

Feelings serve a purpose

The first piece of emotional intelligence is awareness and understanding of emotions. We have to understand and accept before we can control and express our emotions. Emotions are not an inconvenience, but rather a piece of human evolution that serves a purpose. The discrete theory of emotions suggests that each of our primary emotions have evolved to serve distinct purposes and motivate our behavior.

Sadness is an emotion uniquely capable of slowing us down, both in thought and motor activity. This can allow us the opportunity to reflect on the source of our emotional upset and take a closer look at the antecedents of it.

In contrast, anger speeds us up, mobilizing intense energy and sending blood to our extremities. While evolutionary, this geared us up for a fight; in modern times, it allows the sustained energy for a fight of a different nature. Anger cues us that our rights have been violated and helps us mobilize to protect against future threats.

Our emotions are to be respected and reflected upon. This includes our children’s intense emotions at seemingly non-intense situations. My daughter experiences intense anger when she is not able to do something she had previously accomplished, such as buckling her car seat independently.

In their recent policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised parents not use technology as a way to calm or pacify negative emotions in their child. Specifically they expressed “concern that using media as strategy to calm could lead to problems with limit setting or the inability of children to develop their own emotion regulation.”

Basically, children need the experience of feeling these emotions and practice tolerating them to develop self-control and emotional intelligence.

Increasing your child’s emotional intelligence

Because emotional intelligence appears to be such a strong predictor of success, researchers have looked at how caregivers can encourage its development. Specifically, John Gottman observed how parents respond to their children’s emotions in an effort to understand how emotional intelligence develops. He found that parents respond to children’s emotions one of four possible ways:

Dismissing parents see children’s emotions as unimportant and attempt to eliminate them quickly, often through the use of distraction.

Disapproving parents see negative emotions as something to be squashed, usually through punishment.

Laissez-faire parents accept all emotions from child, but fail to help the child solve problems or put limits on appropriate behaviors.

Emotion coaching parents value negative emotions, are not impatient with a child’s expression of them and use emotional experience as an opportunity for bonding by offering guidance through labeling emotions and problem-solving the issue at hand.

Gottman’s research shows children of parents who emotion coach are physically healthier, do better in school and get along better with friends. Emotion coaching parents followed five basic steps to help their children with emotions. Sometimes this can take a great deal of time. Gottman found that emotion coaching parents only followed all five steps 20-25 percent of the time, suggesting there is no need for guilt as no parent can complete this process all the time. The five steps are:

Step 1: Be aware of your child’s emotions

Parents who emotion coach are aware of their own feelings and sensitive to the emotions present in their children. They do not require their child to amp up their emotional expression for the feelings to be acknowledged.

Step 2: See emotions as an opportunity for connection and teaching

Children’s emotions are not an inconvenience or a challenge. They are an opportunity to connect with your child and coach them through a challenging feeling.

Step 3: Listen and validate the feelings

Give your child your full attention while you listen to their emotional expression. Reflect back what you hear, thus telling your child you understand what they’re seeing and experiencing.

Step 4: Label their emotions

After you have fully listened, help your child develop an awareness of and vocabulary for their emotional expression.

Step 5: Help your child problem-solve with limits

All emotions are acceptable—but all behaviors are not. Help your child cope with his or her emotions by developing problem-solving skills. Limit the expression to appropriate behaviors. This involves helping your child set goals and generating solutions to reach those goals.

Sometimes the steps of emotion coaching may go relatively quickly. Other times, these steps may take a great deal of time. Patience will be key. If the problem is big, all five steps don’t have to be completed in one interaction.

Nurture yourself the way you would your child

In this time when emotions are running high, nurture yourself the way you would your child. Allow yourself to first feel the feelings, as all feelings serve a purpose. If you’re feeling sadness, you may need some time for reflection. If you’re feeling anger, you may want to involve yourself in ways to protect your rights and interests in the future.

Walking through the steps of emotion coaching for yourself, when you’re ready to do so, is a first step in allowing yourself to be an emotionally intelligent being who is successfully meets your goals. After you have an understanding of your own feelings and goals, you can begin the process of emotion-coaching for your child.

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

Vitamins Found to Reduce Autism Risk

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 07/15/17

Autism affects one in 88 children just in the United States!  So it's no wonder parents are always looking for ways to reduce their child's risk of being diagnosed.

A new Norwegian study has found that a common vitamin-- folic acid-- can help reduce an unborn child's risk of autism by nearly 40 percent when it is taken within the first few months of pregnancy.

The study found that women who took between 200 and 400 micrograms a day from up to one month before conception to two months after, had a 39 percent lower chance of their child having autism.

Although the findings are still in the preliminary stages, and scientists do not yet know how folic acid help protect against autism, the amount that needs to be taken for the protection, or if it needs to be taken as part of a prenatal multivitamin, but the findings are encouraging amid the skyrocketing autism rates every year.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending folic acid as part of a prenatal multivitamin regimen in the 1990s, since it was found to help protect against birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, including spina bifida. Since then, there has been a 26 percent decrease in spina bifida cases nationwide.

Although folic acid is not thought to be a magic pill that will guarantee protection against autism (genetics and environmental factors are also thought to play a role), it does serve as a precautionary step to help reduce an unborn child's odds of being diagnosed.

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting smilingstarsdaycare.com.

First 48 hours of breasfeeding

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 07/08/17

The first few days of breastfeeding are tough, but with a little detective work, even the most mysterious issues can be solved.

Doing detective work isn't exactly the first thing you associate with breastfeeding, but when breastfeeding gets off to a rocky start, some gumshoe action may be in order. Here to point out the clues that a nursing mom can watch out for in the first 48 hours and the culprits behind many early breastfeeding problems, is Dr. Lana Gagin, a pediatricians at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Clue: Breastfeeding hurts... a lot.

Culprit: If your baby seems hungry and is interested in taking the breast, but the actual act of nursing hurts way more than you thought it would, it's probably a case of improper latch or a positioning problem, explains Dr. Gagin.

The remedy can be quite simple if there are lactation consultants on staff at the hospital. "Ask the lactation consultant to observe you breastfeeding your baby," advises Gagin. The lactation consultant can then offer specific feedback on improved positioning or latch-on technique, and answer any questions you may have.

Clue: Your milk's not in yet

Culprit: It typically takes two to three days after birth for a mom's milk to "come in"—a process known as lactogenesis. Until then, nursing babies are getting colostrum, a kind of "pre-milk" that is low in fat and high in carbohydrates, protein and antibodies. A mom might worry whether her baby is getting enough to eat, or whether she'll produce enough milk to keep her baby healthy.

This is why pumping or learning how to manually express breastmilk is often recommended during the first 48 hours. "Pumping or manual expression can speed up lactogenesis by stimulating the breasts," says Gagin. "This can help milk come in a little earlier and more amply—both of which help moms feel better about their supply."

Additionally, certain groups of women may have more trouble than others establishing an adequate milk supply. Says Gagin, "older moms, moms who delivered via C-section, and moms with BMIs over 30" can benefit from early pumping as a way to boost their supplies.

"The lactation consultant can show you how to use a pump or learn how to manually express your milk. Just ask," she recommends.

Clue: Your baby is losing weight

Culprit: A nursing mom can be alarmed, and then discouraged, to learn her baby has lost 5, 7 or even 10 percent of his birth weight in the first few days. It's easy to blame inadequate nourishment from breastfeeding, but, as Gagin finds, this is not typically the case.

"Losing weight in the first 24 hours is normal in healthy newborns, especially babies delivered by cesarean who naturally retain more fluids in their bodies at birth," she notes. "In the first day after birth, babies are busy peeing out these extra fluids left over from life in the womb, and that's what [often] accounts for the weight loss—not getting too little from the breast."

A recent study suggested that a baby who loses more than 5 percent of her birth weight in the first 24 hours could benefit from formula supplementation. However, Gagin cautions to look at the whole picture—not just a percent—before deciding that any weight loss is excessive. "Is your baby eating? Is your baby making wet diapers? Is your baby otherwise healthy and thriving? Then chances are everything's OK... don't just go by a number."

If you are concerned about your baby's weight, don't hesitate to talk to your doctor about it. Newborns should be gaining, rather than losing, weight by day five. Babies typically regain their birth weight between 10 days and two weeks.

Clue: Your baby has jaundice.

Culprit: When excess bilirubin builds up in the blood after birth, Baby's skin can take on a yellowish appearance. How best to deal with jaundice? Feed your baby early and often: colostrum actually acts as a laxative, and frequent stools lower bilirubin levels.

When jaundice continues past the first week after birth in breastfeeding babies, it is sometimes called "breast milk jaundice" and may be a sign that a mom's milk supply needs a little help. "As long as the baby is not very jaundiced, we can help a mom work through this without formula by helping her to pump as a way to boost her supply and give her baby more milk," says Gagin, who also recommends seeking help from alactation consultant on latch and positioning if jaundice is an issue. Jaundice usually goes away on its own by six weeks.

Clue: Your baby's diapers are dry.

Culprit: What goes in must come out, and your baby's wet and poopy diapers are actually a telltale sign that he's getting enough nourishment from breastfeeding. What to be on the lookout for? "In the first 24 hours, we want to see at least one of each. This helps us know that the baby's bowels and urinary tract are functioning," Gagin says. And after that? "In the first two or three days, we're looking for two to three wet diapers, and by day five, the standard is five wet diapers."

Before you press the panic button because today you only changed her diaper four times, Gagin recommends taking a step back. "All of these things are really just general guidelines; every breastfed baby is different."

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