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Development | The Nanny Godmother

Crafty Kids and their ABCs

February 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Development, Readers' Enquiries

Reader Genya writes:

I was wondering why my 3.5 years old daughter doesn’t like to color and learn letters.

What and how should I do to encourage?

Hi Genya,

I really don’t think you have anything to worry about.  Some children are simply not interested in colouring; I think they find it a little boring and pointless.  There are many other creative activities that you can use to stimulate motor skills, such as play dough and painting. Cutting and gluing is also fun for the little ones (although a little messy for you!).

You could incorporate the gluing and cutting with letters.  Why don’t you draw the letters, then give your daughter a pair of kid’s scissors and help her cut them out and stick them to make a colourful collage?  Maybe find some magazines with pictures to cut out that go with each letter.  I think she might be quite proud of her handiwork.

You could also use the alphabet fridge magnets and bath toys to encourage her along with the alphabet.

All children develop at different stages in different areas, in my experience.  For example, some kids may take an early interest in arts and crafts and ABCs but struggle at first with speech and numbers.  Keep encouraging your daughter’s individual interests, and she is very likely to develop the necessary skills before you know it.

I’m sure that other Nanny Godmother readers have some terrific ideas for creative activities with crafts or ABCs that have worked for their own children.  Readers, let’s hear them!



New Parents, New Babies (Part 1)

October 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Development, Miscellaneous

Once first-time parents leave the hospital, the thought that they are on their own now can be quite nerve-racking.  Even if you’ve had other children, sometimes you’ll encounter something with your newest baby that you haven’t seen before.  Don’t panic!  Here are a few tips on anticipating and coping with some of the things that you will (or may) see in the first couple of months of your baby’s life.

Bowel movements

Let’s start with bottom activity.  If your baby is bottle-fed, don’t worry if they only have bowel movements once every couple of days; it’s quite normal for formula babies.   They will also have slightly harder stools than a breast-fed baby’s, although the stool should not be so hard that your baby is straining to pass it – that could be a sign of constipation.  Another sign of constipation is a swollen hard tummy.  If you suspect your baby is constipated, try giving her a nice warm bath; in my experience this generally gets things moving.  If it goes on for a week or more, ask your midwife or general practitioner (GP) and they will give you some other little tips to help get things moving.  With any infant, you should not resort to laxatives, enemas or suppositories except under medical guidance.

On the other hand, breast-fed babies poo almost as often as they eat. It can be quite runny and yellowish green in colour.  However, if your baby soils a nappy more than once in a feed and you notice it is runnier than usual, then it could mean they have diarrhoea.  If you notice these signs and it goes on for more than 24 hours, then contact your GP, as your child could become dehydrated.  But it could just be a change in your diet that does not agree with your baby.

Make sure you’re always prepared with plenty of nappies and a change of clothes.   To avoid nappy rash, try to change your baby as soon possible after they are soiled.

Umbilical cord care

Your baby’s cord will take 2-5 weeks to fall off.  Make sure you keep the area dry and exposed to air as often as possible.  Don’t pull the cord off, even if it’s hanging by a thread. Until it falls off, refrain from giving your baby a bath; you can just wash around with a warm flannel instead. If it starts to go red or oozing pus, it’s time to contact your midwife or GP.

Cradle cap

Cradle cap is a yellowish, patchy, scaly and crusty skin rash that can appear on newborn babies’ scalps. It is completely harmless and they will eventually grow out of it.  There are some natural remedies that you can use to try to get rid of it, or at least prevent it from becoming worse.  Try a tiny little bit of natural olive oil or baby oil on the top of the head and leave it on whilst you give your baby a bath.  Then remove it with a gentle circular massage or use a very soft baby brush on the baby’s head.  Wash their hair as usual with a gentle shampoo.  It could take a couple of goes, but the cradle cap will eventually disappear.  If you notice it getting worse, or a slight redness, contact your GP.

Eye care

Some babies are born with one or both tear ducts partially or totally blocked.  Blocked ducts can cause a yellow crust or discharge in the corner of the eye.  Just take some cotton wool and warm water (or ask your local chemist or GP for some sterile water) and gently wipe it away. This might reoccur several times over the first few months of the baby’s life.

If you notice any redness or puffiness, don’t hesitate to contact your GP.

Ear care

While it is normal for a baby’s ears to produce wax, which is an antiseptic protection for the ear canal, it is never normal for them to produce any other kind of discharge from the ear.  If you are not sure that the substance you see is ear wax, consult your GP.

Never poke around in your baby’s ear; you could damage the ear drum.  Stick to just cleaning around the outer ear – it’s much safer.


*            *

These are just a few of the many things you may encounter in caring for your new baby which can cause concern if you’re not prepared for them.  Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this post, where I’ll be examining more of these things in the near future.  Good luck and congratulations on your new baby!




Helping to Develop a Toddler’s Speech Skills

February 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Development, Readers' Enquiries

Attentive grandmother Toni C. is wondering how to encourage her grandson’s speech development:

I’m trying to come up with creative ways to help my grandson speak.  He was born 1.5 months early and weighed only 3.7 pounds at birth.  He does everything else great!  Fine motor skills, follows directions, even musical, loves to dance but he just makes non syllable words.  He will be 2 years old in May, and will sometimes say “hi” or “out” to the dog, but that’s as far as it goes.  Before taking him to expensive therapy, any ideas?


It sometimes happens that even children that are born full-term don’t utter their first words until they are two to three years old, without necessarily indicating any underlying problem.

Interactive reading is a great way to encourage a toddler’s speech.  I find that books with animals work especially well, but any kind of reading at all is helpful.

Also try singing nursery rhymes and children’s songs (e.g. “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”, “The Wheels on the Bus”, “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, and many more).  Dancing and singing make it fun quality time and are also beneficial to a child’s coordination and memory as well as speech development.

When your grandson points to things, try to encourage him to say it.  Give a choice: if he asks for juice, say “Which cup do you want, blue one or red one?”  “Please, Grandma.”  “Thank you, Grandma.”  Also ask him questions which require a yes or no answer.

I wouldn’t worry too much at this stage.  It sounds as though your grandson is developing at a very healthy rate.

Good luck!

UPDATE:  Let me clarify that this is intended to answer your question about ideas on how you can help stimulate your toddler’s speech at this stage, not to dissuade you from also consulting a specialised professional about your concerns.  As a reader has pointed out, depending on where you live such specialised services might be available on a publicly or privately subsidised basis.



Encouraging a Hesitant Crawler

January 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Development, Readers' Enquiries

Reader Dawn B. writes:

Hi there my son turned 11 months on the 21st and he’s still not crawling.  He doesn’t like being on his front for long periods.  I’ve tried toys books rolling toys.

He was 7wks premature has this got anything to do with his development?

Hi Dawn,

Experts say that premature babies normally develop according to their “adjusted age” (calculated from their due date) rather than their actual chronological age (calculated from their birth date), but that they can catch up later on in the todder stage.

Encourage your son to move and try to put him on his front as often as possible.  Place things slightly out of his reach so he has to move to get to them.  I have known babies not to want to crawl at all; they just go straight into walking when they are ready.  You could try him in a baby walker as this might encourage him to be more mobile; however, he should not spend all his time in one as it can sometimes encourage laziness in a baby.

If you continue to have concerns about his development and how it may be influenced by his premature birth, I’m sure your GP or health visitor will be happy to discuss them with you from a medical perspective.

Best of luck!