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Babies For Parents Toddlers

Oral Motor Development: What Parents Need to Know

Most parents usually look out for gross motor skills development in their baby, but did you know that oral motor development should be observed as well?

Oral motor development refers to the use and function of the lips, tongue, jaw, teeth, and the hard and soft palates. The movement and coordination of these structures are very important in speech production, safe swallowing, and consuming various food textures.

Complex oral motor skills are needed to consume a simple meal like this. Read on to find out which milestones to look out for in your baby’s oral motor skills development.

Oral motor skills are the finest of the fine motor skills we develop as human beings. These reflexes that support feeding at full term begins in the womb between the 28th week and the 37th week of gestation, and are fully developed and established when your little one is three years old. By about five years old, most children can safely eat and drink without choking.

Here are some important milestones for oral motor development that you should look out for in your baby from birth till five years of age.

During gestation, the baby begins to develop the sucking and suckling reflexes. At birth to three months, the baby starts to demonstrate many reflexes to protect his airway. She responds to stimulation in and around the mouth, turns her head toward the nipple when the cheeks are stroked, signalling that she is ready to be fed. She is able to consume breast milk or formula milk using a nipple and coordinate her breath with two to three sucks of liquid before swallowing and breathing.

If you are bottle feeding, it is important to choose the appropriate teat for your baby as different teats have different flow rates and your baby might choke if the flow is too fast or be frustrated if the flow is too slow. New parents, check out the bottle feeding guide to see which teat to choose for your baby!

Choosing an appropriate bottle and teat for your child may take some trial and error. Be sure to check out other tips to make baby more comfortable during bottle feeding.

At three to six months, the baby is able eat rice cereal or pureed fruit and pureed vegetable from a small infant or toddler spoon during feeding. At six to nine months, the baby is able to clean the spoon with her upper lip and eat pureed meats and a variety of pureed baby foods.

When the baby is nine to twelve months, she demonstrates lip closure while swallowing liquids and soft solids. She may attempt to eat small, soft dissolvable solids such as soft crackers and small cereals. At this time, she starts learning to drink liquids from a sippy cup and is able to consume mashed table foods. With her oral motor skills improving during this period, she begins to drink through a straw.

Once your baby is able to coordinate drinking from a straw, you have the option to start weaning her off the bottle.

At 12 to 18 months, the toddler is able to coordinate sucking, swallowing, and breathing patterns for longer sequences. With these improved oral motor skills, your toddler begins to eat finely chopped table foods and is able to bite through crunchy foods such as cookies and crackers. She is also able to move the food in her mouth from side to side as she chews.

At 18 to 24 months, the toddler starts to self-feed with some assistance. At twenty-four to thirty-six months, the toddler consumes a variety of liquids and solids through straws and open mouth cups. At this stage, she moves toward fine tuning all her feeding skills.

Between 36 months old to five years old, the child progresses and starts being able to chew and swallow advanced textures (for example, meats, fried foods, whole fruits) with close supervision. Lastly, she is able to drink from an open mouth cup with no assistance.

The presence and strength of reflexes is an important sign of nervous system development and function. Having poor oral motor skills usually also translates to speech development issues.

Some of the more noticeable signs to look out for include:

  • Mouth frequently hangs open
  • Refusing to eat food that needs to be chewed
  • Gags frequently when eating
  • Has trouble sticking out his tongue or moving it from side to side
  • Drools excessively (past the age of 18 months)
  • Lisps excessively

Hence, should you notice that your child lags behind in the above milestone developments, or exhibits any of the signs, it may be time to make a trip to the paediatrician who will refer you to the Speech-Language Therapist or an Occupational Therapist to evaluate and develop a plan to strengthen your child’s oral motor skills.

Do share with us if you have any concerns about your child’s oral motor development!

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Babies Babies Family Fun For Parents Toddlers Toddlers

How to choose the right infant care centre in Singapore

In Singapore, infant care centres offer educare services to newborns from 2 months old till 18 months old. It is an option for working parents who are unable to look after their infants during the day.

Making the decision of sending your baby to an infant care centre is the first big step forward. The second decision that requires some prior research is determining which is the “best”infant care centre in Singapore.

We’ve come up with a few pointers and questions you may want to consider when deciding on the right infant care centre to send your precious little baby.

Infant care centres in Singapore are overseen by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).

  • Location and Accessibility
    Is the infant care centre located within convenient distance from your home or workplace? Is it located near a bus stop or train station? It may not seem like much, but 5 minutes saved on travelling each day adds up to 100 minutes in a month of 20 work days!
  • Fees and subsidies
    The fees for infant care centres vary depending on centres. You can check out the infant care centres listed under ECDA’s Partner Operator Scheme and Anchor Operator Scheme, as these centres have a fee cap for both full and half day infant care programmes. Also, parents with certain household income may apply for basic or additional subsidies to save on the monthly infant care fees.
  • Educarer:Infant Ratio
    The stipulated educarer:infant ratio by ECDA is 1:5, but some infant care centres offer a lower ratio for more individualised attention. Do take note that centres with lower ratios may charge a higher fee. 
  • Cleanliness and Hygiene
    Infants below six months old are especially vulnerable to illnesses as their immune systems are still developing. Apart from standard temperature checks and hand sanitisation at the door and throughout the day, check that the educarers practise frequent hand washing and use gloves when changing diapers. This can be observed when you visit the infant care centre.

Infant care centres do more than plain routine care for infants.

 

  • Ventilation
    Most, but not all, infant care centres are air-conditioned. If the infant care centre that you are interested in is ventilated naturally, check that they have air purifiers in place for use when the air quality is unsatisfactory.Also, for non-air conditioned infant care centres, look out for safety features such as window grilles and the type of window blinds or curtains used. The latter should ideally not have hanging cords as they are a safety risk for curious infants and toddling tots.
  • Milk feeding arrangements

For babies who are on breastmilk, find out from the educarers if they have the knowledge and equipment to warm up expressed breast milk. For babies who are drinking formula milk, check with them what parents should prepare e.g. number of milk bottles, should you leave a tin of infant formula milk labelled with your baby’s name etc.

  • Curriculum
    Infant educarers do more than just routine care. There might not be a fixed classroom schedule for younger infants as they spend most of their day sleeping. When they are awake, educarers engage infants in activities that stimulate their senses, such as music, art and craft and sensory play.
  • Parent Communication
    As your infant will be spending many hours in the infant care centre, it is important that you are comfortable with the communication tool the school uses. Certain infant care centres use a communication book, where updates are detailed in pen on paper. Other infant care centres provide updates via an application where you can be alerted to updates the moment the details are keyed in. 

While there might not be a perfect infant care centre, do take some time to discuss the top three must-haves when choosing a comfortable centre for your baby.It would help to visit the infant care on a weekday and talk to the educarers and principal to understand about their processes and beliefs too.

 

Read our guide to choose the right childcare centre or preschool when your child turns 18 months old!

What were some of your deciding factors when selecting an infant care centre? Share it with us in the comments!

Categories
Babies Babies Family Fun For Parents Toddlers Toddlers

4 Easy Right Brain Activities to Play with Kids at Home

A child’s brain develops at exponential speed from during the first three years, with the right brain being more dominant until around three years old.

The left brain is responsible for controlling the right side of the body. Functions include logic, language, reasoning, Science and Math, number skills and analytical thought.

The right brain is the artistic and creative side of the brain and its functions include art awareness, creativity, imagination, intuition, holistic thought and music awareness. Also, the right brain enables a child to learn subconsciously and has the potential to process large amount of data at super-fast speed, unlike the left brain. This in turn translates to better memory retention ability.

Besides attending right brain training sessions, parents can partake in simple right brain activities at home with your kids too. The key to right brain activities is the fast speed technique which engages young kids while developing their focus. Have fun playing together!

Right Brain Development Activity #1: Link Memory
Link memory is a set of picture cards with little relation to each other. The game is played by creating a link between the cards and developing a story. This game encourages creativity and triggers the brain’s potential for photographic memory by stimulating the right brain. This activity is suitable for children who can vocalise themselves and identify the items in the photographs.

Have fun creating funny stories with pictures that are part of the Link Memory activity, which helps stimulate the right brain through visuals and memory.Source.

Right Brain Development Activity #2: Flashcards

Flashcards are sets of pictorial cards that are shown in quick succession to the child. It is accompanied by vocalisation of the description of the photos. You can stimulate your child’s right brain by flashing the pictorial cards at a rate of 2 cards per second, as opposed to flashing slowly which exercises their logic brain; the left brain.

This activity can be done even before the child recognises the items in the photographs. As the cards are flashed quickly, the right brain is stimulated by the quick speed. Their photographic memory is enhanced when they try to recall the cards as they are being flashed. It is best to use flashcards with large and colourful pictures without any words.

Right Brain Development Activity #3: Visual Memory
Visual memory games are played like this: First, you get your child to look at images that comprise of different shapes and colours. Afterwards, your child is supposed to replicate them from their memory by drawing them out or use shape blocks to form the exact same image that was shown to them.

Visual memory games help strengthen your child’s right brain.
Source: Pinterest

Right Brain Development Activity #4: Tangrams

Tangram puzzles are seven shapes cut from a square that can be rearranged to form other shapes. You can print out puzzle guides for your older child to follow, or let your child be creative and use the shapes to create their own figure while looking at the tangram image.

To support healthy brain development, offer children a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals through nutrient-rich meals. Apart from superfoods and food that are high in healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids, parents can choose age-appropriate formula milk powder to supplement children’s diet to obtain the essential nutrients.

Do you stimulate your children’s right brain development at home too? Share with us your kids’ favourite right brain training activities in the comments below!

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Family Fun Toddlers

[VIDEO] Make your own toy clock with formula tins!

Are you discarding those empty Einmilk formula tins?

Hang on – they can be converted into a fun and educational learning tool for your kids!

This tutorial will take you through some simple steps on how to make an easy toy clock using formula tin covers. With materials that are easily available at home or from your local stationery store, parents and children can create your unique toy clock to teach the concept of time to your little ones.

Invite your child to decorate the various parts of his or her new toy clock too. Feel free to use other craft materials for little fingers to explore, including paint and stickers. This engaging activity which encourage parent-and-child bonding also allows your children to experience and observe the crafting process from start to end; and discover the opportunity of giving a nondescript item such as a plain cover a new lease of life! Upcycling ideas offer children a new perspective on creating their very own masterpieces, and they are definitely limited edition pieces too!

https://www.facebook.com/einmilk.sg/videos/309045076275636/

 

We hope you enjoy this meaningful and educational activity with your kids. Cultivating positive values goes towards raising world-ready children for the future! Click here for more family-friendly activities and free printables.

 

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Family Fun Toddlers

Let’s Play: Word Search

Albert the Lion is hungry!

DOWNLOAD FREE PRINTABLES HERE >

Can you help him to put together a healthy lunch? Look for these delicious food to create a nutritious meal for him!

Activity Experience
  • Start your preschooler on a healthy eating activity with this word search. Take this chance to introduce and share about new food that your child might not have tried before, or talk about the nutrients each food offers to growing children.
  • This fun word search activity promotes strengthening of children’s visual-spatial skills, focus, memory and overall mental acuity. Through the food images and words for each food, children discover new vocabulary along with visual association. Young children who are learning to read and spell will enjoy growing their literacy skills too!
  • Parents can take a step further to discuss with children about the food images on the activity sheet. Explore food categorisation (fruit or vegetables), conversation starters about cooking methods (Ask questions on how each food is cooked in your family’s meals, can we create a new dish with fruits?), or their personal favourite food and fruit! This activity becomes a springboard to diverse communication topics, and encourages children’s curiosity to ask questions to find out more!

 

Don’t forget to share with us your child’s experience with us on our Facebook page!

 

 

Categories
Family Fun Toddlers

Let’s Make: My First Lion Mask

Meet Albert!

Hello! I’m Albert the Lion!
Let’s make this mask with mum and dad, and design it together!

 
 
 
 
 

DOWNLOAD MASK HERE >
Activity Experience

This simple activity offers parent-child interaction to create a fun mask together.

Let your child’s creativity flow as he doodles and designs the mask with a wide option of mediums. Parents can ask questions/narrate about their choice of colours, mediums or the textures their little fingers are exploring, which helps grow communication and literacy skills.

Your child focuses on each task, enjoys sensorial exploration and learns about cause-and-effect, while creating his masterpiece!

 

Activity Tips
  • Get your child to help apply glue and paste this activity sheet on a cereal box.
  • Let your child’s creativity flow and design with colour pencils, markers, felt, cotton, glitter, coloured paper & more!
  • Cut out the mask along the outline.
  • Gently use a pen to make 2 holes at the indicated spots. Fasten with rubber band, and VOILA!

 

Don’t forget to share with us your child’s masterpiece with us on our Facebook page!