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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Toys for Toddlers

I know! I know!  We've barely made it through Halloween!  However, it seems that many stores begin their marketing for the holiday season earlier each year.  An inevitable question I am asked is “What are the best types of toys to get for my infant/toddler this year?”  As I walk down the toy aisles, I realize how intimidating the simple act of choosing toys has gotten.  There are so many options!  My answer might surprise you.  I recommend considering “old school” toys for infants and toddlers.  Most toys come with bells, whistles, sounds, buttons, lights, or even screens.  These flashy toys can be very enticing.  However, many of them may not be developmentally appropriate.  Infants and toddlers use play to explore, develop, and learn how to interact with the materials in their environment.  Play is the “work” of children and many electronic toys do not challenge toddlers to explore in a variety of ways.  Here is a list of toy suggestions which promote development at different age levels:

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Birth to 6 months:  The best toys for this age range are toys which encourage reaching, mouthing, banging, shaking, exploring different textures, and experimenting with noises.  Babies this age also enjoy faces.  Some examples include board books with different textures, teething rings, unbreakable mirrors, and soft dolls.

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7 months to 18 months:  This stage of development is all about learning to move and also starting to understand what words mean.  Toys which encourage exploring fine motor skills are nesting blocks, containers to take objects out of and put objects in, ring stacks, or soft blocks to stack.  Gross motor skills can be supported with large balls or walking push toys.  Picture books are also great for this age range.  Choose books that have one to two simple pictures per page. 

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18 months to 3 years:  Children are starting to develop more complex play schemes through pretend play, learning to say first words, and further refining motor skills during this age.  Pretend play toys include dolls, action figures, kitchen sets, tool boxes, train sets, plastic animals, and dress-up clothes.  Language is supported through books which include rhyming or repetitive phrases with pictures of common objects.  Motor skills can be refined through puzzles, playdough, crayons, markers, blocks, and balls.

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I hope this list helps make choosing toys for your tot a little easier. 

Come Play with Us!

The Parent Education – Infant Development program and the Children’s Museum of Richmond’s Fredericksburg location invite you to come and play with us at the inaugural “Special Night for Special Needs”.  This event will be held this November 13, 2015 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.  This event is FREE for children with special needs, ages birth to 10 years of age, and their families!  You will have full access to all of the museum’s activities, a performance by the Rappahannock Kids on the Block, and a special story time.  The staff of the PEID program will be there to help children and families access the activities.  No need to RSVP, just show up!  If you have any questions, please feel free to call (540) 372-3561.  Funding for this activity is provided by the Anne Felder Fund of the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region.  We look forward to seeing you!

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It Takes a Team! Community Prevention of FASD

Our guest blogger for this series is Glenda Knight, MA, Certified Substance Abuse Counselor. Glenda is the manager for our local Project LINK. She has more than 25 years experience working with military families, homeless women, and those with behavioral health conditions. For the past eight years, Glenda has specialized in substance abuse services for women with an emphasis on pregnancy and postpartum.  This is the last post of a 3-part series focused on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder.

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How can our community prevent FASD?

Pregnant women can avoid the possibility of delivering a baby impacted with FASD by avoiding alcohol during pregnancy. This sounds simple enough, right? But  it's not easy not for everyone...

Pregnant women who experience challenges with abstinence during pregnancy can seek assistance from:

-          Medical providers

-          Project LINK (through the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board)

-          Specialized substance abuse treatment for tomen provided by the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board

-          National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) (1-800-622-2255)

-          Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s, Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator (1-800-622-4357) 

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Additionally, women who consumed alcohol during pregnancy and have concerns about their children’s development can seek services through their pediatricians or early intervention programs for their infant and toddlers.  Medical providers can screen pregnant and postpartum women for risk factors of alcohol use and provide preventive education.

Finally, as a community we can help break down the stigma of maternal substance abuse by encouraging awareness for our elected officials, educators, health providers, and merchants that sell alcoholic beverages. 

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It is important to realize that optimal development of children starts at conception. Early identification of women who use alcohol during pregnancy and referral to the appropriate community stakeholders can result in a reduction of FAS/FASD in our community. The impact on our childrens' health, too, is enormous! We can all raise a glass (of a non-alcoholic beverage!) to this goal!

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Is My Baby at risk for FASD?

Did you know that the month of September is recognized as International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness (FASD) month? We’ve all been told that consuming alcohol during pregnancy can adversely impact the unborn fetus. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office first issued the warning back in July 1981.

Our guest blogger for the month is Glenda Knight, MA, Certified Substance Abuse Counselor. Glenda is the manager for our local Project LINK. She has more than 25-years of experience working with military families, homeless women, and those with behavioral health conditions. For the past eight years, Glenda has specialized in substance abuse services for women with an emphasis on pregnancy and postpartum.

In her first blog this month, she explained what FASD is.  In this week’s post, she discusses risk factors for this disorder.

What are the risk factors for FASD?

There is the misconception that women who deliver infants and children impacted by FAS and FASD are alcoholics.

Any woman who drinks alcohol during pregnancy is at risk of having a child with FAS or FASD. Women who are social drinkers or binge drinks are at risk of delivering an infant impacted by FASD.

The Center for Disease Control defines binge drinking for women as having four (4) or more drinks on a single occasion (CDC, 2013).  Additionally, 1 in 8 women in the United States binge drink at least three (3) times per month (CDC, 2013).

However, it is important to note that during the first or second month of pregnancy, many women are not aware of the fact that they are pregnant and might unwittingly consume alcohol. Many women will cease drinking once they have learned that they are pregnant. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, 2013) reported that 9.4% of pregnant females 14 to 44 years old used alcohol during pregnancy, 2.3 percent reported binge drinking during pregnancy, and 0.4 percent reported heavy drinking during the pregnancy (SAMSHA,  2013). 

Final Thoughts:

If you have concerns about your child’s development, we would love to be a part of your team!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact Project Link or the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:   http://www.racsb.state.va.us/

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Healthy Moms and Healthy Babies!

Did you know that the month of September is recognized as International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness (FASD) month? We’ve all been told that consuming alcohol during pregnancy can adversely impact the unborn fetus. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office first issued the warning back in July 1981.

Our guest blogger for the month is Glenda Knight, MA, Certified Substance Abuse Counselor. Glenda is the manager for our local Project LINK. She has more than 25-years experience working with military families, homeless women, and those with behavioral health conditions. For the past eight years, Glenda has specialized in substance abuse services for women with an emphasis on pregnancy and postpartum.

 

What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD?

When a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy, so does her baby! But how is alcohol transmitted to the unborn child?  The alcohol will pass through the mother’s blood stream to the placenta and then to the fetus through the umbilical cord.

 

According, to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS), FASD is an umbrella term describing the range of health effects that can occur in an individual prenatally exposed to alcohol. 

 

The effects of maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can result in the following for early childhood development and throughout the life span:

-          abnormal facial characteristics,

-          growth deficits,

-          brain damage resulting in intellectual disabilities,

-          heart, lung, and kidney defects,

-          hyperactivity,

-          behavioral problems,

-          attention and memory problems,

-          poor coordination and motor skills delay,

-          difficulties with judgement and reasoning, and

-          learning disabilities.

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There are some women who drank regularly during their pregnancy and delivered healthy babies who had no adverse effects from alcohol. On the other end of the spectrum there are women who drank very little alcohol and their children had serious health conditions. 

 

While each pregnancy is different, the way to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby is to avoid alcohol during pregnancy. The above mentioned conditions might be preventable if women abstain from consuming alcohol in pregnancy. 

Final Thoughts:

It takes a village to raise a child.  If you have concerns about your child’s development, we would love to be a part of your village!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact Project Link or the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:   http://www.racsb.state.va.us/

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3 Ways to Beat the “New to School” Blues

It’s that time of year again.  Back to school is an exciting time for many.  However, what if it is not “back” to school?  What if it is your child’s first day of school (or even daycare)?  Excitement might be paired with anxiety, sadness, and fear for both children and their parents.  School is a big change for little children and can be quite intimidating!  The good news is that there are tried and true ways to ease the transition for everyone.  Here are 3 tips to beat the “New to School” blues for your child and for you.

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Prepare and Plan

One of the scariest aspects is the newness of it all.  School means a new environment, routine, expectations, and new people.  The “newness” means unpredictability.  Children strive for predictability to feel secure and safe.  You can help by making the new environment predictable.  Some suggestions that I've found to work include reading books about school, looking at pictures of children going to school, talking about fun things that your child will do, talk about who your child will encounter.  Try to talk about school with your child daily for a week or two before the transition.  Your child may not quite understand everything that you are saying, but the names of activities and people will be more familiar when he or she encounters them in the new environment.

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Take a Piece of Home with You

Another way to make the new environment a little more familiar is to have a transition item/activity for them to take to school.  Sometimes, just having a little something that is familiar can be comforting.  Transition items can include favorite stuffed animal, book, or picture.  Be sure to check with your child’s teacher to make sure he or she is on board.

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Drop and Go

When the big day comes, you need to have a plan on how the transition will occur.  You may be feeling overwhelmed with emotion and your child can sense when you are anxious.  Try to be a positive as possible when making the transition.  The first day starts the routine of how transitions to the environment will go in the future.  It is best to bring your child in, give them a hug with quick reassurances that you will be back to get them, and then walk out the door.  This may be the hardest tip to implement.  Your child may cry and your natural instinct may be to go back each time and comfort them.  What your child learns is: “I cry, Mommy comes back, and I get more time with Mommy”.  This can be really motivating to your child but it can also make it more difficult when you finally leave.  When I was a teacher, I used to think “Don't parents realize that this is actually makes the transition more difficult?”  What I learned the first day I dropped my child off at school is that maternal instinct is so much stronger than what I knew to be true as a teacher.  It literally felt like a mountain grew heavier on my shoulders with every step I took towards the door.  It helped when I peeked in the window two minutes later and saw that my son had calmed down and was playing!

At the end of the day, this transition may cause a variety of emotions for both you and your child.  That is totally appropriate!  Give yourself some time, transition to school is not easy but it does get better!

Final thoughts:

Remember to consider what works best for you and your child!  No one strategy will be a good fit your every family.  Your strategies should fit your needs and comfort level!  If your child is having difficulty transitioning or participating in daily routines are you have concerns about his or her development, we can help!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:  Find us on Facebook or on the web at   http://www.racsb.state.va.us/

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About Brandie

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Join my blog to find early childhood developmental tips, tidbits, strategies, and activities to support children and families.   As a mother of multiple sons (18, 14, 8, 6, and 3), I know that life can be hectic, so all strategies and activities can fit in the context of daily routines and places families typically go.

I am enthusiastic about supporting families who have concerns about their child’s development and helping connect them to desired resources.

Pouches' Community Corner

This month Pouches learned about a very important resource for families who have lost loved ones to sudden tragedy, an organization called LLOST.

keepsake box

The foundation has helped 44 hospitals in 22 states through their Treasured Memories program. The program sends nurses to bereavement training, and provides or supplements the $55 memory boxes that include clothes, booties, handknot blankets, pictures, foot prints, hand prints, clipped hair and other mementos.

Read more...