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It’s a mum’s life: And so to bed…

Bedtime… the calming end to a busy day. There are some days (especially if it has been a particularly difficult or exhausting day) when I really look forward to this time. Not that I don’t love spending time with my son, or that I want to be rid of him, but there are days when I just want him to go to bed, so that I can curl up on the sofa and chill for a bit. However, these are usually the days when he decides that it’d be fun to wind mummy up a bit more, by not going to sleep.

Recently he’s been much better at going to bed and going to sleep (he used to be a complete nightmare and I dreaded the end of the day because I knew I was going to have to fight him all the way), but there are some days when despite following the bedtime wind-down routine which we’ve always used (tea, bath, stories, bed), he just will not lie down and sleep, even if he’s totally shattered! An example: last week my husband and I had been out three nights in a row (practically unheard of), so my mum and dad had been babysitting, which meant putting him to bed too. On the fourth night, when I was back to putting him to bed again, he had obviously decided to see what he could get away with… much fun!

I should explain what we normally do, so you can get the picture: the rule in our house is that if he is lying down with his eyes closed, ready to go to sleep, then I will stay in the room with him until he is asleep, as long as it doesn’t take forever. However, but if he messes about I will leave the room and go downstairs and then I go back every so often and lie him down again – not so easy now he’s three and getting bigger and stronger. So, on this night, I was sitting in his room (to start off with), and he was making all the soft toys fly/talk to each other/etc etc (he was still lying down at this point) so he got a warning – something along the lines of, ‘lie still and close your eyes, or I will go out’ which worked for  a couple of seconds, then he started to fidget and kick the wall next to the bed, so I left the room. Then he started bouncing, so eventually I went back and attempted to lie him down again but he was up again within seconds of me doing it, and then all the pillows and the duvet came off, then he was sitting in the chair with his books (I’m all for encouraging him to read, but there are limits!). So, I went in and put him down again, then removed the books from the room, and then after more bouncing, I removed all his soft toys as well and went downstairs for about ten minutes. This obviously hurt more than the rest, as the next time I went up, there was one sorry little boy, ready to lie down and go to sleep. I gave him his two favourite soft toys back, reinstated the duvet and pillows and he was asleep within seconds – but I was exhausted! Thankfully he hasn’t tried it again since, but there’s always time!

Jenni

It’s a Mum’s Life: The Language Barrier

This entry isn’t an account of another day in the battle of wills with a three year old, more an account of some ongoing experiences – and how we are dealing with them.

One of the things I remember wondering, once my son began to make babbling noises and to try and communicate, was ‘I wonder what he’ll sound like when he starts to speak?’. As it turns out this took rather longer than expected, and as you’ll learn was nowhere near as clear cut as I thought it would be. So, anyway… all the experts say you should talk to your baby all the time, read, sing in order to help them to learn to talk. Well, in our case, I talk to him all the time (I used to talk to myself a lot, so it just naturally transferred to talking to him instead and also made me look less odd when out and about!), I love to read, so we have shared books from a very early age, and I also love to sing (as does the rest of my family), so he’s been exposed to a lot of language from very early on. However, he was quite slow at beginning to speak, and for ages, it was a lot like what Michael McIntyre (the comedian) says about his son and his friend’s daughter of the same age – while he was coming out with one word phrases, my friends’ little girl was almost onto complete sentences (this also highlights the difference between boys and girls I guess!) and then, when the words did start to come, we noticed that he was missing off initial letter sounds, or sometimes the sound in the middle of the word. For at least a year, Thomas The Tank Engine (favourite character in the world) was known as Dudus and I was having to translate what he was saying (as well as repeating the correct thing back to him).

I mentioned this to my health visitor at the two year check, and she said if I was still concerned by the time he was two and a half to come back, which I did. Although he had more words (and some of them were understandable to people who didn’t know him well), some were still very unclear and I wanted to know if there was anything I could or should be doing about it. Reassured that I was doing all the right things (always good to hear it from someone else), and advised to give it a term at nursery and see how he was doing then, I went away to do just that. In the meantime, my mum (who is a headteacher) had spoken to her speech and language adviser to see if she could shed any light on the subject – particularly with regard to the pronunciation, because there’s nothing wrong with his vocabulary (he regularly tells me his day is ruined if I’ve told him off), and she thought that it might have been a blockage to his ears (a cold or other illness) at the time he was acquiring sound blends and suggested that, particularly with things we knew he could say properly (so sounds that he pronounces correctly elsewhere in the word), we would have to be firm with him and make him say it properly. Anyway, I’m pleased to say that a combination of this approach (we have to be a bit careful that we don’t frustrate him and make him stop talking), and half a term at nursery with people who don’t instantly understand what he says, and he’s much better, although he can be lazy, and if he can get away without saying something properly then he will – now it’s getting him to stop that’s the problem! Hopefully in the next few months he will develop even further and catch up with his counterparts – in the meantime we’ll keep plodding on, and at least while he’s not too articulate, he can’t answer me back too much!

From our (hopefully) new regular contributor Jenni, who will be giving us a little slice of her life when she’s not busy chasing after three year olds!

Ten Steps for Healthy Toddlers

This month, the Infant & Toddler Forum – a team of specialist paediatricians, psychologists and dietitians who work together to improve nutrition in the under-3s – has launched a brand new initiative to help mums and carers – Ten Steps for Healthy Toddlers.

The Ten Steps are an easy-to-use guide on what food to offer toddlers and how best to manage mealtimes.

Figures from a recent Infant & Toddler Forum poll reveal that over a third of parents in the UK are concerned that their toddlers aren’t getting healthy, balanced meals. Judy More, a leading paediatric dietitian in the UK, is a member of Forum and key author of the Ten Steps.

“Toddlers do need a varied and balanced diet for their growth and their development but they also need time to learn to like the food that parents and carers offer them,” Ms More explained.

Despite its importance, toddler nutrition is a subject that is often overlooked. Advice on what to feed toddlers can seem inconsistent or confusing,. But with the launch of Ten Steps for Healthy Toddlers this could all change.

“The Ten Steps bust some of the myths about feeding toddlers, providing reassurance and clarity for parents and carers,” explains Ms More. “They also reinforce the need to be vigilant and aware about the nutritional value of the foods we feed toddlers, and the importance of forging good habits and attitudes towards food and meal times.”

The survey also shows that, in a typical week, almost 30% of toddler’s meals and snacks are provided by people other than parents. By giving the Ten Steps to nursery staff and childminders, you can be sure that everyone is offering your toddler the same basic care.

For Ms More, the Steps are a positive resource for parents. “We hope these ten steps will help parents have more confidence in the fact that most of them are doing the right thing, and some of them could make some small changes to manage mealtimes better.”

To read all of the Ten Steps for Healthy Toddlers along with other information and handy tools on feeding toddlers, visit www.littlepeoplesplates.co.uk/ten-steps.html. The Steps are also available to order or as a download.




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