Tag Archives: babies

Why Tummy Time Is Important

Baby does tummy time!

A Brief History of Tummy Time

In the early 1990s, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) “Back to Sleep” campaign recommended that infants should be placed on their backs when sleeping, which was a pivotal success in decreasing the rate of deaths caused by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Since this campaign, however, a number of studies have highlighted the rise of developmental delays in infants and the flattening of the back of the head known as plagiocephaly. As a result, in 1996, the AAP recommended that infants should also be provided time on their stomachs throughout the day in order to promote developmental benefits and minimize time spent on the back of their head. As pediatric physical therapists and occupational therapists at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Rehabilitation, we promote the importance and benefits of “tummy time” while working with parents and caregivers to make this important play position for newborns and infants more successful and less stressful.

Why Tummy Time is So Important

Tummy time is the root of many developmental milestones within the first year. When babies are on their bellies, they engage muscles of the neck, arms, back, and hips against gravity in order to hold positions and move in a variety of patterns. Developing these muscles and movement patterns is the foundation for babies being able to lift their heads to visualize their environment, reach for a toy, roll to their sides, push up to a sitting position, sit independently, and eventually crawl. Tummy time also feeds important sensory needs such as vision and body awareness as the baby pushes up with their arms to lift their head and chest off the floor. Your baby continues to develop these skills across their age span and refines them with repeated use.

Tummy time also provides an opportunity to spend time off the back of their heads. Increasing tummy time throughout the day and avoiding too much time in car seats, strollers, swings, or bouncy seats will all help prevent your baby’s head from flattening. Proper positioning in an infant carrier is also a great alternative to the stroller for time off your baby’s head when feasible.

Happy Hands

Parents are often unsure about when they should begin to engage their infant in tummy time. First attempts at placing a baby on his or her belly can be overwhelming since a baby’s tolerance is often limited or non-existent. We encourage parents to start placing babies on their bellies when they’re awake as soon as possible after birth. As a general rule of thumb, it is never too early or never too late to start.

These new experiences on the tummy can be perceived by you and your baby as physically demanding. It is only natural for your baby to become upset and want to be moved out of this position. Your baby will often seek emotional and physical support by wanting to be picked up and remain close to a parent or caregiver. While this is important for nurturing and providing your baby comfort, it is equally important for them to explore and play on their tummies with happy parent hands ready to pick them up when a break is needed. You can also use a soothing voice to comfort them.

If you have questions about tummy time, speak with your pediatrician, physical therapist, or an occupational therapist.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Robert Cafaro, MS, OTR/L, has been an occupational therapist for 15 years and has worked in pediatrics across multiple areas (preschools, school districts, home care, inpatient rehabilitation, and outpatient rehabilitation). He graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Gannon University in 2000 and a Master’s in Health Care Policy and Management from Stony Brook University in 2005.  Robert is currently the supervisor of the Pediatric Occupational Therapy Department of Rusk Rehabilitation at Hospital for Joint Diseases. He is the father of twin three year old girls who have benefitted from tummy time provided throughout their development.

Megan Strong, PT, DPT, PCS, is a board certified clinical specialist in pediatric physical therapy. She is the supervisor of Pediatric Physical Therapy at NYU Langone Medical Center and received her Doctorate in physical therapy from The University of Scranton. She has close to 10 years’ experience working at Rusk Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center.

NYU Langone’s Pediatric Rusk Rehabilitation at Hospital for Joint Diseases helps babies, children, and teens with developmental disorders, neurological conditions, and physical injuries reach their full potential. We identify each child’s obstacles and capabilities and develop a treatment plan with the family based on specific, practical goals designed to optimize the child’s physical, cognitive and behavioral functioning.

A Guide To Your Baby’s Developmental Milestones

Infant child baby toddler crawlingA new baby can bring parents much joy, but also plenty of worries—especially around meeting developmental milestones like walking and talking. Some parents receive online baby newsletters and milestone alerts and worry that their baby hasn’t developed a particular skill “on time.” The important thing to remember is that pediatricians aren’t concerned so much with exactly when your baby starts crawling or saying “mama,” but that he or she is progressing from stage to stage, and continued growth and change.

Eye Contact
It’s true that a lack of eye contact can be an early sign of a neurological development deficit, such as autism, but not all babies meet their parents’ gaze at the eight week mark. It’s normal for some infants to not make noticeable eye contact until they’re three months old. Also, parents don’t always notice when a baby has made eye contact because it can be subtle and quick. What you should look to see is some brief acknowledgment of your presence when you face your baby. It’s acceptable if he or she looks at you even if just for a little while.

While many babies start to crawl around six months, some may not reach this milestone until nine months or so, which is within normal range. Every baby is different—there is no “one size fits all.” In addition, instead of crawling on hands and knees, some babies move along by scooting on their rear ends, propelling themselves with their upper body in an “army crawl,” or rolling. And, some babies skip to walking without ever crawling at all.

Don’t worry too much if your baby hasn’t started talking by his or her first birthday. The timing of early language development varies from child to child, and researchers have found that most “late talkers” up to age two are able to catch up to their peers by the time they enter school. It’s a good sign when babies babble and understand what you’re saying, even if they don’t have the vocabulary to answer you back yet—such as when they look for their father when asked, “Where’s Daddy?”

Growth and Development
Keep in mind that every baby develops at his or her own pace rather than according to a milestone chart. However, you know your baby better than anyone, so if you think something is wrong, talk to your pediatrician. When there is a problem, the earlier a doctor can intervene, the better he or she can help children reach their full potentials.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Julie G. Capiola, MD, is a clinical instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center. A board-certified pediatrician, she received her medical degree from Thomas Jefferson University and completed a residency in pediatrics at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Straight Talk on Closing the “Word Gap” In Early Childhood

Straight Talk on Closing the “Word Gap” In Early Childhood

As politicians nationally emphasize the importance of PreK in preparing children for school success, there is a growing movement to focus on the first three years of life, and specifically on bridging what leaders call the “word gap.” This gap refers to the disparity in the number of words learned by children of different economic backgrounds by the time they enter kindergarten and across their lifetimes. It is a critical issue. Research shows that children who start kindergarten with fewer words are never able to catch up to their counterparts with larger vocabularies. Not surprisingly, parents and teachers can have a huge impact on children’s success by simply creating an evolving and engaging dialogue with the children during their first few years of life.

In March, The New York Times focused on the word gap when it published “Providence Talks” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/us/trying-to-close-a-knowledge-gap-word-by-word.html), an article on an initiative spearheaded by Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. The program aims to grow children’s vocabularies from birth to four, particularly in families living in poverty. The process coaches parents so they actually use more words each day, measures word interactions by recording families at home, and ultimately gives children more word power for learning.

The Providence program’s aim is undeniably admirable. But as Claire Lerner, director of parenting resources at Zero To Three, the largest American advocacy organization for infants and toddlers, points out: the number of words children acquire will not by themselves create a “smart and successful” adult. She stresses, “We don’t want parents talking at babies…We want parents talking with babies.”
Lerner’s distinction between talking at and talking with babies reminds us that the dialogue itself, the interactive exchange between adult and child, is really what’s important. Children have a point of view from birth before there is any expressive language. Their gaze indicates engagement and wonder and opens up the door for back-and-forth communication. Parents can foster this communication in simple but important ways. For example, when your child notices a dog on the street, acknowledge this with words. “That’s a big dog. Do you see his black spots? Look at his feet. His nails are really long.” When we recognize a child’s fascination, we can model our own in return and become partners in observation, using language to present new words and ideas. The child’s interest lays the groundwork so next time they see a dog they’ll be able to retrieve those ideas. Some word interactions carry more weight than others.
mom readingerica
Providence Talks is just one of several initiatives underway across the United States aimed at growing vocabularies of very young children. To learn more you can visit:
Providence Talks at http://www.providencetalks.org/
Too Small to Fail at http://toosmall.org/mission
The Thirty Million Words Initiative at http://tmw.org/tmw-initiative/

Renee Bock is a dedicated early childhood educator, who is currently the Educational Director at Explore+Discover, a social learning center in Manhattan that is dedicated to setting the standard for infant and toddler care and education. Renee has more than a decade of experience in the field and holds a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College in New York. In her present position, she is helping Explore+Discover open the first of 27 New York City centers focused on children from 3 months to two years old. She can be reach at Renee@K3Learn.com.

Touring an Infant Toddler Center: Questions for the Director

Touring an Infant Toddler Center: Questions for the Director

When touring a child care center, most of us feel unprepared to assess the quality of education and care provided to children. We all want a center that compliments and even enhances what we teach children at home; we want individualized love and attention, a clean, safe place, a home away from home. We want to be sure that caretakers are professional and the center provides families with knowledge about raising children and how to fill our days with growing experiences.

As an educator, and a mother of three boys, I have had the opportunity to be a parent, teacher and Director at many centers. Here is what I’d ask when visiting an infant/toddler or preschool center:

1. Embrace the Mission — Does my family share the center’s vision of children and educational values?

The most important aspect in selecting a center is finding a place that shares your family’s educational outlook, a place where you feel at home philosophically. Do you believe that play and friendship are central to learning? Do you think it is important to do worksheets and learn to read before three? The school’s mission determines how children spend their days and what they learn. Make sure you embrace the mission before you sign your contract.
On your tour ask the following question:

  • What is the school’s mission and how does it impact what the children do everyday?

2. Professional Background — Are teachers prepared to work with children of this age?

Teacher preparation is the single greatest indicator of a professional educational environment, one that is safe, nurturing and sets appropriate goals for students. Teachers must understand child development and have an understanding of best practices. They must have experience taking care of very young children, and be able to love and relate to them no matter what the mood or need.

On your tour ask the following question:

  • Do Head Teachers have a Master’s in Early Childhood Education?

3. Accesibility — Are Administrators and Teachers available to me?
As a parent, you will have many questions, concerns, and hopefully compliments to give at the center. You must be sure that when you need to talk to someone, the staff is available either in person, by phone, via email or able to make an appointment within 24 hours.  Before you sign your contract, meet the Director and make sure you feel comfortable with their expertise and ability to support your family.

On your tour ask the following question:

  • If I have a concern who do I speak to first and how do I reach them?

4. Intention — Teachers should work with a plan, set goals, and have a mindful approach to all of their interactions with children and materials.

There are several ways you can determine if the school has a culture of intentionality. When visiting the classrooms, does every object seem to have its own place? Are materials presented to children in an orderly, relaxed manner? Do teachers seem to be thinking with the children, considering what they do and say? Are they listening and observing as they work?

On your tour ask the following questions:

  • Do teachers keep a plan book? What is recorded there?
  • Do the teaching teams meet weekly with administrators? What do they discuss?
  • Do teachers document the children’s work? Are there artifacts that keep track of children’s work and growth over time?

5. Tone — Do adults in the center listen to children and speak with respect at all times?
When visiting the center take note of how teachers listen and how they speak to children. Children need to hear their own thoughts, to process what is going on around them, and have time to contemplate. There should be a mix of engagement and auditory space throughout the day.
When teachers speak to children, they should use a natural voice. They shouldn’t speak too fast, loud, in angry tones, or silly voices. Young children should be treated like they have important ideas to share, and are competent, creative people with greatness inside them.
Teachers and administrators should speak to each other with respect, as children are impacted by emotions of adults around them.

On your tour ask the following question:

  • What is your approach to listening to children? Can you describe how teachers should talk to children?

It can be challenging to select your first center, as you entrust strangers with your most precious and incredible child. Ask as many questions as you can, call the Director and reconnect until you are comfortable. The center should teach and support the whole family and elevate the learning for everyone.

Renee Bock is a dedicated early childhood educator, who is currently the Educational Director at Explore+Discover, a social learning center in Manhattan that is dedicated to setting the standard for infant and toddler care and education. Renee has more than a decade of experience in the field and holds a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College in New York. In her present position, she is helping Explore+Discover open the first of 27 New York City centers focused on children from 3 months to two years old. She can be reach at Renee@K3Learn.com.

Benefits of Kids Music Classes

As someone who grew up studying music from a young age I stand by the belief that music can have a major impact on a person in many different ways.  For instance, in school I rarely had anxiety before an exam as I had experience performing with an ensemble group and going through auditions.  Music helped me think abstractly which was very helpful in school and outside of the classroom.

My personal relationship with music began when I was introduced to the piano at the age of 4. Thanks to my parents who encouraged me to take private lessons and also to teachers who challenged me to see my potential, my personal and educational life was changed because of my music.

kids music classes

Luckily in 2014, the arts go beyond Broadway plays and music lessons!  Now music classes are available to those who are even younger than 4!  These classes generally are very nurturing and in a non-formal setting. Classes such as singing simple songs and gestures, that just seem like silly fun, are in reality generating many benefits for small children.

Benefits of Kids Music Classes

Lets look at some of the positives that have been found in children being exposed to music and/or taking music classes at a young age (each article link has been added below, in case you’d like to do a little more reading!):

1) Brain Development

Music stimulates both sides of the brain, which can lead to increased creativity and fine tuning of reasoning abilities including problem solving. Research has also found that a child can be more likely to do well academically because of involvement with music.

2) Motor skills development

By playing with instruments or participating in dance that involves even the simplest movements, a child’s muscle strength and coordination can be increased. Each dance is requiring a certain amount of control from different muscles, fine-tuning skills that will help with every day activities.

3) Social skills

As early as 1-2 years a child may begin to show signs of self- consciousness, becoming more aware of his own feelings as well as observing the feelings and expressions of others. Up until now, most children have already developed close relations with only perhaps you as a parent or caregiver. Being in a social situation where he can interact with others his own age may be less intimidating if he is also able to have you there to help define positive or negative behaviors.

If you think music classes may be a good fit for your little one, feel free to come to any of our classes and just mention this blog entry for a complimentary class that day! For all information on us, please see our bio section!

There are tons of kids music classes available on KidzCentralStation.com – and you can search by age and location to find the best, and closest option in the city for your child!

We hope to see you soon!