How to talk about Coronavirus with your child

In these troubled times it can be hard to know what to say to your little ones about coronavirus. We posted a little bit about how to talk to your child about coronavirus here, but as the problem escalates, we’ve got some more handy hints on just what you should be saying and how.

When your child is worried its important to keep your sense of humour

When things are tough your children look to you for reassurance, that’s why it’s important to keep on top of the stats. Being able to tell them that it’s only a few percent of people who die and that most are just hospitalised can help with anxiety. Let them know that although rates are rising precipitously it’s probably only for the next few months to a year.

But don’t make the common mistake of trying to know too much – remember to be honest! When they ask if they will get ill or if you will it’s OK to say “I don’t know”, if they ask if someone they love could die it’s OK to admit that you don’t know. This honesty will help calm your child’s fears.

Explaining things simply to your child using daily examples they can relate to or using concrete examples can help. So for example, you could explain the concept of risk being stratified by age by telling them you’re more likely to die than they are, but their grandparents are most likely to die. Or demonstrate social isolation by taking their favourite toy, place it in a box and put it out of reach. Tell them they’ll get it back in two weeks.

Lastly, empower your child by letting them know that there is still things they can do to help. Make sure they know if they don’t wash their hands well enough other people will suffer. Or if they don’t practice good social distancing they will infect vulnerable individuals.

And remember, keep your sense of humour. Sometimes, when your child comes to you with all their worries and fears it’s good to just laugh.

Have you tried talking with your infant about Coronavirus? Try making a fun game out of quarantining them in their room and see how long they can last! Let us know how you get on!

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Parenting and Coronavirus

Are you worried about coronavirus? It can be hard not to during this difficult time, but we belive there’s no need to panic. Sticking to some basic parenting principles means victory over the virus should be easy!

Mother visiting her child

Prevention rather than cure

Although all children have a natural aversion to touching or playing with anything that seems dirty or disgusting it can happen from time to time. If your child should accidentally touch something unclean just explain the importance of hand washing and ask them not to touch anything until they are able to first wash their hands. We know that when young children are told about Coronavirus and calmly presented with the facts in this way, 99% of them will carefully follow instructions.

Children should also refrain from touching anyone’s eyes, nose or mouth. Whilst this might be especially hard if your child is in the habit of lovingly poking your eyes, clawing at your face, or forcing their fingers into your mouth or up your nose. Again, simply talking to them about the importance of disease control will help them understand why they should refrain for the next few weeks. Although impulse control might be hard at first, practice makes perfect!

What should I say to my child?

While it can be daunting explaining a worldwide pandemic to a child it is worthwhile. Often giving background and context helps children understand the finer details of viral epidemics – a frank discussion about germs, how they are on everything they touch even though you can’t see them, and their ability to spread illness should put their minds at ease.

Drawings can help to illustrate harder to grasp points like the current number of people infected and death rates. Using concrete examples from their day to day life can also help, such as “Granny and Grandpa are less likely to make it than you”. Younger children might also benefit from visual demonstrations – try lining up all their teddies and/or dolls then knocking over a few to demonstrate the percentage of people who are probably going to become ill or succumb to COVID-19. For more ways to talk to your child see here.

But what if someone does get ill?

But what if you know a child who, despite repeated discussions about coronavirus, might recklessly ignore all advice and not think about the all the possible long term repercussions? Nobody wants to quarantine their child but if you or your infant become ill you will need to go on lockdown. This is where a playpen can come in very handy – placed in a room, or even better a garden, by itself, the playpen can stop your child from coming into contact with the disease or can stop your child passing on the virus by being able to interact with others. You can rest easy knowing you are doing what’s best for your child – just make sure to leave enough food and drink to last for 2 months*. If you do decide to visit your child during this time make sure to keep your distance, wear a mask and avoid touching.

*For children who are very young you may need to explain rationing so they understand the need to pace themselves when it comes to eating and drinking

Plastic Fantastic

The last in our series of the latest advances in foodology from the Clayton College of Natural Health you can see other techniques for picky eaters discussed here and here. This method is simply called ‘Plastique’.

150% more appealing

‘Plastique’ is developed from the notion that children soon learn shop bought food tastes better. They come to associate the higher sugar, fat and taste content with crinkly packaging and bright colours.

Trials used lovingly home cooked, well balanced, nutritious food vs. leftovers scraped off the floor and smeared into a plastic wrapper. They found babies preferred the squashed food scraps every time. This preference also increased with age.

Next, they ruled out that this simply reflected the natural preference for food stuff left to congeal over time on the floor (more details here) by presenting the babies with the same lovingly home cooked food or the leftovers but on a plate. In this condition the babies refused to eat anything, throwing away the food in disgust or smearing it on themselves.

Last, they placed the home cooked dinner in a plastic bag and sealed it shut. Babies were seen to eat most in this condition with one mother marvelling “That’s the first time he’s ever finished a meal. Ever”

Although ‘Plastique’ has been criticised for encouraging demand for one use plastic, Tom Ackland, founder of the ‘Plastique’ method countered ‘who cares? In a few years it will be their problem’

Do you want your baby to eat more than you care about the environment? Try Plastique and let us know how you get on!

Screen Time for children

There is a lot of controversy around how much screen time is appropriate for young children. We’ve done the reading to set your minds at ease. Here we present the latest findings.

Child screen farms have been linked to premature aging

First, let’s define what we mean by screens – from the internet, to apps, to an old fashioned TV there are a lot of different ways to watch. And what do we mean by time? It’s the indefinite continued progress of existence.

Scientists have been hard at work testing children in ‘screen farms’ to study the effects on the developing brain. The latest results aren’t good.

Shockingly, 2 week old infants who were made to watch bananaphone on repeat had stunted social skills by 6 weeks. All were unable to take part in a simple conversation and the majority struggled to smile or hold eye contact.

Continue reading “Screen Time for children”

Top 6 Toys of the Year

It can be expensive to keep buying new toys, especially when you don’t know what will be a hit, but we’ve put together a list of some of the best ones out there at the moment.

Some of the best toys on the market
Just an example of some of the great new buys hitting the market

1. Plug socket

This one helps with developing dexterity, it comes with not one but three holes to try and fit fingers or other objects in. Plus a handy switch for ‘on’ and ‘off’ modes.

2. Pen

This toy is a classic that never goes out of style. Use it for chewing, especially when running for ultimate thrills, poking in eyes and for fun drawing on all manner of surfaces. As a bonus the ink tastes great!

3. Toothbrush

This toy is a great two for one. It has great mouth feel by itself to stimulate the senses, but when they’re older they can also use it to copy you by using it to sweep up bits of dirt, crumbs etc from the floor before enjoying that new great taste and texture.

4. Wallet

This one may seem like a simple teething toy to chew on but it also comes complete with a set of cards they can take out, bite or hide. Peekaboo!*

*Some versions also contain a pocket with little coins for throwing, this can be a choking hazard so not suitable for children under 6 months

5. Keys

Watch them rattle! Watch them shake! These can be used together in a bundle or, when shaken vigorously enough, they can come apart. Great for learning about cause and effect. Where did that key go?

6. Wires

This is another sensory toy for feeling and chewing. They tend to come in black and white so great for young babies who can’t see colours yet.

Clean plate!

Next in our series on new and exciting approaches to feeding infants is another method from the Clayton College of Natural Health! This approach is called the “Soap System”, thought up by esteemed Nutrition Physiologist Isabelle E. Dock.

Bringing back happy memories of breakfast

Isabelle was inspired by her own experiences “Whenever I blew bubbles for my baby, all they wanted to do was drink the bubble mix or chew on the bubble wand”.

Excited by the possibilities of this discovery Ms. Dock asked her friends and they confirmed that their children also loved the taste of bubbles.

Isabelle continues “I thought I was on to something but I wanted to make sure it was more than just bubbles”

And boy was she on to something! Isabelle ran extensive tests where babies were left alone with soap – the results spoke for themselves. Every single baby happily put the soap in their mouth and ate it with no qualms at all. They all chose the soap even when other food was available.

Since then Isabelle Dock has developed a new range of baby food with fun and exciting tastes ranging from the classic ‘soapy sweet potato pie’, to the more adventurous ‘bubble bolognese’ and ‘sanitiser and spinach pasta’.

These handy meals have become bestsellers in her native home of New Zealand and have been getting rave reviews – it appears that even the pickiest of eaters finds it hard to resist food that tastes of detergent!

Let’s hope these handy meals make it to a store near you. Until then Ms Dock suggests you make everything taste just that little bit sudsy.

Do you have a child who loves eating soap? Why not let them and let us know how you get on!

Sugar Baby

It’s a little known fact that children actually hate sugar. Experiments from the 1970’s showed that when babies were put in a cage and made to press a lever for either sugar water or kale, they choose the green stuff every time. Babies are genetically hardwired to love vegetables.

See the sadness in his eyes

The sad truth is that parents often stop persevering with pureeing potato, mushing marrows and blending beetroots. Instead of offering healthy options they often force their children, at increasingly young ages, to eat cake. Frequently, children are left with no option other than eating sweets or going hungry. It is this process that turns children from healthy eaters, wondering at nature’s bounty to sugar-crazed manics craving their next hit.

Mum of 3, Summer, told us “I didn’t give any of my children any processed sugar for 5 years and now they refuse to touch the stuff. Chocolate, biscuits, sweets, you name it, all they want are peas and brussel sprouts. Even sweetcorn can be hit and miss because of the name”

So for anyone thinking of giving their child anything sweet – just hold off, your child will thank you for it. When they pester you for cookies all they’re really saying is “I love you and I love vegetables but society is pressuring me into putting on this facade”, when they have a meltdown because other children are eating chocolate and they’re not, what they’re actually saying is “I want your attention and I want vegetables but I feel sad that other children have not been respected in this way”.

Does your child have a ‘sweet tooth’? Stop giving them anything sugary and let us know how you get on!

Mommy’s Little Scavenger

Do you have a picky eater? Luckily there’s some great new feeding methods that are getting great results!

Scattering food on the floor can work wonders for picky eaters

The Scavenger Method was developed in America by Dr Stewart Mick a dietologist at the Clayton College of Natural Health and it’s been getting great results ever since.

Stew states “the theory behind the Scavenger Method is simple, evolutionarily speaking people don’t want to be given food, they want to hunt for it. Hundreds of years ago, given the chance of either finding a cake or having to hunt down a lion, people would always go for the chase”

It was easy for Dr Stew Mick to apply this hypothesis to babies “often you will see babies pick up food and throw it on the ground, this is their hunting instinct coming out”

In developing his theory Dr Mick would either give babies food while placed in their highchair or scatter it around the floor for them to discover, pick up and try and eat at any time over a 2 hour period. Babies in the ‘floor’ condition not only tried a greater variety of foodstuffs but ended up eating more. Sometimes even weeks after the original meal had been scattered, babies would still try eating the food smooshed into the floor over lovingly cooked meals freshly prepared and presented to them.

So if your child has been turning up their nose at some of the meals you’ve been presenting maybe they’re missing the thrill of the hunt? Why not try hiding, smearing and squashing food throughout your home and see your child’s eyes light up with delight as they get to find and try all manner of textures and tastes.

Let us know how you get on!

Drowsy. But awake.

Showing classic signs of being drowsy but awake

Any good parent knows that babies will calmly drift off to sleep when you put them down Drowsy But Awake (DBA).

Studies suggest during an infant’s average 24 hour sleep cycle this state of ‘tired, but not too tired’ can occur for anything up to 1-2 milliseconds at a time, sometimes multiple times a day. Parents wanting to instill good sleep practices in their child should keep a constant look out for the signs of DBA or be willing to pay the price!

Luckily, parents who are in tune with their children soon become sensitive to these special little cues and after hours of constantly scrutinising every tiny thing they do it becomes easy to spot the common signs of DBA. These include:

  • Yawning
  • Eye rubbing
  • Staring
  • Ear pulling

Knowing the signals of DBA can avoid allowing your baby to get overtired. Trying to get a baby to sleep in this state can lead to endless hours of bouncing, rocking or shushing while your baby screams hysterically! Fortunately, the signs of overtiredness are much more obvious. These include:

  • Staring
  • Yawning
  • Ear pulling
  • Eye rubbing

Your baby might also not be quite tired enough, although this is easy to spot because of the accompanying staring and ear rubbing at this time. All in all it’s worth learning the differences between DBA, overtiredness and when your baby is not quite tired enough so that sleep time becomes the straightforward, fuss free time it should be.

6 milestones you just shouldn't miss

Your baby’s first year is full of exciting firsts, here are just some of the many great milestones you can look out for

1. Trying steam cleaning for the first time

Every eager parent finds themselves asking ‘when will I get rid of all these stains?’ ‘when will everything I own look less disgusting?’. Don’t worry if you can’t get anything too clean at first, the important thing is just to have fun exploring how you can clean off the different colours and textures.

2. Catching yourself humming the tune from your baby’s toy

Becoming attached to a toy like this is a sign of your emerging resignation. Slowly but surely, you’re learning that you are no longer your own person. If it looks like a particular toy is becoming engrained in your psyche, it may be worth buying a spare. Then you’ll have one for him to play with when you inevitably smash the other one to pieces.

3. Extending the 3 second rule to 3 hours

During the first year your baby won’t have the ability to use a spoon well, but she’s probably keen to try feeding herself anyway. Try scattering finger foods, such as steamed vegetable sticks, broccoli florets and plain pasta twists around the floor. Even if she doesn’t eat them at first, she will eventually.

4. Declaring “it’s good for their immune system”

Once your baby has been learning and exploring the world for more than a few months, she’s got an impressive ability to put anything and everything into her mouth. Chances are at some point you will decide that whatever disgusting thing it is, it will help with their budding immunity.

5. Deciding you no longer care about wearing stained clothing

Should you still be wearing this top? Is it normal to have so many stains? Why won’t any of the marks come out? At some point you may develop plenty of questions about your clothes, this is all perfectly normal.

6. Playing ‘is that smell my kid or yours?

Whether you’re opting for smelling your own baby’s bum, someone elses, or a bit of both, have fun with it, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself, or your baby.

Bear in mind that all parents develop differently. If you have any concerns about your development, ask your health visitor for advice.

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