Barbies and dolls provide children with the ultimate role playing experience. Check out our selection of dolls for your little one
Barbies and dolls provide children with the ultimate role playing experience. Check out our selection of dolls for your little one
If your toddler’s sleep patterns worry you, and it is often a struggle to put her to sleep, you may doing something wrong. Poornima Makaram speaks to experts and parents to get advice on what constitutes good sleep hygiene.
Two year old Shreya is a testy child who refuses to sleep at night. Her mother Ramya Chandran struggles every day trying to get her to go to bed and late evenings soon transform the bedroom into a battleground. The constant tussles begin with cajoling and pleading, and end with fi nally losing losing patience and temper tantrums.
Is this the story of hour home as well? If yes, read for tips to inculcate better sleep hygiene in your family early on.
SET A RHYTHM
Bangalore-based paediatrician Dr Sandeep Jathanna believes it is very important to set a good rhythm so that your child gets enough sleep every night. “It is necessary for the child to be put to bed at the same time every evening in order to establish a good pattern,” he says. “This way, the child gets enough sleep at night, and is not cranky during the day. Between the ages of two and four, a child needs 10 to 12 hours of sleep every night in addition to one or two naps during the day.”
Dr Jathanna urges the setting up of a regular pattern which will signal sleeping time. “This could include giving the child a warm bath before putting her to bed. Ensure that you make her wear familiar and comfortable night clothes like pyjamas and t-shirt. A glass of warm milk with a cookie can be given, and the routine can end with brushing her teeth. Repeating the same pattern every day helps the child recognise bedtime, and will make going to sleep easier. The body recognises the pattern and begins to wind down accordingly,” he adds.
Web designer Ranjini Srinivasan always found it diffi cult to put her daughter Vinaya to sleep when she was a year and a half. The little one would drag the whole ‘putting to sleep’ exercise for nearly an hour before she fi nally relented. “It was an exasperating experience to get her to sleep. I kept trying different things to make the routine comfortable for her. Finally, I bought her a toy which emits a soft light. So, cloer to sleep time, we would switch off all the lights, put the toy next to her, and sing a familiar lullaby every night. After a while, the lullaby became her cue to go to sleep, with the familiar comforting toy right next to her.”
STOP THE STIMULATION
Dr Jathanna feels that stimulating activity should be off limits in the bedroom. He says, “No video games or television should be allowed before going to bed.” This is because any kind of visual stimulation makes it difficult for the child to wind down, says the paediatrician. “Narrating a bed-time story or singing a song works better,” he says. “If she wakes up in the middle of the night and calls out to you, just put her back to sleep without much ado. Do not offer a midnight snack or take her out of the room since that will make it very difficult for her to go back to sleep.”
Take for instance, software engineer Pragna Shetty’s son Chirag’s case. Chirag would wake up in the middle of the night quite often and his mum always had trouble putting him back to sleep. “When he woke up around midnight, my husband Shyam would still watching TV in the living room. The sound would percolate into the bedroom as well, and was perhaps the cause of disturbance. Soon, Chirag would be wide awake and wanting to go out and watch his favourite TV show,” says Pragna. “Sometimes, we would humour him and allow him to watch about 15 minutes of TV, but after this, it was always difficult to get him back to sleep for nearly an hour. At my insistence, Shyam began to wear headphones to mute out the sound, and then we found it much easier to put Chirag back to sleep in 10 minutes,”
she says. M&B
FOR GOOD SLEEP HYGIENE
• Make the bedroom a comfortable place with enough air circulation.
• Serve dinner at least an hour before bedtime.
• Avoid feeding sweets or sodas before bedtime.
• Don’t allow her to fall asleep in front of the television or in the living room as this disrupts regular sleeping habits.
• Give her a doll or toy, or even a blanket to make her feel secure is a good idea.
• If the child’s natural rhythm makes her sleep later, then start the process of putting her to sleep a little later, so that a lot of non sleep time is not spent on the bed.
• Don’t do other normal activities on the bed as this sends confl icting messages to the child about whether it is a sleep or a play zone.
Akhila Vijaykumar takes a look at the various toys that children play with, and how they could be infl uencing outdated stereotypes or behaviour patterns in your child
Children learn and develop through play. Toys based on action, construction and technology help children gain problemsolving and spatial skills, and encourage them to be active. Toys focused on roles and imagination help growth of social skills. When toys are gendered, they deny both genders one set of vital skills. Girls role-play and imagine scenarios with dolls, doll houses, cooking sets, makeup sets, oven sets and other household-y things. Boys build and run around with sports equipment, chemistry sets, tool kits and building blocks.
PINK VS BLUE—HOW GENDERED TOYS ARE HURTING BOTH BOYS AND GIRLS
Across the world, gendered toys limit childrens’ interests. Little girls are restrained to flowers, fairies and princesses in pink and fuchsia hues. Little boys may have toys in all the colours of the world, but can never actually choose pink on their own.
Research and debates the world over throw up concerning findings that say the ‘pinkifi cation’ of young girls is leading to more gender bias in critical think, selfesteem and body issues. While toys for boys facilitate competition, control and dominance—traits that are once again proving to be troublesome when expressed to violent extremes by boys and young adult males.
Girls are constantly told to wait for their ‘Prince Charming’ to rescue them and that math, science, technology and construction are not for them—leaving them insecure about their abilities well into adulthood. Boys who embrace even the slightest sign of femininity are derided and stigmatised, teased mercilessly for being a girl, forcing the child to hide his feminine side as well as assume being female is weak or bad.
BORN WITHOUT A PREFERENCE?
Studies have shown that newborns, irrespective of sex, show similar preferences. Stuffed toys are favourites with both genders, indicating a united preference for cuddly beings.
In the Victorian age, babies of both sexes were dressed in white. In Catholic countries, blue was sometimes seen as a girl’s colour due to association with the Virgin Mary. In fact, even up to the early 80s, toy catalogues and clothes were preferred in primary colours like red and yellow.
The over-emphasis on pink versus blue seems to be a marketing creation—where toys are divided on the basis of gender purely for profi t. After all, it makes it harder for parents to pass down toys between siblings of different genders especially in traditional markets. You’re likelier to buy another. The linking of the toy industry and the entertainment industry also has led to merchandise retailing, where the push for volumes has led to a careless, almost cruel divide between boys and girls, all for profit.
Developmental psychologists have found that by two to three years, children have become extremely aware of their gender and its social implications. Forming groups, excluding individuals, including individuals, all becomes based on gender dynamics. While toys might not create the stereotypes of daddy-goes-to-work and mummy-stays-at-home, they defi nitely reinforce them.
THE NEW AGE REQUIRES NEW MIND-SETS
A decade into the 21st century, it is clear that traditional roles are changing fast. Men and women will now occupy different roles, happily, out of choice, and possible exchange roles too. In which case, won’t encouraging a little boy to play with ovens a way of encouraging him to be nurturing, to feel comfortable taking care of someone and to not consider any job as ‘women’s work’? Similarly, encouraging girls to use more critical thinking skills via chess, building blocks and sports equipment could mean more physical confi dence and better maths skills, to name just two? Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright has always credited his success to his childhood set of blocks his mother bought home. It begs the question: how many gifted female architects have been thwarted by dolls?
Today, there has been some progress towards gender equality. More women are in the workplace and in public life, some men take on greater parenting and domestic responsibilities but yet, when it comes to children, the lines have never been more clearly drawn in pink and blue. Psychologists suggest that highly gendered toys are not just a a result of capitalism, but also point to a deep, subconscious unease with the advances of women’s rights in the past few decades.
THE WAY FORWARD—BLOCKS AND DOLLS FOR BOTH
What is important is to find a way to dispense with inculcating gendered limits in children, without jettisoning values that families hold dear. It is important to understand the changing milieu, and also fi t these new principles into existing belief systems and culture Simple ways of doing that could be to gradually encourage cross-gender play dates and activities between children, buying gender-neutral toys and supporting children to take on broader gender roles at home and at play. These toys would also encourage development in all areas, especially physical, cognitive, academic, musical and artistic. M&B
Let Toys be Toys and Let Books be Books are just two global movements urging manufacturers and publishers to avoid gender stereotypical colours and visuals on their products. The message of both campaigns is to let children not be forced into a preference based on their gender.
REAL LIFE, REAL STORY.
Ros Ball and her partner, James, kept a diary of the lives of their daughter and son, recording the moments when children were made aware of genders, stereotypes, pink-and-blue classifi cation and more. Tweeting the results at Baby Gender Diary, both parents were astounded at the incessant amount of classifi cation that went on with children as young as a year old.
Do you often worry about how harmlful your baby’s playthings are? Well, you have reason to. Dr Prashanth Urs, senior consultant neonatologist and paediatrician, Apollo Cradle, talks about toy safety and its implications on your little one
Everyone loves toys. They’re both entertaining and informative. Children above the age of five are able to understand how to play with them, and to make out what can be potentially dangerous. The main worry lies with infants. Between the ages 0 to two, a baby is still trying to focus on people and objects. So parents of infants need to constantly be on their toes, making sure that the toys are kept clean, and that the babies are not nibbling at or swallowing anything dangerous. The most critical factor in child safety is to choose toys on the basis of the child’s age since most of these are made keeping a age-appropriate skills in mind. Here’s our guide to help you make the right choice.
0 to 1 year
In the fi rst few months, your infant will use his primary senses like the eyes and ears to discover the world. Therefore, toys that make noise or are bright and colourful are the ones that appeal most to this age group. In the second half of the fi rst year, infants master motor skills that enable them to play with toys in new and exciting ways. When babies can sit up, they enjoy playthings they can manipulate—bang, drop, stack up, put in and take out, and open and shut.
The toys suggested for this age group include crib gyms, teething toys, interlocking rings or keys, soft dolls, stuffed animals (with short pile fabric) rattles, nesting and stacking toys, simple shape sorters, simple musical instruments and pop up toys.
When it comes to toys for your infant, make sure that:
• the toys are large enough—so that they can’t be swallowed or lodged in the baby’s windpipe.
• you clean toys on a regular basis—weekly or once in two weeks. The best way to do this is with child-friendly soap and water. Followed this up by wiping the toy with a disinfectant. For fabric toys, wash in the laundry with kidfriendly soap and hot water.
• battery-operated toys should have battery cases secured with screws so that kids cannot pry them open.
• all toys are safe for chewing—check labels.
• you avoid dangerous entanglement. Toys should never be hung or attached to a crib, playpen, stroller, infant seat or around a child’s neck with elastic, string or ribbon.
1 to 2 years
In the second year, children turn into explorers. They become extremely curious, and their physical abilities make it easier for them to play and learn. It is at this age that children imitate adults and enjoy toys that help master life skills.
The toys enjoyed by this age group include balls (1-¾ inches and larger), push-pull toys, infant swings, blocks, puzzles with knobs, play vehicles, non-toxic art supplies, playhouse and musical instruments, etc
Take the following safety precautions when picking toys for this age group: Avoid small objects like marbles.
• do not get toys with small parts (such as batteries or loose magnets) that can be swallowed.
• avoid stuffed toys with loosely sewn-on parts that can be easily removed.
• never buy anything with sharp edges.
• always choose toys that are made with lead-free paint.
• scrub with soap and water to effectively remove germs from surfaces. When possible, toys and surfaces should also be disinfected with kid-friendly disinfectants.
• Make sure yoy follow the manufacturer’s directions exactly as printed on the label.
2 to 4 years
Preschoolers have longer attention spans than toddlers. Typically, they talk a lot and ask a lot of questions. They like to experiment with things and with their still-emerging physical skills. They can take turns—and sharing one toy by two or more children is often possible for this age group. Toys enjoyed by this age include puzzles, building blocks, pretend toys, picture books, clay and play dough.
While selecting playthings for your preschooler, ensure:
• that the size is big. Avoid toys that can choke the child.
• that you avoid toys with fur as they can carry a lot of dust and lead to allergies and wheezing.
• electric toys are labelled UL, ie, they meet safety standards set by Underwriters Laboratories.
• throw away broken toys or repair them right away. Make sure that wooden toys have no splinters, and that bikes and outdoor toys are not rusted.
• stuffed toys do not have broken seams or exposed removable parts.
• when you buy clay and play dough, check for harmful chemicals in its list of ingredients.
• Check all toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards. Damaged or dangerous toys should be repaired or thrown away immediately.
• wash the toys often, and keep them clean. M&B
You’ve heard about the nausea, and the swelling of the feet, and the food aversions, and the fatigue… But has anyone told you about what you can gain during pregnancy apart from the pounds? M&B tells you that there’s enough reason to be overjoyed
Words: Reshma Kulkami
When Rebecca Bloomwood, the protagonist of Shopaholic & Baby, talked about how her husband has got ‘suddenly keen on her cleavage’ after she got pregnant, she was listing just one of the many ‘pregnancy wows’ that women can look forward to. Yes, you read that right. Impending motherhood doesn’t just come with its woes (be it cellulite or increased weight), but also brings along a bevy of positives. Read on for more.
Pregnancy means no periods till you continue breastfeeding. This translates into freedom from PMS, dysmenorrhoea and cramps for that much time. Childbirth eliminates some of the proprostaglandin receptor sites on the uterus which cause the contractions of the uterus during menstruation and labour. This translates into reduced cramps. Fewer periods also reduce the exposure to oestrogen and progesterone, thus cutting down the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. High levels of oestrogen in a pregnant body accord protection from heart problems due to its vasculo-protective action. Further, breastfeeding raises levels of the hormone oxytocin, and lowers the risk of heart ailments, diabetes and hypertension. However, breastfeeding reduces the heightened levels of oestrogen, thus lowering the risk of oestrogen-fuelled cancers of the breast, cervix and endometrium. Having a baby cuts the risk of developing autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis, RA, Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. During pregnancy a women’s immune system adjusts to avoid attacking the baby and this lowers the immune activity and infl ammation that causes nerve damage.
A wonderful by-product of getting pregnant is the surge in your libido. You can have sex without worrying about contraception. Your body starts looking more feminine, thanks to the soft curves. Breasts may become fuller, resulting in a tempting décolletage. During pregnancy, especially during the second trimester, increased blood flow to the pelvic region makes sex more sensitive and pleasurable. Testosterone and oestrogen produced by the foetus, along with progesterone, boosts sexual drive and gives you a greater likelihood of reaching an orgasm. The oestrogenic upsurge lends a rosy glow to the skin and accords a lustrous mane. Moreover, even though your weight might increase, you and your partner will tend to become more accepting of these physical changes, thus enhancing the psychological factor of lovemaking to a large degree.
Apart from physical benefi ts, pregnancy also brings about a bevy of psychological positive changes in a woman. To begin with, the woman starts adopting a healthy lifestyle for her baby; thus looking better than ever. This boosts her self-worth, which in turn helps her bond better with herself and her partner. Pregnancy brings about a positive attitude and makes you strong to cope with life changes without succumbing to negative thoughts and worries. A surge in progesterone acts as a tranquiliser to help reduce stress and promote calm sleep. After the first trimester, the increase in placental hormones creates a sense of well-being and whets the appetite. The accompanying rise in oestrogen makes you naturally sensitive to rejecting foods that her baby will reject. Pregnancy supercharges the prefrontal cortex of the brain, thus helping a woman become an even better multitasker. The release of oxytocin during delivery helps you become calmer and more focussed. M&B
CONTINUE THE FGF POST DELIVERY
• Keep up the healthy eating habits to retain good skin, hair and body
• Read and research to know how you can enhance your little one’s wellbeing. It helps you be engaged proactively towards the baby.
• Make time to go back to your hobbies and recreational interests. It helps lessen the stress of rearing a child.
• Take up post-natal fi tness programmes to shed the excess fl ab.
• Continue taking supplements of Iron, Calcium etc. with due advice from the doctor.
• Continue breathing exercises to keep postnatal depression at bay and have a healthier respiratory system.
• Most of all, enjoy the beautiful bond that the baby cements between you and your partner. The little life that you create together gives the best security to your relationship, as you both selfl essly strive to work towards a common goal.
Inputs from: Dr Kalpana Pathare, Ankur Maternity Home, Thane; Dr. Loveleena Nadir, Fortis La Femme; Dr Kamna Chhibber, Fortis Healthcare,; Kanchan Naikawadi, Indus Health Plus; Dr Nidhi Arora (PT), AktivOrtho; Dr Kiran Coelho, Hinduja Healthcare Surgical; Dr Anita K Mohan, Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru; Dr Tanvi Tuteja, K.J Somaiya Medical College & Hospital; Dr Pradnya Parulekar, Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai; Dr Reenu Jain, Jaypee Hospital, Noida; Dr Anil Magdum, Sunrise Hospital, Mumbai; Dr K Shilpi Redddy, The Birthplace, Hyderabad; Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour, SCI Healthcare; Dr Neena Patwardhan, Cumballa Hill Hospital, Mumbai
Welcome to December 2014
Officially the month of cheer and merriment, December has a lovely joyous air about it, don’t you think? The tree, the ornaments, holidays, New Year’s parties…it’s as if the month demands that you let your hair down. Join M&B in celebrating the year end with as mummies share their favourite festive memories. Also watch out for the lavish X-mas spread for your family. And because you are a mum, keeping the little one busy and enthused is important too. So, we teach you to some decorative snowflakes for the tree!
A harbinger of hope and happiness, the festival celebrates birth—M&B’s favourite subject. So, in this issue, we discuss the oft-ignored subject of male infertility, a decisive factor that may be keeping you from experiencing the joy of birth. If you’ve been lucky though, our guide on early pregnancy symptoms will tell you how to know for sure. From there on, M&B hand-holds you into your journey with a pregnancy diet chart and a guide to help you boost your immunity. For new mums, there are baby skin-care tips and good sleep hygiene suggestions.
Parenting is surely not child’s play. But toys are. If you choose well, they play a huge role in your child’s development. Remember to keep them safe, clean and hygienic though.
Flip through our shopping list before you start Christmas shopping. We bring you the cutest little dolls you can find. Who knows, you may just find the perfect stocking stuffer right here!
Swati Chopra Vikamsey