We all wish our kids the very best in life. I for one, wish that at least one of my kids will become a famous pro-golfer and set me up with some mansion along the coast. And I have high hopes for my youngest, who is showing glimmerings of true genius (what? me, biased? No!!!). But seriously, if we want to have some influence in giving our kids a great start in life, it’s those early years that are the most crucial.
Did you know that the first three years of a child’s life are the most critical in shaping your kid’s brain and that they learn more quickly during those early years than at any other time in life? So while us mums are in the thick of those treacherous twos, your toddler is soaking up everything around them.
So let’s take a look at the top ways you can help to give your child a great start in life:
1) Early Learning
Baby’s brains are in acceleration mode in those first three years, so take advantage of this unique opportunity to boost your baby’s learning skills.
Now is the time to lay down those language foundations. The key here is talking. Tell your baby what you’re doing, talk to them directly, describe pictures, sounds, smells and tastes. Don’t bother about ‘baby talk’ – just chat normally to your kids and you’ll be amazed at how much they actually pick up.
Ask questions. When you’re playing, reading or going to the park, ask your baby what they see and hear. You may not get an answer but I can assure you, your child’s brain is working in overdrive trying to make sense of the world.
Make a touchy-feely sensory bag. Cut up pieces of material with different textures and colours and pop them into the bag. Allow your child to pick out the materials and then talk to them about what each piece feels like, its colour and even what noise it makes when you rub the cloth together.
Cut out pictures of objects and people from magazines and talk about the pictures to your baby. Point out different faces, colours and scenes and use a variety of words so you can build up your child’s vocabulary.
2) A Love For Music
It’s easy to give your kids a love for music from before they’re even born. When I was pregnant with my first born, I used to place headphones on my tummy and play Mozart to my embryonic peanut. It must have worked, ‘cause now she adores music – anything from classical to Bruno Mars.
Research has shown that children that are exposed to singing and clapping develop a good sense of rhythm, a skill that has been linked to mathematical ability.
Create your own home-grown toddler rock band. Take pots and pans out of the cupboard, give your kids a wooden spoon and let them go nuts with the drumming. You may need some ear plugs but they will love every minute of the loud clanging fun.
Play all kinds of music to your child and encourage them to clap and sing along.
Many libraries offer rhyme-time sessions where kids are taught to sing songs, dance and play simple instruments.
3) Pay Attention To What Your Child Says
This may be really simple but it’s so important. Before a child learns to talk, they learn from what is being said to them. The way we respond to our kids (when they cry, smile or coo), helps them to develop their communication and social skills.
A great way to encourage word learning is to pay attention to our child’s interests and talk to them about things that engage them. Ask questions rather than give instructions and listen to your child when they do speak.
When your child starts using words, you can repeat and build on what your child says. For example, if she says, ‘Apple,’ you can say, ‘Do you want a green apple?’
Positive talk and encouragement can have a long-term impact: experts have found that a child who hears positive talk at the age of two can better control their impulses when they’re six.
4) Foods To Support Growth And Development
Just as important as feeding the brain, is feeding the body. I love the idea of superfoods and if it was up to me my kids would eat a combination of salmon, berries, kale and avo for brekkie, lunch and dinner. But alas, my toddler literally baulks at anything green on her plate and if she was in charge of the kitchen, she’d live on chips and ice-cream alone (I know, not exactly a balanced meal).
I am a big believer of hidden vegetables so I make bolognaise packed with minuscule pieces of carrot, broccoli, spinach and pumpkin. For a summer treat, I mix frozen berries through Greek yoghurt and freeze them in ice-block moulds. I also make salmon patties using flaked salmon, onion, spinach, garlic and seasoning and pan fry them into crispy morsels. But after all that effort, it’s touch and go whether they’ll actually eat them.
I must admit, I worry whether my fusspot kids are getting a balanced diet. So instead of having World War 3 at every mealtime (I invariably lose), I suggest giving little ones toddler milk as a supplement to their meals, to help fill nutritional gaps. Kids love the creamy, smooth taste.
Our favourite is Biostime SN-2 BIO PLUS™ Premium Organic Toddler Milk Drink. This toddler milk drink has been developed by paediatric nutrition specialists with decades of experience and is made from freshly sourced, organic milk and cream from premium selected organic producers. The product contains a specialised blend of scientifically evaluated ingredients to help support the nutritional needs of toddlers and is currently the only certified organic toddler milk drink that is formulated with both prebiotics and probiotics, available in Australia.
I really like Biostime’s approach – they have put decades of research into their formulations, source some of nature’s premium ingredients and combine the two with an uncompromising commitment to quality and safety.
As an added bonus, Biostime SN-2 BIO PLUS™ Premium Organic Toddler Milk Drink * contains the natural prebiotic FOS, which helps feed beneficial bacteria, as well as B. infantis, a probiotic naturally found in the digestive tract of breastfed infants.
Giving your child a love for books is one of the best things you can do for them. You can start reading to your child from the day they are born and allow this time to become a wonderful bonding opportunity for you and your child.
Studies show that when parents read with their kids, this can significantly increase their child’s vocabulary by the age of three and can have a big impact on a child’s development.
Reading allows your child to hear words in different contexts, which helps them learn the meaning of words. Try and link what’s in the book to what’s happening in your child’s life as this is a good way to encourage your child to talk.
When you read to your child, point to the words as you say them. This demonstrates to your child the link between written and spoken words, and helps them learn that words are distinct parts of our language. These are both important concepts for developing literacy.
Visit your local library to discover new books and take part in the wonderful literacy programs that libraries run for kids of all ages.
What are your tips to ensure your child has a great start in life? Tell us in the comments below.
Visit www.biostime.com.au to learn more about the next generation of infant nutrition.
Biostime products are available at Chemist Warehouse, Priceline Pharmacy, Pharmacy Warehouse and Pharmacy 4 Less.
This article was commissioned by the team at Biostime as part of the Biostime product review campaign. The Mouths of Mums editorial team compiled this article after working with the team at Biostime and realising that they provide top quality paediatric nutritional products.
* As part of a healthy and varied diet. To be consumed when energy and nutrient intakes may be inadequate.