Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

We wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving! We're taking a few days off, but we'll be back with all new posts next week.

From The UC Davis Human Lactation Center

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Traveling with Your Baby this Holiday Season

The tradition continues this year as we share our tips for traveling with your infant and/or toddler. Here are a few posts to help make this holiday season a smooth one!

We hope you have a safe and happy holiday!

The UC Davis Human Lactation Center

*Photo courtesy of Jen G. This is her daughter, Lily, Thanksgiving 2008.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Bringing Your Toddler to Holiday Parties

By Jennifer Goldbronn

Last time, we shared some tips for making it easier for you and your baby to deal with the hustle and bustle of holiday gatherings. What about older babies and toddlers? What can you do to help them stay calm and happy? Here are some ideas to keep in mind.

1. Older babies have great memories! They remember if Aunt Rita always tries to take them away from you for that big hug. Family members are often very excited to see your baby! This can come across a bit scary to a baby that has someone rushing up to them and excitedly clapping or talking to them in a high pitched voice. Babies also remember how their parents reacted to certain family members. If you tense up when Aunt Rita comes running toward you, your baby will see your tension and learn that you think that Aunt Rita is scary too!
2. Toddlers learn about their world by creating scripts in their minds for common occurrences (like bedtime or getting dressed) and by assigning “jobs” to the people in their lives (i.e. every night Dad gives me a bath, mom reads me a story). For people that your baby does not see very often, babies may be more apprehensive with them because they don’t know what their job is.
3. As older babies gain the ability to move away from their caregiver (crawl, walk, etc.), they also develop an instinct that tells them to stay close to their caregiver. This is important for their safety but can also make family gatherings challenging when everyone wants to hold your baby.

Tips for navigating holiday gatherings

Now that you understand why older babies behave the way they do in these types of situations, we want to share some tips to help you through the upcoming holiday season!

·         Explain what you know about your baby and set boundaries with family members. Make sure they give your baby time to warm up first.

·         Watch your own facial expressions and body language. If you are worried that a particular family member will rush up and try to grab her from you before she is ready, your baby will know! You may be nervous or frustrated for other reasons and these feelings show as well. If you enter a party rushed and stressed, your baby will see it in your face and may become upset when introduced to people right away. So, try to smile and relax when introducing your baby to people!

·         Create a routine for when you see family members and talk her your toddler though it. Tell her what she is about to see and do. Your family members might think it is odd, but they will get used to it after a while. For example, whenever you get to a new party, sing the same song before you go in the door and introduce your child to everyone in the same way.

·         Change your expectations. Knowing your baby’s normal development at this age, don’t be surprised if he or she wants to stay near you the whole time! It’s OK! If others want to hold her, have them stay close by so that your baby can still see you. Given time and familiarity, your toddler eventually will calm down and enjoy the party too.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bringing Your Baby to Holiday Parties

The holidays are here again and for some of you, it will be your first holiday season as parents. We have a few posts that you might want to review as you get ready for family dinners and other holiday events.

1. Learn why your baby might shy away from loving friends and family and what you can do about it.

2. Learn how to prevent meltdowns from your baby having "too much fun."

3. Learn more about how babies differ in their response to socializing and stimulation during the holidays and beyond.

4. Get some tips to help you deal with visiting other people's homes with your busy baby.

We'll be back next time with some tips to help your toddler deal with all the holiday fun!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Baby Behavior is in Kansas!

We're spending the week in Kansas! We'll be training WIC and other public health program staff to train their fellow colleagues about infant behavior. We are so excited! We'll be back next week with all new posts!

Picture courtesy of

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

In the News: Babies Teach Social Emotional Learning

We recently read an article about a school-based program called Roots of Empathy that helps children learn about emotions by having them spend time with babies.  This news story reported that through this program, children in the classroom are encouraged to observe the babies’ development and label the babies' feelings. They then discuss those feelings and relate them to their own. Sounds a bit like reading cues to us! So, how does social emotional learning (SEL) work?

Social emotional learning is “the process of acquiring core competencies to recognize and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, appreciate the perspectives of others, establish and maintain positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle interpersonal situations constructively.”  (Durlak 2011) SEL programs help children develop healthy behaviors related to self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.
Special school-based programs, like Roots of Empathy, teach social emotional learning in two ways. Students learn how to process and apply social and emotional skills, such as labeling and understanding emotions, appropriately. These skills are taught by modeling and practice so that the children can apply them in real life situations.

How does all of this fit with baby behavior education?
Learning how to recognize and respond to baby cues improves babies' relationships, but it doesn’t have to end there. Teaching siblings or other children about baby behavior, how to understand the baby’s emotions and needs, is not just helpful for parents and babies; it may also be beneficial for the older child as well.

SEL programs are associated with lower levels of problem behaviors and emotional distress, improved academic performance, improved attitudes about self and others, and increased positive social behaviors such as sharing and helping others.
Incorporating SEL at home

If you have older children, teach them about the cues that your baby uses to communicate. Encourage your children to use the cues to “play detective” to see if they can figure out what the baby needs. They will love the challenge and enjoy feeling helpful. Your older child will feel more in control as you teach him or her how to tell when baby needs a break from playtime and your baby will be happier because of it! As your child begins to identify cues and emotions of your baby, talk with them about their own emotions. By helping them label their baby brother or sister’s cues and feelings, they will become more aware of their own feelings. 

Roots of Empathy Program:

Durlak JA, Weissberg RP, Dymnicki AB, Taylor RD, Schellinger KB. The impact of enhancing students' social and emotional learning: a meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Dev 2011;82(1):405-32.