Are babies born as blank slates?
Many parents tend to have this impression that babies are born as blank slates, and don't understand anything. Furthermore they may think that young kids especially infants are not thinking, feeling humans. Well, this couldn't be farther from the truth.
Scientific research going back to 80s and 90s has shown that even the youngest babies already seem to have some basic ideas about other people, about language, about the physical world—about the objects around them. For example, If you stick your tongue out at a newborn baby, the baby will stick his tongue out at you. The reaction may not be immediate, could possibly be delayed by let's say 30 mins, but it's there. To appreciate this you need to understand that new born baby has never seen a face before, not even their own. Yet they are able to look at someone's face and link it to their own facial expression.
Does your baby understands statistics and probability!
In a recent research study at Berkeley, seven month old babies were shown a box of mixed-up ping pong balls- 80% white, 20% red, and then the experimenter would take some balls out of the box. Sometimes experimenter would take out 4 white balls and 1 red ball, which was the expected distribution and predictable. But sometimes the experimenter would do the opposite and would take say 4 red balls and 1 white ball. It turned out that in that case the babies looked longer understanding that it was much less likely than the four white and one red balls. And babies seem to be sensitive to that probability. Looking longer at an unexpected outcome is a behavior that tends to be displayed by adults as well, and would be true for you as well.
Babies are just like scientists, exploring, trying all through different forms of play! So, while even grownups have a lot of trouble understanding probability, it turns out that little seven-month-old babies already are building an innate understanding of it.
Role of early years in development
Here's a video showing the brain development at various stages - conception to 6 years.
By age 3, brain is already 80% of the size of adult size, while the body is only 18% of the aveage adult size. So an unequal most of the brain development is happening in these early years. It is safe to say that 0 to 3 are the most important years for child's brain development.
These first 3 years are uniquely important for the reason that foundations for life-long skills are laid during these years. These skills include
- Problem solving
- Self control
It is impossible to overestimate how important the early years are!
Your role as a parent in shaping your child's brain?
As a parent, you have a tremendous responsibility in shaping up the brain of your child. Everything you do, every interaction you have with them and every silly game you play with them is so unbelievably important. It is helping them understand the world, stimulating their brains.
Brain needs safety -
One of the primary functions of the brain is to keep you safe, if your brain is always occupied determining if the surroundings are safe (physically and emotionally), then the development of other functions isn't optimal. Children grow and learn best in a safe environment where they are protected from neglect and from extreme or chronic stress, with plenty of opportunities to play and explore. Under conditions where there is abuse, neglect, addiction or constant screaming, fighting in the environment, brain development may be restricted.
So the first thing you can do as a parent is create a warm, loving environment that helps your baby feel safe and loved.
Serve and Return -
Many brain experts believe that most important thing you can do to support brain development of your child is to follow a technique termed "Serve and Return". This basically includes tuning into your child's signals, words, facial reactions and then responding in a sensitive way. This loving back and forth connection nurtures positive brain growth. For example, if baby serves a smile, a coo etc., you make the same sound back. If baby points to something, you look at that and point to it too. It may feel awkward at first, but more you try the better it gets.
Helpful stress -
A little bit of stress goes a long way to build a strong healthy brain. There is a difference between healthy stress and harmful stress (discussed in first bullet point).
Helpful stress is related to exposing child to small new everyday challenges while providing parental support. These everyday challenges can help the child learn new skills and how to solve problems. These will vary by age of child, some example include -
- Tummy time - when first introduced to the baby and baby isn't really ready.
- Figuring out a puzzle that they don't know how.
- Trying to catch a ball for the first time.
Through these child learns to tolerate stress with your support and mastering the new challenges that builds brain power and motivation to learn.
Learning through Experience
Your baby’s brain develops through use — by your baby interacting, observing and doing things.
You can help your baby’s development by creating a stimulating environment with different types of activities that offer your baby the chance to play. It’s through play that they learn important skills like talking, listening, moving, thinking, solving problems and socializing.
You can play and spend time with your baby by:
- Singing together - even if it is rhymes on Chu Chu TV :)
- Reading books - It's never to early to start reading books to your child. Make them sit in your lap and read books. They would start associating this warm feeling of togetherness with the books as well.
- Talking about what you’re doing and seeing - when giving a bath or changing a diaper or walking around in a mall.
- Playing games like peekaboo - teaches kids concepts like object permanency, and personal interaction
Food and Sleep
Last but not the least, we cannot undermine the role of nutrition and sleep in healthy brain growth.
- Breast milk - The ingredients in breast milk support healthy brain development. The fatty substances in breast milk promote more rapid formation of myelin, the protective coating on the axons of neurons. Certain non-nutrient ingredients present in breast milk— including enzymes and hormones — may influence the rapid development of neurons during infancy.
- Healthy food — Once your baby is ready for solid foods, a balanced diet of fresh vegetables, fruit, grains, dairy and proteins (such as meat, chicken and eggs) is required to promote healthy brain. Certain foods such as avocado, berries, brocolli are known to contain nutrients that foster brain development.
- Sleep - The Vitamin "S" has a strong correlation with cognitive development. Getting enough sleep is not just important for the child, but also for the parents. This is an important topic and there's a lot of things to talk about. So we'll cover this in more detail in our next post in this educational series. Stay tuned!
Hope you find this post on brain development useful. Continue doing the amazing work that you are already doing as a parent!
Like they say life gets busy and will only get busier, but I believe there is a lot more to being a mother.
Think of the birth of your child is like a rebirth for you…because it definitely is. You will never be the same person ever again.
Motherhood is a lot of work, its hard, its terrible, its painful but it is the most wonderful and the joyous ride! Embrace it! Rejoice it! Its going to bring out the best in you!
A few things I loved about being a mother.
🎀 Its magical, truly . I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for the first few moments I had with my son, how he gazed at me for the first time. I can never forget that magic of seeing my daughter sleep peacefully in my arms.
🎀 I have make decisions about my personal life and career that I would have never considered before.
🎀 I have discovered the confidence and strength that I have within and the power to self-heal.
🎀 I can handle my emotions, and my responses to stressful situations in a better way!
🎀 I have learnt to prioritize my list that includes things to not do. Staying away from people who drain your energy has been a major mental boost for me.
How has motherhood changed you?
You can check out her business here and follow it on Instagram here.
From a software engineer to creating a comfortable and stylish Indian
nursing wear brand - As a little girl had you ever imagined that you
would be working in fields as diverse as these? What did you want to be
when you grew up?
As a little girl I always had a thing for crafts and my mom often used to involve
me in creative projects she did home like hand painted bedsheets and curtains
and candles and so on. Coming from a typical middle-class family where the only
two options kids had were to be a Doctor or an engineer, My elder sister wanted
to be a doctor so my parents chose the other card for me. Also at that time the
technology jobs looked promising so that made sense to me as well.
Honestly, I had never imagined myself designing clothes but yes at work I have
always been looking for problems and creative ways to solve them. So the
entrepreneurial spirit was always there.
What inspired you to create O’Happy Sunshine?
My daughter Sahana, she is the reason behind O’HappySunshine. Nursing her in public was one of the major challenges I faced especially in Delhi, it is so crowded wherever you go to make a new mom feel so intimidated. When I started looking for nursing solutions available in the market, all I could find is nighties. It was like being given two choices – stay indoors and take care of my child or start formula feed for her. And knowing the advantages of breastfeeding, I was pretty sure I was not giving up just because of this. So I designed clothes for myself and it took away my major worry when stepping out with my baby.
Have things gone according to your business plan?
Honestly, I did not have great plans when I started, the only plan was to design a solution for new moms that helps them integrate breastfeeding into their lifestyle.Being a software engineer I was able to set up the store myself and I was very surprised how quickly it gained popularity through word of mouth and the reviews from my customers.
What were the challenges you faced in setting up the business?
There were a lot of challenges at the beginning, it was just like another baby who needed lot of time and attention. Now that I look back the list is long, every step starting from procuring fabric to finding tailors and then getting the perfect samples ready has come with a lot of hurdles. Initially, I was the one doing pretty much everything - from designing to packaging, handling the orders, customer queries,order tracking and being the model myself. But I believe whatever you do,wherever you go life throws challenges at you - big and small. And how we deal with those make us. The risks and chances you take become the stories you tell and those you don’t become regrets of a lifetime.
Who was your biggest support while transforming your passion into a business?
My husband helped me kick start O’HappySunshine, he often believes in me more than I do. And then both my mother and mother-in- law have been a rock support during my journey. And now they are pretty much running the show.
Tell us more about your unconventional team.
After the initial few months of launching my store, the number of orders started
to increase and I was amazed when my mother and mom-in- law joined me in
my venture. Both are very strong women with strong business acumen. I love
to see both of them a very enthusiastically handling their roles. They are
perfect examples of how it is never too late to follow your dreams.
What has been the highest point/happiest moment in your
entrepreneurship journey so far?
I still remember waking up with happy tears in my eyes when
O’HappySunshine was featured in yourstory.com. And few months later I was
invited for a Tedx talk at VIT Vellore and that has been the highest high in my
entrepreneurial journey so far. It reinforced my faith in myself and my idea and
the fact that if you move confidently in the direction of your dreams and live a
life the way you have imagined to, you will meet success unexpectedly.
Could you give us a glimpse of your typical working day?
Last year my husband got relocated to US, since then my mother has been
taking care of everyday activities of shipping out orders and my day usually
starts after putting my kids to bed.
Would you say that being a mom is advantageous or disadvantageous as
far as starting a business is concerned?
I think there is definitely more time at hand before you have kids but in my case
the whole idea came after I became a mom myself. I think having a baby made
me sharper, more effective and more interested in the world around me. I know
how to get my work done with a lot more focus in much less time.
Most mothers are expert multitaskers. As a business woman and expat
mother of two when is the most you have had to multi-task?
I have been an expert at multi-tasking even before I started O’HappySunshine.
Though I am able to get a lot of things done but I often end up feeling very
exhausted. Off late I am learning to slow down and focus on the task at hand.
What is the one piece of advice that you had received while setting up
Being your own boss sounds very exciting but it does get challenging and
that’s when you think – Do you really want to go ahead.
The best piece of advice I received was to start small, if I had waited long
enough to set up a huge manufacturing unit or hire professional tailors, I would
have never started.
What has your favourite piece of client feedback been so far?
All my feedbacks are my favourite, honestly, I hold every piece of it special to my
heart because they push me to keep going despite the challenges. Knowing that I
brought a smile on the face of a new mom and her little one is something I live for.
But if you ask me to pick one – it would be this one
"You have no idea how many times I have been blessing you and your venture. The kurtas
have been a big big help to me in feeding my baby hassle free. The kurta was very
comfortable recently we were on our first international trip with my 8 months old. One day he was not well and didn't take any solid foods. it was the kurta which made me Nurse in Public wherever we went. Every time I have fed my baby while travelling, my husband has exclaimed "Smart that you bought these kurtas".
Shruti, thank you for your time! We love how your enterprise has made life simpler for many a new and nursing mother. We wish you and O' Happy Sunshine, all the very best. Thank you for empowering other Indian Mothers and arming them with tools to face the challenges of motherhood on their own terms.
Akshaya in O'HappySunshine feeding kurti
Akshaya Nandakumar, is passionate about Babywearing. She shares with parents and caregivers the advantages of babywearing because she personally knows how powerful it can be, Babywearing changed her life. Let’s ask her everything about her experience with babywearing.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your family?
What’s your Parenting Mantra?
Can you talk a little about what brought your interest in babywearing?
What do you love about babywearing?
What is the most common comment you get when you are out and about babywearing?
Is your partner a keen baby wearer?
What’s the first thing you’d tell someone thinking about trying babywearing?
Is there anything that people should be careful about while babywearing?
What activity are you most likely to rely on babywearing to get done?
And lastly, How would you explain the power of womanhood to your daughter this women’s day?
Give me a one-word answer that arises to mind for each of the following:
From an Investment Banker to a Designer to stepping down at children’s level to conduct workshops - Had you ever imagined that you would be working in fields as diverse as these? Please share your experiences on motherhood and how it has changed you as a person?
Motherhood is a journey of a kind. It is not a journey of a few weeks, months or years but a metamorphosis of a lifetime. And we women are blessed to be the bearers of this change.
I had a bitter-sweet pregnancy but surely a blessed one. I say blessed because I worked full-time, practiced yoga, travelled and did pretty much everything. Though I was hospitalized in between but I always managed to get back to work after a few days. I loved my work so much that I took off just 2days before my due date. Never for a moment I thought of giving it up post baby. I had it all planned! But, things got difficult. I did not have full-time support to juggle both work and baby. Finally, I made the call and closed my studio. It was one of the toughest decisions of my life. It taught me that no matter how meticulously you plan, life is full of surprises and sometimes not so good ones. If post-partum was not enough already, I was now very bitter and angry. At the same time, I was also very cautious of not pouring it over my child. This realization made me immensely patient and I never, before in my life, considered patience as my virtue. My mother-in-law would compliment and appreciate me for being so very patient, but little did she know where it was coming from. So this pretty much answers the first question and how it has changed me as a person.
Never in my dreams had I though of so many different careers paths. I always wanted to work in Investment Banking and was fortunate enough to work with KPMG, Singapore and ICICI Securities, Mumbai. These were very enriching experiences of my life and I learned tremendously.
What inspired you to create Curious Caterpillars?
What motivated me to start Curious Caterpillars was solely my son’s curiosity and my desire to give him the best while I was full-time mommy. Somehow I felt his playschool (though a Montessori) was not doing justice to his questions. So following his lead, I started designing little books and activities to sate his curiosity. Fellow moms loved these kits and even before I could fathom, Curious Caterpillars was formed. With love pouring in from everywhere, we soon started STEM workshops. And then an amazing things happened! Not only I was bombarded with questions related to learning but also parenting. I had always been deeply involved and passionate about Child Psychology. In fact, this very understanding of child psychology had helped me get down to children’s level to explain them complex things the easy way. So now Curious Caterpillars was not just a about learning but also Gentle Parenting.
What were the challenges you faced in setting up the business? Who was your biggest support?
The biggest challenge I faced was getting like-minded passionate people who could really get down to children’s level and address complex questions. Curious Caterpillars runs on passion and not money. That, is something hard to find outside.My biggest support and strength through out this remained my husband and my sister. They encouraged me, guided me and did everything they could to keep me going. They are my pillars of strength.
Could you give us a glimpse of your typical working day?
A typical work day starts at 0630. Getting my son ready for school, running to yoga and getting breakfast ready. By 0930, I am at my desk only to leave again to fetch my boy from school at 1210. We reach home by 1340, change, eat lunch, chat about our day and before long its 1500hrs. We leave again for park at 1530 and come back at 1730. Once back, it is family time. Dinner is served at 1930hrs followed my storty time, FaceTime with nanni and finally my lo hits the snooze button around 2030. Post this, is the best part of the my day. I sit back with a cup of hot chocolate and have my hygge moment before returning to work at 10pm and continuing till 11:20pm.
How do you relax while juggling between a gazillions of tasks you have everyday?
It is tough to relax during the day but whenever possible, I try to catch a shut eye before leaving for the park. Also, I meet my friends at the park which is a big plus and sometimes before we head home, we grab pani-puri just to keep the sanity alive.
What has been the happiest moment in your journey so far?
Our happiest and proudest moment was when a girl, who refused to sit through all other classes her mother tried, became our patron. Another one was last year ,when we were featured in HT City.
Would you say that being a mom is advantageous or disadvantageous as far as starting a business is concerned?
Being a mom and an entrepreneur is definitely tough. Whether advantageous or disadvantageous, depends on the kind of the venture and also the support system you have around. For me it definitely proved advantageous since my son is the reason behind this venture.
What is the one piece of advice that you wish to share with women out there?
The one advise I have is never give up and be optimistic. Life is what we make of it and it will offer you ample opportunities to achieve what you desire. Stay Strong, Stay Positive!
Thanks Shreiya for taking out time and encouraging other women who are looking for some inspiration.
Shreiya is the founder of https://www.facebook.com/curiouscaterpillarss/ who encourages little minds by conducting workshops and other activities.
Educational Technology in Early Childhood — Yay or NayWe all know how addictive technology is. With parents finding it hard to keep their phones down, imagine how technology feeds young brains. Some people have even gone far to compare its addiction to heroin. And when this addiction starts so early, it is scary to imagine the consequences. Often such children find it impossible to keep themselves entertained and constantly look for external stimulus.
Sometimes nursing in public gets really tricky eg. travelling in a bus or a train. Discreet kurtis or tops are a big blessing. Even if you choose to wear discreet kurtis, do carry a cover up (dupatta or a stole). Just in case you want to burp your baby you can cover up using the stole and worry about zippers later.
Karva Chauth is a one-day festival celebrated by women in Northern India, in which married women fast from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and longevity of their husbands.
Karvachauth brings back some fond childhood memories when my mom used to drape a bright saree, put on mehendi, bangles and makeup. I used to look forward because it was a reason for me to wear bindi and bangles and wear my lehenga. And then impatiently waiting to accompany mom for the evening pooja and then the best part ,waiting for the moon!
Now I have a daughter and I see the same excitement I had as a kid.
While there is a lot of excitement about the celebrations now, I was a little stressed out when it was my first Karvachauth after my baby was born.
There was a lot of dilemma around 'to fast' or 'not to fast' while I was exclusively breastfeeding. My pediatrician suggested that fasting (not eating) for a few hours will not decrease milk supply, but that severe dehydration can decrease milk supply and sometimes it gets really difficult to get back the supply. After discussing with my husband and his family I decided I would keep myself hydrated and also eat fruits in case I got hungry.
A few tips from my experience for new moms -
1. Skip elaborate henna - Keeping your hands busy while waiting your mehendi to dry up isn't a great idea, also once the mehendi is dry it would start chipping off which is again not a great idea if you are breastfeeding your baby.
2. Eat a good, healthy meal in the morning for your sargi - Make sure to eat protein and fiber rich meal to stay full for longer. Also, drink a lot of water and unsweetened fruit juice to stay hydrated. Too much sugary stuff can make you feel thirsty so better limit the amount of sweets.
3. Take help - Let the daddy take over most of the baby’s work for the day (except breastfeeding of course ;) like taking the baby out, changing diapers etc. If the daddy isn’t around, take whatever help you get from your family and friends. Do not take up any work that is taxing and will tire you out.
4. Take a nap - Like they say, Take a nap when the baby naps. Also the hunger pangs are the strongest during meal hours so the best way is to take an afternoon nap.
5. Wear Comfortable clothes for the evening pooja - Though we all want to look our absolute best (Some women wear their wedding lehenga too) But for a new mom this can be exhausting and can cause anxiety since she also has to feed the baby. Wear nursing Kurtas or a sari with a soft fabric in which you can comfortably breastfeed.
To fast or not to fast is totally personal. Lets not judge each other. Lets respect each other choices and enjoy the special day with our special ones.
Hope you have a wonderful Karvachauth.
Diwali is a festival that brings lots of joy and happiness in ones life and the happiness increases manifolds if there is a new baby in the house.
Amidst the celebrations and excitement it is very easy to forget that its too much for a young baby to handle. Here are a few points which you can keep in mind to help you and your baby enjoy his/her first Diwali
- Stick to the baby’s routine - As much as possible try to stick to baby’s routine of bath time, feeding and nap times. A well rested baby will be less cranky and irritable and will be able to enjoy with you more.
- Parents always be around your little one - Too many guests visiting and holding the baby can be overwhelming to the lil one. Parents or care givers should always be around to make the baby feel secure.
- Choose comfortable clothes for you and for your baby - Make sure moms clothes are comfortable and do not irritate your baby skin. The best idea is to pick a bright, colorful yet a simple outfit preferably a nursing dress which gives you both style and confidence breastfeed comfortably even in front of others.
- Watch out what your baby eats - Make sure you keep nuts and other foods not right for the baby out of his/her reach.
- Stay Indoors - Sudden loud noises can frighten the little one. Also the smoke from the fire crackers is very unsafe for the babies. So it is best to keep them indoors. And enjoy the sparkling lights and decorations from a safe distance.
I hope these will help you as you prepare for your baby's first Diwali.
Diwali wishes from Team O'HappySunshine
Check out the Diwali collection at O'happysunshine , use Coupon code HAPPYDIWALI to avail discount.