Motherhood / feeding kurtas
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!
Do you remember the day you found out you were pregnant.
It all started with a few tears of joy, excitement, those funny baby kicks, worry, sleepless nights, anxiety and finally the happiest tears rolling down your cheeks as you held your baby for the first time in your arms.
And the very next moment forgetting all the pain you went through. Such is motherhood!
Every Mom you meet has a different story to share, you might relate to some and to some you might not. But there is definitely something you can learn from others!
Let's hear what Reecha, who worked with Ericsson and now is enjoying being a stay at home mom with her daughter.
A mom, a daadi and naani get together to solve a new mom’s biggest painpoint – breastfeeding in public
Breastfeeding versus formula feeding has been the centre of discourse among new-age mothers. But this debate, like many others, is a double-edged sword –for mothers are judged heavily whether they choose to breastfeed or not. The beautiful natural act is often sexualised and tabooised, while its medically-acclaimed alternative villainizes the mother.
To breastfeed or not to breastfeed?
A quick skim through these statistics should give you the lowdown on the extent of the problem. An estimated one to five percent of all women have the inability to produce enough milk for their babies. Even fewer, around two percent of women, cannot physically lactate or have problems that lead to the inability to breastfeed. Amongst the remaining 95 percent of mothers who do have the ability to breastfeed, 81 percent try to breastfeed. Seventeen percent exclusively breastfeed (meaning only breastfeed, without even occasionally using formula) until the baby is three months old. The number further drops to 14 percent by the time the baby turns four months old. According to the NHS 2010 Infant Feeding Survey, in India only one percent of women continue to exclusively breastfeed until the baby is six months old.
However, a global public health recommendation states that all infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. But, according to research, a new-age mother, especially in India, faces a lot of stigma while nursing in public, potentially inhibiting her desire to continue.
These theoretical findings were further bolstered by 33-year-old new mom Shruti Katyal’s own horrifying first-hand experience, on her first-week visit to the doctor after the birth of her baby girl. “It was my biggest nightmare. While we were stuck in Delhi’s slow moving traffic, my daughter started crying uncontrollably. I got nervous, since I was totally unprepared for this. I managed to cover myself up, even though it felt like I was suffocating her, but I managed to feed her. All that while, I got awkward stares from the people around, some even trying to peep in,” she narrates.
A nightmare dressed like a daydream
The first thing she did, after returning home, was look for the feeding options available in the market – but was intrigued by the fact that there were none that were up to the mark, or ‘socially acceptable.’ It came down to making a choice between giving up her social life entirely or to start a formula-feeding cycle for her child, even though the doctors advised against it. “Those who breastfeed in public feel embarrassed since our society hasn’t normalised the idea of breastfeeding. And those who formula feed their babies are labeled as super-lazy and looked down upon, for ‘poisoning’ their child,’ says Shruti.
Another hindrance is the lack of knowledge and support from the spouse, and peers. “Breastfeeding can be hard work, and mentally exhausting at first. Getting the right support and knowledge about the benefits of breastfeeding are crucial to help them continue,” she says. Research has also proven that a woman with a supportive spouse is significantly more likely to still be breastfeeding at a year than a woman with a husband who isn’t.
This encouraged her to first change the conversation from "I can't believe you're breastfeeding here” to "You look totally awesome!"Secondly, provide women the most comfortable and stylish clothing options, to make breastfeeding a smooth process. These were the building blocks of O’HappySunshine.
“When I went out in search of a good nursing wear, I was quite disappointed because all I could find was nighties and night suits. There was no segment for stylish and functional nursing apparel that helps a new mom to integrate breastfeeding into her lifestyle,” says Shruti.
Twinning with happiness and sunshine
At the time, the Bachelors in Computer Engineering graduate from Thapar Patiala and a decade-old patron of the software industry was working at IBM. During her maternity, she started working on this idea day-and-night, even as her baby was merely three months old.
But both her mums – her mother as well as her mother-in-law – got into hyperdrive, recognising it as a real problem that they also remembered facing when they were nursing. They cradled the new mom with encouragement, support and an extra hand, and in turn, prepared her to cradle her two babies as well. She thus launched her website , www.ohappysunshine.com that gave users both functional and stylish nursing apparel to help them integrate breastfeeding into their life. She designed her own kurtis which had concealed zippers on both sides, making it very discreet for a mother to feed anywhere.
Looking at the response in the first month of the launch, it was a no-brainer, deciding whether she was ready for her plunge.All the signs prompted that she was ready to leave her job with IBM, to pursue this and her new role as a mother, full-time. “It was a tough start, and felt like taking care of two babies, both demanding a lot of attention and care – but my parents, my husband and his parents supported me greatly and that made things a lot easier,” says Shruti.
All her designs are manufactured in-house at this stage. The new portal has over 40 products listed, including casual kurtas and nightwear. But Shruti is working on introducing party wear salwarsuits, because a large chunk of her customers requested her to stock up in the category.
“Being a new mom myself, I understand the million worries we have with our little ones! These feeding tops have made my life easier and I hope they give a new mother that confidence to never have to worry about breastfeeding in public again,” she says.
Over the last year, the venture, run by a seven-member team - has grown entirely on word-of-mouth,becoming profitable and cash-flow positive. It gets about 300 visitors a day,including a sizable number of hits from US, Canada and UK. She is already clocking 200 orders a month, with an average ticket size of Rs 1,200 per transaction - even before she undertakes any advertising on social media or search engines. “We have received numerous messages, phone calls and thank you notes from mothers on making their life easier,” says Shruti. The website now boasts of over 100 solid five-star reviews from customers and is among top three search results on Google, for Nursing and Feeding kurtas/kurtis in India.
Originally featured in Yourstory - https://yourstory.com/2016/09/ohappysunshine/