Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Do all babies experience separation anxiety?

Yes, to a degree. Separation anxiety is a normal emotional stage of development that starts when babies begin to understand that things and people exist even when they're not present – something called "object permanence."
At certain stages, most babies or toddlers will show true anxiety and be upset at the prospect – or reality – of being separated from a parent. If you think about separation anxiety in evolutionary terms, it makes sense: A defenseless baby would naturally get upset at being separated from the person who protects and cares for him.
In many ways, attitudes about babies and separations are cultural. Western countries tend to stress autonomy from a very early age. But in many other cultures, infants are rarely separated from their mother in the first year of life.
Regardless of the origins of this developmental stage, it's frustrating for babies and parents. The good news is that separation anxiety will pass and you can take steps to make it more manageable. And in the meantime, enjoy the sweetness of knowing that to your child, you're number one.

When does it most commonly occur?
Babies can show signs of separation anxiety as early as 6 or 7 months, but the crisis age for most babies peaks between 10 to 18 months. Most commonly, separation anxiety strikes when you – or your partner – leave your child to go to work or run an errand Your baby can also experience separation anxiety at night, safely tucked in her crib with you in the next room. Separation anxiety usually eases by the time babies are 24 months old.

How can I help my baby through it?
Several options are available to parents:
Minimize separations as much as possible and take your baby along if he seems to feel anxious. With this option, you're basically waiting for your baby to outgrow this stage.

Set up childcare with people your baby is familiar with. If you have to leave your baby – for example, to return to work – try leaving him with people he already knows, like his father, grandmother, or aunt. Your baby may still protest, but he might adjust more easily to your absence when surrounded by well-known faces.

Let your baby get to know a new caregiver first. If you need to leave your child with someone he doesn't know, give him a chance to get to know his caregiver while you're still around (see details below).

How should I prepare my baby for separations?As with any transition, give your baby an opportunity to gradually get used to the idea. Whether you're leaving her with a family member or a paid childcare provider, try the following suggestions:

Practice at home. It'll be easier for your baby to cope with your absence if she's the one who initiates a separation. Let her crawl off to another room on her own (one where you're sure she'll be safe unsupervised briefly) and wait for a couple of minutes before going after her.

You can also tell your baby you're leaving a room, where you're going, and that you'll be back. Either way, your child will learn that everything will be okay when you're gone for a minute or two – and that you'll always come back.

Build in time for your baby to get comfortable. Hire a new sitter to visit and play with your baby several times before leaving them alone for the first time. For your first real outing, ask the sitter to arrive about 30 minutes before you depart so that she and the baby can be well engaged before you step out the door.

Employ the same approach at a daycare center or at your nursery, place of worship, or health club.

Always say goodbye. Kiss and hug your baby when you leave and tell her where you're going and when you'll be back, but don't prolong your goodbyes. And resist the urge to sneak out the back door. Your baby will only become more upset if she thinks you've disappeared into thin air.

Keep it light. Your baby is quite tuned in to how you feel, so show your warmth and enthusiasm for the caregiver you've chosen.

Try not to cry or act upset if your baby starts crying – at least not while she can see you. You'll both get through this. The caregiver will probably tell you later that your baby's tears stopped before you were even out of the driveway.

Once you leave, leave. Repeated trips back into the house or daycare center to calm your baby will make it harder on you, your child, and the caregiver.

Try a trial at first. Limit the first night or afternoon out to no more than an hour. As you and your baby become more familiar with the sitter or the childcare setting, you can extend your outings.

How should we handle nighttime separation anxiety?
Your baby's fear of being separated from you at night is very real for him, so you'll want to do your best to keep the hours preceding bedtime as nurturing and peaceful (and fun) as possible. In addition:

Spend some extra cuddle time with your baby before bed by reading, snuggling, and softly singing together.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Developmental milestones: Crawling


Crawling is your baby's first method of getting around efficiently on his own. In the traditional crawl, he'll start by learning to balance on his hands and knees. Then he'll figure out how to move forward and backward by pushing off with his knees. At the same time, he'll be strengthening the muscles that will soon enable him to walk.

When it develops

Most babies learn to crawl between the ages of 7and 10 months. Your baby may opt for another method of locomotion around this time, though – like bottom shuffling (scooting around on her bottom, using a hand behind and a foot in front to propel herself), slithering on her stomach, or rolling across the room.
Don't worry about her style; it's getting mobile that's important, no matter how your baby does it. Some babies skip crawling altogether and move directly to pulling up, standing, cruising (furniture walking), and walking.
Since the "Back to Sleep" campaign was initiated in 1994, many babies seem to be crawling later or skipping it completely. (The campaign aims to reduce the risk of SIDS by encouraging parents to put babies to sleep on their back.)

How it develops

Your baby will likely start crawling soon after he's able to sit well without support (probably by the time he's 8 months old). After this point, he can hold his head up to look around, and his arm, leg, and back muscles are strong enough to keep him from falling on the floor when he gets up on his hands and knees.

Over a couple of months, your baby will gradually learn to move confidently from a sitting position to being on all fours, and he'll soon realize he can rock back and forth when his limbs are straight and his trunk is parallel to the floor.

Somewhere around 9 or 10 months, he'll figure out that pushing off with his knees gives him just the boost he needs to go mobile. As he gains proficiency, he'll learn to go from a crawling position back into a sitting position.

He'll also master the advanced technique that pediatrician William Sears calls "cross-crawling" – moving one arm and the opposite leg together when he moves forward, rather than using an arm and a leg from the same side. After that, practice makes perfect. Look for him to be a really competent crawler by the time he's a year old.

What's next

After your baby has mastered crawling, the only thing between her and complete mobility is learning to walk. To that end, she'll soon begin pulling herself up on everything she can reach, whether it's the coffee table or Grandma's leg. Once she gets the feel of balancing on her legs, she'll be ready to stand on her own and cruise while holding on to furniture. Then it's just a matter of time until she's walking, running, jumping, and leaping.

Your role

From the start, long before your baby's ready to crawl, give him plenty of tummy time. Placing your baby on his tummy and playing with him for several minutes a few times a day while he's awake and alert will help to develop muscles that he needs to crawl. Tummy time can also prevent a flat spot from developing on his head, which sometimes happens when infants spend a lot of time on their backs.
The best way to encourage crawling – as with reaching and grabbing – is to place toys and other desirable objects (even yourself) just beyond your baby's reach. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also suggests using pillows, boxes, and sofa cushions to create obstacle courses for him to negotiate. This will help improve his confidence, speed, and agility. Just don't leave him alone – if he gets stuck under a pillow or box, he'll be frightened and may be in danger of smothering.

A crawling baby can get into a lot of mischief. Make sure your house is childproofed, with a special emphasis on stairway gates. Your baby will be drawn to stairs, but they can be dangerous, so keep them off-limits until he's really mastered walking (usually by about 18 months). Even then, supervise him closely. For now, suggests the AAP, create a couple of practice steps with foam blocks or sturdy cardboard boxes covered in fabric.

You don't have to invest in shoes just yet. Your baby won't need to wear footwear regularly until he's mastered walking.

When to be concerned

Babies develop skills using different methods and different timetables. But if your child hasn't shown an interest in getting mobile by some means (whether it's creeping, crawling, rolling, or scooting), figured out how to move her arms and legs together in a coordinated motion, or learned to use both arms and both legs equally by the time she's a year old, bring it up at her next doctor's appointment. Keep in mind that premature babies may reach this and other milestones several months later than their peers.

Potty training: What works

To make potty training as smooth a process as possible for you and your toddler, take a moment to learn what tends to work - and what doesn't. What works:

Waiting till your child is ready

There's no magic age for being ready to start learning to use the potty. Most toddlers develop the necessary physical and mental skills between 18 and 24 months, while some kids aren't there until closer to age 3 or even 4. Keep an eye out for physical, cognitive, and behavioral signs that your toddler might be ready to give it a try.


Record the moments that matter in your toddler's amazing development.
If your toddler is facing changes such as a new school, a new sibling, or travel, you may want to wait till the seas are calmer before taking the plunge.

Once you do start, if you've been trying for several weeks without success, that's a sign your toddler's not ready. Wait a few more weeks - or until you see signs that the time is right - and try again.

Making a plan

Before you even buy your toddler a potty seat, it's important to have a plan for the training process itself. Decide when and how you want to start, how to handle accidents, when to back off, and so on.

At the same time, prepare to be flexible. There's no way to know how your child will respond to potty training attempts or what techniques will work best. Keep in mind that as with most developmental milestones, success doesn't necessarily happen in a linear fashion - your toddler may make initial progress only to regress at one or more points along the way.

Discuss your plan with your child's pediatrician and daycare provider. They'll probably have plenty of experience and advice to share. Once you've decided on a strategy, be sure you and everyone else who takes care of your child sticks to it - barring unexpected setbacks and other potty training challenges, of course.

Taking it slow

Mastering the various steps of potty training can take a long time. Yes, some children will have it nailed in just a few days, but most need weeks or even months, especially when they're working on staying dry at night.

Don't push your toddler (or let others push him) to get through potty training faster than he's ready to. Let him take his time and get used to this new, multipart process. He'll move from one stage to the next at his own speed.
Of course, it's perfectly all right to try to motivate with gentle reminders and encouragement. If he balks, though, ease up

Praising your child

Throughout potty training, your toddler will respond to positive reinforcement. Whenever he moves on to a new step or tries to use his potty (even when he doesn't quite succeed), tell him he's doing well and that you're proud of him. Compliment him now and then on his dry underpants or diaper.
But be careful not to go overboard: Too much praise might make him nervous and afraid to fail, which can lead to more accidents and setbacks.

Accepting that there will be accidents

It's likely your toddler will have numerous accidents before being completely potty-trained. Don't get angry or punish him. After all, it's only recently that his nervous system has matured enough for him to perceive the sensation of a full bladder or rectum and that his muscles have developed sufficiently to allow him to hold in his urine and stool - and that's if he's on the early end of the developmental spectrum.
He'll get the hang of the process in due time. When your toddler has an accident, calmly clean it up and suggest (sweetly) that next time he try using his potty instead.

more potty training info click here

Monday, May 7, 2012

Top 6 baby ailments and how to handle them

No parent rests easy when their baby is sick – or likes to even think about the possibility. Certain illnesses, however, are so common during the first year that they're almost routine.
Your baby is very likely to experience one or more of the following six conditions during his first year of life. Fortunately, there are things you can do to relieve your baby's discomfort and treat some of the symptoms.


Constipation is very common, affecting about 30 percent of children at some stage. When it comes to a baby's bowel movements, there's no "normal" number or schedule – only what's normal for your baby. Your baby may pass a stool after every feeding, or she may wait a day or more between bowel movements.
Her individual pattern depends on what she eats and drinks, how active she is, and how quickly she digests her food and then gets rid of waste. With practice, you'll be able to tune in to your baby's unique patterns.
If you're concerned that your baby may be constipated, there are a couple of clues to look for. One clue is less frequent bowel movements than her norm, especially if she hasn't had one in three or more days and is obviously uncomfortable when she does have one. And if she has hard, dry stools that are difficult for her to pass – no matter how frequently – she may be constipated.
If you notice very liquid stools in your child's diaper, don't assume it's diarrhea – it may actually be evidence of constipation. Liquid stools can slip past the blockage in the lower intestine and wind up in your child's diaper.
Read more about what causes constipation and how to relieve your baby's constipation.
Check out our Baby Poop Guide to help decode your baby's diaper.

Coughs and Colds

It's almost certain that your baby will catch a cold during his first year. There are literally hundreds of viruses that cause colds, and your baby can't fight them off as easily as you can because his immune system is still developing. What's more, babies explore everything with their hands and mouths, giving cold-causing viruses ample opportunity to make their way into your baby's system. Colds are especially common in fall and winter, when babies spend more time indoors – an environment in which viruses can spread more easily from person to person.
The average grown-up gets two to four colds a year; the average child gets six to ten – and up to a dozen when that child is in daycare!
Figuring out whether your baby is battling the common cold, an allergy, or a more serious illness can be tricky. The hallmarks of a cold include a runny nose (with clear or yellowish to greenish mucus), sneezing, and possibly a cough or low fever. More clues:
  • Behavior. A child with just a cold is apt to continue playing and eating fairly normally. If it's a more serious illness, he'll likely be less energetic and more cranky.
  • Gradual onset. A cold creeps up, worsens, and blows over in about 10 days. Illnesses such as flu often have a rapid onset. Allergies tend to go on and on, and they don't cause a fever.
Read more about how to cut down on coughs and colds, and how to treat them when they do pop up

Diaper rash

Diaper rash is a fact of infant life. Nearly all babies in diapers get diaper rash at some stage. Interestingly, in countries where diapers aren't used, diaper rash is almost unknown. However, here in the developed and bottom-covered world, about 1 in 4 babies develop diaper rash in the first four weeks alone.
A diaper rash isn't a sign that you're a negligent parent, though it can certainly feel that way when you see your baby's smooth, soft skin all rough, red, and sore. Although a baby left in a dirty diaper for too long is more likely to develop diaper rash, any baby with sensitive skin can get a rash, even if her parents are diligent diaper changers.
Even the most absorbent diapers on the market don't pull all of your baby's urine away from the baby's delicate skin. Urine mixed with the bacteria in stool breaks down and forms ammonia, which can be very harsh.
The introduction of new solid foods, which can change the composition of the stool or stool frequency, can also cause diaper rash.
Read more for some diaper rash prevention techniques.


One thing about diarrhea: You'll know it when you see it. Unlike the random loose stool, diarrhea tends to be more frequent, looser, and more watery (to very watery). It sometimes has a foul smell, too. (The normal breastfed baby produces stool that's soft but with recognizable poop-like form; it also smells sweetish, like buttermilk, or has no real odor.) A bout of diarrhea can last for several days and is often accompanied by crampy pains.
Acute diarrhea is common in children; up to 1 in 6 children visit their doctor each year because of an episode. Most cases in babies are the result of a bacterial or viral infection.
Diarrhea caused by a viral infection can be accompanied by vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, chills, and achiness. A bacteria infection may be accompanied by cramps, blood in the stool, a fever, and perhaps vomiting. Sometimes food allergies or a reaction to an antibiotic medication causes diarrhea. Excessive juice is a common cause as well; the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no fruit juice before 6 months, and no more than 4 ounces per day after that.
Read more about how to treat your baby's diarrhea symptoms.

Ear infections

Children get more ear infections (acute otitis media, or AOM) than any other diagnosed illness except the common cold. Eighty to 90 percent of all children get one before age 3, and some unlucky children get them again and again. Why?
First, your baby is physically predisposed to ear infections. The small space behind each eardrum is connected to the back of the throat by a tiny channel called the Eustachian tube. Anything that interferes with the function of the Eustachian tube or blocks normal drainage from the middle ear, as commonly happens with colds or even allergies, can increase the risk of infection.
Babies tend to get ear infections more than toddlers and preschoolers because the Eustachian tubes are quite flat in a baby. As a baby's head grows, the tube tilts, and the steeper angle makes it easier to ventilate the middle ear.
Ear infections are also more likely when your child is exposed to smoking, if he attends daycare, or you bottle-feed him while he's lying down. The prolonged use of a pacifier also seems to increase the risk of AOM. And sometimes an ear infection occurs out of the blue, for no apparent reason.
The common symptoms of an ear infection include:
  • A sudden change in behavior (crying and irritability)
  • Older babies may pull or rub their ears
  • Fever
  • Feeling sick or vomiting, generally feeling ill, and sometimes diarrhea
Read more about how ear infections are treated and ways to prevent them.


Almost all babies throw up at some time or another. Vomiting is usually more forceful and of greater quantity than if your baby is just spitting up some of her latest meal. If your baby seems distressed when this is happening, she's probably vomiting. Spitting up doesn't faze most babies at all.
Unless it's persistent, vomiting is seldom dangerous, and it has many different possible causes. It can be a sign of illness (such as viral gastroenteritis, a urinary tract infection, an ear infection, or something more serious) or of problems with feeding or just feeding too much. Other possible causes include an allergy, ingesting something poisonous, or even just coughing or crying too much. A very upset baby can literally "make herself sick."
It's not always easy to pinpoint the cause of vomiting, so it's best to look for other symptoms as well. A viral infection causing vomiting typically brings on diarrhea or fever, for example. Food-related vomiting happens soon after meals.
Read more about what may cause your baby to vomit and how to help her.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Infant first aid for choking and CPR: An illustrated guide

Reviewed by emergency services experts at the American Red Cross in November 2011. Portions of content provided by the Red Cross.
We all hope we'll never be put in the position of having to save a baby's life, but it could happen. Babies can and do choke on food and toys, slip under the water in the tub or a pool, and get caught in drawstrings and curtain cords.
This step-by-step guide explains the basics of first aid for choking and CPR, but please don't rely on it as your sole source of information. Set aside a few hours to take an infant and child CPR course to learn and practice the proper techniques. These techniques differ depending on the age of the child, and doing them improperly can be harmful.

The following instructions are for babies younger than 12 months old. To find out what to do when an older child is choking or needs CPR, see our illustrated guide to CPR for children age 12 months and older.


Step 1: Assess the situation quickly.

If a baby is suddenly unable to cry or cough, something is probably blocking her airway, and you'll need to help her get it out. She may make odd noises or no sound at all while opening her mouth. Her skin may turn bright red or blue.
If she's coughing or gagging, it means her airway is only partially blocked. If that's the case, let her continue to cough. Coughing is the most effective way to dislodge a blockage.
If the baby isn't able to cough up the object, ask someone to call 911 or the local emergency number while you begin back blows and chest thrusts (see step 2, below).
If you're alone with the baby, give two minutes of care, then call 911.
On the other hand, if you suspect that the baby's airway is closed because her throat has swollen shut, call 911 immediately. She may be having an allergic reaction – to food or to an insect bite, for example – or she may have an illness, such as croup.
Also call 911 right away if the baby is at high risk for heart problems.

Step 2: Try to dislodge the object with back blows and chest thrusts.

First do back blows
If a baby is conscious but can't cough, cry, or breathe and you believe something is trapped in his airway, carefully position him faceup on one forearm, cradling the back of his head with that hand.
Place the other hand and forearm on his front. He is now sandwiched between your forearms.
Use your thumb and fingers to hold his jaw and turn him over so that he's facedown along the other forearm. Lower your arm onto your thigh so that the baby's head is lower than his chest.
Using the heel of your hand, deliver five firm and distinct back blows between the baby's shoulder blades to try to dislodge the object. Maintain support of his head and neck by firmly holding his jaw between your thumb and forefinger.
Next, place your free hand (the one that had been delivering the back blows) on the back of the baby's head with your arm along his spine. Carefully turn him over while keeping your other hand and forearm on his front

Then do chest thrusts
Use your thumb and fingers to hold his jaw while sandwiching him between your forearms to support his head and neck. Lower your arm that is supporting his back onto your opposite thigh, still keeping the baby's head lower than the rest of his body.
Place the pads of two or three fingers in the center of the baby's chest, just below an imaginary line running between his nipples. To do a chest thrust, push straight down on the chest about 1 1/2 inches. Then allow the chest to come back to its normal position.

Do five chest thrusts. Keep your fingers in contact with the baby's breastbone. The chest thrusts should be smooth, not jerky.
Repeat back blows and chest thrusts
Continue alternating five back blows and five chest thrusts until the object is forced out or the baby starts to cough forcefully, cry, or breathe on his own. If he's coughing, let him try to cough up the object.

If the baby becomes unconscious
If a baby who is choking on something becomes unconscious, you'll need to do what's called modified CPR. Here's how to do modified CPR on a baby:
Open his mouth and look for an object. If you can see an object, remove it with your little finger.
Give him two rescue breaths. If the air doesn't go in (you don't see his chest rise), tilt his head and try two rescue breaths again.

If his chest still doesn't rise, do 30 chest compressions.
Look in his mouth and remove the object if you see it. Give him two more rescue breaths.
Repeat the chest compressions and so on, until help arrives.

How to perform CPR

What is CPR?
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. This is the lifesaving measure you can take to save a baby who shows no signs of life (consciousness or effective breathing).
CPR uses chest compressions and "rescue" breaths to make oxygen-rich blood circulate through the brain and other vital organs until emergency medical personnel arrive. Keeping oxygenated blood circulating helps prevent brain damage – which can occur within a few minutes – and death.
CPR isn't hard to do. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Check the baby's condition.
Is the baby conscious? Flick her foot or gently tap on her shoulder and call out. If she doesn't respond, have someone call 911 or the local emergency number. (If you're alone with the baby, give two minutes of care as described below, then call 911 yourself.)
Swiftly but gently place the baby on her back on a firm, flat surface.
Make sure she isn't bleeding severely. If she is, take measures to stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the area. Don't administer CPR until the bleeding is under control.

Step 2: Open the baby's airway.
Tilt the baby's head back with one hand and lift his chin slightly with the other. (You don't have to tilt a baby's head back very far to open the airway.)
Check for signs of breathing for no more than ten seconds.
To check for breathing in a baby, put your head down next to his mouth, looking toward his feet. Look to see whether his chest is rising, and listen for breathing sounds. If he's breathing, you should be able to feel his breath on your cheek.

Step 3: Give two gentle "rescue" breaths.
If the baby isn't breathing, give her two little breaths, each lasting just one second. Cover the baby's nose and mouth with your mouth and gently exhale into her lungs only until you see her chest rise, pausing between rescue breaths to let the air flow back out.
Remember that a baby's lungs are much smaller than yours, so it takes much less than a full breath to fill them. Breathing too hard or too fast can force air into the baby's stomach.
If her chest doesn't rise, her airway is blocked. Give her first aid for choking, described above.

Step 4: Do 30 chest compressions.
With the baby still lying on his back, place the pads of two or three fingers in the center of his chest, just below an imaginary line running between his nipples.
With the pads of your fingers on that spot, compress the chest about 1 1/2 inches. Push straight down. Compressions should be smooth, not jerky.
Do 30 chest compressions at the rate of 100 per minute. When you complete 30 compressions, give two rescue breaths (step 3, above). (Each cycle of chest compressions and rescue breaths should take about 24 seconds.)

Step 5: Repeat compressions and breaths.
Repeat the sequence of 30 compressions and two breaths. If you're alone with the baby, call 911 or the local emergency number after two minutes of care.
Continue the sequence of compressions and breaths until help arrives, you find an obvious sign of life, an AED (automated external defibrillator) is ready to use, the scene becomes unsafe, or you are too exhausted to continue.
Even if the baby seems fine by the time help arrives, a doctor will need to check her to make sure that her airway is completely clear and she hasn't sustained any internal injuries.

For more information on pregnancy, birth, baby and toddler, click here

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When is Honey Safe for your Baby?

A commonly asked question when it comes to foods for infants is about giving babies honey. Honey should never be given to a child under the age of 12 months old. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that honey should not be added to food, water, or formula that is fed to infants younger than 12 months of age. This technically, applies even to honey in baked or processed food goods. The AAP statement says "Raw or unpasteurized honey (Infants younger than 12 months should avoid all sources of honey)". AAP Pediatric Nutrition Handbook.

There are many who feel that honey is really not a danger to babies because in one form or another, honey has been given to babies well under the age of 12 months old. There are many cultures that continue to give babies honey almost from birth and incorporate it early into baby's diet. We have outlined a few facts about Honey and the possible risk to babies. While we may be overly conservative and caution against giving a baby under 12 months of age honey, we recommend that you thoroughly discuss this with your pediatrician.

Does Honey Contain Botulism?

Honey may contain botulism spores which can lead to botulism poisoning. There are some areas of the country (United States) where the possible contamination of honey with botulism spores is higher due to the soil. Soil contains botulism spores/bacteria and the flora that bees use to feed on grows in that soil. Also, disturbed soil containing the spores may directly settle upon hives for example - and thus the spores themselves could contaminate the honey as well. Honey is mostly consumed in raw form and is typically not pasteurized, sterilized or radiated. Even pasteurized honey can contain botulism spores and should be not be given to children under the age of 12 months. (http://www.eatwelleatsafe.ca/pathogens/botulism.htm)

Adults can handle a small amount of botulinium spores easier than babies.

In adults, the amount of botulism spores ingested (if any) from honey is really quite negligible because we have mature intestines. The intestines of an adult contain enough acids to counteract the production of toxins the botulism bacteria produce. Once an infant reaches the age of 1 year or older, their intestines have a balance of acids that help destroy and fight off any toxins that the botulism bacteria produce.

Can My Baby Eat Baked Goods With Honey?
Are Corn Syrup and Molasses Safe for Baby Under age 12 months?
Is Maple Syrup Safe for Baby Under age 12 months?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Top 10 Kids Activities

Top 10 Kids Activities

There are plenty of attractions and activities you and your family with enjoy when exploring Cape Town. To cut it down to only ten was really a tough choice.
For giving you a more detailed insiders view of the many options I narrowed down the Cape Town kids activites to five indoors activities for rainy days and five outdoors activities for sunny days.
So here they are our favorite kids activities for warm sunny days in Cape Town:

1. Want to hold an owl or an eagle or learn about the world’s fastest animal?

Child holding an eagle at Spier Eagle Encounter Then a drive to nearby Spier Estate in Stellenbosch. Their Eagle Encounter is top on the list with my children. Eagle Encounters (021 858 1826) is a bird rescue center where you can join interactive bird shows and are allowed to hold an eagle are always coming tops on my happy kids activities list. At Spier there is lots of space to run around or play ball, many restaurants, little craft shops, a duckpond, a river running through the estate, a playground and huge picnic area. My kids always enjoy the 40 minute drive from Cape Town through the lovely hills of the Cape Winelands and arrive at this wonderful huge playing field with all the amenities which make you appreciate living in South Africa.
Then there is also the fabulous Cheetah Outreach Center (021 809 1188) where your kids will love to see the fastest land animals on earth. More info about the Cheetah Outreach Center here.

2. See and touch big birds and learn about ostriches

With kids at West Coast Ostrich Ranch Have a leisurely drive out to the North of Cape Town to the West Coast Ostrich Ranch. This ostrich farm (021 972 1669) is only 15 minutes from Blouberg or 30 minutes from the city of Cape Town. The kids activities here are: learning about the biggest birds on earth, getting a fun guided tour, standing on an ostrich egg and even sitting on an ostrich. There you can let the children run loose at the huge play area with climbing frame and sandpit. Find your special gemstones at the Scratch Patch or -if you will not get in trouble with your kids;)- try the delicious ostrich fillet or ostrich schnitzel at the farmhouse restaurant. This is actually a great place for a children’s party too.

3. Ever fancied a camel ride or having a snake hanging around your shoulders?

Donkey rides at Imhoff Farm Then head straight away to Imhoff’s Farm in Kommetjie. This farm (021 783 4545) in Kommetjie is a small village in itself with kids activities and entertainment galore. You can drive down there along the Atlantic Seabord via Hout Bay over the fabulous Chapman’s Peak Drive you will have a day full of sightseeing and maybe you will spot a whale or a dolphin near the coast too. From Nordhooek you can easily drive via Ou Kaapse Weg around to Kommetjie. The trip will take roughly 45 minutes from the city center.
At the grounds there are several shops and art galleries as well as an organic coffee shop, marimba entertainment, playground, horse, donkey and camel rides, face painting and a very interesting snake park. The kids are always entertained and there you really can relax while the children have a ball of a time as well. And Paintball, anyone?:)

4. Do you long for a relaxing outing to the beach?

Kids playing at  a Cape Town Beach Then you definitely must go to Simonstown’s Boulders Beach, where your kids will love to swim in the shallow waters with penguins. The little creatures are not very shy, although you should keep your children from trying to catch them;) And there are many other beautiful beaches with tidal pools for safe swimming in and around Cape Town. Or why not go to one of the best, cleanest, most popular beaches like the Blue Flag Beaches?
Check them out and you will have a happy day with your kids.

5. Ride down the fantastic toboggan track in Tygervalley

Getting pulled uphill on the Cape Town Toboggan This is one outdoors activity especially for the bigger kids. But the little ones will enjoy that too, if mummy or daddy joins them. Cool Runnings is operating this 1,25 km long bob-sled track in a steel half pipe where kids just scream for the fun it is. This track is only open for the last couple of years and is very modern and well maintained.
Kids over 8years old can go down alone, while little ones have to be accompanied by an (usually equally excited) adult. So have fun, but do not forget your sun protection as even you cool down riding down the track at speed.

Now to cover all eventualities of a rainy day or more like the sun hiding behind clouds or the wind being blowing to strongly here are… … the best indoors kids activities in Cape Town

6. Go down to the waterfront and enjoy the colorful underwater world

At the kelp forest in Cape Town Aquarium At Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium you will enjoy watching the funny penguins or relax while watching the movements of the huge kelp forest. Watch the groupers and stingrays swimming along the big sharks in the huge tank and occasionally you might even spot divers at the shark tank. Daily arts and crafts activities also keep the young children happy. There is a good family restaurant and if you want to come here more often than twice a year get a family membership which is really worth it, as your children also could join the very popular sleeping over events in the aquarium too.

7. Visit the planetarium and the South African Museum

This Natural History museum with its excellent dinosaur exhibition, the whale well and underwater exhibition, displays of South African rock carvings and showcase of the life of the indigenous people in South Africa. Surely there are many other interesting museums in Cape Town, but this one comes up tops for kids every time. There are some kids activites sheets available at the reception desk. The adjoining planetarium (021 481 3929) offers great shows for kids, where kids will be amazed by the interactive show and all the little lights and stars in the domed darkened room. The chairs are reclining, but the shows are so interesting you will not be able to snooze;)

8. Ready for more science and interactions?

Unfortunately the MTN Science Center (021 300 3200) in Canal Walk closed down, but there is still the Experilab in HighStreetShopping Center in Bellville. There are lots of hands-on-displays and kids are encouraged to experiment and explore physical concepts. This is a great place for kids of every age and you certainly will find many new things which inspire kids to experiment. Until new premises are found for the Science Center, we will have to wait for a great place in Cape Town where kids can do science experiments in a safe environment. There are organized kids activities and birthday parties possible at Experilab. Watch this space for the new upcoming Science Center in Cape Town. We will keep you posted:)

9. A bit of culture for the kids? How about seeing a play?

Take your kids to see one of the famous childrens’ shows at the Baxter Theater in Rondebosch during school holidays. There are daily shows in English (021 685 7880) during the holidays for the young children from the age of 3. These are shows like "Pinocchio" or "Goldilocks and the three Bears" and they run usually in the late mornings.
The shows are sometimes interactive too, which my children enjoyed a lot. The theatre auditorium is beautiful with plush comfortable seats. Then there are usually several shows for children at the Artscape Theatre in the CBD during the school holidays too.
And not to forget a bit of magic! Great magic shows are performed in Cape Town by the College of Magic in Rondebosch. The 2011 Champs will perform at the Baxter Theatre on September 25, 2011. Do not miss this exciting event for kids!

10. Last but not least, how about Ten-Pin-Bowling?

This is a great family activity for rainy days and very popular activity with kids in Cape Town too. So be sure to call ahead and book a place at Let's go bowling.
There are bowling alleys in Stadium on Main in Claremont an in the Tyger Valley and also in the N1 City and in the Somerset West shopping centers. The bowling alleys are modern and you will have fun competing with your children in a game. There are lighter balls for the younger kids and frames for them too to help the ball rolling down the alley to get a great strike.
Well, there would be so many more great kids activites for the Cape Town area, like going to the movie theatre, having fun at Ratanga Junction, joining arts, pottery and magician classes, but hey, these were my favorite top ten kids activities to get them happy and entertained during school holidays.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Avocado Baby Food Recipes

Avocado Baby Food Recipes - First Foods
For a nutritionally complete and tasty meal for your baby food beginner - with an ideal consistency, too - you need do no more than slice open an avocado and spoon its creamy flesh straight into your baby's mouth!
Yes, it's as easy as that... you do not need to cook the fruit or add anything to it!

To make it more manageable for baby's very first meal, spoon it into a bowl and mash it with a fork. For a smoother texture still, you can puree it in a food processor.

If you are introducing avocado to your baby after the recommended age of 6 months, you shouldn't really need to add anything to thin the consistency. But if you DO feel the need to make it a bit more 'soupy', just add a little breast milk or formula as you mash or puree the fruit.

First Avocado Baby Food - Creamy Fruit Mash 
1 apple or pear, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 avocado, peeled
little water

Place the prepared apple or pear into a small saucepan and add a little water.
Simmer gently until the fruit is tender.
Transfer the apple or pear to a food processor and puree until smooth.
Mash the avocado with the fruit puree and serve.

First Avocado Baby Food - Melon Delight 
1 small slice Cantaloupe melon
1/2 avocado, peeled

Remove the skin from the melon, then simply mash the avocado and melon together.
This tastes wonderful with a touch of ground ginger!

First Avocado Baby Food - Sweet Potato and Avocado Dinner 
1 small sweet potato
1 avocado, peeled

Bake the sweet potato in its skin for 45 mins - 1 hour until tender.
Cool, then remove the flesh from the skin and mash with the avocado.

First Avocado Baby Food - No-Cook Fruity Treat 
1 small, ripe banana
1 avocado

Avocado as an ideal food to take when you're travelling with your baby. An unpeeled avocado doesn't need to be kept cool and you can just slice it and serve it to your baby when you're out and about. You don't even need a bowl!

Read more: http://www.homemade-baby-food-recipes.com/avocado-baby-food.html#ixzz1sYsNsje8

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Car seat safety: The biggest mistakes parents make, and how to avoid them.

Not using a safety seat consistently

"We were only going to the grocery store ..." "He hates to ride in his car seat, so just this once I didn't make him ..." "She was having a meltdown, so I took her out of her seat for a minute to calm her down." Safety experts hear these words all too often from distraught parents after tragedy has struck. Remember, a one-time lapse can result in a lifetime of regret.

In any case, using a safety seat consistently and correctly is the law. All 50 states require that children up to 3 years of age (or 40 inches tall in Kentucky) ride in car seats in private vehicles, and many have laws requiring car seats or booster seats until a child is considerably older.

There's good reason for that. Every year, tens of thousands of children are injured in car crashes, and about a thousand are killed. In fact, auto accidents are by far the leading cause of death for American children.

Using an old or secondhand seat

That safety seat you scored at a garage sale for a fraction of its original price may seem like a bargain, but it could cost your child his life. The same goes for that older-model seat your sister gave you after her child outgrew it.

Not only are used seats unlikely to come with the manufacturer's instructions (vital for correct installation), but they could be missing important parts, have been involved in an accident (even unseen damage can affect the seat's functioning), fall short of current safety standards, or have been recalled due to faulty design. Moreover, plastic gets brittle as it gets older, so a seat that's too old could break in a crash.

If you must use a secondhand seat, make sure it has the original instructions (or contact the manufacturer for a replacement copy), has all its parts (check the manual), has never been involved in a serious accident, and hasn't been recalled. (Check your seat's recall status here.)

In addition, to avoid the dangers of aging plastic, SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. recommends sticking with car seats that are ideally less than five years old and definitely less than ten years old. You can usually find an expiration date stamped somewhere on the seat. read more

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Snoring babies more likely to develop behavioral problems

Mon, Mar 5 (HealthDay News) -- Infants and toddlers who snore or have other breathing issues while sleeping are more likely to develop behavioral problems by the age of 7, new research suggests.
Those issues can include hyperactivity and inattention, emotional problems such as anxiety and depression, conduct problems such as rule-breaking and aggressiveness and problems with peer relationships, researchers said. The study is published online March 5 and in the April print issue of Pediatrics.
The researchers assessed more than 11,000 children in England, who were followed for six years, beginning when the kids were 6 months old. Parents were asked about snoring, mouth breathing and witnessed apnea -- when a child takes abnormally long pauses in breathing during sleep -- at various points throughout infancy and childhood. Taken together, those symptoms are called sleep-disordered breathing.
Parents also filled out questionnaires about their child's behavior at the ages of 4 and 7.
Those who had the worst sleep-disordered breathing were almost twice as likely to have behavioral issues at age 7 as kids whose breathing was normal. Kids were considered to have behavioral issues if their parent's ratings were in the top 10 percent, relative to kids their age, for problem behaviors.
"Parents should pay close attention to their child's sleep, and if you think something is going on you should consult a pediatrician or a sleep specialist," said study author Karen Bonuck, a professor of family and social medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York City.
The research showed only an association between sleep-disordered breathing and behavioral problems, not causality. However, there could be several reasons for the connection, Bonuck said.
By interfering with the quality of rest, sleep-disordered breathing leaves kids overtired. That may contribute to behavioral issues, such as being easily distracted, hyperactivity and irritability.
Previous research has also suggested that sleep-disordered breathing affects brain physiology via a lack of oxygen to the brain, carbon dioxide buildup and abnormal gas exchanges, Bonuck explained. For children, that may have a long-lasting impact. "We are sleeping to restore our brains, and sleep-disordered breathing interferes with that process," Bonuck explained. "For kids, these are critical periods in brain development."
Heidi Connolly, division chief for pediatric sleep medicine at University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, said the study adds to a growing body of research showing that snoring, mouth breathing and sleep apnea in children should be taken seriously. "These findings echo many of the other studies that show having sleep apnea and symptoms of snoring are bad for neurodevelopmental outcomes in children," Connolly said.
While snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, it can have other causes, such as nasal allergies. Other studies suggest that even snoring alone, without apnea, can cause kids to do worse developmentally, she added. read more

Friday, March 9, 2012

Buckle up your kids or go to jail

Cape motorists could face jail if they don’t buckle up their children while on the road.
The province and the City of Cape Town want to criminally charge and prosecute motorists, including parents, caught with children not wearing seatbelts. In cases of car crashes where there are severe injuries or death, the charges could include jail time. The Western Cape transport department said the case of Jacob Humphreys, who was jailed for 20 years after 10 children died in his minibus taxi, paved the way for prosecutors to get tough on errant motorists. Humphreys jumped a queue at a level crossing, colliding with an oncoming train.
The plan has received support from several quarters. Arrive Alive spokesman Ashref Ismail said: “Seatbelts are absolutely vital. It goes without saying that we would support every possible legal means to clamp down on this.” Ismail said research showed that in countries where motorists complied with seatbelt laws there was a substantial drop in fatalities. In 80 percent of car crash cases treated at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, the children were not wearing seatbelts.

Transport MEC Robin Carlisle wants prosecutors to crack down on parents and other drivers who “fail to protect children” by buckling them up as the law requires. Following taxi driver Jacob Humphreys's conviction and sentence of 30 years for murder - after 10 schoolchildren were killed in his taxi when it was hit by a train at the Buttskop level crossing in Blackheath in 2010 - Carlisle has asked his legal team to investigate the precedent in relation to the widespread failure to strap in children. Carlisle said: “We have been emboldened by the Humphreys verdict, and believe extremely strongly that the legal concept of 'criminal negligence' should be considered by prosecutors in every possible relevant case, when bringing drivers to book.
“Drivers - and this includes parents - who are criminally negligent with regard to their children must understand that they could the full force of criminal law,” Carlisle said. “More children are dying prematurely in car accidents than from any other cause.”
“Do parents leave their sanity behind when they climb into a car with their kids?”
“Between 200 and 300 children are treated each year at the Red Cross Children's Hospital for serious injuries sustained in crashes - and over 80 percent were not restrained in any way. It shows how absolutely clueless SA drivers are.“If they had any idea of what happens in an accident - about the horror that goes on inside and eventually outside their cars - they would never do that.” Legal sources canvassed by the Cape Argus, including within the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), confirmed that Carlisle's plan was possible within current legislation.
Carlisle is now planning to request that the NPA takes several hard measures.
First, parents caught endangering their children typically face fines only. But Carlisle will now request the NPA to ask its prosecutors at courts around the province to no longer offer admission of guilt fines only. Instead, prosecutors are to demand that parents and other drivers appear in court.
In cases where the state could prove severe negligence - like allowing a child to stand on a front seat on a highway, for example - the parent or driver could still only receive a fine, but could then carry a criminal record thereafter. Second, in cases in which children who were not strapped in are killed or seriously injured, the actual traffic violation of not buckling a child in would become incidental. Instead, a parent or driver could be charged with one of several criminal charges: “Reckless or Negligent Driving”, “Culpable Homicide” or even - in particularly egregious cases - “Murder”. read more

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When should I introduce solid food to my baby?

You can introduce solids any time between 4 and 6 months if your baby is ready. Until then, breast milk or formula provides all the calories and nourishment your baby needs and can handle. His digestive system simply isn't ready for solids until he nears his half-birthday.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for at least six months – though parents will attest that some babies are eager and ready to eat solids earlier.

How will I know when my baby's ready?

Your baby will give you clear signs when he's ready to move beyond liquid-only nourishment. Cues to look for include:
  • Head control. Your baby needs to be able to keep his head in a steady, upright position.
  • Losing the "extrusion reflex." To keep solid food in his mouth and then swallow it, your baby needs to stop using his tongue to push food out of his mouth.
  • Sitting well when supported. Even if he's not quite ready for a highchair, your baby needs to be able to sit upright to swallow well.
  • Chewing motions. Your baby's mouth and tongue develop in sync with his digestive system. To start solids, he should be able to move food to the back of his mouth and swallow. As he learns to swallow efficiently, you may notice less drooling – though if your baby's teething, you might still see a lot of drool.
  • Significant weight gain. Most babies are ready to eat solids when they've doubled their birth weight  and are at least 4 months old.
  • Growing appetite. He seems hungry – even with eight to ten feedings of breast milk or formula a day.
  • Curiosity about what you're eating. Your baby may begin eyeing your bowl of rice or reaching for a forkful of fettuccine as it travels from your plate to your mouth.

How should I introduce solid food?

For most infants, you can start with any pureed solid food. While it's traditional to start your baby on solids with a single-grain cereal, there's no medical evidence to show that introducing solid foods in a particular order will benefit your baby. Good foods to start with include pureed sweet potatoes, squash, applesauce, bananas, peaches, and pears.

First, nurse or bottle-feed your baby. Then give him one or two teaspoons of pureed solid food. If you decide to start with cereal, mix it with enough formula or breast milk to make a semi-liquid. Use a soft-tipped plastic spoon when you feed your baby, to avoid injuring his gums. Start with just a small amount of food on the tip of the spoon.

If your baby doesn't seem very interested in eating off the spoon, let him smell and taste the food or wait until he warms up to the idea of eating something solid. Don't add cereal to your baby's bottle or he may not make the connection that food is to be eaten sitting up and from a spoon.

Begin with a once-a-day feeding, whenever it's convenient for you and your baby, but not at a time when your baby seems tired or cranky. Your baby may not eat much in the beginning, but give him time to get used to the experience. Some babies need practice keeping food in their mouths and swallowing.

Once he gets used to his new diet, he'll be ready for a few tablespoons of food a day. If he's eating cereal, gradually thicken the consistency by adding less liquid. As the amount your baby eats increases, add another feeding.

How will I know when my baby's full?

Your baby's appetite will vary from one feeding to the next, so a strict accounting of the amount he's eaten isn't a reliable way to tell when he's had enough. If your baby leans back in his chair, turns his head away from food, starts playing with the spoon, or refuses to open up for the next bite, he has probably had enough. (Sometimes a baby will keep his mouth closed because he hasn't yet finished with the first mouthful, so be sure to give him time to swallow.)

Do I still need to give my baby breast milk or formula?

Yes, your baby will need breast milk or formula until he's a year old. Both provide important vitamins, iron, and protein in an easy-to-digest form. Solid food can't replace all the nutrients that breast milk or formula provides during that first year. See how much breast milk or formula babies need after starting solids.

read more

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Seven keys to creating a successful baby sleep, feeding, and play schedule

Getting into a regular schedule for sleep, feeding, and activities can make life easier for you and your baby. But how to start? Below, find seven great guidelines for establishing a routine that works.

Get your baby used to a bedtime routine early on

Once you have a consistent bedtime worked out, a daytime routine will fall into place, says Tanya Remer Altmann, a pediatrician and editor-in-chief of The Wonder Years: Helping Your Baby and Young Child Successfully Negotiate the Major Developmental Milestones.

And the easiest way to establish a regular bedtime is to start a bedtime routine that you and your baby can depend on night after night.

"The bedtime routine is the most important thing to consider when establishing a schedule," says Altmann. "You can't force it in the first few months, but you can start practicing at around 2 months."

Altmann says to keep it simple: a warm bath, jammies, a feeding, then lights-out. It's fine if feeding lulls your baby to sleep in the early months, Altmann says, but by 3 or 4 months you may want to try putting him down awake so he'll learn to fall asleep on his own.

Teach your baby the difference between night and day

Many babies mix up their days and nights at first, sleeping long stretches during the day only to perk up once the sun goes down. Helping your baby learn to tell day from night is a key first step to getting into a workable routine.

Amy Shelley, mom to 8-month-old Alex, offers these tips: "During the day, keep the house bright. Do the exact opposite at night: Keep the house dim and quiet. Don't talk to your baby much during night feedings. Let him learn that night is for sleeping and daytime is for socialization and playtime."

Learn to read your baby's cues

Websites, books, your baby's doctor, and other parents can all help as you figure out an appropriate schedule for your baby. But your child will be an important guide, and he'll tell you what he needs – if you learn to read his cues.

"When parents take the time to be with their baby, the information they receive gets sifted through their own experience. 'Instincts' come from learning about your baby's temperament and what works for him," says pediatrician Daniel Levy, president of the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland.

Mom Liana Scott says paying close attention to 9-month-old Keaton has helped her anticipate his needs, which makes life easier and more fun for both of them.

"Now I'm able to feed him before he's really hungry and put him to bed before he's overtired and fussy," says Scott.

Learning what your baby needs when takes time and patience. But you'll see patterns emerge over time. And if you log your baby's naps, feedings, playtime, and so on in a notebook or on the computer, you can use this record to come up with a timetable for doing things.

When starting out, put your baby's schedule first

If you're encouraging your baby to follow a schedule or observing his patterns to figure out a routine that works, make this process a top priority for at least the first couple of weeks. Avoid deviating from the routine with vacations, meals on the go, outings that push naptime back, and so on.

Once you establish a pattern for your baby's sleeping, awake, and feeding times, changing things for an afternoon isn't likely to undo his habits. But it's best to keep your baby's schedule as consistent as possible while he's getting used to it.

Expect changes during growth spurts and milestones

Your child accomplishes so much in the first year. He'll nearly triple his weight and achieve some major feats like sitting up, crawling, even walking.

During periods of growth or when he's working to achieve a new milestone, don't be surprised if your baby diverges from his usual routine. He may be hungrier than usual, need more sleep, or return to waking up several times a night. Hang in there – your baby may be back on schedule shortly, or this may be a sign that you need to adjust your routine.

Adjust your baby's schedule to suit his age

It may feel like just when you've gotten into a predictable groove with your little one, it's time to change it again. As your baby gets older, he'll need fewer daytime naps and more playtime and stimulation. He'll also need to eat solid foods – first just once a day, but eventually several times a day.

As these developmental shifts happen, your child's schedule will shift as well. Reading up on these milestones and checking out our sample schedule for babies of all ages can help you know what to expect.

Don't expect perfection

Some parent-led schedules set the expectation that your baby's routine will always run like clockwork. And though babies do like consistency, you can expect changes from day to day and as your baby grows.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, your baby will want to skip a nap, have an extra snack, wake up before dawn, and so on. And life happens as well – vacations, older siblings, plans with friends and family, errands you need to take care of, and other factors will all come into play in your daily life with your baby. Variation is okay, as long as your baby is getting the sleep, play, food, care, and love he needs to thrive.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New approach urged for late-talking bilingual babies

Babies who are raised in homes where two or more languages are spoken may appear to talk later than those learning just one language, leaving parents puzzled and concerned as to the reasons why.
Conventional wisdom often suggests that such children are confused and so they take longer to talk. Or, parents may hear that any apparent delay is just an illusion because kids are little geniuses who can learn many languages quickly and easily.
"Both of these views are wrong," US psychologist Erika Hoff told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Vancouver this weekend.
"It is not the case that hearing two languages confuses the child and impairs their ability to acquire anything. But it is also not the case that children can magically acquire two languages as quickly as one."
Instead, psychologists should take a different approach to testing young children, one that measures their proficiency in both languages instead of just one.
When that is done, researchers typically find that the two tests add up to about the same level of proficiency as would be seen in a baby who is learning a single language.
"Children who are exposed to two languages... must hear less of each language than a child who hears only one and so it takes them longer to get the same amount of experience with each language," added Hoff, whose research has focused on highly educated bilingual Spanish-English families in south Florida.
Two kinds of tests have existed for decades -- the Language Development Survey and the MacArthur Bates Communicative Development Inventory -- in which parents answer questions about which words their child knows and how many word combinations the child has at around age two.
Since their inception decades ago, both paper-and-pencil surveys have been adapted into different languages, with as many as 20 variations of the LDS and more than 60 of the MacArthur Bates now out there, researchers said.
Even this low-tech approach has proven superior to modern methods, said Philip Dale, professor of speech and hearing sciences at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
"Despite an understandable skepticism you might have about the ability of parents with limited training and a natural pride in their child, parent-report can be quite an accurate measure," said Dale.
Leslie Rescorla, professor of psychology at Bryn Mawr college in Pennsylvania, who devised the LDS in the 1980s, agreed that surveys can be very effective in identifying late-talkers by 24-30 months of age.
In the LDS, parents are given a 310 word checklist, and are asked to mark which words their child says. Average children have about 150 words at that age, and late talkers have 25-50.
Rescorla presented research on new versions of the LDS distributed in Greece, South Korea and the Netherlands, which showed similar results as have been seen in the United States.
For instance, eight percent of Greek children surveyed were found to be late-talkers, compared to nine percent of US children.
Knowing whether a child is a late-talker is important because it may point to disorders that could be helped with early intervention, such as autism, hearing loss, or mental impairment, said Nan Bernstein Ratner, professor of hearing and speech sciences at the University of Maryland.
"Late-talkers are at high risk for other developmental problems," said Ratner.
"If you have children who have problems with language and with reading, we have children who will not succeed in society."

Previous research has shown that as many as 20 percent of all children are late-talkers, but many of them are simply "late-bloomers" who catch up by age five, added Ratner.
"About four-fifths of children will recover. The problem is we don't know which ones, so if you don't have a crystal ball it is much better to catch them at age two and to start tracking them, rather than to wait and see what happens."
When it comes to bilingual babies, Hoff urged parents to take advantage of the second-language tests out there, rather than worry about the child's poor scores in a single survey which is missing the full extent of the child's knowledge.
"Because these inventories are available in multiple languages, you can often assess what they know in both languages," she said.
"When you do that, the bilingually developing children look exactly like the monolingually developing child. They are acquiring total language knowledge at the same rate."

Visit www.babyonline.co.za for more information on pregnancy, birth and raising your baby.