Emotions & Behaviour

Emotional learning begins at a very young age, as children discover a wide range of emotions, and evolves as they grow

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Never miss these crucial warning signs of emotional development problems in your baby

What is emotional development? Emotional development is all about how your baby learns to identify his emotions and develop ways of managing them. It's a lifelong process, but the foundations are laid during your baby's first year. Throughout this time, his relationship with you and the other people in his life will help him to understand and manage his own feelings.  Emotional development is not only an important part of your baby's personal development, it can also affect how he learns. When he's happy and relaxed, he'll find it easier to take in new information. If he feels comfortable and secure in his relationships with you and people who care for him, it will give him a safe base for exploring and finding out about the world. How can I tell if my baby's emotional development is normal? Your baby has his own personality from birth. He may be a naturally calm and placid baby, or he may need a bit more help to stay relaxed and happy.  One of the main challenges of being a parent is to accept your child for who he is, rather than who you would like him to be. If your baby is more sensitive, cross or anxious than you would like, it's important to spend time learning to understand him rather than trying to change him.  But whatever your child's natural tendencies, you should see him begin to develop something psychologists call “self-regulation”. This is the capacity we have to soothe ourselves when we're feeling overwhelmingly sad, angry or scared.  To start with, your baby will rely on you to help regulate his emotions. He'll be soothed by your touch, or the sound of your voice. But even as a newborn he'll be starting to learn how he can soothe himself too. He may suck his thumb or simply close his eyes if he's feeling anxious or distressed.  He'll quickly develop the ability to express his emotions too. By six months he'll be able to let you know when he's feeling a whole range of emotions, including pleasure, distress and anger. What are the signs of a problem with my baby's emotional development? All babies become overwhelmingly emotional at times. It's an essential part of learning to deal with feelings in general. However, if your baby is showing extreme emotional reactions in relatively relaxed and pleasant situations, such as meeting with familiar family members, he may be experiencing emotional development problems. You may notice that he: Seems very anxious all of the time. For example, he may appear tense and uptight, which can then lead to sleep or feeding problems. Is particularly afraid of new situations and generally reluctant to try anything outside his comfort zone. Is quick to anger, and often seems excessively irritated. Is tearful in a range of different situations. Seems lethargic and unmotivated to try out new things. When we have difficulty in expressing our emotions, it’s common for the emotions to be channeled into physical symptoms. If your baby's having emotional problems, he may also have frequent tummy aches, headaches, or complaints about pain. However, if you think your baby is unwell or in pain, always consult your doctor who can rule out any underlying physical cause.  

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Symptoms and Remedies for Teething in Babies

The first tooth is a big event in your baby’s young life, but it can be uncomfortable. The more you know about teething, the better you can help your baby get through it. Schedule a trip to the dentist after her first tooth arrives (usually around 6 months), or generally by her first birthday. Signs of Teething Most babies begin to teethe between 4-7 months old. But some start much later. The symptoms aren’t the same for every baby, but they may include: Swollen, tender gums Fussiness and crying A slightly raised temperature (less than 101 F) Gnawing or wanting to chew on hard things Lots of drool Changes in eating or sleeping patterns What works to soothe a friend’s baby might not work for yours. You may need to try different things to help your little one feel better. Often, something cold in your baby’s mouth helps. Try a cold pacifier, spoon, clean wet washcloth, or a solid (not liquid) refrigerated teething toy or ring. Some experts say frozen teething toys are too cold and may hurt your baby’s mouth. Make sure to clean teething toys, washcloths, and other items after the baby uses them. Babies -- especially those who are teething -- love to chew. It’s OK to let your baby chew as much as she wants. Just make sure you know what she’s putting into her mouth and that it’s safe and clean. A hard, unsweetened teething cracker can be comforting. If your baby is older than 6-9 months, you can offer cool water from a sippy cup, too. You can also massage her gums by gently rubbing them with your clean finger. If the teeth haven’t come in yet, you can let your baby gnaw on your finger. If you’re nursing your baby, try dipping your fingers in cool water and massaging her gums before each feeding. That may keep her from biting your nipple while nursing. Medicine that you rub on your baby’s gums to stop the pain of teething may not help. It quickly washes away in the mouth. Stay away from over-the-counter teething gels and liquids that have the ingredient benzocaine. The FDA says this ingredient shouldn’t be given to children under 2. It can cause rare but serious side effects. A small dose of a children’s pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may help your baby. But ask your doctor before giving her any medication, and use it exactly as the doctor says. Teething can be rough for you and your baby at first. But it’ll get easier as you both learn how to soothe each new tooth that pops out.  

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Colic: Lifestyle and home remedies

Colic is a very common problem in babies but the good news is that it goes away by the time your baby is 4 months old. Until then, try these tips. They may give both of you some relief. Help him swallow less air. Try a special bottle designed to reduce gas or a nipple with a smaller hole. Sit him up while he eats so he swallows less air. Remember to burp him during and after feedings. Bright lights and sounds can overwhelm a colicky baby. Your baby may calm down if you: Lay him on his back in a dark, quiet room. Swaddle him snugly in a blanket. Lay him across your lap and gently rub his back. Try infant massage. Put a warm water bottle on your baby's belly. Have him suck on a pacifier. Soak him in a warm bath. You may have heard that some home remedies can relieve colic. Most aren’t proven and they could hurt your baby. Always talk with your child’s pediatrician before trying something new. These are things you may have heard about. Rice cereal in a bottle. This is a definite no-no. It's a big choking hazard, and it is not proven to work. Herbal remedies such as chamomile, or gripe water. It’s best not to use these. The FDA doesn’t regulate over-the-counter remedies. You can’t be sure what they are made of, and ingredients aren’t always labeled. Some can have things in them that are very bad for your baby, like alcohol or opiates. Babies can also have allergic reactions to them. They’re also not proven to work. Simethicone gas drops. These can be OK to try. But will they work? They may or may not help.

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