Top Tips for Potty Training Toddlers - a Guide for Parents

Potty training requires patience, persistence and a good strategy.Potty training can, for some, be a very long process that may often feel like it will will never end. Don’t forget, though; this is a totally new skill for children, so is bound to take some time. Sometimes, a lack of any fast progress can build to frustration. However, rest assured; progress will come with patience, persistence and a good potty training strategy — and that’s exactly where today’s guide comes in. Here are are our Top Tips for Potty Training Tots.

When is the Best Time to Start Potty Training Your Child?

Knowing exactly when to start potty training can be tricky. Some parents leave potty training until the summer months when the child generally has less clothing on. This can not only save on washing, but also make drying washing easier because the weather is warmer. However, while that may suit the parent, is it the best timing for the little one?

The truth is that each child is ready for the training at a different time, so comparing your little one to other children of their age may only help in terms of a general picture. Each child is individual when it comes to timing, so starting to potty train is also very much an individual thing.

That said, when trying to work out the best time to start potty training your toddler, a few signs may help to identify their own, unique ‘best’ start time. Below, we outline a few indicators that the time may be right.

Signs to Look Out For, in Readiness for Potty Training

A child training its doll on the potty!There are certain things to look out for that might suggest that it’s time to start potty training your little one. For example, try to spot signs that your child is aware of what is in their nappy. Do they show signs of not liking a wet or soiled nappy? Do they show awareness when going to the loo in their nappy? Maybe this involves them going somewhere quiet, perhaps slightly hiding behind furniture, or even making eye contact with you to ‘tell’ you they’re doing something.

Your child may become aware of the words used around going to the toilet — and indeed it’s healthy and useful for them to get to know them. For example, they might be aware that Mummy or Daddy goes in the bathroom for a ‘wee-wee’.

Children are always very keen to copy their friends, so look out for signs that they’re considering having a try, having seen their friends using a potty or trainer toilet seat. Or perhaps they have shown an interest in a potty in the shops. Showing them some when out shopping may allow you to gauge the level of any interest from your child.

Prepare Some Toileting Aids

There is a large variety of toileting aids on the marketThere is a large variety of toileting aids on the market, from potties, to toilet seats, trainer seats that clip on to adult toilet seats, pretend toddler toilets, and a whole range of portable potties for when the family is on the go. You may also consider a step to help your child reach the toilet if using a toilet instead of a potty. This can also be helpful for handwashing.

Some parents also choose for their child to use potty training pants or ‘pulls-ups’ as they are also known. These can be a good stepping stone between a nappy and proper pants/knickers for the child, particularly while the child is still training and may have occasional accidents.

Starting Potty Training

There are some common sense things that parents can do when introducing potty training to infants:

  • Try and remain consistence with your actions, so you don’t confuse your child.
  • Try not to disrupt your child’s other routines when starting potty training.
  • Let family members, carers and friends know your plan of action, so everyone in on the same page and your child gets continuity.
  • When travelling or visiting other houses or locations, make sure you have your child’s potty with you.
  • Talk to your child with words they understand in relation to toileting, introducing the potty etc.
  • Find ways to make the potty a friendly object, not a daunting one.
  • Maybe place the potty in the bathroom and encourage its use when you, yourself, are using the bathroom. You can make this fun.
  • Encourage the washing of hands afterwards.
  • Have some books or small toys next to the potty in case they choose to sit for a longer period than you anticipated. Obviously take care in relation to your child’s hygiene if doing so.
  • When changing your child’s nappy, see if they will just sit on the potty to get used to it.
  • Eating a meal stimulates the bowel, so after a large meal let your child sit on the potty for a while.
  • If your child has a dolly or teddy bear, maybe sit them on the potty and make a game from it. Again, though, watch hygiene if doing so.
  • If your child is a boy, it may be easier to start them off sitting instead of standing.
  • Remember it’s important not to make a fuss if an accident happens. Making a fuss will not help your child warm to the idea of using the potty again, so keep things relaxed and know that accidents do happen. In fact, be prepared for them.

Nighttime

It’s usually best to master daytime potty training before starting on nighttime training. Nighttime training can take a while longer. Some children even sleep so soundly that they simply do not wake in order to go to the toilet at night. For those that do have nighttime accidents, it’s best to be prepared with a waterproof sheet on the bed.

A good sign that your child is ready for nighttime potty training is when they have a dry nappy at night. Try sitting your child on the potty or toilet before they go to bed and then again when they wake up. During the night, make sure the potty is near in case they wake up asking for it.

Tips for Successful Potty Training

  • There are some common sense things that parents can do when introducing potty training to infantsMake sure your child is actually ready — don’t rush it.
  • Choose a good, quiet time to start.
  • Maybe let your child pick their own potty from the shop or Internet.
  • You may need more than one potty e.g. one for upstairs, another downstairs and/or in a specific bathroom.
  • Lead by example — so long as it’s not taboo in your household, let your child see you on the loo.
  • Use reward stickers and a chart.
  • Make potty training fun!
  • Always praise, never tell children off for toilet-related accidents.
  • Have toys and books handy.
  • Boys to sit down when starting.
  • Girls to wipe from front to back.
  • Admire your child’s output and praise them for it!

Age-Related Milestones for Bladder & Bowel Control

The following are very general guidelines only, so don’t worry if your child’s progress is different.

  • Children tend to start to control their bowels before their bladder.
  • By the age of 1 year, most infants will have stopped emptying their bowels at night.
  • By 2 years, some children are dry during the day.
  • By 3 years of age, some children are dry during the day, with only the occasional accident.
  • By 4 years of age, most are dry during the day.
  • It’s important to remember that at the age of 5 or 5 plus, one in five children may still wet the bed.

It’s important to never get cross with your child for the odd accident. The child will be aware of the accident and may be upset by it already.

Childcare Places at Leaps & Bounds Nursery & Pre-School in Edgbaston, Birmingham

A nursery place for your child in Edgbaston, near Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds Nursery provides weekday childcare for under-fives, which includes some free places for eligible children via Government childcare funding schemes. We are a nursery/pre-school in Edgbaston (B16), near Birmingham and may also suit those near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Why not request a guided tour of the nursery to see it for yourself — and bring your little one to see how they fit in! We’re also happy to answer any questions or, when you’re ready, to help you register your child for a place. Get started using a button below:

Home Learning Activities to Help Under-5s: Activity Ideas for Parents
There are lots of activities that children can do and benefit from at home.When it comes to the learning and development of children, a good parent-nursery partnership is absolutely vital to maximising their short- and long-term success. In the mid-term, it also ensures they’re ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave our care. We therefore work together with parents¹, in close partnership. By doing so, children will receive a consistent, ‘joined-up’ approach to the tailored curriculum and the shared goals that we create for each of them. Sharing goals for children both at home and in the nursery will ensure the strengthening of strong areas as well as bolstering any weaker areas that children may find challenging.

With this in mind, today we outline a variety of activity ideas that all parents can undertake with children when at home. Such ‘home learning’ activities will support the progress of children’s learning and development while at home, whilst also supporting the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum that children are working to at the nursery/pre-school.

Home Learning Activities — for 2-Year-Olds

‘Creative Table’ Activities

These creative activities can span a variety of art and crafts undertaken using a surface that is easily cleanable, for example a small table.

  • Why not get the paints out. Your child can enjoy using and mixing a variety of colours and, as well as being a creative opportunity, this can be a colour learning exercise too. Perhaps draw shapes for your child to paint and then your child can learn the different shape words as well.
  • Reading is one of the most important and impactful activities that parents can help children with.Play dough will be a popular choice for little ones, especially if shape cutters and a rolling pin are brought into the activity. Play dough is entertaining to use, it’s creative and children will learn about colours, shapes and three-dimensional form as they go along.
  • Another variation of this type of activity might instead use cookie dough that can later be eaten once cooked (under supervision). Animal-shaped cutters and suchlike will also make this activity more fun.
  • Potato stamping is another good table-top creative activity although, for safety, Mum or Dad will need to do the cutting part. Children will enjoy stamping different shapes and colours onto paper or card, perhaps forming repeat patterns or little scenes.

Beneficial outcomes: These activities help children to use their imaginations, they boost creativity skills and may even expand children’s knowledge of language and vocabulary. They will also help children to hone finer motor skills and coordination.

‘Simon Says’ Activity

By the age of two, most toddlers will have heard the song Heads, shoulders, knees and toes and, like that song, the ‘Simon Says’ game will help them to remember the correct identification of parts of the body. For example, tell them Simon says “touch your toes”. Then, ensure they do so or, of course, correct them if they get it wrong. The command could also be some other alternative like “jump up and down” or “clap your hands” or even “sit on your bottom”.

Beneficial outcomes: This type of activity helps not only with memory skills, but also with motor skills, coordination and balance. They may even learn some new words and boost their vocabulary.

‘Stop and Go’ Activity

Challenge children to find specific things when outdoors in nature.This can be played inside or outside where the child has a bit of space, for example a long hallway would be perfect. Let your child pretend they are walking of perhaps even driving. Give the commands “Stop!” and “Go!” and perhaps even “Freeze!”. They’ll probably find this highly amusing, particularly if you give them feedback and encouragement. Another twist on this activity would be for them to do the activity whilst dancing. You could then abruptly stop the music and shout “Stop!” and so on.

Beneficial outcomes: This activity encourages children to use their listening skill and also their balance skills. At the same time, it’s also huge fun for toddlers! And, if they go for the dancing version of the activity, it’ll help with coordination and general fitness too.

Dressing Up Activity

Playing at dressing up can conjure up all sorts of scenarios and characters — from spacemen, fire fighters and nurses to princesses or your child’s favourite characters from television or books. Perhaps your child has just read about a fireman and it’s fresh in their memory. Dressing up and re-enacting a part of the book will boost your child’s memory while also letting them develop a few moments of creative acting.

Perhaps say to your child, “What would you like to be today?”. Help suggest ideas if they struggle at first and work with what materials you have to play with. It does not have to be a full-blown costume, just a hat will often do — your child’s imagination can do the rest. Children will love dressing up and will find this activity huge fun.

Beneficial outcomes: This activity can boost their imaginations as well as their planning and creativity skills.

Finding Hidden Objects

A fun activity for children is finding hidden things either inside the home or out in the garden.This hidden objects activity could involve hiding almost anything for the child to find. You could start off in one room only to make it easier initially. Show your child the object before hiding it. Once they start looking for it, you could use words like near, far, yes, no, warmer, colder and so on. Once they have mastered finding one object, perhaps add more for them to find. Then perhaps reverse roles and try to find objects the child has hidden for you. Ensure they also use the clue words like warm and cold etc. You could even set up some kind of reward to make it more exciting. For example, if they ‘win’ they could get a treat of some kind, like a funky sticker or trip to the swings.

Beneficial outcomes: This activity helps to improve children’s listening and (if roles are reversed) speaking skills, vocabulary, problem-solving skills and also gets them to use their imaginations.

Home Learning Activities — for 3-Year-Olds

Now your child is a bit older, you can move onto more challenging home learning activities.

Paper Plate Painting

Paper plates can be used in a variety of creative ways, e.g. to stick together to make three-dimensional shapes and also for painting. Circular plates give children a brilliant opportunity to paint a sun or face. A face can perhaps be happy or sad and why not add some cut up wool, glued on for hair, and buttons as eyes. Children can be as creative as they like.

Safety Note: Ensure your use non toxic glue and paint and that your 3 year old is supervised at all times due to the small parts they are playing with.

If your are able to have a walk with your child in the country or maybe even the park, why not suggest a list of ‘treasure’ that your child needs to find.Beneficial outcomes: Arts and crafts are said to use multiple areas of children’s brains and encourage the use of fine motor skills. They also stimulate the imagination and boost creativity.

Nature Treasure Hunts

If your are able to have a walk with your child in the country or maybe even the park, why not suggest a list of ‘treasure’ that your child needs to find. These can be as simple as a mossy stick, a pretty leaf, an interesting pebble, a fragrant flower, a pine cone, acorn, conker, and so on.

Beneficial outcomes: This activity will bring out the adventurer in children. It’s also a lovely way of getting fresh air and getting back to nature. It’s also a simple learning activity of what we can find in nature if we look.

Sandpit Treasure Hunts

You can also use a sandpit for a child's treasure hunt.Similarly, children will love looking for — and finding — ‘treasure’ hidden in a sandpit or sand box. Bury some pretend treasure in the sand and then let your child rummage through the sand to discover the hidden objects. You could make it more challenging by saying, for instance, that there are 5 treasures in the sand. Encourage your 3-year-old to count them as they come out as well saying what they are. You could also do this activity with the child blindfolded, so they have to feel the objects and guess what they are once found.

Beneficial outcomes: This is primarily a sensory activity and, as we all know, sensory activities are really good for children in their early years. These kinds of activities will stimulate children’s senses of touch and sight as well as encouraging movement and coordination. More sensory-based activities for preschoolers can be found here.

Making Bird Feeders

There are lots of different ways to easily make bird feeders at home.Not only is this a fun activity for your child, but it also helps the local wildlife. There are lots of different ways to easily make bird feeders at home. Just one easy example is to find a pine cone, coat it in smooth peanut butter then roll it in bird seed. Once coated, hang it outside using a piece of string. If possible, hang your bird feeder within easy view of a window where your child can watch, but also follow the advice given in the bold link above in regard to the safety of the visiting birds.

Beneficial outcomes: With this activity, children will practise their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as well as learning about nature and a healthy dose of empathy. If successful, children will love this activity and the positive outcome for visiting birds.

Home Learning Activities — for 4-Year-Olds

Now our little ones are bigger and more able, they can get involved in some more advanced home learning activities. Here are a few ideas to get them started.

Reading

This is such a beneficial activity for children — reading is one of the most important and impactful activities that parents can help children with. Read with your child so that they can learn from you. When your child listens to you reading, point at the words and explain some of the rules around words, spelling and how to read. If there are pictures, show the appropriate word with the picture and sound out the letters. You could also talk about the book afterwards, asking questions like, What happened? or Was that funny, sad, happy? etc. Practise acting to the characters in the book, perhaps making the sounds or faces that the characters would make.

Beneficial outcomes: This task will be both fun and highly educational for the child. Reading with under-fives has a whole host of benefits (follow the bold link in the paragraph above), including boosting language skills, boosting literacy, stimulating the imagination and creativity, preparing children better for school and more. Also, mastering reading helps in all other areas of the EYFS curriculum and is one of the best ways to help children maximise their potential in life.

Gardening

Get your child to help with pulling up weeds, or planting new seeds and plants.Get your child to help with pulling up weeds, or planting new seeds and plants. Give them set instructions or a demonstration to follow and ensure you stress the importance of caring for the plants and seedlings.

Beneficial outcomes: As well as being a healthy outdoor activity, your child learns about nature, seasons, the flora and fauna in the garden, and the process of growing living things. It also teaches them about the importance of nurturing the seedlings and plants and caring for their wellbeing. It teaches them about the growing process, responsibility and empathy and will also encourage a healthy love of nature — and brand new skills, of course.

Baking

Baking cakes, biscuits, cookies and breads under supervision will be a fun and educational activity for 4-year-olds.Baking cakes, biscuits, cookies and breads under your supervision* will be a fun and educational activity for 4-year-olds. What’s more, they’ll end up with something they can actually eat! During the process, try to explain the importance of measuring, doing things in the right order, waiting the right amount of time and so on. Ask them at the end about it, to ensure they have grasped the concepts.

* Under supervision for safety and teaching purposes.

Beneficial outcomes: With this activity, children will catch on to the concepts of measuring out, following instructions and the benefits of completing tasks in a carefully-planned and well-executed way. As well as practising their motor skills and coordination during the preparation processes, it will stimulate their brains in terms of logic, planning, attention to detail, following instructions, creativity and more.

Our Partnership With Parents

We are keen to provide guidance and support to parents in regard to their child’s education while at home, so that we’re all pulling in the same direction. So, if you are a parent of a child at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more ideas, insights, resources and ideas for activities that will help in your child’s progress.

Likewise, we also value the unique perspective that parents bring, fully appreciating that they will have special insights about their own child. For this reason, we more than welcome feedback from parents. We can then use this to inform our planning and support for each child’s individual growth even more optimally. That’s real teamwork and, together, we’ll all be striving for the same goals for children under our care.

Nursery & Pre-School Places for Children Under 5 in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Are you looking for a nursery or pre-school place for your child in Edgbaston or near Birmingham?

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

We offer not only weekday childcare but also a complete early years education for children under five. We even support free, funded places for those eligible for free childcare through Government schemes. Leaps & Bounds Nursery and Pre-school is located in Edgbaston (B16), near Birmingham, but may also suit those living or working nearby in Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. To request a guided tour of the nursery or to register your child for a place at the setting, please get started using an appropriate button below. We’re also on hand to answer any questions that you may have.

1. Parents is used on this site as a short-hand placeholder for parents, guardians, caregivers etc.

The ‘Progress Check at Two’ Explained

The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is a requirement for all 2-year-olds attending registered childcare settings in England.The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is a requirement for all 2-year-olds attending registered childcare settings in England. This article provides an overview of what it consists of, who is involved in the process, and how the Progress Check at 2 can benefit young children.

The ‘Progress Check at 2’

The Progress Check at 2 is important because it helps to ensure that children are progressing well in key areas of development, at what is a very significant age for them. It is a collaborative effort between a child’s early years or childcare provider, their parents, guardians, or caregivers, and, if applicable, their health visitor. It is a comprehensive assessment of the progress, in all areas of learning and development, of children who have reached the age of two. It is a part of the ongoing assessment process required as part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which sets the curriculum for children attending registered childcare and early years education settings in England. After the assessment is finished, a written summary is given to the child’s parents, guardians, or caregivers.

Why Two?

The age of two is a significant milestone in any child's development.The age of two is a significant milestone in any child’s development, which is why both the Progress Check at 2 and the separate Healthy Child Programme’s 2-Year Review* take place at this age. By this key stage, the progress and attainment of a child’s learning, speech, language, cognitive, physical, social and emotional development will have started to become more apparent. Ensuring that each area is developing optimally at such an early stage will have long-term benefits for the child, so it is important to confirm that everything is on track.

Focus Areas

The Progress Check at 2 is focused on the three “prime” areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum: (1) Communication and Language, (2) Physical Development, and (3) Personal, Social and Emotional Development. However, the early years professionals conducting the progress check may also include information about a child’s progress in the remaining four “specific” areas of the EYFS curriculum if they feel it is appropriate. They are (4) Literacy, (5) Mathematics, (6) Understanding the World, and (7) Expressive Arts and Design.

Key Aims of the Progress Check at 2

The Progress Check at 2 helps determine whether a child is making progress at the expected level for their age and stage of development.The Progress Check at 2 helps primarily to determine whether a child is making progress at the expected level for their age and stage of development. By using the findings of the progress check as a benchmark, it is possible to provide support to optimise the child’s progress going forward. Sharing the results between childcare settings, parents, and any other early years professionals involved allows ongoing support to continue both at home and at the child’s nursery, pre-school, or other childcare setting. Once identified, strengths can be further developed and areas of concern can be addressed through additional help and support if needed. For example, if a specific educational need or disability has been identified, the childcare provider’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) and any necessary health professionals or specialists can work together to create a support plan for the child. This can include strategies and activities to help nurture the child’s progress at nursery and/or at home.

The assessment helps children overcome any areas of difficulty by the time they start school.Ensuring School Readiness for Under-Fives

By conducting the progress check and providing support at an early age, children are more likely to overcome any areas of difficulty by the time they start school. This helps them to avoid falling behind at such a crucial stage of their development. Without this support, they may have a difficult start in school, which could negatively impact their education and development going forward. All in all, the Progress Check at 2 is a vital and powerful tool for helping young children succeed.

*A Clarification:

The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is Not the Same as the ‘2-Year Review’

The Progress Check at 2 is distinct from the Healthy Child Programme’s 2-Year Review, which is also conducted around the same age. While the Progress Check at 2 focuses on a child’s learning and development progress, the 2-Year Review is focused on the child’s health and wellbeing and is carried out by healthcare professionals such as health visitors. They will assess the child’s overall health, immunisation status, physical and mental development, wellbeing, and support from parents, caregivers, or guardians.

While the two reviews address different aspects of a child’s development, there are areas of overlap, and it can be beneficial for them to be conducted concurrently to provide a comprehensive view of the child at this important age. This can help identify any issues that may need to be addressed via appropriate interventions. For this reason, parents, caregivers, or guardians of 2-year-olds are encouraged to allow information about their child to be shared between the professionals involved in each review.

Ofsted inspections also ensure that each child’s Progress Check at 2 is carried out properly at childcare/early years settings. They also recognise the benefits of aligning the Progress check at 2 with the separate 2-Year Review in order to gain a holistic overview of each child.

Nursery & Pre-School Places in Edgbaston, Near Birmingham

Are you in need of a nursery place for your child in or around Edgbaston, near Birmingham?

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

We offer a range of childcare options including free, funded places through various Government schemes. Leaps & Bounds Nursery and Pre-school is located in Edgbaston (B16), near Birmingham, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Please contact us to discuss your childcare needs and the options available for your baby, toddler, or child under five. We’ll be happy to help:

Halloween Fun for Under-Fives!

Halloween on 31st October is a great time to prepare some fun activities for children, including under-fives.Halloween arrives on 31st October, so it’s a great time to prepare for some fun activities for little ones!

Halloween Dressing-Up

Children will absolutely love dressing up in Halloween-themed fancy dress outfits. Although available online commercially, many can instead be home-made. That will not only save money but also give children another fun, creative activity to take part in. For example, a sheet with eye holes strategically cut will make a very effective ghost outfit that children will love wearing. Before you know it they’ll be whizzing around, shouting ‘boo’ at everyone and trying to make them jump. They’ll simply love it and yet it is so simple.

Witches’ outfits are also easy to accomplish, using existing black clothing and an easy-to-make pointy hat made from cardboard and sticky tape. For extra effect, any older clothing that your child no longer needs can have edges cut (by an adult) with scissors so they look ragged and full of character.

Many Halloween costumes are easy to make at home. Some families even make them for the family's pets!Children’s imaginations can run riot with Halloween fancy dress. There are so many themes they can choose from. They could dress up as a witch, a wizard, a character from Harry Potter, a ghoul, zombie or wicked clown from one of the horror films, Harley Quinn, the Joker or even just a skeleton. That’s easy to achieve with some black clothing, white paint and some creative make-up. Many such things can be made at home for little or no cost, requiring only creativity and a little imagination on the part of children and supervising adults.

Halloween Party Time!

Even better — get children together, in their fancy dress, for a Halloween-themed party! Parents and children can even enjoy the preparation itself, making the venue look spooky and atmospheric. For example, adapted cotton wool or commercial offerings can be used to stretch spider webs and cobwebs over objects. Plastic spiders, insects, bats and critters are inexpensive to buy online or from many supermarkets during October too. These can be strategically placed at the scene of the party, along with black balloons, Halloween banners and bunting plus bat and spider window stickers. You can buy Halloween decoration kits and even Halloween photo booth props very inexpensively online.

Add some low lighting provided by some inexpensive Halloween themed string lighting or LED candles  and some spooky music — and the scene is set for a wonderful, very atmospheric Halloween party for the little ones.

Children will enjoy both the Halloween party and the preparations for it!Party bags for all the party guests are also another opportunity for some fun for the children. Some of those plastic spiders, bats and critters will be appreciated (avoid choking hazards, though), perhaps along with other Halloween accessories like stickers and pretend tattoos. Little ones could even put together a little bag of Halloween cookies for children to take home (see more about those below).

Halloween Party Food

Food can even be themed for Halloween, whether at a Halloween party or simply at tea time at home on the day. Little ones can also be involved in this. For example, pumpkin soup is right on theme and is pretty easy to make with help from Mum or Dad (recipes are available online). Children can help scoop out the flesh from pumpkins once adults have done the cutting part.

Children will love helping to make Halloween themed biscuits and other food.They can also help parents make themed cookies, which is another Halloween food example. Bat cookie anyone? Or how about an iced biscuit that looks like a ghost? These can all be made into fun and even educational activities for young children — with adult supervision for safety, of course. Helping to mix the cookie mixture, designing the spooky shapes and adding the creative icing are all good, fun activities for little ones.

Be mindful to take care of children’s safety around the kitchen, heat sources and sharp things like knives and scissors, though.

Carved Pumpkins

Going back to pumpkins, of course another great activity that kids will adore — even really little ones — is decorating carved pumpkins. Families can even pick their own locally (here are some pumpkin patches and farms around Edgbaston and Birmingham). Obviously, for safety, adults will need to do the part where the flesh and shaped holes are carved with sharp tools. Thereafter, though, children can get involved with tasks like scooping out the loosened flesh with a spoon, perhaps Carved Halloween pumpkin designs. They can also be decorated by children using markers, dye or paint.saving seeds so they can be grown into new pumpkin plants next year, putting aside flesh to make soup and — the best part — decorating the pumpkin. The outside ‘face’ or other design can be outlined, perhaps, using acrylic paint or a spirit marker. Even the inside can be coloured, using food dye, for extra effect once illuminated later when it’s dark. Children can decorate the pumpkins as much or as little as they like, whether simply outlining features with a black marker or adding self-adhesive stars or even glitter. Once ready, children can put an LED (fake) candle inside to illuminate the pumpkin when it’s dark. Or, if it’s being placed outside away from children, animals and anything flammable, real tea lights can be used inside the pumpkin, so long as adults supervise lighting and ensure that everyone is kept well clear thereafter. Either way, illuminated pumpkins will be a lovely thing to see and something that children will find fascinating, enthralling and very atmospheric. And, if they’ve been involved in their creation, they are something children can feel be proud of.

A Very Special Night for Children

A youngster helping with the pumpkin decoration and design.All in all, Halloween can be a very special and enjoyable night for children of all ages. Even the tiniest children will find joy in dressing up, getting together with friends to compare outfits, seeing the Halloween-themed decorations and helping to make pumpkins or spooky biscuits! If you’re thinking of organising something for your little one(s), ensure you start preparations in advance so you’re all set by the time the 31st of October arrives. Then, get ready for a memorable night!

A High Quality Nursery & Pre-School in Edgbaston, near Birmingham

Our exceptional Edgbaston childcare service will give your baby or under-five child the very best start in life.

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted. Leaps & Bounds is a highly-rated childcare nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham. We’re also very convenient to those living or working near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick We accept recognised childcare vouchers and support all Government childcare funding schemes. Examples include free childcare for eligible 2-year-olds, free childcare for 3 & 4-year-olds, student parents using student childcare grants and tax-free childcare for those who are eligible. To register for a nursery place for your child, request a guided tour or simply ask a question, please get in touch via one of the following:

An Introduction to Baby-Led Weaning

Today we look at what baby-led weaning is, how it differs from traditional weaning and what its benefits are.Today we look at the topic of baby-led weaning in a follow-up to our last post all about traditional weaning. But what is baby-led weaning? How is it different to traditional weaning and what are its potential benefits? Let’s take a look.

What is Baby-Led Weaning?

Baby-led weaning is the process of letting your baby feed themselves pieces of appropriate ‘finger food’ i.e. by picking them up with their fingers. This is in contrast to a parent/carer feeding a baby puréed or mashed food via a spoon. But which method is best? Well, although some parents have a preferred method, there is currently no compelling evidence proving that one or other is the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ method. Indeed, some parents may wish to combine both approaches. More often than not, whether a baby gets on better with traditional spoon-feeding, baby-led finger food meals or a combination of the two comes down to what suits your baby or yourself best. There are some considerations, though.

What are the Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning?

There are several potential benefits of baby-led weaning.While traditional weaning has its own benefits, baby-led weaning has it’s own set too:

    • Baby-led weaning encourages the baby to learn to chew, even if that means they first learn to ‘gum’ food before swallowing (especially if they, like most babies, don’t yet have teeth). This chewing element is all good practice of a new skill that they don’t yet need with the traditional purée approach.
    • This means they’re strengthening their face muscles and jaws and learning to better control mouth and tongue movements.
    • Baby-led weaning encourages development of fine motor skills. Picking up the food themselves means infants are using a mix of finger and hand movements, honing hand-eye coordination and also practising hand-to-mouth actions.
    • Baby-led weaning lets the baby go at their own pace. They are in control of their feeding and not being governed by the parents pushing spoons at them. That’s potentially much more relaxed as a feeding mechanism.
    • It may also encourage them to eat a healthier diet later on. As they grow, they are sampling foods and textures in their true state, not processed into an unrecognisable purée or mash.
    • Baby-led weaning may even help to reduce child obesity as the child is totally in control of their food intake. They can stop feeding when full, which is somewhat in contrast to being led by parents feeding via a spoon.

As we said above, though, it’s up to parents to decide which of the two weaning approaches they prefer. Indeed many will use a combination of both traditional and baby-led weaning. The important thing is to ensure that your baby gets all the vitamins and nutrients that are essential to good health and development. A varied diet will help with that.

When to Begin Baby-Led Weaning

Many parents use a combination of both traditional and baby-led weaning.Except in special cases, it is normal to start any kind of weaning around the age of six months and the same is true for baby-led weaning. This is usually done by introducing a just small amount of solids per day initially. This can be done at any time of the day and does not have to follow usual feeding times. The idea of the small initial introduction is to get your infant used to taking solids in addition to their breast or formula milk. Indeed, their milk remains the most important part of their diet right up until the age of one.

It is common for babies to be reluctant at first, so don’t worry if they reject the food at first. Try again another day, again with just a small amount. Remember your little one is getting used to new tastes, textures and a completely different feeding process that’s in complete contrast to what they’ve been used to with only milk. So, some initial resistance is likely.

Which Foods to Try First

Firstly, remember that weaning is the process of gradually changing over from milk to solids. So, for at least the first year, the baby should continue to drink milk (breast milk or first infant formula) alongside any solids that you are introducing from the age of 6 months. What’s more, it’s sensible to give the solids first, then feed milk afterwards, otherwise the baby’s tiny stomach may fill up on milk and leave no room for the new solids. Cows’ milk should not be used before the age of 12 months, unless used as an ingredient in cooked (i.e. heated) meals.

Also important never give any hard foods like uncooked vegetables or hard fruit to babies/infants as they will not be able to ‘gum’ it. Moreover, hard pieces like those represent a possible choking hazard. The food pieces therefore need to be soft enough for you to be able to mash with your fingers — and therefore for your toddler to bite or ‘gum’. After all, most at this age will have no teeth. So, keep it soft and cut into small, finger-sized (narrow baton shaped) pieces for your baby to hold and, hopefully, self-feed from the top end downwards. Avoid round shapes and firm foods and always stay with your child when they’re feeding.

Be patient and accept that it'll be messy at first.Fruit and vegetables are probably the easiest finger foods to start with.

  • Vegetables like carrots, broccoli, potato, yam and/or parsnips can all be boiled until soft, suitably cooled for safety and cut up into the small, finger-sized pieces.
  • Banana can also easily be given as finger food because it’s a suitably soft fruit.
  • Very soft pears may also suit, although harder pears and apples should be part-boiled until soft enough. Again, ensure they are suitably cooled before serving.

It’s wise, though, not to give your child too many sweet-tasting foods (e.g. sweet potato, carrots, fruit) and ensure they’re also getting plenty of the less sweet food types included in the listings above. Otherwise they may miss some of the more subtle flavours and naturally gravitate towards sweeter tastes. In so doing, they run the risk of getting a ‘sweet tooth’ that’s not particularly good for them.

Later On

Soft finger foods like banana are suited to baby-led weaning.Between 6 to 7 months, additional soft foods can be given as finger foods. So, you could add small fingers of ripe avocado, ripe (i.e. soft) mango and soft melon. You can also try your infant on soft cheese fingers using mozzarella or ricotta (never before 6 months though), so long as they’re made from pasteurised milk and are not mould-ripened (like Brie), veined (like Stilton) nor made from ripened goats’ cheese. Cheeses high in salt and saturated fats should also be avoided for the young. Omelette fingers are also a good choice, so long as the eggs are fully cooked and anything added to a Spanish omelette (e.g. vegetables) is also sufficiently soft.

From 8 to 9 months, try adding thinly sliced strawberries, raspberries and/or blueberries. You can also try your little one with steamed or boiled (then suitably cooled) green beans and peas. Cooked and cooled whole wheat pasta, hummus and minced chicken, turkey or beef may also be appealing to your little one. From 9 months your infant’s fine motor skills will be more refined and their improved grip will now allow them to pick up tiny pieces of bite-sized food, hence adding some of those smaller items from this age. Soon, they may also be able to copy your use of a spoon, so encourage this by giving them a soft weaning spoon. It may take a while, but they’ll eventually get the hang of it.

By the age of 1, infants' meals can start to look more similar to standard family meals.By the age of 10 to 12 months, your little one’s food offerings start to look much more similar to standard family meals. For example they may have progressed to cooked pasta and cut-up meatballs (or the vegetarian/vegan equivalent). They may now enjoy pitta bread pieces with hummus, perhaps cut-up cheese sandwiches (see aforementioned note about cheeses and also avoid bread that’s got added salt). Steamed/boiled potatoes or vegetables with shredded chicken, turkey or beef are another option – all, of course, suitably cooled and cut into small pieces for the child.

While they are progressing from 6 months to a year, ensure you gradually introduce more of the important food types (fruit and veg, starchy foods, proteins and dairy). Ensure they try a variety of tastes and textures too.

More Information about Weaning

The NHS has lots of useful information about weaning. Watch a useful NHS video and learn more about weaning infants, including a few safety tips, here.

Safety Around Weaning

Ensure you are fully familiar with all the potential safety issues and precautions around weaning before you start the process. In particular, make sure you are up to speed about what to do if your baby chokes and never allow your infant to feed without constant vigilance and supervision. We outlined several safety suggestions in our last post (available here) to get you started. A more detailed NHS guide about Safe Weaning is also available here (don’t miss each of the pale blue ‘tabs’ as each has hidden information that’s incredibly useful and important).

Outstanding Childcare Services in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Nursery & Pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted. Leaps & Bounds is a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham, also being near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. We support free childcare schemes from the Government, including free childcare for eligible 2-year-olds, free childcare for 3 & 4-year-olds, student childcare grants and tax-free childcare for eligible families. We are also officially a good nursery according to Ofsted.

If you are looking for high quality childcare for your baby or child under five, we’d love to hear from you. Please click a button to get started:

 

30+ Food Safety & Hygiene Tips for Parents

Poor standards around food preparation could make children very ill, or even prove fatal.Hygiene and safety around food preparation is important to everyone’s health and wellbeing. However, it’s even more important for babies, infants and toddlers. At this age they are fragile and have low resilience against bacteria, toxins and potential food poisoning. The fall-out from poor standards around food preparation could therefore make little ones very ill or, in the worst cases, even prove fatal. With that in mind, today’s article outlines ways that parents/guardians of children can take appropriate precautions when preparing and serving food to little ones.

Hygiene in the Kitchen

It’s important that any food preparation is done in a clean and hygienic environment. This helps to prevent the spread of germs and cross-contamination of foods.

  • Always clean surfaces before preparing or serving food on them.Always clear and clean your surfaces.
  • Ensure pets to not walk on surfaces where food may be prepared or eaten.
  • Make sure, if using a cleaning product like a spray, that it does not come into contact with any of the foods or plate surfaces that food will go onto.
  • Make sure that all kitchen utensils are clean and have been washed in warm soapy water or in the dishwasher.
  • Remember to keep sinks clean and hygienic too.
  • Keep fridge and cupboard door handles, cooker knobs and hobs clean and hygienic.
  • Ensure that tea towels and hand towels are fresh and regularly washed to prevent the further spread of germs.

Personal Hygiene Around Food

There are also things that you can do on a personal level to keep hygiene and food safety levels high for your family:

  • Always wash hands before preparing food, and rinse them well.Tie long hair back to avoid it coming into contact with food.
  • Always wash hands before preparing food, and rinse them well.
  • If you feel unwell, for example with a tummy bug, try and ask a family member or friend to help with food preparation so you avoid spreading germs to your child.
  • Ensure your fridge is set to the correct temperature to keep food cold and the door kept closed whenever possible.
  • Ensure the fridge is kept clean and always clear up spillages or leaks there right away.
  • Try to avoid smoking while preparing food. Second-hand smoke and smoke residue is not at all good for children.

Precautions Around Food Preparation

Preparation of the food itself is, of course, an important consideration when it comes to hygiene and avoiding germs getting into children’s meals.

Always wash fruit and vegetables before preparing. Peeling vegetables is also a good precaution.

  • Always wash your hands before preparing or handling food.
  • Wash vegetables, salad, fruit etc. and even peel some types of vegetable, particularly root vegetables that have been grown in earth.
  • Avoid giving eggs to children younger than 6 months of age. If giving chickens’ eggs to children aged 6 months or older, ensure they are stamped with the Red Lion or ‘British Lion Quality’ mark if serving raw or only lightly cooked. All other eggs must be thoroughly cooked i.e. so that the yolk and egg whites become firm. That includes eggs from ducks, geese and quails.
  • Make sure all foods are thoroughly cooked.
  • Pay particular care to the cooking of fish, seafood and shellfish, ensuring that it’s cooked thoroughly.
  • Allow the cooked food to cool for a short time, testing that it’s become lukewarm, before feeding it to your child. You can place the hot food in an airtight container and run it under cold water, stirring periodically, to cool it faster.

Cooling & Storing Food

A safe approach to food cooling and storage is also incredibly important for the wellbeing of you, your child and family.

  • Do not let pets on work surfaces or dining tables.Always store raw meat and fish away from other foods. Store each separately in covered containers on the bottom shelf of the fridge. This prevents drips falling onto other foods.
  • When saving cooked food to store in the fridge or freezer for later use, try to cool it as quickly as possible — ideally within one or two hours (N.B. for rice, see below) and put it straight into the fridge or freezer once cold.
  • Rice is a special case due to the possible build-up of toxins. It must be cooled within one hour and eaten within 24 hours. Never reheat rice more than once. Learn more about the dangers of reheating rice here.
  • If freezing foods, label and date them, so they can be used in an appropriate time frame.

Reheating Food

Reheating food also needs to be done in the right way in order to keep families safe and well:.

  • It's best to cook eggs until whites and yolk become firm.Do not reheat rice or cooked food more than once. As we said above, particular care needs to be taken with rice.
  • Always defrost frozen food thoroughly before cooking — either in the fridge overnight or by using defrost mode in a microwave.
  • When reheating food, always ensure it is the correct temperature for your child to eat otherwise it could burn them if too hot or not be safe to eat if not cooked sufficiently.
  • If reheating meals in the microwave, be very careful as it can retain the heat more and continue cooking even once taken out of the microwave.

Things Your Child Can Do

You should also inform and teach your child about hygiene and food safety. Leading by example and explaining why you’re going what you’re doing is a good approach.

  • Remind your child to wash their hands before they eat.Remind your child to wash their hands before they eat and that it’s a matter of hygiene.
  • Try to ensure your child is seated and calm for eating. A child who is running around or playing is at greater risk of choking when eating.
  • It goes almost without saying that you should avoid allowing children to eat when they are seated on the potty or toilet.

Food Safety, Hygiene & Quality Assurance At Leaps & Bounds Nursery

We follow best practices for food preparation at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and have a 5-star food hygiene rating.We do, of course, follow all best practices at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. We are rated with the full 5 stars in terms of food hygiene and preparation and also won the Gold Quality Award, Birmingham City Council’s “Healthy Setting Award” and have completed various quality assurance schemes.

Nursery Places in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds: Ofsted-rated as a ‘Good’ Nursery & Pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

If you are looking for high quality weekday childcare for your baby or child under five, ensure you choose a nursery that’s highly rated by Ofsted — Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and pre-school for example. Leaps & Bounds is officially a good nursery and pre-school, located in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.It is also very near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick, so will be convenient for childcare services if you live or work in any of those locations. We accept children funded through the Government schemes like 15 hours per week of free childcare for 2-year-olds, 15-30 hours per week of free childcare for  3 & 4-year-olds, childcare grants for students and tax-free childcare too (all subject to eligibility, of course). Interested?

Please choose a button to get started on a guided visit, nursery application or simply to find out more:

A Final Word

While this guide is primarily about hygiene around food, it would be remiss of us not to include the following additional reminders:

  • Only feed your child age-appropriate foods. This is particularly important when they are babies;
  • Avoid any known allergens (if your child is allergic) and any foods they are intolerant to;
  • Avoid foods that are known to be potentially harmful. For example, foods that are too high in salt, sugar and saturated fats, contain arsenic in the case of rice drinks, or contain mercury in the case of some fish/seafood. Choking hazards like whole nuts and olives are other examples to avoid. See our A-Z of foods to avoid giving your infant for more details.
  • Always check ingredients and age guidelines on food packaging, including formula milks.
  • Always ensure you are giving your baby or child a healthy, balanced, age-appropriate diet and one that uses portion sizes that are appropriate to their age and developmental stage.
  • Be vigilant when cooking to ensure your child is not exposed to dangers like hot ovens, hot hobs, boiling kettles, trailing electrical leads and so on.

Guide to Formula Milks - At a Glance

There are various options available for children who are not being breastfed, have allergies, are lactose intolerant, or need a non-standard alternative for some reason.Today we give you an at-a-glance guide to the various types of formula milks available for babies and infants. Options are there for children who are not being breastfed, are allergic to cows’ milk, are lactose intolerant, or need a non-standard alternative for one reason or another. Informative notes are also included for further guidance. We also include a list of ‘milks’ that are totally unsuitable for little ones, for further clarification.

Take a look & feel free to bookmark or share.

Quick Guide to Formula Milks — Types & Purposes

Formula MilksTypical UseNotes & Warnings
First Infant Formula Milk (a.k.a. First Milk)Usually the standard formula milk for babies aged from birth up to 12 months, if not breastfeeding — unless a GP directs otherwise.Based on cows’ milk. Contains casein, whey and a good balance of vitamins & nutrients.
Lactose-Free Formula MilkIntended for lactose intolerant babies/infants.Only to be given under the direction of a medical professional (e.g. GP, Health Visitor or Midwife).
Anti-Reflux Formula Milk (a.k.a. Staydown Milk)Designed to prevent reflux in babies so they don’t bring the milk up during/after feeds. When appropriate, it is suitable from birth.Only to be given under the direction of a medical professional (e.g. GP, Health Visitor or Midwife). Preparation, temperature, storage and safety considerations are critically important, so instructions must be closely adhered to.
Hypoallergenic Formula MilkIntended for babies and infants allergic to cows’ milk and any formula/milks containing it. When appropriate, it is suitable from birth.Only to be given under the direction of a medical professional (e.g. GP, Health Visitor or Midwife).
Comfort Formula MilkContains partially hydrolysed (partially broken down) cows’ milk proteins and is marketed as easier, in theory, to digest and less prone to causing constipation or colic than standard formula milk.Note that the NHS reports that it has seen no compelling evidence that it achieves what it claims. Only to be given under the direction of a medical professional (e.g. GP, Health Visitor or Midwife). Do not feed to those who are allergic to cows’ milk.
Goats’ Milk FormulaAn alternative to formula milk made from cows’ milk and available in different varieties. When appropriate, it is suitable from birth. Note that infants will be just as likely to be allergic to goats’ milk formula if they are allergic to cows’ milk formula.
Hungrier Baby Formula Milk (a.k.a. Hungry Milk)Marketed as suitable, in theory, for hungrier babies through increased levels of casein protein.Note that the NHS reports that it has seen no compelling evidence that it has any advantage over standard formula.The advice of a medical professional (e.g. GP, Health Visitor or Midwife) is recommended before feeding this to infants.
Good Night MilkContains added cereal and is marketed as suitable, in theory, for feeding to babies (6 months +) just before bedtime.Note that the NHS reports that it has seen no compelling evidence that it has any advantage over standard formula.The advice of a medical professional (e.g. GP, Health Visitor or Midwife) is recommended before feeding this to infants. Never feed to babies below 6 months.
Soya Formula MilkMarketed as an alternative, in theory, to formula/milks that are based on cows’ milk, for babies 6 months or over.Note: The advice of a medical professional (e.g. GP, Health Visitor or Midwife) should always be sought before feeding this to infants. It contains oestrogen-mimicking phytoestrogens, which are a concern in relation to the developing reproductive system in the young. It also contains sugars, which are potentially harmful to teeth. Never feed to babies below 6 months.
Growing-Up Milk (a.k.a. Toddler Milk)Marketed as an alternative, in theory, to whole cows’ milk, for infants aged 12 months or over.Note that the NHS reports that it has seen no compelling evidence that it has any advantage over whole cows’ milk. The advice of a medical professional (e.g. GP, Health Visitor or Midwife) is recommended before giving this to little ones.
Follow-on Formula MilkMarketed as suitable, in theory, as an alternative to First Infant Formula once infants reach the age of 6 months or over.Note: the NHS suggests that First Infant Formula is actually better for infants during the first year than so called Follow-on Formula milks The advice of a medical professional (e.g. GP, Health Visitor or Midwife) is recommended before switching to Follow-on Formula and always read the label.

Milks to Avoid Drinking Under 12 Months

The following are so-called ‘milks’ (as opposed to formula milks) that the NHS advises () should never be given to children under 1 — or even older in some cases, as you’ll see:

Rice Milk & Rice Drinks (rice contains arsenic – avoid under the age of 5)Soya Milk (contains phytoestrogens, which mimic the female hormone)Oat Milk
Almond Milk Evaporated Milk / Condensed Milk (sometimes contains added sugar)Dried Milk (powdered cow’s milk)
Cows’, Goats’ or Sheep’s Milk (only OK as a drink from age 1 if pasteurised, or if pasteurised and used in cooking)Skimmed Milk (a.k.a. 1% Milk) – avoid under the age of 5 as too low in calories.Semi-Skimmed Milk – avoid under the age of 2 and then only give as a main drink if the child is eating a balanced diet, is growing at an appropriate rate for their age, and is not underweight.

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.We hope that our guide is useful to you. Please feel free to share it on social media, or to bookmark it in your browser if so. Do come back to our early years blog area regularly. Here, we’ll post useful guides, ‘how to’ articles and well-researched, useful information for parents, carers and guardians of little ones.

A Nursery Place for your Child in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Nursery/pre-school places for babies, toddlers and under-5s in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Mother and child with bottled formula milk.Are you looking for a nursery or pre-school place for your baby, toddler or under-five child? Leaps & Bounds is a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham and is also conveniently near for those living or working in Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. We support Government schemes for free childcare for 2-year-olds, 3 & 4-year-olds, students and more and offer exceptional early years childcare and education. Please select a button below to apply for a nursery place, to ask any questions or to arrange a visit:

Safety Notice

N.B. always ensure products are age-appropriate. Carefully read product labels and follow their instructions closely. Check expiry dates before use (ready-made ‘liquid’ formula milks usually have shorter lifespans, for example).

Seasonal Allergies in Under-Fives - A Rough Guide

Seasonal allergies: how to recognise symptoms, causes and how to treat them.In our last post all about food allergies, we also briefly touched upon seasonal allergies in young children. Today, we take a closer look at those and explain how to recognise their symptoms, what causes them and perhaps most importantly, how to treat them. Also known as “Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis” and, in the case of pollen allergies, “Hay Fever”, seasonable allergies can be miserable for children affected. It’s therefore important to alleviate any symptoms, or at the very least find workarounds, wherever possible. Doing so will make affected children more comfortable and able to breathe more easily.

What are the Causes of Seasonal Allergies?

As the name suggests, seasonal allergies are more prevalent at certain parts of the year than others, usually being worse during spring, summer and/or autumn. They are caused by an allergic reaction to such things as tree pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen, dust mites, mould and pet dander, Seasonal allergies can be caused by an allergic reaction to pollen, dust mites, mould and pet dander.which are present in the air that the child breathes. The child’s immune system treats such allergens as invaders, defensively reacting to them by releasing the protein histamine into the bloodstream as part of its wider physiological response. It is this specific protein that triggers the unwelcome symptoms experienced by the child.

Children can be more prone to seasonal allergies if they have a family history of allergies.

What are the Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies in Children?

Itchy ear canals is one less common symptom of a seasonal allergy.The symptoms of seasonal allergy are similar, but not identical, to what we often refer to as having ‘a cold’. The most common symptoms of a seasonal allergy include nasal congestion, a clear, runny nose, an itchy nose, throat and/or roof of the mouth, sneezing and a ‘postnasal drip’ (dripping of mucus from the back of the nasal cavity directly into the throat). The latter can also cause persistent coughing, perhaps accompanied by wheezing and shortness of breath. Although similar to a cold in many respects, the symptoms of seasonal allergy are different in that they do not include a fever, any cough is usually a ‘dry’ one and nasal congestion is clear and watery rather than thick and cloudy as you might expect if the cause was a cold. Another difference is that a seasonal allergy may persist for weeks or even months, unlike a cold, which generally goes within a fortnight or so.

Sometimes seasonal allergy symptoms go on to trigger asthma for those who suffer from it. Children with eczema may also find symptoms worsening when they also have a seasonal allergy.

If a child develops shortness of breath or tightness in their chest, seek urgent medical advice in case the cause turns out to be something more serious than a seasonal allergy. It’s always best to be cautious with the health of little ones.

Children's eyes can also become red, puffy or watery during an episode of seasonal allergy.Children’s eyes can also become red, puffy or watery during an episode of seasonal allergy. They may also exhibit dark circles under their eyes and little ones may also seem more irritable, restless and generally fatigued. Another symptom often seen in children with a seasonal allergy is breathing with their mouth open — simply because their noses are so congested. Children with the disorder may also have trouble sleeping, develop headaches and even get itchy ear canals.

What is the Prevalence of Seasonal Allergies in Babies & Young Children?

Seasonal allergies can develop at any age.Although seasonal allergies can develop at any age, it’s important to stress that they are very rare among babies and infants aged up to 12 months. The earliest that seasonal allergies tend to start, if at all, is once children reach the age of 1 to 2. At that age, the seasonal allergen itself is most likely to be an indoor allergen like dust mites, mould or pet dander rather than outdoor allergens such as pollen or grass. If a child is going to develop a seasonal allergy, it’s much more likely to begin between 3 and 5, although most young children who do develop seasonal allergy may only start noticing symptoms as they get closer to the age of 10. Others may develop it as late as 20.

How Do You Treat the Symptoms of a Seasonal Allergy in Infants?

It’s important to try to relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies in babies, toddlers and children as it’s an unpleasant affliction to live with and can also lead to ear and/or sinus infections if left untreated.

Medical Treatments

GPs, paediatricians and allergists/immunologists can all help to professionally diagnose and treat seasonal allergies. Treatments prescribed by such medical professionals may include child-safe antihistamines, nasal, oral or ocular (eye) sprays and/or even allergy shots, however the latter are seldom prescribed for the very young. Children whose eyes suffer particularly badly around pollen may even be advised to wear goggles when venturing outdoors, to keep the pollen out.

How Parents/Carers Can Help at Home

There are also things that parents/carers can do to help little ones overcome the symptoms of seasonal allergies. The most powerful and obvious one is to keep little ones away from the sources of the allergens that affect them. Keeping track of pollen counts (often given along with the weather reports on TV) and keeping children indoors on days when the count is high is going to help. Keeping pollen out of the house is also key. Hence, vacuuming thoroughly with a vacuum that has a HEPA (high efficiency particulate arresting) filter, keeping windows closed, taking shoes off when coming indoors, regularly dusting, washing sheets, blankets, clothes and curtains etc. and showering/bathing children who’ve been outdoors will all help to reduce pollen, dust mites and other allergens within the household. Drying washing in a dryer, instead of drying it naturally outside, will also help to limit the amount of allergens around affected children. Children’s hair will also trap allergens, so this should also be washed regularly to remove such allergens. Some air conditioners have pollen filters that can help to reduce the number of allergens and dust in the air, as do some free-standing air purification machines.

If the problem is pet dander, pets may also need to receive regular baths or showers.If the problem is pet dander, pets may also need to receive regular baths or showers (where appropriate and safe for them to do so) to remove dander from their fur or feathers — perhaps once a week. If the child’s allergy to dander is severe, it may even mean that pets and children need to keep to their own areas around the home, and children taught not to cuddle or stroke them.

If dust mites are causing the allergic reaction in your child, consider switching pillows and blankets to synthetic materials or even use specialist fabrics and airtight covers that block the passage of dust mites in bedding. Regularly wash bedding, pillow cases and even soft toys on a hot setting and tumble dry rather than exposing them to pollens on an outdoor washing line. Carpeting and rugs can also be a host for dust mites so consider switching to another type of flooring that can be cleaned more thoroughly, e.g. laminate flooring. Specially-treated mop heads can even be sourced to clean them. Putting smaller items in the freezer for several hours each week will also kill dust mites, particularly if followed up by a hot wash and tumble dry afterwards.

Mould is also a common allergen.Mould is also a common allergen. Try to keep children away from it anyway (it’s not healthy) and, better still, eradicate it completely. Any leaks, plumbing or drainage issues should therefore be fixed, including outdoor defects if present, as they might otherwise allow the ingress of moisture to the indoors. Dehumidifiers will help to remove moisture from the air indoors, and adequate ventilation around the home will help to stop any mould taking hold (that’s if ventilation is practical, should the child also be allergic to pollen). Extractor fans in bathrooms, showers and kitchens will also help to vent moist air to the outside. Anti-mould paint, grout and sealants are available too, for problem areas like bathrooms, although bathroom and shower walls, tiling, shower curtains or screens etc. will be less likely to become habitats for mould if they’re squeegeed and dried after use. Drying damp towels and flannels in tumble driers will also help, rather than leaving them lying around. Also be mindful not to over-water houseplants, which should be kept away from affected children, and ensure any firewood is stored outdoors. Lastly, keep washing machine doors ajar when not in use and regularly clean the door seals as these can otherwise harbour mould.

We hope that this rough guide to seasonal allergies in under-fives has been useful to parents and carers of little ones.

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A Nursery Place at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Are you looking a nursery or pre-school place for your child in Edgbaston — or near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Please get in touch if you are looking for a high quality childcare place for your baby, toddler or under-five child at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Our wonderful weekday childcare service is also convenient if you live/work near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. Come and see the nursery in action and bring along your little one – we’ll be happy to show you around and to answer any questions. We’ll also be happy to clarify any free childcare options for 2-year-olds, 3 & 4-year-olds, students and more. Please choose a button below to get in touch or to get started with a place for your child:

Food Allergens for Infants - A Rough Guide

Amongst children aged up to two, the incidence of proven food allergies is only 5% and such reactions are generally mild.We previously looked at the types of food for parents to avoid giving infants and now follow up with a separate post about foods that are most likely to cause allergic reactions in the very young.

Some reactions towards food are also not true allergies, in the scientific sense. For those that are, it’s important to stress that severe allergic reactions (a.k.a. ‘Anaphylaxis’) in infants under one are rare. However such severe reactions should always be treated as a medical emergency. Even amongst children aged up to two, though, the incidence of proven food allergies is only 5% and such reactions are generally mild. Nonetheless, parents, carers and guardians of infants will naturally want to be cautious. Today’s post discusses the food types that most commonly cause allergic reactions and how they can be introduced to infants.

Severe allergic reactions (Anaphylaxis) in infants under one are rare, however such reactions should be treated as a medical emergency.

Symptoms to Look Out For

So, what are the symptoms of an allergic reaction? The NHS lists symptoms like sneezing, wheezing, coughing and a blocked or runny nose as possible signs of an allergic reaction. Itchy, red, watery eyes or a red, itchy rash are also possible signs, as are worsening symptoms of eczema or asthma.

The Most Common Food Allergens

According to the NHS, the 8 food types that are most likely to cause allergic reactions are:

Cows’ milkEggs
Gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye, oats etc.)Nuts including peanuts*
Seeds & seed derivatives*Soya
Shellfish*Fish

* We touched upon some of these ingredients in our A-Z Guide to Foods to Avoid Giving Infants but will mention the following again: seeds and nuts, including peanuts, should only be served to under-fives crushed, ground or as a ‘butter’ as they are otherwise a choking hazard; eggs should be avoided before the age of 6 months and thereafter never be served raw/lightly cooked except if they exhibit the Red Lion or “British Lion Quality” stamp; shellfish should also never be served to infants raw or lightly cooked.

Always read food labels carefully.

Eggs are one of the 8 food types that are most likely to cause allergic reactions, according to the NHS.Mustard, celery, the preservative/antioxidant sulphur dioxide, the legume lupin and molluscs are the next most common food allergens after those listed in the table above. Kiwi, the fruit, is also known to cause allergic reactions in some infants, however is apparently the only potential allergen out of those listed above that doesn’t have to be listed, by law, on the ingredients list of pre-packaged food products.

When to Start Watching Out for Allergens

The NHS recommends slowly introducing the food types above, usually from about the age of 6 months if they’re developmentally ready. This is the age when babies most commonly start the process of weaning i.e. moving – gradually – towards eating solids. Start only when the infant is well, including having a good skin condition, because eczema is a possible sign of an existing allergy. The NHS strongly recommends that you talk to a GP or health visitor before introducing new foods to infants who are already known to have an allergy diagnosis or family history of allergies, including eczema, asthma and hay fever.

Any ‘new’ food types, particularly known allergens from the list above, should be introduced to the infant only one at a time, preferably early in the day so that you have more time to monitor for any reactions. Accepted advice is to start only with a tiny initial amount and monitor for possible symptoms of an allergic reaction. When the introduction of peanuts was delayed to a later time in the child's development, the risk of developing an allergic reaction to them increased.Amounts can later be increased, bit by bit over the following days, if the infant is found to be tolerant. And, of course, a new food type can then be tried only once the previous one has ‘passed the test’. However, bear in mind that some allergic reactions are far from immediate. Known as non-IgE food allergies, their symptoms can take anywhere from 2 hours to 3 days to show. So, the message is to be very careful and methodical when it comes to introducing new foods to your infant.1

1: More detail about IgE (rapid) and non-IgE (delayed) allergy symptoms and other useful information about the introduction of potential allergens to infants can be read in a very good article by baby and child nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed.

Once introduced and shown to be tolerated by the infant, the new foods should then remain a part of the child’s usual diet and be eaten regularly. This minimises the chances of the child developing an allergy to such food types later on. Interestingly, where the introduction of peanuts and hens’ eggs has been delayed to a later time in the child’s development, the risk of developing an allergic reaction to them has actually increased. So, the risks need to be carefully balanced.

Special Mention: Milk Conundrums

The NHS recommends “exclusive breastfeeding or First Infant Formula” milk for babies during their first six monthsThe NHS recommends “exclusive breastfeeding or First Infant Formula” milk for babies during their first six months (and, indeed, breastfeeding has many benefits). Breastfeeding is not always possible though, for one reason or another, which is where the mention of First Infant Formula comes in. However, with standard First Infant Formula Milk being based on cows’ milk, and cows’ milk being one of the food types that infants are most commonly allergic or intolerant to, a healthcare professional will need to be consulted in the event of a reaction. For those found to have Cows’ Milk Allergy (‘CMA’), alternatives like Hypoallergenic Formula Milk, Lactose-Free Formula Milk or even Soya Formula Milk may be suggested by the GP/healthcare professional. However, it’s important for such milk alternatives to be given only under professional medical supervision as there are important and specific considerations around each. We explain more about those in a separate where we outline the different types of milk and formula for babies and infants.

Another milk-related conundrum that nursing mothers may have is whether they should avoid potential allergens themselves in case it passes to the infant through breast milk. The NHS’s advice in this regard is succinct and straight forward:

“If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you do not need to avoid foods that can trigger allergic reactions (including peanuts), unless you’re allergic to them.” (NHS)

Please note: We hope guide is a useful starting point for parents/guardians who want to learn more about safely introducing little ones to new food types. However, it is a guide only and you should do your own research. Talk to your GP, health visitor or other healthcare professional if you need professional advice or guidance in regard to your child’s diet and any allergy- or health-related issues. Always check food labels and contact the emergency services urgently if your child exhibits signs of a severe allergic reaction.

Healthy Food at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Healthy snacks are included in the fees at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston/Birmingham.Meals at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery are freshly made, using high quality, nutritious ingredients, which are prepared for us by award-winning early years caterers. Healthy snacks, meals and drinks are all included in our nursery fees, as appropriate. We cater for all dietary needs (e.g. vegan, vegetarian etc.) and, of course, are mindful — and hugely careful — about any allergies amongst the little ones. We also participate in the ‘Startwell’ programme, which encourages our children and families in the Birmingham area to eat healthy meals and to live healthy lifestyles.

Searching for the best nurseries or pre-schools in Edgbaston, Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Please get in touch if you would like to visit Leaps & Bounds or to enrol your baby, toddler or under-five child at this excellent childcare setting. We are a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham but are equally convenient for those who live or work in Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Why not bring your child along to see the nursery in action and to ask us any questions that you may have. You can also apply for a place if you’re ready to make a decision about your childcare. Please choose a button below to get started:

Next Time

Today’s article focuses on food that may cause allergic reactions in infants. We subsequently follow up with a great guide to Seasonal Allergies in Under-Fives. Instead of being caused by food, seasonal allergies are caused by such things as pollen, dust, mould and pet dander at certain times of the year. Click the green link above to learn about symptoms, causes and ways to help children affected by such allergies.