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:

12 Reasons to Learn a Musical Instrument – for under-5s

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was only 6, as depicted here, when he started performing music at the imperial court.Have you ever noticed that children are naturally happy when music is playing? They also seem to be instinctively aware that music is fun and interactive. Whether singing along or jigging to the beat, an affinity with music is natural to most little ones. It is simply something to be enjoyed. However, the benefits of music go much deeper than simple enjoyment. So, today we give you the top reasons why every child should take music a step further and learn to play a musical instrument. Doing so will help in their learning and development, teach them new skills and enrich their lives profoundly. The benefits are simply amazing …

1. Learning a musical Instrument Aids Cognitive Development

Learning any new skill will boost cognitive development, in the very young in particular. Learning a musical instrument takes that to a whole new level, though, as it has so many facets. The children are learning a new skill, playing notes while reading music, focusing on details, working out the time signature, notation, phrasing, rhythm, tempo and more, all at the same time! It’s a huge thing to accomplish and a really good way to get brain synapses firing — incredibly good exercise for the developing brain.

2. It Supports the EYFS Curriculum

It's never too early to introduce children to playing music.Learning to play a musical instrument helps with so many aspects of the EYFS, which governs the excellent curriculum for under-fives in England. In fact, it helps towards all seven focus areas contained within the EYFS education and development framework. From helping with reading, mathematics, communication, creativity, understanding the world, personal and social development and much more, music ticks all the EYFS boxes. As such, it’s a powerful tool to help children reach their best potential — in many different areas.

3. Learning Music Enhances Reading Skills

Although printed music can look and be complex to the uninitiated, it can also be very simple when you’re starting out — once someone has explained what the notation actually means. The more simple rules will then be easy to follow, even for the young. Learning to read a new printed music piece will give children’s developing brains a really good workout but, before long, it can be mastered with focus and attention to detail. Importantly, learning to play music and reading a book both develop the left side of the brain. So, it follows that doing one activity will, in turn, help a person with the other. What’s more, that part of the brain is also linked to reasoning and the processing of language.

Did you know that Mozart was only 5 when he composed his first concerto? Having started learning piano at just 3, he was performing at the imperial court by the age of 6.

4. It Boosts Maths Skills

Similarly, printed music contains all the instructions you need for rhythm, the length that notes are held for, the tempo of the music and so on. All of it is based on mathematics, so learning to read and play music can only help children to see and understand maths working — in a really tangible way.

5. It Improves Well-being

Expressing mood through playing music improves well-being and reduces stress.Playing an instrument is a great outlet for emotions. A carefully chosen piece can let a person lose themselves in the beauty of a melody or, at the other end of the scale, vent anger or frustration via through a louder, more energetic piece. This outlet for emotions is really healthy and one that’s hard to beat when you think about it. Expressing your mood in such a positive way can only improve well-being and reduce stress. It can also be virtually meditative when you really get into playing certain types of musical piece.

6. It Allows Self-Expression

Every child is different and allowing them to learn a new skill, like playing a musical instrument, will also allow them to express their own, unique character. Playing an instrument allows them to be creative, to show emotion through their treatment of the music. This is never more true then when they eventually progress to create their own melodies. Music creation is a truly expressive opportunity.

7. It Can Boost Self-Confidence

Mastering a piece of music on a musical instrument can help children improve self-confidence and self-esteem.Mastering a piece of music on a musical instrument will give children a great sense of achievement. In so doing, it’ll boost their confidence and self-esteem amongst both their peers and adults. This alone may give them the courage to keep going and get even better — and to try other new skills.

8. It Helps with Socialising

As soon as children have learned to accomplish a melody on an instrument, they can join forces to perform songs together. Through music clubs, groups, band practise, duetting or potentially even full orchestras, children will make new friends, often outside of their usual circle, and learn new socialising skills. Collaboration and cooperation, teamwork, leadership and support roles all have their place and it’s important for children to be flexible enough to learn how to do each of them. Chatting, debating, brain-storming, learning good manners and encouraging each other are also great social skills to master. All are possible when learning music as part of a wider group.

9. It Improves Coordination

Coordination of hands, fingers and also hand-eye-coordination are all needed when playing a musical instrument.Coordination of arms, hands, fingers and also hand-eye-coordination are all needed when playing a musical instrument. Indeed, playing an instrument requires immense cooperation between the brain and body. Practising the playing of music can only help a child to improve their coordination and the synapses that control it.

10. Music Boosts Listening Skills

Playing and listening to music require a certain level of concentration to hear and analyse the results, particularly in the case of playing. This is great practise and will soon teach children that a close listening focus allows discovery of finer details and a broader message that might otherwise have been missed. This has real-life applications, whether listening to the detail of a lesson, conversation, debate or even TV documentary. Deeper meaning and fine detail are all discoverable once children learn to listen more carefully. Indeed, it’s a great skill to take with them through life, including into business when they’re older.

11. It’s a Window to Different Cultures & History

Music takes almost infinite forms. It has been inspired and affected by so many different countries and cultures over countless years. Such influences can be glimpsed when you listen to music. Some influences are clear to hear while others are more subtle. It’s all there to be discovered when children get involved and listen to or, better still, play it. Music from different cultures is a great introduction to those cultures for children who are learning about them for the first time. Music can even take you off to far away places in your mind’s eye, when you listen to it.

12. It Teaches Important Life Lessons

Learning to play music teaches children important life lessons like practise makes perfect.Learning to play music teaches children important life lessons like practise makes perfect, the benefits of trial and error, the value of collaboration and so on. Each of these can often lead to real, tangible results. Learning that something that looks difficult can be overcome through persistence, patience, focus and effort is incredibly important for children to grasp. It can also be applied to many other areas of their learning.

Bonus Reason — It’s Fun!

Let’s not forget; playing music can be great fun — especially when played with friends, in a band or orchestra. At the minimum it could make for a great hobby and, who knows; it could even lead to a career in music or performance of some kind.

Music at Leaps & Bounds Nursery, Edgbaston

At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, we’re well aware of the benefits of music, learning to play an instrument and indeed any kind of sensory experience for under-fives. It all helps with their early learning and development and, in any case, they love it! Whether ‘tinging’ a triangle, shaking maracas, jangling a tambourine or tapping out a rhythm on a make-shift drum, they all have fun when we introduce them to music and rhythm. We’d love it if parents encouraged them to transition to more advanced instruments like recorders, keyboards, ocarinas, guitars etc. If so, it’ll pay huge dividends for them in the future and we’d be happy to encourage them on their musical journey.

Funded Childcare Places in our Edgbaston Nursery & Preschool Near Birmingham

Are you looking for funded childcare places in a nursery or preschool near Edgbaston, Birmingham?

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

Leaps & Bounds is a nursery and preschool located in Edgbaston (B16). We support all the Government childcare funding schemes for eligible families and offer paid-for nursery places too. So, if you’re looking for a childcare place for your child in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, please get in touch using one of the options below and we’ll be happy to discuss next steps:

Top 10 Childcare Funding Schemes – At a Glance

Today, we shine the spotlight on what we believe are the top 10 childcare funding schemes, available in England, for eligible children. Many also apply across the whole UK or at least have similar schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some of the options are widely available, meaning easy, free funding with no need for families to jump through difficult eligibility barriers. The first two childcare funding options, for example, seem to be by far the easiest to obtain for most families. Others may suit in certain circumstances, for example if you are on benefits, studying as a student, and so on. Take a look …

The Top 10 Childcare Funding Schemes – At a Glance

Tax-free Childcare Scheme

What’s Available:
Up to £2,000 in free childcare funding is available per year, per UK child (£4,000 if the child has a disability). For children up to 11 (16 if disabled).

Eligibility:
Widely available as a parent, and partner if they have one, can each earn up to £100k per annum and still be eligible.

How Funding is Accessed:
Accessed via an online Childcare account. The parent, relative or even friend deposits 80% to fund childcare and the Government tops up the remaining 20%, free.

Click here for more information.

“15 Hours” of Free Childcare for 3 & 4-Year-Olds

What’s Available:
15 hours per week of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (570 hours total) for all 3 & 4-year-olds living in England. Can be spread out in a different way if the childcare setting is flexible.

Eligibility:
Available for all children aged 3 or 4 living in England.

How Funding is Accessed:
Contact your childcare provider or apply via your local council.

Click here for more information.

“30 Hours” of Free Childcare for 3 & 4-Year-Olds

What’s Available:
30 hours per week of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (1140 hours total) for eligible 3 & 4-year-olds living in England. Can be spread out in a different way if the childcare setting is flexible.

Eligibility:
Eligibility depends upon household income; generally speaking, you cannot claim if you or your partner earn £100k or over, or less than £152 per week (that figure is lower if under 23). You can usually claim through this scheme at the same time as claiming Tax-Free Childcare (or Childcare vouchers), or free childcare via Universal Credit. Other rules and exceptions apply.

How Funding is Accessed:
Apply online here.

Click here for more information.

“15 Hours” of Free Childcare for 2-Year-Olds

What’s Available:
15 hours per week of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (570 hours total) for eligible 2-year-olds in England. Can be spread out in a different way if the childcare setting is flexible.

Eligibility:
Only parents receiving certain Government benefits are usually eligible to claim. Exceptions include 2-year-olds if: looked after by local authorities; subject to an ECH plan; in receipt of Disability Living Allowance; they’ve left care under certain types of order. Some non-UK citizens are also eligible in certain circumstances.

How Funding is Accessed:
Contact your childcare provider or apply via your local council.

Click here for more information.

Childcare Vouchers (Employer-Supported Childcare)

What’s Available:
Funding for childcare is available through participating employers, for children up to 15 or 16 if disabled. You can use up to £55 per week of your earnings, which will not be subject to National Insurance or income tax. How much you are eligible for depends on earnings and the date you joined the scheme.

Eligibility:
Closed to new applicants but still available to those enrolled before 4 October 2018 if eligible. Cannot be claimed at the same time as Tax-Free Childcare.

How Funding is Accessed:
Accessed via participating employers. Can be funded through a salary sacrifice approach.

Click here for more information.

Tax Credits for Childcare

What’s Available:
If eligible, those already claiming under the Tax Credits system can claim back up to 70% of eligible childcare costs, up to £122.50 each week for 1 child, or up to £210 per week for more than one.

Eligibility:
Closed to new applicants but existing claimants of Tax Credits may still apply. New claimants must claim instead under Universal Credit (see below).

How Funding is Accessed:
For those who are still eligible to claim, the funding is paid direct to their bank or building society account. Follow the link below for more details.

Click here for more information.

Childcare Funding through Universal Credit

What’s Available:
If eligible, you can claim back up to 85% of childcare costs, up to £646.35 per month for one child or £1108.04 each month if you are claiming for more than one.

Eligibility:
You and your partner, if you have one, must have a child under 17, be working and claiming Universal Credit. There are exceptions to the above and other eligibility terms also apply. Not available if you’re already claiming Tax-Free Childcare or Tax Credits. Earnings and savings/investments also affect how much you may receive.

How Funding is Accessed:
You need to claim back your childcare costs (so pay for them first). You can only go back 3 months, so must keep on top of your claims.

Click here for more information.

Student Childcare Grant

What’s Available:
Up to 85% of your childcare costs are available as a non-repayable grant (max. is £183.75 per week for 1 child or £315.03 per week for two+. Correct for academic year 2022/23). Payable in addition to standard undergraduate student finance.

Eligibility:
Students must be permanent residents in England, studying full-time in higher education and be eligible for undergraduate student finance based on income. They must not in receipt of a postgraduate loan. The childcare grant is for dependent children under 15 (under 17 if they have special needs). Not available if also claiming certain other childcare funding.

How Funding is Accessed:
Apply at the same time as applying for student finance via your Student Finance Account.

Click here for more information.

Learner Support Scheme

What’s Available:
What’s available depends on your specific circumstances. It’s not designed specifically to fund childcare, but can be used for it.

Eligibility:
You must be a a parent over 20, studying in further education up to and including Level 3, and facing financial hardship to be eligible.

How Funding is Accessed:
Apply via your learning provider (e.g. college).

Click here for more information.

Care to Learn Scheme

What’s Available:
Up to £160 (or £175 if living in London) is available per child, per week, for those living in England. The funding can even help to fund a taster period of up to 5 days at the childcare provider and travel to/from the provider.

Eligibility:
You must be the child’s main carer and be under 20 when you begin your course. You must be studying on a publicly-funded course (N.B. not including higher education courses at university) at specific types of education provider e.g. schools, sixth forms and some colleges. Strict rules apply around attendance of both the course and the childcare sessions.

How Funding is Accessed:
For application instructions, click here.

Click here for more information.

Funded Childcare at Leaps & Bounds Nursery & Preschool, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Our Edgbaston nursery & preschool supports all valid childcare funding options

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.We support all relevant childcare funding schemes for eligible families at Leaps & Bounds nursery and preschool in Edgbaston (B16). We offer the very best weekday childcare in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Please get in touch using one of the options below, for example to get started with your childcare enquiry or application. We’ll be happy to show you around, answer questions and help with your funding and nursery/preschool application.

E&OE. Please note that information is given in good faith and, to our knowledge, is correct at time of writing (November 2022). This is only a quick guide, though, so families will need to do their own. more detailed research to check for eligibility etc.

Amazing Deals for Struggling Families!

There’s no doubt that things are getting tough for families right now. However today, in our antidote to inflation, tax increases and the recent cost-of-living crisis, we bring families news of some absolutely brilliant deals, offers and ways that families can save money. What we’re talking about today may improve quality of life a little — even with something as simple as being able to afford a meal out with the kids. We were astounded by some of these discoveries, so we hope they are good news for you too.

Families: this is for you!

A few examples will help to introduce the type of money-saving offers and deals that we’ve unearthed for you in today’s post:

Did You Know?

  • You can eat out for just £1 per meal if you know where to go!
  • You can eat at home all week for just £1 per meal if you know the right recipe and supplier!
  • One famous food retailer offers interest-free shopping loans for struggling families!
  • There are lots of different Government schemes that give eligible families free childcare!

It’s amazing what’s available if you know where to look, and that’s exactly what we tell you today. We hope you find it useful.

Feeling the Pinch? Check Out The Great Deals & Offers We’ve Discovered!

Kids Under 16? Treat them to a Café Meal for just £1 Each — or Even Less!

Many of the large supermarkets are doing their bit to help struggling families, and Asda is one such example that caught our eye. They launched a £1 café offer called Kids Eat for £1 during the summer holidays and this has now been extended to the end of 2022. This seemed like a bargain to us. A list of participating ASDA cafés can be found here.

Morrison’s have a comparable deal where children under 16 can eat totally free of charge at a Morrison’s in-store café when the accompanying adult is having an adult meal costing £4.99 or more. Learn more about kids eating free at Morrison’s Cafés here. By the way, the same page also describes how Morrison’s have reduced the pricing of over half their hot food menu in their in-store cafés. It all helps!

Grandparents - Over 60s Can Eat & Drink Out for Just £1

Asda have also launched a Winter Warmers campaign aimed to help their older customers who visit their in-store cafés. Those 60 and above can enjoy soup and a roll plus unlimited cuppas for just £1 during November and December 2022. That’s a great opportunity for grandparents who are looking after little ones, although applies with or without children accompanying! Learn more about the Winter Warmers campaign for over-60s here.

Cheap But Tasty Meals at Home

Some of the supermarkets are making it easier for families to eat inexpensively at home. Sainsbury’s, for example, are currently publicising a range of recipes that will feed a family of four for no more than a fiver — that’s just £1.25 per meal. They list step-by-step instructions, list ingredients and even make it dead simple to add them to your online shopping cart. Check out some of their affordable meal suggestions here.

The BBC Food website also has a large selection of budget recipes for you to try. It’s a fantastic resource and they have gone to considerable effort to suit all tastes, including meat, vegetarian and vegan dishes. There are lots of recipes to make for just £1 per portion and ways to plan a week’s worth of meals for just £1 each. The page also gives advice on thrifty store cupboard ingredients, using air fryers and slow cookers,  and how to make food products last longer. Check out their website for some genuinely good ideas and inspiration for inexpensive eating at home.

Hot Deals on Frozen Food — Including an Interest-Free Loan!

It’s common knowledge that frozen food can work out cheaper and the retail chain Iceland are at the forefront of that niche in the UK. They are also very attuned to struggling families at the moment and so are offering several great ways to save money and make family food more affordable. For example, they have launched a major initiative called ‘Doing it Right’ and this includes a whole raft of beneficial offerings for struggling families. Many products can purchased for £1 in a ‘price freeze’, for example. It also includes discounts of over 60s on Tuesdays, money-saving 7-Day Deals, an exclusive Bonus Card scheme to save money on your favourite products and much more. A synopsis of all the main offers is available here.

A notable and innovative service was also introduced by Iceland in August 2022 to help families struggling to afford food (often those who relied on food banks and even loan shark loans). ‘The Iceland Food Club’ allows families to spread the cost of food through micro-loans between £25 and £100, using a pre-loaded card that allows them to spend the interest-free loan at Iceland food stores. Repayment is made at £10 per week and, as we say, the loan is interest-free. Well done Iceland! Learn more about the scheme here.

N.B. this information is given in good faith and does not constitute financial advice. Readers will need to do their own research.

Accumulate £££s to Redeem Against Your Shopping Bill

By the way, Asda also offers a “Rewards” scheme where you accumulate pounds (not points!) when you shop there. When accumulated, these can be redeemed against your shopping, thereby reducing your bill in a really tangible way. We know people who use this scheme and it seems to be a decent one so far as we can tell. Check out the Asda Rewards scheme here.

Save Money on Energy Costs

Octopus Energy has doubled its OctoAssist Fund, for customers struggling with their bills. They are offering help via direct financial support, standing charge waivers and energy saving support. Check out if you are eligible for any help and read their saver suggestions here.

Meanwhile, Utilita have teamed up with Iceland to help you Shop Smart and Cook Savvy, explaining ways to save you money. This includes advice on ways to reduce your energy bill through use, for example, of air fryers and energy-saving measures. (Click the bold links for more information). Via their app “My Utilita” you can also take control of your energy use, use pay-as-you-go and apply for emergency credit. Learn more here.

Baby Banks — Free Stuff for Families

Don’t forget to check out our Baby Banks post from May 2022 too (see the link below). There, we explained how struggling parents can get a huge variety of free things for their babies and children. Everything from baby food and nappies to high chairs and buggies is available, totally free of charge. Indeed, Baby Banks are a complete godsend for many struggling families. They’re also somewhere you can donate your pre-loved items that you’ve finished with, to help another family. Learn more about Baby Banks, including some near Edgbaston and Birmingham, here.

Childcare Funding Help

Childcare funding is an option we can help with directly at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. Subject to eligibility, we support all the key Government schemes for free childcare funding including free childcare for 2-year-olds, free childcare funding for 3 & 4-year-olds, student childcare grants, tax-free childcare, childcare vouchers & more. Feel free to ask our staff for advice on any of these and we’ll be happy to help. If you are outside our area (Edgbaston, Birmingham), the bold links to free childcare funding articles may still be useful to give you an overview of the schemes, so please feel free to click through, bookmark and share.

A Funded Childcare Place for Your Child at Leaps & Bounds Nursery, 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. Please get in touch with us if you are eligible for any of the free childcare funding options and require a nursery or pre-school place for your child at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. We are a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Please choose one of the options below to register for a nursery place, book a guided tour or ask a question. We look forward to hearing from you.

IMPORTANT: The above seemed amazing to us, but please ensure you check the websites and suppliers direct, as some things are time-limited and/or may be subject to change. Also, we have no affiliation with, or control over, the 3rd party offerings mentioned. As such, we cannot guarantee the details but, to the best of our knowledge, we believe they were correct at time of writing (Nov 2022).

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:

 

An Introduction to Traditional Weaning

Weaning is also known as complementary feeding.In a follow-up to our Guide to Formula Milks last month, we now introduce the topic of weaning — also known as complementary feeding. Weaning relates to the introduction of foods other than milk to your baby once they reach an appropriate age. In today’s article, we explore the traditional approach to weaning although will follow up separately with an alternative weaning method, in the near future.

The Meaning of Weaning

A typical dictionary definition tells us that weaning is, “to gradually stop feeding a baby or young animal with its mother’s milk and start feeding it with solid food.”  Specifically, we mean the process of changing over i.e. phasing out the milk/formula and gradually transitioning the infant to ‘solids’.  The new foods will initially be given alongside the breast or formula milk that the child has consumed up until then.

“Solids” — a Clarification for the Traditional Weaning Approach

It should be noted that, using the traditional approach to weaning, food is not initially introduced as actual solid pieces. Although we call foods other than milk or formula solids, they are fed to babies and infants initially in puréed form in the traditional approach to weaning. Examples of foods that can be pulped in this way are soft fruits like ripe apples and pears, bananas, cooked (but suitably cooled) vegetables like cauliflower, potato, broccoli, spinach, sweet potato, carrots and suchlike. Puréed food like this can slip down easily – almost like a liquid. It’s intuitive for a baby to swallow as it’s not too dissimilar to drinking, which is what they’ve been used to.

In traditional weaning, foods are puréed.The thinking with this traditional approach is that puréed food is safer for very young babies too. It may also be easier for them to consume (most have no teeth at weaning age). Pulped vegetables or fruit, for example, will have been blitzed in a blender to a point where there are no lumps and the food is simply in a lovely purée form. The traditional wisdom is also that its pulped form will significantly reduce the potential choking risk that would otherwise apply if the food hadn’t been puréed. However, see our note below about baby-led weaning as that approach is quite different to the traditional one.

Anyway, as your infant grows older and more used to eating puréed food, you can gradually progress to less ‘blitzed’ textures. For example, mashed foods rather than completely puréed ones. They’ll have a bit more texture about them. A slightly lumpier mixture can follow later, then eventually graduate them to finger foods, so long as they’re soft (for example cooked carrot sticks rather than raw). Do see the safety notes in the box at the end of this guide, though, including in regard to avoiding possible choking hazards.

Baby-Led Weaning

Baby-led weaning is a popular alternative to traditional weaning.In contrast to traditional weaning using puréed food, a more recent approach that’s become quite popular is baby-led weaning. However, because it’s quite a big topic in its own right, we have published a stand-alone article outlining the alternative baby-led approach separately, here.

When to Wean?

Unless you’ve been advised otherwise by a healthcare professional (e.g. Health Visitor), it’s usually best to wait until your baby is 6 months old before beginning the weaning process. Ensure your child is physically ready for the process. This will include good hand-eye coordination skills, being able to sit up and hold their own head steady and being able to swallow puréed food.

Be mindful, though, that the introduction of solids should accompany their breast or formula milk, not immediately replace it. Continuing to consume milk is essential to their growth and health at this early stage in their lives.

The 3 Stages of Traditional Weaning

  1. The initial introduction of some solid foods (mashed or puréed) usually takes place from the age of 6 months.
  2. At 7 months, more textured food and some different tastes can be mixed in.
  3. Between 9 and 12 months of age, a wider variety of food can be given.

What if Babies Don’t Like Solids?

Some children take to eating solids easily, while others take longer to adapt.Weaning is an exciting milestone. However, it can be both fun and challenging in equal measure. Each baby is individual. While some babies take to eating solids like ducks to water, others take longer to adapt. Their expressions are the real giveaway, so watch out for those. It’s a whole new experience for them and remember; they are going from knowing only warm milk to a whole new world of unfamiliar textures and tastes.

Start Weaning Slowly

It’s important not to rush the weaning process and for both parent and baby to enjoy the new journey. Starting with just small amounts is fine if the baby isn’t taking to solids initially. They’ll soon catch on and you can then introduce more as time goes by.

Spoon-Fed vs. Baby-Led Feeding

Whether spoon-feeding as a parent or allowing the baby to lead their own feeding may require some experimentation. Some babies like to be spoon-fed while others get on better with ‘baby-led’ feeding. So it’s worth trying each and even a combination of the two when you first start weaning your child onto solids. Their preference will soon become apparent and, before you know it, they’ll be transitioning to solids beautifully.

Top Tips for Worry-Free Weaning

  • Avoid feeding when the baby is tired or preoccupied.
  • Remove toys from the baby’s vicinity and turn off distractions like TVs.
  • Pick your moment to start weaning carefully.
  • Demonstrate how you eat, use a spoon, etc. and let them watch. They will learn from your example.
  • Give them a ‘weaning spoon’ (these are softer than standard ones) and try not to overload their spoon with food. A weaning bowl, with suction cup underneath for stability, is also a useful tool.
  • Don’t be surprised if they initially push solids out of their mouths — babies need to learn how to eat, use their tongues and swallow these new puréed foods.
  • A little gagging may be natural, but be vigilant about possible choking, which is dangerous. Learn some First Aid just in case.
  • Don't stress if things get messy - your child will eventually become an expert!Don’t stress if things get messy — this is totally natural and can easily be mitigated through use of a bib (e.g. a pelican bib).
  • Don’t forget that babies may not accept foods until they’ve tried them multiple times. Sometimes it can take as many as 10 tries before a baby will accept a new food. Perseverance is key but, of course, never force an infant to feed.
  • Following a session of eating ‘solids’ with a drink of milk is a good way to put your infant at ease and make the process of weaning more natural. It can also help to wash the puréed solids down and reduce the possibility of indigestion, hiccups etc.
  • Don’t worry if the amount of solids consumed by your baby in each sitting is inconsistent. Your baby may sometimes eat more, other times less.
  • Ensure that, overall, your little one is consuming a balanced and varied diet.
  • Discuss whether additional vitamin/mineral supplements are appropriate for your child with your GP or Health visitor. This is particularly important if your little one has a special diet. (Aside from special diet scenarios, the NHS website makes recommendations about vitamin supplements for little ones and that information is included in the bold NHS link directly below this section).
  • Be patient and persevere.

The NHS outlines additional guidelines about weaning here.

Safety Considerations

  • Avoid choking hazards. That means things like grapes, cherry tomatoes, nuts, raw vegetables etc. should not be given whole nor in chunks that could be a choking hazard. Chop them up small or mash them, as appropriate. Remove stones and pips etc.
  • Always supervise feeding, particularly when weaning.
  • Was your baby born prematurely? If so, consult your doctor or health visitor before starting the weaning process.
  • Maintain high levels of hygiene around food preparation.
  • Ensure that you know which foods to avoid giving your little one.
  • Do not add salt or sugar to infants’ food.
  • Always check that food is at the correct temperature for your child before serving.
  • Be mindful of possible food allergens when first introducing new foods to your child. Click the green link to learn more.

Looking for the Best Nurseries in Edgbaston or Birmingham?

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

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 Nursery is highly rated by Ofsted. It is a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham and is also conveniently close to Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. We support the Government’s schemes for free childcare for eligible 2-year-olds, free childcare for 3 & 4-year-olds, student childcare grants and tax-free childcare for those who are eligible).

We’d welcome your enquiry for childcare for your under-five child. To get started, please click a button below: