Tag Archive for: preschoolers

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

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:

Next Time

Next time, we’ll publish a detailed guide all about the different types of formula milk and other specialist milks for babies and infants. This will include various options for those who are allergic to cows’ milk, lactose intolerant and more.

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’ll explain more about those in a separate post in due course, where we’ll outline the different types of milk and formula for babies and infants. Watch this space for more details soon.

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

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.

The A-Z of Foods to Avoid Giving Your Infant

The NHS recommends a significant list of foods that adults should avoid giving babies and young children.It is so important to avoid feeding a baby or toddler anything that could be detrimental to their health. So, once infants are weaning off milk and eating solids, vigilance and care is needed over every food choice. Allergens aside, the NHS recommends a significant list of foods that adults should avoid giving babies and young children. Such foods are on the ‘avoid’ list usually because they contain one or more of the following three ingredients, although there are also others to look out for, as you’ll see.

  1. Too much salt. This is bad for babies’ kidneys, which have not finished developing. It can also raise blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke and heart disease. According to the NHS, babies under 1 should have less than 1g of salt per day and this will usually be achieved through milk intake, so none should be added. Children aged between 1 and 3 should only eat a maximum of 2g of salt per day (0.8g of sodium). For 4 to 6-year-olds it can increase to 3g of salt per day (1.2g of sodium).
  2. The NHS's Food Scanner phone app is available free.Added sugar. Infants do not need this. If added, it may increase instances of tooth decay, unhealthy weight issues, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. With children typically consuming more than twice as much sugar as is recommended, it is a real issue. The NHS’s sugar calculator can help when preparing food for infants, or alternatively use their Food Scanner app to find healthier food choices (click the yellow graphic to download).
  3. Saturated fats. These can raise levels of cholesterol and increase the risk of getting heart disease.

Foods to Avoid Giving Your Infant

In alphabetical order, foods that the NHS warns parents to avoid feeding babies and infants include:

Food TypeReason To Avoid / Notes
AnchoviesContains salt.
BaconContains salt and saturated fats.
BaglesMay contain added salt.
BiscuitsThese may be high in saturated fats.
Bread productsMay contain added salt.
Breakfast cerealsLikely to contain salt and sugar.
BunsContains sugar.
CakesContains sugar and saturated fats.
Cereal barsContains sugar.
Cheeses (some)Contains salt and saturated fats. Avoid all cheeses before the age of six months. Thereafter, avoid cheeses including non-pasteurised, mould-ripened (like brie), veined cheese (like stilton) and ripened goats’ cheese — unless used in [hot] cooking to kill harmful microbes.
Chips with added saltContains salt.
Chocolate & chocolate products, spreads etc.Contains sugar, saturated fats, even salt.
CiabattaContains salt.
CrispsContains salt. They can also contain high levels of saturated fat.
CrumpetsMay contain added salt.
EggsAvoid before the age of 6 months, thereafter avoid if raw/only lightly cooked unless they exhibit the Red Lion or ‘British Lion Quality’ stamp.
Fizzy drinksAvoid if they contain added sugar.
Fruit juicesEven unsweetened juice will contain natural ‘free’ sugars.
Gravy granulesContains salt.
HamContains salt.
HoneyContains sugar and also may contain bacteria that produces toxins in babies’ intestines, potentially causing botulism. Never give honey to children under the age of 1.
Ice creamContains sugar, saturated fats
Jelly cubesChoking hazard.
Juice drinksContain sugar.
Marlin meatContains mercury.
MayonnaiseLikely to contain salt.
NectarsContains sugar.
Nuts – salted and dry-roastedContains salt. Choking hazard too, unless crushed.
OlivesContains salt. Choking hazard.
Pasta saucesLikely to contain salt.
PastriesContains sugar, saturated fats, even salt.
PicklesContains salt.
PizzaLikely to contain salt.
PrawnsContains salt.
Ready mealsContains salt.
Rice drinksAvoid before the age of 5 – contains arsenic.
SalamiContains salt.
Salt fishContains salt.
SandwichesLikely to contain salt.
SaucesLikely to contain salt.
SausagesLikely to contain salt and saturated fats.
Shark meatContains mercury.
ShelfishAvoid if raw/lightly cooked.
Smoked meat and fishContains salt.
SmoothiesContains sugar.
SoupLikely to contain salt.
Soy sauceContains salt.
Stock cubesContains salt.
SweetsContains sugar.
Swordfish meatContains mercury.
Syrups including maple, golden, agave etc.Contains sugar.
TakeawaysContains salt.
Tomato ketchupContains salt.
Vegetable juicesContains sugar.
Yeast extractContains salt.
Yoghurts (flavoured)Contains sugar.

We hope that this ready-reference is useful for parents and guardians of babies and young children. However, it is a guide only and you should do your own research, including in regard to possible allergies/allergens. Always check food labels and ensure you’re using information for infants, not adults.

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

Our standard fees include healthy meals (breakfast, lunch and tea as appropriate), healthy snacks and drinks. Meals contain fresh, nutritious ingredients that are locally sourced and prepared by award-winning early years caterers. We cater for all dietary needs including vegan and vegetarian options. We also participate in the ‘Startwell’ programme, which encourages healthy food and lifestyles amongst children and families in the Birmingham area.

Looking for outstanding nurseries/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 is a popular nursery and pre-school located in Edgbaston, Birmingham. We offer high quality childcare to local parents/guardians, including those who live or work in Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. To learn more about how we can bring out the very best in your baby, toddler or under-five child, we invite you to bring them along for a nursery visit. Ask us any questions and have a look around. See if your child feels at home. You can also simply apply for a place or send us a message. Please choose a button below to get started:

Baby Banks - Help for Struggling Families

Some baby banks even supply pre-loved toys to children of struggling familiesWith the fall-out from ongoing energy increases and costs rapidly rising for food and products, many families are struggling to afford new things for their children. However, real help is at hand in the form of ‘baby banks’. Baby banks are primarily, although not always exclusively, aimed at those who are struggling financially and allow families to obtain anything from baby food to buggies, absolutely free of charge. It’s a little bit like the concept of food banks, when you think about it, and indeed some food banks are now also joining forces with baby banks to supply other essential items to families.

What Baby Banks Can Supply to Families

The growing number of baby banks offers all kinds of free items for families with babies and young children, usually aged up to five although sometimes also significantly older. Items that families can obtain, without charge, include:

  • Nappies and baby wipes
  • Clothes for babies and chiildren
  • Strollers, buggies and prams
  • Moses baskets and small cots
  • Bedding (not for cots)
  • High chairs and floor seats
  • Towels
  • Toys & play equipment
  • Baby food, snacks and formula milk
  • Toiletries for babies and mothers
  • Baby carriers
  • Some car seats (conditions apply)
  • Bibs
  • Clean bottles and sterilisers

N.B. not every baby bank offers all of the above but we’ve scouted around to get an overall picture of the possibilities.

Donate Your Child’s Pre-Loved Items

If you have baby items, pre-loved toys, good-as-new clothes or equipment for little ones that you no longer need, help others by donating them to your nearest baby bank.If you have baby items, pre-loved toys, good-as-new clothes or equipment for little ones that you no longer need, you can help others in need by donating them to your nearest baby bank. As well as helping families in your local community, baby banks are an excellent way to make space and to recycle items that are too good to discard. It’s a win for the planet too!

Baby Banks in Birmingham

The good news for families local to Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is that there are several baby banks in Birmingham, including some that are just a stone’s throw from Edgbaston. That’s great news if you are either in need of something for your little one(s) or if you have spare items that you can donate to help others.

Baby Banks Around the UK

Baby banks supply an enormous array of items including pre-loved strollers, Moses baskets and high-chairs.Some baby banks are independent while others are run by baby bank networks including Growbaby International, Baby Basics and NCT Baby Bundles. The growth of such groups and independents means that there are now baby banks throughout the UK. The list is growing — and there are now even some abroad. Many state that they will help families irrespective of income, background or faith.

Find Your Nearest Baby Bank

You can find your nearest baby bank by navigating the interactive map of UK baby banks below. If you click the little rectangle in the top right corner, you can make the entire map full screen. That will then show the key to the marker symbols too (the square icon in the top left-hand corner below will also toggle the key on and off if you don’t choose the full screen option). You can enlarge/reduce the zoom level using the + or – symbols in the bottom left-hand corner, or by using your mouse wheel. Drag the map around to move to the location you require.

Points to Note

Clean bottles & sterilisers can also be supplied by, or donated to, baby banks.Points to bear in mind are that some baby banks and similar supply items for children aged 0 to 5 while others go right up to the age of 16, so check that any baby bank you have in mind is suitable for the age of your particular child(ren), or equipment if donating. Many work on an appointment-only basis and some are only open on particular days of the week. Therefore, it’s important to initially make contact with them rather than attempting to turn up, out of the blue.

Baby Bank Referrals

While some baby banks accept enquiries from families directly, many only supply items after a referral from a family support worker or agency, social worker, health visitor, nurse, teacher, women’s refuge, food bank or family centre. So, if you are in need of anything from a baby bank, it’s often best to get a referral. Ask one of the professionals listed in this paragraph, or check individual rules once you have identified your local baby bank(s) and have clicked through to their contact page(s) — see the interactive map above.

If you found this guide to baby banks and the resources they offer useful, please feel free to share it on social media and to bookmark it in your browser.

Leaps & Bounds: A High Quality Nursery & Pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Looking for the best nursery or pre-school 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 is a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham offering a wonderful weekday childcare service for babies and children under five. We’re very near to Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick too, so might also suit you if you live or work in those locations. Why not arrange an appointment to bring your baby or child along to tour the nursery, so you can both experience it in the flesh and ask any questions that you might have. Alternatively, simply apply for a place for your baby or under-five child, or send us a message. Please choose a button below to get started:

Unpaid Parental Leave: Your Right to Extra Time Off

Occasionally, an unexpected need arises in relation to your child's welfare and you simply have to deal with it.Sometimes it can be almost impossible for working parents to juggle their jobs with complications associated with parenting. Occasionally, an unexpected need arises in relation to your child’s welfare and you simply have to deal with it — even though you’re trying to hold down a job. For this reason, working parents in the UK are protected by law and are entitled to a fairly generous amount of unpaid parental leave from work, without their jobs or employment rights being threatened as a result. While such absence from work is unpaid, time off can be an absolute godsend when your child’s welfare is at stake. Today, we take a look at eligibility and rules around unpaid parental leave for UK parents.

Reasons to Take Unpaid Parental Leave

You may need time off to look at nurseries or pre-schools for your little one.Entitlement to take unpaid parental leave from work comes down to the need to look after the welfare of your child under 18. Some examples may help to illustrate a few of the possible scenarios:

  • Perhaps you can’t arrange alternative childcare for a particular future period. However, this will happen while you’ll be busy at work and, at that point, you also know you’ll have no more annual leave remaining. In such a situation, you simply have to look after them yourself using your unpaid parental leave entitlement. After all, they are very young and cannot simply be left to fend for themselves.
  • Another example would be when you need to take time off with your youngster to go and look at nurseries, pre-schools, schools or even further education settings when it’s nearing time for them to enrol with one. When it’s not possible to do such things outside of working hours, at weekends or during standard annual leave, unpaid parental leave can really come into its own.
  • You may also wish to take unpaid leave from work to ensure your child settles in well at any new childcare or education setting. A week’s grace when they start somewhere new can really help you and your child at such major milestones in your lives.
  • Unpaid parental leave can also be taken for something as simple, though important, as spending some quality time with family. For example, perhaps the child hasn’t spent time with their grandparents in a while and you’d like to pay them a visit as a family. Unpaid parental leave, away from work, can be used for that.

Your Unpaid Parental Leave Entitlement

You are entitled to take 18 weeks of parental leave before your child is 18.There are a few, simple rules around entitlement to unpaid parental leave in the UK:

  • You are entitled to take up to a total of 18 weeks of parental leave from work, on an unpaid basis, by the time your child reaches the age of 18.
  • You can take up to 4 of those weeks in any one year.
  • The entitlement applies to your own children as well as adopted children.
  • The entitlement is per child under 18.
  • You need to take the time off in whole weeks, rather than ad-hoc days, unless your employer agrees otherwise or unless your child is disabled. For part-time or shift workers, a whole week would be equivalent to the number of working days you usually work in any 7 day period. For those working an irregular pattern, an ‘average week’ can be computed by looking at the number of days worked over a whole year, then dividing by fifty-two.
  • The 18 week maximum, per child under 18, is based on the child(ren) not the job. So, aside from the additional eligibility requirements outlined below, the number of times a parent changes jobs along the way is not relevant.

Additional Eligibility Requirements

As well as the child(ren) being under the age of 18, a few additional requirements need to be met in order to be eligible for unpaid parental leave:

  • Only those who have been employed by the current employer for at least a year are eligible;
  • The scheme applies to employees only, not the self-employed, agency workers or contractors;
  • The employee must be actually named on the birth or adoption certificate(s) of the child(ren) in question, or have — or expect to have — official parental responsibility;

Your Employer

Employer's are entitled to 3 weeks' notice before you can take unpaid parental leave.By law, employers do require sufficient notice from you when you’re planning to take unpaid parental leave. Legally, they require 3 weeks’ notice (21 days) before you can begin to take the time off. You will also usually need to confirm an end date. In practice, though, some employers are lenient when an unexpected emergency occurs and such notice may not be possible, for example a child suddenly becoming ill and no other childcare being available on such short notice. They are not obliged to be lenient in this way, however.

Your employer does have a right to postpone (but not cancel) your requested parental leave if they can show that the business would suffer or be disrupted, or for some other significant reason. However, they cannot postpone it …

  • if such a postponement would take the date of parental leave past the child in question’s 18th birthday,
  • or if the leave is being taken by the father/partner right after the child has been born or adopted.

When an employer does confirm that it needs to be postponed, it must be done in writing, with the reason explained, within a week of the employee’s request. It must also be rescheduled for no later than 6 months after that original request date. The amount of time originally requested must also not be altered by the employer.

We hope that this guide is useful to parents with children under 18. Please feel free to share it on social media or to bookmark it in your browser.

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery & Pre-school, Edgbaston, Birmingham

One of the best nurseries & pre-schools in the Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood, Smethwick & Edgbaston Area

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

Leaps & Bounds is one of the best nurseries and pre-schools in Edgbaston, Birmingham and also a great choice if you’re looking for an outstanding nursery near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. We’d love to show you and your child around, so you can see the high quality of childcare and the excellent facilities for yourself. We are also taking applications for nursery places right now, for babies and children under five. If you have any questions, we’d be happy to help with all the answers. Please choose a button below to contact us and we’ll be delighted to take the next step with you:

20 of Our Favourite Quotes for Parents

Today we put the spotlight on 20 of our favourite quotes for, or about, parents and parenting. Each one of them either inspired, amused or resonated with us in some way — we are parents ourselves. Indeed, if they did not affect us in one of these ways, they simply did not make the list! Some are also quite profound and, we’ll be honest, may stir an emotion or two. If you are a parent too, see if any affect you or register with you in a similar way. Click any quote for a larger view and you can then also scroll through all 20 quotes individually.

These quote images can be shared freely on social media, pinned on Pinterest, bookmarked or linked to it if you found any of them amusing, inspiring or touching.

Today we’re taking a look at some fun food growing activities that under-fives can undertake at home. As we said in that last post, teaching children to grow food has an enormous number of benefits, so our post today explains some easy and inexpensive ways that children can get started.

No Garden Required

Many of today’s vegetable and herb growing activities can be accomplished simply on a well-lit windowsill. So, if you do not have a garden, courtyard, balcony or access to an allotment, it doesn’t matter — your little ones can still get involved in these wonderful activities. The plants will simply need some water, soil, light and a little care.

Re-Growing Herbs for Free

To re-grow herbs, snip off a few clippings, remove any leaves nearest the bottom and place the stems into water — roots will grow.When you next buy herbs like basil, parsley, coriander or rosemary from the supermarket, get your child to try this simple herb-growing task using a few left-over stalks.

All they need to do is pull or, with suitable supervision, snip off a few clippings, remove any leaves nearest the bottom of the stems and place those stems into water as shown in the photograph (right). If these are left dangling in water for a week or two, roots will start to grow from the stems. The clippings are then new plants, ready to be planted into soil, for example in pots on the windowsill. Once the roots have grown, young herb plants can be potted into soil and grown on the windowsill.Flower pots, used yoghurt pots or anything similar will do, so long as there is drainage in the bottom (place on a saucer or tray to protect the windowsill). Once they’ve been potted in the soil, they’ll need to be regularly watered and, in time, they’ll sprout into fully-fledged herb plants that can be harvested for food as they grow. New clippings can also be taken from the mature plant so that the whole process can be repeated. Children will love seeing and being responsible for this little miracle! And the best thing is that the cost will have been negligible. How’s that for sustainable food production!

Re-Growing Lettuce & Vegetables for Free

Baby lettuce leaves sprouting just 4 days after placing the lettuce base in water.Next time you cut the leaves off a lettuce, the edible part off a celery, or the ‘bulb’ flesh from an onion, instead of discarding the ‘root’ section at the bottom, keep hold of it. In a similar way to what we described above, this bottom section can be dangled or placed into a water vessel for a few days. The tops will eventually grow shoots and the bottom sections will eventually grow roots. In our own experiment with lettuce, the little lettuce leaves nearest the centre started growing in just one day! Plants like celery can also be re-grown and planted into pots once roots have grown.The accompanying photo (right) shows the growth after four days and all this is happening before the roots have even begun to sprout!. In just a week or two, this approach will give children new leaves to harvest for vegetables like lettuce, Swiss chard, celery, bok choy (Chinese lettuce), lemongrass and any similar salad leaf.

Children can use a similar approach using the lower section of things like onions, spring onions or garlic. New plants will sprout, roots will grow and the new young plants can be replanted into soil. With water, soil and light, they will eventually grow new ‘bulbs’ that can later be harvested and eaten.

Carrot tops can also be regrown and used in salads.A similar approach can also be used for carrot tops, except with those it’s the green, leafy carrot tops that your child can retain, grow and later harvest. These can be used in salads and garnishes.

Seeds can be harvested from vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, then grown into new plants.

Growing Vegetables & Fruit Using Free Seeds

Did you know that you can grow new fruit and vegetables from the seeds found in shop-bought fruit and vegetables? All your child needs to do is to keep some of the seeds from inside fruit and vegetables that you already bought as part of your weekly shop. Just a few examples follow — pips or seeds from all of the following can be ‘harvested’ and grown into new plants, ready to sprout new fruit or vegetable plants:

A few fruit examples:

  • Save the pips from apples
  • Save the pips from pears
  • Save the ‘stones’ from peaches or plums

A few vegetable examples:

  • Save the pips from tomatoes
  • Save the seeds from peppers
  • Save the seeds from pumpkins & squashes

Seeds from ripe beans, sugar snaps and similar can be saved, grown into seedlings and planted into containers or grow bags to make new plants and a new crop.The seeds from ripe sugar snaps and beans can also be saved by children to ‘seed’ into new plants, to get free vegetables! Once sprouting, they can be planted out into grow bags or a patch of soil in the garden. They will give the family a whole new crop of vegetables if they’re regularly watered and looked after.

Children can also save the seeds from courgettes and marrows. However, those need to come from really mature ones that have ideally been left to fully ripen on the plant itself. So, for these two examples it may be best to ask around to see if any friends or neighbours are growing any. The seeds in shop-bought marrows and courgettes may not be mature enough to grow new plants from. Plants like marrows, courgettes and beans do need quite a bit of space too, once they become mature plants. Therefore, from a practical point of view, children may have to limit themselves to herbs and vegetables that only grow into smaller plants if their households has limited growing space.

Looking for an Outstanding Nursery, Pre-School or Forest School in Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?

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

Children grow plants and herbs at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham. As a Forest School and a nursery/pre-school that educates under-fives as well as looking after them, we encourage children to engage in activities involving nature. These include plant growing as well as learning about and enjoying everything that the natural world has to offer. If you are looking for an outstanding nursery & Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham, or the best pre-schools and nurseries near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, please contact us. We’re here to answer any questions,  show you around so you and your little one can experience the setting for yourselves and to welcome your child to the childcare setting if you decide to enrol. Please apply for a place or contact us below:

Next Time …

In our next post we outline how children can extend their food-growing activities to include growing ‘microgreens’. It’s a real fun, easy, educational and exciting activity that results in lots of nutritious baby shoots that children can eat in salads or as garnishes. Learn more about how children can grow microgreens at home here.

 

Tablets for Tots: Pros, Cons & Potential Health Risks

A preschooler using a tabletThe debate over children’s use of handheld electronic screens, i.e. mobiles and tablets, is an important one. How much screen time is too much for children? Is it even safe for young, developing brains? In this article we go through the pros and cons of allowing children to use handheld screens and discover some major causes for concern.

The pros of letting children use mobiles and tablets

On the one hand, handing a mobile or tablet to a demanding child is a very convenient way to keep them entertained. This is especially true for parents who find themselves stretched in multiple directions with ever-decreasing free time. Handheld electronic devices will keep children — even the very young — extremely engaged. Parents can then largely get on with other tasks.

“‘Today’s preschoolers are confidently navigating digital platforms with purpose and determination. By the age of three, almost all watch programmes on-demand and have access to a connected device … more than half have their own tablet or computer.” (Childwise).

As well as being entertained, some children are also being educated by the device, depending upon the content, of course. That does make sense — children will get to grips with technology, discover new interests and learn if they’re exposed to the right content. ‘How to’ videos are of particular interest to older children while programmes about nature and science teach something to children of all ages.

The cons — including potential health risks

Toddlers as young as 3 are able to control many aspects of handheld devicesOn the other hand, there are real concerns over the possible negative impacts of too much screen time on children. How can parents be sure that their child will not stumble across unsuitable content? (Read on for a possible solution). Are mobiles and tablets even safe for young, developing brains? Indeed, this is a concern of many scientists and medical professionals around the world. Some go so far as saying that any close proximity to the RF wireless radiation associated with mobiles, tablets and Wi-Fi devices is potentially damaging — on a cellular level, even for foetuses in the womb.  We’ll go into more detail about that later in the article.

Even if that were not the case, there remain other concerns over how much time young children should spend staring at mobiles and tablets while disengaging from the ‘real’ world. Not only are children missing out on more natural interactions when on handheld devices, but they’re also likely to be more sedentary, which we all know is not a good lifestyle habit to encourage.

Is it lazy parenting?

Is handing a tablet or mobile device to a child lazy parenting? Some would argue that it is, but in the real world, sometimes a parent simply needs the child to entertain themselves for a while, so the parent can get on with some other task that just has to be done. Handheld screens are a great solution to that.

What’s presented to the child on the electronic screen doesn’t necessarily need to be some banal game or pointless cartoon. Educational content can be just as entertaining to a toddler if it’s carefully selected. Even some games, for example, can teach children things like numeracy, problem-solving and more, whilst also being great fun. It’s therefore a balance that every parent needs to consider. Spending a little time carefully selecting the right digital content for a toddler can be time very well spent.

Are mobiles & tablets potentially harmful to the child?

RF wireless technology is cause for concern amongst some expertsAccording to many scientists and medical professionals, devices emitting ‘RF wireless radiation’ (like mobiles and tablets connected wirelessly to the Internet) have been shown to be potentially harmful. We, the writers of this article, are not scientists or medical professionals, so cannot advise one way or the other. However, some who are more qualified are keen to warn pregnant women, in particular, and parents of young children that great care needs to be taken around devices connected wirelessly. Their research suggests that being in close proximity to the wireless radiation emitting from connected mobile phones and handheld tablets can potentially affect the actual cell structure of the human body. The Baby Safe Project is one such body of scientists and medical professionals that is pushing for further research to clarify the matter. Their findings to date, though, are extremely concerning if correct. If you can spare just over an hour to really look at the science (skip the ad’s), this video is of huge interest (… and concern — Editor’s note: after watching this video I will never sleep next to my mobile again, if connected to Wi-Fi). If you are short on time, this 3 minute video is significantly faster to digest, although misses out the deeper scientific detail.

How to mitigate possible harm

Devices can run many applications without being connected to Wi-Fi or other wireless networks. Switching mobile phones and tablets onto ‘Flight Mode’, for example, will disconnect them from Wi-Fi and render them much more safe, according to the scientists above. Alternatively, connecting them to the Internet using wired connections (e.g. Ethernet cables) will mitigate the risk of RF wireless radiation being generated.

The Baby Safe Project is a non-profit initiative that raises concerns over the impact of wireless radiation on human health. With its goals endorsed by many of the world’s leading experts in the fields of microwave radiation, brain development, obstetrics, paediatrics and public health, it has some useful guidelines for keeping safe from exposure to wireless radiation, around handheld devices, for example. They recommend that pregnant women should take particular care. Take a look at their guidelines here.

We’re not scientists ourselves, but ‘better safe than sorry’ would seem a sensible approach given the experts’ concerns.

Parental controls

Parents can grapple back control of mobiles and tablets remotelyEven if the above is taken out of the equation, there are other considerations when it comes to the amount that under-fives are exposed to the use of mobiles and tablets. Children learn fast and will often take full control of their handheld electronic devices in a very short space of time. The devices often become their most closely guarded possession, in fact. Controlling their activity on mobiles and tablets can be very challenging for a parent, but it’s very important. Children will often keep activity on such devices very ‘close to their chest’, literally- as well as figuratively-speaking, so it’s not easy.

There are some relatively easy and convenient ways to wrestle back some control from your child, though. Accompanied parental supervision is the most obvious solution, although it’s not always possible to watch the child for every second. There are technological solutions too, however. For example, the popular cyber security firm Norton offers ‘Parental Controls’ in a variety of their software packages. As well as adding protection layers on desktop computers, parental controls can also now cover mobiles (both Android and iPhone) as well as tablets.

How does it work?

In our example, Norton’s Parental Control applications allow parents to keep an eye on websites that children have visited, including a full history of browsing and searching criteria, and can block individual sites if necessary. Parental control applications can also put a limit on how much time is spent on the Internet. They can limit the number of hours spent on the Internet each day, or limit use to be within specific hours of the day, or days of the week. Such applications can even email the parent updates on the activity taking place on the child’s device, or allow the parent to lock the child’s device at will. We don’t usually link to 3rd party commercial offerings (and don’t endorse them) but this page shows a little more about what’s possible with Parental Controls.

Contact Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery would be happy to answer any questions that you might have. Our nursery is based in Edgbaston, close to Central Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Call 0121 246 4922 for details of all our childcare services for babies and preschoolers, or email us here. We’ll be happy to help.