Development FAQ: 0-6 months – Other Advice

How do I keep memories of my baby’s first year?

I am expecting my first baby in a few weeks. I know the days will be busy but want some ideas of how to keep the memories of the first year in an interesting way, which we can look back on and maybe pass onto our child.

The first few weeks and months certainly pass quickly with a new baby. There are plenty of baby record books on the market and you may consider keeping one but to make your memories more personal plan to keep a memory box.

Start now before your baby is born. Buy a box file which you can cover or decorate if you are creative, or a special memory box from companies specialising in such things and begin to store. Photos of your bump, if you dare; scans and lists of possible names all have their place here.

Before your baby is born you may like to begin a journal for him. Buy a plain hardbound notebook and begin to write the story of your pregnancy, your hopes for your unborn baby and maybe some of your worries and concerns. This journal can be added to throughout the childhood years, marking major milestones and the small details which often get forgotten.

Before the big day arrives, arrange with a close relative or friend to keep a copy of a newspaper for the birth day. This is fascinating to look back on. Once your baby has arrived, there will be plenty of things to keep. You may have to be selective or think of ways to store the items so the box really tells its story.

Hospital tags and cot cards have their place, but also consider keeping a list of presents and flowers received as well as storing all the cards. If you celebrated the new arrival with champagne, keep the cork. Press a flower from a bouquet sent by proud grandparents or your partner.

Consider cutting pieces from the wrapping paper received with gifts to make into a collage or use to decorate your box. In the early weeks there will be little time for such pursuits but make a start by storing all the items and sort them out in a few months time.

A way to record his growth is to draw around his hand in the first weeks. Use a piece of plain paper and coloured crayon. It is easiest to lay the baby on his stomach on the floor and slip the paper under his hand. Draw the outline. In six or eight weeks place the same piece of paper under his hand in the same way and draw the new bigger outline. Continue every two to three months throughout his first year and remember to date each new outline. This can be stored or framed as it makes a delightful picture.

Keep some mementos of the early days- a newborn nappy is tiny compared to the size he will be wearing at 18mths. A first-size sleep suit and pair of socks can be added if you have the room.

Keep a small notebook in your box and record his weight along with a monthly record of his length. Add dates of “firsts” such as the first walk with the pram, the visit of grandparents, the first bath at home. If you keep a feeding record in the early days add that and also one of weaning. These can be useful to look back on, especially with subsequent babies.

As well as your memory box there are other ways to record the first year. A video camera can be kept ready charged to record some of the “firsts”. A bath with Dad, getting dressed up for a walk in the park, sitting in the high chair for the first time. Try to film short clips of ordinary days as well, especially once your baby begins to babble and vocalise. Label the tapes with dates and store in your box if there is room.

Most new parents take a lot of photos. In this digital age it is easy to store information on a computer or on disc. Consider printing some of the early photos; the first one in hospital, coming home and the first time in his crib. A nice idea is to take a photo each month, on your baby’s birth date. In a year you will have a record of his growth and development. Special frames can be bought to display these.

No doubt you will make an album of photos; remember to date them as it is surprisingly easy to forget.

By your child’s first birthday you will have built up a unique record of his first year. Continue to record those small details in a journal or notebook as the less memorable milestones often get forgotten. Whether you keep the box for yourself or give it to your child when he is older is up to you. Either way, memories will be stored for you both.

Development FAQ: 0-6 months – Other Advice

Is there an ‘ideal’ age gap between first and second children?

When would you recommend having our second child? Is there an ‘ideal’ age gap? Our first baby is now five months old.

There is no simple answer to this question as everyone’s personal situation will be different. Before deciding when to try to have your second baby you will need to think about the pros and cons of having a smaller gap against having a larger one. Some factors to consider are your age, whether you conceived easily with your first (not something that can be relied upon) and your personal circumstances as regards finances, housing, family support and work commitments. You may want to consider how you coped with your first birth and the first few months following delivery. Having a second baby is easier in some respects as, having been through the experience once, you will not find everything so new and bewildering. But all babies are demanding and having two children with different characters and needs can be hard to juggle initially.

You may also want to think through the practical concerns of how you will cope with two. A smaller gap (under two years) will entail two in nappies, with possibly your first not yet fully mobile and still sleeping in a cot. If your first child is in a routine you will need to think how you might settle your second baby around this; crucial times such as mornings, bath and bedtimes will need planning as a toddler will feel more secure if these stay roughly the same. At around 18 months a toddler is learning a great many new skills and giving adequate time to this, as well as dealing with a new baby, will be difficult for a time. (Gina has written a comprehensive routine for a baby and toddler on the site to help you cope in the first few hectic weeks, should this be the way you decide to go.) A closer age gap can, however, have advantages as children grow; being at a similar stage means routines, toys, holidays and outings can easily be geared to both children at once, but you may have less chance to pass toys, baby equipment or clothing down the line.

A larger age gap will mean your older child has achieved some degree of independence, which will make looking after a new baby easier and the older child may even be able to help with certain tasks. But, as an older child may be attending nursery or school, you will have to be up and ready by a certain time in the morning. Your older child may also have regular activities and play dates. This can help in keeping them occupied, but you will have to fit the feeding and nap times of the newborn around these extra activities.

Whatever gap you decide upon, or nature decides for you (as don’t assume that everything will go the same way as first time around) how you cope with two is a lot to do with your own approach to the situation. Many mothers are afraid that their first child will be jealous or that they will not feel the same overwhelming love for their second baby as they did for their first. These are issues you may need to address as they arise. A lot of older siblings will feel jealous at some time, whether around the time of the birth or months/ years later, but how you deal with this, and the many other issues that will arise, will affect things significantly. Whatever gap you aim for, remember there are pros and cons of any age combination and many mothers have coped and indeed grown to love an age gap which seemed far from “ideal” at the time. Good luck whatever you decide.

Development FAQ: 0-6 months – Other Advice

What is the best way stay on the routines when flying to Australia for three weeks with 10 week old twins?

At Christmas time we are going to Australia, from the UK for three weeks. My twin girls will be 10 weeks when we leave. I have tried very hard to follow the routines and I am not only petrified that about the flight, but also scared that they will get off the routines. How is it best to do this travel? I am thinking about not going!

It is a daunting prospect of flying this far with one baby, let alone two, but not impossible. A baby works on his own body clock, eating and napping at regular times throughout 24 hours regardless of what time the clock says. It is easier for a baby or small child to adapt to “local time” when moving time zones than it is for an adult. During the flight you will be able to keep to the usual times of feeds. Even if it is not a feed time around take off and landing have a small feed for each baby which can be offered at these times to help them adjust to the cabin pressures. Sucking on a dummy can also help. Most babies of this age are inclined to sleep quite a lot during a flight. Below, it is suggested you take familiar items to help them settle well. Long haul flights have lots of times when the lights are dimmed so darkness should not be too much of a problem with them at this young age.

Once you arrive in Australia put yourself and the girls on to local time and begin the next day at 7am. Depending how much they have slept on the plane, it may take a day or two of tweaking things a little so they are back to the routines but keep working on the usual day timings. Look in The Contented Baby Book, page 90, for a question and answer on changing time zones. Putting your usual bath and bedtime routine in place, as well as starting the day at 7am, will give you the framework for getting back into the full routine within a few days.

Make sure you ‘phone the airline ahead of your flight to order sky cots or bassinets for the girls. You should be allocated bulkhead seats, allowing you room to put them in the cots to sleep. Most long haul routes are more than willing to heat up formula feeds for you. The news of twin babies on board will mean you will undoubtedly be given a great deal of help by the cabin staff. They are usually excellent with young babies and their parents on these long flights.

On the practical side consider ready sterilized disposable bottles and ready-made formula to help you during the journey. Find a good quality insulated bag if you wish to take frozen expressed milk with you. It will gradually defrost on the way and can be fed over the duration of the flight.

Pack a baby bag with two or three changes of clothes for each of the girls. Keep to simple all-in-one suits and remember a cardigan or light jacket for each of them, as planes can be chilly. Take a blanket from home for each of them as the smell will be familiar and help them to settle to sleep. Have plenty of muslins and wipes along with your usual changing items. Disposable changing mats can be useful on planes where space is usually at a premium. Pack a couple of clean tee shirts or light tops for yourself in your hand luggage as you won’t want to arrive in Australia with spit up, or worse, on you.

Providing you plan ahead, and try to think of any problems you may encounter, there is no reason why you cannot contemplate this flight with the girls.

Development FAQ: 0-6 months – Behaviour

How can I get my 5 month old to be as willing to play alone as her twin sister?

I have 5 month old twin girls. They were born 2 months prematurely.

While one daughter is quite easy and self entertaining, the other is very active and wants to be carried around all the time. I know that they are different babies with different characters but I am worried about my daughter as she starts crying the moment or after 10 minutes she is put on the play mat or the cot to play. I have tried sitting beside her and play with her with the toys but doesn’t quite work.
How can I make her learn to play on her own for longer periods? Is it ok to leave her cry for a while so that she can break the habit?

I need advice on that issue desperately; it’s getting harder and harder with her.

Accepting that your twins have separate characters is important. But this does not mean you cannot help your daughter be a little more independent and willing to play alone for short periods. It may take her time to do this but with sympathetic and gentle handling things will improve. Although you may have to accept that there will always be one who seems to need more attention than her sister.

Look at her stage of development and see what she is able to do. If her hand-to- eye skills are good and she can manipulate well with her fingers make sure the toys you are providing for her are helping her refine these skills. You may need to go through the toy box and take out the toys which are too young for your girls’ age. You may have to make two baskets, one for each of them, depending on their abilities.

Toys which may interest her now are more complex rattles which she can manipulate in her hands, toys which make a noise ; there are many varieties on this theme with squeakers, bells, “scrumple sounds” and other rewards for pushing, pulling and twisting. A mirror hung on the side of a cot or playpen, or the kind which are wedge shaped and so can be placed in front to of a baby can be fascinating to this age. Simple board books, soft books, soft and hard blocks will all be interesting to your daughter. An activity centre which again may be hung at eye level will offer several different activities needing varying levels of skill.

Once you feel you are providing the right sorts of toys, getting her attention onto them for a space of time is the next step. It is realistic to hope that a baby of this age should be able to manage 15-20mins of playing alone before needing some adult attention. Your other daughter is well able to do this but you will need to build up the time of playing alone for the twin who thinks being carried around is the best occupation.

Set her on her play mat and put one or two toys within her grasp if she reaches for them. If she spends her time lying on her back, put toys to the left or right of her head to encourage her to move from side to side. She may enjoy being propped up surrounded by cushions, as at this angle she can see more of what is going about her. Place a toy or two with in her reach but to one side so she uses her whole trunk to twist and reach it. Stay within her sight and chat to her from time to time about what she is playing with: “Oh I see you have the red brick, can you pick up the blue one too?”, “What a lovely noise you make with that rattle”. Let her see that you are watching her at times but not always actively engaging with her. At this age she will start to become aware that you can disappear from view. This maybe more upsetting to her than her sister. Either take her with you if you move to another room for a period of time, or call through to reassure her if you pop out for a minute or two.

When she begins to get cranky use your voice to “jolly“ her on a little, but increase the time before you pick her up. She may begin to cry but keep the bright voice and tell her “I will pick you up but I need to finish doing this – where is your book?” Distracting her and encouraging her with your voice will help her to play for longer periods. Leaving her for a few minutes before picking her up will not harm her. It is better not to rush in and pick her up as soon as she starts to cry.
Be aware that over stimulation can cause a baby to be unable to play alone. Only have two toys out at a time for each baby. But a baby of this age does have a short attention span. Whilst keeping an eye on her and telling her what you are doing, don’t always rush in to show her how things work or rescue her. If she gets cranky after 10mins and learns to wait another 3-4mins then sit beside her and find a new object to show her. Talk to her for 3-4mins and then leave her again. Rotating toys and her view about every 20mins again will keep her more occupied. Her sister may be happy to stay in one position for longer but accept that your daughter is active and inquisitive so move her from mat to sitting, to time on her tummy in front of a mirror. Interact with her for a short time at each change of scene and then leave her. In this way you are accepting her need for change and your need to have 15-20 mins when she plays independently.
You may want to look at having a baby bouncer for your daughters, if you have not done so already. Used for a short spell of 15-20mins a bouncer can provide an active baby with a different view of the room and the feeling of movement. Read the fitting and safety instructions carefully and don’t use it for prolonged periods.

As well as encouraging your daughter to play alone, make sure you have several times in the day when you give them both your undivided attention whilst looking at a book or singing rhymes together. Spend a short time each day with both of them on the floor practicing rolling and spending time on their tummies.

Development FAQ: 0-6 months – Other Advice

How do I keep memories of my baby’s first year?

I am expecting my first baby in a few weeks. I know the days will be busy but want some ideas of how to keep the memories of the first year in an interesting way, which we can look back on and maybe pass onto our child.

The first few weeks and months certainly pass quickly with a new baby. There are plenty of baby record books on the market and you may consider keeping one but to make your memories more personal plan to keep a memory box.

Start now before your baby is born. Buy a box file which you can cover or decorate if you are creative, or a special memory box from companies specialising in such things and begin to store. Photos of your bump, if you dare; scans and lists of possible names all have their place here.

Before your baby is born you may like to begin a journal for him. Buy a plain hardbound notebook and begin to write the story of your pregnancy, your hopes for your unborn baby and maybe some of your worries and concerns. This journal can be added to throughout the childhood years, marking major milestones and the small details which often get forgotten.

Before the big day arrives, arrange with a close relative or friend to keep a copy of a newspaper for the birth day. This is fascinating to look back on. Once your baby has arrived, there will be plenty of things to keep. You may have to be selective or think of ways to store the items so the box really tells its story.

Hospital tags and cot cards have their place, but also consider keeping a list of presents and flowers received as well as storing all the cards. If you celebrated the new arrival with champagne, keep the cork. Press a flower from a bouquet sent by proud grandparents or your partner.

Consider cutting pieces from the wrapping paper received with gifts to make into a collage or use to decorate your box. In the early weeks there will be little time for such pursuits but make a start by storing all the items and sort them out in a few months time.

A way to record his growth is to draw around his hand in the first weeks. Use a piece of plain paper and coloured crayon. It is easiest to lay the baby on his stomach on the floor and slip the paper under his hand. Draw the outline. In six or eight weeks place the same piece of paper under his hand in the same way and draw the new bigger outline. Continue every two to three months throughout his first year and remember to date each new outline. This can be stored or framed as it makes a delightful picture.

Keep some mementos of the early days- a newborn nappy is tiny compared to the size he will be wearing at 18mths. A first-size sleep suit and pair of socks can be added if you have the room.

Keep a small notebook in your box and record his weight along with a monthly record of his length. Add dates of “firsts” such as the first walk with the pram, the visit of grandparents, the first bath at home. If you keep a feeding record in the early days add that and also one of weaning. These can be useful to look back on, especially with subsequent babies.

As well as your memory box there are other ways to record the first year. A video camera can be kept ready charged to record some of the “firsts”. A bath with Dad, getting dressed up for a walk in the park, sitting in the high chair for the first time. Try to film short clips of ordinary days as well, especially once your baby begins to babble and vocalise. Label the tapes with dates and store in your box if there is room.

Most new parents take a lot of photos. In this digital age it is easy to store information on a computer or on disc. Consider printing some of the early photos; the first one in hospital, coming home and the first time in his crib. A nice idea is to take a photo each month, on your baby’s birth date. In a year you will have a record of his growth and development. Special frames can be bought to display these.

No doubt you will make an album of photos; remember to date them as it is surprisingly easy to forget.

By your child’s first birthday you will have built up a unique record of his first year. Continue to record those small details in a journal or notebook as the less memorable milestones often get forgotten. Whether you keep the box for yourself or give it to your child when he is older is up to you. Either way, memories will be stored for you both.

Development FAQ: 0-6 months – Other Advice

Is there an ‘ideal’ age gap between first and second children?

When would you recommend having our second child? Is there an ‘ideal’ age gap? Our first baby is now five months old.

There is no simple answer to this question as everyone’s personal situation will be different. Before deciding when to try to have your second baby you will need to think about the pros and cons of having a smaller gap against having a larger one. Some factors to consider are your age, whether you conceived easily with your first (not something that can be relied upon) and your personal circumstances as regards finances, housing, family support and work commitments. You may want to consider how you coped with your first birth and the first few months following delivery. Having a second baby is easier in some respects as, having been through the experience once, you will not find everything so new and bewildering. But all babies are demanding and having two children with different characters and needs can be hard to juggle initially.

You may also want to think through the practical concerns of how you will cope with two. A smaller gap (under two years) will entail two in nappies, with possibly your first not yet fully mobile and still sleeping in a cot. If your first child is in a routine you will need to think how you might settle your second baby around this; crucial times such as mornings, bath and bedtimes will need planning as a toddler will feel more secure if these stay roughly the same. At around 18 months a toddler is learning a great many new skills and giving adequate time to this, as well as dealing with a new baby, will be difficult for a time. (Gina has written a comprehensive routine for a baby and toddler on the site to help you cope in the first few hectic weeks, should this be the way you decide to go.) A closer age gap can, however, have advantages as children grow; being at a similar stage means routines, toys, holidays and outings can easily be geared to both children at once, but you may have less chance to pass toys, baby equipment or clothing down the line.

A larger age gap will mean your older child has achieved some degree of independence, which will make looking after a new baby easier and the older child may even be able to help with certain tasks. But, as an older child may be attending nursery or school, you will have to be up and ready by a certain time in the morning. Your older child may also have regular activities and play dates. This can help in keeping them occupied, but you will have to fit the feeding and nap times of the newborn around these extra activities.

Whatever gap you decide upon, or nature decides for you (as don’t assume that everything will go the same way as first time around) how you cope with two is a lot to do with your own approach to the situation. Many mothers are afraid that their first child will be jealous or that they will not feel the same overwhelming love for their second baby as they did for their first. These are issues you may need to address as they arise. A lot of older siblings will feel jealous at some time, whether around the time of the birth or months/ years later, but how you deal with this, and the many other issues that will arise, will affect things significantly. Whatever gap you aim for, remember there are pros and cons of any age combination and many mothers have coped and indeed grown to love an age gap which seemed far from “ideal” at the time. Good luck whatever you decide.

Development FAQ: 0-6 months – Other Advice

What is the best way stay on the routines when flying to Australia for three weeks with 10 week old twins?

At Christmas time we are going to Australia, from the UK for three weeks. My twin girls will be 10 weeks when we leave. I have tried very hard to follow the routines and I am not only petrified that about the flight, but also scared that they will get off the routines. How is it best to do this travel? I am thinking about not going!

It is a daunting prospect of flying this far with one baby, let alone two, but not impossible. A baby works on his own body clock, eating and napping at regular times throughout 24 hours regardless of what time the clock says. It is easier for a baby or small child to adapt to “local time” when moving time zones than it is for an adult. During the flight you will be able to keep to the usual times of feeds. Even if it is not a feed time around take off and landing have a small feed for each baby which can be offered at these times to help them adjust to the cabin pressures. Sucking on a dummy can also help. Most babies of this age are inclined to sleep quite a lot during a flight. Below, it is suggested you take familiar items to help them settle well. Long haul flights have lots of times when the lights are dimmed so darkness should not be too much of a problem with them at this young age.

Once you arrive in Australia put yourself and the girls on to local time and begin the next day at 7am. Depending how much they have slept on the plane, it may take a day or two of tweaking things a little so they are back to the routines but keep working on the usual day timings. Look in The Contented Baby Book, page 90, for a question and answer on changing time zones. Putting your usual bath and bedtime routine in place, as well as starting the day at 7am, will give you the framework for getting back into the full routine within a few days.

Make sure you ‘phone the airline ahead of your flight to order sky cots or bassinets for the girls. You should be allocated bulkhead seats, allowing you room to put them in the cots to sleep. Most long haul routes are more than willing to heat up formula feeds for you. The news of twin babies on board will mean you will undoubtedly be given a great deal of help by the cabin staff. They are usually excellent with young babies and their parents on these long flights.

On the practical side consider ready sterilized disposable bottles and ready-made formula to help you during the journey. Find a good quality insulated bag if you wish to take frozen expressed milk with you. It will gradually defrost on the way and can be fed over the duration of the flight.

Pack a baby bag with two or three changes of clothes for each of the girls. Keep to simple all-in-one suits and remember a cardigan or light jacket for each of them, as planes can be chilly. Take a blanket from home for each of them as the smell will be familiar and help them to settle to sleep. Have plenty of muslins and wipes along with your usual changing items. Disposable changing mats can be useful on planes where space is usually at a premium. Pack a couple of clean tee shirts or light tops for yourself in your hand luggage as you won’t want to arrive in Australia with spit up, or worse, on you.

Providing you plan ahead, and try to think of any problems you may encounter, there is no reason why you cannot contemplate this flight with the girls.

Development FAQ: 0-6 months – Behaviour

How can get my 16 week son to be less grizzly and able to amuse himself?

Our son is 16 weeks old and is, for most of the time, a very grizzly baby. He grizzles most of the day and for most of the time doesn’t really seem to want to play. I thought things had changed when he reached 10 weeks as for 3 blissful weeks I had the most contented, smiley, happy baby I could ever ask for. Then it just changed right back and he has been grizzly for the last 3 weeks. I have done nothing different in the routine and am finding things so difficult. Especially when I meet other mums with gorgeous happy babies and mine is just grizzling the whole time!

When I go in to him in the morning I am greeted with huge smiles which continue whilst I change his nappy. I then feed him his milk at 7.15am which he drinks (we were struggling for a couple of weeks to get him to take more than 5-6oz at each feed but he seems to be back on track taking 7-8oz). He is then happy enough for about 10mins on my lap but if I put him under his play gym the grizzling starts and he rolls over and sucks his thumb or just carries on grizzling!

The same happens after each sleep – he wakes all smiley and loves the nappy change (although he cries when I wash and dress him at 8am) and takes his milk well but refuses to play alone, only plays happily with me for a short while, won’t be happy sitting in bouncer chair watching me do chores or be played with and is generally grizzling most of the time. He is starting to want to sit and stand a lot more and right from birth he has always had good head control so I try to spend time doing that with him which he seems happy to do but only for 10mins max. I try tummy time every day but he gets upset after about 2-3mins.

He always seems tired even though he sleeps well and the last couple of days he hasn’t been sleeping great at any of his naps – I can hear him grumbling on and off or chatting or moving around the cot. But this is only recently – he was still tired looking and grizzly even when he slept well.

Also over the last couple of days he has cried on and off from 5.30pm onwards until bedtime at 7pm. My husband baths him slightly later than you recommend at 6.20pm as he likes to do the bath and does it when he gets home but we think my son is so tired by then he just cries and cries. This is only a recent problem and I am surprised as he sleeps for 45mins at 4.15pm. So surely he can’t be tired? If we give the bath at 5.45 or 6pm what do we do with Max for the rest of the time as he will be upset till milk and then he only takes 10mins to drink it.

I just feel exhausted trying to find ways to keep my son entertained and I don’t know how to get him to play for longer than 10mins by himself. Why does he wake all smiles and then for it to change after about 15-20mins? Is there such a thing as a grizzly baby? Should I stop trying to solve it and just accept that my son is like that and hope it will get better as he gets older and can do more?

Any suggestions would be hugely appreciated as am feeling so down about it all. Can’t stop wishing for that lovely happy baby I had for 3 weeks and totally enjoyed.

My son takes 6-8ozs at 7.10am, 10.45am and 2.30pm. He takes 1-2ozs water at 4pm, 5.15pm 5.5ozs, 6.45pm 3ozs, 10.30pm 3.5-4.5ozs. He weighs 15lbs 14ozs.
He naps at 9-9.50am, 12-2.15pm and 4.15-5pm.

All babies have different characters and temperaments. Understanding and accepting your own baby’s will go a long way to help you learn how to cope with him. It is very difficult when you have had a happy baby for a few weeks only to see it all disappear. A baby develops at an amazing rate in the first year. A lot of this development seems to come in stages or phases, followed by a period of relative calm. Just before the next stage is reached, whether it is rolling over, beginning to crawl or beginning to make recognizable sounds, a baby may well be overly fussy, cranky and generally out of sorts. There is a book called “The Wonder Weeks” by Hetty Vanderijt and Frans Plooij which describes the run up to these phases in great detail. [Look on the Recommended Book section of the site.] Reading it may help you understand why your son appears to be grizzly a lot of the time at this age. In a few weeks he will be babbling, using his hands together, and maybe rolling over. Once he is able to do these things he will be more able to amuse himself. At present he is still quite reliant on you to help him explore the world around him.

A baby of this age may be able to amuse himself for 15-20 minutes before becoming bored and either needing a change of scene or some adult interaction. One way to get him to amuse himself alone is to sit with him on his play mat and show him a toy on his gym. Stay with him for a few minutes encouraging him to swipe at the toys but letting him do it rather than yourself. Being beside him but not always totally interacting and playing with him can help. Then tell him you are going to leave for a few minutes. Stay within sight of him and talk to him about what you are doing. It can be difficult to “talk” to a small baby and, although some mothers seem to do it naturally, for others it takes much more effort. Because it is a one way conversation it can be hard, but keep on telling him what you are doing and what you are going to do as you go about your chores.

At present he seems only able to manage about ten minutes before needing a change of scene. If you encourage him by both playing with him and staying near but letting him amuse himself for short times you will gradually notice he gets better at amusing himself. Until he has more physical skills he does need a lot of help from you. Work at getting one chore done such as emptying the dishwasher before you go back and interact with him again. Take him from his chair and spend five minutes on the floor practising rolling with him. Then take him with you and have him near you as you do the next chore. Keep your expectations low of how much you will be able to get done whilst he is awake. Look for things which will only take five or ten minutes before you will need to be with your son again.

Take a good look at the toys he has and make sure they are suitable for his stage of development. Some times a baby will prefer to play with something simple such as a wooden spoon, rather than a specially designed rattle or toy. Look around the house for simple, safe items to give him. Beware of sharp edges, small pieces and make sure whatever it is it won’t be harmed if sucked. Just have one or two toys out at once. Over stimulation with too much to look at and grab for is often a reason why babies are unable to settle to any one thing.

Make time each day to get out of the house. Sitting in his pram your son will be able to look at the world around him. Try to go to different places, such as the park, as well as shopping. Stop and look at a flower stand or watch the leaves blowing from the tree. Encouraging his interest in what is going on around him will help him take a little more interest in the world.

Consider starting a class with your son. Massage or baby yoga could help deepen the bond between you. Most babies adore both. You could also consider a swimming class which would give him plenty of exercise and stimulation. With so much on offer now to mothers it can be easy to over schedule, but two different activities in the week would help break up the days a little and give you something to look forward to.

From your notes, your son seems to be feeding and napping at regular times. He is maybe a baby who needs slightly more sleep and is still not able to stay awake for a full two hours before needing to nap again. Although he still naps in the afternoon, crying after his bath time is most likely to be through tiredness. Would it be possible to have your son all ready to go into the bath as soon as your husband is home from work? He could be in the bathroom enjoying a kick with no nappy on and so be ready. If you do decide to bring his bath time forward he will still be having his milk around 6.15pm and then may be happy to have a short play before bedtime. If tiredness is an issue many babies of this age are settled at 6.30pm/6.45pm.

Watch him in the day for signs of tiredness and take him up to his room for a quiet ten or fifteen minutes before he settles for a nap. He may need to go down slightly earlier than he has been, in order to settle and sleep better. A baby who is tired will not be able to amuse themselves well and so resort to thumb sucking or grizzling.

Another thing to look at is his feeding. Does he take his bottles really quickly? If he does he may be a baby who needs a break and short play mid feed so he is actually sucking over a longer stretch of time. Although he is only 16 weeks old he is quite big and you may need to discuss with your health visitor or doctor the best time to wean him.

Once your son is physically more able to do things for himself, such as rolling and holding toys well, he may begin to be less grizzly and demanding of your time. It is hard work when you feel that nothing is satisfying him but after just a few changes, such as earlier naps, taking him out and about and having lower expectations yourself of what you want to achieve in the day, you will probably feel happier about this stage of your son’s life.

Development FAQ: 0-6 months – Behaviour

My daughter of almost 4mths seems quite a grumpy baby and is unable to amuse herself for any length of time unlike other babies of her age

My daughter is a very grumpy baby and seems to cry more than other children I see. She is almost 17 weeks now and spends little quiet time with me or on her own. She needs quite constant attention and holding, rocking, talking, singing, playing etc. I don’t mind doing any of this as she’s my first baby and I have a lot of time to spend with her.
She goes down with small amount of fuss for naps but after ten minutes is asleep and sleeps from 6.30pm to 6.30am most nights. She loves her food so I have little to complain about.

I do get regular smiles and the rare giggle. I just want her to be happier. Am I doing something wrong or is there something else I could be doing to help? She doesn’t seem tired except at night after bath time and before feeding. She can’t be hungry as drinks she 2 8oz bottles at least as well as breast feeding.

She hates any fuss and screams when getting dressed, getting a coat and hat on, being put into a car seat or a pram. She just seems angry most of the time when other babies I see at baby massage class lie down laughing and gurgling, my daughter disrupts the class with crying and leaves her mum looking inadequate and embarrassed.
Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated.

My daughter breast feeds at 7am and 2.30pm and has 8-9ozs of formula at 11am and 6pm.

She naps at 8.45-9.30am and 12-2.00pm. She settles at 6.30pm and sleeps through to 6.30am.

Babies all have different temperaments, in the same way as adults. They react differently to situations. Some seem to take the world in their stride and others find it quite a bewildering and overwhelming place. If your daughter is a baby who is rather sensitive she may take longer to get used to new situations, such as a massage class. This doesn’t mean you have to stop taking her out and about to meet other babies and children but you may need to help her get used to the world. At the same time, it is a good idea if she does become more used to amusing herself for short periods of time. You can help her in this as well, by not always interacting with her but being nearby should she need you.

Start by helping her play alone for short periods. To begin with this may only be for a few minutes but, if you work on it gradually, you can build up her time. At this age it is reasonable to expect a baby to be content for 15-20 minutes without needing your attention. This is more likely with a baby who has always been allowed to have short spells alone, either under a play gym or mobile or on their tummy looking at a mirror or toys, with an adult close by but not always interacting with them.

Choose a time of day when your daughter is not getting hungry or tired. Keep your own attitude playful and light. Babies are very sensitive to adult emotions and can sense if you are tense or stressed. Lay out her play mat with two toys such as a mirror and a book of simple outlined pictures. Talk to her as you lay her down, and then sit beside her. If she starts to cry straight away don’t pick her up. Talk to her about the pictures in the book or say,” Look, can you see… [your daughter’s name]” and tap on the mirror. If she does begin to take an interest in the book or mirror quietly observe her rather than talking to her all the time. All babies need plenty of interaction but they also need time on their own to find out things for themselves. It may only be five minutes before she seems to be unhappy again. Console her for a few minutes then try again leaving her to look at herself in the mirror or look at her book. Rather than overwhelm her with different toys or amusements it is better to stay with one or two things at a time. Make the first few occasions short but gradually increase the time she will amuse herself, by looking at or holding a simple toy, without needing your interaction.

Find rattles and playthings which are suitable for her age. There is no point in giving her toys which are too old for her hoping it might encourage her to progress faster. She needs toys which will help her practise the skills she has already. If she is quite adept at holding a small light rattle in her hand then offer her that, although it may appear rather simple and lacking in excitement to you. If she is able to wave it without hitting herself in the face, bring it to her mouth to gum it and maybe even pass it from one hand to the other, she is practising a variety of skills. At some times in the day she may enjoy playing with a rattle. At others, if she is getting tired, she may prefer a quieter occupation such as looking at her reflection in a mirror. If you can find one which is a wedge shape you can encourage her to have a short time on her tummy each day. This will help her physical development and let her see her world from a different viewpoint.

There will still be plenty of times when you do need to pick up your daughter and amuse her. Don’t feel this always has to be with singing and playing. She will like the sound of your voice just talking to her about what you are doing. Over stimulating a baby can be as damaging as under stimulation. They may want to be with you to feel secure but you do not have to be a one woman entertainment centre all day long. Because you do have a lot of time to spend with your baby it is easy to always feel you should be “doing” something with her. Let her become an observer as well. Talk to her about what you see from the window, what you are going to cook for supper, what you need to write on the shopping list. The actual language may be beyond her comprehension but she will respond in her own way by beginning to babble and chat to you.

Comparing your daughter with other babies of her age is not going to help her. All babies develop at a different rate and have different temperaments and characters. Look at your daughter in her own light. She will have her own unique character. She may not be so willing to lie and gurgle when massaged but she may be able to lift her head well when on her tummy. If your daughter has never been happy to have her nappy changed or be undressed she will take a while to enjoy massage. Again, your own attitude is important as well. If you are tense and worried that she may cry when being massaged she probably will cry. Try to relax and enjoy being with other mums for their company rather than comparing your baby with theirs. If you relax, your daughter will begin to do so as well.

Handling a sensitive baby takes time and patience. Reassure your daughter by telling her what is going to happen next. You need to respect her own physical space. Although it may take longer to get her ready to go out in the car or get undressed, try talking through the process with her each time For example, when preparing her for her massage class, tell her that you are going to get her undressed and talk to her reassuringly as you go through the process. Many babies do not like the feel of air on their skin. Keep part of her covered with a muslin or small towel to see if she can relax a little more. If she needs to be picked up and cuddled during the session then do so. Gradually, as she feels more secure, she will begin to enjoy the class. Also, before changing her, tell her what you are going to do. Although it will be several months before she “talks” back to you tell her before you lift her legs, or take off her tights, as the sound of your voice will reassure her.

Your daughter will feel more secure if she is not suddenly moved from one activity to another. The more you try to help your daughter now, and allow for her rather sensitive nature the more enjoyment you will get from seeing her begin to relax and enjoy life knowing that the security of your arms is always near, should she need it.

Development FAQ: 0-6 months – Behaviour

My 15 week daughter has begun to become very fussy and crying a lot over the past two weeks

I have been following the CLB routine from birth with my 15 week old daughter. I have had to adjust the 10.30pm feed to keep her up for an hour as you suggest which is working and now finally she is sleeping though for the last week. (I intend to follow your advice and cut the time down that she’s up)

But for the last two weeks she is very fussy and nearly crying all the time. I cannot put her down for five minutes which is not normally like her. I have tried to get her more interesting toys and a new door bouncer. I tried to change her formula (onto cow and gate Omneo Comfort in case she was getting tummy upset ) this didn’t work she ended up with almost water poo after two bottles so I put her back on SMA white. I’ ve changed her bottles to tommiee tippee health check to reduce any wind , she is teething and I am giving bonjela( the banana favored one only when I really need to ) but nothing has worked and she is becoming more and more wingy every day. I am coming to the end of my tether and got very upset today. She is eating and sleeping, I just don’t know what to do.

My daughter feeds at 7am 6ozs, 11am 6ozs, 2.00pm 6ozs, 6.00pm 5ozs, 7pm 3ozs, 10pm 4ozs, 11pm 2ozs. She takes 2ozs of pear juice at 4pm.

My daughter naps at 9-10am, 12-2.00pm. She settles to sleep at 7pm.

Although your daughter is eating and sleeping well it would be a good idea to have her checked over by your doctor for any signs of gastric problems. Changing formulas should really be done after asking a doctor’s or health visitor’s advice as it can cause slight digestive upset for a few days.

Once you have had your daughter checked over and are reassured that there are no clinical reasons for her clinginess then try to find ways to organize your day so that you have times when you are with her and short spells when you encourage her to play on her own. A baby needs to play on her own as well as spending time playing with you. Getting your daughter used to both will help her be able to amuse herself for short spells of time without becoming too clingy and whiney, trying to get you to pay her some attention.

A baby of this age is beginning to form attachments to her main carer, which is you. It can be difficult if you feel that your daughter wants to be picked up all the time, having been content to play on her mat when younger. This is why it is a good plan to split your day up into sections.

Have some time when she is with you while you work, some time when you actively play with her, and part of the day when she amuses herself for short periods of time. Try to take her with you from room to room, using her baby chair. She then can be near to you and see what you are doing. Talk to her as much as possible, even though she is only just beginning to make sounds herself. It may sound silly talking to a baby about what you are cooking, what you need to buy at the shops, what jobs you need to get done, but she is a willing listener. Look at her as you talk, and be quite expressive in your face. This will encourage her to “talk” back to you. Put on a CD of nursery songs and sing along to them, if you remember the words. You could have this playing whilst trying to get the household chores done and keep drawing her attention to it.

Your daughter depends on you to provide her with stimulation as she is unable to yet do much for herself. After a short time of being in her chair watching you, spend some time playing with your daughter on her mat or on your knee. Show her a toy and encourage her to reach out for it. She may be able to hold a toy by now, and will also be fascinated by her hands. Sit close to her and encourage her to grasp, grab and swat at toys on her play gym, as this will develop her hand-eye coordination. If she has not quite reached this stage of development some of her clinginess and whining could be through frustration. Once your daughter has become more dexterous with her hands, and can hold and manipulate her toys better, you may find this phase of clinginess and whining passes. If she has had a play gym for some time hang some different toys on it, or find some shiny paper you can cut into spirals and hang from the frame.

Once your daughter has become interested in her toys whilst you are sitting by her, stay nearby but don’t constantly interact with her. If she seems content to play alone move yourself to a nearby chair and see if she will continue playing. Don’t expect this to go on for very long to begin with. She may last 5-10minutes and then want to be held again. But by using this method every day, spending time with her and then leaving her to amuse herself whilst you stay within sight, she will gradually extend the time she is content to be on the floor.

Play plenty of singing or action games with her, such as “Round and round the garden” and “This little piggy went to market”, through the day as these involve physically touching her which will help reassure her. Also, spend time looking at books with her as she sits on your knee. Talk to her about what you see in the pictures. The sound of your voice will be reassuring to her.

Try to get out for a walk every day if you can. See if there are some local Mother and Baby groups near to you which you can drop into, even if just for half an hour. Talking to other mums will be good for you and your daughter will like to watch the other babies, even if from the safety of your lap.

You may like to look into starting massage or baby yoga classes. Both these activities encourage a lot of physical contact between you and your baby which you both will enjoy. If you have no classes near to you there are videos available to show you how to enjoy these activities with your baby.