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Archive for Baby Behaviour – Page 2

Play Ideas in the First 12 Months

By Jan Murray

Play helps children learn and develop. During the early years infants use all their senses to explore the environment. They intently look, smell, taste, hear and feel everything they can in order to make sense of their world. Children’s’ genetic makeup combined with opportunities to explore, shapes who they become.


Physical development begins at the head and works downwards. Infants first gain strength and control of their head and neck, followed by the hands and arms. Then the spine and trunk strengthen in order to assist them to sit and swivel. Next, the legs strengthen, which helps them crawl, stand and eventually walk. Exposing infants to games and toys that match their physical abilities and mental alertness encourages mastery of one area in readiness for the next.


An infant’s first year can be divided into five developmental stages:

  1. For the first six weeks there is no need for toys. Infants are more concerned with who is caring for them. Newborns delight in familiar voices and heartbeats so cuddle up close, read and sing to them. Newborns are comforted by touch and rhythmical movements so carry, sway, rock, give tummy time on your chest, across your lap or on a soft mat on the floor. Newborn vision is limited to about 20cm so get close to get their attention.
  2. From six weeks to four months you’ll notice infants looking at you intently. They often have a puzzled frown as they closely observe objects and faces. Black and white patterns and hanging mobiles hold their attention and they grip thin toys when placed in their grasp but won’t have very good control so may drop objects or hit them self in the head. Their refection in the mirror is fascinating. Tummy time continues to be important but is not always enjoyed so use various distractions and persevere.
  3. From four to six months most infants are not mobile although many have mastered rolling over. They reach out for and hold toys with better coordination and enjoy feeling textured fabrics and surfaces with their hands and feet. Many infants are nearly sitting but avoid leaving them in ‘sitting aids’ for too long as their spine and hips are not developed enough for this until they can sit naturally. Mimicking sounds and ‘talking’ to your baby is a game they love and so is exploring the taste of different foods.
  4. From six to nine months infants are rolling over and have mastered sitting up. Seeing the world from this angle provides more ‘play’ opportunities. Stacking blocks and cups make colourful fun. Sit them in the highchair while you cook and hand them safe kitchen implements and foods to explore. Sit them on a rug, in a washing basket or in a stroller while you hang the washing on the line. Hand them some wet washing and coloured pegs to examine. Infants begin to understand ‘object permanence’, where just because they can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. For this reason, introduce games like ‘peek–a–boo’ and hiding objects under something nearby and encouraging them to look for it.
  5. From nine to twelve months life starts to get even more interesting. Most infants are now on the move, crawling, cruising around furniture or walking. Introduce toys they can stand at. Tables with nobs to push twist and pop are entertaining. Discovering finger food is a great game but be prepared for mess before manners. Hazards are a big problem at this stage because they are very quick and very inquisitive. If you have older children, be aware of very small bits on their toys. If they are walking they love pushing things around. Pulling and throwing objects are also popular.

To be able to coordinate and learn well infants need adequate sleep.

Play is exciting and it’s how children learn about their world. Help them get involved and provide consistent boundaries to show them how far they can go. Keep them safe and stimulated to foster their inquisitive spirit and enjoy their limitless enthusiasm.

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. 

Changes in Baby Sleep Patterns

By Jan Murray


When parents ask whether your baby sleeps through the night, the answer you give can feel like a rite of passage for being a ‘good’ parent! However, don’t worry because it is normal for babies to wake overnight for many years. The issue is really more about what babies rely on to get back to sleep. Sleeping through means when your baby wakes he doesn’t need any help to get back to sleep, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t wake up. There are a variety of factors that prevent babies and toddlers sleeping through the night. Many are learned behaviours, which could have been prevented and can be fixed.

Newborns that are jaundice (yellow discolouration of the skin) or weigh less than 3000gms need to be fed about four hourly overnight.  There are also medical conditions and metabolic disorders that require babies to have regular milk feeds overnight.

Adults can easily achieve and function well on six to eight hours of unbroken sleep a night (before children!). A newborn requires around 16 – 17 hours sleep in a 24 hour period, which needs to be broken up with milk feeds. As babies get older, the amount of sleep they require for good health and development slowly decreases and the spacing of feeds increases.


The natural day/night sleeping pattern takes a couple of months to develop. Parents can help this process by focusing on feeding newborns at regular three to four hourly intervals during the day. Feed and sleep babies in the daylight for the first six weeks but after this they often appreciate dimmer lighting to settle to sleep. Pull the blinds or curtains while sleeping but make sure you raise them when they are ready to get up. Feed during the night with soft lighting and minimal stimulation. To keep them secure and comfortable swaddle for sleeping—it encourages sleep by preventing the startle reflex (throwing arms out) disturbing them. This reflex disappears around three to four months old making it easier to transition out of a wrap and into a baby sleeping bag.


By eight to ten weeks old, babies are able to sleep longer stretches at night of four to six hours and shorter naps of one to two hours during the day. Night sleep between 6.30pm and 6.30am is still broken with the need for milk feeds two or three times until six to eight months old. By this age, babies are able to sleep much longer (10 -12 hours straight) with two day sleeps (one in the morning and one in the early afternoon). This pattern of sleep is not impossible for most babies but there can be several reasons why this is not happening for some.


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One reason why many older babies continue to wake and get milk feeds overnight (more than they require) is because they have been programmed from birth to have milk feeds to go off to sleep. Continuing to feed whenever babies wake overnight becomes an expectation even if they are not hungry. One way to avoid this happening is to help babies to fall asleep naturally during the early months and as they get older avoid rushing in when they wake overnight. Set up positive sleeping cues early and allow babies the opportunity to self-regulate good sleeping patterns without the dependence on milk feeds.

From four months old neurological development causes babies to wake and chatter—they are not asking for anyone and it’s usually not hunger. If they know how to settle, they will go back to sleep when they are ready. If babies wake erratically it could be a sign that they need more nutrients during the day. This can be fixed either by increasing breast milk, adding some infant formula feeds or introducing solids. Seek advice from your child health professional for the best option for your baby.

From nine months old poor sleeping patterns can become worse. Babies who enjoy feeding during the night usually can’t eat much during the day, which then hinders a good night sleep. Poor sleep then reduces their energy levels needed for physical activities, which further reduces the need for eating. This lack of activity makes babies less physically tired, reducing the need for sleep and the lack of ‘fuel’ can make babies drowsy and in need of a quick nap.


They may be teething but teething doesn’t usually cause night waking but it can prevent babies going back to sleep if they wake.

Parenting styles, family environments and settling techniques vary. Consider the best options for your family to function well and ensure babies and toddlers get a good night sleep for their optimal development.

A ‘Suggested Daily Routines’ eBook is available to help sort out night and day patterns of sleep.

Read this different perspective from the babies side! Awake Training for Parents

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. Jan publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

Signs Baby is Ready for Solid Food

By Jan Murray

Studies show babies are not developmentally ready to tolerate solid foods before 17 weeks of age.

If your baby is hungry and not gaining weight before 17 weeks, you can increase their weight by providing extra breast feeds or introduce an additional bottle of Infant Formula. Seek professional guidance for the appropriate Infant Formula to use for your baby.


When to consider starting your baby on solid foods:

  • The ‘tongue thrust’ is gone.
  • Baby can sit in a semi-controlled, upright position. Not being able to sit or hold his back reasonably straight will prevent him focusing on eating
  • Baby’s weight gain has slowed down
  • Baby is waking at erratic times overnight when previously had been sleeping through
  • Baby is constantly dissatisfied when being breastfed. They are constantly pulling off and on the nipple and feeding is becoming less enjoyable
  • Baby is wanting to breastfeed more regularly during the day instead of spacing it out to every four hours
  • Baby is watching you eat with greater interest and could even be trying to take the spoon or food from your hand.

If you see any or some of these signs start your baby on some soft and sloppy foods.

Start your baby on soft solids once a day during their awake-time after a milk feed. This is best offered after the mid morning feed when your baby is alert and less tired. Add another solid feed mid-afternoon when your baby looks ready and willing for more.

Milk is still important for your baby’s nutrition so avoid introducing too much food too quickly. Introduce a third meal when ready.

More information on solids with recipes here



This can vary depending on:

  • Individual metabolism
  • Energy requirements, especially if they are sick or very active
  • Interest in food
  • Whether they are eating in a stressed or rushed atmosphere.

Bon Appetit!!

This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance.

Baby’s Ear Ache

by Jan

Earaches are painful and distressing.

When and where ear pain occurs

Ear pain can occur when your baby is teething, flying in a plane, swimming, or after an illness. Pain can come from the outer or middle ear.

Structure of the ear supports infection

Babies are at risk of ear infection because the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the throat and nose, is short and straight. This shape makes it easier for bacteria from infections in the nose and throat to travel up into the middle ear.

Fluid becomes trapped in the middle ear creating a wet, dark, warm environment, perfect for growing bacteria and viruses. Trapped thick fluid builds up in the middle ear causing the eardrum to bulge. This condition called Acute Otitis Media. If your child’s immune system is strong, inflammation and infection will clear and pressure will be relieved before the eardrum perforates.

Ear infections are not directly contagious but can follow viral or bacterial illness. Regular hand washing is the best defence against the spread of germs. Fever is nature’s way of fighting bacteria so don’t be too quick to give medications to reduce fever; let fever do its work first. Giving fluids, rest, cuddles, and pain relief may be all your baby needs to recover. Even when the drum perforates, fluid drains and it heals quickly on its own.

Glue ear and grommets

If thick fluid doesn’t drain and is constantly in the middle ear it is referred to as Glue ear, a condition, which stops the ear functioning as it should[i] and results in hearing loss and subsequent behaviour and language problems.[ii] To avoid this happening, some babies will be prescribed a course of antibiotics to help clear the infection. Your GP may suggest seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist who may recommend an operation to insert an artificial tube (Grommet) through the eardrum. This tiny tube allows air and fluid to flow freely through the ear. Grommets usually remain in place for about six to 12-months if they don’t fall out earlier.

Hearing loss

If your baby has more than three or four ear infections a year, a hearing test (by an audiologist) will rule out any hearing loss that can hinder language development.

In-flight sucking

In-flight earaches occur during take-off and landing due to changes in air pressure within the middle ear. Try reducing your baby’s ear pain by getting her to suck on a dummy, breast or bottle when taking-off and landing.

Learn how to clean ears: Caring for newborn sensitive bits








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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. Jan publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

Baby Sleep Patterns

by Jan

Sleep is important for babies and toddlers to be alert and learn new things and to function at their optimum level. If you are reading this you have probably found out that sleep is important for adults too!

Parents can provide an appropriate environment and opportunity for children to learn how to sleep?

When adults, children and babies have less than adequate amounts of sleep for their age and activity requirements they are often found to be:

  • more whingy
  • unsettled
  • irritable
  • impatient
  • jumpy
  • more tantrums with greater intensity
  • clumsy
  • over-active in their movements
  • regular lack of sleep will also decrease immunity levels creating a greater risk of illness.
  • concentration and tolerance levels drop

Below is a guide for your baby sleep patterns. Use it as a guide only as sleep is individual and dependent on physical activity, general health and wellbeing.

Feel free to browse other products relating to SLEEP on this site:

Settling Your Newborn to Sleep eBook

Putting Them To Sleep eBook 

Sleep or Behaviour Package

‘Mum, Baby & Toddler – together we learn’ 

‘taste it – easy baby & toddler recipes along with professional child health advice’  eBook

All babies are individual in their needs and you will understand these needs, as you get to know your baby.

Be guided by your babies TIRED SIGNS which may include:

  • grizzling
  • yawning
  • jerky limb movements
  • rubbing eyes
  • frowning
  • pulling at ears
  • clenched fists
Ages Routine Sleep patterns Up time between feeds Down-time Type of play
1-4 wks Feed



16.5 hrs 1hr 15mins 1-1.5 hrs Likes faces,singing and movement
4 -12 wks Feed



15 hrs 1-1.5 hrs 1.5 – 2 hrs Mobiles, soft toys, colours, floor play, tummy time
3 -4 mths Feed



6 – 10 hrs / night (night feeds)

3-4 day sleeps

1.5 hrs 1.5 – 2 hrs Deliberately
swings out at objects, holds small rattles, books, mirror & music
4 – 6 mths Feed




8 – 10 hrs / night (wakes and chatters)feeds not nutritionally required.

2 – 3 day sleeps

1.5 – 2 hrs 2 hrs Holds & touches toys,

transfers from one hand to another, mouths toys

6 – 8 mths Feed




11 -12 hrs / night ( no night feeds required)

2 day sleeps

2 hrs 1.5 – 2 hrs Bath toys, vocalizing, toys with moving parts,
rolling and dancing
8 – 10 mths Feed




12 hrs a night

2 day sleeps

2.5 – 3 hrs 1 – 2 hrs Peek-a-boo, cloth books, moving toys, dolls, floor play & discovering
10 – 12 mths Feed




12 hrs a night

2 day sleeps

3 – 4 hrs 1 – 1.5 hrs Music, stacking blocks, play group, kitchen objects, cruizing around furnature
12 mths + Toddler


11 – 12 hrs a night,

1 day sleep

4 hrs + 2 – 2.5 hrs total Puzzles, dancing, sandpit, pushbutton or pull along toys, cardboard boxes

Most babies under 8 weeks have one unsettled period a day,

commonly in the evening and one unsettled day per week

Ages Appropriate Sleep Requirement /
24 hours
A daytime nap needs to be finish before 2.30pm or they may be difficult to settle at night.
12 – 18mths 13 – 14 hours



May have 2 short naps or 1 longer nap of 2½ hrs

The length of nap will depend on how long your child has slept at night and how stimulating or strenuous their day activities have been

18 mths – 3 yrs 12 – 13 hours A large percentage of young children still require daytime naps but again this will vary (1-2½ hrs) depending on their nights sleep and day activities
3 – 5 years 11 – 12 hours Often grown out of needing a regular daytime nap but a quiet time with books after lunch is appropriate and useful.

Toddlers require a day sleep until 2 years old but some will continue until 4 years

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your baby, infant or toddler slept these hours!

It is important for you to learn how you can help your baby to sleep well even if it is not as much as this chart indicates; remember all babies are individual in their needs?

The Putting them to Sleep eBook will answer a lot of the questions you have concerning baby sleep.

Food and nutrition has a significant impact on baby sleep patterns.

If your baby is approaching or over 5 months old you will find my new book ‘taste it’ very helpful and easy to understand. I compiled all the answers to the many questions that parents with babies and children ask. Easy to read and simple to follow. Order your online today.

‘taste it – easy baby & toddler recipes along with professional child health advice’

This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. 

Gagging is not Choking

by Jan Murray

It is important for parents to understand the difference between when a baby gags on food and chokes on food… gagging is normal infant development whereas choking can be harmful.

Learning in the mouth

During the first year of life babies learn through senses in the mouth. Different textures, temperatures and tastes stimulate learning and the development of neural pathways in the brain. Until four to six months of age babies only swallow liquid. Swallowing is different when food is involved. There are different tastes, textures and temperatures to explore and become familiar with. Some babies are sensitive to these changes while others are not.


Soft, pureed or chewed food pass over the tongue touching the gag reflex at the back of the throat on the way to the stomach. Suitably prepared food, softened and mushed (mechanically or in the mouth) slides down the oesophagus into the stomach and intestines for further digestion.

This process of swallowing often involves gagging when the food is new. Choking occurs when food items are too hard or large. Gagging is not the same as choking.


Choking occurs when a substance gets lodged in the small oesophageal tube and pushes into into the trachea (airway) lying alongside it.

Food matter can partially obstruct the trachea or completely obstruct the tube. This depends on the size and firmness of the lodged substance. Sitting upright helps food matter slide down.

Never offer babies food that could get lodged in this tube such as peanuts, raw carrot, apple, and hard biscuits that don’t soften with saliva.


Gagging is when babies are getting use to different textures. When food travels down the oesophagus babies may regurgitate it up from the back of their throat but often swallow it again. It is important for babies to be in an upright position to aid this process. Gagging is necessary for babies to understand how to chew and swallow different textures. Giving babies soft foods that are age appropriate will usually not cause choking but often causes gagging during the chewing and swallowing process.

Always sit with babies when offering them solid food. Avoid showing panic reactions in front of them if they do gag. Instead, smile and be encouraging, knowing that they are capable of regurgitating and re-swallowing. If you panic babies may inhale the food they have in their mouth.

Enjoy the experience of eating 

Help babies enjoy the experience of eating in a non-rushed, non-distracted atmosphere. Sit in front of them face-to-face with an encouraging smile and keep a ‘sippy cup’ of water handy.

Staying on mush

Many parents hold off moving their infants onto textured food. This can lead to fussy eating and slowed speech development. Parents may fear choking or only use processed foods from jars, squeeze packets and tins, which are kept soft for legal reasons.

This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, private child health consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. Jan publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.