Guest Blogger! "What A Difference Bonding Makes"
July 6, 2012
What a Difference Bonding Makes
By Shelley Calissendorff, Founder/Executive Director of Smile At Your Baby!

My husband and I made the decision to adopt a foster child.  We knew there would be risk involved.  We knew foster-adopted children had a good chance of having attachment issues.  What we didn’t know is how much damage can be done to an infant in only nine short months.

The first day our daughter came home with me she wanted to hold the bottle herself.  She wanted to be held facing away from me and on my hip.  This is what she was used to.  From that point forward she was never allowed to hold her own bottle and she eventually grew accustomed to being held chest to chest.

There’s a quote making the Facebook circuit these days, “A worried mother does better research than the FBI.”  That was me!  We knew something wasn’t quite right with her, we just didn’t know for sure what.  I knew some about the importance of bonding with baby and kicked the bonding into high gear.  Oh!  How I wish “Sing To Your Baby!” had existed then!  I read to her every single day from day one.  We listened to children’s music at home and in the car.  When she cried and I couldn’t figure out why, I sang to her.  We enrolled in a music-based learning and movement group with other parents and toddlers and attended for two straight years.  What a blessing reading and music were! 

Putting baby on your lap and reading to them is a wonderful bonding technique and we did that daily.  My daughter has a wonderful sense of rhythm and actually sings on key (even when I can’t!).  Even now, at the age of ten, THE best way to calm her down and get her to go to sleep is to hum “Lullaby and Goodnight” to her just like I did every night until she was about seven.

I made bonding a priority for my daughter because I knew she needed it.  But ALL babies need and deserve it.  As a result, she did attach to me, rather quickly actually.  But, sadly, to this day her attachment to me is not what doctors consider “healthy” or “typical.”  My daughter had been so badly neglected in her first nine months that she will likely struggle with trying to create healthy relationships all of her life.  When she was four we finally figured it out.  She has Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD.  So common in foster children it’s scary. 

Thank goodness she wasn’t ten-months-old, or two-years-old when she was placed with us.  Thank goodness she wasn’t placed with another family who didn’t know to make bonding a priority.  I know with every ounce of my being that my beloved daughter is SO much better off today than she could have been because of pro-active bonding, reading, singing, humming, dancing, playing instruments and one-on-one time. 

Not every family can afford a music and movement class, or has one offered in their town.  But, with “Sing To Your Baby!” in your home you WILL have a fantastic tool for bonding with baby and encouraging baby to attach to you in return!  Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer really GET IT.  They have hit the nail on the head, and I personally cannot thank them enough for all the tiny lives they will be able to touch and influence for the better.

It’s not just about reading, singing and music.  It’s about what reading, singing and music do for baby!  They increase the odds of a healthy, secure bond occurring exponentially, they give baby a head start at learning and being successful in school, and they actually help to prevent infant mental health issues!  Do you know what happens to infant mental health disorders when they are not diagnosed and treated during infancy?  They become childhood mental health disorders and then adult mental health disorders.  Bonding with baby is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.  It can prevent so many social, mental and emotional issues later in life—it boggles the mind!

The great thing about bonding with baby other than the fact that it is so darn good for baby?  It’s easy to do!  Engage with baby.  Give baby some of your undivided attention each and every day.  Smile, gaze into baby’s eyes, touch, hold, make baby feel like the center of your universe, let baby know she can trust you no matter what.  For more tips on insuring a healthy, secure bond with baby visit www.SmileAtYourBaby.org or subscribe by text message to our free, daily BABY BIT service.  Each Monday through Friday U.S. and Canadian subscribers will receive parent coaching via text message that is easy to understand and easy to do.

Smile At Your Baby! would like to take this opportunity to thank Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer from the bottom of our hearts for all that they do for children, and for helping to make the world a happier, healthier place for all of us!  :D

     
Sing To Your Baby™ - Parent Guide
February 24, 2011

by Laura G. Brown, Ph.D.

Sing to Your Baby™ presents simple songs that parents learn while singing along with the CD. Later you can sing independently to your child. This guide includes ideas as to how to best do this and how to "sing-play" to gain the most enjoyment from your singing time together.

What is "sing-play"?

Singing is a type of creative play. Just imagine, if you pretend to be an animal as you sing a song about animals, you are engaging in creative play while singing. Also, as you personalize songs - by adding movements, special lyrics just for you and your child, or novel ways of singing them - you incorporate creativity.

Creative play and pretend play with a young child supports social, emotional, and intellectual development. Modeling this type of play, by sing-playing with your baby now, is a great first step in encouraging well-rounded development in the coming years.

Why Sing To Your Baby?

Singing to your baby is just plain fun! In our fast-paced, goal-oriented society it is easy to forget how important it is to enjoy the journey. Perhaps the most important gift you can give both yourself and your baby is the time to relax and have fun as well as the consistent message that it is important to do so. We wish you and your baby hours of joy singing together!

Bonding

Bonding may be the most satisfying reason of all to sing to your baby. Bonding refers to the intense feelings that develop between parents and their baby. For some parents, those feelings are there the minute their child is born. For others, it takes time to develop. Either way, bonding is a process and continues as both the child and the parent grow into the relationship. Bonding is essential to a child's well being. The relationship between a parent and a child is the model upon which future relationships are based so a strong bond can facilitate future relationships. Strong bonds also give the child a sense of security, self-identity and self-worth.

Parents don't have to "do" anything for bonding to occur. It evolves as they live with and care for their baby every day. But, communicating love through close eye-to-eye communication, play, and touch can help promote those feelings. Singing to your baby is an intimate way to accomplish this.

Interest in Music

Singing to children child helps promote an interest in music. Young children naturally want to be with their parents and to enjoy the things their parents do. So, if you make it clear that you love music by singing, your children may follow in your footsteps.

Learning Skills

We are constantly learning more about how music exposure and instruction relates to learning skills. For example, rhythm and rhyme, prominent aspects of most songs, promote an awareness of the sounds within language that are related to pre-reading skills.

We are not suggesting that singing to your baby alone will make your child good at math or reading. But it is a joyous way to foster your child's interest in music, which may open the door to more beneficial music experiences as your child grows.

Transitions

Babies and young children do better when there are routines and structure to their day. They feel safe when life is predictable. However, young children can have trouble ending a task they are enjoying (it's hard to stop playing to clean up before dinner). Songs are a great way to help children transition to the next activity. Singing the same good night song to baby every night teaches them that bedtime is approaching and it's time to calm down. Similarly, an energetic clean up song can help a toddler transition from play to clean up mode seamlessly.

     
Diapering Decisions
February 20, 2011

According to Diapering Decisions.com, "In the first year or your baby' s life, you will change about 3514 diapers. In the first 3 years the total will be around 7,349 diapers." Diapering gives you THOUSANDS of opportunities to sing to your baby! It's soothing, can be distracting, or even FUN while you change diapers. SING!

     
HOST A SING TO YOUR BABY® PARTY
February 15, 2011

Getting together with other new parents is fun. Host a >SING TO YOUR BABY® PARTY.

You can order the Book/CD by the box at a large discount (35% off plus SH/H). Everyone gets a book and CD. Everyone brings their babies and sings along with the CD TOGETHER. It's fun, builds confidence, and the vibe of a circle of new parents singing to their babies together is incredible!

Make it a weekly date!
     
How Your Baby Might Respond to the Songs: 0-6 Months
February 12, 2011

Thanks to Dr. Laura G. Brown for this blog

There can be different ways to approach the singing based on your child's age. Here is a short description of what different aged babies might be able to do for the age range of 0 to 6 months. However, a word of caution: Children develop at their own pace. As long as your pediatrician is satisfied with your child,s development, don't worry if your child does not fit exactly into the descriptions below.

0-3 months: By the time a baby is 3 months old, he can probably lift his head up while laying on his stomach. He can also watch an object moved near his face. While singing, move a toy (like a rattle) near his face and he'll follow the movement. You can lay down on the ground with baby, place him on your chest and he can raise his head to look at you as you sing. "Baby's Got a Giggle" is a great song to sing while baby is laying on his back and you gently tickle him as you sing it. Babies this age also love gentle rocking and will enjoy being cradled in your arms to the rhythm of the song. "Rockin' My Baby" and "With This Love" are particularly good in this regard.

4-6 months: By the end of the sixth month, most children can sit up with support (some can sit up without support). This changes the way the world looks! When you sing, sit next to your baby on the floor so you can see what she sees and incorporate what you are looking at into your singing (you can do this by actions as simple as pointing at what you and baby see). By the end of this period, most babies can grasp an object like a rattle so involve your baby by handing her objects that make noise when they move. Shake things together to the rhythm of the songs.
Babies this age also love songs that involve movement. Once your baby can hold her head up for extended periods of time, sing "Bouncing" while you gently bounce baby on your lap. Help her clap as she sits on your lap. By this time, your child will also be smiling in response to something you do. Sing "Look Me in the Eye and Smile" and see how she will smile in response to your smile (don't worry if you don't get a big grin in response - she may simply not feel like it!).

By Dr. Laura G.Brown

     
How Your Baby Might Respond to the Songs: 6-12 Months
February 11, 2011

Thanks to Dr. Laura G. Brown for this blog

It is fun to see how your baby's developmental level impacts his reaction to the singing. Here are developmental milestones that emerge from 6 to 12 months and ideas for how to incorporate these milestones into your singplay. Another word of caution: Some children develop earlier, some later. As long as your pediatrician is satisfied with your child's development, it is not important that your child exactly meets these milestones.

Object Permanence - Object permanence is the awareness that objects exist even when they are no longer in sight. A baby who delights in a game of peek-a-boo has achieved object permanence. He knows your face is still there even though it is covered by your hands and he anticipates its return. This is usually achieved at about 8 to 9 months. After your baby has object permanence, singing "Peek a boo" will be great fun for him

Moving Horizontally Across the Room - Usually between 7 and 10 months, babies figure out a way to move across the room horizontally (as opposed to walking vertically). However your child may move - crawl, scoot, wiggle or roll - you can incorporate into the singplay. Place an object a little out of her reach and sing about moving to get it. Get down on all fours and move with her. Place yourself a little away from your baby and beckon to her as you sing one of her favorite tunes. Make up a rolling song or a scooting song - whatever word you have for how your baby is moving - and sing that as she moves along.

First Words - Use your child's increasing understanding of language in your singplays. Around 6 months of age, babies respond to their name. Incorporate his name into one of the songs (sing "Little bitty Johnny" instead of "Little bitty boat" in that song) and hug him or point to him as you say the name. Watch him delight in the recognition of his name and the special attention. Around 12 months, children use one or more words with meaning (they might say "baba" to show they want their bottle). Incorporate your child's favorite words into songs. If your child can say "bye bye", make up a bye bye song to one of the tunes. Sing "I love you". This song has just those three simple words in it and your baby may try to imitate the sounds. "Singing Like a Birdie" has animal sounds in it. Hold up stuffed animals as you sing the appropriate sounds and eventually your child may try to imitate these, too.

Easing Transitions - As your child gets older and spends more time awake during the day, she will do more varied things. Sometimes it can be hard for children to switch activities within the time frame required by your schedule. Songs are a great way to ease transitions because they alert your child to what's coming next and the need to switch gears. We've included transition songs on this CD to help you in that regard. Sing "Time For A Change" at diaper time so your baby learns what's coming and that it won't take too long.

This time in your child's life will not come around again, so make the most of it and Sing to Your Baby!

     
Blog Archive
August 2011