Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sourcing Books for Early & Young Readers?

Raising literature friendly kids is no child's play! Helping children inculcate a genuine appreciation for books is every mother's cherished dream. I was fortunate enough to be raised to be a mother who loved to read and encouraged my own love for reading. Therefore, it's only natural when it comes to my inclination towards helping Baby K become an eager and enthusiastic reader. As an ELT Expert, I get to witness the multifarious benefits of reading among children and adults, on a daily basis.

It is an open truth that children who are well-read happen to be better learners, great at communication skills and are far better conversationalists than others of their age who lack good reading habits. It goes without saying, that book lovers are more confident, vocabulary enriched, quick-witted, well-informed, creative and quick to innovate. I have already waxed eloquent about the benefits of introducing children to reading habits at an early age in an earlier post here

Sourcing the right kind of books for a baby can be quite overwhelming for working moms or mommypreneurs like me who somehow always suffer from paucity of time. It was while on a lookout for child-friendly online book stores that I discovered Young Readers Den, a closed Facebook Group run by a mommypreneur, Snehal Bhaswath. 

Young Readers Den is a haven for parents like me who wish to accrue the right kind of child-friendly books for their little ones but are hard-pressed for time or options. The books on sale include pre-loved. pre-loved as new and fresh. Snehal is a perfect combination of wisdom and patience, and is all ears for parents' queries, confusions or recommendations. Unlike other materialistic vendors and websites that are merely interested in the commercial aspect of books selection and endorsement, Snehal is a gem of a facilitator who is quick to respond to a parent's need and inquires with the warmth of a fellow mom. Not only this, she gives one the liberty to take one's own sweet time in selecting, filling and getting the cart shipped.

Book postings happen four days a week between 2-3 PM and members are allowed to get their desired books blocked. She even provides an elaborate preview of the books on request. The blocked books are shipped over the weekend. The cherry on the cake remains free shipping, on orders exceeding Rs.750. Recently, she has come up with a Whatsapp Group too that can be joined through an invitation request.

I am so glad to have discovered her through a destined serendipity and can hardly resist placing orders for books that Baby K would eventually read through his growing months. If you too have discovered a books facilitator or vendor who's favourite, kindly share their details. I would love to swing by their store. If not, try Young Readers Den and let me know if you had an experience as good as mine! 

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Right Age for Introducing Babies to Books

Raising well-read and linguistically impressive kids is every mom's dream! Who doesn't love a child who loves books? It gives me immense happiness when I see my 10 month old baby boy affectionately turning the pages of his board books and smiling away to glory! God knows, what he deciphers as he browses through the pages, but I am sure that the practice makes him book friendly, to say the least.

Helping children warm up to books at an early age offers a plethora of benefits. Not only it paves way to nurture an appreciation towards books and literature, it also opens up avenues that are non-violent, parent-administered and child-friendly. Very young children or toddlers who enjoy flipping through board books or sound books are usually more likely to develop into serious or voracious readers as they grow up. The fact that a toddler is happy around books gives a mother an exciting hope that he might soon want to be able to understand the written word and pictures with some help, or on his own.

Science recommends exposing children to books at the age of 4 months. Since times immemorial, babies have shown a keen interest in books. Their interest in exploring books is often conveyed by way of touching, chewing, grabbing, shaking or throwing them around. It therefore, needs to be kept in mind that the kind of books they are exposed to are safe. Cloth books, board books or vinyl books are some of the most popular options when it comes to infant books.

Usually by the age of 6 months, children try to observe the content of books instead of merely mouthing or toying with them. At this milestone, they must be encouraged to turn over or flip through the pages and glance at the content. Using board books at this stage is a good option since the little ones are able to keep their small fingers between their thick pages and flip through easily. Such individual and autonomous exploration gives their curiosity a much-needed boost and momentum.

Following are a few of the benefits that introducing books to children at an early age offers:
  • Language acquisition skills are at their most optimum during the early years. Therefore, continuous exposure to written or spoken word helps children imbibe the language skills naturally.
  • It helps them warm up to sounds, words and speaking abilities at large.
  • Exposure to books also assist children in understanding the difference between real and imaginary. It also gives an insight into the world around them.
  • Persistent exposure to written word helps babies warm up to languages more easily. Reading skills are also better developed when a child is provided with frequent exposure to the written word. Repetition and intuition help them acquire reading skills faster.
  • Reading aloud to the kids from a book helps children develop early literacy skills like listening, comprehension and understanding. It also renders them a chance to try and learn intuitively.
  • Books help stimulate children's creativity, imagination, curiosity and have a positive cumulative effect on their cognitive development
  • Books or stories based on specific places or cultures also help children develop a sense of understanding about their society, culture, norms, etc. It assists them in imbibing the expected cultural norms and practices.
  • Gives children a chance to have a better understanding of doing familiar things such as eating, sleeping, playing by looking at the illustrations.
  • Books help children inculcate an understanding and appreciation for pictures, colors or art in general.
  • It helps them explore more about themselves or others around their own age.
  • It stimulates a plethora of cognitive skills that include recognizing, imitating, understanding and sharing.
Doctors and pediatricians often share that by the time a child reaches his first birthday, he would have naturally acquired or learnt all the sounds needed to communicate in his mother tongue.Therefore, the more books that he is exposed to or the more stories that he is read aloud, the greater would be his exposure to the language and therefore, better would be his stint at mouthing words and learning to speak correctly. 

As a Mom, I am trying my best to help Baby K become book friendly and inculcate an appreciation for literature, stories, written word and art. What about you? :)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Mine is a Hopscotch Baby! What about Yours?

For an over-zealous and unconventional Mommy like me who always wants something unique and different for her child, it’s quite a task when it comes to selecting baby clothes. I always try making Baby K wear something that's neither cliche nor common. I am sure all mothers love to dress up their little ones in clothes that fetch them overwhelming attention and compliments.

Baby K was lucky enough to be gifted (literally) tonnes of clothes by his Bua & Nani. Both of them had painstakingly stocked up a huge collection of summer and winter clothing items from Thailand & Canada. For a few more, there was H&M Kids. However, our tiny bundle of joy was quick to outgrow many of his clothes in the blink of an eye!

It was then, after going through hundreds of online websites, that I found my forever favourite, Hopscotch. These guys are amazing! Their collection is uber cute and is always brimming over with new and contemporary designs at super affordable prices. Not only this, they take pains in ensuring that the deliveries are on time and are super quick to respond. Baby K has worn Hopscotch outfits for most of his special occasions including his maiden Lohri earlier this month. .

As you can see, this dashing Check Print Gray Romper with Cap for him like a glove and earned him oodles of compliments and blessings. .

Ever since the pictures were up, I have had several moms writing to me to know about his outfit whereabouts. Well, here it is. If you are also looking for chic, contemporary and unique collection of Baby clothes and other baby stuff, head to Hopscotch India and be spoilt for choices!


Friday, January 19, 2018

Why I Decided to Go for Gender Neutral Parenting for my Baby?

In a world replete with binaries, have you ever heard about the concept of Gender Neutral Parenting? 

Though it's a phenomenon still in its incipient stages, but it comes as a sigh of much needed relief in a world plagued with 'pink for girls & blue for boys' beliefs. I had several bitter-sweet experiences while I was planning for my baby shower last year. Much to my and my husband's amazement, the so-called spoilt-for-choices pregnancy and child-care stores din't have much to offer beyond the boundaries of pinks and blues. For overzealous parents like us, who had no inkling of our baby-to-be's gender, and were just looking forward to the experience of parenthood and some light baby-shower fun, it was quite a disappointing stint. While we were looking for neutral picks in terms of colors and themes, we were constantly cajoled into either finding the gender of the baby or picking a combination of blue and pink. 

It was then that I had made up my mind of not exposing my child to gender-based compartmentalization in terms of upbringing, habits, clothes, literature or toys. I remember how careful I was while giving my brief for the cake to maverick cake-artist and connoisseur of desserts, Master Chef Kandla Nijhowne. I was determined to have a gender neutral cake brimming over with baby cutesies. I had spent many nights looking for the most unconventional options and had put together a list of props that I wanted to be included such as booties, bibs, clothesline, onesies and many others. I can't even begin to tell you how nicely were my ideas put to execution by Mrs Kandla. Much to my delight, she came up with the cutest caption that read, 'Pink or Blue, We Love You!'. Our family and friends quite appreciated the gender-neutral choice of babyshower theme and cake, and that encouraged us as parents to continue with this parenting style.

As a matter of fact, we were recently covered by Chandigarh's leading newspaper, The Tribune, for being among a few adventurous parents who have adopted this parenting style and decided to raise our children sans the confines of gender stereotypes. As you can see in the picture, we love dressing Baby K in pinks, purples and peaches. Not only this, he loves to play with my dolls and doll houses too. When he was even younger, my Mom and nieces loved dressing him up in my baby clothes. So, we have had memories with him wearing my frocks, tunics and even sarees.

You may read the entire article here, http://epaper.tribuneindia.com/c/24679004

Choosing to raise my child gender neutral is a decision that I am truly elated and proud of. It comes as a great breather in times when everything is being compartmentalized and labelled. 

How Can You Raise your Child Gender Neutrally?

Parenting your child this way is easy and enjoyable. All you need to do is to allow and motivate your little ones to explore, express, dress, play or socialize unfettered, without the baggage of expected societal norms and aspirations. Encourage them to seek out choices for themselves in all spheres of life without labeling things, ideas or activities as 'for you' or 'not for you' based on their biological sex. 

As a parent, you can let your child interact and grow up gender-neutrally in countless little ways. Letting little girls play with cars and robots, allowing boys to play with teddies and dolls, not reminding young boys to 'stop crying and Man up', giving young girls the freedom to opt for pixie hair-cuts, allowing children to pick play dates irrespective of their gender, encouraging boys to read classic tales of Cindrella, Snow White and others, offering children to choose their own clothes without any color biases are a few of the parenting practices that may help you transform your parenting style. 

You will be pleasantly surprised to know that as a way forward, Sweden has already embarked on this trend and realized its magnanimity in improving the lifestyle and overall prestige of its citizens by adding a gender-neutral personal pronoun 'hen' to the country's vocabulary. Many of the clothing brands have followed suit and launched gender neutral outlets for toys, gifts and clothes. It looks to good to see some sanity spreading in the world. Isn't it? :)

We have happily adopted the Gender Neutral Parenting Style. What about you? :)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Worried about Introducing Solids to your Baby?

Introducing solids to your baby can be an overwhelming notion for some, especially for exclusively breast-feeding mothers.

Usually all pediatricians recommend waiting for six months at least, before introducing the babies to solid foods. However, for some babies who find it difficult to catch up with the recommended weight milestones, parents may be advised to initiate some solid foods with general precautions.

The very notion of introducing solids to babies is quite exciting and delightful, and should be taken in the same stride. Some mothers often get swayed under the deluge of advice they receive from family and friends around, and hence, look upon this journey as a tedious challenge that needs to be tread carefully. A good way of embracing yourself for the upcoming journey could be thinking of all the delectable foods that you can finally share with your little one and make memories along.

I remember how excited I was when it was finally time to introduce Baby K to solids. I couldn't help thinking of the cute little spoons,bowls and plates that we would use for feeding him. I also rummaged through his wardrobe and clothes-baskets looking for the super cute bibs and trays that had been lying to be used at an opportune time, which was finally approaching after a long wait of almost half a year. Also, the fact that my baby could finally sit and eat was a treat in itself. I could already imagine him relishing fresh and juicy fruits such as grapes, oranges, plums and apples.

I would therefore, recommend all other fellow mothers to go easy while introducing solids to babies. It's a joyride. Just conserve all your energies towards raising an adventurous eater! All you may need to do is to make sure you have a blender, food processor or a baby-food grinder around.

Some of the simple foods that you may begin with include:
  • pureed single ingredient foods without sugar or salt. These may include pureed bananas, papayas, peaches, pears, apples, sweet potatoes among others.
  • small portions of unsweetened yogurt
  • pureed cottage cheese or tofu
  • pureed legumes such as chick-peas, kidney beans, lentils, etc
  • Wheat porridge or dalia
  • Porridge made of sooji or semolina, ragi, sabudana, or oats. (You may add a pinch of powdered cardomam to make it taste better)
  • upma
  • potato rice with some butter
  • cheese slices
  • biscuits or rusks dipped in formula milk
  • puffed rice 
  • tomato soup with some beetroot or carrot
So now, let go off your apprehensions and get set to conquer new eating milestones with the apple of your eyes. Don't forget to share your pictures with me as you go ahead and bask in the glory of wonderful parenting memories ahead. 

This list is by no means exhaustive, but a mere harbinger to help you embark on a wonderful culinary journey ahead with your little one. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Here's to New Beginnings

Writing has always been therapeutic for me. It has always been my closest confidante, be in the pages of a long cherished diary, in a hidden folder in my phone or the many blogs that I have had so far. 

For a single child who always missed the exciting company of a sibling around, I always yearned for companionship during my growing years. Thankfully, instead of letting me fall prey to the squandering company of neighborhood friends and T.V., my mother introduced me to the wonderful world of literature through child-friendly books, comics, and oral folk tales at a very early age. I grew up spending most of my leisure time in the enriching company of books and literary characters. 

The early and adequate exposure to English language transformed me into enchanted literature lover. As I grew up, my love for reading increased by leaps and bounds and, transformed me into a writer. By the age of eight or nine, while other students in my class were struggling to barely learn the nuances of sentence formation, I was a loner penning down short stories and poetic verses. I remember having a dedicated diary by my bedside while I was in grade 6. By grade 7, I was writing about 7-8 poems every month and the editor of my school magazine. 

As years rolled by, I started getting featured in local newspapers and magazines. The appreciation that I received by my teachers, friends and peers boosted my confidence and inculcated in me an unsatiating urge to learn and explore more. 

While I was in college, I started my first ever blog and maintained it meticulously for about 4-5 years. Then the trials and tribulations of everyday life swept away most of my leisure time and blogging relegated to the backdrop. Although I was constantly reminded of writing sojourns by friends, relatives, peers and colleagues who liked frequenting my blogs during their hey days, the urge to finally make a comeback dint creep in. 

And then, many many moons later, today, I have come back to tread on the same path - this time with a new zeal and a new mission - the idea is to make the most of motherhood and document it in the sands of time, before my little bundle of joy is not so little any more. 

This blog would be solely dedicated to my son(shine) - Kabir and my journey as a Mom. I am really looking forward to a memorable writing spree ahead! 

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