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Growth & development

As your child grows through the stages of being infant on the way to becoming a toddler, you may have some questions about what to expect.

Most parents struggle with getting enough sleep after having a baby. They try to get the baby to sleep for as long as possible, so that they can sleep too.

The goal for many parents is to have the baby sleeping through the night. This is defined as sleeping for five or more hours at a time during the nighttime. While some babies will sleep through the night at six weeks old, others wake up regularly until they are over a year old. Some babies that once slept well may start waking up again. Each baby is different and sleeping patterns can change over time.

Helping your baby sleep

Here are some things you can do to help your baby sleep better:

  • Expose your baby to natural light, noise, and activity during the day. Put them to sleep in a room that is quiet and dark during the night.

  • When you're tending to your baby at night, don't play or talk with them; keep the lights low.

  • Try white noise during sleep time, like a fan or the sound of ocean waves.

  • Don't respond to every sound at night. Babies make noise while they sleep. Wait to see if the baby will settle back down before responding.

  • Have a calming bedtime routine that you both enjoy.

  •  Get more information about sleep and your infant, including how much sleep they should be getting.

Talk to your Public Health Nurse or come to a Parent and Infant Drop-in for more information and support.

Creating a safe sleeping environment

Learn how to create a safe sleeping environment for your baby. It will help them to sleep better and reduce the risk of  Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Follow these tips to help your baby get the best possible sleep as safely as possible:

  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep. If they roll over on their own, that's okay.

  • Use an approved crib or bassinet with a firm sleep surface. Do not use any pillows or bumper pads.

  • Share a room with the baby, if possible. (But don't share your bed.)

  • Never expose your baby to second hand smoke.

  • Breastfeed your baby.

  • Keep your baby warm, but not hot. A light blanket is usually enough.

For more information

It's important to start taking care of your baby's dental health before they get teeth. When your baby is a few days old, you can start cleaning their mouth and gums with a damp cloth twice each day. Good habits now will prevent tooth decay later in life.  Learn more about tooth decay.

Healthy teeth and gums are important. Tooth decay can lead to pain, infection and the need for serious surgery. For concerns about your child's dental health – contact your local public health dental program.

By their first birthday, your child should have already seen a dentist. If cost is something you're concerned about, you may be eligible for basic dental care benefits through the BC Healthy Kids Program.

Brushing

As soon as you spot your baby's first tooth, it's time to start brushing!

  • Brush the tooth/teeth two times per day.

  • Use a small, soft toothbrush.

  • Use a rice grain size amount of fluoride toothpaste.

  • Give all drinks from a cup (not a bottle); only give water to drink between meals.

  • Avoid sugar as much as possible and limit eating to set snack or meal times. Limit the amount of sugar you give in food in drink, especially sticky sweets.

As your baby gets older and gets more teeth, make sure you have a good view of all the teeth as you're brushing and that you are reaching all sides on each tooth. Try the knee-to-knee technique shown in this video to make brushing easier.

Teething

Your baby will first start getting teeth when he or she is 6 to 10 months old. One by one, the rest of the teeth will continue to come. By the time they are three years old, most children have all 20 of their baby teeth.

Teething can be a difficult time for you and your baby. As the teeth come through the gums, it can be uncomfortable, making your baby fuss and cry. There are things you can do to make teething easier.

  • Rub the gums with a cold, damp washcloth

  • Let baby chew on a clean, cool teething ring or teething toy

  • Avoid giving your baby teething biscuits or cookies (they can cause decay)

If your baby has a fever or diarrhea while teething, contact your health care provider or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.

When will my child get teeth?

Children have their own schedule for teething. Most children begin teething at six months. Your child should have all of their first set of teeth—or "baby" teeth—by three years old. The bottom front teeth usually appear first, followed by the top front teeth. In total, 20 teeth should appear—10 in the top jaw and 10 in the bottom jaw.

KeyUpperWhen Teeth Come In
(months)
When Teeth Fall Out
(years)
1
central incisors7 to 126 to 8
2lateral incisors9 to 137 to 8
3
canines (cuspids)16 to 2210 to 12
4first molars13 to 199 to 11
5second molars25 to 3310 to 12
6second molars20 to 3110 to 12
7first molars12 to 189 to 11
8canines (cuspids)16 to 239 to 12
9lateral incisors7 to 167 to 8
10central incisors6 to 106 to 8

Note: Tooth development can vary and this chart provides a general guide only.

Use this resource to get more information about  dental care for your infant and toddler. This resource is also available in other languages here

Resources for dental care

During the first months of your baby's life you will notice how quickly they grow and change. You may wonder if your baby is developing at the same rate as others the same age, or you may have concerns about something you notice.

It is normal to have questions and concerns. The best thing to do is talk to a health care provider or find more resources to help you understand your baby's growth.

 

Understanding your baby's moods and emotions will help you know how to give them the best care possible.

If you have concerns about your baby's state of mind please look for more information Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre.

 

Playtime is important for babies to develop and grow. By exploring the world through play, babies learn about the world and gain new skills. You can help with this very important job. If you're not sure how to play with a baby, that's okay! There are many games that you can learn to play together.

Activities for infants

Here are activities you can do with your baby at different stages to help you bond.

Remember: Any toy or object that can fit entirely into your baby's mouth is dangerous. Keep all small items far away from your baby's hands.

Screen time and infants

It can be tempting to use screen time to keep your baby happy. And, while sitting your baby in front of the TV, computer or tablet can keep them occupied and free up time for you, it's not recommended for children under the age of two. Instead, involve your child in what you're doing. If they can sit up, put them into a highchair in the kitchen and have them watch you make dinner instead of watching TV, for example.  Learn more about screen time for young children.

Children learn new skills quickly. That's why it's important to be two steps ahead when thinking about safety. As your child is learning to crawl, you should be preparing your home to be safe for them as though they can already walk.

Get down to your child's level and look for hazards. For example, try pushing against furniture to see if it's stable enough to support your child's weight as they pull themselves up to standing. Some of the most common causes of injury you should look out for are:

  • Falls – Example: Is there any furniture that your child could climb on then fall off of?

  • Burns/scalds – Example: Is there anything that your child could climb on in the kitchen that would let them reach the stove?

  • Poison – Example: Are all household cleaners stored and well out of reach?

If an accident does happen, it's good to be prepared ahead of time. Learn basic first aid for common injuries on the HealthLink BC website.

Infants may not talk, but they are learning language from the time they are born. They listen to you when you talk and try to communicate with you through copying your facial expressions or waving their arms and legs. It's important to talk to your baby as much as possible. In the beginning, just talk or sing to your baby about anything as you do everyday tasks.  Learn what you can do to help your baby communicate.

Learning first words

As your baby learns to make sounds of their own and starts to use gestures such as pointing or shaking their head for "no", you can help them learn their first words.

  • Use short, simple sentences. For example, "Juice all done"

  • Use words that your child can copy. For example, "all done", "more", "no"

  • Use simple common action words. For example, "wash", "go", "eat"

  • Repeat first words often. For example, "you want milk?" "here's milk", "more milk?"

  • Wait for your child to ask for what they want.

  • Talk about things that your child shows an interest in.

  • Smile and have fun when talking to your child.

Learning more than one language

It's good for children to grow up learning more than one language, so if you speak another language, share it with your baby. Read more about learning more than one language:

 Keep your first language (English) 
Available in other languages: ChineseFarsiFrenchKoreanPunjabiSpanishVietnamese

Vision and language

Healthy vision is an important part of how your baby learns to communicate. If you suspect that there are problems with your baby's eyes, contact your health care provider.  Learn more about your baby's vision from birth to 6 months.

Learn more about how infants communicate

 Baby talk (English) 
Available in other languages: ChinesePunjabiSpanish 

Most children tend to be ready for toilet training (going to the potty) around their second birthday. Some are ready earlier and others later. Your toddler will let you know that they're ready when they do the following things:

  • Keep their diaper dry for a few hours at a time.

  • Show an interest in the toilet or potty and what it is used for.

  • Can pull down their pants and sit on a potty by themselves.

  • Can let you know through words or actions that they need to use the potty.

As your child learns to use the potty, use these tips and be patient. Every child has accidents and it's normal for them to sometimes make a mess as they're learning. By giving them praise for doing well, instead of punishment for mistakes, you're helping them learn faster.

 Learn more about toilet training.


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