The Vanderwall home has quickly transformed into baby central with pack and plays, bouncy seats, burp cloths and pacifiers abounding. Everywhere you look you see signs of our little ones. We are also trying hard to create an environment at home that is conducive to growth and development.
We hope that the V-5’s domain will:
- Help them differentiate between night and day.
During the day the kiddos stay on the main level in well-lit areas. Here they are exposed to the sounds and hustle and bustle of day time. At night we keep them upstairs in their nursery where it is dark and quiet. We also are intentional about not talking or playing with them during their night-time care times. We are down to business at 12am and 3 am. This has proven to be very helpful in getting them on their care schedule.
- Practice good nutrition.
All of the quints enjoy breastmilk for all their meals. However, since they were premature it is common practice to fortify their milk for additional calories, protein, vitamins and minerals (sodium, calcium, phosphorus to name a few). Their calorie goals vary quite a bit and like adults are based on their weight, ranging from 108-120 Calories per kilogram body weight. On average breastmilk has 20 calories per ounce, whereas the quints require 24 to 26 calories per ounce to grow at the desired rate. Therefore, we are adding Similac Neosure to their milk. We also are sure that they get their multivitamin (poly-vi-sol) daily.
- Exercise their Mind.
Lots of time and attention is poured into identifying strategies to develop baby’s brains. There are an assortment of toys, books, apps, programs, etc. that promise to make your baby a genius. However, I’m a firm believer in simplicity and believes that attention, bonding and communication, or ABC’s, develop the brain just as efficiently as any of these other tools. I have actually learned that some toys touted for brain development can actually over-stimulate the child and increase the risk of ADHD/ADD.
Currently, the V-5 enjoy tracking exercises where we use a black and white images or toys and move the image from left to right. This activity strengthens communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, or communication across the corpus callosum. We also love to chat and sing with our little ones. An ideal time to chat is when we are changing them, because we are 12-14 inches away from their little faces and are able to maintain their attention.
- Massage for Emotional Well-being.
There are many benefits of baby massage, including stress management. Massage can help to foster emotional health and promote self-soothing. Touch via gentle strokes stimulates the central nervous system to produce more serotonin, the happy hormone, and create less cortisol, a stress hormone. Typically, as a result the infants breathing and heart rate will slow and they become more relaxed. Often times, this relaxed state does not result in sleep but rather a quiet, alert state perfect for play-time, snuggle-time, or positive feeding interactions.
- Massage for their Tummies.
Our quints are a gassy bunch. It is no joke that post-feeding sounds much like a barnyard. Therefore, anything we can do to ease their gas pains and help their digestion is a must. Frank loves to take them on bicycle rides all over “town,” moving their little legs in a circular fashion. They have also come to enjoy this and almost do it on their own when you lay them on their backs. Frank tends to take them to the Candy Shoppe, where Mom prefers a trip to the Puzzle Place. We also practice the “I Love You” strokes on their bellies, which can help to stimulate movement throughout the digestive tract. A fool-proof method for gas relief is to place them on their tummies with rounded shoulders and knees tucked up and to glide your hands down their back while supporting their bottoms.
- Stretch their Bodies.
Since sleep is one of their favorite past times, these little ones can get awful stiff. We continue to try to prevent flattening of their heads and promote good neck mobility. Moving their limbs up and down and inward and outward can help to preven
t these little hedgehogs from staying all bound up. We also like “windshield wipers” with their bent knees to help open up their hips.
Tummy time is also a great way foster good motor development and upper body strength. It is best done when the infant is alert. Some of the quints love tummy time and others are still learning to like it. It can be quite a frustrating position for them, so we are sure to keep the sessions short and sweet.
- Encourage Good Coordination.
Newborns are able to open and close their hands, but often times these movements are reflexive. During the first three months of life grasping becomes more intentional and an ideal time for developing foundational skills for hand-eye coordination. The quints are already starting to show signs of good coordination as they reach and grab items from their mobiles, as well as, objects near their face…including mommy’s hair.
All of these activities certainly add up for a full day, but there’s nowhere else we’d rather be!