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Session 5/15

Page 4/5 Topic B: Making a plan for a stimulating environment for babies and toddlers in the Secure Base Model

Topic B: Making a plan for a stimulating environment for babies and toddlers in the Secure Base Model


”I had a kid. He was always shaking his head and licking the back of his hand. I guessed he had a mental retardation because, I had seen such children before. I used more the techniques that I learnt through this session on this kid more often and elaborately. Now, he is sitting and he does not lick his hand and swing. But sometimes, he is biting his nails. However, I will overcome this problem too.”
Caregiver’s statement

Foster parents are often not aware of how much under-stimulated babies need stimulation.
This makes two things very important:

  1. How can you develop a generally stimulating environment, especially in the daytime?
  2. How can you use “mother’s tools” for stimulating babies when you don’t have time to give them as much physical contact as a normal mother would naturally do?

In the rest of this session you will get a number of suggestions for practices and for adjusting them to your foster care.
Perhaps you will need to repeat this a number of times until you have developed a number of new practices. When you make these changes, daily life may seem a little more chaotic and difficult to structure.


SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVING STIMULATING ENVIRONMENTS


When working with older children and teenagers:

  • How can you create a daily practice where you often give the children hugs, patting them in a friendly way on the shoulder, swing them around, hold hands when you take a walk, and in general create good habits that support physical closeness?

When working with babes and toddlers:

  • 
How do you create a general practice where you carry the babies often, or sit with them on the lap? What tools can make it easier for you, such as slings or light carry bags that can be strapped on the body?

MAKE A PLAN FOR IMPROVING BEDS, OR REPLACING THEM WITH HAMMOCKS OR CRADLES


A bed can be improved in several ways. By using flannel or terry cloth sheets skin stimulation is improved (make sure that the bed does not become too warm). You may also sew and place a hammock between the two railings of the bed, so that it hangs just over the mattress and still can swing freely. Or you may just use hammocks placed above a soft mattress on the floor. Beds may also be altered so that the child can see what is going on around it when it is awake. For toddlers, you can place hammocks or swings over mattresses in the room or in the garden, and plan daily routines where the children exercise balance stimulation. When you plan this: remember that these tools should not be placed in rooms that are not much used. They should be placed as close as possible to the place where you spend your time. How can you build or get things for the playground such as swings, roundabouts, and other balance stimulating devices?

 Can you hang interesting objects above the beds (such as mobiles), or otherwise find things that the children can look at when they are awake in their beds?

 Can you paint the walls in bright and different colours and hang up objects and pictures?

How can you use songs and music to stimulate children? Singing for babies and singing with children is essential for language development. Lullabies have a very soothing effect on the baby brain. Almost anything can be used to produce rhythms, such as spoons, buckets, etc.


RADIO AND TELEVISION


In general the sounds from radio and TV are very confusing for babies. Babies must learn to connect sound and movement with a person  in order to learn language.
A radio or TV confuses the baby, because the sounds are not connected with what a caregiver is doing with the child. The noise will also make it difficult for the baby to hear and see clearly what foster parents are saying.
Radio and TV should only be used with toddlers and only for short periods. If toddlers are watching something, you should talk to them about it.

You should avoid using your cell phone when interacting with a child. Being on the phone may distract you from being present and attentive. So it is better to concentrate on one thing at a time. It is okay to teach children that you do not have time to be attentive to them constantly, but you should make it clear to them, when they have your attention, and when you are busy. Watch how a baby reacts when the mother mixes interaction and talking on the phone: https://www.facebook.com/nrkviten/videos/1277093678990446/