Welcome, babies!

Colette Ernst, Success by 6

 

On January 28, Success by 6, in partnership with the Tumbler Ridge Public Library, hosted the Welcome Baby Party, an event that celebrates the babies born in the previous year and provides families with resources, encouragement and support as they launch on one of the most challenging and rewarding endeavours—raising and parenting a new little person.

This year, parents and children attending were able to experience finger play, scarf and shaker songs, bouncing knee games and rhythm and rhyme during a short Lapsit program followed by a craft and snacks. Parents were presented with a short description from local children’s program offering activities for children from birth to five years, and took home a bag filled with infant and children’s books, literature and program information.

Success By 6 strengthens communities in BC through engaging citizens in building child and family friendly communities and funding programs that include cultural programs and resources, literacy, nutrition, child care, children’s play, parenting and family skills development. We want to see children succeed in life and this starts in the very early years of a child’s development.

Socialization and programming, play and recreational activities, a nurturing and family friendly environment, good health care and early intervention and support foster growth and development in infants and their families.

Socialization is a key area that Success by 6 focuses on. Babies form attachment easily, first to their caregivers who they learn to trust, then to those close to them and who spend time with them. This learning and development of trust is the first psychosocial task for an infant. During the first few years children learn to form relationships and develop an organized sense of self. This is the first steps in prosocial behaviour—the capacity to help, cooperate, and share with others. Participating in social events and including baby in activities that include other children grows that sense of self and a child’s understanding of the values and norms that sets the foundation for future interactions and social growth.

Play is another key part of development starting as early as infancy. Play is the way babies learn and work out their place in the world. Musical games and action songs develop hearing and movement, playing with objects that are colourful, textured or different shapes encourages reaching and grasping. Rattles are the first step in experiencing different sounds and rhythm.

Experiencing new things can be scary. This is true for all of us, but just think — a baby is experiencing new things daily, sometimes hourly. While we look at play as an easy task — wouldn’t we all like to do only that — the truth is for a baby, this is hard work. During our Welcome Baby Party we used paint on the infants hands and feet to create artwork, and it was interesting to see the different reactions that this created in the little ones. Some were fascinated by the cool wet feel on their hands and feet, opening and closing their fist swishing the paint between fingers and toes; others found this new experience scary and uncomfortable. But in the arms of their mom’s and dad’s they were encouraged, cuddled and felt safe.

And fathers, you are so important to the growth of your child, bringing your unique strengths and understanding to your relationships with your children. A boy and his dad have a special bond, but so do fathers and daughters. In my home of two girls, dad often brings a cooler head, a bigger smile, sense of humour and an ever-creative story (or song) or idea that sparks the light in my daughters’ eyes. When I was a young mom, daddy was the calm centre when mom’s frazzled nerves were shot and baby would not sleep.

That nurturing of a loving and supportive parent is another key element in the development of children in their early and formative years. According to livescience.com a mother’s love and that warm and safe encouraging environment may help your child develop a larger hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for stress management, memory and learning. Think of that. How we care for our children in the early years of life can affect how they handle stress as a teen and adult; can make them stronger learners in school.

So what can we do to support parents in this huge task? Success by 6 works hard to bring early childhood educators and program facilitators together to work as a team to provide the best opportunities for children grow and learn, and to achieve their potential in Tumbler Ridge.

Through the hard work and support of the Tumbler Ridge Success by 6 Partners, including Tumbler Ridge Public Library staff Samantha Petrovic and Chris Norbury, Northern Health’s Public Health Nurse Lara Frederick, StrongStart teacher Cara McLean, and AlphaBits Crawl facilitator Keri Lee White we strive to help parents of children new babies access resources, and offer the programs that can help encourage growth and development in the youngest in our community. And this is just a portion of the people who are working in partnership to create a strong family friendly, supportive and caring environment for young families. By providing opportunities like the Welcome Baby Party, Success by 6 is working to make Tumbler Ridge a supportive and caring place for your children to grow and live.

For information on Children’s Programming in Tumbler Ridge, contact Tumbler Ridge Success by 6 Coordinator Colette Ernst at colette.ernst@gmail.com.