How To Choose A Puzzle At The Right Difficulty Level For Your Child

Newborn Tips#1: Don't Hush-A-Bye-Baby
You don't have to be quiet while the baby is sleeping. The womb is loud, and newborns are used to the noise. When ours first came home, we watched television and I would vacuum, wash dishes and talk on the phone around her while she slept. She got used to sleeping with noise, and I could get stuff done. I am still able to vacuum in her room while she sleeps (she is 14 months), and she is peaceful and well rested when she wakes up.
Newborn Tips#2: Soothe Your Wailing Newborn
When my baby cries, I comfort her by patting her back in a heartbeat-like rhythm. That helps her burp more quickly, and it also helps her relax if she's crying from insecurity. If this doesn’t work, I also try one or all of Dr. Harvey Karp's five calming moves: swaddling, shushing, holding her on her side, swinging her or letting her suck. Sometimes it takes all six!

Additional Information:

Jigsaw puzzles and other childrens wooden toys can be excellent tools for developing their problem solving skills and improving their brain function. When young children and toddlers are playing with these childrens wooden toys they are having fun while at the same time they are exercising their cognitive thinking skills by figuring out how the pieces fit together.

However, when you are buying childrens wooden toys such as puzzles for your children, it is important to choose a puzzle which is at the right difficultly level. If the puzzle is too easy, your child will quickly become bored and will not be challenged to improve their skills. If the puzzle is too difficult, your child will become frustrated and will not have the satisfying feeling of accomplishing it.

Here are some hints for determining a puzzle's difficulty level:

What is the Recommended Age Range on the Box?

Often when buying childrens wooden toys you will notice that there is a recommended age range on the box, such as “Ages 3-5” or “Ages 10 and Up”. This is a good guideline to get you started but it is important to remember that these are just average guidelines. Some children are more advanced than others and your 6 year old might be advanced enough to complete a puzzle designed for a 10 year old. You know your child best and so you will be able to tell if the age guidelines apply to them or not.

Newborn Tips#3: Help Get Your Baby to Latch
If you are having latch-on issues while breastfeeding your baby, you can use breast shields to help the process. This was a wonderful tip that I learned from my lactation consultant. I had to use the shields for an entire month before my baby would latch onto my own nipple without them. Had it not been for the breast shields, I would not have been able to continue nursing my baby.
Newborn Tips#4: Get Prepped
At 3 weeks, babies’ days and nights become more predictable, and you can focus on yourself in addition to your newborn. One way to do that is by reducing your stress level - and having everything ready for your hungry baby and yourself is one way to do that. Start by prepping for the next feeding as soon as the previous one is over. For example, after an 11 p.m. feeding, get ready for the 2 a.m. one by prepping whatever you need for feeding and putting out fresh drinking water for yourself so you don’t have anything to think about in the middle of the night. During the day, take advantage of the baby’s naps to work out, shower or catch up on e-mail, or take a nap too.

How Many Pieces Does it Have?

Take a look at how many pieces the jigsaw puzzle contains to get a general idea of the difficulty level. Generally, the more pieces the puzzle has the more challenging it will be. A puzzle with less than 10 large pieces will be very easy for a small toddler, whereas a jigsaw with 60 or 100 pieces will be more suitable to an older adolescent or teenager.

What is the Subject Matter?

When you are shopping for puzzles and other childrens wooden toys, another factor to consider is the subject matter. Puzzles are more difficult when they have an image which is very uniform throughout. For example, a puzzle with an image of ocean waves or leaves on a forest floor would be very difficult because the colour of the puzzle pieces does not give any hint as to where to place it. If you want a simpler puzzle, choose one with a recognizable image that has a lot of distinctly different areas within it.

These are just a few things to consider when determining whether or not a jigsaw puzzle is at the right difficulty level to offer your child an educationally stimulating challenge.

Newborn Tips#5: Keeping Your Baby Awake During Feedings
When our baby was eating slowly and sleepily, my husband and I would massage her cheek to stimulate her to eat faster. A gentle stroke with a fingertip on her cheek was all it took, and on those long sleepless nights, this simple trick was a godsend! Our friends have found it works great with their infants too. When babies eat efficiently until they're full before going to sleep, they sleep for longer between feedings. And that means you’re both likely to be calmer!
Newborn Tips#6: Help Your Baby Bond with Dad
Make sure your baby has ample time alone with Daddy. His touch and voice are different than yours, and this will begin a bonding process and give you a break. Plus, it gets the baby used to being with someone other than you. The first few times can be hard. Make sure your baby is fed and well rested, as this will give you at least one or two hours before you're needed again. Then leave Dad and the baby alone. If you stay nearby, make sure the baby can’t see or hear you, and resist the urge to go into the room and "fix" things if she starts crying. Your baby cries with you and you experiment to find out what's wrong. Dads need time to do this too - in their own way. By allowing this time, your child will learn there is more than one way to receive comfort, which will help immensely when you leave your baby with a sitter or another family member for the first time. You could have your partner bathe her, put her to bed or just read or talk to her.
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