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Caithness.org News Bulletins -  November 2002

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New parents in Highland are being encouraged to start playing early, through the play @ home programme.

From August, every baby born in the Highlands has received a copy of the play @ home baby book, which gives ideas for exercises that help physical development. The easy to read booklet shows the benefits of each activity it highlights, as well as warning about any precautions that should be taken.  It
also gives lots of advice and tips, including how to safely massage a new baby, and provides a wide selection of songs and rhymes in both English and Gaelic.

New mum Priya MacLellan from Evanton is very pleased with the booklet. "Rachel is 10 weeks old and my first child. She said "The booklet is very easy to read and gives very helpful advice and tips. I particularly like the chapter that deals with massage. In India massage techniques are used on children as soon as they are born. The book uses illustrations to show the correct way to give a massage, which not only soothes the baby but also has a therapeutic effect on the digestive system and is an excellent way of bonding with your baby."

The book, jointly funded by NHS Highland and The Highland Council, is given to families by their Health Visitor. Next August, families will receive a toddler book for the 1-3year old stage, followed by a pre-school book for 3-5 years.  Health Visitor, Catherine Zawalnyski who distributes the play@home booklet to new mums said: "Exercise in the first months of a babys life is so important.  It promotes development and maximises the childs potential. Most new Mums know what to do with their new child instinctively but the booklet is a handy reference book which confirms what comes naturally and gives lots of ideas on ways to have fun with your baby."

Helen Levene from Maryburgh is mum to Joshua who is nearly 3 months. Although she has already had two children she has still found the booklet to be useful. "Both my husband and I use the booklet which is very informative and a simple to use reference book. I wish it had been available when my first child was born."

Highlands & Islands Enterprise have contributed funds to enhance the programme, including the production of further Gaelic material, a CD of songs and additional training for health staff. For those with babies born before 1 August, copies of the baby book and video are available in their local library.

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