My first son was a blanky baby. I ran all over town looking for his little, blue, satin, discontinued blanket. I can't even remember who gave us the first one, but he loved it, and it went everywhere with us. We even turned around after driving 30 miles on a trip to grandma's house because I forgot to pack it. Although shredded and faded, "Blanky" stayed with him for years.
A comfort item or transitional object, also known as a "lovey" is a good idea to help a baby self-soothe and transition from needing Mommy and Daddy 24/7. A little blanky or a small stuffed animal can be introduced to your child when they're around 6 to 8 months old. It can be kept as long as your child desires, although it usually remains at home after a child turns 2 or 3 years old.
My second son was a pacifier (aka "binky" or "paci") baby. He was fussy, and like many babies, he soothed himself by sucking. This was also the year that the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested offering a pacifier to infants when they are placed down for naps or sleep to decrease the risk of SIDS. We let him suck and soothe, and suck and sleep, and life was good.
When he became a toddler, we had to decide when to pull the plug. His dad wasn't quite on board, so one weekend, when he was out of town, I tossed the pacifier. It went much better than I would have thought. My toddler cried and fussed for a bit, but I held strong, and he was pacifier-free by the time my husband returned home.
A pacifier is not meant to be a transitional object. Unfortunately, many toddlers quickly become accustomed to the pacifier, which may increase the frequency of ear infections and other illness (they put everything in their mouth) and abnormalities to your baby's teeth. If possible, begin weaning at 1 year old, and replace the pacifier with another lovey.
What type of blanky, pacifier or other type of lovey does your child like? Share your blanky, pacifier or other lovey experiences with parents in the community.View Thread
If your child is headed to a sleepover or summer camp, it's perfectly normal for him to feel a little homesick for family and familiar surroundings. Even though homesickness isn't like other childhood illnesses, it is a common occurrence when kids sleep away from home. Here are some tips to prevent homesickness and help your child have a fun sleep away experience:
• Include your child. Talk with your child when deciding if he is ready to spend the night at a friend or relative's house or attend sleep away camp. Let him help choose (within reason) the type of camp and location.
• Be positive. Help your child look forward to being away from home by discussing the positive aspects of this new experience. Discuss the fun and excitement he will have, as well as potential feelings of homesickness.
• Arrange practice sleepovers. Start in a sibling's room and advance to a relative or neighbor friend's house.
• Pack a special item. A favorite pillow, toy or family photo lets your child take a bit of home with him while he is away.
• Encourage involvement. Joining sleepover games and participating in camp activities lessens the free time to think about the fact that he is missing home.
• Stay in touch. Depending on how long your child is away, make a plan for a daily good morning phone call or send text, emails or even snail mail.
• It's OK to be homesick. Let your children know it's ok to talk to another adult --either a parent or counselor -- if they are feeling sick or lonely.
• Make coming home fun. Plan a special family activity to welcome your child back home. Ask questions and spend time listening to stories about his trip.
With a little preparation and a lot of love, your child can learn to enjoy being away from home.
Does your child have any sleep away events coming up? Share your tips on how to prevent or help your child overcome homesickness.View Thread
Do the phrases "Because I SAID SO!" "Don't' talk with your mouth full," "You'll poke someone's eye out!" or the dreaded, "Just wait until your father gets home" sound familiar? No matter how much we try to avoid it, most of us end up using parenting methods and styles similar to the ones used on us when we were children. Now that we're parents, we say things that we SWORE we would never say to our own children.
A lot of what we say and do as parents is behavior that has been programmed into us through our past experiences. These experiences inevitably influence the development of our parenting skill and style. In many cases, our parents' influence can be a great thing, but also be aware that the way they parented is not the only option for you and your child.
As parents, we can pick and choose what parenting techniques and values we'd like to emulate -- and which we'd rather not. Make a list of what your parents did that helped you become the person you are today. Did your parents make you confident and secure? Did they lovingly encourage you to become your best self?
In addition to the positive aspects of your parents' abilities, write down their shortcomings as parental figures. List how you would have acted differently than your parents. Did they discipline you in a way that you feel is inappropriate for your children? Did you not always get the love and attention you desired? If this is the case, know that as an adult, you can choose to create a new parenting path for yourself and your child. Take the best of what you learned and incorporate those skills into your own plan for being a better parent. Don't forget to discuss parenting methods with your partner or spouse and make sure you are both on the same page.
The fact that you are reading this means that there were probably a few things your parents may have done right. Perhaps the phrase, "Just wait until you have kids!" now rings true. Becoming a parent yourself may help you to better understand the reasoning your parents used when you were a child. In some cases, there may be things they did as parents that you still disagree with, or want to do differently with your own kids. That's ok. You get to make those decisions and hope that someday, your kids will understand the choices you're making for them today.
As long as we're on the subject, you just may want to call your parents to apologize for a thing or two you did as a kid!
Now that you have children, how does your parenting style compare to that of your parents? Share what you've learned as a parent with the community.View Thread
Whether you're at home or out in public, there are many times when the best option for dealing with a misbehaving toddler is a "timeout" -- a few minutes of quiet time to calm down, and explain or discuss what happened. Remember that when using timeouts, it's important to carefully use these breaks. Too many or inconstant use of timeouts isn't helpful, and you may even create an unintended behavioral backfire.
Try the "CALM DOWN" memory trick to remember these tips for using timeouts:
Calm, cool and consistent behavior from you. Always respond immediately to bad behavior by a child. Loud and firmly say, "No. We don't _____ (hit, bite, fill-in-the-blank)." Move him to a quiet, boring, safe place without toys or activities.
Don't lecture your child during a timeout. He won't hear you, especially if he's screaming. One minute per year of age is an appropriate length for a timeout, or wait until he calms down. Words that are age-appropriate to explain or discuss what he did wrong. Need to encourage desired behavior and acknowledge when toddler is good.
These recommendations can be used at home or when you're in public. For example, at the park, look for a quiet, safe, boring place, such as away from the sandbox, but next to a tree. If this doesn't work, or there isn't an appropriate location (such as at the grocery store), simply scoop him up and go home.
Don't forget that for a "timeout" to work, you must also have plenty of "time-in" with your child. To avoid creating situations that may often end in timeouts, try to arrange your daily schedule to do one errand at a time, and make your home child-friendly and safe.
With a little planning, discipline and consistency in routine, I hope your need for timeouts will be few, but effective for everyone.
Do you use time-outs? How do you use them when you are at home or out in public? Do they work for your family?View Thread
Day care, school, birthday parties -- anywhere kids spend time together, they share germs. You can't keep your child in a bubble to prevent him from getting sick, but there are a few simple things you can do to decrease the spread of germs and lower the risk of illness in your home.
Some useful facts about children and germ transmission: • Healthy children can catch about 10 infections a year. • Approximately 80% of infections are transmitted by hands. • Germs usually enter the body through your mouth, nose or eyes. • Children are often contagious before they show symptoms of an illness.
To decrease the risk of illness, parents should follow these guidelines: • Wash hands often -- especially after playing, when entering the house, before eating and after using bathroom -- and scrub for 20 seconds. • Carry hand sanitizer or wipes for times when soap and water aren't available. • Avoid touching the face -- especially your eyes, nose, and mouth. • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash. Use the inside of elbow to catch a cough or sneeze if a tissue is not available. • Make sure your family members get annual check-ups and that everyone's vaccines are up-to-date.
In addition to these germ-fighting tips, be sure to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and exercise daily.
Do your kids seem to bring home every illness that goes around? How do you fight germs to help your children avoid getting sick?View Thread
"Rain, rain, go away, come again another day!" Even though that saying is true for many of us, your children might disagree, and want to play outdoors -- even if the weather's not the best! With proper preparation and planning, your kids can stay healthy and still play outside on rainy or cold days.
One of the best things about being a kid is having a good excuse to jump in mud puddles and dance around in the rain. Luckily, here in Southern California where my family lives, it's rarely cold enough that I need to worry about hypothermia or frost bite. Unless we are dressed up for a special occasion, I encourage the kids to run through the rain drops, stomp in the water and have fun. On rainy days, my boys love testing out their rain boots and umbrellas. If you worry that mud and dirty water that kids play in may harbor germs, simply have your children wash their hands and change into dry clothes after they come inside.
Brrrrrrrrrrr. Even though the calendar reads "spring," there's cold weather happening across the country. You can still let your children play outside on cold days. If you live in a colder climate, remember that children are more vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite. Check the outside temperature and wind chill so you can make sure they are bundled up and appropriately protected. After they have finished playing, they can come inside to cuddle-up and sip hot chocolate.
For days that are just too cold and rainy for outdoor activities, remember you have a great excuse to have your children enjoy indoor family time by reading or playing games.
Do allow your children to play outside on days when the weather's not the best? When it's not possible to play outside, what indoor activities do your children enjoy? Share your tips and strategies for activities on "inside days."View Thread
Many families and children look forward to summer - sunny days, less homework, family vacations and more time to relax. But with so many summer activities available for children - camp, swim lessons, summer school, vacation time, music or sports - how do you choose summer activities and still leave your child some time to rest and recharge their batteries before the next school year begins? Before making a summer activity schedule, think about what various activities have to offer and considerations to make when choosing them for your child.
Camp: Whether daytime only or sleep away, camp is often the highlight of many children's summer vacation. Before you send your child to camp, make sure your child is physically and emotionally ready to be away from home and excited to attend. Let your child help select the camp, depending on their interests, such as a general activity camp or a specialty camp geared towards music or sports.
Swim Lessons: Research suggests that children ages 1 to 4 may be at a lower risk of drowning if they have had formal swimming instruction. Swimming is a fun summer activity and a great form of exercise for all ages. IMPORTANT: All swimming pools should be surrounded by a 4-sided pool fence, and children should be constantly supervised by an adult who knows how to swim, perform a rescue, perform CPR and call for help.
Family Vacations: Whether your family heads to a far away destination or stays close to home, a vacation can give your family much needed time to reconnect and enjoy being together. Your travel plan may depend on the ages of your children and their interests. Remember, that a vacation should be vacation, so don't over schedule your vacation days, or you may end up feeling like you need another vacation when you get home.
Summer School: Summer school is beneficial for all ages, and can supplement classroom subjects where your child may require a little more help, such as math or English. Summer school classes can also help prepare your child or teen for the upcoming year, or lighten their future class load.
Staying Home: A "staycation" without specific scheduled activities is the way many families like to spend their summer. Sleeping in, spontaneous day trips, visits to the beach, a museum, library story time, or play dates with friends can be unscheduled fun for kids and parents. A reminder - don't over schedule - one of the best parts of summer is waking up and not having a plan.
Have you started thinking about summer activities? What do your family and children have planned for summer? What are your ideas, thoughts and tips for summer activities? Share your childhood summer memories and tell what made summer special for you and your family.View Thread
"When do I get an allowance?" my kindergartener asked. "All of my friends get an allowance."
Well, I doubt they all do. But most experts agree that starting to teach children about money at a young age -- maybe as soon as your preschooler or kindergartner says, "I want that!" -- is the best approach.
Experts don't all agree on how allowances should be given, whether for chores, good behavior, good grades, or simply as a set amount on a regular basis. I prefer a combination -- a set amount every week that cannot be taken away, plus extra for working hard at school or helping out at home. As parents, you can decide what you think is important.
My own financial philosophy came from my upbringing. My parents were not big on allowance. Although we were often rewarded for doing well in school, they stressed that we should never buy anything that couldn't be paid off in full (future home excluded). In today's credit card world, where our children see us swipe multiple times a day for groceries and gas, spending and saving are very important concepts that need explaining.
Here are a few age appropriate guidelines for teaching children about money matters at different stages:
• Preschool: It's fun to get a piggy bank and start depositing a few coins here and there. Around age 4, many children can learn to recognize different coins and how much they are worth. Start with coins and work up to dollars. • Elementary School: Children can now learn about saving, spending, and donating. You can create separate "banks" for what children want to do, including savings for the future, or a coveted toy; donating to teach the importance of giving back to the community and helping others; and funds for immediate spending. • Tweens: At this age, you may want to add a fourth container so they can divide savings into short term and long term. You may decide to increase their allowance and let them pay for certain items on their own, such as clothing, video games, or hobbies. Supervise their spending and continue to teach them the importance of saving and donating.
Do you have any tips for teaching children the value of money? Any allowance stories to share about your kids, or even from your own childhood?View Thread
"Thirty minutes until bedtime," is called out, and the routine in my house begins. The kids finish playing and head upstairs for a bath or shower. They brush their teeth, put on their pjs, read a bedtime story, and it's lights-out by 8 p.m. Our bedtime routine works well and usually runs smoothly. My children, like most children, need the consistency of the same routine every night.
Regular sleep schedules help children sleep longer and wake up less often during the night. Just as good nutrition is important for growth and development, sleep is an essential part of a child's life, and crucial for their developing brain.
What time your child goes to sleep at night is determined by your household routine and schedule, as well as your child's own internal circadian rhythm. If you find your child is cranky and uncooperative in the evening, or hard to arouse in the morning, an earlier bedtime is probably in order. But if your child lies in bed singing for two hours every night, she probably just isn't tired yet. So listen to your child's body and determine an appropriate bedtime. I find that between 7 and 9 p.m. is good, depending on the age of your child and how much sleep is needed. Here is a breakdown of approximately how many hours of sleep children need, naps included:
• Birth to 3 months: 15 to 18 hours • 4 to 11 months: 14 to 15 hours • 1 to 3 years: 12 to 14 hours • 4 to 5 years: 10 to 12 hours • 6 to 12 years: 10 to 11 hours • 13 years and up, adults included: at least 8 or 9 hours
What is your children's bedtime routine? Do you feel your children are getting enough sleep? How do you ensure a regular sleep schedule for your children?View Thread
After a few minutes -- or even a few hours -- in the kitchen creating a healthy delicious snack or meal, it's always a great victory when your child eats it up and says, "Yumm!"
Getting youngsters to enjoy foods that are good for them isn't always easy. But these tips can help you create healthy food victories, and help your kids look forward to trying new foods. Here are some tried and true tips for developing healthy food victories:
• Take your kids (well, maybe not all of them at the same time) to the market. Grocery shopping provides plenty of opportunities to teach children and get them excited about healthy foods. Allow your child to pick a colorful vegetable as an ingredient for your next meal. • Encourage children to help prepare meals at home. Give them age appropriate tasks such as tearing lettuce, tossing pre-cut veggies into the mix, or stirring ingredients. Sharing what they helped make with the rest of the family will usually ensure a food victory. • Name a dish after your child. Instead of plain old "lasagna," try calling it "Micah's Colorful Lasagna," or let your child make up a silly name like "Super Duper Frittata" to motivate them to try it. • Create a new house rule: "Everyone has to take one bite." You're allowed to say "No, thank you," and be done. It'll turn mealtime into a fun game. At least you'll get your child to take that one bite. Maybe they'll realize they like it and want more.
Here are some examples of my own favorite food victories that you might want to try.
Breakfast • Old-fashioned oats sprinkled with oat bran, cinnamon, and raisins -- cooked or micro waved with non-fat milk and a touch of honey • Scrambled eggs with tiny pieces of broccoli, gives new meaning to "green eggs" Snacks • Low-fat vanilla yogurt, drizzled over fresh cut fruit or berries • Fresh or frozen fruit, blended with yogurt or non-fat milk and ice to make a smoothie • Steamed carrots and broccoli, dipped in ranch dressing Dinner • Frittatas with extra egg whites and fresh veggies, topped with shredded cheese
Let your kids toss the cut-up veggies into the egg mix. Pour the mix into a non-stick frying pan, cook until firm, and then bake if needed. Cut into slices.
Don't forget that it can take several tries for a child to learn to like a new item. So keep at it. Be a good role model yourself and keep exposing your kids to healthy options. Last week, one of my boys decided he wanted to try my salmon for dinner. He loved it! Victory!
Do you have any mealtime victories to share? What healthy foods have you gotten your children to try -- and enjoy?View Thread