raisingkidswithlove

You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

Let’s talk toddler!


Kaitlyn was a typical toddler, she definitely had an opinion!

You wake up one day, and it is a whole new ball game.  You now have a toddler.  Toddlers are so much fun, but can also be a challenge.  We are not used to our child having an opinion, and a toddler has one and often expresses it very loudly!  Toddlers can be having a tantrum one minute and laughing the next!

Your toddler’s biggest developmental task is to start to develop independence.  Your child will begin to separate from you at times, and be very clingy at other times.  Every day and sometimes every minute,is a new adventure when you have a 1 to 3 year old!

We know that toddlers are a bundle of energy.  Everything is an adventure!  Kitchen cupboards, knobs and buttons, computers, and even the drain in the tub is interesting.  Toddlers are busy discovering and really don’t have time for naps and potty training, although both are important for toddlers!  Toddlers are free little spirits and have very little self-control, which often results in your precious child throwing himself on the floor in a fit of frustration and anger.   To better understand your toddler, there are a few principles of toddler psychology…..

  1. A toddler is developing creativity, independence, curiosity, and imagination.  The whole world is open and exciting!  Your child is not misbehaving when he smashes peas, climbs on the table, or puts his finger in a place it should not be, he is exploring.  Exploration is developmentally appropriate for your toddler!
  2. A toddler has very little self-control and tolerance to frustration.  Sometimes it is so frustrating that a puzzle piece will not fit, or he can’t climb on the counter, or you break up his cracker that he wanted whole!  Because a toddler has very few words and a limited repertoire to handle frustration, the “logical” thing for him to do is melt down, kick, cry, and let his opinion be heard by all!
  3. Toddlers want attention.  Attention is attention to a toddler, whether it is negative attention or positive attention.  As parents, we need to limit our words of explanation to a toddler.  A 2-year-old doesn’t really care if he will fall off the table, he just wants to climb on it.  You will never convince him otherwise…there will be no moment of epiphany when he understands your safety talk!  We must not reinforce behavior by giving extended attention to unwanted behavior.  Give lots of positive words to positive behavior….very few words to negative behavior.
  4. Toddlers need predictability and routine.  Your child will behave much better when there is a routine in place at home.  The amount of frustration and the number of tantrums will decrease when you establish routines and rituals.
  5. Toddlers need some sense of control.  Give your child true choices.  “Do you want the bananas or the apple sauce?”   “Do you want to wear this shirt or this one?”  “Do you want to read your story before your bath or after?”  Do not give choices when there are no true choice.  Only ask a yes or no question if you are happy with the answer being “No!”
  6. Toddler temper tantrums are a result of frustration, being overly tired, being hungry and learning that they work!

 Between 12 and 15 months your toddler should: 

  • Have tripled his or her birth weight.
  • Start to combine syllables like saying  Ma Ma and  Da Da.
  • Start walking alone.
  • Bang two objects together.
  • Like to read interactively.
  • Follow one step directions.
  • Begin to use spoon or fork.
  • Begin to limit pacifier use to the crib only.  Use during waking hours will limit speech.
  • Like to explore.
  • Begin to point.  Respond by saying the name of the object he is pointing to.
  • Take 1 to 2 naps a day and sleep 11 to 12 hours at night.  Be sure to have a good bedtime routine.

By the end of the 18th month your toddler should:

  • Be able to walk backwards, walk up steps, and kick a ball.
  • Be able to say 10 to 25 words and name 3 body parts.
  • Be able to turn pages in a book.
  • Be able to stack 2 blocks.
  • Play next to a playmate, but not with a playmate.
  • Not be able to share!  Sharing does not happen without parental guidance until about the end of the 3rd year.
  • Attach to a “lovey” if one has been encouraged.
  • Continue to love to explore.
  • Take 1 nap a day and sleep 11 to 12 hours at night.
  • Not separate easily.  Separation anxiety peaks between 18 and 24 months.
  • Know the difference between how Mom and Dad parent and play.  Many will prefer one parent over the other at times.  Toddlers cannot intentionally do things to hurt your feelings at this age.  Connecting with one parent over the other may be because your toddler is learning male and female roles, may need more nurturing from mom or more physical play from dad.  Roll with it!

By age 2 your toddler should:

  • Be able to put on simple clothing with some help.
  • Be able to stack 4 to 6 blocks.
  • Be able to combine words into at least 2 word sentences at age 2.  Your child should have a vocabulary of over 50 words and be 1/2 understandable by others.
  • To follow two-step directions.
  • Know his body parts.
  • Continue parallel play with peers.
  • Have 1 nap a day and 11-12 hours of sleep at night.
  • MAY develop fears.  Explain loud noises, show what things are, introduce new people slowly, read books about things he is afraid of, and let him handle objects that are causing fear.
  • MAY continue to have separation anxiety.  Do not leave without saying good-bye.  If he cries when you leave, remind him you will be back.  Leaving and coming back helps diminish separation anxiety.

During the 3rd year your toddler should:

  • Dress himself.
  • Stack 9-10 blocks.
  • Walk up steps using alternating feet.
  • Be able to jump, hop, walk on toes.
  • Use his imagination for play.
  • Have a large vocabulary and use 3-4 word sentences.  Speech should be 3/4 understandable to others.
  • Be able to tell stories, sing nursery rhymes.
  • Be able to sort objects by shape and color.
  • Be able to play cooperatively now and share and develop friendships.
  • Show an interest in words, numbers, and letters.  No need to force learning these, but plan activities around this interest.  Show your child his name, write it out, point out letters on signs and in books, talk about colors, shapes, and point them out in your child’s world.
  • Still sleep at least 11 hours at night and have 1 nap a day or an extended “rest time” without the TV.

 Parenting activities for toddlers include:

  • Toddler “field trips”.  Bring your toddler to museums, parks, library story times, the post office, the grocery store, fire stations, apple orchards, and play groups.
  • Play matching games, sorting games, shape and color games and puzzles.
  • Read, read, read!  Try to read 30 minutes a day broken into short time slots.
  • Encourage crayons, finger paints, and clay to develop fine muscle control for writing.  Writing on an easel or blackboard is easier for young children because larger muscles are used.
  • Encourage water play, sand or dry rice play, filling and dumping.
  • Play with puppets.
  • Allow your child to feed himself, encourage use of utensils.
  • Help to expand your toddler’s language by talking to him.  Help him finish words and sentences.  If he says “cup”, you can respond, “You want your blue cup with milk.”
  • Play pretend with your toddler.  Play kitchens, dolls, stuffed animals, trains, cars, dress up….
  • Play follow the leader with your toddler.
  • Encourage rhymes and songs.
  • Play musical instruments with your toddler.
  • Respond to wanted behaviors with positive words and ignore unwanted behaviors.  Use time outs for behaviors like hitting, biting, and shoving.

At your child’s 18 month and 24 month well child visit, your physician should be screening for signs of autism.  Red flags that a parent might see are:

  • Your child repeats words but does not try to participate in conversations.
  • Your child does not respond to his name when you say it.
  • Your child does not make eye contact with you or others.
  • Your child avoids social contact or physical touch.
  • Your child has not developed speech or is losing words rather than building a vocabulary.
  • Your child does not play with toys like his peers and does not use imaginative play.
  • Your child seems to be under sensitive or overly sensitive to stimulations such as sound, touch, and texture.

Remember, if your child is reaching developmental milestones, no worries!  Many times children will not be able to do something that is expected because they have never been encouraged or have never had the opportunity.  Be sure to provide the opportunity for your toddler to reach milestones, even if it takes longer to allow your child to complete a task, or it is messy!!  If your child is not reaching developmental milestones, contact your doctor, and refer to your state’s early intervention program.  The earlier the intervention, the better the outcome.

Important links that will help you: 

  • “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” Campaign  
    This campaign educates parents about childhood development, including early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders, and it encourages developmental screening and intervention. It will give you tips on how to determine if your child needs screening.
  • Overview of Early Intervention
    Learn more about early intervention services from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.  Find out about your state’s early intervention program and how to access it.
  • Bright FuturesExternal Web Site Icon
    Bright Futures materials for families are available for parenting tips for children from birth to 21 years of age. This is provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Developmental Surveillance and Screening GuidelinesExternal Web Site Icon
    This American Academy of Pediatrics website provides guidelines on surveillance and screening for developmental delays in children.
  • National Association for the Education of Young ChildrenExternal Web Site Icon (NAEYC)
    NAEYC provides accreditation for early childhood programs and  preschools that meet certain standards. You can search for an accredited program or preschool near you.  NAEYC also provides resources, tools, and information for parents.

Toddlers can be exhausting, but exhilarating!  Looking through your toddler’s eyes, you will learn to enjoy the small wonders of the world again.  Tie up your running shoes, you have a busy toddler!   

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Oh what a difference a year makes! Growth and Development milestones the first year.


 

                                                       

From one day to one year, what a difference a year makes!                                                           

The first few months of my children’s lives sometimes felt like a blur.  Parents get VERY little sleep and are just trying to get to know their baby.  I can remember feeling that the first year just flew by and all of a sudden I would have a toddler on my hands!  There are so many changes that come so quickly with your baby that first year! 

During that first year, your baby is learning that he or she will be loved and cared for.  It is important to foster that development of trust.  Don’t let your baby cry for long periods of time, especially in the first 6 months.  Crying is your baby’s way of communicating.  Soon you will learn what different cries mean, like “I’m tired”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m wet”, “I need to be held”, “I am bored”….Responding to your baby’s needs helps your little one develop trust in you and the world.  You cannot spoil a baby!  Older children can be spoiled, but not infants, so just enjoy catering to their needs and loving your baby.

Growth and development should be steady and progressive.  That  is more important than comparisons with other children.  It is common for new parents to look at other babies and start to worry and compare.  Try not to compare, just know what important milestones your baby should be reaching.

How big your baby is at birth is a poor predictor about the size of your child by adulthood.  The size at birth has more to do with the conditions of uterine development.  Most children will find their growth curve and stay at that curve.  A child that is smaller than 75 percent of other babies his or her age can be perfectly healthy, that may just be the growth curve that child has.  By the end of the 2nd year, the size of your child will more truly reflect his or her adult size.

We parents know that our children are special!  However, reaching developmental milestones faster than other children does not necessarily predict your child’s intelligence.   As long as your child is reaching his or her developmental milestones on target, there are no worries!

By the end of the 2nd month your baby should:

  • Smile
  • Look at you!
  • Start to try to self soothe.  May bring hands to mouth and suck
  • Begin to smile at people
  • Start to coo
  • Turn towards sounds
  • Follow things with eyes
  • Pay attention to faces
  • Hold up head and begin to push up during tummy time

Activities for parents:

  • Talk to your baby
  • Show simple objects
  • Give your baby different looks at the world, change his or her scenery!
  • Play the silly face game, open and close your eyes, stick out your tongue etc.
  • Start the routine of a daily walk weather permitting
  • Help baby with tracking objects, babies love mobiles, shapes and movements
  • Imitate your baby’s sounds and expressions as your baby starts to learn to communicate

Your baby’s growth:

  • Growth will be about an ounce per day in the first 2 months
  • Growth will continue at about a pound a month after the first couple of months
  • Birth weight doubles by 5 months
  • Birth weight triples by one year

By the end of the 4th month your baby should:

  • Like to play and interact with you!
  • Copy some movements and even facial expressions like smiling
  • Babble even with expression
  • Cry in different ways for different needs like hunger, or being tired, or lonely
  • Reach for a toy or rattle
  • Track with eyes well side to side
  •  Be able to roll from tummy to back
  • Push up on elbows during tummy time
  • Like colors now and be drawn to them

Parent activities:

  • Continue to talk, talk, talk
  • Build reading into your daily routine
  • Respond to your baby’s coos and babbles…carry on a conversation!
  • Continue to show your baby the world!

By the end of the 6th month your baby should:

  • Recognize a familiar face and begin to have some stranger anxiety
  • Like to look at self in the mirror
  • Use vowel sounds when babbling and takes turns in a “conversation” with you!
  • Begin some consonant sounds when babbling
  • Respond when you say his or her name
  • Transfer things from hand to hand, easy to hold toys are important
  • Try to get things that are out of reach
  • Roll over in both directions
  • Sit with support
  • Like to “stand” with you holding and might bounce
  • Start to push up and may rock back and forth on hands and knees
  • Start to scoot and move arms like a swimmer
  • Sometimes show frustration if he can’t reach something he wants
  • Teething may begin with the average baby cutting their first tooth by the end of the 6th month
  • Should start the “dropping game” between 7 and 8 months (helps your baby learn object permanence)
  • Should begin clapping between 7 and 8 months

Parent activities:

  • Remember stranger anxiety starts at about 6 months and peaks at about 9 months.  This is normal.  Help your baby by gradually introducing strangers.  A stranger is someone your baby does not see everyday!  Never force a situation quickly when your baby is afraid of a new face.  Hold your baby, sit on the floor and let your baby explore with you holding him or staying near at first.
  • Start to teach finger games like “so big”, waving “bye-bye”, playing patty cake
  • Continue to read and talk to your baby
  • Make sure you are establishing routines, especially bed time and nap time routines

By the end of the 9th month your baby should:

  • Begin to have favorite toys
  • Understand the word “no”
  • Copy sounds you make and gestures you make
  • Pick up small things with thumb and index finger “pincer grasp”
  • Play peak a boo
  • Look for hidden items
  • Look where you point
  • Sit well without support
  • Start to scoot and crawl
  • Start to pull up to stand between 9 and 12 months

Parent activities:

  • Continue to play finger games like “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
  • Continue waving bye-bye
  • Build things for baby to crawl under and over
  • Let your baby play with every day objects like pots, pans, plastic containers
  • Encourage your baby to imitate your behavior like brushing hair, talking on the phone
  • Encourage pretend play with keys, phones, dolls, chunky trucks etc.
  • Play with pop up toys, a jack-in-the-box is a great way to teach object permanence
  • Play in and out games
  • Let your baby hold your fingers to walk

By the end of the 12th month your baby should:

  • Point at items
  • Pull up to stand and may walk
  • Cruise around furniture
  • Squat and stoop to pick up things
  • Throw a ball
  • Understand one step directions from you
  • Turn pages of a toddler board book
  • Look for missing objects in last seen location
  • Say Ma Ma and Da Da and maybe a few other words like ball, dog
  • Start to show fear, will cry when you leave
  • “Help” get dressed by holding out arms etc.
  • Put things in a container, takes things out, likes to dump items

Parent activities:

  • Help baby with push toys, wide based push toys that children can walk behind are fun!
  • Play games that the baby has a part in like puffing up your cheeks and letting her push the air out
  • Look at books and make up stories about the pictures
  • Teach body parts  Where is your nose?  Where is your tummy?
  • Play with musical instruments that shake and bang
  • Play music your baby loves to move and dance
 Enjoy the first year!  Your baby will grow and change more quickly than you can ever imagine.  Interact, smile, play, read to, cuddle, play music, walk, and just introduce your baby to the world!  The world is an exciting place through the eyes of a child.  Experience it with your child!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Helpful websites:

www.cdc.gov

www.aap.org

www.infirststeps.com

Infants need play time too!


You are your baby’s first toy! 

Play time is important for infants too!  Infants play by moving, by looking (especially you and that funny face), by exploring with hands, feet, and mouth, and by interacting physically (a little tickle), emotionally, and verbally.  The time your baby spends playing with you is invaluable.  You don’t have to “teach” as you play, your baby is learning by just interacting with you!  You are your baby’s favorite toy! 

Let your baby look at you! 

Your baby is completely enthralled with YOU!  Look at your baby and make silly faces.  You will be amazed by your sweet baby trying to imitate some of your silly faces!  Smile, coo, stick your tongue out…your baby will love it! If your baby keeps looking away, then he or she may have had enough of your silly face for a while, be careful not to over stimulate. This little game stimulates your baby’s social, visual, and emotional development.  This teaches your baby ways to seek and receive your attention and affection.  Who knew that you could be entertained by just looking at your baby!  You and Dad have a new evening entertainment!

Play with touch!

Who doesn’t want to touch that soft baby skin?  Touch your little one with different textures.  Tissues, a blanket, the tip of your finger, a cotton ball…explore different touches across your baby’s tummy or cheeks.  Talking makes this even more fun for your baby.  “Doesn’t that tickle? OOOh feel good?”  Watch your baby and you will be able to tell what his favorite is.  Soon your little one will start to kick and get excited when you just start to touch his little belly.  Touch teaches sensory awareness, verbal interaction and body awareness.

Give your baby something to look at.

A mobile is a great first toy for your child.  It can be colorful or black and white with some accents of red, but your baby will love watching it!  Be sure to take the mobile down once your child can reach it or is starting to try to sit up.  The mobile provides visual stimulation and spatial awareness for your baby.

Try a little game of “The Voice”.

No, you can’t tell if your baby has a singing voice yet, 🙂  but your little one loves the sound of your voice.  He or she has heard your voice even before birth!  Put your baby in the center of the room and walk around the room singing and talking or making funny noises.  Your baby will begin to look for where you are!  Combine a little “Peekaboo” with it!  Your baby will love it.  This will help your baby develop listening skills and it helps develop a sense of trust in you as you disappear and come back!

Take your child on a tour.

Your home and backyard may be familiar to you, but your baby will love the change in scenery.  Carry your baby around the house and you will find all kinds of neat things.  Talk about what you see and what things do.  Light switches are amazing!  Head outside and discover the grass, the leaves, brush a flower across your little one’s cheek, introduce your child to the world!  New sights, sounds and textures are exciting for your baby, and talking about them builds language skills too!  Introducing your baby to the world may just help you appreciate the little things again too!


The oldies but goodies…all the finger plays you used to know
.

Games like Peek-a-boo, So Big, Patty Cake, This Little Piggy, Itsy Bitsy Spider are fun for you and your baby.  These finger plays and songs teach socialization skills, fine motor skills, object permanence, and are just plain fun.  If you don’t remember these oldies but goodies, look them up online or check out a book at the library.

Make an obstacle course.

Your new little crawler will love to crawl over and under things.  Get those pillows and cushions off the couch and start encouraging your baby to climb up and over, crawl, and tumble.   This is fun and helps build gross motor skills and coordination.  It might get your little one good and tired for a great nap too!

Try the fill and dump game.

Once your baby is sitting up and is developing some hand coordination, filling and dumping will be a favorite activity.  Stacking cups, measuring cups, plastic containers all work well to fill up with water in the bathtub, sand, blocks, raw rice or any item that can be scooped up and dumped.  Your baby will work on fine motor control, hand-eye coordination, and words like “full” “pour” “all gone” “empty” and others.

Stacking and knocking over.

Stacking will soon become the next fun activity.  Those same stacking cups can be used to build a tower and knock it down.  Blocks, stacking rings, plastic cups, books…anything can be used to stack and knock over.  This helps with fine motor development and cause and effect.

These are just a few examples of the type of play your infant will love the firs 12 months of life.  Don’t rush out and buy lots of expensive toys, you will be your child’s favorite toy these first few months.  There is no rush to “get ahead”; your child will learn all that he or she needs to learn with simple play.  The pressure to get ahead often takes away the most valuable tool for learning…play.  Be a kid again and fill your child’s day with play!  Have fun!

What is your favorite activity with your infant?  Post  some of your ideas!

Follow Raising Kids With Love on Facebook for more tips!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Keeping the peace….


All smiles building the sandcastle…took some sibling cooperation…but life with four kids wasn’t always full of sibling cooperation!

“Mom, she is looking at me!”  “Mom, she is touching my stuff!”  “He called me dumb!”  “Ow, quit pinching me!” 

Ahh, the sounds of loving sisters and brothers.  I have heard these “wonderful” sounds often in our home.  Sibling rivalry and arguing is as old as time.  Look at Cain and Abel!  Even the most loving families have arguing between sisters and brothers.

Sibling rivalry and discord often does not rear its ugly head until a younger brother or sister becomes mobile and gets into the older child’s “stuff” and disrupts their playtime.  Conflict may continue as children get older because each child is an individual and has different temperaments.  Every child tries to define who they are and compete for attention in the family.

What is a parent to do when the fighting begins?  How can a family increase sibling cooperation and have peace?

  • Treat each child as a unique person instead of equals.  Yes, I said you CANNOT treat all of your children the same ALL of the time.  You can love your children the same, but you need to give to each child what he or she needs at the appropriate time.  Parents that try to keep everything EQUAL all the time actually foster rivalry.  If one of your children needs a new pair of shoes, you do not need to buy EVERYONE something to make it “even”.  If one child is having a particularly difficult time and needs more one on one time, then give that time to that child.  Your other children will need it at different times.  I have known parents that have actually kept a log of expenses for each child…kids realize these things, and will actually start to keep track themselves which makes it worse!  As a parent our job is to provide what every one of our children needs at the time they need it, not to be equal.
  • Avoid comparisons at all times.  Lifelong resentments are born from comparisons.  Celebrate the uniqueness of each of your children.  Point out their individual strengths and talents.  Nurture those strengths.  This sets each child apart from his or siblings and helps them build self-esteem.
  • Raise sensitive and empathetic siblings.  When one child is hurt, always have the other give comfort.  When a younger sibling needs to be taught a task, let the older child help out.  Describe feelings to your child, explain how a sibling might be feeling when they are upset.
  • Encourage family cooperation.    Assign tasks for children to do together, make them cooperate.  “Let’s pick up the playroom. Race the timer and see if you can beat it!”  Don’t set them up to compete by saying “Who can pick up the most toys?”
  • Plan family activities that are fun for everyone.  If your kids have good experiences together it increases family bonding.  Don’t “divide and conquer” as parents constantly.  Encourage siblings to support each other at sporting events, concerts, and school activities.
  • Pay attention to the time of day and other patterns when conflicts happen.  Maybe an earlier dinner, a quiet time in the evening, or a nap will help prevent conflicts.  Children fight more when they are hungry, tired, or bored.
  • Let your children work out conflicts on their own in most cases.  This helps them to learn conflict resolution.  Teach compromise.  Point out “win win” solutions and tell them that you are confident that they can work it out.
  • Don’t yell or lecture…it doesn’t help.
  • It doesn’t matter who started the argument, it takes two to argue.  Hold your children equally responsible when there is fighting.  There usually is one child that is the “pot stirrer” and one child that is louder and more dramatic!  Parents need to remain impartial and separate the siblings.  Separation can include going to their rooms if they are older, sitting in separate areas of the same room if they are younger, or I have had success with making them sit across from each other without talking.  This often ends up in both kids giggling!
  • Help your children express their feelings about each other.  Don’t just try to talk them out of their feelings.  “I know you are angry….”  “I know you are frustrated…”  “It must feel like it is not fair when…”
  • Set very clear boundaries.  In our home we do not hit, there is no name calling, and there are certain items that each child has that are off-limits without permission.  Allow your children to have some of their “own” things that do not have to be shared unless they choose.  Giving each child their own space and a few special things that are theirs alone is very helpful.  Their own space does not have to be their own room.  Actually, sharing rooms builds incredible bonds between siblings.  We opted to have a “playroom” and have our girls share rooms until the teen years.  There is just something about those late night talks….
  • Model good conflict resolution skills.  If your children see you yelling, name calling or putting other down, those “techniques” will show up in their conflicts.
  • Items that are handed down to siblings should be labeled as toys or clothing for a certain age…”these toys are for 3 year olds”, “this is the kindergarten box of clothes”, not these are your brother’s old toys or clothes.
  • Make spending time alone with each child a priority.  This does not have to be expensive outings, it could be just picking one child to run an errand with you alone.  Reconnecting with each child for a few minutes each evening worked great for us.  Just a few minutes of sitting on the bed before sleep talking about whatever might be important, or chatting about the day gave each child a bit of individual love and attention.  You might schedule special times too, maybe each child knows that one of their birthday gifts will be an afternoon alone with you!

With a little work, your children can develop close relationships with each other that will last through adulthood.  However, even with parents fostering these relationships, I promise you will still hear “Moooommmm, she is bugging me!”  Stop, don’t panic and remember, sibling rivalry is as old as time, why would your home be any different?

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be….


I feel like we need to talk about this topic at least every 6 months….it is a subject that so many Moms are afraid to talk about! So, I am posting this again so we all will be reminded that taking care of ourselves is a must in order to be good Moms.  Sometimes we don’t feel wonderful and full of bliss after our baby is born.  Those first few weeks and months are difficult!  The lack of sleep alone can play havoc with a new Mom’s emotions. New Moms…take care of yourselves, and if you don’t feel like yourself or others tell you that you are not like yourself, ask for the help you need.

You have waited 9 long months for this.  You survived the back aches, the weight gain, the heart burn, and the cravings. You went to prenatal classes, read books, watched the “Baby Channel” on cable for hours and the nursery is perfect.  Everyone is thrilled…everyone is happy…everyone but you.  You feel alone, guilty, not yourself.  You try to “pull yourself out of this funk”; but you just can’t shake the feelings.  Why?

Today I want to talk  about just those often unspoken feelings of postpartum depression.  Nearly 80 percent of new moms have the “baby blues”.  Hormone changes after birth can cause many to have some mood swings, tears, feelings of being overwhelmed in the first couple of weeks after delivery.  Overall, a mom who has the “blues” still describes herself as generally happy.  Postpartum depression is different.

At least 20 percent of moms experience some degree of postpartum depression.  That is 1 out of every 8 moms!  There are probably more but because of guilt, many moms never seek help. I am sure someone you know has experienced this.   It is the most common pregnancy complication!  Postpartum depression or perinatal mood disorder can occur anytime during pregnancy and the first full year after your baby is born.

Some Signs and Symptoms:

  • frequent crying
  • sleep and appetite changes
  • feelings of loneliness, helplessness
  • mood swings
  • repetitive, sometimes scary thoughts
  • anger, frustration, irritability
  • difficulty bonding with baby
  • anxiety, panic, excessive worry
  • feelings of being trapped
  • lack of interest in life, fatigue, exhaustion
  • feeling speeded up or wired
  • fear of being alone with the baby

If you are feeling some of these signs and symptoms…or if people close to you are telling you that you are just not yourself.  Please talk with your doctor.  Seek the help you need to feel better.  The good news is that you will get better, treatment works, you will be yourself again.

All new moms can do a few things to help themselves feel better.

  • Sleep.  Sleep deprivation can result in depression, and we all know that a newborn doesn’t sleep as much as we thought!  We are not used to waking every 2 hours at night!  Try to nap when the baby does.  Ask someone to stay with the baby while you sleep.  Listen to your body and rest.
  • Eat healthy and remember to eat!  A new mom can’t survive on a handful of cookies, and believe me often that is all you have time to eat!  Keep healthy food in your house and accept those meals that are being offered!
  • Exercise.  Just a walk 3 to 4 times a week increases those “feel good” hormones.  It is good for you and good for your baby to get out in the fresh air, even in the winter.
  • Natural light, find the sun!  Sunlight is a mood booster.  Stand in front of a window whenever the sun is shining and get light on your eyes.
  • Get out of the house.  Even a trip to the grocery store is a trip out!  Wow, the definition of going out really changes after kids!
  • Ask for help.  Being a new mom is lots of work.  You do not have to be super mom!  You can’t do it alone.  Remember, being a mom is not like what you see on TV!
  • Find other new moms.  Look for support groups, MOPS groups, church groups, wherever there are other moms…being around other moms is essential.  We all need to stick together!

Remember…ask for help.

You are not alone, you are not to blame, and with treatment you will get better and be yourself again….I promise.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Helpful websites:

www.postpartumprogress.com

www.postpartum.net

www.postpartumstress.com

www.ppdsupportpage.org

www.babycenter.com

www.postpartaumprogress.com

www.mededppd

Easter egg hunts and the importance of family tradition


Easter always brought out the hats, gloves, and even with my husband’s protest….plaid shorts and sweaters for Connor!  The dress will be a little different this weekend, I am sure!  🙂

I am so very blessed to have 3 of our 4 children, our wonderful son in law and our 6 month old grandchild home this coming weekend to celebrate Easter. We will miss our oldest daughter!  It is easy to plan the weekend, because it is almost exactly the same every Easter!  The girls will not be wearing white gloves and Easter bonnets like they did when they were young, but all four will be dressed up for church Easter Sunday morning.  The eggs will be colored Saturday evening, the Easter dinner menu will include the traditional ham, “Easter cole slaw”, and other favorites, and of course there will be an egg hunt.  As the children have gotten older, of course there are a few changes…the egg hunt now includes eggs filled with quarters or maybe a few gift certificates and a few “golden eggs” with a little extra cash for pizza or a movie. There is a real feeling of serious business as they head out for the eggs!  The sweet little egg hunt they had when they were young with their cousins has become a race to the finish with winning in mind.  The last few years we had a couple of the kids’ college friends join us and  I always wondered what they thought when I handed them a basket for the egg hunt.  Things will eventually change a bit again when our season in life brings us grandchildren, but the basics of the celebration will always remain the same….because as our kids say, “That is how we always do it!”

If we are smart we listen to our children when they say “That is how we always do it!” even when we have only done it that way one other time.  Your child is not just talking about the good time he had, but the fact that it meant something to him and he thinks to you too.  One of my favorite quotes is from the book  The Little Prince by  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “We live not by things, but the meaning of things.”  It is not what you do or eat that is important, it is the meaning and feeling that comes with what you are doing that is so important to your child.

Creating your own special rituals now and faithfully repeating them throughout your child’s life will provide your child with a sense of security, stability, belonging and pride in his family.  It is never too early to start your own family traditions.

Four reasons tradition is important to a family:

1.  Traditions helps make life predictable.  Rituals that are followed daily, weekly, and yearly such as family dinners, nightly stories, spring picnics, holiday songs etc. helps make children feel secure.  Their world is often unpredictable—keeping things predictable at home gives security.

2.  Traditions give families a time to connect.  Sometimes we can feel unconnected when we get busy.  Family meals, stories, game nights etc. help us reconnect and start talking.  Soon we know what is going on in our children’s lives.

3.  Family traditions teach children what their family values are.  Service work, religious ceremonies, concern for the environment and many other values can be established through family traditions and activities.  These are values that when they are reinforced with traditional activities, your child will bring with him to adulthood.

4.  Tradition forms family identity.  Build a family group for your child to feel connected to and this will often prevent them from trying to find other less suitable groups to identify with.  A child’s family is a huge piece of their identity.

Traditions can be very simple…it is the act of repeating them, allowing them to change with your family’s “season in life” and keeping them fun that is the key.  If something is not fun anymore, then let it go!

Don’t get hung up on creating the prefect rituals, let them happen naturally based on what your family enjoys. Many traditions just happen.  The wonderful thing about becoming your own family is that you get to create your own traditions from scratch.  Some you will come up with on your own, some you will borrow, and some you will discard from your past, but the traditions will become part of who your family is.

Some suggestions to try that might be fun:

1.  The Easter Egg hunt…definitely a tradition.

  • Hide a combination of plastic filled eggs and hard boiled
  • Hide baskets
  • Fill plastic eggs with clues to a bigger prize
  • Use “bunny prints” to guide your child to his or her basket
  • Put out carrots for the Easter Bunny
  • Purchase a “special” basket for each of your children to be re-used each year
2.  Coloring Easter Eggs
  • Hard boil the eggs, let them cool slightly and let the kids “color” on them with crayons.  The heat of the egg will melt the crayon just enough to make it easier.
  • Use stickers to decorate the eggs until you are ready to tackle egg dye.
  • Have an egg decorating contest
  • Glitter eggs…roll eggs is glue and glitter
  • Use fine tip markers to decorate detailed eggs
  • Try marbling eggs by adding a little vegetable oil to the dye you are using
  • Tear up different colored tissue paper and glue it on the eggs for a stain glass window look
3.  Read stories about spring, baby animals, and the Religious meaning of Easter
4.   Baking
  • Traditionally at the end of a Lenten fast, many families indulge in sweets, find an Easter dessert that you can make together.
5.  Traditional Easter brunch, lunch or dinner
  • Find a menu that everyone enjoys, and make it your own!  Spring marks the start of lots of fresh local foods.  I can’t wait for the fresh new asparagus for our Easter dinner!
6.  If your Easter includes Religious tradition, it is never too early to include the children.  Clean them up and head to church.  Waiting until they can “sit still” might be years!  Attending church together as a family, even with young children, is essential if you are instilling this value in your child.  It might be challenging with young children, but worth it in establishing the value and the habit.  There is something so sweet in seeing wiggly children in church…I love it!
Remember, family tradition endears your children to their family and establishes a bond.  The celebration, the meal, and the activities do not need to be perfect, the perfection comes from a celebration steeped in tradition and full of fun memories that draws a family together….that is perfection
Share some family traditions that you hope to establish!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy


Reese Eggs….and other healthier choices for Easter baskets!


I am going to be honest…I will have my fair share of Reese Easter Eggs this coming Sunday!  I love them, along with a few Whopper eggs.  Candy is a huge part of Easter celebrations in many homes.  I believe that everything has its place in moderation (thus the Reese Eggs) but of course there are lots of other options for filling Easter baskets!  Spring is a great time to be thinking about some outdoor activities and toys to fill those baskets.  Traditionally, our kids always got a few of those items, like sidewalk chalk and bubbles.  Target dollar aisle is a great place to start!  Take a look at the list below, there are lots of options….post a few ideas that you have that will make your little one smile on Easter!  My kids will still get a basket on Sunday, yes, even at their ages!  I also have a new grandson (6 months old) who will have a basket with books, teethers, sippy cup, bowls, sun screen and a few toys.  No candy yet!  I will put a few healthy choices in my “bid kid”baskets, but theirs won’t be complete without a little chocolate! 🙂

  1. Bubbles
  2. Sidewalk chalk
  3. Cute socks
  4. Hair bows or clips
  5. Matchbox cars
  6. Sand bucket and shovel
  7. Stacking cups
  8. Punching balloons
  9. Beach ball
  10. Plastic boats
  11. Rubber balls
  12. Slinky
  13. Windmills
  14. Jump ropes
  15. Play-dough
  16. Crayons
  17. Coloring books
  18. Preschool scissors
  19. Finger Paint
  20. Stickers
  21. Books
  22. Vegetable/Flower seeds and child sized garden tools
  23. Sun hat
  24. Sun screen
  25. Water bottle
  26. Movie tickets
  27. Sun glasses
  28. Flip flops
  29. Pool shoes
  30. Kites
  31. Flashlight
  32. Bug catcher
  33. Magnifying glass
  34. Cute toothbrush
  35. Silly straws
  36. Small dinosaurs
  37. Magnetic letters
  38. Sponge balls and toys
  39. Squirt toys
  40. Parachute men
  41. Model airplanes
  42. Card games
  43. Sunglasses
  44. Finger puppets
  45. Hula hoops
  46. Small musical instruments like egg shakers and harmonicas
  47. Bath toys

Fill those plastic eggs with:

  1. Yogurt covered raisins
  2.  Dried fruit
  3. Fish crackers
  4. Teddy Grahams
  5. Stickers
  6. Cereal
  7. Puzzle pieces…they can put them together to see if all the eggs have been found!
  8. Marshmallows
  9. Pretzel snacks
  10. Granola mix
  11. Washable tatoos

Non-candy treats for the basket:

  1. Granola
  2. Squeezable yogurt
  3. Dried fruit
  4. Popcorn
  5. Bags of pretzels
  6. Fresh baked items
  7. Fresh fruit
  8. Fruit cups
  9. Small tubs of “peanut butter to go” for dipping
  10. Honey straws
  11. 100% juice box
  12. Small packages of cheddar bunny crackers

Baskets are great…but you can put your Easter basket items in the back of a dump truck, in a baby stroller, shopping cart, sand bucket, beach bag,…get creative!

Post a few ideas that you have!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

The pitter patter of feet and other bedtime challenges


Must have been a good night…all smiles to start the day!

Ahh there is nothing sweeter than the pitter patter of little toddler feet, unless it is two minutes after putting them in bed or you wake to that sound at 2:00 am!  Once toddlers figure out that they can get out of a bed, why not pay Mom and Dad a visit?  Going to bed is such a disruption in their life!  They would much rather be with you cuddling back to sleep or seeing what fun things you are doing while they are in bed!

It seems harmless enough to bring them back to bed and lie down with them until they sleep or to throw your covers back and let them crawl into bed with you….that is until you wake up with a toddler’s feet in the small of your back or lying on your head!  Toddlers need to learn to separate and sleep on their own!  It is a life skill for them and makes your evenings and nights so much more restful.  So, what is a parent to do when they hear the pitter patter of little feet?

Toddler’s who get up during the middle of the night:

  • The key is consistency…the same response EVERY time
  • Take your child by the hand and walk quietly back to his or her bedroom.
  • Tuck your child back into bed, give a kiss, and say ,“It is night-time, you sleep in your bed.  Love you.”
  • Walk out, no further discussion.  You want your response to be very boring! Your little one has to realize that there is no benefit at all in getting up, not even a long explanation of why she should stay in bed!
  • It is likely that your child will return in a few minutes…follow the same routine with no other discussion.
  • This may happen many times the first night, and your response should be exactly the same.  No yelling, no punishment, no rocking, no cuddling, no crawling in bed with them.
  • The second night you may hear the pitter patter of little feet again, follow the same routine.  Most likely it will be fewer times.
  • Usually by the third or fourth night your child will stay in bed when he or she wakes and self comfort back to sleep, if you are consistent and do not give in!  If you give in and rock, cuddle, or allow your child to sleep with you; then you have sent a very confusing message to your child.  Your child will think, “If I get up enough, then mommy or daddy will let me sleep with them!”
  • There are times when your child is ill or when your child is very scared that you might give in to letting your child sleep with you, but the quicker you go back to this technique, the easier it is for you and your child!
  • An alternate response could be to keep a sleeping bag in your room.  You can tell your child that if he or she is scared and wants to sleep in your room, they can pull out the sleeping bag and sleep next to your bed.  This will give them the opportunity to be close but not in your bed. Some parents have liked this option.  Once again, consistency is the key.

Toddlers who get up as soon as you put them in bed:

  • Option one is the one above.  Continue to walk your child back to bed without much interaction, no cuddling, no rocking, no yelling.  Place the child back in bed and leave.  This may happen 10 times and with a lot of crying, but if the response is exactly the same each time.  Your child will eventually fall asleep on his or her own.  This usually takes about 3 nights if you are consistent!
  • Option two works well when you have just transitioned from the crib.  Sit next to your child’s bed.  Do not look at your child or speak to your child.  If your child is chattering with you, respond with “It is bed time go to sleep.”  No other words or explanations.  Place your hand on your child and make no eye contact.  Every time your child tries to get up, gently lie them back down.  Sit with your hand on your child the first couple of nights.  After the first few nights, move your chair to the foot of the bed.  Same position, same words if your child is talking, if your child starts to get up, respond with “It is bed time lie down.”  Speak very calmly with no other words.  The next night move your chair to outside of the door and look into the room.  Respond exactly the same way every time your child speaks or tries to get up.  This will eventually teach your child to stay in bed and settle to sleep if you are consistent!
  • Option three can be used too, there is nothing wrong with putting a gate at your child’s door.  If your child tries to climb the gate it is not a safe option.  Do not lock your child in their room, this can be a safety issue.  The first two options are better learning techniques for your child.
  • Option four is better for older toddlers, at least age two or older.  Depending on your child’s temperament, a reward system may be all you need.  You can devise a sticker chart and let your child place a sticker on the chart for every night or nap he or she stays in bed.  Sometimes toddlers prefer to wear their sticker!  A single sticker may work, or you might have an incentive of two or three stickers and then your child is rewarded with a small treat or something fun to do with you.  Then move the number of stickers required to get their prize up until you no longer need the incentive.
  • Option five is good for three and older.  You can give your older toddler or preschooler a “free pass”.  Make two “passes” using 3×5 index cards.  Let your child help you decorate them.  Tell your child that they have two “free passes” to call you and you will come in and see what they need.  Once those passes are gone, you will not come into their room and they will not be allowed up without a consequence the next day.  Most children will start out using the passes and then quickly start saving at least one “pass” just in case.  Eventually you can give your child just one “free pass” to use.  Most of the time this breaks them from calling you or getting out of bed.  This gives them some control of the situation.

All these techniques will help your toddler learn to fall asleep on his or her own, make the bedtime process much more enjoyable for you and your child, and give you time to have an evening to recharge and get a good night’s sleep without a toddler spread eagle in the middle of your bed!  Remember, teaching your child to sleep on his or her own is a necessity!  Happy sleeping!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Toddler bedtime blues


Time for that nap!  Don’t miss the window for naps….toddlers need naps to sleep well at night!  Establish good sleep routines for naps and night-time!

It was 8:30,  I was tired, and my 2-year-old seemed to be gearing up for the evening.  My patience was short and soon everyone ended up melting down.  Not a very pleasant way to end the day!  I hated when an evening in our home ended in a melt down!  I always felt like such a terrible Mom, but evenings like that made me re-group and remember that naps, early bedtimes and calming routines were the cornerstone to good sleep for everyone.  Besides, when the kids were in bed early, I always had time to take a breather, visit with Brad and reward myself with a bowl of ice cream for making it through another day!

Often children are sleeping pretty well as they enter the toddler years, and then it seems that overnight, bedtime becomes a battle.  So many parents will tell me that their toddler “must not require much sleep” because they can’t get them to sleep in the evening.  Soon the pattern becomes a toddler who is up until late, a parent that has no down time, and a household that is stressful every evening.  The fact is, toddlers need about 13 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.  Without that sleep, tantrums increase, whining becomes the norm, and a toddler’s day is not filled with discovery and play but frustration and tears.   These are some reasons families with toddlers often develop “bedtime blues”.

  • If a toddler is  not sleeping enough—they are harder to get to sleep consistently.  How hectic are your days?  If he is over scheduled or over stimulated you might want to slow it down for sleep’s sake.  When a child is constantly on the go, it is hard to settle down for sleep.  We need positive associations with sleep, not negative ones brought on by tantrums, yelling and harshness prior to bedtime.
  • Separation anxiety is a true toddler fear, often this separation anxiety is the start of sleep problems during the toddler years.
  • Toddlers are exploring control and testing.  Your child will test to see if bed time is negotiable!  Sometimes a tired parent will give in pretty easily setting the precedent for the following nights.
  • Toddlers don’t want to miss anything!  They realize that life goes on when they are napping or sleeping.
  • Most parents underestimate their child’s need for sleep.  Toddlers need between 13 and 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.  An increase in tantrums, whining, crying, even misdiagnosis of hyperactivity can come from a child who is chronically sleep deprived. Toddlers are wired “early to bed, early to rise” !
  • Sleep is a health issue.  Parents need to control this health issue just like you do routine health care.  You wouldn’t let a child eat whatever they want for dinner, and you shouldn’t let a child decide his or her own bedtime.  Sleep is a basic need like food or clothing, and you are the parent!
  • There is no research that shows that letting a toddler fuss it out to sleep causes any psychological damage.  A child who is consistently loved and cared for during the day will thrive, even if there are several nights of “crying it out” to go to sleep.

So what is a parent to do?

1.  Watch your toddler’s behavior and do not let them become overly tired.  Remember that an overly tired toddler has a difficult time going to sleep and staying to sleep.  Usually, a toddler should not be up longer than a 5 hour stretch.  If your toddler rises at 7:30 in the morning, he or she will be ready for a nap about 12:30.  There should be about 5 hours between the nap wake time and bedtime.  So a toddler that sleeps from 12:30 to 2:00 or 2:30 is ready for bed by about 7:30 in the evening.

2.  Create a reasonable bedtime routine.  The routine should be calming and repeatable each evening.  Don’t let this routine take on a life of its own!  Thirty minutes of bedtime preparation is all that is needed.  A routine that is predictable will help your toddler calm down and know that bedtime is near.  This routine should include calming the house about an hour before bed by dimming the lights and turning off the TV.  Establish a routine that both you and your child enjoys.  This routine might include taking a bath, brushing teeth, cuddling and reading a story, singing a song, saying prayers, talking about the day and planning tomorrow, providing a “lovey”, and giving another snuggle before leaving the room.

3.  After the routine, your child may call or cry for you.  Be strong and consistent.  You can peek in and tell your child that it is night-time and time to sleep, but do not go back and rock and comfort to sleep.  Your child will learn to fall asleep on his or her own.  This is a learned skill, and an important one!  Give your child suggestions.  “You don’t have to sleep, just read your books or snuggle with your bear.”  Leave a night-light on if necessary.

4.  Establishing a sleep routine usually takes about three to four  nights of consistency.  Parents need to be on the same page and tackle this as a team!  Do not confuse your child with two different approaches to sleep.  Make a plan, and stick to it.  Remember that sleep is a health issue, you are being a good parent!

If you establish good sleep habits with your toddler, your daytime hours will be much more fun!  It is amazing how the “terrible twos” may just become terrific if you have a child that is not overly tired.

More to come….how to handle specific night-time challenges!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Early to bed and very early to rise…that is a toddler!


Kelsey up and at ’em bed hair and all…always smiling and more chipper than me at her early wake time!

Oh I remember those mornings…waking to the sweet cry or call from my toddler’s room at hmmmm 5:00 am?  Neither of us was really ready to start the day, and both of us were crabby by 9:00 am!  Early morning waking and toddlers seem to go together.  A very common question that many parents have is, “How can I get my toddler to sleep later in the morning?”  ” What is a “normal” wake time for a toddler?”

The first answer is…there is no “normal”.  Every child is certainly different.  There always is that parent that has a 2-year-old that sleeps until 8:30 every morning.  That was never me, and most of us will not have a toddler that lounges in bed in the morning!  In general, toddlers are wired early to bed and early to rise.  Many children will wake up by 6:00 am, so if you are not a morning person, you will become one! (Maybe with the help of coffee!)  Toddlers will sleep about 11 to 12 hours at night, so with a bedtime of 7:00-7:30 pm that gives them a wake time of 6:00 to 7:00 am.   Pushing back the bedtime until later will usually backfire for most children.  A late bedtime usually results in an earlier wake time because the toddler will become overly tired.  I know that does not make logical sense, but that is a toddler!   Here are a few tips that might help that extra-early waker:

  • Adjust your expectations.  A wake time of about 6:00 to 6:30 is within the range of normal for a toddler.  Make sure you are in bed earlier too!
  • Adjust your child’s bedtime.  Early to bed is a great habit for children.  A child that is up too late and becomes overly tired will wake earlier.  Sleep begets sleep in toddlers.  A bedtime by 7:30 to 8:00 pm is an important sleep habit, and it gives you a bit of an evening too.
  • Purchase black out shades.  Most children are light sensitive…early light will wake them and light in the evening (daylight savings time) will keep them awake.
  • White noise may help too.  If you have a noisy street in the morning, try white noise to keep your child from being disturbed.
  • If your child wakes before 6:00 am, tell him it is still nighttime and let them him fuss it out a bit.  (Turn down the monitor if you are still using it, he will be fine!)  Do not bring the toddler to your bed.  Neither of you will sleep and this will become a habit!  Keep a few books or lovey in bed with your toddler so that he can entertain himself quietly and hopefully go back to sleep.  Soon, he will wake and then learn to fall back to sleep.  Most of the time, the very early-wakers are arousing during their last sleep cycle and need to go back to sleep.  After a few days of fussing, most children will no longer cry for you at the early waking, they will simply roll over and go back to sleep.
  • For a toddler age 3 or older, try a nightlight with a timer.  Tell your child when the nightlight switches off, it is morning and he can call you.
  • You can also try “wake up” clocks that turn green when it is time to get up!

Be patient, most toddlers have periods of sleep issues.  Stick to your routine, be consistent, and follow the “early to bed, early to rise” guideline…for yourself too!  A cup of coffee and the sunrise can be a beautiful thing…just go with it!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

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