raisingkidswithlove

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

What is in your discipline “bag of tricks”?


discipline tricks

What is in your discipline bag of tricks?

It was 7:30 am and my day was in full swing. I was chasing a two year old trying to get him dressed again. It is barely an hour into the day and I felt like I was on the verge of yelling and a time out before breakfast just didn’t seem right. Sound familiar? I am a big believer that spanking and yelling are not the best choices for discipline. I have taught 1,2,3 Magic for years….but sometimes you just need something else. Discipline is a parenting must. Children need guidelines, boundaries, expectations, consistency and consequences. I think parents really need a “bag of discipline tricks” to parent effectively. These “tricks” can help prevent physical punishment, increase cooperation, take away some of the No’s in your child’s life and quite honestly maybe bring a smile to you both. Here are a few “tricks” to keep in your repertoire….share a few of your own too!

  1. 1,2,3 Magic

This is my favorite discipline technique which is very effective when used consistently and according to the rules. Do not use it for everything….save it for behaviors you want to eliminate quickly.

  1. Remove your child from the conflict and give attention.

I know I always say that we should never give attention to a negative behavior, but if a child is acting inappropriately sometimes simply removing him from the conflict gently and bringing him to another activity of cooperation is effective. Example…You see your child grabbing toys from others and becoming aggressive, you walk up and take him by the hand and say “Come with me I need help getting snack ready.” You have just removed him from the behavior that is inappropriate, not used the word NO, and given positive attention for the cooperative activity. Usually works!

  1. Change your requests from “go” to “come”.

If you are trying to get your child to do something, approach from a cooperative view-point. Instead of “Go put your coat on.” Try “Come with me to put your coat on.” The tone totally changes and cooperation increases!

  1. Turn your no to a yes.

Telling a child “no” to a request will often result in a meltdown. When possible, change that “no” to “yes”. Example   “I know you want to go outside, we can’t now but yes, we will after lunch.” “Let’s play with the water here in the sink, not the water in the dog’s bowl.” “Leave your shoes on now, we will take them off at home!”

  1. Try using the “not for” phrase.

“Hands are not for hitting they are for patting and loving.” “Trucks are not for throwing, they are for pushing.” “Food is not for throwing it is for eating.” Soon you may hear your child repeating those phrases to keep himself from the activity!

  1. Get Goofy.

Nothing like a little humor to diffuse a situation! Try putting that jacket on your child’s leg, or hopping to bed, or singing a silly song. Once you both are smiling cooperation increases.

  1. Think Like A Toddler.

Why did your child just dump the dog food out again….or throw the ball in the house again…or dump a box of cereal out and stomp on them…??? Yelling “STOP WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” just doesn’t work. A young child doesn’t think about why he is dumping dog food or stomping on cereal, he is thinking this is so fun! When you think like a child you will have more patience and will react a little calmer. Tell your child that the activity looks like so much fun…redirect to something appropriate and have them help you clean up! (as much as a 2 or 3 year old can!)

  1. Behavior charts and rewards.

Time In is as important as Time Out. What does that mean? Reward your child throughout the day with positive words, stickers, hugs, stories or other positive reinforcements for behavior you like. That positive attention increases that behavior and then allows your child to really FEEL the removal of that positive attention if you give a Time Out for unacceptable behavior. Sticker charts work well at age 2 and older. Younger toddlers…and even older children will often just love a sticker to wear or a stamp on their hand for positive behaviors. If you have ever been to a Gymboree class you know how important that stamp on the hand is! Get creative! I heard of a Mom sending her child to bed with a brown bag every night. If he did not get up, there was something in it in the morning! Ignore unacceptable or annoying behavior when you can and reinforce the positive. Rewards should not always be bought…rewards of time make the most impact.

  1. Use consistent words to help your child.

“No touch”, “Kind words”, “Good choices”, “Gentle touch”, “Walking feet”….think of a few of your own. The more often your child hears the same consistent phrase, the more likely he will comply with the behavior. A reminder that results in cooperation is better than a punishment after the fact.

  1. Substitute appropriate behavior.

“Let’s climb on the couch cushions not on the table.” “Let’s throw the ball, not the truck.” “Let’s sing a loud song instead of scream.” Simply saying “no” without an alternative will often result in a meltdown or defiance. Give an alternative to the behavior you don’t want, and make it a similar activity to gain cooperation. Often your child is working on a skill like climbing or throwing!

  1. Try playing a game to get your child to cooperate.

“Let’s play a pretend game when you get dressed. It is all pretend, but if you do what I say you will get to wear a sticker! Are you ready? OK, Connor let’s pretend….Put your shirt on please.” If he does it you respond, “Wow I can’t believe you could put your shirt on! Are you sure you haven’t played this game before?” Give a big hug and a sticker. Because it is a “game” your little one will be excited about trying it out. Soon it will become merely cooperation.

  1. Intervene early.

You know your child and their behavior. If you see the unacceptable behavior beginning….redirect early. Don’t let the hit, bite, or shove actually happen. As your child becomes aggressive step in and redirect.

  1. Be assertive but also a cheer leader.

Don’t be wishy-washy and ask “Would you want to pick up the toys?” or “I am thinking it might be time to pick up and leave.” Be assertive and tell your child what is going to happen so there is no question on who is in charge, then be cheerful and firm on what will happen next. Cheer your child on as they begin to cooperate. Giving the impression that there is a choice or a chance to negotiate when there isn’t always results in conflict.

  1. Redirect physically.

A child may need to be physically moved from an area to redirect. Sometimes your words will not work. A child who is becoming aggressive should be carried or walked to another activity quickly.

  1. Praise ten times more than you correct.

Yep, you heard me correctly. Praise effort and not outcome and praise a lot. That is what a Time In is. Time Out removes your attention….the rest of the day should be a Time IN. Time Outs will not work if your child doesn’t feel the difference of the removal of your attention.

  1. Calm Down Bottles.

Another tool to help your child learn to “flip the switch” to calm down on his own. That is the skill we want all of our children to develop!

  1. Have an older child determine his or her punishment.

An older preschooler, school age children and teens are very good at deciding what the consequence for their unacceptable behavior should be. Often they are tougher on themselves than you would be. The consequences they decide usually make sense and are remembered.

  1. Start over….over and over again.

Rewind. This was one of my favorite tools. If your child is just starting off on the wrong foot, or you see a behavior that is inappropriate and can be fixed immediately; simply turn your child in a circle and make a “rewind” sound and let your child try again. I love the second chance to make things right. Sometimes my husband will actually do this to me in the morning if I am grumpy before that morning coffee kicks in!

So, those are a few tricks to put in that discipline bag. Be sure you are taking care of yourself, because we all know that we aren’t able to tap into our patience or discipline approach if we are on empty ourselves. You and your child deserve parents who “fill themselves up” so they are at their best. As time goes on, you will find the discipline approaches that work the best for each of your children. No child’s day should be filled with more “no” than “yes”, more boundary setting than free play, or more tears than smiles. We all will have bad days, but the good moments should outnumber the difficult. Remember, the purpose of boundary setting and discipline is to teach….not to upset 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

Add a little silliness to your discipline…it works!


A little “clowning around” with discipline will work!  Infuse a little silliness in your day!  🙂

All the discipline discussion over the last few days and I feel like a very serious parent!  Discipline is serious business, and a very real necessity for your child, but there certainly are moments that a little bit of silliness or humor will diffuse a situation and result in your child not needing that time out!  Potential conflict can be diffused with a little bit of fun.  Humor can catch your child off guard and prevent a power struggle from even beginning.

1.  Use a funny voice.

Asking your child to pick up toys or do a chore that he has refused to do in a silly voice may just be enough to get him laughing and cooperate!

2.  Use physical humor.

Distraction with something that looks funny may just lighten the mood enough to encourage cooperation.  Your child doesn’t want to get dressed?  What would happen if you pretended to put on your child’s shirt?  What if you tried to put the arms of your child’s shirt on your child’s feet?  This little bit of silliness may be enough to get your child to forget about the battle and cooperate.  Sometimes using physical humor that is totally unexpected will diffuse a situation.  If you have a child who is melting down, put something silly on your head, make a funny face, do something goofy….you might see a little laugh through the tears and the situation is diffused.

3.  Use games.

Play games for cooperation.  Racing the clock to complete a request is a great game to encourage cooperation, but you can even be more creative.  Having trouble with your child holding your hand in a parking lot?  Try asking your child to “lead” you to the car because you “forgot” what your car looks like…walk up to the wrong car and pretend to get in and see the giggles start.  Each time you need to hold hands, start the game.  Think of a game to try in those situations that you know your child has difficulty cooperating.  Try it before the conflict begins, it may even become your own special game that just the two of you share!

4.  Rewind

Give your child a 2nd chance every once in a while.  If your child says “no” to a request, “rewind”.  Be silly and back up physically and rewind your voice…try the request again.  My husband was always very good at this….he would take our kids’ shoulders, turn them in a circle….and start over.  This usually brought a smile and a better choice to cooperate from our kids.

5.  Use a silly question.

If you get a defiant “No” from your child…try a silly question.  “Hmmm you don’t want to wear your coat?  What about wearing your bathing suit today?”  Sometimes a ridiculous suggestion or question results in cooperation!

Remember to use humor at the right moment.  There are times to be serious and follow through with your discipline plan, a firm “No” and a time out.  At no time should you use humor to belittle your child….but there certainly are times that a little fun and games can diffuse a stressful situation, increase your child’s cooperation, and let’s face it…make the day a bit more fun for both you and your child!  Increase your silliness today and see what happens.

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

“Hurry up or I will leave without you!” and other discipline techniques that don’t work!


There are some discipline techniques that just don’t work as well as others!

I can remember sometimes simply reacting to a behavior of one of my kids, but not really using a discipline approach.  The result was never very effective.  Some typical reactions just don’t work, or result in other issues later.  Here are some of the most common “discipline reactions” that are usually not very effective:

 

  • “If you don’t hurry we’ll leave you here.”

Threats teach children not to take their parents seriously.  Give a child a consequence that you know you will follow through with and makes sense.  Your child knows that you will not leave them at home alone.  It is an empty threat, one that you will not follow through with.  Think twice, do what you will say!  A better choice if you have a child that is dawdling would be:

“If you don’t hurry we will not have time to play at the park on the way home from the store.”

Logical consequence and something you can follow through with.  So, those times I grounded a child for life….hmmmm

  • “No dessert unless you clean your plate.”

Do not use food as a punishment.  “No dessert unless you eat your broccoli” can result in two things.  Number one, you have told your child that dessert is better than broccoli…now in your opinion that may be true, 🙂 but you want your child to think that nutritious food is on the same level as desserts!  Number two, children learn very quickly to negotiate and then parents usually back down.

“If I take one bit can I have dessert?”

 “No take two.”  

“How about one and a half?”  

“Take one.”

Child cries and whines.  Parent responds by giving in.  Soon a child figures out that negotiation works and  everything becomes a negotiation and is exhausting!

  • “What a good boy you are!”

Complimenting your child is wonderful.  We want to encourage behavior we like, but be specific as to why your child is good.

“You have been so good in the grocery store, I like how you sat in the grocery cart without trying to stand up!”

This type of statement  lets your child know what kind of behavior you expect and like, blanket praise does not work as well.

  • “If you loved me, you wouldn’t do that.”

Never connect behavior to love.  Your child loves you and you love your child unconditionally.  Do not try to control behavior by using guilt.  Give your child a reason to behave the way you would like.

 “It would be such a big help if  you picked up your toys out of the kitchen so I can make us dinner.”

“Help me put your shoes on so we can get to the store and buy food for lunch, what is your favorite for lunch?”

  • “If you don’t behave I’m going to call your father or mother or grandparent or Santa….”

This undermines your authority.  It is risky to show that you have no recourse other than to tell dad or another person.  You are the parent, don’t give your authority to someone else!  Besides, what can Santa do??

  • “Why did you do that?”  or   “What is wrong with you?”

Children don’t know why they behave wrong or can’t articulate a reason.  Asking won’t help them find a reason.  You can walk your child through the problem and help them find a reason for their behavior, describe the emotion your child is feeling, but asking why doesn’t work.  A child really doesn’t know why he or she just squirted all the lotion from the bottle  out on the floor!  Asking only frustrates you!

  • “Why can’t you be more like your sister or friend?”

Comparison is damaging.  Children should never feel like they need to compete for parental love.  Comparing siblings results in an increase in sibling rivalry and can damage the relationship between sisters and brothers.  Your child is unique!  I believe that rules in a home should be the same for all your children, but your discipline approach to each child may be slightly different depending on the temperament of the child.  Remember each child has special gifts and special challenges…your role as a parent is to embrace both.

  • “You are naughty!!”

You want to send the message that the behavior is bad—not the child.  Parents need to make it clear that they believe their kids are good at heart.

“Why did a kind kid like you say something so mean to your friend?”  “This is not like you behaving this way…”

Your child is not bad, the behavior is.

  • “If you behave, I’ll buy you a toy.”

Bribes won’t win you anything and makes it just plain expensive to get out of the grocery store every week if you are buying something in the check out lane!   If a parent uses bribes you may end up having to buy good behavior on an ongoing basis.  Reward charts do work, but reward charts are a temporary incentive and the best rewards are your time or a special activity not an item that is bought.  The toy you buy brings temporary excitement, your time tends to be a more lasting reward.  Continual bribing molds a child into an externally motivated child, as parents we would rather have a child develop internal motivation for good behavior.

  • Spanking 
Spanking is not an effective discipline tool.  Spanking or hand slapping may stop the behavior at the moment, but it does not teach.  Remember the root of discipline is teaching.  We have also learned that children that have a more aggressive temperament will increase their aggression if spanking is used as the discipline approach at home.  This type of discipline also sends a very confusing message.  There are other approaches that work better and are a better example for your child.  Parents also don’t want to spank when they are very angry or frustrated, this can result in taking your anger or frustration out on your child a little more aggressively than you had planned.

There were certainly times when I did not discipline in the most effective way!  We all react out of anger and frustration at times.  I can remember thinking, “Did I just say that?”  The key is using effective discipline MOST of the time, and not beating yourself up when you are not effective.  Remember too, there is a great lesson to your child when you apologize for not handling a situation well.

“I did not like the way you treated your sister a few minutes ago, but Mommy should not have said what she did.  I am sorry.”

We are parents, we are not perfect, but having an effective discipline plan and not simply reacting with emotion to an inappropriate behavior by your child is important!  Tomorrow….the plan!

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

Why has this happened again? What will YOU do?


Where do we go from here? It seems that we have to ask this way too often.  We continue to see the images of beautiful children who have been tragically lost scroll across our TV and computer screens.  The tears seem endless.  What do we do with our emotions, our anger, our sadness?  We must use these feelings to move our families and our country in a positive direction.  The time is now when our emotions are so raw and our hearts are so full of pain.  Now is the time to look at what we need to do as parents to help prevent this type of tragedy from ever happening again. We are powerful. I will not get into the political rhetoric about gun control, whether you agree or disagree with gun control….there is so much more that we can do right now beginning today.

  1.  Love your children deeply, be involved in their lives.  Teach the values of life and love to your children from moment one.  Provide security to your children and shelter them from adult problems and evil in the world.  Their little minds cannot process the scary truths that exist in our world.
  2. Help your children develop empathy.  Children who have highly developed social and emotional intelligence are less likely to hurt each other.  Empathy and social/emotional intelligence does not just appear in a child. We must provide the environment for it to flourish. Talk to your child about feelings, role play what to do when they see someone hurting, point out actions that result in positive feelings, volunteer together as a family and provide several adult mentors who share your family values for your child. Surround your child with real relationships. Social media provides disconnected relationship, control your child’s social media exposure. Make it a priority to monitor your child’s social media interaction.  When was the last time you looked at your child’s phone? YouTube channel? Snapchat? Instagram? We must take responsibility to know what our children are doing and seeing on social media.
  3. Mentor. Need an outlet for action after this tragedy? Look what your community has to mentor children at risk. Coach, lead a scout troop, be a Big Brother or Big Sister, join youth advocacy/assistance programs…become the stable adult for children who are struggling because of unstable family lives or lack of stable adult role models. We can’t just talk we must act.
  4.  Protect your children from being exposed to violence in video games and TV.  I feel that is one of our biggest mistakes as a society.  I feel that the realistic violent video games that so many of our children are exposed to can numb a young mind to violence and its horror.  Some will argue that children have played “cops and robbers” or “army” for generations, but never have children been exposed through that imaginary play to the reality of violence that is so palpable in these video games.  Our children are “killing” with graphic detail….these graphic and detailed images are not healthy for young immature minds.
  5.  Support our young boys.  All of these mass shootings have been carried out by young males.  Our boys need to learn how to express their anger, frustration, and emotion in ways that are non-violent.  Our boys need fathers and male role models who teach how to be strong men, but men who use their strength to love and care for others.  Our young men MUST have loving role models.  We must support intact families and mentors for those young men who are searching for adult role models.
  6.   Support our children and adults who have mental illnesses.  Parents of troubled children must be their advocate to help them receive the help that is so desperately needed.  Teachers must be alert to those students who need services and address those needs with parents.  We all must support mental health programs and advocate for more programs.  We must be providing care, support and services for those parents who are caring for children who have mental illness. Simply calling and reporting or removing a child from a school does not address the problem.  Our voices need to be loud and clear, mental health cannot be ignored.
  7.  Talk about gun safety and gun control.  If you have guns in your home, they must be locked up and inaccessible, period.  As a country, we must discuss in a nonpolitical arena the laws surrounding the purchase of guns, but we must find the core values that are missing in our society too. Controlling guns without strengthening our families, instilling values of life, love, discipline, and I believe religion in our children, supporting the emotional needs of our young boys, and providing services for the mentally ill will not stop the violence. We can’t be one dimensional with this issue.
  8.  Have open discussions with our schools to be sure that there are safety policies in place.  We must be sure that our children are protected by common sense safety policies in the schools.  Talk to your children and reassure them that they are safe at school and answer their questions about their safety gently.  Fear does not prevent violence; it only increases the damage.
  9.  Get active. Use your emotions.  Reach out and help those that are hurting, write letters, form groups to pressure companies to stop marketing violent games, join school safety committees, become a mentor to troubled youth…action heals hurt.  Be a part of the solution.
  10.  Take care of your own emotions.  Take a break from the news reports.  Talk to other parents, your family, members of your church, friends, anyone who can support you in moments of sadness and anxiety.  Redirect your thoughts to reasons you are grateful.  Hug your children and revel in the moment.

Now is the time to act.  Our emotions and feelings are raw with pain, but time will numb that pain again and we will soon be carrying on our lives in the same manner.  We cannot let this tragedy go unanswered again….we are parents, we love our children, we all can do better.  Let’s work together to stop the violence.

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 

 

Introducing Solid Foods to Your Baby


Our daughter Kelsey loving her solid foods!  She was needing a dunk in the tub after this meal!

I can remember the excitement of introducing the kids to their first tastes of “real food”.  The camera was ready, they were sitting up and eager, and that first bite often resulted in the funniest look as they had that first taste.

I know that starting solid foods often comes along with many questions.  What food is first?  What about allergies?  How much?  When?  And the list goes on and on.  To be honest, there are not many hard and fast “rules” that come with starting your little one on solids.  As with many issue of parenting, you may see many different suggestions and contradictory information which can increase your anxiety.    Like many of my parenting tips, I start by saying “Relax!”  There really is not a “wrong” way to do this!  So get your cameras ready….the introduction to solid food is a milestone for every parent and baby, and is darn cute too!

When is my baby ready?

The American Academy of Pediatrics tells parents that solid foods should be introduced between 4 and 6 months of age.  At any point between 4 and 6 months, it is just fine!  More important than age, we like to see that the baby is developmentally ready for solids.

Why should I wait until my baby is 4 to 6 months old?

Ideally, breast milk or formula should be the main nutrition for a baby’s first 4 to 6 months.  The foods that you introduce after that are really just supplemental to the nutrients in the breast milk and formula.  Solids are really an education in taste and texture for the first year of life.  Breast milk or formula is the core of your baby’s diet for the first full year providing at least 75% of your baby’s calories.  After a year, your baby will start to meet more and more of their nutritional needs through solid foods.  By age 3, a child should only be getting about 10-20% of their calories from milk, and the rest from solid foods.

Isn’t this different from when I grew up?

Maybe.  The school of thought regarding solids has changed over the years.   In the 1920’s, solid foods were seldom offered to babies before a year.  During the 1960’s and 1970’s solid foods often were fed to infants in the first three months.  There are pictures of me being fed rice cereal at just a few weeks of age.  (I AM pretty old!)  Moms were often told then that the cereal would help a young infant sleep through the night.  I promise it doesn’t!   Slowly, we have come almost full circle with the recommendation now to wait until your baby is at least 4 months old.

Why do we wait now?

We have learned that babies are just not developmentally ready for solids.  More important than actual age is your baby’s development.

  • Before 4 months of age, a baby’s digestive system is too immature for solids.
  • Before 4 months of age, a baby’s throat muscles are not developed for swallowing solids and there is a tongue thrust…food that is placed in the mouth is pushed back out with his tongue.  Most babies no longer have this tongue thrust by 6 months.
  • Before 4 months of age, your baby has no ability to tell you that he is full.  Until around 4 to 5 months, babies will not turn their head to refuse food.
  • Before 4 months of age, solid foods will result in your baby taking less breast milk or formula that has the correct amount of nutrients and fat for growth.
  • Solids should be introduced no later than 6 months.  Waiting too long for the introduction of solids can result in a delay in your baby’s eating and chewing skills, and recent studies now show that waiting longer than 6 months of age may actually increase food allergies.

What are some signs that might show my baby is developmentally ready for solids?

  • Your baby is between 4 and 6 months in age.
  • Your baby has at least doubled his birth weight.
  • Your baby can sit with support.
  • Your baby has good head and neck control and is able to turn his head to refuse food.
  • Your baby’s tongue thrust reflex is diminishing.
  • Your baby is breast-feeding more than 8 to 10 times a day and still wants more or your baby is taking 32 to 36 ounces of formula and wants more.
  • Your baby is reaching for your food, or shows an interest when you are eating.

What food should be first?

Traditionally babies have been started on an iron fortified, easily digested cereal, like rice.  This is because at 6 months of age, a baby’s natural iron stores from Mom are beginning to diminish.  So, most parents start with some type of cereal, often rice.  Other than the iron, there is not much nutrition in the rice cereal. I feel that a white rice cereal is not the best choice for a first food….there really is no hard and fast rule regarding what food you should start first.  There are many good options such as:

  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Sweet potato
  • Pears
  • Applesauce
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Strained meats
  • Whole milk yogurt if a baby is 6 months of age or older

First foods should be single ingredients.  Foods should be introduced one at a time with a couple of days in between each new food so if there is any type of reaction you will know which food is likely the culprit!

Some will suggest that a parent introduce vegetables before fruits so the baby does not taste the sweet food first.  I don’t feel this is necessary.  Babies who are breast-fed have tasted sweet…breast milk is sweet!  No matter if a parent introduces fruits or vegetables first, babies will always prefer the sweeter taste.  So, it really doesn’t matter!  Introduce a vegetable, then a fruit, then a meat….whatever works for you and your child!

How do I start?

  1. Start with 1 to 2 tablespoons of a single ingredient pureed food.  It should be a liquid consistency in the beginning.  Your goal is not to fill up your child’s tummy, but to expose him to the new taste and texture.  Be careful not to substitute food for breast milk or formula.  During the first year babies should still have 4-6 breast feedings or 24-36 ounces of formula in 24 hours.  If milk consumption drops, you may be feeding too many solids.
  2. Use your finger as the first spoon and have your baby suck the food off your finger.  You then can move to a rubber coated spoon.
  3. Offer the first meal when you are not in a hurry and your baby is not overly tired or too hungry.  I suggest you nurse or bottle feed first, and then an hour later try the solids.
  4. Always offer the new food in the morning so if your baby would have any kind of reaction or upset tummy, it doesn’t happen at night!
  5. Watch your facial expressions.  Babies learn what foods you like and don’t like!  Everything should be yummy!
  6. If your baby makes a face or gags with the new taste or texture, it does not mean that he doesn’t like the food.  It takes at least 10 to 15 introductions of a food before a baby can develop a like or dislike!  We want our babies to have a wide taste pallet!  Don’t limit your baby to only the foods you like, especially if you are picky!
  7. Watch carefully to see when your baby has had enough.  A baby may turn his head, close his mouth, bat the spoon away, or become fussy.  Do not force food.  Remember, the majority of your baby’s calories should be coming from breast milk or formula.
  8. It makes no difference to a baby if he gets green beans for breakfast!  There is no right or wrong food for each meal.
  9. Start with one meal a day and then move to twice a day.  By 9 months of age, most babies are enjoying solid foods and are eating 3 meals a day.
  10. There should be “dinner and a show!”  Babies like smiles, airplane spoons, songs, and fun with the meal.  Enjoy it!

Tips for making mealtime easier?

  1. Show your baby how you take a bite and enjoy your food.  This may encourage a reluctant eater.
  2. Use the upper lip to sweep food off the spoon.
  3. Dress yourself and your baby in clothes that won’t be hurt by a messy eater!  Many times I stripped my little ones down and sometimes a bath was necessary after the meal!  Babies are messy eaters….no way to get around that!
  4. Use suction cup bottomed bowels.  Keep your baby’s hands busy, give him a spoon to hold too!
  5. No pressure.  It is O.K. if your baby misses a meal.  If your baby is fighting the solid foods, skip a meal or two and then try again.  Remember, solids are mainly an education to taste and texture.  Your baby should be receiving most of his nutrition from breast milk or formula.

What about water and  juice?

Babies do not need any other liquid besides breast milk or formula for the first 4 to 6 months.  This means no juice or water.  Once solid foods are introduced, a baby should be introduced to a cup.  Water may be given in a cup with a meal.  Your baby will probably just take a few sips.  Juice is not recommended for the first year.  Juice provides very little nutritional value and has a lot of empty calories.

What about allergies?

Some health care providers may suggest waiting to start foods like eggs, fish, or peanut butter until your baby is older because of the risk of food allergies.  Studies have shown that avoidance of foods does not prevent the allergy and may actually increase the incidence of food allergies.  In January of 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines recommending that foods should not be avoided unless there was a significant family history of food allergies.  Check with your health care provider regarding his or her suggestions about these foods.

One food that should be avoided until after the first birthday is honey.  Honey carries the risk of your baby developing botulism.  This does not include honey that is in foods like crackers or cereal, only pure honey.

How will I know if my baby is allergic to a food?

If your baby has vomiting, diarrhea, a new diaper rash or skin rash including hives, or develops wheezing, then this could be a food allergy.  If your baby has gas, or a tummy ache it may just be a food intolerance.  If you think your baby has had an allergic response or an intolerance, you should stop giving the food to your baby.  You might try the food again in a couple of months if the reaction was mild and your baby may do just fine.  If there was a more severe reaction like vomiting, hives, or wheezing talk to your health care provider before giving the food again.

What about homemade baby food?

Some parents choose to make baby food.  To be honest, if you are waiting to start solids until your baby is 6 months old, your little one will not eat true puree food for very long.  Most babies will start finger foods at about 8 months and are eating mostly table food by  11 months of age.    It is not terribly difficult or time-consuming to make baby food.  You may choose to make all of your own, or use some store-bought and some homemade.  Your baby will also do just fine if you choose to use all store-bought.  Here are some tips for making your own.

  • You will need something to grind or puree food.  You might use a blender, food processor or simply a fork as your little one gets used to texture.
  • You will need storage containers like ice-cube trays or something similar.  There are trays made just for baby food, but ice-cube trays will work just the same.
  • Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season and fresh, or frozen for the best nutritional value.
  • Wash your hands well.
  • Wash the fruit and vegetables well!
  • Bake, boil, or steam the vegetables or fruit.  You then can mash or puree using water or breast milk/formula.  If you boil the vegetables/fruit, use the leftover liquid to mash the food to prevent loss of nutrients in the water.
  • Peel and pit fruits and vegetables and strain if necessary.
  • You can use seasoning!  Babies like flavor!  Try to stay away from salt.
  • Remove skin and trim fat from meat.  You can puree cooked meat, or grind it, or simply cut it up into very small pieces for an older baby.
  • Freeze the food  in ice-cube trays.  Remove the cubes of food and store in labeled freezer bags.  One cube is about 1 ounce of food.
  • When ready, thaw the amount you will use.  If your baby does not eat all the food prepared in the dish, it must be thrown out, it cannot be saved.
  • Use caution heating with a microwave.  Microwaves can cause hot spots..be sure to stir and test the food.

There are many books with tips and recipes for making baby food.  Some of my favorites include:

Super Baby Food   By:  RuthYaron

Baby Bites   By:   Bridget Swinney

Top 100 Baby Purees:  100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby   By:   Annabel Karmel

So, the introduction of solids really should not make you anxious, it should be exciting and fun!  Enjoy this milestone for you and your baby!  Your baby’s first taste of solid food only happens once!  Don’t over think the process.  Get ready for dinner and a show!

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

Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics

www.askdrsears.com

www.napnap.org

www.superbabyfood.com

www.wholsomebabyfood.com

 

Picky Toddler Eating


Our daughter, Kaitlyn, the picture of  toddler pickiness!

Why is it that we parents worry so much about how much our child is eating?  I can remember thinking that how well Kaitlyn ate that day, determined how well I had parented.  Not true!  Children under the age of one usually nurse or formula feed well, and are eager for the introduction of solid foods.  But seemingly over night, our toddlers start to have an opinion about what we feed them!  I can remember being very frustrated because I was providing her with this wonderfully healthy meal, and often all she wanted was bananas!  To make it more confusing, the next day she may have thrown all those bananas off her tray!  My darling daughter was a typical toddler, and with toddlers, meals are often a challenge.  Why?

1.Toddlers have slowed down in growth.

The first year of life a child grows very quickly, between birth and a year most children triple their birth weight!  A toddler grows much more slowly and seems less hungry.

2.  Eating interrupts a toddler’s activity.

Toddlers are busy…any parent can tell you that.  Sitting for any length of time just isn’t on the toddler’s agenda!

3.  You can’t force a toddler to eat.

A parent’s job is to present a toddler with a wide taste pallet of healthy foods every day.  It is up to the child to eat them!  The more you force, the more most toddlers turn up their noses.  A healthy child offered healthy food will NOT starve themself!  A parent’s job is to provide a toddler’s job is to decide!

4.  Toddlers usually eat one good meal a day.

Often toddlers will eat a good breakfast, an OK lunch and pick at dinner. Toddlers only need about 40 calories an inch. (Now don’t get that calculator out for your child!)  Most will only need about 1000 to 1200 calories a day.  By dinner, many toddlers have eaten their required calories for the day!

5.  Toddlers like to binge on one food.

Food jags are common in toddlers.  One day you can’t fill them up on green beans, and then two days later it is bananas.    Some days a toddler may eat only fruit, the next day they may fill up on protein.  What a toddler eats over a week is a better picture of their diet intake.

So what is a parent to do….

  • Relax!
  •  Offer food frequently!  Toddlers need 3 meals and at least 2 snacks offered each day.  Toddlers behave better when they are eating frequently.  Their tummies are small and temper tantrums increase when blood sugars are low.  Try planning snacks from at least 2 food groups 2 to 3 times a day.
  • Dip it!  Toddlers like to dip everything.  It is fun, and it is messy…two essentials for toddler eating!  Humus, yogurt, cottage cheese, guacamole, melted cheese, salsa, peanut butter and even ranch dressing are some essential dips for toddlers.
  • Hide it!  Hide the broccoli under cheese sauce, shred the veggies and mix them in humus or cream cheese and spread on a tortilla and cut into pin wheels, puree veggies and add them to pasta sauce, lasagna, meatloaf.  Make “orange ” pancakes with sweet potato puree or carrot puree and a dash of cinnamon.  Get sneaky!   When you hide vegetables, make sure you include some on your child’s plate so they learn what a balanced diet looks like.
  • Be creative!  Kids like fun.  Make faces on sandwiches, use cookie cutters and cut shapes in pancakes and bread, make shish-ka-bobs with fruit and pretzel sticks, make party bananas with sprinkles, serve fruit and yogurt in an ice cream cone, try smoothies….
  • Remember the toddler serving size!  A serving size is a tablespoon per year.  One serving of vegetables for a 2-year-old is two tablespoons!  Many times we are trying to serve our toddlers adult size portions!  The American Academy of Pediatrics has a great “sample” daily meal plan.  Take a look!
  •  Don’t let your toddler “drink” his calories.  A toddler should only have  16 to a maximum of 20 ounces of milk a day.  That is much less than the 28 to 32 ounces most were drinking before becoming toddlers!  If your child drinks too much cow’s milk, he will not eat solid food calories!  Too much milk provides too little iron and other needed nutrients!  Juice should be limited to only 4 to 6 ounces a day, better to have the whole fruit than just the juice!
  • Let your child “shop” for food.  Give your child a few dollars and let them “shop” in the produce section.  Your child will be more likely to eat the food he or she “buys”!  You might learn to cook and eat a new fruit or vegetable too….you never know what your child may pick out!  (this is how I learned to fix spaghetti squash!)
  • Let your child “help” prepare food.  A child who watches a parent make dinner and “helps” will often be more likely to eat!  Let your child have a few choices, control is important for toddlers.
  • Let your child be messy.  Toddlers explore food with their mouths, taste buds, and hands.  They smash food, throw food, spread food, “paint” with food and generally need a bath after most meals.  You must allow your toddler to feed himself.  You must introduce spoons and forks, and be patient with the fact that it takes time and messes to learn how to use them!
  • Don’t battle…try a “No thank you bite”.  Toddlers have opinions, and sometimes they are very strong!  The more battle there is in a meal, the more likely you will lose!  Offer healthy foods and a variety of foods.  If your toddler refuses to try something, introduce a “no thank you bite”.  One bite and then he can refuse more.  You might even ask your child to “kiss” the food, not even take a bite.  This may provide just a small enough taste to convince your child to take a bite!  Remember, it takes 15 to 20 introductions to a food before your child will develop a definite like or dislike!

Remember, a parent’s job is to PROVIDE healthy meals and snacks….a toddler’s job is to DECIDE what he or she will eat that day. If left alone, toddlers will usually balance their own diet if we just provide good choices.  Relax….

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.annabelkarmel.com

www.wholesometoddlerfood.com

http://weelicious.com/tag/toddler-recipes

What do you do when your child is resistant to potty training?


Potty training is a challenge for most parents and toddlers.  Remember it is a “partnership” between you and your child to work on this developmental task.  You cannot force it, you can only assist in the learning process.  Occasionally I will see parents who have tried over and over to potty train and their child is now 3 or older and still wearing pull ups or diapers.  Parents are frustrated, children are frustrated, and often the potty training has become a power struggle, disciplinary process, or scream fest.

There are some children that develop some potty training resistance.  Children who are age 3 or older and not potty trained after at least a couple months of trying are usually having some resistance.  There are several reasons why this resistance may develop:

  • The child may have developed some fear of sitting on the potty chair or going potty
  • Flushing the toilet may have scared the child at some point
  • The child may have been pushed too early to potty train before being ready
  • The child may have been punished for accidents or forced to sit on the potty
  • The child may have experienced inconsistent potty training from many different care givers
  • The child may have experienced a painful BM resulting in fear and stool holding
  • The child’s temperament may be more stubborn resulting in a power struggle with mom and dad
  • The child may be enjoying the extra attention from accidents and attempts at training even though it is negative attention
  • It is rare, but there are some medical problems that may cause a delay in potty training.  Discuss this with your child’s doctor especially if you think your child is a bit delayed in other areas.

What is a parent to do?  Give up the power struggle!

  • Give all responsibility for pottying to your child

Often a child will finally decide to use the potty only after there is no longer a power struggle.  Talk one last time to your child about using the potty and tell your child that it is his or her job to put his or her pee and poop in the potty.  Apologize for reminding him or her so much to potty or forcing him or her to sit on the potty.  Then no more talk about the subject.  Pretend that you are no longer concerned about him or her using the potty.  When your child no longer gets any attention for not using the potty, he or she may decide to use the potty to get attention.

  • Do not give any reminders about using the potty

Allow your child to decide when to use the potty.  Do not remind or ask.  Constant reminders are pressure and pressure is a power struggle.  Let your child do it all by himself or herself on his or her own time.  That feeling of success from doing it “his or her way” is powerful.  This is difficult to do if you are a “control freak” or more of a type A personality.  However, letting go of the power makes a world of difference for some children that have fought to gain control.

  • Find the right incentive for going potty. 

Every child has one or two motivators—it may not be the traditional sticker or M&M.  Make an offer that your child can’t refuse.  Go somewhere special, have the special toy that he or she loves, and in addition give lots of positive words and touch.  Everyone has their price!!  Sometimes it may work to actually ask your child what reward he or she may like if they use the potty…I will do anything for chocolate, but not all people are the same!

How to pick your incentive:

Ask your child what reward would help him or her remember to use the potty.

Give the incentive immediately.  Delayed rewards like a visit to the park later are not as effective.  Immediate rewards like M & Ms work better.

If the reward is a toy or activity, only allow your child to use the reward for about an hour, then put the reward away until the next time it is earned.

You are in control of the incentive.  In other words, the incentive is a privilege not something your child owns.  He or she will get to play with the new toy—but not keep it.  Your child can watch a video for an hour, play a game for an hour, but not be in control of either.

Provide special incentives for breakthroughs such as:  ice cream, going to pick out a movie, and then watching it that evening or other special activities your child chooses.

  •  Put your child in underwear.  No pull-ups or diapers, ever.

Tell your child that there will no longer be diapers.  Let your child pick out the new underwear.  Even if there are multiple accidents, do not fold.  You may use a diaper or pull-up for BMs if your child is holding stools.  Let your child have the BM in the diaper and then change back to the underwear.

  • It is your child’s responsibility to change clothes if there is an accident. 

As soon as you see that your child is dirty or wet, ask him or her to change.  Your job is to help enforce this.  You may assist in the clean-up—but it is primarily his or her responsibility.  If your child refuses—then appropriate discipline like a time-out is warranted.

  • Do not punish or belittle your child for accidents.

Respond gently and matter-of-factly to accidents.  Remember pressure only will delay success at this point.  Take a deep breath and remain calm.  Attention to the accident will actually “reward” the child..attention is attention to a child even if it is negative attention!

  • Request that all caregivers respond in the same way.

Be sure that you have extra clothing at daycare and ask that they follow the same process.  Explain the process to everyone!  Both parents, grandparents, friends, anyone who will be caring for your child must be on the same page.  If you receive pressure from others regarding your apparent “leniency” in potty training—respond that you are trying a new approach and stick to the plan!  You do not need to explain your parenting choices!

I promise—your child will be potty trained!!  This is a big milestone for both you and your child.  Approaching this with patience and a plan will make this a bit easier.  That being said—it is a big job.  I think the next hardest thing to help your child learn is multiplication tables!!

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

Will preschool help your child be academically successful?


kels on swing

Preparing your child for school success includes outings like this!  School readiness is not just about letters and numbers!

It is that time of year when parents are beginning to look at preschools for next year.  Sometimes I feel that there is more pressure on parents to find “just the right preschool” than deciding on a college!   Preschool is a must for some children, but it is NOT a must for every child.  Studies have shown us that children who have engaged parents who read to them and provide various activities at home but don’t attend preschool are not at any academic disadvantage.  Some recent studies continue to show us that any academic edge a child may receive from preschool may fade by the 3rd grade.

So, do I think preschool is a waste?  Absolutely not, I feel it is very advantageous to those children who have fewer opportunities.  I also think that with Kindergarten now being a full day, a year of preschool often helps children adjust to the rigor of school.  It has become more necessary for children to have at least one year of preschool to help with the adjustment, prepare the child for following directions, learning to sit still for periods of time, and the general routine of school.  However, I do think that the choice of preschool attendance for 2 and 3 year olds from families who are able to provide outings, hands on activities, and reading at home is an option.  Many children LOVE their preschool experience, and Moms often enjoy some time to themselves.  Children also can learn very valuable social skills and have the opportunity to participate in some play activities that are not always offered at home like finger-painting and other messy play.  However, everything that a quality preschool offers can be offered at home by a loving, involved and active parent, if they would like.  At times I think parents are sent the message that they are not capable of providing the necessary experiences for their child to develop well and be successful in school.  Parents feel inadequate in the task of preparing their preschooler for academic success.  This is simply not true.  Attending preschool will not insure that a child will be more successful in school and unfortunately will not guarantee admission to Harvard!  More important than letters and numbers, a preschooler needs to develop life skills, social skills, self-confidence, and emotional maturity to be successful in school. To help with success in kindergarten, a child needs these basics:

  1. Good physical health so their natural abilities can grow and mature.
  2. Appropriate emotional maturity and self-confidence so they can accept new challenges.
  3. Good language skills so they can ask questions and participate in group activities.
  4. Good social skills so they will be able to share and interact with other children.
  5. Good listening skills to be able to follow directions.
  6. Familiarity with letters, letter sounds and numbers.
  7. The ability to sit still for short periods of time.

We are finding that a child does not need a structured academic program in a preschool; he or she needs the opportunity to develop social and emotional skills.  Children who do not have that opportunity at home will benefit from a preschool program.

Young children learn best through playing, exploring, and discovering.  Imaginative play will actually improve high level thinking which improves a child’s chances of school success. Forcing pencil and paper academics and academic drills too early might actually decrease a child’s natural desire to explore and learn!

What makes a good preschool?

  •  A preschool should be convenient for parents!  If it causes stress to get to school because of location or time of day, it will not be worth it to you or your child. 
  •  Children should be active in the classroom playing and/or working in groups or stations.
  •  There should be hands-on materials and activities available.  Pretend play items; dress up clothes, water play, easels, painting, clay etc.
  •  Children should have individual time and group time with the teachers.  There should be 1 adult/teacher for every 4 to 5 children.
  • Children should have their work displayed in the classroom…and it should not all look the same!  Children should have the opportunity to be creative with projects.
  • The learning of numbers and letters should be embedded in activities throughout the day, not in concentrated lessons or drills.
  • There should be outside play daily (weather permitting).
  • There should be a developed curriculum that provides some structure to the day.
  • Teachers should have an Early Child Development background/education.
  • There should be a stable teaching staff with little turnover.
  • Music should be incorporated into the curriculum.
  • Daily life skills should be incorporated into the curriculum like buttoning, shoe tying, putting on jackets, picking up toys, sitting for short periods to listen and following directions.
  • There should be opportunity for children to socialize in play with other children freely learning sharing, taking turns, and other social skills.
  •  Children should be read to in groups and individually.
  • “Field trips” to experience the world should be included in the curriculum.  Trips to apple orchards, parks, the zoo, nature centers and other community destinations are important.

What can you do at home?

  •  Provide time for imaginative play.  Be sure that you have toys that encourage creativity and imagination.
  •  Provide time to use paint, clay, scissors, crayons, chalk, water play, and other tactile fine motor play.
  •  Provide outdoor play daily (weather permitting).
  • Expose your child to the world by going to the grocery store, post office, library, zoo, park, nature center, apple orchard, pumpkin patch, and other places.  Talk about your outings!
  •  Read daily.  Provide books that your child can “read” alone.
  • Talk about stories that you read.  Ask your child what will happen next!  Let your child tell you the story.
  •  Provide music.  Sing songs and dance.  
  •  Point out letters on signs, talk about funny words, find words that rhyme, talk about the sounds that words begin with.
  •  Point out numbers, count items when playing, incorporate counting into everyday life.
  •  Have a routine at home; following routines will help when your child has structure and routine at school.
  •  Allow your child to dress himself. Practice buttoning, shoe tying, independently going to the bathroom, hand washing, and other    independent life skills.
  •  Give your child directions to follow. Start with one step directions and then move to two steps, and three and four step directions. 
  •  Give your child developmentally appropriate chores or responsibilities.  (Pick up toys, carry dishes to the sink, put dirty clothes in the hamper etc.) 
  •  Provide sorting and sequencing opportunities.  Use a muffin tin for your child to sort different cereal, colored pompoms, letters, or other items.  Let your child help you sort socks!
  •  Help your child recognize his or her name in print.
  •  Talk about shapes your child may see around the house or outdoors.
  •  Provide opportunities for your child to play with children his or her own age.

We all want our children to be successful in school.  I believe however that the most important skills our preschool aged children need are not academic but social.  Children are very pliable; we can teach a child to do many things at a very young age.  We can teach a 2-year-old to recite numbers and letters, and we can even teach many 4 year olds to read….but I question at what cost?  Will our children develop those skills that are truly needed for success in school?  The skills that will allow him or her to problem solve, interact socially in a respectful and appropriate manner, follow directions and listen, and think with innovation and creativity; those are what are most important.  So whether your child is in preschool or at home, be sure you are opening up the world to him or her, not pressuring academics too early and then your child just might end up heading to Harvard!  What are your thoughts?

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 child care dilemma, how do you choose?


Tragically, we sometimes see in the news a report about a child’s injury or death in a day care setting.  This is certainly rare, but the safety of child care is a topic that needs to be discussed for all new parents.  As parents, there ARE times that we will not be able to care for our child.  Some of us work outside of the home, and all of us need and deserve the occasional day or evening away.  Finding  daily child care or just occasional child care is a source of worry and anxiety for most parents.  How do you find a caregiver that you trust for your precious child? First START EARLY!  It takes time to do your research and find the best caregiver for your child!  Do not rush the process and always trust your gut! If a child care center, home or sitter does not feel right to you, then it isn’t!   Ask friends, family members, and other parents for their suggestions.  The best referral comes from a parent that uses the child care provider.

There are resources in each state that will help you get started with your search.  Child Care Aware is a website that you can access.  This site will direct you to your area’s child care referral system.  This will give you the local licensed and unlicensed day care centers, in home day cares, and church ministries.  By using the Child Care Aware website you will also be able to access any violations these centers may have. The  National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care produced a list of guidelines for parents that are looking for childcare.  These guidelines are as follows:

Supervision

  • Are children supervised at all times, even when they are sleeping?
  • How do the caregivers discipline children? (Hint: Discipline should be positive, clear, consistent, and fair.)

 Hand washing and Diapering

  • Do all caregivers and children wash their hands often, especially before eating and after using the bathroom or changing diapers?
  • Is the place where diapers are changed clean?
  • Do caregivers always keep a hand on the child while diapering?
  • Do caregivers remove the soiled diaper without dirtying any surface not already in contact with stool or urine?
  • Do caregivers clean and sanitize the surface after finishing the changing process? (Hands should be scrubbed with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds and then rinsed and dried. The water faucet should be turned off with a paper towel.)

Director Qualifications

  • Does the director of a child care center have a bachelor’s degree in a child-related field?
  • Has the director worked in child care for at least two years?
  • Does the director understand what children need to grow and learn?

Lead Teacher Qualifications

  • Does the lead teacher in a child care center have a bachelor’s degree in a child-related field?
  • Has the teacher worked in child care for at least one year?
  • Does the teacher give children lessons and toys that are right for their ages?

Child:Staff Ratio and Group Size

  • How many children are being cared for in the child care program?
  • How many caregivers are there? (Your child will get more attention if each caregiver has fewer children to care for. The younger the children are, the more caregivers there should be. For example, one family home caregiver should only take care of two infants.)

Immunizations

  • Is your child up-to-date on all of the required immunizations?
  • Does the child care program have records proving that the other children in care are up-to-date on all their required immunizations?

Toxic Substances

  • Are toxic substances like cleaning supplies and pest killers kept away from children?
  • Has the building been checked for dangerous substances like radon, lead and asbestos?
  • Is poison control information posted?

Emergency Plan

  • Does the child care program have an emergency plan if a child is injured, sick, or lost?
  • Does the child care program have first-aid kits?
  • Does the child care program have information about who to contact in an emergency?

 Fire/Emergency Drills

  • Does the child care program have a plan in case of a disaster like a fire, tornado, flood, blizzard, or earthquake?
  • Does the child care program do practice drills once every month?

Child Abuse

  • Can caregivers be seen by others at all times, so a child is never alone with one caregiver?
  • Have all caregivers undergone background check?
  • Have the caregivers been trained on how to prevent child abuse, how to recognize signs of child abuse, and how to report suspected child abuse?

Medications

  • Does the child care program keep medication out of reach from children?
  • Are the caregivers trained and the medications labeled to make sure the right child gets the right amount of the right medication at the right time?

Staff Training/First Aid

  • Have caregivers been trained how to keep children healthy and safe from injury and illness?
  • Do they know how to do first aid and rescue breathing?
  • Have they been trained to understand and meet the needs of children of different ages?
  • Are all child care staff, volunteers, and substitutes trained on and implementing infant back sleeping and safe sleep policies to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, crib death)? (When infants are sleeping, are they on their backs with no pillows, quilts, stuffed toys, or other soft bedding in the crib with them?)

Playgrounds

  • Is the playground regularly inspected for safety?
  • Is the playground surrounded by a fence?
  • If there is a sandbox, is it clean?
  • Are the soil and playground surfaces checked often for dangerous substances and hazards?
  • Is equipment the right size and type for the age of children who use it

National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care (1-800-598-5437)

What do you do when you need an occasional babysitter?

  1. Start early—don’t wait until the last moment to try to find a sitter.
  2. Recruit from relatives, friends and neighbors.  Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for suggestions.  You can ask churches, high schools, your doctor, local colleges.  Network!
  3. Think about “training” a sitter.  Use a “mother’s helper” while you are in your house.  Have a younger sitter come to your house and help you out while you are there.  Gradually give more responsibility until you are comfortable leaving for shorter and then longer periods of time.
  4. Ask questions about a potential  sitter.
  • What other childcare experience do you have?
  • What are the ages of other children you have watched?
  • How would you handle certain, possibly difficult situations that might occur?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What kind of activities do you enjoy doing with children?
  • Tell me about school, sports, activities etc.
  • Do you know CPR or emergency procedures?  If you have a sitter that you may use frequently—why not pay for him or her to become CPR certified and take a safe sitter class?
  • How much do you charge?
  • References?
  • Questions for me?

5.  Orient a new sitter to your home.   Point out where phones are, fire extinguishers, circuit breakers, first aid kit, what is off limits to the kids, how to lock doors etc.

6. Discuss how they are to get in touch with you.

7.  Review rules of the home including those for meals, pets, TV, computer time, and play.

8.  Explain possible behavior problems and how you would want them to be handled.

9. Introduce the sitter to your child and let them get to know each other.   Allow some time together before you leave.

10.  Leave a list of activities that your child would like and any bed time routine.

11.  Make sure you leave your address, nearest crossroads, and any emergency numbers written by the phone.

12.  Discuss what food is available to the sitter and what activities for the sitter  you feel are appropriate once the children are in bed.

13. When you return home ask the sitter how things went and if your child is verbal, ask your child how he or she liked the sitter!  Children are very honest!

Your work is not finished once you find the child care facility or occasional sitter for your child.  As a parent, you must stay involved.  Continue to ask questions and make surprise visits. Your child is your most precious possession, and you must be your child’s advocate for safe and loving care when you are not there!

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 Flu…it is Here! What Can You Do to Keep Your Family Well?


 

Influenza or “flu” has certainly hit us hard over the last few weeks.  The CDC tells us that influenza is widespread across our country, and to put it simply, people are sick!  Influenza is a virus that causes high fever, upper respiratory symptoms, aches, ear infections, pneumonia, and yes, it even can cause hospitalization and death.  Influenza is not an illness you want because at the very least you will feel awful for a good 7 to 10 days. Influenza has hit the news the past few weeks and we are hearing about a severe flu season and an increase in widespread illness. So what can we do to protect our family?  We can’t lock ourselves in a sanitary room for the next couple of months!  Here are a few tips to help get through this flu season and increase your chances of staying healthy.

  1. If you have not had a flu shot….get one!. It is not too late. We are just entering the peak of the season now.  We are going to see this nasty flu virus for several more weeks at least. Recent reports tell us that the flu shot may not be as effective for the most predominate flu strain this year, but it is proven that flu shots do prevent influenza in many and if it doesn’t prevent the illness completely it decreases the severity of the illness and risk of hospitalization and death.  Everyone 6 months of age and older should receive the shot, some protection is better than no protection!
  2. Wash your hands often and well! Good hand washing is the best way to prevent spread of illness. Make sure family members wash hands before eating, after being out and about at school or in crowds, and before they are in contact with the most vulnerable…children under age 5 and seniors over age 65.
  3. Stay home if you are sick! If we all stay away from those who are ill, that is the best way to prevent spread! Keep your kids home from school until completely well and don’t go to work if you are ill! Be sure you cough into your elbow and throw tissues in the trash and wash hands after “blowing” noses!  We must protect each other.
  4. Keep your body ready to fight off illness! Be sure you and your family are getting enough sleep and are eating healthy. We know that when children and adults are “run down” they are more likely to get ill.

We will all make it through another flu season….but do what you can to keep you and your family healthy! Looking forward to that spring sunshine!

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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