So, the potty training process has started! Remember the mantra, “Two steps forward one step back!” Potty training is a huge task for a toddler and a parent. Sometimes you have a great couple of days, when you both are concentrating on the process, and then there is a bit of a back slide when you both relax a bit. This is very common. There are a few other “pitfalls” that are often seen as children and parents tackle the potty training process:
- Use of a small potty chair helps with fears of the adult toilet. Begin with sitting on the potty fully clothed and progress to sitting without clothes. Let your child’s favorite doll or stuffed animal “potty” too!
- Fear of flushing the potty is common, do not force the child to flush or shut the lid when flushing. Automatic flushing public toilets can be scary too. Cover the sensor with a post it note to prevent it flushing while your child is sitting!
- If your child is a real “pleaser” or is afraid to disappoint be sure you don’t sound upset or exasperated with the process. When there is an accident say “Oops there it went, a little accident. Next time you will go in the potty. We’ll try again.” When he does go, congratulate but don’t be overly excited as this may increase the pressure to be successful again resulting in a child who is afraid to disappoint.
- Fear of pooping. Some children potty train easily with “peeing” but struggle with the “pooping”. It causes fear in some toddlers to actually sit and poop without a diaper. Do not force the issue in the beginning…start slow. Some toddlers may have to progress from “pooping” just standing in the bathroom for a few days, to “pooping” sitting on the potty chair in the diaper a few days, to “pooping” without the diaper on the potty chair.
2. Holding stool.
- This happens sometimes when a toddler is afraid to poop. This results in the stool becoming hard and painful which begins a cycle of holding and constipation.
- Try to soften stool with diet by increasing fluids, fruits and vegetables or occasionally with medications such as mineral oil (1 tsp for every 10 pounds). This can be put in juice, mixed in a smoothie, or even on sandwiches next to the bread.
- Miralax or Benefiber are other suggestions but your child’s doctor should be consulted before using these.
- Back off of potty training and go back to diapers until your toddler no longer is constipated or having painful stools. This cycle needs to be broken for at least 2 weeks before you begin again.
- You may have to let your child poop in their diaper standing in the bathroom, then poop sitting on the potty in the diaper and finally progress to even cutting a hole in the diaper and allowing the child to poop into the potty while wearing the diaper. This may help with the fear of pooping in the potty.
- Talking with your doctor is a good idea.
- A toddler’s favorite response is “NO”! This stage fades at about age 3. Battling with a toddler is not productive and you NEVER win! The attention you give during a battle reinforces the behavior. You cannot force a child to “poop” or ” pee”. Make it clear to your toddler that potty training is for your child not you. The fact is that children all want to progress and develop. Your child will eventually want to use the toilet.
- Do not ask a yes or no question unless you are OK with the answer NO. Tell your toddler “It is potty time!” Do not say “Do you have to go potty?” This gives a choice that may not be a true choice and will result in a battle or tantrum!
Accidents will happen!!!
- Stay calm. Toddlers do not have accidents to irritate you! Toddlers age 3 and younger will not try to have an accident to upset you!
- Remind your child to slow down, sit a bit longer and completely empty his bladder. This will prevent accidents later.
- Make sure you remind your child to potty. Children get involved in play and forget!
- The older child (after age 3) can help clean up the accident. Do this matter-of-factly–not like it is a punishment.
5. Night time Control
- Nighttime training will come later. 75% of 5 year olds are trained at night with minimal accidents. Children who do continue to wet the bed after 5 often have parents who had a history of bedwetting. There should be no punishment involved with bedwetting. Children can continue to wear “sleeping diapers or pants” until later. You can talk to your doctor about when further treatment might be needed.
Your child will be successful! You both will be proud. This is just one of the many challenges you and your child will meet together!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
Starting solid foods can be stressful…so it seems. So many of my conversations with parents who are starting foods, thinking about starting foods, or in the middle of food introduction are full of anxiety and questions. It really should not be. There are very few guidelines that parents really need to follow. Many of the “rules” of starting solid foods are not based on a lot of science, but are based on culture and “what grandma did”. So what is all the worry about?? What are the “rules”?
Let’s keep it simple.
1. Children should start solid pureed foods when they are developmentally ready for food, usually near the 6 month mark. Usually at this age healthy children who are developing normally should be showing some interest in foods, sitting up fairly well, and their tongue thrust should be minimal.
2. First foods are really “practice foods”. Your baby is trying out new tastes and textures, but their main nutrition should be coming from breast milk or formula. Solid foods are complimentary the first year.
3. Pureed foods do not have to be the traditional baby foods…give your baby new and interesting tastes! There really is no scientific base to withholding any foods, even foods that are traditionally high allergen foods like eggs and peanut butter. The only food your child should NOT have is honey in the first year. Introduce new foods every few days and enjoy.
That is really it! So there really is no need for a schedule, a flow chart or an excel sheet to introduce your child to foods. Honest…
Even with these simple “rules” there are lots of questions. Here are some of the most common questions/worries that I hear:
1. Should I start with rice cereal first?
Traditionally rice cereal has been the first food for babies in this country…for years! Why? Well, it is convenient, it is easy to mix and feed, and it is iron fortified. Iron stores from Mom may begin to deplete after the first 6 months, so foods with iron are often started first. There is a lot of debate about white rice cereal, but rice cereal does not HAVE to be first. There is certainly other whole grain cereals with iron fortification and there is no reason why a baby can’t have pureed meats at 6 months too. I think we should look at other foods besides rice for a first food.
2. Should I start with green vegetables first, then yellow, and then fruit?
Don’t have to……there is no evidence that shows if you give your baby green vegetables first he will like vegetables any better or like sweet things less. No matter what order you introduce foods, all children (adults too) will like the taste of sweet better. Besides, if you breast feed, your baby has already tasted sweet…your breast milk. Don’t worry about what color vegetable or what fruit you should introduce when, just offer your baby a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. You can introduce carrots one day, applesauce a few days later, and then peas…the order doesn’t matter.
3. Is it healthier to make my baby’s food? Does it have to be organic?
Many parents worry about the fact that they don’t have time to add baby food making to their “to do” list, but it seems that everyone is telling them that “good parents” provide homemade organic baby food. Like parenting issues in general, there is always different options for different families. There certainly are many ways a parent can provide healthy food for their child. Some parents buy only organic, local food and have special recipes for homemade baby food, some parents shop aisle 2 and pick up whatever food is in stage 1, and other parents go half and half; making some food and buying some. The truth is, your child will not be on pureed foods very long. I think the sooner your child begins to eat what you are fixing the rest of the family, the better. Children like foods that have normal seasonings and a wide variety of tastes. Try to make at least some baby food…that means add a little water, breast milk or formula and take a fork and mash or use a blender to puree food for your baby, it is that simple. Soon your baby will be eating what you do with just a little mashing.
Organic foods have not been proven to provide better nutrition, but the foods do decrease exposure to pesticides. If your budget doesn’t allow the purchase of organic foods, it is more important to provide a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. If you want to spend a few dollars on organics….stick with the “dirty dozen”. Remember organic processed foods like crackers or macaroni and cheese really don’t have a health benefit at all….
4. You want my baby to eat what I do?
If you are having green beans for dinner…then mash or puree some for your baby. If you are eating fast food…then no! If you think your child can’t have what you normally eat, then think about what you normally eat. I find a lot of parents begin to eat much more healthy when they have a child beginning to eat solid foods. Remember, the best way to teach healthy eating is being a good role model.
5. Can’t I start food a little earlier….I need some sleep at night and wouldn’t that help my baby sleep better?
Food does not help a baby sleep at night better….nothing in research has ever shown us this. Starting solids too early may result in an increase risk of obesity or maybe even a tummy ache because your baby is not able to digest the food well yet. Starting solid foods is a developmental milestone not a way to “tank up” your baby for sleep. Early food introduction will not increase your sleep…
6. Babies can’t eat eggs or peanut butter can they?
The only thing a healthy baby who is not in a family with many food allergies or intolerances can’t have is honey. That is it! Babies under a year are at risk for botulism when eating honey, but nothing else that is healthy is off-limits. There is no waiting for yogurt, eggs, meats, cheeses, fish….nothing….if it is not a choking hazard, then let your baby try it.
Let go of the anxiety….starting foods should be fun and exciting for you and your baby. Offer new tastes, new textures, and healthy food. Soon you will see that your child just might LIKE brussel sprouts….even though you never did! Let your child try it all….and maybe your diet will improve too.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
So, your little one is growing up! You are starting to see signs that potty training just might be in your child’s immediate future. You are ready to help this process along….so what next?
When you think the time is right…
- When you are ready and have no major stresses in your life.
- When your child is showing increased interest in the potty.
1. Go buy “big girl” or “big boy” pants together. Talk about not getting those special pants wet and dirty!
2. Start by using the potty several times a day on a routine. Put your child on the toilet 20 to 30 minutes after every meal, before naps, right after naps, before bath…develop a routine.
3. Feed your child fruits and fibers to keep stool soft. Give your child plenty to drink so there are many opportunities to potty.
4. You might try letting your child play in lukewarm water with toys as he or her sits on the potty…..it may encourage “peeing”.
5. When you are ready to potty train full go—-ditch the diapers!! Diapers or pull ups make it difficult for a child to feel when they start to wet and give a sense of security. Even the feel and learn type pull ups are not like the good ole’ fashioned cotton underwear! You can put rubber pants or a disposable pull up over the underwear to help contain accidents. Do not switch back and forth from diapers to underwear, this becomes very confusing for a child.
6. Start setting the timer for every hour announcing “it’s potty time!” Try staying home for a few days and close to the potty to get the process started. A weekend is a great time to start!
7. Try letting your child run naked with a long t-shirt outside or inside on non carpeted floors for periods of time. When you see your child begin to pee or poop, bring them to the potty. This allows your toddler to feel and learn very easily.
8. Handle accidents with patience. Very little reaction…just “oops next time we will use the potty!” Remember this is a process! When there is an accident, place your child immediately on the potty to “finish”. This will help them equate the potty with the action.
9. Be sure your child is really ready. If you start too soon the road will be more difficult. If you meet resistance, take a break for a couple of weeks and then try again.
10. Adjust your attitude. It is important that children are never forced, shamed or manipulated into using the toilet.
11. Celebrate success. Success is just sitting on the potty at first! Decide what reward system you will use and what works for your child. Some parents find sticker charts, songs, high fives, M & Ms or other special treats will do the trick. M & Ms were perfect for us….one for my child and two for me! Do not over celebrate as this can cause stress for some children, especially children who are real “pleasers”.
12. Do not teach any other difficult tasks during this time.
13. Remember the mantra “two steps forward one-step back”. Often children start well and then lose some interest or start having accidents. Remember, it takes a lot of work for a toddler to figure this out! Sometimes concentration is lost!
14. Be sure to teach good hygiene. Teach toddlers how to wipe bottoms, wash hands, and flush toilets with the lid closed. Toddlers will not be able to completely wipe themselves, especially after a bowel movement, without help for some time, often until about age 5.
15. Potty train for daytime only…leave night time training for later. This is a different process! Use diapers or disposable training pants for night time use, you can call them “sleeping pants” to keep from confusing your child.
So, give it a try if the timing is right! Both you and your child will feel so accomplished. Practice that celebratory “potty dance” and pick up some M & Ms to reward your child and yourself. Tomorrow…a few “potty pitfalls” that can make potty training a little more challenging.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
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:
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Reading opens up the world for your child…..our goal is 1000 books before kindergarten!!
Bath time is over, p.j.s are on, your little one is on your lap and you snuggle your nose into their sweet smelling cheek. The craziness of the day begins to melt away. You open the familiar book and your toddler snuggles into your lap. What a precious ritual, and not only precious but so incredibly valuable. With that moment, you may have just helped your child get into Harvard…well at least become a good reader.
What is the best way to encourage your child to become a reader? What can you do now to prepare your child for school…and even college? It is very simple….read, read, and read some more. There is no better way to encourage a child to love reading, help them succeed in school, and improve language skills than to read to them. I think I can still recite The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Some of my most treasured moments were spent with my children on my lap, reading a story. Moments is the key word. When we are reading to young children, the reading is often in very short bursts. Reading a total of 20 to 30 minutes a day is recommended but that may be divided into several short periods. Having a “reading routine” before naps or at bedtime is a great way to incorporate “cuddle time” with your child and the benefits of reading. You might even try “reading your child awake”. Some children wake from a nap a little grumpy, reading to them until they are fully awake makes it easier on you and them! Here are some tips to keep your young child interested in reading.
- Toddlers have an opinion! Give them a choice of what stories they want. Often you might read the same books over and over. Toddlers love repetition. Soon your child will be able to “read” the book to you!
- Allow your toddler to handle the books. Books should be well-loved. Keep baskets of books out so your child can go to them whenever they are interested. A basket next to their potty is a great way to keep them entertained while potty training!
- Read with drama. Be silly. Change your voice. Use puppets or hand motions. Children love interaction.
- Talk about the pictures. It isn’t important to read all the words on a page! Don’t be surprised if your child realizes that you have left parts out of a familiar story though! They will catch you! This shows that they are learning!
- Ask open-ended questions. Let your child tell you the story!
- Never force reading. Many toddlers do not have the attention span to finish a book. Read a few pages and leave the book open. You may find your toddler will come back to it later. Let your child play while you read. Read an active story together that they participate in too.
- Take trips to your local library often. Allow your child to become comfortable in the library. Participate in Story Times offered at the library. These are free and great resources for parents and children!
- Set a good example. Turn off the TV and let your child see that you love reading too. Check out a book from the library for you too!
Here is a list for “tools of the Trade” for literacy! What items do you have in your home to promote the love of reading?
I admit it, I am a list maker. I love to make a list and cross off things I accomplish. There are days that I write something on my list that I have already completed…just so I can cross it off! So because I love lists, I put together a simple list of tools for literacy. These are items that every home with children should have to encourage a love of reading and writing. So, get your pens out and start crossing off the items you have….or make a list of things you need to foster your child’s growth in literacy.
1. Books in several places of your home that are accessible to your children.
2. More than one rhyme book.
3. Several picture books.
4. A book of nursery rhymes.
5. Chalkboard or white board.
5. Unlined paper.
6. Crayons, markers, pencils, and sidewalk chalk.
7. Magnetic letters.
8. Alphabet books.
9. Children’s Bookmarks.
10. Classic chapter books to read to your child.
11. Reading area in your home.
12. Supplies for your child to make their own book.
13. Children’s poetry books.
14. Sorting toys.
15. Puppets for your child to act out a story.
16. Books about colors.
17. Books about animals.
18. Books about how things work.
19. Books about nature and the earth.
20. Silly books.
21. Stationary for your child to write a letter.
22. Books about the seasons.
23. Music with rhythm.
24. Letter games.
25. Children’s magazines.
26. A library card for your child.
27. Books about feelings.
28. Books about childhood events like new siblings, potty training, going to school etc.
29. Alphabet blocks.
30. Shaving cream to draw letters in.
31. Finger paints.
32. Play dough and letter cookie cutters.
33. Letter matching games.
34. Pop up and flap books.
35. Touch and feel books.
What else??? Post your suggestions of “tools of the trade” for literacy!
Why would your child need a glass of juice? The short answer that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) gave this week is almost never. While a juice box of 100% juice for an older child isn’t the worst thing to have, it certainly isn’t the best choice. This week the AAP recommended even stricter guidelines for juice in a child’s diet. The new pediatric recommendations for juice is NEVER before the age of one and very limited intake through the age of 18!
Fruits are an essential part of a child’s healthy diet, but juice is not. Even 100% juice! Juice has very little nutritional benefit, it is basically water and natural sugar. It is high in calories and low in nutritional benefit. A piece of fruit is eaten slower, has healthy fiber, and is more filling. Often we forget to count the calories of a drink, and a child can “fill up”with those quick calories and decrease the amount of healthy food that is eaten and increase the risk of unhealthy weight gain.
If 100% juice is not the best choice for children, then fruit drinks are even worse! To be labeled fruit juice, it must be 100% juice. Any other drink or “juice box” that is not labeled 100% juice really is no better than soda. It is simply a sugar sweetened drink with high calories and no nutrition.
So what should our children be drinking?
- Breast milk or formula for the first full year of life. No juice. Small amounts of water can be introduced in a cup when solid foods are started.
- Children age 1 to 6 should consume no more than 4 ounces of juice a day in a cup with a snack or meal. Toddlers should not carry a sippy cup around with juice as it can result in dental decay. Fruit should be encouraged rather than juice. Water and milk only are adequate for fluid intake for toddlers and young children.
- Children age 7 to 12 can consume up to 8 ounces of juice a day, but fruit should be encouraged over juice. Water and milk are adequate for fluid intake for older children. Sports drinks usually are not necessary for most activities, they are high in sugar and calories.
What does this mean?
- Juice has no nutritional benefit for children younger than 1.
- Fruit is always a better choice than 100% fruit juice.
- Fruit drinks that are not 100% juice are no healthier than soda.
- Juice is not a good fluid choice for rehydration for a child who is dehydrated or has vomiting and diarrhea.
- Drinking too much juice may increase the risk of obesity in children and may decrease the amount of healthy food a child eats.
- Children over the age of 1 can drink 100% juice as part of a balanced diet that also includes whole fruits if they stay within the recommended amounts by the AAP.
So don’t introduce juice to your infant and offer it sparingly to your older children. Remind your children that low-fat milk and water are always the best choice. “Take back the snack” and encourage “snack parents” to provide water for young athletes after practices and the games. Control your refrigerator and cupboards, make fruit available and low-fat milk and water more available than juice. Make it easy for you and your child, steer clear of the “juice box aisle” at the store!