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Category Archives: Parenting News
Olivia is one month and one week away from her second birthday, and she did something recently that sent panic coursing through me. She asked to use the potty.
I was not prepared for this. I knew potty training would be coming soon enough, but our pediatrician told me that Olivia wouldn’t be ready until she was no longer wet in the morning. But now here she is, running after me every time I go to the bathroom, crying, “I wanna potty! My potty! Mine!” Uhhhhhh. . .??
I don’t know if she really wants to try using the potty or if she’s just saying it to say it. The doctor didn’t mention anything about children who beg to use the potty. I don’t think I’ve ever once even mentioned going to the bathroom like a “big girl” because I’ve heard and read so much about not pushing it too early, so I’m not sure where this is coming from.
Anyone else experienced this? Should I ignore it or run out and buy a potty? Any suggestions on a good training potty? I’ve seen the Elmo one at Target and figured I might start with that since she loves Sesame Street. Lots (and lots) of questions! Any tips/advice would be appreciated!
Ahhhh, bedtime. What every parent looks forward to and what every child makes it their life’s mission to avoid. “Not my child,” you say? Clearly, you have an infant. Just wait. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”
The book Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach came out when Olivia was just a baby. While I laughed when I read it, I remember thinking, naively, This will never be my child. The child in this book is clearly a hellian. I will never pray for her to go to sleep because I miss her as soon as I shut the nursery door on her angelic little face. But now? I get it. Oh, do I get it.
It starts off easily enough. “Olivia, ready to go night night?”
“Night night,” she responds gleefully, running full tilt for the stairs. She playfully climbs the stairs, stopping every few steps to sit and pat the space next to her, “Sit mommy.” It’s sweet, really. And that’s about where the cooperation ends. I think she does it to screw with us, I really do. (“He he, I’m totally going to let them think this is going to be easy so they put down their guard and then WHAM! kick to the face during the diaper change!”)
Some nights, I swear it’s like she takes speed before bedtime and morphs into a little streaker. But, by far, the most difficult part about the bedtime routine is the brushing of the teeth. It’s a two person job. I don’t know how single parents do it. I assume their kids must have horrible teeth—or they are up for sainthood.
Our best attempt usually involves my husband laying over her on the changing table to hold down her flailing legs and arms while I try to hold her head still enough to get the toothbrush in, all the while both of us singing “Happy Birthday” or “Sesame Street” or the ABC’s at the top of our lungs like a couple of lunatics. There is the occasional cooperative brushing session, but these are few and far between—probably just often enough to keep our feeble hope alive. Most of the time, she looks like she’s acting out a scene from The Exorcist and saying “No mommy, no mommy, no mommy” over and over again.
And then there are the books. I actually love reading to Olivia, but one book is never enough before bedtime. And God help you if you accidentally grab a long one. (Don’t ever buy Strega Nona, by the way—longest book EVER. It’s deceiving because it’s a board book, so you think it will be appropriate, length-wise, for a toddler. You would be wrong.)
By the time we get through the whole bedtime routine, it’s been at least 20 or 30 minutes and our nerves are shot and practically begging for wine. But just as I pick up Olivia to deposit her in bed, she says “Love you, Mommy,” and plants a big wet one right on my lips before throwing her chubby little arms around my neck in a tight squeeze.
Shit. Of course she has to be all adorable and remind me exactly why half an hour of bedtime hell is so worth it. I’d probably go through a whole lot more just for that moment of sweetness. But then again, I can say that now because my daughter is still in her crib. I’ll let you know if I change my mind when we switch to a big girl bed and she figures out she can escape!
Olivia had her first dentist appointment this week, and I’m happy to report that we survived! Granted, she had a teensy little meltdown when the dentist tried to look at her teeth, but we powered through. If I could sum up the visit in a word, it would be. . . informative. I know, right? Probably not what you were expecting. I know the words running through my mind were more like stressful, traumatizing, awful. . .something along those lines. But I was shocked by just how much I learned. Some interesting tidbits that might help other new parents:
- The first visit is usually just an exam, no cleaning. You will appreciate this—trust me. And I say usually because it does depend on the age of the child and the condition of the teeth.
- Beware of thumb sucking. Olivia has sucked her thumb since she was born, but our pediatrician said it wasn’t a cause for concern until she was around 3 or 4 years old. Not so, according to our dentist. Olivia has a vigorous suck reflex, which means her top teeth are already showing signs of malocclusion, meaning her teeth are starting to push outward. How hard a child sucks her thumb is much more impactful on her dental development than how long she sucks her thumb. Our dentist suggested helping her break the habit immediately. Yay.
- There are several suggested ways of helping your child break the thumb sucking habit, including Mavala, the bitter liquid you can paint on to stop nail biting and thumb sucking; a ThumbGuard™, which is a plastic apparatus that fits over the thumb so that the child cannot form a suction; and taping the thumb to the hand at night using medical tape. I am sure you can imagine how excited we are to start this fun process.
- Taking iron supplements, such as ferrous sulfate drops for anemia, can cause teeth to look gray or even black. I expressed some concern over the fact that I thought Olivia’s top two teeth looked a little gray. The dentist immediately asked if she had taken or was currently taking iron and confirmed after the exam that that was the cause. This was news to me since I had asked our pediatrician about this very thing a couple of months ago, and she had no idea what could be the cause. Seems like something they should give parents a heads up about. . .
- Pay attention to the ingredients in your child’s toothpaste. Some training toothpastes are full of artificial sweeteners, colors, and preservatives. Given that most kids under age two swallow the toothpaste, you might want to think twice about what they’re ingesting. We use Aquafresh’s Training Toothpaste, which uses natural fruit flavors and no artificial colors or preservatives. Earth’s Best by Jason also makes a great toddler toothpaste that our dentist recommended.
- Help prepare your child for the dentist by reading to them or even letting them accompany you to a cleaning to see what it’s all about. I blogged about some great children’s books about going to the dentist in this post.
- Brush your child’s teeth every single day, even if it means you have to pin them down screaming to do it. Okay, so you might not have to go to those extremes, but it’s a necessary evil and one they’re more likely to get used to if you do it every day as part of your normal routine. What’s working for us at the moment is singing the Sesame Street song while we brush.
Overall, the dentist appointment wasn’t as bad as I expected. But I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune in six months when we go back for Olivia’s first cleaning. Dun Dun DUN!
Let me clarify that title—it’s the first trip to the dentist for my daughter. We made an appointment for her with a recommended pediatric dentist for next week. I’m not going to lie—I have some serious anxiety about the whole thing. I know how difficult she can be just brushing her teeth; I can only imagine the chaos that will ensue in a dentist’s office.
Since I was just at my own dentist this week for my six-month cleaning, I took the opportunity to ask them for any advice for making the trip as painless as possible for Olivia (and for me!). Everyone asked the same thing: have you been reading to her about the dentist? Ummmm, no. Ooops.
So I set out to find some good, age-appropriate books about going to the dentist to help ease her into the whole idea. Here are some of the best ones I’ve found. If you know of any other good dentist books or have any tips for how to get through our first dentist appointment, let’s hear them!
May is Pregnancy Awareness Month, so today’s post from guest blogger, Katie Moore, is in honor of all mamas-to-be. Katie’s blog, Moore From Katie, covers all things mama and baby, so be sure to check it out!
Bringing a new life into the world takes a lot more planning than simply prepping the nursery. Healthcare, both pre- and post-delivery, should be the main focus of every pregnancy. There are several standard steps you can follow to help make sure you are ready for delivery day.
Find the right doctor
It may be necessary for you to interview several doctors before finding one that has a similar birthing philosophy. Some doctors offer scheduled cesarean procedures while others opt for natural childbirth whenever possible. Be sure to research patient opinions and board certifications on any doctor up for consideration.
Decide where to have the baby
Unless you live in a rural area, there are probably several different options for birthing facilities near you. There may be a birthing center that serves your local area, a hospital with a maternity ward, or even a midwife who specializes in home births. It’s important to plan ahead with your doctor or midwife to determine the location for your delivery. Not every doctor/midwife has privileges at every hospital. Keep discussions open about the options in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises when the day comes.
Write up a birth plan
Before ever stepping foot into a birthing center or hospital, it’s a great idea for you to have a birth plan drawn up that details your preferences for labor and delivery. Generally less is more, so the plan should not be too complex but should provide a general outline for how you want your labor and delivery to be handled.
Pack a bag
Putting together an overnight bag for the hospital stay is another must. Make sure to pack a at least one change of clothes for yourself, clothing for your baby, a toothbrush, breastfeeding paraphernalia (if you plan to nurse), slippers and entertainment in the form of a book, music or movie. For a more comprehensive packing checklist, click here.
After the birth
There are some other considerations to take into account immediately after the baby is born. For example, is the baby going to be vaccinated? Will the baby be fed with breast milk or formula? Will you be collecting the baby’s cord blood for cord blood banking? Knowing the answers to these questions in advance can save you a lot of stress. Vaccinations are universally performed in the hospital, often within hours of birth. If the hospital is not notified in advance that a baby should not be vaccinated, it is likely the infant will be vaccinated almost immediately. Of course, no mother can know in advance whether breast-feeding will be successful, but you can decide whether or not you are going to try. If you decide to bank your baby’s cord blood for future medical treatments, it should be collected soon after delivery, so the hospital will need to be aware of your plans in advance. Forward thinking and early planning can help make delivery a breeze and allow you to spend the first few hours after birth blissfully cuddling your new baby rather than making stressful but important decisions.
I had a pretty difficult time breastfeeding, which I talked about here. My friend Shannon also had a less-than-ideal breastfeeding experience with her first child, but she had to deal with a grief and a guilt that I never experienced. Breastfeeding didn’t work out for Shannon and her son, and she agonized over it for months. But time gives us perspective, and Shannon has been kind enough to share her story in the hopes that it will help other new moms who might be struggling with breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is supposed to be a natural bonding experience between a mother and child. I went into childbirth with no doubt that I was going to breastfeed my son. After all, there is so much research supporting breastfeeding and its positive lifelong effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.” Because of this research, I was determined. No matter what, I was going to breastfeed my newborn son.
Like many things in life, what I expected did not happen. Not even close. The agony started in the hospital. My son, Finn, would not latch, and lactation came in to help us with every feeding. Finally, the head lactation specialist said, “Well, I don’t usually recommend this, but I guess you are going to have to supplement with formula.” The first pang of guilt coursed through me. Am I doing something wrong? Will my baby be okay even though I gave him formula? These thoughts raced through my mind. Lactation continued to visit and, because I work in the hospital, I knew that we were the lost case of the weekend. My son was the only full term baby in the Newborn Nursery who would not latch and needed 24/7 help with breastfeeding.
I was given discharge instructions to have Finn attempt to breastfeed while my husband simultaneously squirted formula through a syringe in the side of his mouth. This was an agonizing experience for both my son and I, and it was clear that it was not working. In tears, I looked to my discharge instructions from Lactation. The bottom line of the sheet said, “No matter what, do not give in and give a bottle!” What was I going to do? I felt so helpless and scared. I knew my baby needed to eat, but I felt so inadequate giving him a bottle because I felt like my chance at breastfeeding would be blown forever. After a few breakdowns, I finally gave in. Finn took the bottle and was so happy. He was finally able to latch easily and enjoy a feeding. I began to relax slightly. My restless newborn was actually happy.
Fast forward another month. At this point, I had given up on breastfeeding completely after consulting with Lactation several times with no success. I was pumping and giving breast milk via bottle. I felt pretty good about this, because hey, even though I was not breastfeeding, at least Finn was getting my breast milk. Well all of a sudden, at month two, Finn began to break out in a terrible rash around his mouth and neck and refused to take a bottle. After several appointments with specialists and frantic phone calls to our pediatrician, we realized that Finn was allergic to both milk and soy and could not tolerate breast milk.
Finn was started on Nutramigen, a hypoallergenic formula that is dairy and soy free. My son’s temperament changed completely in 24 hours. My fussy baby that screamed for 8 hours a day was now a happy child. On one hand, I was so relieved. However, I also felt so lost because that meant I could no longer offer breast milk. I continued to pump and save my milk, hoping that maybe one day Finn could use it. After two more weeks of pumping, I finally stopped. My terrible, agonizing journey of breastfeeding was over, but my feelings of inadequacy continued, especially with probing questions about nursing.
After this experience, I have realized that most people ask about breastfeeding after you have a newborn. Let me tell you, for a mom who is having difficulty with breastfeeding, this is not a welcome question. I felt like I had to justify putting Finn on Nutramigen for several months after I stopped nursing. So many people asked why he was on formula and gave me a strange look when I said that I was not breastfeeding. I felt like I had to go into the long-winded explanation that I just described as to why I couldn’t nurse.
I know that, for many mothers, breastfeeding is the clear choice. However, this does not mean it is right or even possible for everyone. New mothers are extremely vulnerable, and the judgment that some people pass about breastfeeding can be enough to put a new mother over the edge. A new study in the August 2011 edition of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology finds that women who struggle to breastfeed in the first two weeks after giving birth are more prone to postpartum depression. My experience supports this study. I am usually such a happy person and was not myself through this feeding struggle.
If a mother is not breastfeeding, it could be for a variety of reasons. People need to respect that and not pry so much into other people’s lives and experiences. When a woman has a newborn, people need to be focused on the miracle of life. As long as the baby is healthy and thriving, who cares if they are getting breast milk or formula? If the baby is healthy and happy, that is all you can ask for as a new parent.
Will I breastfeed my next child? I certainly am going to try. However, if it does not work out, there is no way I am going to go through that grief, agony, and guilt again. I am going to focus on enjoying my newborn. Having a newborn is one of the most amazing experiences, and there is no way that I am going to let breastfeeding get in the way of this incredible miracle.
A couple of weeks ago, Wired Momma’s Monica Sakala interviewed NBC4’s Angie Goff about work-life balance. It was a good piece, but the nugget that stuck out most to me what was Goff had to say about her “me time.” She has her “me time” between 1 and 2 a.m., after she gets home from delivering the 11 p.m. news. My first thought was, isn’t she exhausted?! I thought, if it were me, I’d be crawling into bed the minute I stepped in the door.
But the comment made me think about my own “me time,” and I realized people would probably think what I considered “me time” pretty strange as well. You see, my commute is my “me time.” I know, this doesn’t seem like the logical time to destress and decompress, and it didn’t used to be. Then I discovered audio books. I’ve always been an avid reader, a book snob of sorts. I turned my nose up to audio books for a long time because I haughtily thought they would “taint the inner voices I lent to characters as I read.” I’m serious—I actually think I said that exact thing to someone once over dinner. But once I started, I was instantly hooked!
I commute to work 45 minutes to an hour each way, so that’s an uninterrupted hour and a half (minimum, it is NoVA after all) that I get every day. When I’m listening to a particularly good book, I can’t wait to get in the car for my drive. I don’t get as annoyed by stupid drivers anymore, and I actually get excited when I get caught by a red light (I get to hear more of the story!). And with my library card in hand, I have a steady stream of free, in-car entertainment to fill my “me time.”
The point of me sharing this seemingly insignificant story is to encourage all women, but especially moms, to work with what you’ve got to carve out your “me time.” Even if it’s just 30 minutes here and 20 minutes there. The time is there—it just might need a little tweaking, or a really great audio book!
When do you find “me time”?
Have you heard about this? Apparently, the latest way teenagers have found to get high is by drinking hand sanitizer. I thought it was weird when the whipped cream was sequestered in the back room of the grocery store, available only upon request and after producing a valid ID, but this? This is not only stupid, it’s just gross. But it appears that hand sanitizer can be distilled into pure 120-proof alcohol and ingested for a buzz.
I watched a piece about this new danger on the Today Show with mild interest and bewilderment; that is, until they threw up the Poison Control Center’s 2010 stats for hand sanitizer poisoning. Out of the 3,767 cases of hand sanitizer poisoning that year, 411 were teenaged and older. The other 2,932 were children aged 5 and younger who accidentally ingested the poison.
Well, that had my attention. As the parents of a toddler, we go through hand sanitizer about as fast as we do milk. Our daughter has seen us use it so much that she will grab the little bottle and mimic putting it on her hands and rubbing them together. We have hand sanitizer all over our house and even attached to the strap of our diaper bag—easily accessible to little hands. And this isn’t the generic Purell with no real smell. We usually have the little bottles from Bath & Body Works that smell like delicious apple pie or warm vanilla cookies. Kids are bad enough about putting stuff in their mouths, and here we are, unwittingly tempting our child with sweet-smelling poison. Yikes.
Our house is baby proofed to the hilt, but the thought of those tiny bottles being a threat never even crossed our minds; that changed about 10 minutes after that segment of the show was over. I went around the house and put away every bit of hand sanitizer I found, somewhere little hands couldn’t reach.
Take a moment to look around your house and make sure you don’t have any of these seemingly innocent bottles within your child’s reach. We are so used to seeing them everywhere and using them that, at least in our house, they can be easily overlooked.
Here is part two of last week’s post by guest blogger and practicing speech pathologist, Shannon. Enjoy!
As a speech pathologist, parents often ask me two questions. The first question is, “Is my child’s speech normal?” I covered normal and abnormal speech development in last week’s post, which you can see here. The second question I am always asked is, “How can I teach my child to talk?” This post will provide tips on how to facilitate speech and language development for your child.
As a parent, you play a key role in helping your child learn the English language. There are many simple activities that you can do to encourage communication. These activities are effective, rewarding, and are used by speech pathologists in early intervention.
What can I do to facilitate speech and language development for my child?
- Talk to your child and narrate your activities. One of my favorite activities is going to the grocery store. I tell my son everything that I am getting, and he imitates the foods he can say.
- Simplify your speech. Don’t speak in long, complex sentences when trying to facilitate language for a young toddler. Words that are harder to pronounce can be shortened or simplified to encourage communication. For example, I taught my son to say “wawa” for water and “baba” for bottle.
- Start with small, simple words, such as animal sounds (moo, neigh, baa) or words that have duplicated syllables. There is a reason that “mama” and “dada” are often a child’s first “words.” Duplicated syllables are very easy for a child to pronounce. Words like “baba,” “wawa,” “nana” for banana, and “ni-ni” for night-night are examples of good words to try.
- If your child does say a word for the first time, praise her for it, and try to introduce that word into your activities throughout the day. For example, when my child learned to say “hop,” I made every stuffed animal hop, and I modeled “hop” for him until that word was set in his vocabulary. This strategy is often more effective than asking your child to say words on command. Asking your child to say a word on command, particularly if she just learned it, can put more pressure on her than just modeling it for her and seeing if she repeats it.
- Use baby signs. There is numerous research to show the effectiveness of baby sign language. Signs are effective because you can teach a child sign by using the hand-over-hand approach. With this approach, you take your child’s hands and do the targeted sign with her hands. As soon as you and your child do the sign, give your child the desired item. For example, if you are working on the sign for “more,” give your child the desired toy or food as soon as you sign “more” with him. The instant gratification will teach your child the function of communication and will make her want to keep signing. Easy signs for a child to learn include the signs for more, all done, eat, drink, help, go, and stop. There are several websites, books, and DVDs available that teach baby sign language. A reliable website is https://www.babysigns.com/.
- Give your child what he is asking for within reason. Children need to understand the importance and function of communication. They are communicating with you to ask for something. If your child says “wawa,” give her a sip of water because that gives her a reward and shows her that she is being understood. She will then want to say this word again and again because she is getting what she is asking for.
- Expand your child’s speech. If your child says, “Elmo jump,” you can say, “Elmo is jumping.”
- Read to your child. I can’t reinforce this enough: reading to your child provides him with so many benefits, one of which is facilitating speech and language development.
What are some online resources for activities?
Bedtime in our house is mostly smooth sailing. . . until it’s time to brush teeth. That’s when my sweet, sleepy daughter usually does her stubborn, flailing impression of the Exorcist, whipping her head from side to side and refusing to open her mouth even a millimeter. You would think we were trying to pull her teeth out with pliers!
So I went in search of ideas to make brushing more fun (and frankly just bearable) for all of us. The most common advice I read was to get an electric toothbrush (batteries=toy!) and warm up your vocal cords, because you will undoubtedly be singing some ridiculous made-up song about brushing your teeth. Karaoke skills aside, here are a few things I found that will hopefully get your little one, and mine, to open up and say “Ah!”
How do you get your children to brush their teeth? Share your tips!