potty

Top Tips For Potty Training Accidents

It is inevitable that your child will have accidents when he or she is being potty trained. Be supportive, even when your child has not successfully used the toilet. With time, the accidents should become fewer and fewer until your child is completely potty trained and accidents are few and far between.

It’s been a long time since you were in diapers. Parents often do not realize that their children have accidents simply because they think differently. A child cannot plan ahead the way adults do every day — how many times, for example, do you jump in the car for a long trip with an older child and he or she needs to stop for a restroom less then ten minutes into the trip? Toddlers have an even shorter planning ability. They may hold it, thinking they can wait to use the potty when their television program or game is finished. Often, this is not the case, and the result is an accident.

Your child may also simply not realize he or she needs to use the potty. Even if your child has previously voiced the need to go to the restroom, other activities, such as being engrossed in play, can take your child’s mind off bodily needs. Ask you child often if he or she needs to use the potty, just as you would ask him or her to drink water on a hot day.

Be consistent with potty training rules as well to prevent these accidents. Your child may be doing this on purpose to gauge your reaction. Accidents should never result in punishment, but be firm as to what your child can and cannot do until he or she is potty trained. Regular accidents are not OK if your child knows better and had previously been able to control his or her bathroom actions.

However, if your child is having regular accidents and is upset at this, consult your doctor. There may be medical reason as to when potty training is becoming more difficult, and sometimes, simple dietary changes can help you fix these problems. Most children have accidents up to 6 months after successful toilet training. If accidents continue, speak with your child about the situation. If he or she is deliberately causing accidents, you may wish to postpone potty training until he or she is more mature. Punishment in these situations rarely works, but don’t let your child use potty training as a way of getting attention.

Accidents are normal. Although undesirable, remember to be supportive of your child as he or she is trying to learn to use the potty, even when they’re unsuccessful. Join an online support group if you find this process especially stressful. This, along with the multiple articles and tools for parents, can help you learn more techniques for potty training more quickly and avoiding accidents. Use accidents as a learning tool. As your child progresses in the potty training process, he or she will have fewer accidents. Don’t be surprised if your child regresses after having made significant progress—potty training takes time and support and is often a case of two steps forward and one step back.

 
About The Author: Diane Ball has an interest in Potty Training.
For further information on Potty Training please visit
http://www.painlesspottytraining.com/potty-training.html or
http://www.painlesspottytraining.com/blog/2006/09/27/top-tips-for-potty-training-accidents/

diaper3

Diapers – Wet or Dry Pail Method

Cloth diapering has come a long way! However, unless you use a diaper service, you will need to launder the diapers – but what do you do with them in the mean time?

WET PAIL METHOD (SOAKING)
This method allows you to soak your diapers until ready to wash. The benefit to this method is easier stain removal, and less frequent laundering.
HOW TO DO IT:
Fill your pail 1/2 full with cold water and 1/4 cup of vinegar or baking soda.
Dispose of flushable liner or shake off excess poop into toilet. No rinsing is necessary (especially if your baby is breastfed exclusively).
After 3-4 days or at about 2 – 3 dozen dirty diapers – empty the contents of your diaper pail into the washer and spin out the excess liquid.
Proceed with washing instructions.
Please make sure if you are using this method that your pail is securely fastened and out of reach of children.

DRY PAIL METHOD (NO SOAKING)
The benefit of this method is a lighter pail and no diaper soup!
HOW TO DO IT:
Sprinkle baking soda at bottom of pail and line your pail with a washable bag for easy transport to washing machine.
Dispose of flushable liner or shake off excess poop into toilet. No rinsing necessary (especially if your baby is breastfed exclusively).
Put wet or soiled diapers in the pail
Do a quick cold-water rinse cycle before your regular wash cycle so as not to set any stains in the hot water wash.
Proceed with washing instructions.
If you use this method you will need to wash about every 2 days or your diapers will stink!

Baby in a back seat located child safety seat

Preventing Children’s Deaths in Hot Cars

children-are-still-dying-in-hot-cars--dont-let-it-happenA parent’s worst nightmare is something happening to their child.

Compound that nightmare by knowing it was preventable and was their own fault? Already this summer, numerous children have died after being left in a vehicle. The outside temperature does not even have to be hot in order for a car to become too hot to live in for even a short period of time. Even in mild temperatures, the interior of a car can become hot enough to lead to death during an extended period of time. What is so frustrating is this happens every single summer.

The excuses for leaving a child in the car vary: my baby was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him up…or I thought I’d only be gone a few minutes. Perhaps the most heartbreaking is I forgot my child was in the back seat. While some say they can never imagine forgetting their child was in the vehicle, it can happen with a change of routine, sleeping child, fatigue, and a host of other reasons. My heart breaks for these people and their families, and I hope with these tips it will never happen to another family.

Tips to Help Prevent Leaving Children Behind:

  • Make a habit of always looking in the back seat when you get out of your car – even when you know your child is not with you
  • When arriving home, get your kids out of the car first before getting your groceries or whatever out of the car
  • Put one of your children’s toys on the front seat as a reminder that they are in the back seat
  • Put your cell phone, briefcase, or purse in the backseat on the floor in front of your child
  • Put a sticky note on your dashboard to remind you
  • Use one of those child safety mirrors in the back window so that each time you look in your rear-view mirror you see your child as well
  • Set an alarm on your cellphone for your anticipated arrival time at your destination with a reminder about your child

Some of you may think that this is all common sense and we don’t need reminders like this. But children are still being left behind in cars during hot weather with fatal effects. I

If you see a child in a car, don’t hesitate – call 911.

kids5

Fun Kid’s Party Games

Not only do kids of all ages love to play games, games are a creative and inexpensive way to entertain children. With a little imagination you will soon have them making up their own games! Whether you’re looking for birthday party games or just something to keep the little ones busy for a little while, I think you’ll find these games easy to learn and fun for all ages.

Bean in Your Shoe
One player goes out of the room. A dried bean is given to one of the players to put in his or her shoe. Play some music and have all the players dance, each child pretending to have a bean in their shoe. The player that left the room comes back and tries to guess who has the bean in their shoe. If they guess right, the person with the bean in their shoe gets to guess next. If they guess wrong, they get to leave the room again and try again. If they guess wrong a second time, they get to choose who gets to leave the room next.

Grin or Bear It
All players except one line up in a row. One player moves down the line, making faces to try to make each player in line laugh. The children standing in line try not to laugh. The first player to laugh gets to take the next turn trying to make the other players laugh.

Living Sculptures
Divide the children up into pairs. One person gets to be the clay, and the other person gets to be the sculptor. The sculptor molds the clay into any shape they want to (without hurting the clay). Faces can be arranged into odd expressions, arms and legs can be bent and arranged, and heads can be turned or tipped. When all the sculptors are finished with their creations, they get to put their sculptures on display. The pairs get to switch places after the exhibit.

Nursery Rhyme Game
Divide the players into teams. The leader assigns a nursery rhyme to each team. The teams take turns acting out their nursery rhymes. Whichever team guesses the nursery rhyme correctly gets to act out the next one. Continue for as many nursery rhymes as you can think of.

About the Author: Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of the Creative Homemaking Recipe of the Week Club Cookbook, a cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home decorating, crafts, frugal living, and family fun, visit Creative Homemaking.

newborn-and-toddler

First-Born Jealousy

Question: Our first-born is showing extreme jealousy towards the new baby. He’s obviously mad at us for disrupting the predictable flow of his life with this new challenger for our attention. How can we smooth things out?

Think about it: Before the baby entered your family, your toddler was told he’d have a wonderful little brother to play with, and how much fun it would be. Then the little brother is born and your toddler is thinking, “Are you kidding me? This squirming, red-faced baby that takes up all your time and attention is supposed to be FUN?” He then “plays” with the baby in the only ways he knows how. He plays catch. You yell at him for throwing toys at the baby. He plays hide-and-seek. You yell at him to get the blanket off the baby. He gives the kid a hug, and you admonish him to be more careful. Is it any wonder that your toddler is confused?

Teach: Your first goal is to protect the baby. Your second, to teach your older child how to interact with his new sibling in proper ways. You can teach your toddler how to play with the baby in the same way you teach him anything else. Talk to him, demonstrate, guide and encourage. Until you feel confident that you’ve achieved your second goal, however, do not leave the children alone together. Yes, I know. It isn’t convenient. But it is necessary, maybe even critical.

Hover: Whenever the children are together, “hover” close by. If you see your child about to get rough, pick up the baby and distract the older sibling with a song, a toy, an activity or a snack. This action protects the baby while helping you avoid a constant string of “Nos,” which may actually encourage the aggressive behavior.

Teach soft touches: Teach the older sibling how to give the baby a back rub. Tell how this kind of touching calms the baby, and praise the older child for a job well done. This lesson teaches the child how to be physical with the baby in a positive way.

Act quickly: Every time you see your child hit, or act roughly with the baby, act quickly. You might firmly announce, “No hitting, time out.” Place the child in a time-out chair with the statement, “You can get up when you can use your hands in the right way.” Allow him to get right up if he wants – as long as he is careful and gentle with the baby. This isn’t punishment, after all. It’s just helping him learn that rough actions aren’t going to be permitted.

Demonstrate: Children learn what they live. Your older child will be watching as you handle the baby and learning from your actions. You are your child’s most important teacher. You are demonstrating in everything you do, and your child will learn most from watching you.
Praise: Whenever you see the older child touching the baby gently, make a positive comment. Make a big fuss about the important “older brother.” Hug and kiss your older child and tell him how proud you are.

Watch your words: Don’t blame everything on the baby. “We can’t go to the park; the baby’s sleeping.” “Be quiet, you’ll wake the baby.” “After I change the baby I’ll help you.” At this point, your child would just as soon sell the baby! Instead, use alternate reasons. “My hands are busy now.” “We’ll go after lunch.” “I’ll help you in three minutes.”

Be supportive: Acknowledge your child’s unspoken feelings, such as “Things sure have changed with the new baby here. It’s going to take us all some time to get used to this.” Keep your comments mild and general. Don’t say, “I bet you hate the new baby.” Instead, say, “It must be hard to have Mommy spending so much time with the baby.” or “I bet you wish we could go to the park now, and not have to wait for the baby to wake up.” When your child knows that you understand her feelings, she’ll have less need to act up to get your attention.
Give extra love: Increase your little demonstrations of love for your child. Say extra I love yous, increase your daily dose of hugs, and find time to read a book or play a game. Temporary regressions or behavior problems are normal, and can be eased with an extra dose of time and attention.

Get ’em involved: Teach the older sibling how to be helpful with the baby or how to entertain the baby. Let the older sibling open the baby gifts and use the camera to take pictures of the baby. Teach him how to put the baby’s socks on. Let him sprinkle the powder. Praise and encourage whenever possible.

Making each feel special: Avoid comparing siblings, even about seemingly innocent topics such as birth weight, when each first crawled or walked, or who had more hair! Children can interpret these comments as criticisms.

Take a deep breath and be calm. This is a time of adjustment for everyone in the family. Reduce outside activities, relax your housekeeping standards, and focus on your current priority, adjusting to your new family size.

Excerpted with permission by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group Inc. from Perfect Parenting , The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 1999

money2

The Importance of Teaching Your Kids About Money

We raise or kids the best we can. We teach them what we think they will need to know to be good people and be self-sufficient. One thing we need to be sure they have an understanding of is personal finance, and it’s never too early to start the lesson.

I overheard a conversation recently while standing in line that had me shaking my head. It was between a young university student and her friends.
“I’m essentially fiscally independent from my parents.”
“Wait, who pays for your car?”
“Oh, well, my dad is paying for my car, and my cell phone, but that’s all.”

How is this fiscal independence? Further conversation revealed that this young woman was also not paying her own tuition. If she thinks she is paying her own way, how will she manage when she really has to do it? This young woman was studying to be a doctor. I sure hope she understands medicine better than she understands finance!

Start Early

One way to start teaching your child about finances is by giving them an allowance – even very young children can start to learn about money. Make the amount reasonable for their age and let them decide how to spend the money, but once the allowance is gone, it’s gone until the next time. They will learn they need to save more in order to buy something else. This gives your child actual money to learn about and handle.

You can also teach them the value of money by comparing what different amounts of money can buy. Take your child shopping with you and compare the prices of two similar items and talk about why the cost may be different.

When they are a bit older, show your child how much money comes in each month, and how much goes out through the family expenses. How much is left? What happens to that money? If there isn’t anything left, then what?

The point is, get them to understand basic household finances. This will help equip them for the day when they will be on their own and need to be responsible for their own fiscal situation. These lessons can last a lifetime.

diaper2

Cloth Diapers and Detergent Residue

Detergent residue is a film left on fabric by detergent. Detergent residue builds up on all items that are laundered, but usually you will notice it only when dealing with a fabric that is supposed to be either waterproof or absorbent. Problems with wicking and leaking are often the result of detergent residue and is a widespread issue throughout the cloth diapering industry.

Because there are so many additives (both natural and synthetic) that can cause problems with fabrics, it is impossible to list them all here. However, here are some to look out for:

  • Fabric softeners
  • Brighteners
  • Stain Guards
  • “Natural” Soaps

What problems can a detergent residue cause?

WICKING & LEAKING: Wicking is the spreading of fluid across a fabric. How does that residue cause waterproofing to wick?
There are two ways that residue can cause wicking.
One way is that the detergents leave a film on the cover which works as a transport for the liquid to travel along the inside of the cover, along to the edges then across the front. It appears like the fluid went right through the cover but it actually went around!
The second way is that a cover with a laminate works by not allowing a “whole” water molecule to pass through the membrane and one possible way this is done is through water tension. The water molecules bind to each other and do not penetrate fabric. Detergents have wetting agents that break water tension, which allows the detergent to dissolve and disperse and allows clothes to get cleaner. When residue from detergent is left on the covers, the fluid loses its water tension and can saturate the fabric. This appears as a general wetness of the cover, not a specific leak like at the thighs or tummy. Unfortunately, most people will assume their covers are worn out or defective before realizing that they have a detergent residue problem – a problem that can usually be remedied!

REPELLING: This is an issue for diapers. If diaper fabric fibers get coated in detergent residue they will begin repelling the urine like a duck’s plumage repels water. Residue is not the only culprit here, but it is a common one that can be remedied.

STINKY DIAPERS: There are numerous causes of stinky diapers or covers, detergent residue being among them. This is because the residue will trap or “bind” the odor to the fabric. With our diaper covers, detergent residue is the number one reason that the product may smell. Luckily, residue can be removed- in a process you might hear referred to as “stripping.”

RASHES: As can be expected, if your diapers are covered with a chemical residue, they can be expected to cause skin irritation in babies with sensitive skin.

YELLOWING OR GRAYING OF WHITES: Notice your whites aren’t very white any more? The most common cause is detergent residue…

So, now what?
The good news is that products that have been damaged by detergent residue can usually be saved! If the residue is not too extensive, it can often be resolved by doing a couple hot water rinses with no detergent, then throwing the diapers and covers in the dryer.
If this does not resolve the issue, a more intense “stripping” may be necessary. Repeat the following process twice:

  • Run your covers and diapers through a wash with only hot water (if allowed by manufacturer’s washing instructions).
  • Run a second wash using 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar in this second wash.
    1/2 cup vinegar again in first rinse cycle.
  • Run a second rinse cycle with plain hot water.
  • Dry covers in dryer.With proper care, cloth diapers will work very well and last a long time!
diaper1

How to Wash Cloth Diapers

diaper1Washing diapers is so easy these days! Please note that you should always follow the manufacturer’s care and washing guidelines for your particular diapering products, if they vary from the following!

BASIC WASHING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Wash diapers in hot or warm water with about 1/2 the recommended amount of laundry detergent.
  • Dry in dryer or outside on a clothesline, as sunlight is a natural brightener and disinfectant!
    In order for your diapers to be fully absorbent – always wash NEW diapers 2-3 times before using to “fluff up” the fibers.
  • Always follow manufacturers washing and care guidelines! Outcomes may vary depending on water, detergent, washing machine, etc.

    Important tips:

  • Don’t use bleach or whitening agents. They will breakdown the fibers of fabrics and destroy your diaper covers. Not to mention that they are very harsh on your baby’s skin and the environment…
  • When washing or soaking diapers (do not soak covers), a good alternative to chlorine bleach is the environmentally friendly oxygenated bleach. But be careful, not all are created equal…make sure the product you choose contains no additives beyond sodium carbonate.
  • Don’t use fabric softeners. They will leave a waxy residue on your diapers and covers and lead to leaking. Even using dry sheets in the regular laundry can leave a residue in the dryer, which can effect your diapering.
  • Don’t use any natural cleaning products that contain oils or softeners which may coat the fibers of your diapers or covers. People have reported problems with the following cleaning agents:
    All Free and Clear (and other Free and Clear detergents)
    Dr. Bronner’s Soap
    Some versions of Bio-Kleen
    7Th Generation
    Dreft
    Ivory Snow
    Most “pure soap” products

    Products that have been damaged by natural cleaning products can sometimes be saved! Repeat the following process twice: Run your covers and diapers through a wash with only hot water (if allowed by manufacturer’s washing instructions). Run a second wash using 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar in the wash – and 1/2 cup vinegar again in first rinse cycle. Run a second rinse cycle with plain water.

  • Don’t use laundry detergents that contain perfumes, dyes, chlorine bleaching agents or any stain guard ingredients.
  • Don’t use too much detergent in your wash as this can lead to stinky ineffective diapers and covers and skin irritations. A little goes a long way!
  • Do be careful when using diaper rash ointments, especially those containing fish oils. These can stain your diapers and covers, make them smelly and ruin their performance. Use all ointments sparingly. Flushable liners act as a good barrier for creams.
  • Do use the highest water levels in your washing machine to ensure complete rinsing of diapers and covers. Any detergent residue will affect the performance of diaper products!
  • Do unfold your diapers before soaking or washing to allow complete cleaning.
  • Do add occasionally a 1/2 cup of vinegar to the first rinse cycle in order to remove any residual detergent. This deodorizes, sanitizes and brightens. Don’t overuse or use in final rinse, as this will have the opposite effect! Your diapers may become smelly. Don’t use vinegar on diaper covers except one time when you are trying to strip detergent residue off.
  • Do use an extra spin cycle after washing. This will reduce drying time up to 25%!
  • Do throw a dry towel in the dryer with your diapers. This will reduce drying time as well!
  • Make sure that your covers fit snugly and that you are using the correct size of diaper and cover for your baby.
  • Smell your diapers and covers after they are washed! If they smell stinky or like detergent – wash them again with less detergent and more water.

    With the proper care, your diapers will be very effective and last a very long time!

bottles1

Baby Bottles – Which Ones Are Safe?

Reports over the past several years have many parents wondering just which bottles are safe for their babies — and even their older children. The main reason is because of a chemical called Bisphenol A – or BHA. While BHA isn’t used in baby bottles anymore, there are lots of people who still have these bottles around. Also, it may still be found in other plastic products.

Bisphenol A is used in the production of epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics (many of them used for baby bottles and sports bottles) and is a hormone-disrupting chemical considered to be potentially harmful to human health and the environment. Depending on whom you talk to, BPA is either perfectly safe or a dangerous health risk. The plastics industry says it is harmless, but a growing number of scientists are concluding, from some animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. However, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that human exposure to BHA is very low and strongly supports the conclusion that exposure to BHA poses no known risk to human health.

What to believe?
I’m not here to make that conclusion for you, but what I will do is provide information and alternatives so you can make your own decisions.

What are Polycarbonates?
Polycarbonates are used in thousands of consumer products such as reusable food containers, lifesaving medical devices and sport safety equipment. Manufacturers of such products, including baby bottles use polycarbonate because it prevents cracking, shattering and other hazards that can lead to injuries.

Bisphenol A is now deeply imbedded in the products of modern consumer society because not only it is used in the manufacture of polycarbonates, epoxy resins and other plastics, including polysulfone, alkylphenolic, polyalylate, polyester-styrene, and certain polyester resins — it is also used as an inert ingredient in pesticides (although in the US this has apparently been halted), as a fungicide, antioxidant, flame retardant, rubber chemical, and polyvinyl chloride stabilizer.

Who is exposed to Bisphenol A?
Everyone! Bisphenol A is found in many everyday products including food cans, plastic water containers and baby bottles. A study in the US found that 95% of people tested had been exposed to BPA.

Why is it a concern?
Bisphenol A is a hormone disruptor. Studies have linked low-dose BPA exposure with such effects as: permanent changes to genital tract; increase prostate weight; decline in testosterone; breast cells predisposed to cancer; prostate cells more sensitive to hormones and cancer; and hyperactivity.

The key concern for parents is whether BPA can get into their child’s food through leaching from polycarbonate bottles and containers.

What are hormone disruptors?
Hormone or endocrine disruptors are substances that can interfere with the normal functioning of the hormone system of both people and wildlife in a number of ways to produce a wide range of adverse effects including reproductive, developmental and behavioural problems.

Who is most at risk?
Fetuses, infants and children around puberty. Fetuses are especially sensitive groups as their immature detoxification systems make them more vulnerable and they are at a delicate stage of development.

How can you tell the difference between plastics with BHA ans those without?
If you decide to stay away from baby bottles with BHA, you need to know how to tell which ones have this chemical and which ones don’t. The easiest way to tell is to look for the triangular recycling imprint on the bottles. Polycarbonate plastic food and beverage containers that contain BPA will be labeled with the recycling symbol #7. However, not all recycling symbol #7 containers will be made with BPA.

What are the alternatives?
#5 Plastic baby bottles are non-toxic, recyclable and do not leach any harmful chemicals into your baby’s food. One example of a #5 plastic bottle is the Medela baby bottle.
Another alternative is glass or stainless steel bottles.

baby2

Should We Have Another Baby?

Deciding whether to expand your family by one more — whether this would be your second child or your sixth — is one of the most significant decisions you will make in your lifetime. There is no crystal ball to show the consequences of your decision in the future. A great number of variables come into play here, and the answer to the question, “How many children?” is vastly different for every family.

The questions to ask yourself
The key to making this decision is to ask the right questions, and to take the time to search your soul and figure out the answers. There are no “right” answers here, because we are all very different human beings.

Why do I want another child?
Reasons may run the gamut from wanting a sibling for your child, to simply loving to raise children. Consider what you know of yourself, your view of family life, your own upbringing & the countless reasons of the heart. If it’s the amazing experiences of pregnancy and childbirth you miss, remember that your commitment only begins with these and continues long after the baby’s arrival. If you’re considering another child due to pressure from your parents, in-laws, other relations or friends, tune their voices out for a bit and listen only to those of yourself and your mate. This decision must come from the two people who know your situation best, and who will have to live the day-to-day realities of another child.

How will another baby change our economic position? Are we willing to make that change? You’ll note that the question is not, “Can we afford another baby?” The issue runs deeper than that, because many families are more than willing to make the necessary financial compromises. You need to be realistic: Adding a child does add expenses. But “economics” addresses resources beyond the strictly financial. You also need to consider your time, your patience, and your attention & all essentials that will have to be divvied up among more than one child. Most people find that there’s plenty to go around because of one related, easily renewable resource: love.

How will life change, and are we ready for that change?
Since you already have a baby, you know how much time a new baby demands in his first few years. A second (or third or ninth) is no different and will tug at your hours along with his siblings. While you shouldn’t base a major life decision on the next 24 months, you do need to remember that one year follows another: each year builds on the one previous. So make a realistic assessment of how this will change your lives both now and in the future that follows.

How will a new baby affect the lives of your other children?
Babies have an effect on the whole house, not just mom and dad. How a new sibling will affect the child you do have isn’t a reason to have (or not have) more children, but the unique characteristics of the child you already have should factor in to your decision.

Are you and your partner on the same page?
The two of you must discuss your thoughts about another baby and come to an agreement, one way or the other, that both can be happy with.

Is this a question of when? Perhaps you know that you want another child, but you’re not certain if now is the right time. Here are some points to consider:

  • The impact of pregnancy. Studies demonstrate that waiting at least 18 months between pregnancies gives you the best odds for a healthy pregnancy, delivery and baby. This isn’t a guarantee, of course, and many women who have babies 10 months apart have normal pregnancies and healthy babies. Generally speaking, however, ample time between pregnancies gives your body a chance to recover fully.
  • §The waiting time for adoption. Depending on the situation under which you adopt, a long period may elapse between when you first make your decision and when your new baby actually joins your family.
  • The age gap issue. How far apart in age should your children be? No perfect answer there either… I’ve experienced both sides of the issue: My first three children are all two years apart, and then there was an eight-year gap before my fourth child arrived. I can clearly see that both situations have advantages. The bottom line is that the personalities of your children and your family patterns will have more to do with their short- and long-term relationships than anything as simple as the number of months or years that separate their birthdays.
  • The biological clock and fertility issues. In today’s world, many couples are starting their families later in life. If pregnancy is your route to your next baby, you’ll certainly want to investigate the factors involved in conception. While women can have babies in their forties (my son Coleton arrived when I was 41), fertility rates drop dramatically after the age of 35. Achieving pregnancy (and finally meeting that new family addition) may take longer than you expect.

What’s in your heart?
If you’ve thoroughly examined all the issues involved in adding another baby to your family, and your heart and soul continue to have an empty spot that craves another child (or conversely, the doubt and fear are overwhelming), then perhaps you already have your answer.

 

This article is a copyrighted excerpt from Gentle Toddler Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2006)

kids1

The Importance of Routines

At 8:30 p.m. at the Osborne family house in Burlington, Vermont, an exemplary bedtime process is underway. The three children are upstairs changing into their pajamas, brushing their teeth, and settling into their beds to read. There is remarkably little protest or variation. “Bedtime is the one area where our routine has not wavered,” says mom Eleanor. “Since the boys were toddlers, we’ve been doing the same thing, and now it’s automatic. This is usually the calmest period our day.”

Regular schedules provide the day with a framework that orders a young child’s world. Although predictability can be tedious for adults, children thrive on sameness and repetition. “Knowing what to expect from relationships and activities helps children become more confident,” says Dr. Peter Gorski, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachussetts.

Routines begin from the first days of life, says Susan Newman, a social psychologist in New Jersey, affecting the relationship between parent and child, setting the stage for rocky or smooth sailing as your child gets older. Babies, especially, need regular sleep and meal schedules and even routines leading up to those activities (a story every day before nap- or bedtime, for example).

As she gets older, when a child knows what is going to happen and who is going to be there, it allows her to think and feel more boldly and freely, Gorski adds. When a child does not know what to expect, his internal alarms go off. Ultimately, parents benefit as well: “Knowing what is expected cuts down on parenting struggles,” says Jodi Mindell, child psychologist and author of Sleeping through the Night (HarperCollins).

Tips for Implementing Routines
Plan regular mealtimes: “It is so valuable to the developing spirit of children to have one meal together each day as a family,” Gorski says. Sitting together at the dinner table gives children the opportunity to share their day’s experience and get support for whatever they’re feeling. The emphasis is on togetherness, so if your children need to eat earlier, at least give them dessert while you eat your meal. This is also an ideal time to introduce routines that give children responsibility, such as setting or clearing the table. Older children can be pre-dinner helpers and washer-uppers.

Wind down before bed: Consistent nightly rituals are soothing and take the battle out of bedtime. But after an exhausting day, it’s tempting to skip the preliminaries when bedtime finally approaches. Don’t, stresses Mindell: “About 20 to 30 minutes of calm, soothing, and consistent activities get children ready.” Find what works best for your child—some children are revved up by a bath or fidgety when listening to a story. Yours may prefer doing a puzzle together or listening to music. For older children, bedtime is an ideal time for conversation. My 12-year-old son likes me to sit on his bed and talk for a few minutes before he goes to sleep.

In general, make the room conducive for sleep. Set aside a time each week for room cleanup (another important routine!), when your child puts away toys and books and you change the linens.

Be consistent but flexible: Routines are essential, but allow some room for flexibility. Although the Osborne family thought their bedtime routine was a blessing, there have been some problems recently. “I was completely rigid about my oldest son’s bedtime, and he is now incapable of veering from that routine. If we are out later than his bedtime, he becomes upset,” Eleanor says.

Unexpected events, like surprise guests or errands that cannot be postponed, may result in a nap in the car seat or a skipped meal. But if we react with frustration when this happens, our kids will, too. Try to prepare your child ahead of time for the change and reassure them that things will return to normal tomorrow.

Liza Asher is a mother of four and writes on parenting issues for national magazines. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey. Copyright © 1999-2004 ClubMom, Inc. All rights reserved.

When Kids Cooperate

By Rae Pica

Given a choice, preschoolers prefer cooperative activities to competitive ones. Indeed, Scott Scheer, an associate professor at Ohio State University, contends humans actually have a “cooperative imperative” – a desire to work with others toward mutual goals that can run the spectrum from conceiving a child to sending a rocket to the moon.

In fact, using MRI technology to determine the effects of both competition and cooperation, scientists at Emory University recently found that when people collaborate, the brain sends out pleasure responses. Alfie Kohn, in No Contest: The Case Against Competition, identifies a great deal of research demonstrating cooperation’s positive effects on both social and emotional development.

He says cooperation:

  • is more conducive to psychological health.
  • leads to friendlier feelings among participants.
  • promotes a feeling of being in control of one’s life.
  • increases self-esteem.
  • results in greater sensitivity and trust toward others.
  • increases motivation.

When children are given the chance to work together toward a solution or common goal – whether creating a game or building a human pyramid – they know they each contribute to the success of the venture. Each child realizes he or she plays a vital role in the outcome, and each accepts the responsibility of fulfilling that role. They also learn to become tolerant of others’ ideas and to accept the similarities and differences of other children.

Furthermore, cooperative activities seldom cause the feelings of inferiority that can result from the comparisons made during competition. On the contrary, because cooperative and noncompetitive activities lead to a greater chance for success, they generate greater confidence in children.

Unlike competition, which research shows can foster antisocial behavior, cooperation has been determined to promote prosocial behaviors. Steve Grineski, author of Cooperative Learning in Physical Education, says the social skills needed for cooperative learning include:

  • listening to others
  • resolving conflict
  • supporting and encouraging others
  • taking turns
  • expressing enjoyment in the success of others
  • demonstrating the ability to criticize ideas, not individuals.

Nature or Nurture?

Is the drive to compete human nature, as is commonly believed; or is it learned?

One study indicates gender identify, which is typically established by the age of 3, plays a role in whether children are naturally cooperative or competitive. Preschool girls, according to the study, are cooperative, caring, and supportive of one another when learning new movement skills. They aren’t interested in competing or succeeding at someone else’s expense and actually seem to learn less efficiently when competition is introduced.

Preschool boys, on the other hand, are interested in how well they perform and in how their abilities compare to those of their classmates. However, the study further indicates the differences in the boys’ and girls’ behavior may indeed be dictated by society and culture, as Asian preschoolers of both genders tended to be cooperative and supportive.

An essay by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times supports this latter contention. Kristof tells a hilarious story about trying to teach the game of musical chairs to a group of five-year-old Japanese children, who kept politely stepping out of the way so others could sit in their chairs. This would certainly seem to indicate that “dog-eat-dog” is taught in some societies — and not taught in others.

About Cooperative Games

Terry Orlick, author of The Second Cooperative Sports and Games Book, has long been a proponent of cooperative games. He writes that games can be “a beautiful way to bring people together. However, if you distort children’s play by rewarding excessive competition, physical aggression against others, cheating, and unfair play, you distort children’s lives.” On the other hand, about cooperative games, he says the concept is simple: “People play with one another rather than against one another; they play to overcome challenges, not to overcome other people; and they are freed by the very structure of the games to enjoy the play experience itself. No player need find himself or herself a bench warmer nursing a bruised self-image. Since the games are designed so that cooperation among payers is necessary to achieve the objective(s) of the game, children play together for common ends rather than against one another for mutually exclusive ends. In the process, they learn in a fun way how to become more considerate of one another, more aware of how other people are feeling, and more willing to operate in one another’s best interests.”

Rae Pica is a children’s movement specialist and the author of Your Active Child: How to Boost Physical, Emotional, and Cognitive Development through Age-Appropriate Activity (McGraw-Hill, 2003). You can visit Rae at www.movingandlearning.com.

Newborn Babies and Sleep

By Elizabeth Pantley

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby. This is a glorious time in your life. Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, you will find this a time of recovery, adjustment, sometimes confusion and frustration, but – most wonderfully – of falling in love.

Babies younger than four months old have very different sleep needs than older babies. This article will help you understand your newborn baby’s developing sleep patterns, and will help you develop reasonable expectations when it comes to your baby and sleep.

Read, Learn, and Beware of Bad Advice
babyAbsolutely everyone has an opinion about how you should handle sleep issues with your new baby. The danger to a new parent is that these tidbits of misguided advice (no matter how well-intentioned) can truly have a negative effect on our parenting skills and, by extension, our babies’ development…if we are not aware of the facts. The more knowledge you have the less likely that other people will make you doubt your parenting decisions.

When you have your facts straight, and when you have a parenting plan, you will be able to respond with confidence to those who are well-meaning but offering contrary or incorrect advice. So, your first step is to get smart! Know what you are doing, and know why you are doing it. Read books and magazines, attend classes or support groups – it all helps.

The Biology of Newborn Sleep
During the early months of your baby’s life, he sleeps when he is tired, it’s really that simple. You can do very little to force a new baby to sleep when he doesn’t want to sleep, and conversely, you can do little to wake him up when he is sleeping soundly.

A very important point to understand about newborn babies is that they have very, very tiny tummies. New babies grow rapidly, their diet is liquid, and it digests quickly. Formula digests quickly and breast milk digests even more rapidly. Although it would be nice to lay your little bundle down at a predetermined bedtime and not hear a peep from him until morning, even the most naïve among us know that this is not a realistic goal for a tiny baby. Newborns need to be fed every two to four hours – and sometimes more.

During those early months, your baby will have tremendous growth spurts that affect not only daytime, but also nighttime feeding as well, sometimes pushing that two- to four-hour schedule to a one- to two-hour schedule around the clock.

Sleeping “through the night”
You have probably heard that babies should start “sleeping through the night” at about two to four months of age. What you must understand is that, for a new baby, a five-hour stretch is a full night. Many (but nowhere near all) babies at this age can sleep uninterrupted from midnight to 5 a.m. (Not that they always do.) A far cry from what you may have thought “sleeping through the night” meant!

What’s more, while the scientific definition of “sleeping through the night” is five hours, most of us wouldn’t consider that anywhere near a full night’s sleep for ourselves. Also, some of these sleep-through-the-nighters will suddenly begin waking more frequently, and it’s often a full year or even two until your little one will settle into a mature, all-night, every night sleep pattern.

Falling Asleep at the Breast or Bottle
It is very natural for a newborn to fall asleep while sucking at the breast, a bottle, or a pacifier. When a baby always falls asleep this way, he learns to associate sucking with falling asleep; over time, he cannot fall asleep any other way. I have heard a number of sleep experts refer to this as a “negative sleep association.” I certainly disagree, and so would my baby. It is probably the most positive, natural, pleasant sleep association a baby can have. However, a large percentage of parents who are struggling with older babies who cannot fall asleep or stay asleep are fighting this natural and powerful sucking-to-sleep association.

Therefore, if you want your baby to be able to fall asleep without your help, it is essential that you sometimes let your newborn baby suck until he is sleepy, but not totally asleep. When you can, remove the breast, bottle, or pacifier from his mouth and let him finish falling asleep without something in his mouth. When you do this, your baby may resist, root, and fuss to regain the nipple. It’s perfectly okay to give him back the breast, bottle, or pacifier and start over a few minutes later. If you do this often enough, he will eventually learn how to fall asleep without sucking.

Waking for Night Feedings
Many pediatricians recommend that parents shouldn’t let a newborn sleep longer than three or four hours without feeding, and the vast majority of babies wake far more frequently than that. (There are a few exceptional babies who can go longer.) No matter what, your baby will wake up during the night. The key is to learn when you should pick her up for a night feeding and when you can let her go back to sleep on her own.

This is a time when you need to focus your instincts and intuition. This is when you should try very hard to learn how to read your baby’s signals. Here’s a tip that is critically important for you to know. Babies make many sleeping sounds, from grunts to whimpers to outright cries, and these noises don’t always signal awakening. These are what I call sleeping noises, and your baby is nearly or even totally asleep during these episodes. I remember when my first baby, Angela, was a newborn. Her cry awakened me many times, yet she was asleep in my arms before I even made it from cradle to rocking chair. She was making sleeping noises. In my desire to respond to my baby’s every cry, I actually taught her to wake up more often!

You need to listen and watch your baby carefully. Learn to differentiate between these sleeping sounds and awake and hungry sounds. If she is awake and hungry, you’ll want to feed her as quickly as possible. If you respond immediately when she is hungry, she will most likely go back to sleep quickly. But, if you let her cry escalate, she will wake herself up totally, and it will be harder and take longer for her to go back to sleep. Not to mention that you will then be wide awake, too!

Help Your Baby Distinguish Day from Night
A newborn baby sleeps about sixteen to eighteen hours per day, and this sleep is distributed evenly over six to seven brief sleep periods. You can help your baby distinguish between nighttime sleep and daytime sleep, and thus help him sleep longer periods at night.

Begin by having your baby take his daytime naps in a lit room where he can hear the noises of the day, perhaps a bassinet or cradle located in the main area of your home. Make nighttime sleep dark and quiet. You can also help your baby differentiate day naps from night sleep by using a nightly bath and a change into sleeping pajamas to signal the difference between the two.

Watch for Signs of Tiredness
One way to encourage good sleep is to get familiar with your baby’s sleepy signals and put her down to sleep as soon as she seems tired. A baby cannot put herself to sleep, nor can she understand her own sleepy signs. Yet a baby who is encouraged to stay awake when her body is craving sleep is typically an unhappy baby. Over time, this pattern develops into sleep deprivation, which further complicates your baby’s developing sleep maturity. Learn to read your baby’s sleepy signs — such as quieting down, losing interest in people and toys, and fussing — and put her to bed when that window of opportunity presents itself.

Make Yourself Comfortable
I’ve yet to hear a parent tell me that she or he loves getting up throughout the night to tend to a baby’s needs. As much as we adore our little bundles, it’s tough when you’re woken up over and over again, night after night. Since it’s a fact that your baby will be waking you up, you may as well make yourself as comfortable as possible. The first step is to learn to relax about night wakings right now. Being stressed or frustrated about having to get up won’t change a thing. The situation will improve day by day; and before you know it, your little newborn won’t be so little anymore – she’ll be walking and talking and getting into everything in sight…during the day, and sleeping peacefully all night long.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No Cry Sleep Solution Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002 Website: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth

Early Bedtime Means Better Baby Sleep

By Elizabeth Pantley

In their efforts to encourage their baby to sleep better, one approach that many parents use is to put their baby to bed later in the evening. They think, “If he’s “really tired” he’ll sleep better, right?” Wrong! This often backfires because Baby becomes overtired, and chronically sleep-deprived.

In the majority of cases, a baby’s biological clock is preset for an early bedtime. When parents work with that time, a baby falls asleep more easily and stays asleep more peacefully. Most babies are primed to go to sleep for the night as early as 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. I often hear about how babies and toddlers have a “melt down” period at the end of the day, when they get fussy, whiny and out of sorts. I suspect that it’s simply a sign of over-tired children longing for sleep.

Early to bed, early to rise?
For babies, early to bed does not mean early to rise! Most babies sleep longer with an earlier bedtime. Many parents are afraid to put their baby to bed so early, thinking that they will then face a 5 a.m. wake up call. But keeping your little one up too late backfires, and more often, a late night is the one followed by that early morning awakening.

My youngest child, two-year-old Coleton used to go to bed at 9:30, the time when my three older children went to bed, because it was convenient for me. At that time in the evening, it would take him a long time to get settled. I never connected his inability to settle with his late bedtime. When I started putting him to bed at 7:00, he fell asleep much more quickly and slept more soundly.

What About Working Parents?
If you are a working parent, and your evening with your little one begins at 6:30 or 7:00, you may find yourself torn between keeping your baby up for some playtime and getting him right to bed. You may find, though, that when your baby goes to sleep earlier, and sleeps better, he awakens in a pleasant mood, eager to play. Because you have gotten a good night’s sleep, you can consider getting up earlier in the morning and saving some time before work to play with your baby, as an alternative to that late-evening play session. You’ll both enjoy that special morning time. Later, when your baby is consistently sleeping all night, every night, you can move bedtime a little later and judge whether the difference affects your baby’s sleep.

Finding Your Baby’s Best Bedtime
It can take some experimentation to find your baby’s best bedtime. If you have been putting your baby to bed too late in the evening, you can approach this adjustment in one of two different ways:

Adjust your baby’s bedtime to be earlier by fifteen to thirty minutes every two or three nights. Pay attention to how easily your baby falls asleep as well as his awakening time and mood to gauge the effectiveness of the changes until you settle on his best bedtime, or
Beginning at around 6:30 p.m., watch your baby closely. As soon as he exhibits any signs of tiredness (fussing, losing interest in toys, looking glazed, yawning) put him right to bed, even if his previous bedtime has been 11:00 p.m. When you do this, keep your home quiet and the baby’s room dark so that it resembles his usual environment in the middle of the night. If this bedtime is substantially earlier than usual, your baby may think he’s going down for a nap and awaken after a short snooze. If he does this, respond very quickly so that he doesn’t fully awaken. Follow your usual method for helping him fall back to sleep, such as rocking or nursing; keep the room dark and quiet as you do during the middle of the night.
Here’s what Tammy, mother of seven-month-old Brooklyn had to say about changing her baby’s bedtime, “I had been waiting until 10:00 to put Brooklyn to bed because that’s when I go to sleep. But your suggestion made so much sense that last night I put her down at 8:00. I loved having the evening to spend with my husband. We haven’t spent that much time alone together in months! And the baby actually had a better night’s sleep. I’m happy that all our needs can be met in such a pleasant way.”

It may take a week or more of adjustment to settle into a new bedtime, but once you do, you’ll find that both you and your baby are happier.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No Cry Sleep Solution Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002 Website: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth

What is Preventing Your Baby from Sleeping Through the Night?

By Elizabeth Pantley

Here’s something that may really surprise you: As much as we may want our babies to sleep through the night, our own subconscious emotions sometimes hold us back from encouraging change in our babies’ sleeping habits. You yourself may be the very obstacle preventing a change in a routine that disrupts your life. So let’s figure out if anything is standing in your way.

Examine Your Own Needs and Goals
Today’s society leads us to believe that “normal babies” sleep through the night from about two months; my research indicates that this is more the exception than the rule. The number of families in your boat could fill a fleet of cruise ships.

“At our last day-care parent meeting, one father brought up the fact that his two-year-old daughter wasn’t sleeping through the night. I discovered that out of 24 toddlers only six stayed asleep all night long.” …Robin, mother of thirteen-month-old Alicia

You must figure out where your own problem lies. Is it in your baby’s routine, in your management of it, or simply in the minds of others? If you can honestly say you want to change your baby’s sleep habits because they are truly disruptive to you and your family, then you’re ready to make changes. But if you feel coerced into changing Baby’s patterns because Great Grandma Beulah or your friend from playgroup says that’s the way it should be, it’s time for a long, hard think.

Certainly, if your little one is waking you up every hour or two, you don’t have to think long on the question, “Is this disruptive to me?” It obviously is. However, if your baby is waking up only once or twice a night, it’s important that you determine exactly how much this pattern is disturbing to you, and decide on a realistic goal. Be honest in assessing the situation’s effect on your life. Begin today by contemplating these questions:

  • Am I content with the way things are, or am I becoming resentful, angry, or frustrated?
  • Is my baby’s nighttime routine negatively affecting my marriage, job, or relationships with my other children?
  • Is my baby happy, healthy, and seemingly well rested?
  • Am I happy, healthy, and well rested?

Once you answer these questions, you will have a better understanding of not only what is happening with regard to your baby’s sleep, but also how motivated you are to make a change.

Reluctance to Let Go of Those Nighttime Moments
A good, long, honest look into your heart may truly surprise you. You may find you actually relish those quiet night wakings when no one else is around. I remember in the middle of one night, I lay nursing Coleton by the light of the moon. The house was perfectly, peacefully quiet. As I gently stroked his downy hair and soft baby skin, I marveled at this tiny being beside me-and the thought hit me, “I love this! I love these silent moments that we share in the night.” It was then that I realized that even though I struggled through my baby’s hourly nighttime wakings, I needed to want to make a change in our night waking habits before I would see any changes in his sleeping patterns.

You may need to take a look at your own feelings. And if you find you’re truly ready to make a change, you’ll need to give yourself permission to let go of this stage of your baby’s life and move on to a different phase in your relationship. There will be lots of time to hug, cuddle, and love your little one, but you must truly feel ready to move those moments out of your sleeping time and into the light of day.

Worry About Your Baby’s Safety
We parents worry about our babies, and we should! With every night waking, as we have been tending to our child’s nightly needs, we have also been reassured that our baby is doing fine – every hour or two all night long. We get used to these checks; they provide continual reassurance of Baby’s safety.

“The first time my baby slept five straight hours, I woke up in a cold sweat. I nearly fell out of bed and ran down the hall. I was so sure that something was horribly wrong. I nearly wept when I found her sleeping peacefully.” …Azza, mother of seven-month-old Laila

Co-sleeping parents are not exempt from these fears. Even if you are sleeping right next to your baby, you’ll find that you have become used to checking on her frequently through the night. Even when she’s sleeping longer stretches, you aren’t sleeping, because you’re still on security duty. These are very normal worries, rooted in your natural instincts to protect your baby. Therefore, for you to allow your baby to sleep for longer stretches, you’ll need to find ways to feel confident that your baby is safe-all night long. Once you reassure yourself that your baby is safe while you sleep, you’ll have taken that first step toward helping her sleep all night.

Belief That Things Will Change on Their Own
You may hope, pray, and wish that one fine night, your baby will magically begin to sleep through the night. Maybe you’re crossing your fingers that he’ll just “outgrow” this stage, and you won’t have to do anything different at all. It’s a very rare night-waking baby who suddenly decides to sleep through the night all on his own. Granted, this may happen to you-but your baby may be two, three or four years old when it does! Decide now whether you have the patience to wait that long, or if you are ready to gently move the process along.

Too Fatigued to Work Toward Change
Change requires effort, and effort requires energy. In an exhausted state, we may find it easier just to keep things as they are than try something different. In other words, when Baby wakes for the fifth time that night, and I’m desperate for sleep, it’s so much easier just to resort to the easiest way to get him back to sleep (rock, nurse, or replace the pacifier) than it is to try something different. Only a parent who is truly sleep deprived can understand what I’m saying here. Others may calmly advise, “Well if things aren’t working for you, just change what you’re doing.” However, every night waking puts you in that foggy state where the only thing you crave is going back to sleep-plans and ideas seem like too much effort.

If you are to help your baby sleep all night, you will have to force yourself to make some changes and follow your plan, even in the middle of the night, even if it’s the tenth time your baby has called out for you. So, after reading this section and you’re sure you and your baby are ready, it’s time for you to make a commitment to change. That is the first important step to helping your baby sleep through the night.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No Cry Sleep Solution Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002 Website: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth

Dealing with Unwanted Parenting Advice

By Elizabeth Pantley
Author of Gentle Baby Care

“Help! I’m getting so frustrated with the endless stream of advice I get from my mother-in-law and brother! No matter what I do, I’m doing it wrong. I love them both, but how do I get them to stop dispensing all this unwanted advice?”

Just as your baby is an important part of your life, he is also important to others. People who care about your baby are bonded to you and your child in a special way that invites their counsel. Knowing this may give you a reason to handle the interference gently, in a way that leaves everyone’s feelings intact.

Regardless of the advice, it is your baby, and in the end, you will raise your child the way that you think best. So it’s rarely worth creating a war over a well-meaning person’s comments. You can respond to unwanted advice in a variety of ways:

Listen first
It’s natural to be defensive if you feel that someone is judging you; but chances are you are not being criticized; rather, the other person is sharing what they feel to be valuable insight. Try to listen – you may just learn something valuable.

Disregard
If you know that there is no convincing the other person to change her mind, simply smile, nod, and make a non-committal response, such as, “Interesting!” Then go about your own business…your way.

Agree
You might find one part of the advice that you agree with. If you can, provide wholehearted agreement on that topic.

Pick your battles
If your mother-in-law insists that Baby wear a hat on your walk to the park, go ahead and pop one on his head. This won’t have any long-term effects except that of placating her. However, don’t capitulate on issues that are important to you or the health or well-being of your child.

Steer clear of the topic
If your brother is pressuring you to let your baby cry to sleep, but you would never do that, then don’t complain to him about your baby getting you up five times the night before. If he brings up the topic, then distraction is definitely in order, such as, “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

Educate yourself
Knowledge is power; protect yourself and your sanity by reading up on your parenting choices. Rely on the confidence that you are doing your best for your baby.

Educate the other person
If your “teacher” is imparting information that you know to be outdated or wrong, share what you’ve learned on the topic. You may be able to open the other person’s mind. Refer to a study, book, or report that you have read.

Quote a doctor
Many people accept a point of view if a professional has validated it. If your own pediatrician agrees with your position, say, “My doctor said to wait until she’s at least six months before starting solids.” If your own doctor doesn’t back your view on that issue, then refer to another doctor – perhaps the author of a baby care book.

Be vague
You can avoid confrontation with an elusive response. For example, if your sister asks if you’ve started potty training yet (but you are many months away from even starting the process), you can answer with, “We’re moving in that direction.”

Ask for advice!
Your friendly counselor is possibly an expert on a few issues that you can agree on. Search out these points and invite guidance. She’ll be happy that she is helping you, and you’ll be happy you have a way to avoid a showdown about topics that you don’t agree on.

Memorize a standard response
Here’s a comment that can be said in response to almost any piece of advice: “This may not be the right way for you, but it’s the right way for me.”

Be honest
Try being honest about your feelings. Pick a time free of distractions and choose your words carefully, such as, “I know how much you love Harry, and I’m glad you spend so much time with him. I know you think you’re helping me when you give me advice about this, but I’m comfortable with my own approach, and I’d really appreciate if you’d understand that.”

Find a mediator
If the situation is putting a strain on your relationship with the advice-giver, you may want to ask another person to step in for you.

Search out like-minded friends
Join a support group or on-line club with people who share your parenting philosophies. Talking with others who are raising their babies in a way that is similar to your own can give you the strength to face people who don’t understand your viewpoints.

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
Reprinted with permission.

Grow a Successful Child

by Colleen Langenfeld

As parents, we all want to grow happy, healthy children. Unfortunately, parenting does not come with a guarantee, but there are some practical guidelines we can follow that will point our children in the right direction. Here are the suggestions our family has used in our continuing goal of raising six confident, competent adults (four children and two parents!).

We’re in this for the long haul.

As a parent, we are given a long-time perspective just by giving birth. The future stretches out l-o-n-g and fearful in front of us. But kids have no such perspective. Teaching them about cause and effect, in other words, consequences, can help them understand that their thoughts, words and actions, big and small, have meaning and future impact.

We’re in this together.

Children are astonishingly selfish, but often not intentionally so. It’s just the human condition. Part of parenting is to provide them with opportunities to be around others who are different than they are. Encouraging them (and participating with them) to help others will show them that we all must get along with each other and it’s not necessary for us all to be the same. The ability to make and maintain friendships is not just fun, it’s vital.

Stability.

Everyone needs stability…not to be confused with a rut! Stability means you can generally count on the people and situations around you, while understanding that life doesn’t hand out guarantees. Stability usually comes from the parents, who can only provide as much stability as they currently have themselves. In other words, if your marriage is on shaky ground, it’s going to be very difficult to provide the stability your children need. That is why it’s often said that the best thing a man can do for his kids is to love their mother. And vice versa.

Life is hard.

This is a fact and our children need to hear it from us first. However, it’s a difficult fact and if we as adults are struggling with this reality, we’re going to find it impossible to share it with our kids. The funny thing is, though, that children can often receive difficult facts easier than we can. All of our children are bright and observant in their own ways, so the truth is that they already know a lot about how life works; they just need help articulating and integrating it. That’s where we come in as parents. Provide your children with fascinating stories of inspiring people who have overcome great obstacles and made a difference in our world. After all, it’s easy to FEEL life is bad; the challenge is to DECIDE that life is good!

Control.

Once we get hold of the truth that life is difficult, the issue of control takes on new meaning. How much control do we really have over our lives? What does that control look like? Often, these are personal questions to be wrestled with, but psychiatrists generally tell us that an internal locus of control is necessary for healthy mental and emotional development. That means that we need to believe we are able to exert a certain amount of control over our lives. This leads us to….

Tools.

As parents, we can introduce a variety of tools to our children as they grow. We exercise control over our lives and build a bright future for ourselves to the extent that we believe such a thing is possible. A strong grounding in the tools available to do that will take our children a long way. Goal-setting, life planning, self-discipline, high expectations, and spiritual development are all effective tools that require practice and guidance to be the life-long habits that will benefit our children the most.

The Five R’s.

We all know about the importance of academics in our children’s future. Reading, writing and ‘rithmetic (math) along with other academics will give our children a strong foundation for the future. However, if we stop there we’ve only developed part of a human being. Respect and responsibility go hand in hand with academics to raise a child who is not only smart, but also able to work productively and happily with the people around him and honestly like himself, too.

Balance.

Ideally, life shouldn’t be too hard or too easy. Ideally. As parents, we can sometimes structure the microcosm of our homes to fill out those places our children need to work on. Appropriate challenges are vital to growing in maturity, but the overwhelmed child stops growing and quits. As long as your children know you are watching over them constantly and that you genuinely care for them, they will usually handle life’s jostling amazingly well. Teach them to study hard, work hard, play hard and rest hard. Raising our children will always have its share of frustrating obstacles and exhilarating peaks. It’s the one job that we cannot go back and do over, so the stakes are high. And the rewards…fantastic!

Colleen Langenfeld delivers deals, tips and creative resources to working moms who want the most out of their homes, families and careers at http://www.paintedgold.com . Sign up for our free newsletter and get an online Creativity Toolkit as our gift to you!