December 22, 2014

The facts about thumb sucking

Why babies suck their thumbs. For the most part, babies suck their thumb to soothe themselves. It starts in the womb and is natural and instinctive for babies.

Is sucking the thumb a bad thing? When a baby sucks its thumb it is good because they need to learn how to rely on their own resources. The ability to regulate or control your own behavior and emotions is an important developmental challenge. When an infant sucks its thumb, it is finding ways to make itself feel better without outside help.

You don’t have to stop your child from sucking her thumb right now. Usually, thumb-sucking is more irritating to parents than it is harmful to kids. Your baby will stop when they are ready and has developed other ways of soothing them self.

Why Toddlers suck their thumb. Toddlers suck their thumbs because it’s comforting and calming. Your toddler probably practiced this habit while they were still in the womb and perfected it as an infant. Now your child may turn to his or her thumb when they are tired, scared, bored, sick, or trying to adjust to challenges such as starting preschool or going on a long car ride.

So what can you do about a toddler thumb sucker:

Let it go. Even if you really hate that your child sucks their thumb, nagging or punishing them won’t help. They usually don’t even realize when they are sucking their thumb. Besides, pressuring your child to stop sucking their thumb may intensify their desire to do it even more.

Some parents try to make it less desirable for the child by using techniques such as putting an elastic bandage on the thumb, or a wire cage. However, to the child this will seem like unjust punishment, especially since they indulges in the habit for comfort and security. So your best option is to try to wait it out. Children usually give up thumb-sucking when they’ve found other ways to calm and comfort themselves. For example, while a toddler who’s hungry may suck their thumb, an older child (age 3 or 4) might simply open the refrigerator and look for something to eat or ask their parents for a snack instead.

If by age 5 or 6 it continues to be a problem, then you can take other measures.

Don’t worry. The American Dental Association says most children can safely suck their thumb until their permanent teeth begin to appear. Safely means that it can be done without damaging the alignment of their teeth or jaws. (Permanent teeth don’t usually erupt until around age 6.) However, not all children’s thumb-sucking is equally damaging. The intensity of the sucking and the tongue’s thrust is what deforms teeth and makes braces necessary later. Children who rest their thumb passively in their mouth are less likely to have difficulty than children who suck aggressively. Watch your child and analyze his technique. If he sucks vigorously, you may want to begin curbing his habit earlier, say at age 4.

If your child’s thumb becomes red and chapped from sucking, you can try applying a moisturizing ointment, cream, or lotion while they are sleeping.
Preempt the thumb-sucking with other activities. If you can identify times and places when your child is particularly likely to suck their thumb — while watching television, for example — you can give them an alternative, like give them crayons and paper, a rubber ball to bounce or puppets to play with. If your child turns to it when they are frustrated, help them put their feelings into words. The key is to notice when and where sucking occurs, and divert the attention by offering an alternative.

Should we use a pacifier or not?

When it comes to the topic of pacifiers there is a lot of myth and not as much truth. Many say the pacifier is a horrible thing to get your child stuck on. Others say it ruins teeth, others say it creates dependence etc. So how can you know what you should do?

Well let’s address the benefits and the uses, as well as the concerns of using pacifiers so that you can make an educated decision about whether or not you should use a pacifier:

Whether or not you choose to use a pacifier is really up to you and your baby, so let your baby be your guide.

Why a pacifier?

Babies love to suck, it has been said that it is an inborn trait, or a natural phenomenon that helps them survive — they’ve even been photographed sucking their thumbs in the uterus. A baby who seems to want to nurse or consume another bottle after he/she’s just been fed may need something else to suck on. Believe it or not, often times a baby is not actually hungry, but sucking is soothing, so they want to suck. Many parents overfeed their children by thinking that the baby must be starving, and that food is the answer because it soothes them. A pacifier may satisfy him or her just as easily, or you can help the baby to find its thumb.

Are they the only answer?

Pacifiers can soothe a fussy baby, but often reading, singing, or cuddling the baby will work just as well. However, a pacifier is a simple answer and one that even hospital nurseries use because they do not have enough staff to read to, sing to, or cuddle every baby that needs soothing. If you don’t want your newborn to have a pacifier in the nursery, alert the staff in advance. However, you should know that a day or two of use in the hospital won’t hook your baby on pacifiers, it simply makes sense not to introduce something you aren’t going to use at home.

What is wrong with pacifiers?

Some parents don’t like the thought of having a 3-year-old walking around with a “binky” in their mouth. However, what parents often do not realize, or take into account is that if used judiciously, and only when your baby really needs it, your child is unlikely to become overly dependent on a pacifier. So, if your older child still wants a pacifier, it is not the pacifiers fault as much as it is yours for creating that dependence.

How do you avoid creating that dependence?

If you’ve fed, burped, cuddled, rocked, and played with your baby, and the baby still seems to be fussing, go ahead and try using a pacifier. If used intelligently, and not as a substitute for nurturing, there is nothing wrong with offering your baby a pacifier. But they should be used for your baby’s benefit, not yours. Always ask yourself, am I doing this for me? Or for the baby? If you find yourself sticking a pacifier in your baby’s mouth so that you can finish up what you are working on then you will later find a child who can only be comforted with a pacifier, even when they are three or five years old.

Do pacifiers really interfere with the development of a baby’s mouth and teeth?

It’s unlikely that your child will continue sucking his or her pacifier well into the childhood years, when it might threaten proper dental development. So, while many claim that pacifiers ruin mouths it is not a likely scenario. This is because during the years your child is likely to be using a pacifier, she only has his or her baby teeth; permanent teeth generally don’t start appearing until around age 5 or 6. So, if you can use the pacifier wisely, and not create that dependence, therefore wean your child from it before their permanent teeth start to come in you should be fine.

What every new mom should know about diaper rash

It is very important for a new mom, before leaving the hospital, to find out all the basic information she can to care for her newborn baby. She must discuss with her doctor and the baby’s pediatrician about any concerns or worries she may have. This is especially essential for new moms when everything is new to them.

Diaper rash is generally caused by heat and skin irritations from urine or stool. A newborn baby’s diaper must be checked every so often at least every two to three hours. This is because of a baby’s sensitive skin and that you want to reduce the moisture against the skin to prevent diaper rash. You want to keep the baby’s bottom dry and clean at all times. You will want to change your baby as soon as possible after each wetting or bowel movement.

Some babies are more likely to have diaper rash than others. In this situation, you may want to leave your baby’s diaper off part of the time to air dry the infected area. Remember to place your baby on a waterproof sheet to protect the area he occupies. Furthermore, make sure that your baby is kept warm while he’s off the diaper to avoid catching a cold. If your baby is wearing cloth diapers, it will be extremely helpful if you switch them to disposable ones.

Babies have very sensitive, soft and smooth skin and using regular adult soap can dry and irritate your baby’s skin. You can find lots of different types of baby soap and shampoos at your local grocery store that is very suitable to use for your newborn baby. After your baby has a bowel movement, make sure to clean the bottom area very well using warm plain water. Next, dry it thoroughly with a soft towel, then apply a diaper rash ointment on it. This process will ease the irritation on the baby’s bottom skin, and a clean and dry diaper will have your baby smile with contentment. Now, if his bowel movement is very messy and the infected area looks painful, fill up the sink or the baby tub with warm water and soak and clean his bottom that way. This quick process will ensure the cleanness and the comfort of your baby.

Sometimes the diaper brand your baby wears may not be suitable for him. You may want to upgrade the kind of diapers he wears to the more expensive brand that offer better moisture absorption and leakage retention. Using a diaper rash ointment is also a great idea to use on your baby’s infected area after he’s cleaned and thoroughly dry. The diaper rash ointment helps prevent moisture from coming in contact with the skin and allowing the infected area to heal faster. If the affected area doesn’t clear up after a while, you need to call your pediatrician and talk to him about some of your options. He may need to prescribe something stronger and better depending on the severity of your baby’s infected bottom area. What your baby eats, whether it’s the bottle formula milk you give him or the solid foods, can cause diaper rash. Babies simply can‘t escape from having a diaper rash now and then.

Having a diaper rash is basically normal with babies. There are however lots of ways you can prevent or limit the spread of diaper rash. You can always expect to have, from time to time the rash come back. Simply make sure you change your baby’s diapers often, that you clean his bottom very well with wipes or with a soft wet warm towel, that you dry the area thoroughly and if there is an infection that you treat the infected area with a diaper rash ointment.

Baby gear most moms don’t want to live without

Babies mean lots of stuff, and the stuff you can choose from seems endless. So how do you sort through the mounds of things to buy for baby?

To decide what the best things to buy for baby are, you will want to see what other mothers have said they just can’t live without. Of course, every baby is different, but most babies need similar gear. Here are some of the top favorites:

Pacifiers: Babies love to suck. In fact, many first time moms complain about feeding their baby all day long, and complain that right after they feed their baby that he or she is hungry again. The fact is that many babies who want to eat again right after feeding really just want to suck. It is very comforting to them. So, top of your baby gear list should be pacifiers.

Infant swing: Most parents either can’t live without the swing, or hardly ever use it. This depends on the baby. For many babies the soothing side to side or back and forth motions are very calming. Some parents have found it is a great way to get a cranky baby to settle down, or to go to sleep.

Bouncy seat: Much like the swing, a bouncy seat can be a gift from god, or rarely used. It gives the baby a place to perch where they can see the world, and get jiggled and soothed at the same time.

Sound machine: This is especially helpful if your baby is a light sleeper. What it does is it makes background noise in their room, so that they hear the sound of waves crashing or rain falling, etc. These soft sounds are very soothing to babies and can help to get them to sleep.

Baby monitor: A baby monitor is a must have for many mom’s because it allows them to feel safe and content that their baby is doing alright when he or she is asleep. It means you can shut the door to their room, but hear when they wake up no matter where you are in the house. There are video monitors, high tech wireless monitors, etc. it really does not matter what kind you get as long as it helps you feel secure.

Nightlight: As silly as it sounds many new moms have found a nightlight to be extremely helpful, and would not do without one. Why? Well a nightlight can mean that you get through feedings and changing at night without having to turn on the brighter, harsher lights. This means the baby will fall asleep and stay asleep better.

Stroller: This is one item of baby gear most moms swear that everyone should buy. Why? Because even though your baby only weights 7 lbs or so, after walking around the store for ten minutes or so they get heavy. What about when you want to take a walk? Or what about the times you need your hands free? A stroller is an essential baby gear item.

There are many other things moms swear by, from changing tables to mobiles. The fact is there is a ton of baby gear out there, and the cost really starts to add up. So, wait until you have your baby to buy most of it, just put some money aside. Then, borrow for a few days to see if your baby will even like the item before you go out and purchase one.

Baby gear for transportation

There is a lot more to baby gear for transportation then just strollers and car seats. This does not mean there is a ton of gear you need beyond that, just that you need to put some thought into the gear you do choose. Let’s take a look at this:

First let’s talk about strollers:

You will probably need a couple of strollers, or at least a stroller that can do a few things. For example, for a newborn, you’ll want a stroller that reclines to almost flat. This means you can buy a stroller that reclines for when they are newborn, and another that does not recline as much for later. Babies shouldn’t be propped upright for long, until they’re about 3 months old or until they’ve developed stronger neck muscles.

Another thing you want to consider is the wheels. If you’re shopping for a new stroller, look for wide wheels. This makes steering easier, and usually means the wheels are going to last longer.

With strollers, as a newborn you may not be strapping your baby in, but any mother with a toddler knows that if you do not strap in, they do not stay in. However, kids change sizes, so be sure to look for a stroller with adjustable straps.

Beyond all the extras, like cup holders, and canopies, it is most important to find a stroller that is easy to steer. Easy steering is going to be key in your life. If your stroller is hard to push and steer, or takes a lot of energy to keep on course, to take turns with, or to maneuver through the mall or wherever it is that you are going, you won’t use it. Not using means wasted money. So, stick your child in the stroller and go for a roll around the store, and make sure that it works right for you. Test before you buy so that you are not unhappy later.

Now let’s look at car seats:

U.S. law requires that your child sit in a car seat while riding in any car. Your nurse at the hospital will make sure your baby is strapped in right and tight before they will let you leave the hospital. Obviously, you start out with an infant car seat, but at some point, your baby will grow out of it. So, what to think about when buying car seats includes the following.

How many times do you want to buy a car seat? You can get one of two different types of car seats when you have an infant. You can get an infant seat that works up until 20 pounds and is rear facing, or you can buy a convertible seat, which can face rear or front, designed to be used by both babies and older children.

With car seats consider having a base it locks into that can stay in the car so that you do not have to do up the seat belt each time. If you drive more than one car, look for one that has additional bases available.

Consider the straps. You can either get 3-point or 5-point straps with a car seat. The 5-point are safer, but many find the 3-point to be easier.

Other transportation gear is unnecessary unless your lifestyle deems it needed. You can get backpacks that carry babies if you are going to be outdoors a lot in areas unfit for strollers, such as hiking. You can get jogging strollers that come with larger wheels for running. There are a lot of options out there, but the basics needed are a good car seat, and a good stroller.

How to choose a name for your baby

baby names

Choosing a baby name is a lot of fun, but there are a lot of names out there and it can be difficult to choose one. There are thousands of names to choose from. So, what can you do to ensure that they name you leave your child with for the rest of their life is not only appropriate, but also something that you will love and that they will like being called.

The following is a look at how you can choose your baby name:

First, choose it yourself. The fact is you will get plenty of suggestions from family, friends, and even people you do not know. However, it is your child, and you are the one who will be calling them the name for the rest of their life, so while listening to the suggestions, and considering them is not a bad thing, it is really okay to say no.

Second, make it a group decision. Most people find out they are pregnant between 6-12 weeks, which means typically you have another 28-34 weeks to choose a name. So, start discussing names with your partner as soon as possible. It is wise to make a list of names you like, and it is also wise to offer each spouse a veto or two so that the names one or the other hates do not end up on the possibility list.

Next, consider using tools on the internet such as baby name finders, and name meanings to help you choose a name that is meaningful to you. These tools are also great references for finding out what common names are so you do not name your child the same thing half of their class at school is named as well.

Weigh each option carefully. When thinking about names there is more to it than just liking a name. For example, you want to appease relatives, avoid things like embarrassing initials, or potentially embarrassing nicknames, etc. You want to avoid names that might provoke bad memories, or that are universally not okay, such as Sadam Hussien.

Consider sound and compatibility. For example, “Julia Gulia” like on the Wedding Singer sounds really funny, and so you want to consider how your baby’s name sounds when it’s said aloud. Is it melodious? Harsh? Too rhyming? Does it go well with your last name? A good rule of thumb is that if you have a long last name, choose a short first name, if your last name starts with a vowel, such as Adams, do not end the first name with a vowel.

Avoid names that are puns, such as Rocky Mountain, Anna Bee Good, Holly Wood, or Bud Weiser. If you have a name that could be a pun, such as the last name Daniels, do not name your child Jack. It is cute and funny for a few minutes, but let’s face it, your child will be stuck with that name.

If you have a familiar last name, consider a more unique first name. If you have a unique last name, consider a more familiar first name. This will make your child’s life easier.

Consider meaning of words. Names often hold meaning, such as Belle means beautiful, so make sure you know what their name means so that you do not label your child some way.

Ancestry, heritage, or meaningful names such as naming your child after an ancestor that has passed away, or after a best friend can be a great way to add meaning to your child’s name.

It is your child, so name them what you want, but remember, a name like Alyssa Samantha Smith gives your child the initials ASS, and some other kid is sure to point it out.

How should you handle unwanted potty training advice

child on potty chairWhen you are potty training a child, everyone and their neighbor is going to offer you advice, and most of the time, you are not going to want to hear it. Usually this is because the person does not know you or your child, you have already tried the thing they are suggesting, or you simply do not want them butting in on your job as a parent.

To handle unwanted potty training advice, you first have to ask yourself: Where is the unwanted advice coming from? If it is from a stranger, then your approach for handling it can be far different then if it is from a relative. For example, if you simply ignore the advice offered by the lady in the grocery check out line, you will be fine because the chances of you seeing them again are slim. However, if you ignore the advice from your mother-in-law you then have given her permission to give you advice whenever she wants. In addition to that, you may have to deal with the fall out of not following her advice. So, first determine if the person or place the unwanted advice is coming from is going to be a one-time irritant, or a continuous problem.

If you decide the unwanted advice is from someone you rarely see or talk to, your best solution for handling it is simply say, “Thanks for your input.” And leave it at that. That is not a commitment to try what they suggest, and it is not a snub either. That way you leave them feeling fine, and you ignore what they say.

If it is from someone that you will see often, and will be uncomfortable around due to the unsolicited advice, it is always best to help them understand how you feel, and why. One great suggestion is to explain to them that you are taking a “child centered” approach to potty training. This means that your approach is one where you wait for your child to display signs of readiness and interest before you force them to do anything potty related. One of the biggest areas of unwanted advice is that of when to potty train. This is a great way to rebuff that advice, and help the person understand that your efforts will be wasted until your child is truly interested in the process.

The next area that is most often used for potty training advice is how to do it. Some recommend a reward based system, such as bribery and treats each time they use the toilet. Others may suggest a punishment based system where you discipline your child when they choose to go in their pants, diaper, etc. instead of on the toilet. Some suggest timers, where you force your child to sit on the toilet at different intervals during the day. No matter what they suggest, if it is something you are not comfortable with, one great approach is to simply say, “We choose to parent differently.” Or you can say, “When my child is at your home, and in your care, that would be fine if you used that approach.” This means you are willing to let them try it, but you are not going to.

Lastly, if you are getting unwanted advice in front of your child, one of the easiest, and best things to do is simply ask that it is done outside your child’s hearing. Tell the person that you feel it undermines your authority as a parent, and if they can’t refrain from saying something, to please do it when your child is not around.

Helping your toddler gain some independence

child fingerpaintingIf you have a toddler, chances are you’ve heard him or her say, “I’ll do it!” more than a few times. By the time your baby reaches toddler-hood, he or she is ready to take on a number of little tasks on his or her own. Not being able to do so can cause frustration.

Giving your toddler independence will help your child develop self esteem and other life lessons that will be important at a later time. You can help your toddler gain some independence in the following ways:

Allow your toddler to make decisions.
One way you can help your toddler gain some independence is by allowing him or her to make decisions that affect him or her. For example, lay out a few different shirts in the morning and ask, “Which shirt do you want to wear today?” or, when it’s time for a bath, you can allow him or her to choose a toy or two to play with.

Encourage independence.
You can also help your toddler gain some independence by encouraging it, and there are many different ways you can go about doing so. For example, many parents will rush to their child and fuss over him if he tripped or fell down. As long as the child is not hurt, cheerfully tell him he’s ok and encourage him to get up by distracting him or her with a toy or game. This will help your child gain independence and prevent tantrums by letting him or her know you aren’t going to rush to his aid every time.

In addition, verbal praise and encouragement like, “Good job!” and “You can do it!” and “Keep going!” go a long way in helping your child gain some independence. Other ideas include letting your child pull his or her underpants up during potty training.

Make your environment toddler-friendly.
This doesn’t mean getting everything breakable out of reach; instead, arrange  your home so that it is easier for your toddler to be independent. For example, install coat pegs that are at a level your child can easily reach by himself. Or, give him Velcro shoes or clothing with large buttons that will allow him to change in and out of clothes easily. Provide step stools that allow your toddler to get up and down to brush their teeth and wash their hands.

“Help” without letting your toddler knowchild cooking
You can help your toddler gain some independence with more difficult tasks by helping in an unobtrusive manner, like making sure clothing is unbuttoned or unzipped before putting it on, or items are placed within the child’s reach so he or she can get to it without asking for help.

Let your child help you.
Children love to help, and knowing that they are “helping” around the house is another great way to encourage independence in your toddler. Simple tasks a toddler could do that will help him gain independence as well as learn responsibility include cleaning up toys when done playing with them, putting clothes in the hamper, getting items from the refrigerator for you while making dinner, and so forth.

Helping your toddler gain some independence not only helps your child’s ability to do things for himself grow, but also his or her self confidence. The above tips are just a few ways you can help your toddler gain some independence.

Helping your toddler’s brain development

All parents want to help their baby and toddler’s brain development. Nurturing them early in life is advantageous later on for a number of reasons.

There are a number of ways you can help your toddler’s brain development. The following are some of the best things you can do:

Interact with your toddler.
One of the most important ways you can help your toddler’s brain development is by interacting with him or her. You can do this in a number of ways, whether you read to him or her, play music and dance, sing together, and play together. Children who are held and touched often through interaction with their parents develop better physically and emotionally than children who are not.

Reading to your toddler is important for many different reasons. It can help your toddler’s brain development by exposing him or her to new words, letters, and sounds. Reading can help your toddler identify colors, shapes, animals, and other things. Children who are read to frequently as toddlers have better vocabularies than children who are not.

Singing to your toddler is also a good way to help with his or her brain development. Music is important in the development of the brain, and many songs can help your kids learn the alphabet and numbers.

Talking to your toddler is important for brain development as well. Tell him or her what you are doing, what you are eating, where you are going, and identify the different things you come across each day. This will help improve vocabulary and understanding.

Expose your toddler to interesting experiences.
This is another way you can help your toddler’s brain development. Interesting experiences can include trips to the zoo, aquarium, children’s museums, or other places where your toddler can be exposed to new things. This gives him or her the chance to ask questions, or see things that he or she has seen in books or on TV in person.

Provide your toddler with opportunities to learn through play. storytime
Playing is one of the best ways you can help your toddler’s brain development. And this doesn’t even have to be with toys that encourage education, such as flash cards, brain-building computer games, or educational DVDs aimed at babies and toddlers. Many studies have shown that these don’t have any significant impact on the development of a child’s brain. If your toddler enjoys these, then fine, but don’t get them for the sole purpose of boosting their brain development.

What will really help a toddler’s brain development is the opportunity to play with things they enjoy. Research has shown that the things we remember best and what our brains want to repeat are those activities that are pleasurable. There are many ways you can help boost your toddler’s brain power through play, however; for example, counting toys as you put them away, or identifying the colors of different toys. If you keep the focus on fun, the learning and brain development will naturally follow.

Know your child’s strong points.
You can help your toddler’s brain development by tuning into the things that he or she does well naturally. For example, if your child likes to talk and understands verbal things well, make your verbal interaction with him or her a little more complex. Use more adjectives or words that your child doesn’t know that he or she will pick up on easily.

These are just a few ways you can help your toddler’s brain development.

Helping multiple children sleep in the same room

children's roomRaising children is one of the most difficult things that anyone can do in life. Children are wonderful but they bring a unique set of challenges and problems with them. Each child is a gifted and marvelous individual who will challenge you in remarkable ways. It can be particularly difficult to raise children in difficult economic circumstances. I can remember coming home from a low paying job to a small house, all in order to try to get several screaming children fed and into bed. I often thought about how much easier it would be to return home to a larger house where there was room for the children to play. I thought about how much easier it would be if each child had their own room where they felt they could express themselves. Unfortunately, we did not have the money to purchase a large home until much later in life, and when we did so our children had already left the home. If you are like we were, you had particular trouble putting several young children to bed, and especially when they all slept in the same room. I have known families where as many as four or five children slept in a small room together. In most of these cases I have found the parents exhausted after a long day of work and a night spent trying to keep their children asleep. Many parents in this situation find that their children wake up with various bruises and bumps after a night of intense fighting and argument.

There are all sorts of problems that confront parents with not enough room for their children. It is extremely hard to get children to sleep in their own rooms, but especially difficult when they have their siblings present. Instead of sleeping you can continue to play, annoy, or fight with your siblings. With these sorts of opportunities the last thing your children will want to do is to be quiet and sleep for eight hours. Essentially what happens is that your children start to think of every night as a big sleepover, or atleast a chance to torture their siblings. With so many opportunities for distraction it will be especially hard for your children to get some sleep, and who can blame them. The consequences are that your children will be sleepy and might not do as well in school. The other problem is that they might keep you, your spouse, or the other children awake. So how can you fix this seemingly hopeless situation?

The first thing you need to do is to realize that you won’t get anywhere by getting angry and screaming at your children. In this case your children will simply turn their backs on you and talk when the door is closed. A far better strategy is to use a reward system to get your children to sleep on time. Promise all of them some sort of much sought after reward if they will promptly go to sleep at bed time. Another option is to put the children to sleep at slightly different times. If each child is asleep when the next one comes into the room there will be much less of a chance of a disruption. If one child is particularly disruptive focus your energy on this child and consider having them sleep in the living room. Think about the particular needs of your family and you should be able to develop a plan that will work for you and your children.