Archives for June 2013

10 Ways to Avoid Spoiling Your Toddler

cleaninggirlThe vast majority of books in the Parenting section of your local book store will insist that it’s impossible to spoil a baby by cuddling him, holding him and soothing him when he cries. Any parent will tell you, however, that it is absolutely possible to spoil a toddler. These ten tips can help you avoid the power struggles and temper tantrums that come with a spoiled toddler and that can intensify as kids get older.

  • Be Consistent – Your toddler will test your patience and push boundaries that you’ve established on a daily basis, but it’s essential that you maintain consistency. It’s difficult, if not impossible, for most toddlers to understand one-time exceptions to the rules. Rather than confusing her by outlawing a certain type of behavior one day and then allowing it the next, make sure that you stay consistent.
  • Stay Calm – Before you have children, the idea of losing your patience and getting into a shouting match with a toddler seems ludicrous. When your little angel reaches the oft-bemoaned “terrible twos,” however, it becomes more understandable. Regardless of how much your child may try your patience, it’s important to stay calm. Dispassionate reiterations of the rules drive them home, but a spirited argument only opens the doors for more power struggles down the road.
  • Set Boundaries and Maintain Them – Your child can’t behave the way you expect if she’s not privy to those expectations, which is why it’s so important for parents to set boundaries with their children early and maintain them. A child that doesn’t know what’s expected of her behaviorally isn’t spoiled, she’s confused!
  • Assign Chores – Even at the toddler stage, your child is capable of managing a short list of household tasks. Whether she’s helping to put away her own laundry or wiping up her own spills, you’re instilling a sense of responsibility into your little one that will be much more difficult to foster when she’s older.
  • Make Limits Clear and Easy for Kids to Understand – As an adult, the rules of socially acceptable behavior are often complex and intricate. Little brains aren’t quite capable of managing that tangled web, though, so make sure that you keep your boundaries simple and easy for your toddler to understand.
  • Realize That It’s Okay to Disappoint Your Kids – When your toddler doesn’t get the candy she’s screaming for or the new toy she so desperately desires, she’s not being deprived or abused. Giving into her tantrums, however, sends her the message that a tantrum is an effective and viable way of getting what she wants. Realizing that it’s okay to say no from time to time is an essential part of parenting, and of avoiding spoiled child syndrome.
  • Establish a Routine – Kids need routine in order to thrive. A toddler with no set bedtime or meal times who simply does as she pleases when the mood strikes her will continue to think that your household moves according to her whims. Setting a routine and making a concerted effort to stick to it lends a sense of reliability and security to your little one’s life, something she needs very much.
  • Don’t Make Empty Threats – If you’re not prepared to turn the car around, abandon your cart in the grocery store or box up your food in a restaurant, don’t issue empty threats to that effect. Even as a toddler, your child needs to know that there are certain consequences for bad behavior.
  • Share Your Expectations – Before heading out to the store or sitting down for a nice meal in a restaurant, have a clear and concise talk with your toddler about what is and is not acceptable behavior. Failure to share those expectations or to enforce the rules governing her behavior sends your child the message that good behavior is optional, which isn’t a precedent you want to set.
  • Limit Financial Indulgences – As a parent, you want to give your kids everything their hearts desire to ensure that they have a happy, fulfilled childhood. However, constantly giving in to kids’ request for material purchases is one of the fastest and most reliable methods of ensuring a spoiled sense of entitlement as they get older.

While making the effort to avoid spoiling your child is important during the formative toddler years, it’s also important to realize that some tantrums and defiance are a natural part of her development. As your child begins to understand the concept of boundaries, she will naturally test them as a developmentally-appropriate expression of her need for a measure of independence.

How to Choose the Best Child Backpack Carrier for Your Frame

carrierIt’s no secret that babies love to be close to their caregivers, and that older infants and toddlers can sometimes need a bit of help when a trek on foot is a long one. It’s also no secret that parents and caregivers tend to need their hands free from time to time to accomplish everyday tasks. Strapping Baby to your back satisfies her urge for closeness while allowing you to retain control of your arms, making backpack baby carriers a good option. However, not all carriers are necessarily created equal. Before you choose a backpack baby carrier, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.

Look for Adjustable Features

Because everybody is different, a backpack carrier that fits one person may be hopelessly ill-fitted to another. While you’ll want to consider the height and shape of any carrier before you buy it to ensure that they work with the proportions of your body, it’s also important to look for adjustable features. Suspension systems, hip belts and shoulder straps should all be adjustable so that they’re as comfortable as possible.

Consider Buying Two Separate Carriers

When the budget is tight, springing for two separate backpack carriers can seem frivolous. Unless you and your partner have remarkably similar builds, however, it’s not likely that the backpack that fits you will also be comfortable on their body. Rather than spending money on one backpack child carrier that doesn’t fit either of your bodies all that well, you’re likely to find that two separate ones are a better investment in the long run.

Examine the Frame

When you make a relatively large purchase, you want to make sure that you’re buying something that will last. Still, a heavy-duty frame may not be all that much more durable than a lightweight aluminum frame, and will make a noticeable difference in the way that it fits your body. Remember, you’ll be supporting the weight of both the backpack itself and your child inside of it; if you’re in possession of a particularly slight or slender build, the weight and material of the frame is worth a second look.

Focus on Your Hips

According to chiropractor and Allied Health Chiropractic Centers CEO Scott Bautch, a backpack carrier with padded hip belts is essential. Ideally, your backpack carrier should leave the majority of your child’s weight distributed around and supported by your hips. When you try on a carrier, make sure that you pay extra attention to the way it fits your hips, as well as how comfortable it is in that area.

Know The Length of Your Torso

Manufacturers of most high-end child backpack carriers optimize their products for a specific height range. If you’re too small-statured for your chosen model or you tower over the intended height limit, the carrier simply won’t fit properly. Take the measurements of your height and torso length into consideration before making your purchase, and look for models that are designed around those measurements.

Consider Your Needs

Large, cumbersome backpacks intended for hiking and other outdoor adventures may simply not be comfortable or manageable enough for everyday use. Similarly, a compact and lightweight backpack carrier designed for casual, everyday use may quickly become uncomfortable on a long trek. Think about what you’ll be using the pack for and what type is best suited to your planned usage before springing for one, as an improperly-suited backpack carrier can be just as uncomfortable as an ill-fitting one under the right circumstances.

Your child backpack carrier can be a great investment, as they’ll typically carry kids for a few years at a minimum. Even if you don’t plan on any more additions to the family, investing in a high-quality carrier that fits properly and is comfortable will make you less reluctant to use it, meaning that you’re more likely to get your money’s worth out of an expensive carrier you use all the time rather than a cheap one you rarely strap into.

5 Myths Many First Time Moms Believe

newbornFew experiences in life are as rewarding and as exciting as becoming a new mom for the first time. It’s also an incredibly mysterious time, as every bit of advice, both solicited and unsolicited, seems to contradict the next. Much of parenting is based upon your own personal style and philosophies, but there are also a few widespread parenting myths that are so accepted amongst new and old moms alike that they’re rarely questioned. Before you start worrying about your performance as a parent or concerning yourself with things that simply aren’t happening, it’s best to apprise yourself of old wives’ tales that have little merit.

  • Your “Motherly Instincts” Will Kick Right In – Many an expectant mother has been reassured by the people around her that the bewilderment she feels will somehow magically disappear the moment a newborn is placed in her arms. The truth of the matter is that you will probably leave the hospital only marginally more comfortable than you were before you went in, and that you will almost certainly never feel like you have all the answers. Very few moms are “instinctively” able to decipher every whimper or cry their babies make, so don’t beat yourself up if these promises don’t come true. Just like most things in life, true expertise comes with experience, not as a result of sudden knowledge imparted by postpartum hormonal changes.
  • You’ll Just Know How to Breastfeed – Yes, breastfeeding is the most natural and healthy way to feed your new baby. That being said, it’s also one of those things that people swear will come effortlessly to a new mother despite the fact that it’s simply not true. There’s a reason why lactation consultants, dedicated support groups and blogs exist solely to cater to breastfeeding assistance: it’s not always so easy! Your baby may have trouble latching, you may need coaching on proper positioning and it may still not work out in your favor. You haven’t failed if your plans to breastfeed don’t come to fruition, and it’s not a sign that your maternal instincts are somehow lacking.
  • Your Baby Will be the Most Beautiful Thing You’ve Ever Seen – When you look at your baby for the first time, you may be completely besotted. That doesn’t mean, however, that she’ll necessarily be beautiful. Birth is difficult business, and it often shows when a baby’s brand new. She may be discolored, she may have a misshapen head from a rough delivery and she may even have acne.
  • You’ll Have Your Old Body Back in No Time – Creating a person takes a toll on your body, and it will show after the birth. Everything from breastfeeding to a scheduled cesarean section is said to be the solution to losing baby weight and getting back into shape quickly, but the truth is that every human body is different. Your best friend might snap back from pregnancy in no time, and you may still be struggling to get back to your old body when your little one starts elementary school. In all likelihood, you’ll never look exactly the way you did before you became pregnant, and it’s not necessarily a reflection on your level of discipline or the amount of effort you’ve put in to losing weight.
  • It’s Just the “Baby Blues” – Postpartum depression is a very real and potentially debilitating condition, and even though it’s openly discussed by celebrity moms and parenting experts, many new moms still believe that what they’re feeling is a simple case of the “baby blues.” Knowing the difference between hormonally-charged mood shifts and bona fide postpartum depression isn’t always easy, which is why it’s important to discuss any concerns you’re feeling with a medical professional.

Make sure that you address any questions or worries that you have about parenting advice you’ve received with your baby’s pediatrician or your obstetrician before starting to panic. More often than not, they’ll be able to debunk a myth quickly and authoritatively, leaving you reassured and better informed than you were when you arrived.

How Nannies Can Support Breastfeeding Mothers Who Are Returning to Work

As more and more healthcare providers and baby care experts, including the World Health Organization, espouse the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, new moms preparing for a return to work are faced with an additional worry. Hiring a nanny who is both eager to and capable of supporting breastfeeding is the ultimate goal of many new moms, which makes breastfeeding support an important skill for nannies to nurture.

Respect Mom’s Wishes

It’s uncomfortable for most moms to acknowledge, and generally impossible for a nanny to point out, but many childcare providers are actually more experienced and knowledgeable about parenting than their employees. That means that even if you understand that nipple confusion is largely considered to be a myth and that use of a pacifier is actually recommended as a valid means of helping to reduce the likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, you must respect the wishes of your breastfeeding employer. If she genuinely worries about nipple confusion potentially interfering with her ability to breastfeed, it’s important to respect her wishes completely by keeping that pacifier out of Baby’s mouth.

Encourage Her to Take Advantage of Affordable Care Act Amenities

Despite political affiliation or your personal beliefs regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the fact remains that parts of it have been implemented and that employer support of breastfeeding mothers is among the new mandates. If your employer’s workplace is compliant and offers facilities for her to privately express breast milk, encourage her to take advantage of them. Offer to pick up expressed breast milk so that your employer doesn’t have to worry about proper storage, and make sure that she’s equipped with everything that she needs to pump during her work day.

Understand the Fundamentals of Breastfeeding

If you’re not a parent or chose not to breastfeed your children, breastfeeding and breastfeeding support may actually be areas in which you’re not quite up to the educational par. Taking the time to understand the basics of pumping, storage and bottle-feeding the breastfed child can make a real difference in both the satisfaction of the family you’re working for and your ability to support a new mom as she learns the ropes of parenthood, breastfeeding and managing a career. Familiarizing yourself with the proper methods of storing and preparing stored milk is essential for today’s nanny, as is a basic understanding of the nutritional needs of a breastfed baby. Compared to their formula-fed brethren, breast-fed babies often require less per feeding and have less frequent bowel movements. Breast milk will differ in appearance from formula or cow’s milk, can be frozen for storage and has its own food safety requirements. Having a fundamental understanding of these basic tenets will make it much easier for a nanny to support her breastfeeding employer.

Work Out a Feasible Feeding Schedule

For many breastfeeding moms, the act of nursing is about bonding and spending time with their infant as much as providing him with sustenance. That’s why it’s important for nannies to avoid feeding an infant in the moments leading up to Mom’s return from work. After being separated from her new baby all day, she will probably be ready to nurse. While it goes without saying that you won’t want to deprive a growing newborn of the food he needs, it’s best to soothe a fussy baby if Mom’s due to return home within the next half-hour.

Keep a Feeding Log

In order to ensure that a breastfed baby is receiving the nutrition he needs when he’s being fed by several different people, it’s important to maintain and update a feeding log. Make sure that you record the times of each feeding, the amount of breast milk he takes at each session and any regurgitation that occurs. By recording this data and making sure that your mom boss is on the same page, you’re helping her to keep track of this important information while also showing that you’re both part of a team that’s dedicated to ensuring that your charge grows up strong and healthy.