You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

When is a baby monitor too much?

baby monitor

The new Owl Monitor…is it too much?  (image from https://www.owletcare.com)

There are some baby products that I now see and think….”Wow, wish I had that when my kids were little!” I love the fact that the infant car seats pop right onto a stroller (yes, it has been a LONG time since I had an infant!) My trick of using a kitchen timer to “beat the clock” has now been replaced with a timer on a smart phone, there is now a potty training app, and I would have loved to catch some of those wonderful moments with a camera right on my phone! The baby monitor I had let me head to the back yard and still hear my little one when he or she woke up, but there was no video camera or two way communication (except when I could pick up the neighbor’s conversation from their monitor!).

Yes, there are many new modern conveniences for new parents. Some make life easier, some may not. The newest and most innovative baby monitor will soon be available for new parents. This monitor will monitor your baby’s temperature, heart rate and oxygen levels; will let you know if your baby rolls over and of course you can watch your baby breathe and sleep all via your smart phone. This monitor can do it all….including increase parental anxiety. Sometimes “peace of mind” does not come with “more monitoring”. Manufacturers often play on parental anxiety to convince parents to purchase something to “protect” their child when in actuality; there is no research which shows it is a protection. This hyper vigilance keeps parents from enjoying “what is” while they are worrying about the “what ifs”. Did you know that normal healthy babies actually have uneven breathing during REM sleep? Picking this up on a monitor may only cause more anxiety for a parent!

If something actually PREVENTS your child from an injury (think car seat, bike helmets, vaccines, back to sleep) then it is worth its weight in gold….but I am not sure this type of monitor actually prevents anything. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that these type of monitors actually don’t prevent SIDS. The best prevention against SIDS is a safe sleeping environment. In my opinion, these monitors only result in a parental need to have constant contact with a child. This results in anxiety in both the parent and the child. I often see parents who have a difficult time weaning off the monitor, even when it doesn’t make sense to use it any more. This type of constant parental vigilance will eventually send a message to your child that he is not safe making it difficult for him to step away and eventually develop confidence and independence.

There are many worries in parenting; believe me, I am a worrier and I am sure I have worried about most of them at one time or another. I also know that most of what I worry about never happens. Again, provide your child with a safe environment, do the things that actually are proven to prevent sickness and injury and then try to leave your worries behind. So, spend your dollars on car seats, swim lessons, bike helmets, well child visits and vaccines, safe cribs, and child proofing your home. Give your child good moral roots, your time, family traditions and unconditional love. These dollars and parenting strategies will actually protect your child, allow your child to explore their world, and to eventually make confident decisions in their life. This type of living allows you to revel in the “what is” not the “what ifs” of parenting.  What a great gift to give yourself and your child!  What are your thoughts?

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Don’t Wait! Vaccinate! There has been a documented case of measels in the area!

Have you heard the news?  There has been a documented case of measles in the area and there will probably be more.  How can this be?  Though we don’t see measles very much, the disease is still around.  Most of the time an outbreak can be traced to a case being “imported” in from another country.  Before the vaccine in this country, EVERYONE got the measles, mumps and rubella.  There were approximately 3 to 4 million cases diagnosed a year.   During an outbreak of measles in this country in 1989,  1 out of every 500 people diagnosed died.  It is an awful, preventable disease.

None of us like to see our children hurt, and vaccines are not  fun for our child.  Last night I worked at an immunization clinic in the area and even though I am a firm believer in vaccinating, as I gave those vaccines, the tears tugged at my heart strings.  But, I knew that those children were being protected from a disease much worse than the few moments of discomfort resulting in the tears.  So with a sticker and a small stuffed dog for each child, there were smiles after the tears and those children left protected.

Here are the most common questions parents have regarding the MMR (measles mumps rubella) vaccine.

1.  What about autism?

  • There is NO scientific link between the MMR and autism.
  • The first study that reported a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism was done by Dr. Andrew Wakefield of the Royal Free Hospital in the United Kingdom in 1998. Dr. Wakefield attempted to link the MMR with bowel problems such as Crohn’s Disease and Autism.  The study was based on 12 children.  There was no control group; the study did not identify the time period during which the cases were identified, in four of the 12 cases behavioral problems appeared before the MMR.  Ten out of 12 of Dr. Wakefield’s fellow researchers have withdrawn their support of this study. The study has been has been withdrawn.
  • There are a large number of medical and scientific studies that show no connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.  These studies have included thousands of children in many countries and were completed by many different scientists.  All of the studies were well controlled and published in well-respected journals.
  • The MMR vaccine has NEVER contained thimerosal, a preservative that many tried to link to autism.

2.  Aren’t measles, mumps and rubella harmless if my child gets the diseases?

  • Measles is a highly contagious disease spread by water droplet.  It causes a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes.
  • Measles can cause encephalitis which can lead to seizures, deafness or brain damage in 1 to 2 of every 2,000 cases.
  • In the 1989 -1990 outbreak in the U.S., there were 55,000 cases, 11.000 hospitalizations, and 123 deaths.  Most of these cases were in preschool children who were not vaccinated.
  • Mumps cause fever, headache and swelling of glands on the sides of the jaw.
  • 4 to 6 people  out of 100 who are ill with mumps will develop meningitis
  • 4 out of every 10 adult men who get the mumps may develop sterility due to inflammation of the testicles.
  • Mumps may cause hearing loss.
  • Rubella is a mild illness in children and young adults which results in rash and fever for about 3 days.
  • Rubella will cause birth defects if contracted by a pregnant mom, there is at least an 80% chance of damage to an unborn child.

3.  What is the danger of the MMR vaccine?

  • The MMR vaccine is safe and most children have no reactions.
  • About 5 to 15% of children will develop a fever 5 to 12 days later.
  • About 5% will develop a rash 1 to 2 weeks after the vaccine.
  • Central nervous system reactions such as encephalitis have been reported in less than one case per 1 million doses of the vaccine.  This is many times lower than the occurrence of serious central nervous system problems after the measles which is 1 in 800 cases.

4.  When should my child receive the MMR?

  • Your child should receive 2 doses of the MMR.  The first dose is recommended on or after the first birthday.  The 2nd dose is before entering school between age 4 and 6.
  • If your child is behind schedule, they may receive one dose of the MMR and a 2nd dose 4 weeks later.
  • 95% of those vaccinated are immune after the first dose, 99.7% are immune after the 2nd dose.

5.  What if my child has been exposed and has not been vaccinated?

  • The MMR may be effective if given in the first 3 days after exposure to measles.  More information can be found at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs.

I know there is so much information in so many different places.  It is difficult to decide what is credible and what is not.  The fact is, your child is safer and healthier when he or she is fully vaccinated.  Don’t take the risk.  We are a society that has not seen the devastating results of these preventable diseases because of vaccines.  If your child is not fully vaccinated, make that appointment today!






Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


The weekend is here! I am going to cherish it!

be present

What a great quote for me….remembering to keep my mind present in the moment is often a challenge…but when I am not I miss the gifts of each moment….

Friday is almost here again!  TGIF!  Brad and I have plans to be on a lake with all four of our kids this weekend and I am really looking forward to it. Whenever we plan a family activity there is a bit of work involved. Work has been busier than usual this week and tonight as I thought about going to the grocery, loading the car, and finishing the laundry; for a very brief moment I questioned whether I really felt like going this weekend … but only for a moment.  The years have flown quickly, and I am still trying to be “present” as much as I can in my kids’ lives, and am trying to live and enjoy every moment.  In another couple of years, this season of my life will have passed too.

As I have said before, there are only 940 Saturdays between the birth of a child and that same child leaving for college!  By age four, 208 Saturdays are gone, by ten 520.  I had never thought about time and raising children in those terms when my kids were young.  It does seem that time flies so much more quickly when you look back.  There are moments that seem eternal during parenting (the sleepless nights of infancy, the toddler challenges of potty training, the nights of homework, and challenges of curfew during those teen years) but when put in the time frame of only 940 Saturdays, well the time is so short.

I don’t say this to make you feel like you need to cram more parenting into each of your days, I say this so that you think about being truly “present” for your parenting.  Don’t just go through the motions each day or wish for what will come next; and when you find yourself doing that stop take a breath, and truly be present.  Be present when your child is eating those strained carrots, be present when your toddler is emptying the cupboard in the kitchen, be present when your school aged child is struggling with spelling, be present when your teen shares with you before bed, and be present when you get that 11:00 pm phone call or text from your college aged child.  Every stage, every challenge, every moment of chaos, every precious moment of family time is brief and fleeting.  If you are not truly present, the moments will be gone.

There is no magic way to slow down time (I wish there was), so just concentrate on this Saturday…one of those 940 Saturdays.  Don’t just go through the motions, but be present for every moment with your child.  I am going to be present this weekend with my “adult” kids and husband…and I will tuck this moment away with all the other moments I cherish.  Parenting is awesome each and every day. And by the way, every one of my kids are past those 940 Saturdays between birth and college…so I feel totally blessed to continue to be present in their lives…every moment we have as a family together is a gift.  So, no matter whether it is your 10th Saturday, 940th Saturday, or like me your 1,460th Saturday as a parent,  build your relationships and memories starting now,  be present, ENJOY…don’t wish it away.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.



How to handle separation anxiety…or how to leave with a child holding on to your leg!

Nothing worse than leaving a child screaming for you not to go…but most kids will have separation anxiety at some point!

I watched a poor Mom try to leave her toddler in the child care area of the place I work out in the other day.  The toddler was screaming, hanging on her leg, and Mom looked like she felt like the worst Mom in the world as she pried the child off her leg promising she would be back soon.  I smiled at her and said, “It is hard, but I am sure he will be happy by the time you get a ½ mile in on that treadmill.”   She peeked her head back in just a moment later (I know she couldn’t have run a 1/2 mile that fast!), and he was playing happily.   I remember that feeling of dread when I would leave especially with our 3rd daughter; she always melted down and was totally pitiful.  I remember resorting to promising all kinds of fun activities and treats when I returned.  Not sure that was the best tactic, but it helped my “Mommy guilt” a little.

Separation anxiety is a given in most children.  Some children experience greater anxiety than others, and almost all parents feel just as bad if not worse than their screaming child when they leave.  Separation anxiety can start in infancy, peak in the toddler years, and then hopefully decrease by the end of the preschool years.

  • Infants usually will not start to show separation anxiety until they develop the concept of object permanence at about 9 months of age.  Before that point, out of sight is out of  mind for an infant.
  • Toddlers will usually experience separation anxiety, even if they did not seem to experience it as an infant.  Separation anxiety will be at its peak between 18 and 24 months of age.  Toddlers will express their dislike of separation very loudly!
  • Preschoolers will start to be able to handle separation a bit more easily.  Some 3 and 4-year-olds will learn that their expression of discontent when parents leave will have an effect on Mom and Dad, and often will manipulate parents when they find out it works!


  • Always say good-bye.  It is tempting to sneak out when your child is involved in an activity.  This makes it easier on you, but harder on your child.  Sneaking out can actually increase separation anxiety in a child.  A child will start to become anxious every time he doesn’t see you fearing you have left.  Always say good-bye but keep it short and sweet, the longer the good-bye, the greater the anxiety.  Be sure that you give your child a hug, kiss and  your total attention before leaving.  Do not be multi-tasking as you say good-bye.
  • Tell your child you will return and give them a “time”.  This means “kid time”.  Tell them what time by what they will be doing.  “I will be back after you sleep.”  “I will be back after snack time.”
  • Separate often.  That is the key to getting over separation anxiety.  A child will learn that Mommy and Daddy leave, but they come back.  Separation does not have to be long, but it needs to happen enough that your child can remember the last time.  If you are a stay-at-home-Mom, you need to plan time away from your child.  It is good for you and your child.  If your child is starting daycare or preschool, practice being away and leaving your child for periods of time.

Soon your child will learn that he or she can handle the world when Mom or Dad is not always in eye view, that means you will have to learn that your child can handle the world without you too.  I am still learning that lesson.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Let’s talk toddler!

Kaitlyn was a typical toddler, she definitely had an opinion!

You wake up one day, and it is a whole new ball game.  You now have a toddler.  Toddlers are so much fun, but can also be a challenge.  We are not used to our child having an opinion, and a toddler has one and often expresses it very loudly!  Toddlers can be having a tantrum one minute and laughing the next!

Your toddler’s biggest developmental task is to start to develop independence.  Your child will begin to separate from you at times, and be very clingy at other times.  Every day and sometimes every minute,is a new adventure when you have a 1 to 3 year old!

We know that toddlers are a bundle of energy.  Everything is an adventure!  Kitchen cupboards, knobs and buttons, computers, and even the drain in the tub is interesting.  Toddlers are busy discovering and really don’t have time for naps and potty training, although both are important for toddlers!  Toddlers are free little spirits and have very little self-control, which often results in your precious child throwing himself on the floor in a fit of frustration and anger.   To better understand your toddler, there are a few principles of toddler psychology…..

  1. A toddler is developing creativity, independence, curiosity, and imagination.  The whole world is open and exciting!  Your child is not misbehaving when he smashes peas, climbs on the table, or puts his finger in a place it should not be, he is exploring.  Exploration is developmentally appropriate for your toddler!
  2. A toddler has very little self-control and tolerance to frustration.  Sometimes it is so frustrating that a puzzle piece will not fit, or he can’t climb on the counter, or you break up his cracker that he wanted whole!  Because a toddler has very few words and a limited repertoire to handle frustration, the “logical” thing for him to do is melt down, kick, cry, and let his opinion be heard by all!
  3. Toddlers want attention.  Attention is attention to a toddler, whether it is negative attention or positive attention.  As parents, we need to limit our words of explanation to a toddler.  A 2-year-old doesn’t really care if he will fall off the table, he just wants to climb on it.  You will never convince him otherwise…there will be no moment of epiphany when he understands your safety talk!  We must not reinforce behavior by giving extended attention to unwanted behavior.  Give lots of positive words to positive behavior….very few words to negative behavior.
  4. Toddlers need predictability and routine.  Your child will behave much better when there is a routine in place at home.  The amount of frustration and the number of tantrums will decrease when you establish routines and rituals.
  5. Toddlers need some sense of control.  Give your child true choices.  “Do you want the bananas or the apple sauce?”   “Do you want to wear this shirt or this one?”  “Do you want to read your story before your bath or after?”  Do not give choices when there are no true choice.  Only ask a yes or no question if you are happy with the answer being “No!”
  6. Toddler temper tantrums are a result of frustration, being overly tired, being hungry and learning that they work!

 Between 12 and 15 months your toddler should: 

  • Have tripled his or her birth weight.
  • Start to combine syllables like saying  Ma Ma and  Da Da.
  • Start walking alone.
  • Bang two objects together.
  • Like to read interactively.
  • Follow one step directions.
  • Begin to use spoon or fork.
  • Begin to limit pacifier use to the crib only.  Use during waking hours will limit speech.
  • Like to explore.
  • Begin to point.  Respond by saying the name of the object he is pointing to.
  • Take 1 to 2 naps a day and sleep 11 to 12 hours at night.  Be sure to have a good bedtime routine.

By the end of the 18th month your toddler should:

  • Be able to walk backwards, walk up steps, and kick a ball.
  • Be able to say 10 to 25 words and name 3 body parts.
  • Be able to turn pages in a book.
  • Be able to stack 2 blocks.
  • Play next to a playmate, but not with a playmate.
  • Not be able to share!  Sharing does not happen without parental guidance until about the end of the 3rd year.
  • Attach to a “lovey” if one has been encouraged.
  • Continue to love to explore.
  • Take 1 nap a day and sleep 11 to 12 hours at night.
  • Not separate easily.  Separation anxiety peaks between 18 and 24 months.
  • Know the difference between how Mom and Dad parent and play.  Many will prefer one parent over the other at times.  Toddlers cannot intentionally do things to hurt your feelings at this age.  Connecting with one parent over the other may be because your toddler is learning male and female roles, may need more nurturing from mom or more physical play from dad.  Roll with it!

By age 2 your toddler should:

  • Be able to put on simple clothing with some help.
  • Be able to stack 4 to 6 blocks.
  • Be able to combine words into at least 2 word sentences at age 2.  Your child should have a vocabulary of over 50 words and be 1/2 understandable by others.
  • To follow two-step directions.
  • Know his body parts.
  • Continue parallel play with peers.
  • Have 1 nap a day and 11-12 hours of sleep at night.
  • MAY develop fears.  Explain loud noises, show what things are, introduce new people slowly, read books about things he is afraid of, and let him handle objects that are causing fear.
  • MAY continue to have separation anxiety.  Do not leave without saying good-bye.  If he cries when you leave, remind him you will be back.  Leaving and coming back helps diminish separation anxiety.

During the 3rd year your toddler should:

  • Dress himself.
  • Stack 9-10 blocks.
  • Walk up steps using alternating feet.
  • Be able to jump, hop, walk on toes.
  • Use his imagination for play.
  • Have a large vocabulary and use 3-4 word sentences.  Speech should be 3/4 understandable to others.
  • Be able to tell stories, sing nursery rhymes.
  • Be able to sort objects by shape and color.
  • Be able to play cooperatively now and share and develop friendships.
  • Show an interest in words, numbers, and letters.  No need to force learning these, but plan activities around this interest.  Show your child his name, write it out, point out letters on signs and in books, talk about colors, shapes, and point them out in your child’s world.
  • Still sleep at least 11 hours at night and have 1 nap a day or an extended “rest time” without the TV.

 Parenting activities for toddlers include:

  • Toddler “field trips”.  Bring your toddler to museums, parks, library story times, the post office, the grocery store, fire stations, apple orchards, and play groups.
  • Play matching games, sorting games, shape and color games and puzzles.
  • Read, read, read!  Try to read 30 minutes a day broken into short time slots.
  • Encourage crayons, finger paints, and clay to develop fine muscle control for writing.  Writing on an easel or blackboard is easier for young children because larger muscles are used.
  • Encourage water play, sand or dry rice play, filling and dumping.
  • Play with puppets.
  • Allow your child to feed himself, encourage use of utensils.
  • Help to expand your toddler’s language by talking to him.  Help him finish words and sentences.  If he says “cup”, you can respond, “You want your blue cup with milk.”
  • Play pretend with your toddler.  Play kitchens, dolls, stuffed animals, trains, cars, dress up….
  • Play follow the leader with your toddler.
  • Encourage rhymes and songs.
  • Play musical instruments with your toddler.
  • Respond to wanted behaviors with positive words and ignore unwanted behaviors.  Use time outs for behaviors like hitting, biting, and shoving.

At your child’s 18 month and 24 month well child visit, your physician should be screening for signs of autism.  Red flags that a parent might see are:

  • Your child repeats words but does not try to participate in conversations.
  • Your child does not respond to his name when you say it.
  • Your child does not make eye contact with you or others.
  • Your child avoids social contact or physical touch.
  • Your child has not developed speech or is losing words rather than building a vocabulary.
  • Your child does not play with toys like his peers and does not use imaginative play.
  • Your child seems to be under sensitive or overly sensitive to stimulations such as sound, touch, and texture.

Remember, if your child is reaching developmental milestones, no worries!  Many times children will not be able to do something that is expected because they have never been encouraged or have never had the opportunity.  Be sure to provide the opportunity for your toddler to reach milestones, even if it takes longer to allow your child to complete a task, or it is messy!!  If your child is not reaching developmental milestones, contact your doctor, and refer to your state’s early intervention program.  The earlier the intervention, the better the outcome.

Important links that will help you: 

  • “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” Campaign  
    This campaign educates parents about childhood development, including early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders, and it encourages developmental screening and intervention. It will give you tips on how to determine if your child needs screening.
  • Overview of Early Intervention
    Learn more about early intervention services from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.  Find out about your state’s early intervention program and how to access it.
  • Bright FuturesExternal Web Site Icon
    Bright Futures materials for families are available for parenting tips for children from birth to 21 years of age. This is provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Developmental Surveillance and Screening GuidelinesExternal Web Site Icon
    This American Academy of Pediatrics website provides guidelines on surveillance and screening for developmental delays in children.
  • National Association for the Education of Young ChildrenExternal Web Site Icon (NAEYC)
    NAEYC provides accreditation for early childhood programs and  preschools that meet certain standards. You can search for an accredited program or preschool near you.  NAEYC also provides resources, tools, and information for parents.

Toddlers can be exhausting, but exhilarating!  Looking through your toddler’s eyes, you will learn to enjoy the small wonders of the world again.  Tie up your running shoes, you have a busy toddler!   

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Oh what a difference a year makes! Growth and Development milestones the first year.



From one day to one year, what a difference a year makes!                                                           

The first few months of my children’s lives sometimes felt like a blur.  Parents get VERY little sleep and are just trying to get to know their baby.  I can remember feeling that the first year just flew by and all of a sudden I would have a toddler on my hands!  There are so many changes that come so quickly with your baby that first year! 

During that first year, your baby is learning that he or she will be loved and cared for.  It is important to foster that development of trust.  Don’t let your baby cry for long periods of time, especially in the first 6 months.  Crying is your baby’s way of communicating.  Soon you will learn what different cries mean, like “I’m tired”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m wet”, “I need to be held”, “I am bored”….Responding to your baby’s needs helps your little one develop trust in you and the world.  You cannot spoil a baby!  Older children can be spoiled, but not infants, so just enjoy catering to their needs and loving your baby.

Growth and development should be steady and progressive.  That  is more important than comparisons with other children.  It is common for new parents to look at other babies and start to worry and compare.  Try not to compare, just know what important milestones your baby should be reaching.

How big your baby is at birth is a poor predictor about the size of your child by adulthood.  The size at birth has more to do with the conditions of uterine development.  Most children will find their growth curve and stay at that curve.  A child that is smaller than 75 percent of other babies his or her age can be perfectly healthy, that may just be the growth curve that child has.  By the end of the 2nd year, the size of your child will more truely reflect his or her adult size.

We parents know that our children are special!  However, reaching developmental milestones faster than other children does not necessarily predict your child’s intelligence.   As long as your child is reaching his or her developmental milestones on target, there are no worries!

By the end of the 2nd month your baby should:

  • Smile
  • Look at you!
  • Start to try to self soothe.  May bring hands to mouth and suck
  • Begin to smile at people
  • Start to coo
  • Turn towards sounds
  • Follow things with eyes
  • Pay attention to faces
  • Hold up head and begin to push up during tummy time

Activities for parents:

  • Talk to your baby
  • Show simple objects
  • Give your baby different looks at the world, change his or her scenery!
  • Play the silly face game, open and close your eyes, stick out your tongue etc.
  • Start the routine of a daily walk weather permitting
  • Help baby with tracking objects, babies love mobiles, shapes and movements
  • Imitate your baby’s sounds and expressions as your baby starts to learn to communicate

Your baby’s growth:

  • Growth will be about an ounce per day in the first 2 months
  • Growth will continue at about a pound a month after the first couple of months
  • Birth weight doubles by 5 months
  • Birth weight triples by one year

By the end of the 4th month your baby should:

  • Like to play and interact with you!
  • Copy some movements and even facial expressions like smiling
  • Babble even with expression
  • Cry in different ways for different needs like hunger, or being tired, or lonely
  • Reach for a toy or rattle
  • Track with eyes well side to side
  •  Be able to roll from tummy to back
  • Push up on elbows during tummy time
  • Like colors now and be drawn to them

Parent activities:

  • Continue to talk, talk, talk
  • Build reading into your daily routine
  • Respond to your baby’s coos and babbles…carry on a conversation!
  • Continue to show your baby the world!

By the end of the 6th month your baby should:

  • Recognize a familiar face and begin to have some stranger anxiety
  • Like to look at self in the mirror
  • Use vowel sounds when babbling and takes turns in a “conversation” with you!
  • Begin some consonant sounds when babbling
  • Respond when you say his or her name
  • Transfer things from hand to hand, easy to hold toys are important
  • Try to get things that are out of reach
  • Roll over in both directions
  • Sit with support
  • Like to “stand” with you holding and might bounce
  • Start to push up and may rock back and forth on hands and knees
  • Start to scoot and move arms like a swimmer
  • Sometimes show frustration if he can’t reach something he wants
  • Teething may begin with the average baby cutting their first tooth by the end of the 6th month
  • Should start the “dropping game” between 7 and 8 months (helps your baby learn object permanence)
  • Should begin clapping between 7 and 8 months

Parent activities:

  • Remember stranger anxiety starts at about 6 months and peaks at about 9 months.  This is normal.  Help your baby by gradually introducing strangers.  A stranger is someone your baby does not see everyday!  Never force a situation quickly when your baby is afraid of a new face.  Hold your baby, sit on the floor and let your baby explore with you holding him or staying near at first.
  • Start to teach finger games like “so big”, waving “bye-bye”, playing patty cake
  • Continue to read and talk to your baby
  • Make sure you are establishing routines, especially bed time and nap time routines

By the end of the 9th month your baby should:

  • Begin to have favorite toys
  • Understand the word “no”
  • Copy sounds you make and gestures you make
  • Pick up small things with thumb and index finger “pincer grasp”
  • Play peak a boo
  • Look for hidden items
  • Look where you point
  • Sit well without support
  • Start to scoot and crawl
  • Start to pull up to stand between 9 and 12 months

Parent activities:

  • Continue to play finger games like “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
  • Continue waving bye-bye
  • Build things for baby to crawl under and over
  • Let your baby play with every day objects like pots, pans, plastic containers
  • Encourage your baby to imitate your behavior like brushing hair, talking on the phone
  • Encourage pretend play with keys, phones, dolls, chunky trucks etc.
  • Play with pop up toys, a jack-in-the-box is a great way to teach object permanence
  • Play in and out games
  • Let your baby hold your fingers to walk

By the end of the 12th month your baby should:

  • Point at items
  • Pull up to stand and may walk
  • Cruise around furniture
  • Squat and stoop to pick up things
  • Throw a ball
  • Understand one step directions from you
  • Turn pages of a toddler board book
  • Look for missing objects in last seen location
  • Say Ma Ma and Da Da and maybe a few other words like ball, dog
  • Start to show fear, will cry when you leave
  • “Help” get dressed by holding out arms etc.
  • Put things in a container, takes things out, likes to dump items

Parent activities:

  • Help baby with push toys, wide based push toys that children can walk behind are fun!
  • Play games that the baby has a part in like puffing up your cheeks and letting her push the air out
  • Look at books and make up stories about the pictures
  • Teach body parts  Where is your nose?  Where is your tummy?
  • Play with musical instruments that shake and bang
  • Play music your baby loves to move and dance
 Enjoy the first year!  Your baby will grow and change more quickly than you can ever imagine.  Interact, smile, play, read to, cuddle, play music, walk, and just introduce your baby to the world!  The world is an exciting place through the eyes of a child.  Experience it with your child!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Helpful websites:




Handling your child’s tantrum effectively and lovingly

Recently I was trying to DVR a program on TV.  I am told this is simple…but as I looked at the 4 remotes we have and tried to start the process I just couldn’t make the darn remote work.  I felt the frustration level inside me begin to get to the boiling point, I put the remote(s) down firmly, sighed and groaned loudly and stomped upstairs.  I had just had an adult temper tantrum…(later I found out that the remote was not working because there were no batteries in it, someone under the age of 25 in our house used them for something else…hmmmm)

The frustration a toddler can feel is very similar.  He or she is trying to do something, wants something, or wants to express something that just isn’t happening.  Remember toddlers are long on will and short on skill.  Because they are upset, and have very little control over their little emotions, and very few words to say why, the screams, kicks, and tears begin.  So what can a parent do when a child is in the throes of a tantrum?

The most important thing a parent can remember is to stay cool.  Don’t add to the mix of frustration with your own anger.  Your frustration and anger plus your child’s will result in an exaggerated tantrum.  Take a couple of deep breaths, and stay cool.  Spanking and yelling will not shorten the tantrum, be a picture of control and the example of adult behavior for your child.

  • Remember that your child feels out of control.  Those feelings can be scary to a child.  They don’t like to scream and kick…they just don’t know how to handle their emotions.  You can ignore the tantrum but don’t leave the room when your toddler  is having a tantrum.  The feeling of being left can increase those feelings of being scared.
  • Older children can be sent to a bedroom or another room to gain control.  Remove them away from other people.  Tell your child that he or she may return when he or she has calmed down.  This is empowering and teaches older children that they do have control over their actions and emotions.
  • Try to understand why your child is melting down.  If your child is frustrated with a toy or is very disappointed, a little loving touch and a few words describing what your child is feeling might help.  Sometimes a distraction with a different toy or bringing the child to a new setting might help.  Singing a song or being a bit silly may nip the tantrum too.  This must be accomplished before the meltdown is at its height.  If the tantrum is a result of your child being refused something he wants or because of some discipline, ignoring the tantrum may be the best way to handle it.
  • If your child is throwing, kicking, hitting or showing other behavior that could hurt himself or others, then move your child to a quiet safe place to calm down.  If you are in the middle of a public place, you might need to go to your car.
  • Do not try to explain away a tantrum.  Lots of words and choices after the tantrum is at its height usually only frustrates a child further making him more angry and increasing the length of the tantrum.
  • If the tantrum continues and the child seems to be having a difficult time de-escalating, try sitting calmly next to your child with your hand on them and quietly saying, “Mommy will help you calm down now.”  Sometimes touch will calm a very upset child.
  • After the tantrum, most children will seek some extra love.  They realize that they were less than cute, and want reassurance that they are still loved by you.  Don’t overdo the loving or give into the tantrum because you feel bad, this reinforces the tantrum.  A hug and kiss, a few words of love, a smile and then move on.  Don’t dwell on the tantrum.
  • Sometimes a “calm down bottle” will help a child handle a tantrum.  Take a water bottle and remover the label and fill it with water, a container of glitter glue, and add a container of loose glitter.  Super glue the water bottle lid on.  Shake the bottle and have your child watch the glitter settle.  This often will calm a child…it works well in time out too!  Your child can leave time out when the glitter settles down and he does too!

Tantrums are part of normal growth and development for most toddlers and they usually decrease as a child begins to understand his feelings and emotion and has words to describe them.  As your child handles frustration and disappointment better, the tantrums will decrease…and your life will be a bit easier. Helping your child learn to handle frustration, anger and other emotions and feelings will result in an adult that can hopefully handle the frustration of a TV remote!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


How do you play with a toddler?

“I think of play as a toddler’s number one essential vitamin.  He needs large doses of it every day.  Play:  Thrills the senses.  Helps toddlers master movement.  Stretches the mind.  Stimulates language use.  Boosts friend-making skills.  Stimulates the immune system.  Builds self-confidence.  Improves nighttime sleeping.”

Dr. Harvey Karp, MD  The Happiest Toddler on the Block                                                   

Toddlers love to play, and the fact is, they must play! Play is the basis of learning for a toddler.  So yes, when a toddler squirts a banana out between his fingers, there is learning going on!  Toddlers learn how to manipulate their world through play…and one of the biggest parenting responsibilities is to provide opportunities for your child to have free play.  Developmentally many toddlers have separation anxiety, so they want to be near you when then play, but toddlers do not need you to lead their play.  Play for a toddler is based on exploration.  Too often parents want to “show” a toddler how to play…after all we know how that toy works, we read the directions!  Toddlers enjoy play more and learn more when they figure out their own “right way” to play with a toy; and it often is different from the directions.  The process of discovery through play is the tool to learning.

So how do you play with a toddler?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Give your toddler physical help when needed.  Often toddlers know what they want to do, but don’t have the gross or fine motor control to actually act out their plan.  This will often lead to frustration.  A parent can help but not complete  a task of play for the toddler.  Example:  A toddler may want you to show them how to fill a  bucket to make a sand castle, but doesn’t want you to guide the entire process.  I always had to remind my builder husband of this…he wanted to build the castle!
  • Be a partner.  Many games need a partner.  A toddler can’t play ball without someone rolling or tossing the ball to him.  Let your toddler play the game until he or she is finished–not you.  Repeating a game many times is how a toddler masters a skill.  Don’t toss a ball a few times and quit when you are  bored!  Over and over again is how play works for a toddler!
  • Demonstrate.  A toddler will like to be given demonstrations on how things work or even suggestions.  Let your child be free to use your suggestion or not.  Do not interrupt his play to bring another idea or “show you how to do it”.  Let your toddler lead the play.
  • Help with concentration.  A toddler’s attention span is only a few minutes especially if the play involves sitting still.  If a parent sits with a toddler to talk, and encourage during a task, then the toddler will be able to  concentrate longer and might be able to complete a difficult task like a puzzle.  Encourage but don’t do it for your toddler.
  • Help your toddler play with others.  Toddlers will enjoy playing next to other children not really with other children.  Parallel play is common at this age.  Children will play next to each other without really cooperating.  Toddlers are not developmentally mature enough to be left with another child to “fight it out”.  They are not capable of sharing or playing fair without help.  Give two toddlers similar materials or toys and let them play as each of them wishes without interference from each other.  Eventually toddlers will  begin to talk to each other, and a friendship will begin to develop.  Often it is helpful for a toddler to play with older children too.   Older children provide good examples of imaginative play, problem solving, sharing and it helps the older child develop leadership skills too.  Guide your toddler in sharing…show them how to do it.  Eventually they will develop the capacity to share, but only after being shown many times.
  •   Be a good role model for your child when you play.  Ask if you may take a toy and use the words please and thank you.  When your toddler shares with you, praise your child for good sharing.  Choose cooperative games like playing ball, and other activities that take turns.  This helps teach a toddler good social skills        necessary for cooperative play.  Be patient, your child will be capable of sharing and playing with other children some time between the age or 2 and 3, if you have given your toddler the opportunity to develop the skill!
  • Beginning at 18 months encourage imitative and imaginative pretend play.  This is a very important step for your toddler.  Your child will start to imitate important people in his or her life, that would be you!!  Soon that play will change from simply imitating to imaginative play.  Your toddler will take a block and pretend it is a cell phone, or will play “house” with your pots and pans.  This starts symbolic thinking which is very important in developing math and reading skills later.  Imaginative play also teaches empathy…it helps a child start to learn how others feel.  It is fine for your little boy to play pretend with dolls and for your little girl to play pretend with trucks!!  Imaginative play also improves language.  Listen to your toddler, he will self talk as he pretends and will often tell you what to say when you are playing with him!  Join in the conversations!
  • Let your toddler play with safe every day items.  We all know it…your child’s favorite toy may just be the plastic containers in the kitchen, the laundry basket, a silky scarf, or a box!  Expensive toys really are not needed…your imaginative, creative toddler will play with every day things and enjoy it!  These items spark creativity and imagination, so save some money and encourage this!  Remember, a blanket over a card table works just as well as that expensive play house!
  • Get a little messy!  Toddlers love sensory play.  Get out the water, the finger paints, the pudding, the play dough, put on an apron and have fun!  Toddlers need messy creative play.  This will bring out the kid in you too!

So playing with your child is not rocket science.  It is letting your child discover his or her world safely and creatively.  So, sit on the floor, watch your toddler, participate in the play your toddler leads, keep the TV off, and get the plastic kitchen containers out and maybe a little pudding paint…it is going to be a fun day!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Infants need play time too!

You are your baby’s first toy! 

Play time is important for infants too!  Infants play by moving, by looking (especially you and that funny face), by exploring with hands, feet, and mouth, and by interacting physically (a little tickle), emotionally, and verbally.  The time your baby spends playing with you is invaluable.  You don’t have to “teach” as you play, your baby is learning by just interacting with you!  You are your baby’s favorite toy! 

Let your baby look at you! 

Your baby is completely enthralled with YOU!  Look at your baby and make silly faces.  You will be amazed by your sweet baby trying to imitate some of your silly faces!  Smile, coo, stick your tongue out…your baby will love it! If your baby keeps looking away, then he or she may have had enough of your silly face for a while, be careful not to over stimulate. This little game stimulates your baby’s social, visual, and emotional development.  This teaches your baby ways to seek and receive your attention and affection.  Who knew that you could be entertained by just looking at your baby!  You and Dad have a new evening entertainment!

Play with touch!

Who doesn’t want to touch that soft baby skin?  Touch your little one with different textures.  Tissues, a blanket, the tip of your finger, a cotton ball…explore different touches across your baby’s tummy or cheeks.  Talking makes this even more fun for your baby.  “Doesn’t that tickle? OOOh feel good?”  Watch your baby and you will be able to tell what his favorite is.  Soon your little one will start to kick and get excited when you just start to touch his little belly.  Touch teaches sensory awareness, verbal interaction and body awareness.

Give your baby something to look at.

A mobile is a great first toy for your child.  It can be colorful or black and white with some accents of red, but your baby will love watching it!  Be sure to take the mobile down once your child can reach it or is starting to try to sit up.  The mobile provides visual stimulation and spatial awareness for your baby.

Try a little game of “The Voice”.

No, you can’t tell if your baby has a singing voice yet, :)  but your little one loves the sound of your voice.  He or she has heard your voice even before birth!  Put your baby in the center of the room and walk around the room singing and talking or making funny noises.  Your baby will begin to look for where you are!  Combine a little “Peekaboo” with it!  Your baby will love it.  This will help your baby develop listening skills and it helps develop a sense of trust in you as you disappear and come back!

Take your child on a tour.

Your home and backyard may be familiar to you, but your baby will love the change in scenery.  Carry your baby around the house and you will find all kinds of neat things.  Talk about what you see and what things do.  Light switches are amazing!  Head outside and discover the grass, the leaves, brush a flower across your little one’s cheek, introduce your child to the world!  New sights, sounds and textures are exciting for your baby, and talking about them builds language skills too!  Introducing your baby to the world may just help you appreciate the little things again too!

The oldies but goodies…all the finger plays you used to know

Games like Peek-a-boo, So Big, Patty Cake, This Little Piggy, Itsy Bitsy Spider are fun for you and your baby.  These finger plays and songs teach socialization skills, fine motor skills, object permanence, and are just plain fun.  If you don’t remember these oldies but goodies, look them up online or check out a book at the library.

Make an obstacle course.

Your new little crawler will love to crawl over and under things.  Get those pillows and cushions off the couch and start encouraging your baby to climb up and over, crawl, and tumble.   This is fun and helps build gross motor skills and coordination.  It might get your little one good and tired for a great nap too!

Try the fill and dump game.

Once your baby is sitting up and is developing some hand coordination, filling and dumping will be a favorite activity.  Stacking cups, measuring cups, plastic containers all work well to fill up with water in the bathtub, sand, blocks, raw rice or any item that can be scooped up and dumped.  Your baby will work on fine motor control, hand-eye coordination, and words like “full” “pour” “all gone” “empty” and others.

Stacking and knocking over.

Stacking will soon become the next fun activity.  Those same stacking cups can be used to build a tower and knock it down.  Blocks, stacking rings, plastic cups, books…anything can be used to stack and knock over.  This helps with fine motor development and cause and effect.

These are just a few examples of the type of play your infant will love the firs 12 months of life.  Don’t rush out and buy lots of expensive toys, you will be your child’s favorite toy these first few months.  There is no rush to “get ahead”; your child will learn all that he or she needs to learn with simple play.  The pressure to get ahead often takes away the most valuable tool for learning…play.  Be a kid again and fill your child’s day with play!  Have fun!

What is your favorite activity with your infant?  Post  some of your ideas!

Follow Raising Kids With Love on Facebook for more tips!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Play is important child’s work!

If you are a kid…then play is your work!  If you are an adult…then learn to play!

Sit for a moment and watch your child.  Just watch…don’t jump in and give your child something to play with…just watch what your child will do.  Children, if left alone and given the opportunity,  will play happily with whatever is there.  We parents don’t have to do anything or buy anything!  Wew!  One less thing on your “to do” list!  As a matter of fact, parent led play or very organized play is not as valuable as your child  playing on his own!

There has been a decrease in the amount of free play time our children have over the last 50 years.  Our children now have less recess time at school, go to preschool at an earlier age, have more toys than children of years ago, watch more TV and play video games, play on more organized sports teams and at a younger age…all of this combined has resulted in less true free play time.  Much of our children’s play has become adult led and organized.  So, why is this a problem?  Child led free play is so much more valuable!  Free play is a child’s work and it…

  • Helps children learn how to work in groups, share, negotiate
  • Helps children build a foundation for problem solving
  • Helps children figure out the world they live in
  • Helps children develop decision making skills
  • Helps children find their interests and passions
  • Helps develop imagination
  • Helps children try on different roles, learn empathy for others
  • Helps increase language skills
  • Helps foster creativity
  • Helps children learn about nature and their environment

Adult led organized play can stifle all of this child’s work. Adult led play forces children to play according to adult rules and this decreases their creative play and their development of leadership skills.  Watch your child, they often play with a toy much differently than the way a toy is “supposed” to be used!  If left alone, a child will create all kinds of ways to play with a simple toy, if it is not a “one button wonder”.  So many of the newer toys do one thing with a push of a button, these types of toys leave little to a child’s imagination or creativity.   Going back to some of our basic toys like blocks, puzzles, stacking cups, books and dress up clothes may be much more valuable to our children’s development.   Research also shows us that a child really only needs 30 minutes of adult led play a day but at least 60 minutes of child led play a day.  So often we parents feel like it is our responsibility  to lead our child in play!  Child led play is also better than play that is “entertainment” based like TV, video and computer games, and movies.  The less screen time a child has before the age of 2 the better!  This type of “play” decreases creativity and active play which may be part of the reason we are struggling with an increase in childhood obesity.

Play at every stage of development in childhood is more than just  fun, it is a child’s right and a necessity.  As a society, I think we underestimate the importance of play.  Do you want your child to be happy and successful?  Don’t tell your child to just “hit the books” but tell him to “go play.”

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.



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