Here is a list for “tools of the Trade” for literacy! What items do you have in your home to promote the love of reading?
I admit it, I am a list maker. I love to make a list and cross off things I accomplish. There are days that I write something on my list that I have already completed…just so I can cross it off! So because I love lists, I put together a simple list of tools for literacy. These are items that every home with children should have to encourage a love of reading and writing. So, get your pens out and start crossing off the items you have….or make a list of things you need to foster your child’s growth in literacy.
1. Books in several places of your home that are accessible to your children.
2. More than one rhyme book.
3. Several picture books.
4. A book of nursery rhymes.
5. Chalkboard or white board.
5. Unlined paper.
6. Crayons, markers, pencils, and sidewalk chalk.
7. Magnetic letters.
8. Alphabet books.
9. Children’s Bookmarks.
10. Classic chapter books to read to your child.
11. Reading area in your home.
12. Supplies for your child to make their own book.
13. Children’s poetry books.
14. Sorting toys.
15. Puppets for your child to act out a story.
16. Books about colors.
17. Books about animals.
18. Books about how things work.
19. Books about nature and the earth.
20. Silly books.
21. Stationary for your child to write a letter.
22. Books about the seasons.
23. Music with rhythm.
24. Letter games.
25. Children’s magazines.
26. A library card for your child.
27. Books about feelings.
28. Books about childhood events like new siblings, potty training, going to school etc.
29. Alphabet blocks.
30. Shaving cream to draw letters in.
31. Finger paints.
32. Play dough and letter cookie cutters.
33. Letter matching games.
34. Pop up and flap books.
35. Touch and feel books.
What else??? Post your suggestions of “tools of the trade” for literacy!
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 anxious are you about vaccinating your child? How much of your anxiety is rooted in fact?
It seems at least weekly I hear questions from parents that are truly anxious about vaccines. There is so much information for parents to read, and much of it is very scary. There is a lot of untrue information circulating on the web, and it is very difficult to determine what is true and untrue regarding vaccines. There are so many questions today…and most of these questions are a result of true fear and misinformation. Most parents don’t really understand the vaccines that are recommended and don’t really know too much about the diseases they prevent. Parents have a right to know and to understand the “whys” for all the vaccines that are recommended and parents have the right to know what information is rooted in research based science.
So how can a parent find out the truths about vaccines?
- Do your homework. If you have questions about vaccines do a little research. The internet is great, but be sure that the websites are reputable. Sites you trust should be authored by people in medicine or science, not just parents of children.
- Remember, there are many alarming stories that are online, many are not based on fact! As parents, we always want a reason when our child becomes ill or is diagnosed with a disease. Many times vaccines become a convenient “explanation”.
- Bring your questions and the information you find to your child’s doctor. Your child’s doctor should take the time to go over any questions you have prior to giving your child his or her vaccines. As parents you need to have open discussions about your questions or anxieties. Have these discussions at the start of your child’s well child exam, not at the moment the vaccines are going to be given.
- Always know what vaccines your child is receiving and why. You should always receive a Vaccine Information Statement or VIS for every vaccine your child will be receiving. Read this information, it will tell you what vaccine your child is receiving, what disease it is protecting your child from, and any typical side effects you may see.
Remember, vaccines prevent our children from devastating diseases that most of us have never (thankfully) seen. We sometimes still see outbreaks of disease in pockets where there are children or adults who are not fully vaccinated. Your child is NOT protected from these diseases if he or she is not fully vaccinated, THAT is a fact. We will look very closely at all the recommended childhood vaccines this week and hopefully some of the anxieties that you have as a parent will be put to rest. Worry is a part of parenthood…but vaccines should not be on your worry list!
Here are some websites that I like…
- www.healthychildren.org This is a website the American Academy of Pediatrics publishes for parents. The information is up to date and easy to understand.
- www.nnii.org The National Network for Immunization Information provides up to date information for parents and health care professionals. All the information is evidence based with links to scientific journal articles supporting the information. The National Network for Immunization Information is an independent group that receives no funding from drug companies or the federal government.
- www.vaccine.chop.edu This website is from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Vaccine Education Center. It has reliable information about all vaccines and covers most of the “hot topics” that parents read online. There are videos and information on every vaccine recommended for your child.
- www.CDC.gov This website will give science based information and Vaccine Information Statements for all vaccines. Yearly updates for the vaccine schedule will be published here too.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
As a young Mom, I had worries too….but so many of our worries are not worth the energy it takes to think about them.
I visited with a new Mom this past week, she had a precious, beautiful little girl. How I loved that time in my life! I have such wonderful memories of those times, but let’s face it….new Moms have a lot on their plate. I remember those days of trying to get to know this precious bundle who I had prepared for, thought about, and anxiously awaited for 9 long months. Who was this little person? How would I handle this most important job of my life? What if I wasn’t very good at it? What does she need when she cries? Is she eating enough? Sleeping enough? Is she sick and I don’t know it?
After 4 children and watching countless other new Moms navigate through those first few months of motherhood, I realize that many of those doubts, concerns, and yes worries were such a waste of my energy. If I could, I would definitely worry less. There are about 10 concerns that I hear over and over from new Moms….and were definitely on my radar as a new Mom, but in actuality most of the time they are not worth the energy of worry….
Even if you have dreamed, planned, prepared, and anxiously awaited your baby for 9 months, hours after birth you might just look at your baby and feel more exhaustion and questions than love. That is normal! Some Moms feel immediate connection; some Moms need a few days of feedings, cuddling, and interaction to feel the bonding process. Your baby will respond to you feeding, holding, and cuddling. Even if you are still struggling to feel connected with this new little being…fake it until you feel it…Bonding deepens over time and you will fall in love with your baby, trust me.
Babies cry…..it is a fact. Some babies cry more than others….that is a fact too. Newborns will cry when they are hungry, tired, wet, bored, over stimulated, under stimulated, or maybe for no reason at all. Crying in itself will not hurt a baby, although it can be alarming to you. Rather than worry about why your baby is crying, it might be better to learn how to comfort your baby. Many times you may never know why your baby is crying….but you may learn what comforts. The first 12 weeks is a learning curve for you and your baby, and crying usually will decrease between 12 and 16 weeks. Of course, if your baby is inconsolable, a talk with your pediatrician is a wise option, but most of the time your baby’s crying is simply part of mothering a newborn.
So many Moms worry if their baby is eating enough….or eating too much. New Moms need to learn feeding cues and adjust to breast-feeding or bottle feeding and this takes a little time. If your baby is having 6 wet diapers in a 24 hour period, seems content after eating, and has gained weight ….relax. Unless your pediatrician is concerned about weight gain, don’t become obsessed with a baby scale. Trust your baby’s cues and your instincts.
Babies strain, get red faced, make noise, and pull their knees up when pooping. Babies usually poop a lot in the beginning. Breast fed babies will often poop with every feeding in the beginning and then will slow down later and may even skip a few days without pooping. Babies are not constipated unless the poop is hard and “marble like”. Call if your baby’s poop has any blood or is mucousy…but don’t be poop obsessed!
5. Spit up
Most babies will spit up. Some babies spit up a lot! If your baby is gaining weight well, most of the time spitting up is nothing to worry about. Be sure that you are feeding your baby slowly, burping frequently, and keeping your baby upright for a bit after feedings…but most spitting up will stop with time. Happy spitters, babies who don’t cry after eating and spitting up, are just fine. Once your baby is sitting up well the spitting up will diminish.
Newborns sneeze…sometimes a lot! Sneezing helps them clear their nasal passages from fuzz (from all their new blankets and clothing) congestion (remember their little nasal passages are very small) and open up a nostril when it is pushed shut from being pushed up against you when nursing. No worries unless your baby is running a fever, seems ill, or has difficulty breathing. Most sneezing is simply normal!
New Moms can’t wait to get a stretch of sleep, and many worry that they will never sleep again! Time and patience those first few weeks are the key to success. Your baby simply will not sleep through the night right away….that is normal. Knowledge is power, but reading sleep books, putting pressure on yourself to establish sleep routines and worry about if you are doing it right is a waste of precious moments. Follow your instincts and all babies will eventually sleep through the night. Be proactive in establishing good sleep routines, but lose the obsession. With healthy routines, and trusting your instincts most babies will start to become more predictable and begin to self soothe and sleep longer stretches by 16 weeks. Time is usually the key. Trust me, you won’t remember if your baby slept 6 hours at 12 weeks or 12 hours at 6 months when you watch them head off to their first day of school.
Call it competition, comparison, whatever; it is normal for Moms to compare babies and read books to see if their baby is progressing on time. Babies often develop at different rates. There is a sequence of milestones and a general age at which babies should reach them but there is a wide range of normal. Ask your pediatrician to give you a heads up on what is expected at each age, but don’t become competitive with other babies in your play group! Let your baby learn and develop on his time frame, and guess what, a baby who walks at 9 months and a baby who walks at 14 months look the same at 5!
9. Losing baby weight
Wow is there pressure to lose the baby weight.! Pick up any magazine and there
will be a celebrity looking svelte just weeks after having a baby (Can you say photo shop?) New Moms need to lose this worry and embrace reality. It is unhealthy to try to get back to pre-pregnancy shape in just a few weeks. Focus on your baby not your weight. Eat healthy, sleep when you can, get outside and walk and you will feel more like yourself. Be patient, give yourself time and grace….learn to be a Mom and embrace your new role, the weight will come off in due time.
10. Wanting to read it all
Sometimes new Moms spend a huge amount of time reading books, articles, and surfing the internet in order to gain the knowledge needed to be a Mom. Knowledge is power, but there are times when a book is not the best choice over your own Mom’s intuition. Parent by trusting your “gut”. If it doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t most of the time. Don’t waste too much precious time reading about being the perfect Mom….just be who you are, the perfect Mom for your baby. Read less, enjoy more.
If I could talk to my younger self, I would give myself permission to be an imperfect Mom with a house that wasn’t clean and a child who had spit up on his shirt. I would tell myself to savor each moment and to stop worrying and just live life. I would give myself more permission to eat ice cream and chocolate after a hard day, and to know that some days are successful if the only thing I could say I did was that I fed, loved and kept my kids safe. I would tell myself to ask for help, and that it is fine not to have it all together, and that it is fine for people to see that I didn’t have it all together. If I could sit down with myself 20 years ago, I would say to myself to simply love your kids, breathe deeply, give yourself a break, don’t sweat the small things in life….and don’t worry…..your kids will turn out great in spite of you!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year 60,000 children end up in an emergency department because they took medications while their parent was not looking and over a half million calls each year are made to the poison control centers for the same reason! In recognition of National Poison Prevention Week, the CDC is encouraging everyone to program the Poison Control number into their cell phones: 1-800-222-1222. Take a moment and do it now!
Tips for parents: http://www.cdc.gov/MedicationSafety/parents
- Never leave children alone with medicines. If you are giving or taking medicine and you have to do something else, such as answer the phone, take the medicine with you.
- Do not leave medicines out after using them. Store them in medicine cabinets or other childproof cabinets that young children cannot reach.
- When purchasing medicines for young children, check to make sure they are in child-resistant packaging that you are comfortable using.
- Put the poison control number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone.
Poisonous substances in the home:
- Always read labels before using a product.
- Keep all products in their original bottles or containers. Do not use food containers such as cups or jars to store cleaning solutions or other chemicals. Children could drink or eat these substances when in confusing containers.
- Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia results in a toxic gas.
- Think about using fewer chemicals in your home. Try “green” cleaners like vinegar and baking soda.
- Store all medicines and poisonous items out of reach and locked. Think of layering protection for your child. Store items up out of reach and in a latched cabinet.
- When you are taking or giving medications, do not put the next dose on the counter or leave the bottle out near your child
- Secure the child safety cap every time you use a medicine.
- Never call medicine “candy”.
- Always put cleaning supplies or other chemicals away as soon as they are used.
- Dispose of outdated medications. Do not flush them. Many pharmacies will have medication collection days, check with your pharmacy. If you do not have access to that type of disposal, mix the medications in coffee grounds or used kitty litter and dispose of them in the trash.
- Remain calm.
- Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and the person has collapsed. If the person is alert and awake call poison control immediately.
- Try to have this information ready:
- the victim’s age and weight
- the container or bottle of the poison if available
- the amount consumed if possible
- the time of the poison exposure
- the address where the poisoning occurred
- Stay on the phone and follow the poison control directions.
- If there was something toxic on the person’s skin, begin rinsing with water, and follow further instructions from poison control.
- If there was something splashed into the eyes, begin rinsing with water, and follow further instructions from poison control.
- If the poison was inhaled, have someone bring the person outside for fresh air, and follow further instructions from poison control.
- If the poison was swallowed, wait for instructions from poison control.
Starting solid foods can be stressful…so it seems. So many of my conversations with parents who are starting foods, thinking about starting foods, or in the middle of food introduction are full of anxiety and questions. It really should not be. There are very few guidelines that parents really need to follow. Many of the “rules” of starting solid foods are not based on a lot of science, but are based on culture and “what grandma did”. So what is all the worry about?? What are the “rules”?
Let’s keep it simple.
1. Children should start solid pureed foods when they are developmentally ready for food, usually near the 6 month mark. Usually at this age healthy children who are developing normally should be showing some interest in foods, sitting up fairly well, and their tongue thrust should be minimal.
2. First foods are really “practice foods”. Your baby is trying out new tastes and textures, but their main nutrition should be coming from breast milk or formula. Solid foods are complimentary the first year.
3. Pureed foods do not have to be the traditional baby foods…give your baby new and interesting tastes! There really is no scientific base to withholding any foods, even foods that are traditionally high allergen foods like eggs and peanut butter. The only food your child should NOT have is honey in the first year. Introduce new foods every few days and enjoy.
That is really it! So there really is no need for a schedule, a flow chart or an excel sheet to introduce your child to foods. Honest…
Even with these simple “rules” there are lots of questions. Here are some of the most common questions/worries that I hear:
1. Should I start with rice cereal first?
Traditionally rice cereal has been the first food for babies in this country…for years! Why? Well, it is convenient, it is easy to mix and feed, and it is iron fortified. Iron stores from Mom may begin to deplete after the first 6 months, so foods with iron are often started first. There is a lot of debate about white rice cereal, but rice cereal does not HAVE to be first. There is certainly other whole grain cereals with iron fortification and there is no reason why a baby can’t have pureed meats at 6 months too. I think we should look at other foods besides rice for a first food.
2. Should I start with green vegetables first, then yellow, and then fruit?
Don’t have to……there is no evidence that shows if you give your baby green vegetables first he will like vegetables any better or like sweet things less. No matter what order you introduce foods, all children (adults too) will like the taste of sweet better. Besides, if you breast feed, your baby has already tasted sweet…your breast milk. Don’t worry about what color vegetable or what fruit you should introduce when, just offer your baby a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. You can introduce carrots one day, applesauce a few days later, and then peas…the order doesn’t matter.
3. Is it healthier to make my baby’s food? Does it have to be organic?
Many parents worry about the fact that they don’t have time to add baby food making to their “to do” list, but it seems that everyone is telling them that “good parents” provide homemade organic baby food. Like parenting issues in general, there is always different options for different families. There certainly are many ways a parent can provide healthy food for their child. Some parents buy only organic, local food and have special recipes for homemade baby food, some parents shop aisle 2 and pick up whatever food is in stage 1, and other parents go half and half; making some food and buying some. The truth is, your child will not be on pureed foods very long. I think the sooner your child begins to eat what you are fixing the rest of the family, the better. Children like foods that have normal seasonings and a wide variety of tastes. Try to make at least some baby food…that means add a little water, breast milk or formula and take a fork and mash or use a blender to puree food for your baby, it is that simple. Soon your baby will be eating what you do with just a little mashing.
Organic foods have not been proven to provide better nutrition, but the foods do decrease exposure to pesticides. If your budget doesn’t allow the purchase of organic foods, it is more important to provide a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. If you want to spend a few dollars on organics….stick with the “dirty dozen”. Remember organic processed foods like crackers or macaroni and cheese really don’t have a health benefit at all….
4. You want my baby to eat what I do?
If you are having green beans for dinner…then mash or puree some for your baby. If you are eating fast food…then no! If you think your child can’t have what you normally eat, then think about what you normally eat. I find a lot of parents begin to eat much more healthy when they have a child beginning to eat solid foods. Remember, the best way to teach healthy eating is being a good role model.
5. Can’t I start food a little earlier….I need some sleep at night and wouldn’t that help my baby sleep better?
Food does not help a baby sleep at night better….nothing in research has ever shown us this. Starting solids too early may result in an increase risk of obesity or maybe even a tummy ache because your baby is not able to digest the food well yet. Starting solid foods is a developmental milestone not a way to “tank up” your baby for sleep. Early food introduction will not increase your sleep…
6. Babies can’t eat eggs or peanut butter can they?
The only thing a healthy baby who is not in a family with many food allergies or intolerances can’t have is honey. That is it! Babies under a year are at risk for botulism when eating honey, but nothing else that is healthy is off-limits. There is no waiting for yogurt, eggs, meats, cheeses, fish….nothing….if it is not a choking hazard, then let your baby try it.
Let go of the anxiety….starting foods should be fun and exciting for you and your baby. Offer new tastes, new textures, and healthy food. Soon you will see that your child just might LIKE brussel sprouts….even though you never did! Let your child try it all….and maybe your diet will improve too.
New parents can have full conversations revolving around baby poop. The color of the poop, the amount or lack there of, the smell, the consistency and the frequency all can be topics. Who ever thought that we would talk about baby poop over dinner and actually put our nose up to our darling child’s behind to see if there is a surprise in that diaper for us?! Yes, parenthood can result in most of us doing things, talking about things, and wondering about things that would never have crossed our minds in the past and poop is one of them! So what is normal and what is not? Here is the scoop on baby poop:
Baby’s first poops
- Those first poops are usually black, tarry, and sticky. These poops are meconium stools. Your baby swallows amniotic fluid before birth and his little digestive system starts to work. These first meconium stools are due to the intake of amniotic fluid.
Breast fed poops
- After your baby passes the meconium stools and is taking breast milk, the stools will become mustard colored, runny and seedy. Your baby can have “explosive” stools, but this is normal. Many babies begin to have a stool every time you nurse! That is a lot of diaper changes! Breast fed stools are not smelly but have a distinct breast fed stool odor.
- After a few weeks, most breast fed babies’ pooping will slow down. Babies are using so much of the breast milk for growth, there is not a lot left to poop! Some babies will not poop for a couple of days, some for nearly a week! Very seldom are breast fed babies constipated. Most of the time parents worry about the lack of pooping, but the baby feels just fine! Believe me, there will be a poop, and usually it is a big one after a few days!
Formula fed poops
- After your baby passes the meconium stools and is taking formula, the stools will become tannish in color and pasty like peanut butter. Most formula fed babies will have about 4 or 5 poops a day the first few weeks.
- After a few weeks formula fed babies will slow down with the number of poops per day. Most babies will have one stool a day and it should still be soft and no harder than the consistency of peanut butter. Formula fed babies will have more of a tendency for constipation, so if your baby has hard pellet or marble like stools or has gone longer than a couple of days without a poop, you might call your doctor for advice.
Red faced noisy poopers
- If your baby gets red in the face and grunts or cries with a poop, don’t worry! This is normal and is not a sign of constipation. Your baby is NOT constipated unless his poop is hard pellets or marble like. You can help your baby by bicycling his legs or “standing” him up with pressure on his feet, this will help the process.
The appearance of green poop
- Many parents worry when they find green colored poop in the diaper, but most of the time there is no need to worry.
- Some babies that are formula fed will have a greenish looking stool from the iron in the formula. If your baby is acting fine, then don’t worry!
- Breast fed babies will often have green stools when there is a foremilk/ hindmilk imbalance. Simply put, the first milk your baby receives when he begins to nurse is foremilk and is lower in fat than the hindmilk. Babies that don’t nurse long enough or don’t empty a breast before switching breasts will sometimes have an imbalance that results in green frothy stools and tummy aches. Be sure to empty a breast completely before switching!
- Occasionally we will see a green mucousy stool in a breast fed baby when he is intolerant to a food Mom is eating. Dairy is a big culprit. If your baby is fussy, gassy, and has mucousy green stools you might eliminate dairy for a few weeks and see if there is improvement. Babies that are formula fed can also have a dairy intolerance. Call your doctor if you see green mucousy stools, a formula switch from cow’s milk based formula may be needed.
- Some babies just have greenish colored poops! Normal poop colors range from yellow, to tan, to green/yellow. If your baby is gaining weight well and is happy, then don’t worry.
- If your baby is taking iron supplementation or is a formula fed baby he may have darker or blackish colored poop due to the iron. If the stool is very black and tarry looking, then call your doctor. This can be a sign of intestinal bleeding.
Blood in poop
- If a parent sees blood in poop, it usually causes alarm. There are several harmless reasons that a baby can have blood in their poop, but usually a call to the doctor to check it out is a good idea.
- If you see red jelly looking poop, it is important to call your doctor right away.
- Some babies may develop a little tear near the rectum from straining with a poop. Parents may notice a little streak of blood with a poop, and the baby may be uncomfortable. This will heal and is not serious.
- A severe diaper rash where the skin breaks down enough for some open areas may result in a small amount of blood on the diaper.
- Some babies with a dairy allergy will develop green mucousy stools with streaks of blood, eliminating dairy from Mom’s diet if the child is breast fed or eliminating cow’s milk based formula if the baby is formula fed will usually solve the problem.
- Poop that is very loose and watery and often greenish in color is diarrhea. This most often is due to a viral illness. Give your doctor a call if your baby is having diarrhea, dehydration can be a problem for babies!
Baby poop after solid foods
- Once your baby starts eating solids, poop changes again! Often poops will become more formed and stinkier! Often a parent can’t believe that poop came from such a sweet little baby! Sometimes the poop will take on the color of the last meal. If your little one loves his carrots, don’t be surprised to see a bit of an orange poop! Once your child starts to eat chunkier food, those peas, carrots, raisins and other foods may show up in the diaper undigested!
So…that is the scoop on poop! You will be changing a lot of diapers, and often what you see may be a surprise! So, start a conversation with a new parent and I guarantee poop will be brought up…it is a part of every parent’s conversation…before kids who would have thought, right? :)