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

Tylenol or acetaminophen with vaccines…should you or shouldn’t you?

Think twice before giving your child Tylenol or acetaminophen BEFORE their shots!

When my kids were little, a dose of Tylenol or acetaminophen (generic Tylenol) was just routine either immediately before a vaccine or immediately after.  I hated to see my baby fussy and feverish after a vaccine, so I was armed with Tylenol before every shot.   I often gave that advice to parents of children receiving routine vaccines too.  Acetaminophen is a great choice for kids who are not feeling well and are uncomfortable during an illness with fever or are experiencing pain from teething or ear infections. It turns out that it might not be a good choice for kids routinely before or after vaccines.  A  study published in 2009  tells us that preventing the fever that often happens with vaccines may also prevent  some of the immune response of your child.  Fever is a body’s reaction to a virus or bacteria and a fever after vaccines shows that the vaccine is working!  That vaccine has sent a message to your child’s body to build immunity to that disease; so we don’t want to stop that immune response with acetaminophen or Tylenol.

Easier said than done, right?  It is hard for a parent to see their child uncomfortable after a vaccine and fever causes anxiety in many parents.  However, after reading the results of the study, it might be easier for parents to skip that Tylenol!  The study published in The Lancet had these results:

  • High fevers were uncommon in infants after vaccines.  Less than 1% had a fever over 103.
  • Low-grade fevers or temperatures around 100 were very common.  42% of babies that received Tylenol and 66% of babies who did not have Tylenol developed a low-grade fever.
  • Babies who were given Tylenol had a lower immune response to the vaccine.  The study found lower concentrations of antibodies in those babies that had received Tylenol routinely.

Remember, a fever is a body’s natural response to a vaccine…we want your child to develop antibodies to the disease we are trying to prevent with the vaccine.  The fever shows us the vaccine is working!  We don’t want to use a medicine that might prevent the vaccine from doing its job!  So, my advice is:

  • Don’t give Tylenol or acetaminophen before your child receives vaccines.  This may decrease your child’s immune response.  A low-grade fever is a normal response to a vaccine.
  • Give Tylenol or acetaminophen only if your child is very fussy, seems uncomfortable or has a fever of 101 or higher after a vaccine.  Mom and Dad, you know your child best…you can tell if they are not feeling well after a vaccine!
  • Fever causes fear for many parents, I hated fevers in my kids too!  Have a conversation with your child’s pediatrician about ways to make your child comfortable after vaccines and what his or her recommendation is for treating fever after a vaccine.

If you have given Tylenol routinely for your child’s shots, as I did, don’t worry!  This study did not prove that these babies did not develop immunity to the disease and were unprotected, it only showed that Tylenol or acetaminophen resulted in a decreased immune response.  After learning this, my advice is:  let your child’s body do its job…wait on the Tylenol and comfort your baby with lots of snuggles and TLC those first 24 to 48 hours after shots.  Give the Tylenol or acetaminophen only when necessary.

As with many parenting tips, things change as we learn new information.  Changing recommendations doesn’t mean we had been doing anything wrong in the past; we are now just doing things more correctly based on new information.  So, think twice before you reach for the acetaminophen or Tylenol routinely before or after shots…use it only when really needed!

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


Help take the “ouch” out of vaccines

Shots are not fun for you or your child…here are some tips to help with the “ouch”!

Check ups with vaccinations are difficult for parents and children.  That first 2-month-old check up is often dreaded by parents because the first round of vaccines is given at that time.  It is very difficult for a Mommy and Daddy to see their precious baby “hurt” by a vaccine.  Some parents who choose to delay vaccines or actually refuse vaccines do so in part because of the discomfort vaccines cause.  Most of us thankfully have never seen the “discomfort” of many of the diseases that a vaccine prevents. I always tell parents that the discomfort and the risk of any side effect far outweigh the risk of the disease.  The vaccination causes discomfort, but discomfort for a purpose.

Often parents don’t realize how quickly an infant comforts after receiving a round of vaccines.  A study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in April of 2012 discussed the use of the 5S’s technique of shushing, swaddling, side positioning, sucking and swaying, from Dr. Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block book.  Infants who were soothed using his technique after vaccines were calmed within about 45 seconds.  Surprisingly, babies self comforted without any help within 3 to 4 minutes.  So, worse case scenario for most infants is a period of crying of a couple of minutes after injections.

As a parent, most of us feel better when we have a plan to comfort our babies, toddlers, and even older children.  Here are a few age appropriate tips:

  • Prepare yourself before the appointment.  Every aged child will respond with an increase in anxiety if Mom and Dad are very anxious.  Bring someone with you for support if necessary.
  • Prepare your child.  Toddler aged children need an explanation immediately before the injection, older children should be prepared prior to the appointment.  Be honest about the “ouch”.
  • The use of swaddling, side positioning, swaying, shushing, and sucking has been proven to calm an infant quickly after vaccines.
  • Use of sugar has repeatedly been proven to help with pain relief for babies undergoing painful procedures.  Some providers will have a sugar solution you can dip a pacifier in prior to the injection.
  • Breastfeeding will calm a baby after routine injections.
  • Use distraction…it helps parents too!  Talk to your child, sing a song, count, say the ABC’s, talk about what you will do during the rest of the day.  A recent study showed that older children coached to try the “cough trick” during an injection experienced less pain.  Another technique that works is to have a child “blow” out a pretend candle during the injection, or “blow” their favorite color into the corners of the room.
  • Give an older child some sense of control. Explain what each injection is for and the reason it is needed.  The anticipation of a shot is much worse than the actual injection! Ask the child what distraction technique they would like to try, let them choose which arm to receive the injection if possible.  A sense of control decreases anxiety.
  • Try swabbing alcohol on the forearm of the opposite arm receiving the injection.  Have your child blow on that area during the injection. Our bodies can’t feel cold and pain at the same time, so the feeling of cold from the alcohol and blowing will decrease the pain of the injection.  This also will provide a distraction!

The fact is, that even with these techniques children and parents are usually anxious about vaccines and vaccines are uncomfortable.  However, the discomfort is very short-lived, children comfort quickly, and the benefit of protecting your child is priceless.  Don’t wait, vaccinate your child!  Share what techniques have worked for 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.


The “how to” of the discipline process

As promised, we will talk about the approach I like to teach when I speak to parents about discipline.  

Remember our mantra:  “Attention is attention to a child whether it is negative or positive, attention to a behavior reinforces it!”  And  “Consistency is the key.”

A few pointers to start:

1.  Set realistic guidelines. Know your child’s developmental stage. As a parent, you may want your child to share his toys with friends, sit still during church and say “please” and “thank you”, but  you have to consider what’s age appropriate when it comes to behavior — and gauge your expectations accordingly.  Do not discipline when the child is not able to comply because of age or development.

2.  Be patient. Patience is the key.  Often parents will complain that they have tried a discipline strategy and it didn’t work.  Timeout was tried over and over again, but the behavior continued.  Remember, it takes a while for your child to test to see if you really mean it, and then it takes a while for a child to gain control of the behavior.  Children’s temperaments also play a role.  Consistency is the key, say what you will do and then do what you say every single time.

3.   Acknowledge your child’s feelings. When it comes to discipline, parents need to be warm but firm.  Give your child the words to describe a feeling.  “I know you are frustrated, but we don’t hit.”  “I know you are angry with mommy”  “I know you are sad.”  Helping your child describe what he is feeling with words will eventually decrease the acting out.  This also helps your child begin to develop  empathy, he or she will know how others feel because they have felt it too.

4.   Listen. As your child gets older, parents will need to listen to a child’s reasoning.  It is fine to give an older child a chance to explain, and even accept the child’s explanation, but there should not be engagement in an argument. Arguing will not convince a child that as a parent you are right.  You simply will say, “I know that you don’t understand now and are upset, but this is my decision.”  Parents should never engage in an argument with young children; toddlers and preschool age children will never look at you and say “I understand Mom, I will go to time out!”  :)

5.  Model good behavior. To teach manners and socially acceptable behavior, most children will learn by modeling.  When a child is prompted “Say thank you.”  “Say I am sorry.” and the child sees the parent model the behavior,  they will eventually incorporate those manners and behaviors.  Do not force but help your child become socially acceptable.  If your child will not say please, thank you or sorry, say it for the child.  “Connor says “Please.”  Modeling poor language, yelling, name calling etc. will result in a child behaving like you!

6.   Give your child choices. Many times you can head off a conflict with choices.  Giving choices often increases cooperation.  When a child feels more control, they often will not act out as much.    Choices about which outfit to wear, choices between two healthy foods, even give choices for non negotiable things like brushing teeth.  “I know that you don’t like brushing teeth, but it is important, so would you like to brush your teeth now or after you put on your pjs?”  Find every day choices for your child.

7.  Know when to walk away. Temper tantrums are a child’s way of blowing off steam and communicating their frustration.  They are a part of almost every child’s normal growth and development during the toddler years.  Some children have more than others. If you respond to them then you validate that behavior; but if you ignore them you will see them gradually subside.  If a child is totally out of control with a tantrum,  sit next to your child, speak soothingly and place your hand on him gently. Touch will often calm.  Do not pick up and comfort, this will again encourage the behavior.  Tantrums often will occur when a child is hungry, tired, or has figured out that they work! Don’t engage with an older child if you feel like he is “pushing your buttons”.  If you feel frustrated walk away until you can respond calmly.  This won’t reinforce the behavior and teaches them appropriate behaviors to model.

8.  Be creative and fun. Many times a child will be more cooperative and need less discipline if a parent “plays to gain cooperation”.  For example, pretending to feed an animal the toys when you pick them up, racing the kitchen timer to get dressed, singing a brush your teeth song, …get silly, have fun, and watch your child cooperate!

  • Remember effective discipline must remove the most valued thing from a child, your attention.  Removing attention is much more effective than spanking or hand slapping which is a temporary fix.

The discipline technique I like is basically the “1, 2, 3 Magic” program developed by Dr. Thomas W.  Phelan PhD.  www.parentmagic.com  This program has been used by countless schools and parents for many years.  It is simple and effective, and can be used with a little modification clear until the teen years.  Even during the teen years, the basic principles are effective.  I teach this program with a few small changes, but this discipline process when used consistently will help with almost every discipline issue.

1,2,3 Magic

1.  The parent calmly gives a warning with words and by holding up 1 finger. “No touching the dog food. That’s one.”

2.  If the behavior stops great, if not the parent gives a 2nd warning by holding up 2 fingers and saying… “That’s two.”

3.  If the behavior stops, great if not the parent holds up a third finger and calmly says, “That is 3, time out.”  or  “That is 3, take a break.” Your child then takes a time out.  This time out should be in a specific place away from activity and toys.  If your child is a toddler, it will need to be in a place where the child can still see you.  If the child is older, the spot can be on a bottom step, in a chair in the other room, or when the child is about 4 or older, the bedroom is a good choice.  The “break” should be about a minute a year. When the “break” is  over,  you act as if nothing had happened.  There are no lectures, or lots of hugs and kisses.  This must be done without emotion or many words!  The more emotion and words that are used, the more attention has been given to the behavior. There should be one short explanation given to the child.  There is  no yelling, and no response to the continued complaining or a fit from the child.  This is so important!!  When a parent does not give a long explanation, does not get emotionally upset, and then follows through with an appropriate time out, the parental authority is unquestionable.  If this is done consistently, the child will know exactly what to expect from a parent.  Remember, consistency is the key!  

Common questions:

  • How long between counts?

Just long enough to give your child a chance to gain control of their behavior and respond.  This does not meant   “That is 1…1 1/2…Listen to Mommy!… 2…. Stop touching it!  You don’t want to go to time out!  2 1/2 …please stop….2 3/4….I really mean it…..!! There is only a few seconds between counts and no extra words or warnings.

  • What if there are several problem behaviors one right after the other?

You do not need to start a new count for each behavior.   For example.. “No cookies now.”  The child screams at you.  “That’s 1.”  The child runs and throws a toy.  “That’s 2.”  The child tries to take a cookie off the pantry shelf.  “That is 3, time out.”

  • What if the behavior is serious, like hitting?

There are several behaviors that you will determine are an automatic 3.  In our house that was hitting, biting, shoving and name calling.   Automatic time outs should occur for any behavior that is physical or aggressive.

  • What if your child counts with you?

I promise if you use this system your child will at some point count with you or give you a 1, 2 or 3 time out!  Try not to laugh.  It is up to you on your response.  You can ignore the counting completely.  No words, no emotions.  If you are able to do that, the behavior will stop.  I could not, it was like nails on a chalk board when one of my children counted with me…so it was an automatic time out in our house.  You decide!

  • What do you do in public?

This is a very common time for children to push the limits, especially if you do not follow through when you are not at home.  Always set your behavior expectations before getting out of the car.  “I want you to hold Mommy’s hand when we are in the store.”  If your child does act out in public, if you are consistent with the 1, 2, 3 Magic at home, often you can control your child’s behavior with just a 1 and a 2.  If you get to 3, then you must find an appropriate time out place where you are.  This could be leaving and going to the car, turning the shopping cart around in the grocery store away from you and ignoring, sitting your child on a chair in the center of the mall…or for a school aged child a delayed time out at home away from TV etc.   Do not go back to lots of talking and emotion when you are out trying to avoid the time out when in public.  If you are embarrassed and back down, then your child will quickly learn you will not follow through when you are out and about!

  • What if the child will not stay in time out?

You must continue to bring the child back to the time out place with no emotion or talking.  Your child will get it!  The first couple of days may result in many trips back to the time out spot, but you must be consistent!  For a young toddler you also may choose to remove the tray off the high chair, strap your child in, and turn the child away from you.  This is a great way to teach time out in the beginning. 

  • What if your child will not come out of time out when it is over?

Do not try to persuade—just say “you can come out when you are ready!”  If you give a lot of attention to this behavior “Come on now, it is all over.  Come on out and play.  Give Mommy a hug…..”  This will result in this behavior again, and may even reinforce the behavior that led to the time out!

  • What if my child yells at me and calls me a “mean mommy or daddy” or “I hate you!”?

I know that this will hurt…no parent likes to hear those words, but you must ignore the behavior!  Your child doesn’t really know what the impact of these words are, he is just angry.  You know that your child loves you and you love him, which is why you are disciplining!   Remember if you respond with emotion and a lot of words, the behavior will happen again!

So those are the simple rules for this discipline approach.  It does work…if the rules are followed.  Soon your child will know what to expect if a behavior is inappropriate and your home will not be filled with spanking, yelling, and lots of arguing and emotional responses.  It takes practice and it takes consistency.  Be patient with yourself!

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


Add a little silliness to your discipline…it works!

A little “clowning around” with discipline will work!  Infuse a little silliness in your day!  :)

All the discipline discussion over the last few days and I feel like a very serious parent!  Discipline is serious business, and a very real necessity for your child, but there certainly are moments that a little bit of silliness or humor will diffuse a situation and result in your child not needing that time out!  Potential conflict can be diffused with a little bit of fun.  Humor can catch your child off guard and prevent a power struggle from even beginning.

1.  Use a funny voice.

Asking your child to pick up toys or do a chore that he has refused to do in a silly voice may just be enough to get him laughing and cooperate!

2.  Use physical humor.

Distraction with something that looks funny may just lighten the mood enough to encourage cooperation.  Your child doesn’t want to get dressed?  What would happen if you pretended to put on your child’s shirt?  What if you tried to put the arms of your child’s shirt on your child’s feet?  This little bit of silliness may be enough to get your child to forget about the battle and cooperate.  Sometimes using physical humor that is totally unexpected will diffuse a situation.  If you have a child who is melting down, put something silly on your head, make a funny face, do something goofy….you might see a little laugh through the tears and the situation is diffused.

3.  Use games.

Play games for cooperation.  Racing the clock to complete a request is a great game to encourage cooperation, but you can even be more creative.  Having trouble with your child holding your hand in a parking lot?  Try asking your child to “lead” you to the car because you “forgot” what your car looks like…walk up to the wrong car and pretend to get in and see the giggles start.  Each time you need to hold hands, start the game.  Think of a game to try in those situations that you know your child has difficulty cooperating.  Try it before the conflict begins, it may even become your own special game that just the two of you share!

4.  Rewind

Give your child a 2nd chance every once in a while.  If your child says “no” to a request, “rewind”.  Be silly and back up physically and rewind your voice…try the request again.  My husband was always very good at this….he would take our kids’ shoulders, turn them in a circle….and start over.  This usually brought a smile and a better choice to cooperate from our kids.

5.  Use a silly question.

If you get a defiant “No” from your child…try a silly question.  “Hmmm you don’t want to wear your coat?  What about wearing your bathing suit today?”  Sometimes a ridiculous suggestion or question results in cooperation!

Remember to use humor at the right moment.  There are times to be serious and follow through with your discipline plan, a firm “No” and a time out.  At no time should you use humor to belittle your child….but there certainly are times that a little fun and games can diffuse a stressful situation, increase your child’s cooperation, and let’s face it…make the day a bit more fun for both you and your child!  Increase your silliness today and see what happens.

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 child care dilemma, how do you choose?

Tragically, we sometimes see in the news a report about a child’s injury or death in a day care setting.  This is certainly rare, but the safety of child care is a topic that needs to be discussed for all new parents.  As parents, there ARE times that we will not be able to care for our child.  Some of us work outside of the home, and all of us need and deserve the occasional day or evening away.  Finding  daily child care or just occasional child care is a source of worry and anxiety for most parents.  How do you find a caregiver that you trust for your precious child? First START EARLY!  It takes time to do your research and find the best caregiver for your child!  Do not rush the process and always trust your gut! If a child care center, home or sitter does not feel right to you, then it isn’t!   Ask friends, family members, and other parents for their suggestions.  The best referral comes from a parent that uses the child care provider.

There are resources in each state that will help you get started with your search.  Child Care Aware is a website that you can access.  This site will direct you to your area’s child care referral system.  This will give you the local licensed and unlicensed day care centers, in home day cares, and church ministries.  By using the Child Care Aware website you will also be able to access any violations these centers may have. The  National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care produced a list of guidelines for parents that are looking for childcare.  These guidelines are as follows:


  • Are children supervised at all times, even when they are sleeping?
  • How do the caregivers discipline children? (Hint: Discipline should be positive, clear, consistent, and fair.)

 Hand washing and Diapering

  • Do all caregivers and children wash their hands often, especially before eating and after using the bathroom or changing diapers?
  • Is the place where diapers are changed clean?
  • Do caregivers always keep a hand on the child while diapering?
  • Do caregivers remove the soiled diaper without dirtying any surface not already in contact with stool or urine?
  • Do caregivers clean and sanitize the surface after finishing the changing process? (Hands should be scrubbed with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds and then rinsed and dried. The water faucet should be turned off with a paper towel.)

Director Qualifications

  • Does the director of a child care center have a bachelor’s degree in a child-related field?
  • Has the director worked in child care for at least two years?
  • Does the director understand what children need to grow and learn?

Lead Teacher Qualifications

  • Does the lead teacher in a child care center have a bachelor’s degree in a child-related field?
  • Has the teacher worked in child care for at least one year?
  • Does the teacher give children lessons and toys that are right for their ages?

Child:Staff Ratio and Group Size

  • How many children are being cared for in the child care program?
  • How many caregivers are there? (Your child will get more attention if each caregiver has fewer children to care for. The younger the children are, the more caregivers there should be. For example, one family home caregiver should only take care of two infants.)


  • Is your child up-to-date on all of the required immunizations?
  • Does the child care program have records proving that the other children in care are up-to-date on all their required immunizations?

Toxic Substances

  • Are toxic substances like cleaning supplies and pest killers kept away from children?
  • Has the building been checked for dangerous substances like radon, lead and asbestos?
  • Is poison control information posted?

Emergency Plan

  • Does the child care program have an emergency plan if a child is injured, sick, or lost?
  • Does the child care program have first-aid kits?
  • Does the child care program have information about who to contact in an emergency?

 Fire/Emergency Drills

  • Does the child care program have a plan in case of a disaster like a fire, tornado, flood, blizzard, or earthquake?
  • Does the child care program do practice drills once every month?

Child Abuse

  • Can caregivers be seen by others at all times, so a child is never alone with one caregiver?
  • Have all caregivers undergone background check?
  • Have the caregivers been trained on how to prevent child abuse, how to recognize signs of child abuse, and how to report suspected child abuse?


  • Does the child care program keep medication out of reach from children?
  • Are the caregivers trained and the medications labeled to make sure the right child gets the right amount of the right medication at the right time?

Staff Training/First Aid

  • Have caregivers been trained how to keep children healthy and safe from injury and illness?
  • Do they know how to do first aid and rescue breathing?
  • Have they been trained to understand and meet the needs of children of different ages?
  • Are all child care staff, volunteers, and substitutes trained on and implementing infant back sleeping and safe sleep policies to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, crib death)? (When infants are sleeping, are they on their backs with no pillows, quilts, stuffed toys, or other soft bedding in the crib with them?)


  • Is the playground regularly inspected for safety?
  • Is the playground surrounded by a fence?
  • If there is a sandbox, is it clean?
  • Are the soil and playground surfaces checked often for dangerous substances and hazards?
  • Is equipment the right size and type for the age of children who use it

National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care (1-800-598-5437)

What do you do when you need an occasional babysitter?

  1. Start early—don’t wait until the last moment to try to find a sitter.
  2. Recruit from relatives, friends and neighbors.  Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for suggestions.  You can ask churches, high schools, your doctor, local colleges.  Network!
  3. Think about “training” a sitter.  Use a “mother’s helper” while you are in your house.  Have a younger sitter come to your house and help you out while you are there.  Gradually give more responsibility until you are comfortable leaving for shorter and then longer periods of time.
  4. Ask questions about a potential  sitter.
  • What other childcare experience do you have?
  • What are the ages of other children you have watched?
  • How would you handle certain, possibly difficult situations that might occur?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What kind of activities do you enjoy doing with children?
  • Tell me about school, sports, activities etc.
  • Do you know CPR or emergency procedures?  If you have a sitter that you may use frequently—why not pay for him or her to become CPR certified and take a safe sitter class?
  • How much do you charge?
  • References?
  • Questions for me?

5.  Orient a new sitter to your home.   Point out where phones are, fire extinguishers, circuit breakers, first aid kit, what is off limits to the kids, how to lock doors etc.

6. Discuss how they are to get in touch with you.

7.  Review rules of the home including those for meals, pets, TV, computer time, and play.

8.  Explain possible behavior problems and how you would want them to be handled.

9. Introduce the sitter to your child and let them get to know each other.   Allow some time together before you leave.

10.  Leave a list of activities that your child would like and any bed time routine.

11.  Make sure you leave your address, nearest crossroads, and any emergency numbers written by the phone.

12.  Discuss what food is available to the sitter and what activities for the sitter  you feel are appropriate once the children are in bed.

13. When you return home ask the sitter how things went and if your child is verbal, ask your child how he or she liked the sitter!  Children are very honest!

Your work is not finished once you find the child care facility or occasional sitter for your child.  As a parent, you must stay involved.  Continue to ask questions and make surprise visits. Your child is your most precious possession, and you must be your child’s advocate for safe and loving care when you are not there!

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


Springing forward….what is a parent to do?

Ahh spring is finally just around the corner…I hope!  It seems that it has been a long sunless winter here in the Midwest!  I am ready for some real sunshine.  That is what I hate the most about midwest winters, the lack of blue sky and sun.  Spring brings more outdoor time for parents and children, teaching moments about nature, fewer battles with jackets, hats, and mittens, and Daylight Savings Time.  Whenever the clock changes, I get countless questions on how to make the transition easier for parents and children.  It is difficult sometimes for a child that is very structured in routine to jump and hour ahead in the spring or fall back an hour in the fall.  There are two ways to handle the transition.

  1. You can wing it.  Go cold turkey with the switch.  The day before the time changes on Saturday morning, you can just wake your child at the “new” time, so if they normally get up at 7:00 am wake your child at the new 7:00 am time (which will actually be 6:00 am), and deal with a crankier child. This will provide a little sleep deficit helping your child be tired a bit earlier that evening.  Hopefully you can put your child to bed at the “new” 7:00 pm time on Saturday night (actually 6:00 pm before the time change) and your child will not be too overly tired to sleep.  Sunday morning be sure that you wake your child on the “new” time at 7:00 am because daylight savings time starts during the night.  There may be a couple of days of transition.  Actually, if you have a child who is rising too early, the switch to daylight savings time may actually help you out!
  2. You can plan for the change starting now.  I prefer this option, it seems like a more gradual adjustment.  Then again, I could prefer it because I sometimes tend to be a bit of a “control freak”.  Starting tonight, move your whole nighttime routine up by 15 minutes.  This will include dinner, bath, story and bedtime. On Saturday night, move the routine another 15 minutes.  Do the same on Sunday night.  By doing this, on Sunday evening you will have adjusted your child’s routine by nearly an hour to the “new” daylight savings time bedtime.  Make sense?

Regardless how you choose to change your child’s bedtime to the daylight savings time, there are other challenges with the switch.  Black out shades may become a necessity.  They were in our house.  Somehow it is difficult to convince a child that it is bedtime when the sun is shining….there is no Mr. Moon out yet!  The rule of adjusting your child’s clock with light is still important but difficult when it is light until 9:30 pm here in Indiana.  Start dimming the lights in the house and finish your bedtime routine with the black out shades pulled in the bedroom.  This will remove the light from your child’s eyes, help adjust their inner clock, and “prove” to them that it is indeed night!

When the clock switches, it is also a great time to check those batteries in the smoke detectors in your home.  Keep on top of keeping you and your child safe.

So, either have a plan for the switch, or “wing it” but be sure that your child is getting enough sleep!  Sleep is so important for your child and you too!  Looking forward to spring!

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


Childproofing 101


Staying ahead of kids in order to keep the house safe is no easy task….some days I would have been better off wrapping my four in bubble wrap!  

New parents have so much to do!  It seems the “to do” list is never-ending.  At the top of every parent’s “to do” list should be child proofing.  Keeping your precious little one safe is a #1 priority, and no simple task.   Children are curious, quick, and smart!  Just when you think that you have your child protected, you find your child standing in the center of the kitchen table swinging from the overhead light….or at least it seems that way!  The truth is, accidents are the leading cause of injury and death in children.  So many of these tragedies can be prevented with a little preparation.  Child proofing is a MUST but, NOTHING replaces supervision.  Child proofing slows a child down but does not totally prevent injury.  Think about child proofing in layers….putting dangerous items in an upper cabinet and then latching the cabinet.  We all know that any self-respecting toddler can push a chair over and reach that cabinet!  Over the next few days, check back and we will go over a room by room check for child proofing and common mistakes that parents make!

General tips:

  • Child proof ahead of your child!  You never know the first time your child will roll over, begin to crawl, or pull up.  Child proof before it is a must.
  • Get on your child’ level to child proof.  That’s right, crawl around and see what your child sees.  You will be surprised at the number of dangers that lurk at your child’s eye level and not yours.
  • Sign up to receive e-mail recall notifications at www.cpsc.gov  New parents have so much baby equipment!  It is hard to keep track of any recalls or safety notices.  By signing up for e-mails on recalls you will be able to make sure your baby equipment is safe.
  • Keep a notebook or spreadsheet with a list of all your baby equipment including serial numbers, and date and place of purchase.  This is a quick reference guide for you to flip to when you receive a recall notice.  Much easier than trying to find the numbers on your baby equipment and remember when and where you purchased it!
  • Take a CPR class for parents!  Local hospitals, the Red Cross, and other agencies offer CPR classes for parents.  Sign up and be a prepared parent….knowledge is the key to peace of mind for you and protection for your child.
  • Install outlet covers in every room.  There are sliding outlet plates that replace your existing outlet plate and have a sliding “door” that slides to cover the outlet.  These are less of a choking hazard.
  • Remove rubber caps off of all door stoppers, they are choking hazards.
  • Keep dangerous chemicals out of reach and locked up, provide a double layer of protection.
  • Program the Poison Control phone number in your cell phone for quick use 1-800-222-1222.
  • Use cabinet and drawer latches.  There are many to choose from!  Pick one that can be installed easily, there are adhesive mount latches for those areas that a parent may not want permanent mountings.
  • Always use the safety belts in bouncy chairs, high chairs, swings…whenever there is one provided!
  • Shorten or go cordless on curtain and blind cords.
  • Know the names of the plants you have in the house, in case one is eaten!  Put all plants out of your child’s reach.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor.  Make sure there is one outside of bedrooms.
  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom and on every level of your home.  Check the batteries every 6 months.
  • Use corner bumpers on furniture with sharp edges.
  • Install window guards for all windows above the first level of a home.  Windows that can be opened more than 4 inches are dangerous.
  • Secure all heavy furniture to the wall.  Every year thousands of children are hurt when furniture is pulled over on them.  Children pull out dresser drawers and use them as steps too.  Keep the tops of furniture cleared of tempting items like toys, and knickknacks to deter a child from climbing up to reach them. This would include tall dressers, entertainment centers, book cases, and large screen televisions.
  • Turn the water heater down to a maximum temperature of 120 degrees F.
  • Keep lighters, matches and lit candles out of reach.
  • Install gates at the top and bottom of stairways.  Do not use pressure mounted gates at the top of stairs.
  • Fire arms should be locked up with a trigger lock in place.  Ammunition should be stored and locked separately from the fire arm. Do not keep fire arms loaded in the home. Teaching children about gun safety does NOT negate the need to lock up your guns.  Children can’t be trusted around fire arms!
  • Make a plan for fire evacuation.  Talk with all members of the family and practice with a fire drill! Buy an escape ladder to store under your bed if you live in a two story home.
  • Test homes built before 1978 for lead paint.  For information about getting paint samples go to the National Lead Information Center’s website.
  • Look for a safety store at your closest children’s hospital.  These stores will sell child proofing products at cost and have safety experts there to answer questions.  If you live in Indiana, the Riley Safety Store is available at several Indiana University Hospital sites.  For more information visit RileyHospital.org, or call toll free 1-888-365-2022 or e-mail kids1st@iupui.edu.
This will give you a start!  Remember, a little prevention goes a long way, but never replaces supervision.  So, get down on those hands and knees and take a look at your home…then make your home as safe as it can be so your child can explore their world!

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


Make your home emotionally safe for your child!

Keeping all four kids physically safe was a challenge and providing an emotionally safe environment was just as challenging.  As parents, we always tried to authentically validate each child’s unique needs, feelings, and fears…and each of these little faces had their own…you can almost see each of their own uniqueness in this picture!

“Be safe!”  “Wear your seat belt!” ” Put your helmet on!”  “Don’t jump off the slide!”  ” Ride with both hands on the handlebars!”  ” Don’t drive too fast!”  ” Turn the music down in the car!”  “Where is your mouth guard?”  “Leave the party if there is drinking.”  ” Call me if you need a ride home.”…..I have sounded like a walking safety book with my children.  I have tried to create a safe environment for my kids when they were small and impart “words of wisdom” to keep them safe as my kids became older.  From the first moment you lay eyes on your child, you have an insatiable need to keep your child safe.  Physical safety is a huge part of this….but we as parents also must remember that our children need to be in a safe emotional environment too.

We can buy outlet covers, cabinet locks, bike helmets, and mouth guards, but how do we create an emotionally safe environment that fosters our child’s strengths, helps our child develop coping skills, helps our child recover from disappointments and be prepared for life?  I often made the mistake of telling my children, “You are OK..it will be fine.”  I was desperately wanting them to just feel better, no matter what they were disappointed about.  A better choice is always to listen with empathy, validate their feelings and fears and not simply push those feelings away thinking you are making them “all better.”  If we do this, then our child will not learn how to handle these real feelings and move on from disappointment or hardship to figuring out solutions.

So, what kind of “childproofing” can you do to make your home emotionally safe for your child?  The home is a place where a child should feel safe to be who they are, to be heard for what they feel, and have no fear that they still will be loved and valued no matter how they act.

  • Parents need to work at figuring out what their child needs…not wants, but needs.
  • Parents need to stop and truly listen;  listen quietly to what their child shares.
  • Parents need to stop, breathe, and then speak when their own emotions are overwhelming.  Responding to children in a way that is frightening or overwhelming will prevent a child from feeling emotional safety.
  • Parents need to validate and respect their child’s feelings, fears, and thoughts even if those feelings , fears, and thoughts seem wrong or silly to the parent.  Never minimize your child’s feelings and emotions.
  • Parents need to be consistently there for their child when their child needs them, even if the parent can’t fix the problem.
  • Parents need to help a child work through feelings and empower their child to develop his or her own strategy or plan to solve the problem, even if it seems easier for you to fix it or solve it for your child.
  • Parents need to set appropriate limits and boundaries for their child, even if the limit causes tears or an “I hate you!” response.  Limits and boundaries bring a feeling of safety and security to children, even if they don’t admit it.
  • Parents need to handle their own emotions, worries, fears, and stress with maturity.  Children model behavior of parents and if the behavior they see is  melting down, yelling, anxiety or withdrawing; children will use the same strategies to cope with their own emotions, fears, and stress.

So as we are looking at each nook and cranny of our homes to be sure our child’s environment is safe for him or her physically; let’s think about what our home needs so that it is always an emotionally safe place for our child.  Our homes need to be safe enough that our child can share who they truly are, tell us what fears they have in their heart, and express what deep emotions they hold without fear that we parents will withhold our love and support, or that we will merely tell them that “it is OK” without truly listening.   So today, stop for a moment and think about creating a safe haven in your home for your children…one that keeps them physically safe, but just as important, one that keeps them emotionally safe.

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


Think about a straw cup instead of a sippy!

straw cup

Sippy cups are everywhere…there are aisles and aisles of them at most discount and baby stores. Cups with soft spouts, cups with hard spouts, cups with valves, cups without valves, cups with straws, cups with handles, and cups of every color and size. Choices, choices and more choices! Once again it seems a parent needs a class on how to choose a sippy cup. I am going to make it easy for you….

Sippy cups are a transitional cup…..Transitional! That means it is a cup for a child to use for a short period of time when transitioning from a breast or bottle. Children are developmentally capable of drinking from a lidless cup with very few spills by age 3. Capable if we allow them to develop the skill.

A cup should be introduced at about 6 months when a child starts solid foods. I have always recommended a sippy cup with a hard spout and without a valve. I now feel that a child should use a straw cup over a sippy cup. Children often use sippy cups like a bottle. Their heads are tipped back and they suck on the spout just like a nipple. When children suck, their jaw, lips and tongue all move simultaneously. This motion does not allow the jaw, lips and tongue to work separately which is necessary for speech. The tongue also is in a forward position pushing on the teeth, which can cause a misshapen mouth and a tongue thrust. This all can result in problems with speech and articulation.  The use of a straw cup will often prevent this from happening.

So, introduce a valveless hard spout sippy cup with meals at about 6 months of age. Start working with your child to use a straw cup. Usually by 9 months of age a child is able to use a straw. You can start by using a cup that can be squeezed, put gentle pressure on the cup to bring fluid up into the straw. Try using an open or lidless cup with meals and save the straw cup for times that you are away from the table and want to prevent spills. Your child can also practice with an open cup in the bathtub…no worries about spills there! So parents, let go of that sippy cup! Allow your child to learn how to drink with a lidless cup and use a straw cup when spills need to be prevented. Their teeth and their speech will thank you. Relax, there will be a few spills, but there is no reason to cry over spilled milk!

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


Picky Toddler Eating

Our daughter, Kaitlyn, the picture of  toddler pickiness!

Why is it that we parents worry so much about how much our child is eating?  I can remember thinking that how well Kaitlyn ate that day, determined how well I had parented.  Not true!  Children under the age of one usually nurse or formula feed well, and are eager for the introduction of solid foods.  But seemingly over night, our toddlers start to have an opinion about what we feed them!  I can remember being very frustrated because I was providing her with this wonderfully healthy meal, and often all she wanted was bananas!  To make it more confusing, the next day she may have thrown all those bananas off her tray!  My darling daughter was a typical toddler, and with toddlers, meals are often a challenge.  Why?

1.Toddlers have slowed down in growth.

The first year of life a child grows very quickly, between birth and a year most children triple their birth weight!  A toddler grows much more slowly and seems less hungry.

2.  Eating interrupts a toddler’s activity.

Toddlers are busy…any parent can tell you that.  Sitting for any length of time just isn’t on the toddler’s agenda!

3.  You can’t force a toddler to eat.

A parent’s job is to present a toddler with a wide taste pallet of healthy foods every day.  It is up to the child to eat them!  The more you force, the more most toddlers turn up their noses.  A healthy child offered healthy food will NOT starve themself!

4.  Toddlers usually eat one good meal a day.

Often toddlers will eat a good breakfast, an OK lunch and pick at dinner. Toddlers only need about 40 calories an inch. (Now don’t get that calculator out for your child!)  Most will only need about 1000 to 1200 calories a day.  By dinner, many toddlers have eaten their required calories for the day!

5.  Toddlers like to binge on one food.

Food jags are common in toddlers.  One day you can’t fill them up on green beans, and then two days later it is bananas.    Some days a toddler may eat only fruit, the next day they may fill up on protein.  What a toddler eats over a week is a better picture of their diet intake.

So what is a parent to do….

  • Relax!
  •  Offer food frequently!  Toddlers need 3 meals and at least 2 snacks offered each day.  Toddlers behave better when they are eating frequently.  Their tummies are small and temper tantrums increase when blood sugars are low.  Try planning snacks from at least 2 food groups 2 to 3 times a day.
  • Dip it!  Toddlers like to dip everything.  It is fun, and it is messy…two essentials for toddler eating!  Humus, yogurt, cottage cheese, guacamole, melted cheese, salsa, peanut butter and even ranch dressing are some essential dips for toddlers.
  • Hide it!  Hide the broccoli under cheese sauce, shred the vegies and mix them in humus or cream cheese and spread on a tortilla and cut into pin wheels, puree vegies and add them to pasta sauce, lasagna, meatloaf.  Make “orange ” pancakes with sweet potato puree or carrot puree and a dash of cinnamon.  Get sneaky!   When you hide vegetables, make sure you include some on your child’s plate so they learn what a balanced diet looks like.
  • Be creative!  Kids like fun.  Make faces on sandwiches, use cookie cutters and cut shapes in pancakes and bread, make shish-ka-bobs with fruit and pretzel sticks, make party bananas with sprinkles, serve fruit and yogurt in an ice cream cone, try smoothies….
  • Remember the toddler serving size!  A serving size is a tablespoon per year.  One serving of vegetables for a 2-year-old is two tablespoons!  Many times we are trying to serve our toddlers adult size portions!
  •  Don’t let your toddler “drink” his calories.  A toddler should only have  16 to a maximum of 20 ounces of milk a day.  That is much less than the 28 to 32 ounces most were drinking before becoming toddlers!  If your child drinks too much cow’s milk, he will not eat solid food calories!  Too much milk provides too little iron and other needed nutrients!  Juice should be limited to only 4 to 6 ounces a day, better to have the whole fruit than just the juice!
  • Let your child “shop” for food.  Give your child a few dollars and let them “shop” in the produce section.  Your child will be more likely to eat the food he or she “buys”!  You might learn to cook and eat a new fruit or vegetable too….you never know what your child may pick out!  (this is how I learned to fix spaghetti squash!)
  • Let your child “help” prepare food.  A child who watches a parent make dinner and “helps” will often be more likely to eat!  Let your child have a few choices, control is important for toddlers.
  • Let your child be messy.  Toddlers explore food with their mouths, taste buds, and hands.  They smash food, throw food, spread food, “paint” with food and generally need a bath after most meals.  You must allow your toddler to feed himself.  You must introduce spoons and forks, and be patient with the fact that it takes time and messes to learn how to use them!
  • Don’t battle…try a “No thank you bite”.  Toddlers have opinions, and sometimes they are very strong!  The more battle there is in a meal, the more likely you will lose!  Offer healthy foods and a variety of foods.  If your toddler refuses to try something, introduce a “no thank you bite”.  One bite and then he can refuse more.  You might even ask your child to “kiss” the food, not even take a bite.  This may provide just a small enough taste to convince your child to take a bite!  Remember, it takes 15 to 20 introductions to a food before your child will develop a definite like or dislike!

Here are a couple good sites for toddler recipes.  Some of my favorites are by Annabel Karmel!   Relax…don’t make your mealtime a battle!

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:





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