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

Parenting tips…day three!


Final tips….add your own to the list!

31.  Respect your child’s likes and dislikes

  • Allow your child to develop their own passions, likes, and dislikes.
  • Provide opportunity for your child to experience many things to discover passions, likes, and dislikes.
  • Your child may not like the same things that you do, and that is OK!

32.  Be a team with dad and other people who parent your child

  • Don’t be a gatekeeper, allow Dad or other important people in your child’s life to participate in parenting.
  • Realize that there is benefit in doing things differently, different is not always wrong.
  • Have a united front with Dad; this gives your child a clear message of expectations.  Never disagree about parenting issues in front of your child.
  • Parents, who are not on the same page, will be manipulated.

 33.  Always set expectations

  • Defining your expectations helps your child determine expected behavior.
  • Setting expectations beforehand gives better results.
  • Frequent discussions about what you expect from your child helps him or her develop a good moral compass.

 34.  Teach basic manners by example

  • Manners and respectful behavior will help your child be successful.
  • Your behavior that your child observes is more important than the words you speak.
  • Make sure that your actions show respect of your child.
  • Provide the example of gratitude.

 35.  Talk quieter—not louder when you are very upset

  • This will defuse a frustrating or angry situation.
  • Everyone will remain calmer if voices are quieter.
  • Your child will have to calm down in order to hear you.
  • Yelling usually accomplishes nothing.

 36.  Use discipline in public, and if your child has a meltdown, leave

  • Following through on discipline in public will allow you to leave your home!!
  • Children learn very quickly when and where you will not follow through with consequences…and they will behave accordingly.

 37.  Sometimes look the other way

  • Your child will hear “no” many times, save it for the important things.
  • Pick your battles, some are not important enough to pick!

  38.  Don’t reward everything. Let your child learn the valuable lesson of being proud of himself .

  • Let your child develop an inner drive to success.
  • Constant rewards and praise result in a child that is externally motivated, driven by the outside things.
  • Internal motivation results in a child who does the right thing because it feels good, not because he will “get something” in the end.

39.  Know your child’s friends, open up your home to them

  • Knowing who your child’s friends are gives you a glimpse of their life away from you.
  • Know the parents of your child’s friends; parenting together gives you a sounding board and more parenting power.

 40.  Forgive yourself for not being the perfect parent

  • Your child does not expect or need perfection.
  • Being too hard on yourself, makes you not trust your parenting.
  • Expecting perfection from yourself sets the example for your child that only perfection is acceptable.
  • We only need to be “good enough”…not perfect.  Lighten up, there is always room for silliness.
  • Unconditional love trumps parenting imperfections!

41.  Some things are not worth the worry

  • Being a parent should not doom your life to worry.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • No child will starve themselves, temper tantrums are part of childhood, embarrassing behavior happens, you can’t protect your child from every illness and injury, and your child can be happy without the latest and best video game or pair of jeans….and many, many more worries that are not worth the energy!

42.  Teach good sleep habits and early bedtimes

  • Adequate sleep makes everything look better.
  • Children are wired early to bed early to rise.
  • Early bedtimes provide evenings for you to refill, recharge, and reconnect.

 43.   Don’t view your child’s life through a camera lens

  • Documenting your child’s life in pictures is important, but don’t miss the moment by trying to always have the perfect picture.
  • Step away from the camera and really enjoy the moment.
  • Sometimes the memory is better when you are actually playing in the pool with your child and not photographing it!

44.  Don’t wish time away

  • Don’t keep thinking life will be better when…..my baby sleeps through the night, my child is potty trained, my child is in school all day—with every stage is a new challenge and a new joy.
  • Enjoy each moment and each stage…they are all special.

45.  Keep it simple…working at parenting too hard or making it too complicated robs the simple joy!

Let’s make this an even 50!  What are your tips to share with others?  Share your wisdom…and help us all to enjoy every challenge and every joy of being a parent.  Like  Raising Kids with Love on Facebook and join in the conversation!

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


More parenting tips….

A few more tips that I found out work over my 30 years and counting of parenting….what are your tips?

16.  You are your child’s parent, not friend

  • You must parent, which means you may not always be liked
  • Making difficult decisions that may cause your child to be unhappy at the moment, is the definition of a good parent

17.  Nagging does not work

  • Saying “pick up your shoes” 100 times will not make it any more likely to happen

18.  Don’t buy a lot of “things” for your children

  • Buying does not equal love
  • Your child does not need a lot of things
  • There will be a new “gotta have it” every week

20.  Don’t feel like you must always play with your child

  • Time with your child is important, but your child must learn how to play without you.  This builds self-confidence, ingenuity, and your child will learn how to “work his world”.

21.  Don’t over schedule

  • Your child does not need to be involved in every lesson, sport, and club to become successful.
  • Down time is important to children, our children are often over stimulated and overly tired.
  • Teach your child the art of being alone….turn off the technology and be comfortable with alone time.

22.  Eat together as often as you can

  • Meals together reconnect a family.
  • Families who eat together have children that are more successful and less likely to be involved in alcohol and drugs.
  • Remember, a family meal can be a frozen pizza!
  • Breakfast counts as a family meal too!
  • Make at least one meal a week together a must.

 23.  Have family fun together

  • Plan activities together.  Don’t fall into the habit of everyone going their separate ways.  Family time builds connectivity.
  • Children that have a strong family identity have higher self-esteem.
  • Read and play board games, go back to the basics for family time.
  • Children remember the good in family time–even if it seems like a trip or outing was disastrous!

 24.  Establish family traditions and rituals

  • Tradition and ritual defines a family.
  • Tradition endears your child to home.
  • “That is how we always do it” means it is important!

 25.  Don’t helicopter parent

  • Allow your child to finish a task on his own.
  • Allow your child to experience consequence for behaviors.
  • Do not “rescue” your child from every hardship.
  • Let your child do his own homework and projects.
  • Give your child age appropriate responsibilities.

  26.  Parent with your heart and gut

  • Experts are great, but don’t rely only on what you hear and read, trust yourself.
  • If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.
  • What is right for your family may be different from what is right for your next door neighbor’s family.

  27.  Attention is attention, whether it is positive or negative

  • Your child wants your attention, whether it is negative or positive.
  • Lots of talk about negative behavior gives that behavior lots of attention.
  • Try to give most of your attention to positive behaviors, not negative.

  28.  Love all your children but treat them differently

  • Do not try to treat each of your children exactly the same.
  • Every child needs something different from you as a parent.
  • Have the same rules in your home–but your approach to those rules may be different with each child.
  • Trying to keep things “equal” often increases sibling rivalry, give every child what he needs when he needs it.

  29.  Keep TVs and computers out of bedrooms

  • Parents must monitor their child’s exposure to TV, computer, and video games.
  • There is never a good reason to have a TV in your child’s bedroom; it decreases family interaction, reading, and creativity.
  • Keep the computer out in an area that is full of family activity.
  • Know what websites your child has been using.
  • Be tech savvy, your kids will be!

  30.  Know when to let go

  • There are times when you must trust your child–and let go.

The last few tomorrow…join in this conversation!  What are your favorite parenting tips?!  We all have them, share so we can all benefit from each other.  Like Raising Kids with Love on Facebook and join in the parenting talk!

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


A few parenting tips….

All of us have a few parenting tips…let’s share them this week!

We all know that there is not an “official” parenting tip book…wouldn’t that be nice!!  But, in actuality, it is best for parents to develop their own “parenting book”.  Parenting your child is unique to you and your child.  Develop your parenting instruction book by reading, watching others, and asking parents you admire what their best advice is.  Trust yourself and your ability to be the best parent to your own child.  Over the next few days I will share a few of my tips.  They are in no particular order, just a few tips that have worked for me over the last 30 years. Share some of your own too!  We all can use a little advice!

1.  Show your unconditional love for your child every day. 

  • Use your words of love verbally, and written.
  • Use your touch with physical hugs and kisses even as your child gets older; older children need that loving touch just as much as younger children!  Even if there is very little reciprocal hugging, the need is there.
  • Teach your child to express his or her love with words, touch, and actions.
  • Begin each day and end each day with “I love you”.  No matter how the day has been or what is in store, those three words make everything start or end well.

2.  Listen

  • Really listen, stop what you are doing and give your child your attention.
  • If you have more than one child, carve out a few minutes every day to share with each child individually.  A few minutes on the bed talking each evening worked for us!
  • Stop what you are doing when your child needs to talk, put the phone down, the computer away, and turn off the TV.

3.  Make your child feel safe

  • Keep adult problems adult problems; don’t share them with your young child or teen.
  • Don’t belittle your child’s fears; monsters can be very “real”.
  • Comfort your child when he is scared first, and then teach coping strategies.
  • Show your child that you will keep them protected.
  • Protect your child from violent TV, videos, and inappropriate web sites.
  • Discuss current events and news—don’t ignore what is happening in the world, but don’t dwell on world problems that are too adult for your child to emotionally handle.

4.  Provide order and routine in your child’s life

  • Routine brings stability and security to your child.
  • Routine and order helps a child manipulate his world.
  • Routine and order helps a child become a better student.

5.  Consistency is the key to discipline

  • Responding in a predictable way to your child’s behavior results in a child who knows what behavior is expected.
  • Sporadic discipline and consequences results in poor behavior.
  • A child who receives inconsistent discipline will push the envelope until a limit is set.

6.  Keep life fun, break the rules sometimes

  • Do the unexpected—eat ice cream for dinner, stay up too late, break your routine occasionally.
  • Enjoy a few minutes of fun every day.

7.  Take care of yourself

  • You cannot care for your child if you do not care for yourself.
  • Teach your child the lesson of self respect by “refilling your pitcher”.
  • Show your child your passions, your child will learn to develop his own.
  • A good parent is one who likes himself or herself.

8.  Take care of the significant relationships in your life

  • A happy marriage is the best gift you can give your child.
  • Your child should be the satellite of your marriage, not the center.
  •  Healthy adult relationships teach children what relationships should involve.

9.  Apologize when you are wrong

  • Teach your child that you make mistakes too.
  • Saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it repairs nearly any parenting mistake.
  • Teaching your child to apologize with true meaning is one of life’s greatest life lessons.

10.  Admit when you do not know the answer

  • You do not have to know everything to be respected by your child.
  • Work together to find answers.
  • Your child feels more secure when he or she knows that you are not “pretending” to know.
  • Your child will figure out that you don’t know everything eventually…trust me!

11.  Give your child chores

  • Teaching responsibility is key to becoming a productive adult.
  • Chores help a child feel like a valuable member of the family.
  • Self esteem is built on accomplishments—including small accomplishments like chores.
  • Chores help a child learn how to time manage.

12.  Encourage your child to listen to the voice in his or her heart

  • Help your child develop his or her inner moral compass.
  • Develop a group of core values that represent your family.
  • Talk often about right and wrong, and what feelings and emotions are connected with each.
  • Encourage your child’s moral judgment, role play how your child would react in situations that would call for that judgment.

13.  Find your spiritual guidance

  • Successful families have a spiritual core of beliefs.
  • Make those beliefs clear in your words and actions as a family.

14.  Surround yourself with like-minded parents and families

  • It is easier to parent when you have the support of others who agree with your parenting values.
  • It is so helpful to be able to bounce parenting issues off other parents for advice.
  • Your child will benefit from other families with the same moral guidelines.
  • Your child needs other adult role models in his or her life besides you!

15.  Every day is a new day

  • Each morning brings a new start for you and your child.
  • Let yesterday go, your mistakes and your child’s mistakes should not be dwelled upon the next day.  Start every day with a new beginning.

The first 15…more tomorrow.  Can you add a few to these 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.


Easter egg hunts and the importance of family tradition

Easter always brought out the hats, gloves, and even with my husband’s protest….plaid shorts and sweaters for Connor!  The dress will be a little different this weekend, I am sure!  🙂

I am so very blessed to have all four of our children home this coming weekend to celebrate Easter.  It is easy to plan the weekend, because it is almost exactly the same every Easter!  The girls will not be wearing white gloves and Easter bonnets like they did when they were young, but all four will be dressed up for church Easter Sunday morning.  The eggs will be colored Saturday evening, the Easter dinner menu will include the traditional ham, “Easter cole slaw”, and other favorites, and of course there will be an egg hunt.  As the children have gotten older, of course there are a few changes…the egg hunt now includes eggs filled with quarters or maybe a few gift certificates and a few “golden eggs” with a little extra cash for pizza or a movie. There is a real feeling of serious business as they head out for the eggs!  The sweet little egg hunt they had when they were young with their cousins has become a race to the finish with winning in mind.  The last few years we had a couple of the kids’ college friends join us and  I always wondered what they thought when I handed them a basket for the egg hunt.  Things will eventually change a bit again when our season in life brings us grandchildren, but the basics of the celebration will always remain the same….because as our kids say, “That is how we always do it!”

If we are smart we listen to our children when they say “That is how we always do it!” even when we have only done it that way one other time.  Your child is not just talking about the good time he had, but the fact that it meant something to him and he thinks to you too.  One of my favorite quotes is from the book  The Little Prince by  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “We live not by things, but the meaning of things.”  It is not what you do or eat that is important, it is the meaning and feeling that comes with what you are doing that is so important to your child.

Creating your own special rituals now and faithfully repeating them throughout your child’s life will provide your child with a sense of security, stability, belonging and pride in his family.  It is never too early to start your own family traditions.

Four reasons tradition is important to a family:

1.  Traditions helps make life predictable.  Rituals that are followed daily, weekly, and yearly such as family dinners, nightly stories, spring picnics, holiday songs etc. helps make children feel secure.  Their world is often unpredictable—keeping things predictable at home gives security.

2.  Traditions give families a time to connect.  Sometimes we can feel unconnected when we get busy.  Family meals, stories, game nights etc. help us reconnect and start talking.  Soon we know what is going on in our children’s lives.

3.  Family traditions teach children what their family values are.  Service work, religious ceremonies, concern for the environment and many other values can be established through family traditions and activities.  These are values that when they are reinforced with traditional activities, your child will bring with him to adulthood.

4.  Tradition forms family identity.  Build a family group for your child to feel connected to and this will often prevent them from trying to find other less suitable groups to identify with.  A child’s family is a huge piece of their identity.

Traditions can be very simple…it is the act of repeating them, allowing them to change with your family’s “season in life” and keeping them fun that is the key.  If something is not fun anymore, then let it go!

Don’t get hung up on creating the prefect rituals, let them happen naturally based on what your family enjoys. Many traditions just happen.  The wonderful thing about becoming your own family is that you get to create your own traditions from scratch.  Some you will come up with on your own, some you will borrow, and some you will discard from your past, but the traditions will become part of who your family is.

Some suggestions to try that might be fun:

1.  The Easter Egg hunt…definitely a tradition.

  • Hide a combination of plastic filled eggs and hard boiled
  • Hide baskets
  • Fill plastic eggs with clues to a bigger prize
  • Use “bunny prints” to guide your child to his or her basket
  • Put out carrots for the Easter Bunny
  • Purchase a “special” basket for each of your children to be re-used each year
2.  Coloring Easter Eggs
  • Hard boil the eggs, let them cool slightly and let the kids “color” on them with crayons.  The heat of the egg will melt the crayon just enough to make it easier.
  • Use stickers to decorate the eggs until you are ready to tackle egg dye.
  • Have an egg decorating contest
  • Glitter eggs…roll eggs is glue and glitter
  • Use fine tip markers to decorate detailed eggs
  • Try marbling eggs by adding a little vegetable oil to the dye you are using
  • Tear up different colored tissue paper and glue it on the eggs for a stain glass window look
3.  Read stories about spring, baby animals, and the Religious meaning of Easter
4.   Baking
  • Traditionally at the end of a Lenten fast, many families indulge in sweets, find an Easter dessert that you can make together.
5.  Traditional Easter brunch, lunch or dinner
  • Find a menu that everyone enjoys, and make it your own!  Spring marks the start of lots of fresh local foods.  I can’t wait for the fresh new asparagus for our Easter dinner!
6.  If your Easter includes Religious tradition, it is never too early to include the children.  Clean them up and head to church.  Waiting until they can “sit still” might be years!  Attending church together as a family, even with young children, is essential if you are instilling this value in your child.  It might be challenging with young children, but worth it in establishing the value and the habit.  There is something so sweet in seeing wiggly children in church…I love it!
Remember, family tradition endears your children to their family and establishes a bond.  The celebration, the meal, and the activities do not need to be perfect, the perfection comes from a celebration steeped in tradition and full of fun memories that draws a family together….that is perfection
Share some family traditions that you hope to establish!

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


Even a little bit of lead exposure is too much in children!

image credit

What do you know about lead screening in children?  Many parents think that lead exposure is a thing of the past.  It is true that the risk of lead poisoning in children has improved over the years with removal of lead from gasoline, paint, and other environmental improvements, but the fact is many of our children are still at risk.  Lead affects nearly every bodily system and is especially harmful to the developing brain in unborn children and young children.  Even low levels of lead in the blood can affect IQ and academic achievement so it is important that we screen children who are at risk.

In the past, lead levels in children below 10 were not of concern.  Recently the Center for Disease Control has lowered that level of concern to 5.  This allows parents and health care providers to address the lead exposure quickly and prevent higher levels and damage to a child’s developing brain.  The recommendation for chelation (treatment to remove lead from the blood) remains the same.  This therapy may be provided when a child’s blood test results show lead at 45 micrograms per deciliter or more.  However, we know that even small amounts of lead can be a problem, and there are steps parents can take to reduce a child’s exposure.

What can you do?  What child should be screened?

  1. Share with your child’s health care provider if your home was built before 1978.  There are lead testing kits that can be obtained from the local health department to test if your home has lead paint and dust.
  2. Test your home prior to doing renovation like sanding, painting, or other repair that could disturb paint.
  3. If you see dust or paint chips on window sills or other areas due to peeling paint, dust the areas frequently with a damp cloth. Clean your home regularly damp mopping frequently.
  4. Don’t let your child play in the dirt next to an older home, plant grass in bare areas in the yard.
  5. Remove shoes when you come in the home to prevent tracking in dirt with lead.
  6. Wash hands before eating and provide a healthy diet. Children who eat a healthy diet absorb less lead.
  7. If you live in an older home, run your tap water for a few minutes before using it to cook or drink or mix formula.

The only way you can know if your child’s lead level may be elevated is with a blood test. Your child usually will have no symptoms of lead exposure.  If you are concerned that your child may have lead exposure, especially if you live in a home built before 1978, talk to your doctor about screening.  Children often are screened starting at about the 9 month checkup.  Be your child’s advocate!  Learn about how to protect your child from lead exposure, because even a little is too much.   For more information visit http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/ and www.healthychildren.org.

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




“Sleep like a baby” Really?

Establishing a calming routine before bed is important!

When I brought our oldest Corri home from the hospital, I thought I knew about the sleep patterns of infants.  After all, I had the degrees to prove that I was an “educated” Mom!  The truth is, nothing can prepare you for the lack of sleep that new parents usually experience.  Quickly my plans to reorganize my closets during Corri’s long daytime naps (don’t newborns sleep all the time?) went by the way side.  Yes, newborns DO sleep a lot…just in very short intervals.  Corri never slept long enough for any reorganization of closets, and when she did sleep I was too tired to reorganize.  Oh, the lessons of a new parent!

Sleep is VERY important for our babies, and for you!  There are some sleep tips for new parents that will help your baby “learn” to sleep and establish good patterns for the future.  I firmly believe that our children are largely sleep deprived because of our busy schedules.  Good sleep is essential for healthy children, clear through the teen years!  Many of the healthy sleep habits you establish with your young children will result in healthy sleep habits for a lifetime.

The first 3 months of a baby’s life there is no real routine.  Anything that you read that tells you that you can establish or “force” routine at this age is mistaken.  I do not think that baby  sleep training books are valuable at this age, and they can really be destructive to your baby’s establishment of good sleep habits.  Your job as a parent during the first year is to help your baby realize that the world is a great place!  When your baby cries, you need to respond.  Baby will quickly learn to trust you and feel loved.  You cannot spoil a newborn!  You CAN spoil an older child, but that discussion is for another day!

Newborn sleep patterns are different from adults.  They have sleep cycles that are much shorter than ours, and have longer patterns of active sleep rather than deep sleep, especially in the first 3 months.  Parents often complain that their infant will “cat nap” .  This is a fairly normal pattern during the first 3 months of life.  Very young infants do not know how to self soothe either.  Those skills develop after the first 3 months also.  Here are a few tips that will help establish good sleep habits for the future.  Remember, there is light at the end of the tunnel, life will become easier after the first few months.

1.  Know your baby’s sleep cues…do not let your baby become over tired.

Most parents in the beginning have a bit of a difficult time learning sleep cues.  Newborn babies should not be up longer than an hour and a half to two hours maximum.  If your baby becomes overly tired, it is much more difficult for your baby to sleep!  Look for your baby to rub at his or her eyes, begin to blank stare and not engage, yawn, and fuss.  When you see some cues, take a look at the length of time your baby has been awake.  The next time your baby is awake, start the process of putting him or her down for a nap 15 minutes earlier.  This way you never miss the window of opportunity, an overstimulated baby does not sleep well.  You often will feel like all you have time for is a feeding, a diaper change, a small amount of interaction and then your baby is ready to sleep again!

2.  Swaddle your baby.

Newborns until the end of the 4th month have a reflex that causes them to startle.  You often will see your baby twitch, grimace, have a sweet sleep grin and jump during the early active sleep pattern.  The twitching and jumping or moro reflex as it is called, will wake your baby.  If you swaddle using a light blanket or a swaddle sleep sack, your baby will not wake with a startle as often and will feel more secure.   Many moms and dads will tell me their baby does not like the swaddle.  I encourage you to try it again.  Try swaddling your baby before a nursing or feeding, or before you begin to rock your child to calm.  Most of the time babies will relax into the swaddle and love it!  They look like a cute baby burrito!

3.  Try white noise.

Babies heard white noise inside mom’s womb during the entire pregnancy.  This sound is very calming to a newborn.  My 2nd daughter loved the sound of a blow dryer.  She was a fussy baby, and quickly my blow dryer became part of the decor of my family room.  Now, there are white noise machines, white noise phone apps, and white noise CDs that parents swear by, a much better look than the blow dryer!  White noise can be part of a “switch” that helps soothe a fussy baby.  You might even try getting your face down by your baby’s ear and “shsh shsh shsh”, which will work too.

4.  Provide day and night light rhythm. 

Many newborns get their days and nights mixed up.  There is nothing worse than an infant that sleeps well during the day and is up all night!  Moms often notice that babies before birth are more active at night too!  To help your baby learn the day and night pattern, keep the daytime hours light with normal noise patterns in your home.  Light on our eyes helps to cue our bodies to when it is time to be awake and when it is time to be asleep.  That is part of the reason we feel so sleepy during the gloom of dark winter days!  Stand in front of a window with your baby and expose your baby to natural light.  Do not darken the rooms for your baby to nap during the day and keep regular noise in the house.  No tip toeing!  In the evening, start to dim lights and keep things calm and quiet about an hour before “bedtime”.  Then with every nighttime feeding keep the room dark, do not change the diaper unless it is dirty, and do not interact.  Just feed your baby and put back to bed.  Eventually your baby will learn the difference between day and night and sleep more soundly and longer during the night hours.  This pattern of day and night will help older children and adults fall to sleep more easily too!

5.  Wake your baby to eat during the day.

Do not let your baby sleep longer than 3 hours during the day.  Wake your baby to eat, and unless your doctor advises you differently, never wake a sleeping baby at night!  You want your baby to receive most of their nutrition during the waking hours, and less at night.

6.  Move with your baby!

Movement will calm a baby to sleep.  Rocking, swinging, and wearing your baby will all help lull your little one into a deep sleep pattern.  Rocking to sleep is fine in the early months.  Many parents have a hard time transitioning from the swing or arms to bed without the baby waking.  Do the limp arm test!  Remember that babies have a very active sleep pattern before they move into a deep sleep.  If you try to transfer when your little one is still grimacing, sleep grinning, or you see rapid eye movement under closed eye lids, most likely your baby will wake quickly.   Rock or provide movement until your baby has transitioned from the active sleep pattern to a deep sleep.  You will be able to pick up your baby’s arm and feel that it is limp.  When you see that, then it is much easier to place your baby in the crib and your baby stay asleep.

7.  Use a pacifier.

Babies need to suck many times to sleep soundly.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a pacifier at sleep as a deterrent to SIDS.  Sucking calms a baby.  A baby that tends to become over stimulated easily often needs more suck time.  I am a big believer in the pacifier or a thumb or finger sucker resulting in a calm baby.  We can worry about the habit later!

8.  Establish a sleep routine.

The earlier your baby connects routine with sleep the better.  Do the same thing every time you put your baby to bed and quickly your child will connect those activities with sleep.  This pattern will develop good sleep patterns all the way to adulthood!  So, plan the feeding, bathing, massage, rocking, singing, reading pattern that works for you!  Keep the routine simple and repeatable.  The bedtime or nap time routine should not be longer than about 20 minutes.  You can establish a bedtime for your baby even though you know you will be up again!  Just treat every feeding after “bedtime” as a night-time feeding.  Children in general are wired early to bed early to rise!  Have an early bedtime for a good sleeper and for you to have an evening of “adult time”.

9.  Do not let your baby “cry it out” until after 6 months.

The first 6 months parents need to respond to a crying baby at night.  After 6 months, most babies are developmentally ready to sleep a stretch through the night. When you are emotionally ready and after your baby is at least 6 months old, you can do the “baby shuffle” and check on your baby every 5 to 10 minutes without picking your baby up.  Comfort your baby with a “shh” go to sleep, a pat and then leave.  The first night you may be “shuffling” in and out of the nursery for an hour or more. The 2nd night will be shorter and usually by the 3rd or 4th night your baby will comfort to sleep on his or her own.  You must be consistent and not give in.  Soon you will put a drowsy baby to bed and your baby will be able to fall asleep without your assistance!

10.  Even with doing all the “right things” babies have sleep disturbances.

Children will have periods of sleep disturbances through all developmental stages.  With each new skill a baby learns, example rolling over, there will often be a sleep pattern disturbance.  Babies like to practice at night!  There is also teething, separation anxiety, illness….many reasons you will see disturbances even when you are doing all the right things in establishing good sleep patterns.  Always go back to the basics each time.  Good sleep is essential! Teaching healthy sleep patterns is a huge gift to your child, and you!

Soon you will be getting longer stretches of sleep….until those darn teen years creep up and you find yourself waiting up for your child!  That is another issue another 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.


I love these sleep resources:

Sleep What Every Parent Needs to Know

American Academy of Pediatrics Rachel Y. Moon, MD, FAAP Editor in Chief

The No-Cry Sleep Solution 

Elizabeth Pantley

The Happiest Baby on the Block

Dr. Harvey Karp

Sweet Dreams

Paul M Fleiss, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P

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.


Vaccines….are they safe? Do they work?

Vaccines do work!  Don’t wait…vaccinate!

How Can a Parent Decide if Vaccines are Safe?

Every day parents are bombarded with information from doctors, nurses, TV hosts, books and the list goes on.  Parents are best served by listening to a team of experts.  We must trust the health care system that has given us the tools to prevent diseases that were so prevalent in children just a few years ago.  Committees of expert scientists, clinicians and health care providers serve on the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), the Infectious Diseases Society of America and other groups.  These experts look at scientific studies to see if they are performed carefully, are published in reputable journals and can be reproduced.  Studies that do not meet these standards are not considered reliable.  These groups have pulled vaccines in the past that have been determined to have unsafe side effects or side effects that outweigh the benefit of the vaccine.  The groups have also repeatedly looked at studies regarding vaccines and asthma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, SIDS and autism.  No studies have shown a reliable causal relationship between vaccines and these illnesses.  Be careful what you read…be sure it is reliable!

How vaccines work:

  1. A vaccine is usually given by a shot.  At this time, there is one oral vaccine for rotavirus.
  2. The vaccine contains a dead or weakened germ that will NOT cause the disease.
  3. The body makes antibodies to fight the weak or dead germs in the vaccine.
  4. These antibodies practice on the weak germs so when the real strong disease germs, which are still out there, enter the child’s body the ready antibodies will know how to destroy them and the child will not become sick.
  5. Antibodies fight infectious diseases and usually stay in a person’s system even after the disease is gone to protect him or her from getting sick again–that is immunity.
  6. Newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies from their mothers—this only lasts about a year.  The timing of the vaccine schedule is such that a child will develop immunity to a disease before he or she is most vulnerable.
  7. Immunizations protect your child and the community—herd immunity.  Herd immunity protects unborn children, the elderly whose immunity may have waned and babies that are not yet fully immunized.
  8. When you choose to immunize your child and follow the recommended guidelines, your child is protected from diseases that can cause death, disability, or severe illness and even though we don’t often see these diseases; they are still out there today!

What About Side Effects?

If your definition of  safety is something that does not have any side effects–then a vaccine is not 100% safe.   All vaccines have side effects, but most of them are very mild.  This might include a fever, soreness, redness or swelling at the vaccine site, and fussiness.  Some side effects are more severe, but these are much rarer.  Some parents ask if it would be safer to avoid the vaccine and the possible side effects.  This is a choice that also has side effects, ones that are much more serious.  The risk of your child being infected with the disease the vaccine prevents is greater than the risk of the serious side effects.

I Never See These Diseases, Why Get a Vaccine?

Many of the diseases that vaccines prevent are common.  Pertussis or whooping cough is a very common disease that if your child is not immunized against–they are very likely to become ill with the disease.  This is a serious disease especially in infants and the elderly.  Last year in the Indianapolis area, there were large pockets of whooping cough outbreaks in several schools.

Many of the diseases could become common again.  H-flu diseases such as meningitis and measles mumps and rubella have all “popped up” in areas where the immunization rates have fallen.  A measles outbreak in the Indianapolis area during the Super Bowl a few winters ago and a more recent outbreak beginning in Disneyland both demonstrated how contagious this disease is and how quickly the disease can spread among children and adults who are not fully immunized.

Some diseases such as polio and diphtheria have essentially been eliminated from this country, but still occur in other countries.  We are a small world with many people traveling internationally; your child can be exposed to these diseases by traveling or by people who have entered this country.

Following the recommended immunization schedule is one of the best decisions you can make for your child’s health.  Don’t wait, vaccinate!

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.


What is in your discipline “bag of tricks”?

discipline tricks

What is in your discipline bag of tricks?

It was 7:30 am and my day was in full swing. I was chasing a two year old trying to get him dressed again. It is barely an hour into the day and I felt like I was on the verge of yelling and a time out before breakfast just didn’t seem right. Sound familiar? I am a big believer that spanking and yelling are not the best choices for discipline. I have taught 1,2,3 Magic for years….but sometimes you just need something else. Discipline is a parenting must. Children need guidelines, boundaries, expectations, consistency and consequences. I think parents really need a “bag of discipline tricks” to parent effectively. These “tricks” can help prevent physical punishment, increase cooperation, take away some of the No’s in your child’s life and quite honestly maybe bring a smile to you both. Here are a few “tricks” to keep in your repertoire….share a few of your own too!

  1. 1,2,3 Magic

This is my favorite discipline technique which is very effective when used consistently and according to the rules. Do not use it for everything….save it for behaviors you want to eliminate quickly.

  1. Remove your child from the conflict and give attention.

I know I always say that we should never give attention to a negative behavior, but if a child is acting inappropriately sometimes simply removing him from the conflict gently and bringing him to another activity of cooperation is effective. Example…You see your child grabbing toys from others and becoming aggressive, you walk up and take him by the hand and say “Come with me I need help getting snack ready.” You have just removed him from the behavior that is inappropriate, not used the word NO, and given positive attention for the cooperative activity. Usually works!

  1. Change your requests from “go” to “come”.

If you are trying to get your child to do something, approach from a cooperative view-point. Instead of “Go put your coat on.” Try “Come with me to put your coat on.” The tone totally changes and cooperation increases!

  1. Turn your no to a yes.

Telling a child “no” to a request will often result in a meltdown. When possible, change that “no” to “yes”. Example   “I know you want to go outside, we can’t now but yes, we will after lunch.” “Let’s play with the water here in the sink, not the water in the dog’s bowl.” “Leave your shoes on now, we will take them off at home!”

  1. Try using the “not for” phrase.

“Hands are not for hitting they are for patting and loving.” “Trucks are not for throwing, they are for pushing.” “Food is not for throwing it is for eating.” Soon you may hear your child repeating those phrases to keep himself from the activity!

  1. Get Goofy.

Nothing like a little humor to diffuse a situation! Try putting that jacket on your child’s leg, or hopping to bed, or singing a silly song. Once you both are smiling cooperation increases.

  1. Think Like A Toddler.

Why did your child just dump the dog food out again….or throw the ball in the house again…or dump a box of cereal out and stomp on them…??? Yelling “STOP WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” just doesn’t work. A young child doesn’t think about why he is dumping dog food or stomping on cereal, he is thinking this is so fun! When you think like a child you will have more patience and will react a little calmer. Tell your child that the activity looks like so much fun…redirect to something appropriate and have them help you clean up! (as much as a 2 or 3 year old can!)

  1. Behavior charts and rewards.

Time In is as important as Time Out. What does that mean? Reward your child throughout the day with positive words, stickers, hugs, stories or other positive reinforcements for behavior you like. That positive attention increases that behavior and then allows your child to really FEEL the removal of that positive attention if you give a Time Out for unacceptable behavior. Sticker charts work well at age 2 and older. Younger toddlers…and even older children will often just love a sticker to wear or a stamp on their hand for positive behaviors. If you have ever been to a Gymboree class you know how important that stamp on the hand is! Get creative! I heard of a Mom sending her child to bed with a brown bag every night. If he did not get up, there was something in it in the morning! Ignore unacceptable or annoying behavior when you can and reinforce the positive. Rewards should not always be bought…rewards of time make the most impact.

  1. Use consistent words to help your child.

“No touch”, “Kind words”, “Good choices”, “Gentle touch”, “Walking feet”….think of a few of your own. The more often your child hears the same consistent phrase, the more likely he will comply with the behavior. A reminder that results in cooperation is better than a punishment after the fact.

  1. Substitute appropriate behavior.

“Let’s climb on the couch cushions not on the table.” “Let’s throw the ball, not the truck.” “Let’s sing a loud song instead of scream.” Simply saying “no” without an alternative will often result in a meltdown or defiance. Give an alternative to the behavior you don’t want, and make it a similar activity to gain cooperation. Often your child is working on a skill like climbing or throwing!

  1. Try playing a game to get your child to cooperate.

“Let’s play a pretend game when you get dressed. It is all pretend, but if you do what I say you will get to wear a sticker! Are you ready? OK, Connor let’s pretend….Put your shirt on please.” If he does it you respond, “Wow I can’t believe you could put your shirt on! Are you sure you haven’t played this game before?” Give a big hug and a sticker. Because it is a “game” your little one will be excited about trying it out. Soon it will become merely cooperation.

  1. Intervene early.

You know your child and their behavior. If you see the unacceptable behavior beginning….redirect early. Don’t let the hit, bite, or shove actually happen. As your child becomes aggressive step in and redirect.

  1. Be assertive but also a cheer leader.

Don’t be wishy-washy and ask “Would you want to pick up the toys?” or “I am thinking it might be time to pick up and leave.” Be assertive and tell your child what is going to happen so there is no question on who is in charge, then be cheerful and firm on what will happen next. Cheer your child on as they begin to cooperate. Giving the impression that there is a choice or a chance to negotiate when there isn’t always results in conflict.

  1. Redirect physically.

A child may need to be physically moved from an area to redirect. Sometimes your words will not work. A child who is becoming aggressive should be carried or walked to another activity quickly.

  1. Praise ten times more than you correct.

Yep, you heard me correctly. Praise effort and not outcome and praise a lot. That is what a Time In is. Time Out removes your attention….the rest of the day should be a Time IN. Time Outs will not work if your child doesn’t feel the difference of the removal of your attention.

  1. Calm Down Bottles.

Another tool to help your child learn to “flip the switch” to calm down on his own. That is the skill we want all of our children to develop!

  1. Have an older child determine his or her punishment.

An older preschooler, school age children and teens are very good at deciding what the consequence for their unacceptable behavior should be. Often they are tougher on themselves than you would be. The consequences they decide usually make sense and are remembered.

  1. Start over….over and over again.

Rewind. This was one of my favorite tools. If your child is just starting off on the wrong foot, or you see a behavior that is inappropriate and can be fixed immediately; simply turn your child in a circle and make a “rewind” sound and let your child try again. I love the second chance to make things right. Sometimes my husband will actually do this to me in the morning if I am grumpy before that morning coffee kicks in!

So, those are a few tricks to put in that discipline bag. Be sure you are taking care of yourself, because we all know that we aren’t able to tap into our patience or discipline approach if we are on empty ourselves. You and your child deserve parents who “fill themselves up” so they are at their best. As time goes on, you will find the discipline approaches that work the best for each of your children. No child’s day should be filled with more “no” than “yes”, more boundary setting than free play, or more tears than smiles. We all will have bad days, but the good moments should outnumber the difficult. Remember, the purpose of boundary setting and discipline is to teach….not to upset 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.


%d bloggers like this: