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The Days Before Delivering Your Little One

Stuck, Trapped, Inevitable, Worrisome, Excited, Nervous…

It seems that the days before giving birth to a new little addition to the family can cause some pretty intense feelings…and as you can see from my personal list, the feelings aren’t always positive. In fact, I feel like this subject isn’t talked about as much as it should be. I know when I was feeling this way with my first born before giving birth, I felt guilty admitting I felt this way.

What would others think of me?

Does this mean I am not excited to have a family?

Am I alone with these thoughts?

As a first time momma, I wish the “seasoned” mother would have given me the advice I needed…such as:

These feelings are “normal,” Others have felt the same thing, the feelings shall pass and if they don’t, then you can worry…

Having a baby, raging hormones, and the inevitable change to life as you have always known it can be a bit overwhelming. Knowing that there are support systems out there, other mommas ready to help, and just an overall feeling that your thoughts are “normal” can truly make it a much easier, healthier transition to motherhood. I have attached some websites that I feel are beneficial to coping mechanisms when struggling with a bit of “depression.” These are sites that I have sought out, taken advice from and feel confident you too can utilize them for your own benefit.

  1. http://www.ppdil.org/2015/04/postpartum-anxiety-or-normal-new-mom-fears/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA_5_QBRC9ARIsADVww17iq4Q2C-_uYQ4_-LQHgElI37o0D5-lg_-9oysQzaUR2RoEluw9pE8aAgvTEALw_wcB
  2. http://www.marieclaire.com/health-fitness/a4591/pregnant-depressed/
  3. http://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/anxiety-during-pregnancy-postpartum/
  4. https://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-q-and-a/parenting/depression-during-a-pregnancy?gclid=Cj0KCQiA_5_QBRC9ARIsADVww17vkPVypofzEnmB7LsO-9Em36LIuRgCqnrc2sNAQaRDkytA_UI_rt0aAglAEALw_wcB

 

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Fire Safety…It’s a Must!

Have you ever heard of “Safety City?” It is a week long summer camp many cities offer to teach kids road safety and fire safety. The program is detailed, aggressive with content and effective. My 5 year old daughter attended this past summer (it is a program for children entering kindergarten) and to this day still sings the songs and jingles they taught the kids.

Fire safety is one of those topics I can be pretty strict about. Checking your fire alarms consistently, practicing what to do in case of a fire in the house or if you yourself get caught on fire, and staying safe are all MUST conversations when having children in the household. Talking frequently about what to do in emergency situations only helps the child if something like that were ever to occur.

I have attached some pertinent information along with some tips and “talking points” with kids around fire safety. I would love to hear your feedback on the list and what you would add to it. Also check out the following site for additional resources. http://www.firefacts.org/

Fire Prevention

Of course, the best way to practice fire safety is to make sure a fire doesn’t break out in the first place. That means you should always be aware of potential hazards in your home.

Start by keeping these tips in mind:

Electrical Appliances, Cords, and Outlets

  • Are your electrical appliances in good condition, without loose or frayed cords or plugs?
  • Are your outlets overloaded with plugs from the TV, computer, printer, video game system, and stereo?
  • Are you overusing an extension cord?
  • Do the light fixtures in your home use bulbs that are the correct wattage?
  • Does your home contain GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) and/or AFCIs (arc fault circuit interrupters), which prevent electrical shock and fire by shutting off faulty circuits?

Look around your house for potential problems. And unless you’re a trained electrician, be careful about do-it-yourself electrical projects. Studies have shown that many home fires are caused by improper installation of electrical devices.

Other tips:

  • Replace or professionally repair any appliances that spark, smell unusual, or overheat.
  • Don’t run electrical wires under rugs.
  • Make sure lamps and night-lights are not touching bedspreads, drapes, or other fabrics.
  • Use caution when using electric blankets.
  • Don’t let kids use kitchen appliances by themselves and supervise any art or science projects that involve electrical devices.
  • Cover any outlets that are not in use with plastic safety covers if you have toddlers or young children in your home.

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Let’s Talk Dental Health

It was a SHOCK to me when I found out that my first born was late to the game of getting her teeth checked by the dentist. I thought for sure waiting until she was almost 4 years of age was “safe” and what every other parent did. What I didn’t realize is that all of my other mommy friends had been taking their littles to the dentist starting at a very young age…say…18 months. YIKES! This made me think and reevaluate when the right time to take my second born would be. I did some research and found some answers to many of my unanswered questions.  What better way than to compile all of my questions and sought out answers here to help someone else who may have those same questions.

  1. What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

2.  When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday.

3.  Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist.

4.  Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively.  Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

5. How safe are dental X-rays?

There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation.

 

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Over-Scheduling Your Child

We have all done it. I know that with my youngest, between play dates and extra-curriculars, we were always on the go. I dealt with meltdowns, tantrums, etc. just to fulfill the daily activities I had planned. Don’t get me wrong, I love to stay busy, but when it came to my second daughter, I decided to change the schedule up a bit. We have played more at home, said “no” to more play dates than “yes,” gone to less scheduled activities and enjoyed being each others’ company. The conclusion I have come to is that tantrums are less frequent, meltdowns are non-existent, and the one-on-one time I am getting with my second born is priceless.

I’m not saying that my parenting technique is the best that is out there…I am merely stating what I have witnessed between the two extremely different approaches I have taken with my own two daughters. I encourage you to take a moment and think about your child’s life. If it’s hectic, sit down together and decide where you can cut back. If it’s overly structured, set aside time for blowing off some steam.

Things we enjoy: Riding a bike, taking a walk, playing a game, listening to music, or just doing nothing for a while. I have noticed that it gives my kids some much-needed downtime. And never forget how important it is for kids to simply get together to play. Kids need time to just be kids.

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The Importance of Kids Napping

My kids have always been great sleepers…I tend to say it’s because they both have hypotonia (low muscle tone) and that causes them to sleep well. Maybe that is the reason, or maybe it is because I take a “no excuses” approach to nap time and the importance of it. I carve out time in the day where my girls (ages 5.5 years and 3 years) must take a nap to rejuvenate themselves. Sometimes I think maybe I should let up a bit and then I am reminded that them resting for a length of time each day is of utmost importance for their growing and developing bodies and minds. This information, found from http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/naps.html, further proves my thoughts and theories on kids napping. I encourage you to read through the site and familiarize yourself with the importance of sleep in growing young children.

Sleep Needs by Age (Taken directly from kidshealth.org)

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer regarding how much daytime sleep kids need. It all depends on the age, the child, and the sleep total during a 24-hour period. For example, one toddler may sleep 13 hours at night with only some daytime catnapping, while another gets 9 hours at night but takes a solid 2-hour nap each afternoon.

Though sleep needs are highly individual, these age-by-age guidelines give an idea of average daily sleep requirements:

Birth to 6 months: Infants require about 14 to 18 total hours of sleep per day. Younger infants tend to sleep on and off around the clock, waking every 1 to 3 hours to eat. As they approach 4 months of age, sleep rhythms become more established. Most babies sleep 9 to 12 hours at night, usually with an interruption for feeding, and have 2 to 3 daytime naps lasting about 30 minutes to 2 hours each.

6 to 12 months: Babies this age usually sleep about 14 hours total for the day. This usually includes two naps a day, which may last 20 minutes for some babies, for others a few hours. At this age, infants may not need to wake at night to feed, but may begin to experience separation anxiety, which can contribute to sleep disturbances.

Toddlers (1 to 3 years): Toddlers generally require 12 to 14 hours of sleep, including an afternoon nap of 1 to 3 hours. Young toddlers might still be taking two naps, but naps should not occur too close to bedtime, as they may make it harder for toddlers to fall asleep at night.

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): Preschoolers average about 11 to 12 hours at night, plus an afternoon nap. Most give up this nap by 5 years of age.

School-age (5 to 12 years): School-age kids need about 10 to 11 hours at night. Some 5-year-olds might still need a nap, and if a regular nap isn’t possible, they might need an earlier bedtime.

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The Importance of Reading to Your Kids

So our oldest daughter decided about a year ago that she no longer enjoyed reading. It was the “boring” thing to do, it took away from play time and getting her to  read on her own was, well, an impossible task. I found myself asking why other kids LOVED books and my daughter was turning up her nose at the thought of cracking one open.

Being a former teacher, books are OOBER IMPORTANT to me. For one, I know that statistics prove the more your read to your child and have them read to you, the more they learn. Reading is linked to vocabulary development, cognitive understanding, and overall growth in academics. So why is my oldest daughter displaying distaste toward reading?

I did some soul searching and came to the realization that I was to blame. I was pushing books on Annora and making her feel overwhelmed by them. You see, reading to your child is one of the most effective way to build the “language” neural connections in their growing brains as well as the strong base for their cognitive development. She sensed the “push” and decided to push right back…typical first born right?!?

A study was made in Rhode Island Hospital to compare two groups of eight months old – one group was read to often as babies, while the other was not. It was shown that those who were read to have their “receptive” vocabularies (number of words they understand) increased 40 per cent since babyhood, while the non-reading group increased by only 16 per cent.

So, I took some advice from friends, family, and resources and backed off our oldest daughter. I gave reading a rest and what happened next was beautiful! Her appreciation for literature grew on its own with the consistent read alouds and exposure my husband and I gave her.

Reading to your child does not only benefit his language development. It is only one among other very important benefits:

  • Reading to your kid makes you bond with him, and this gives your child a sense of intimacy and well-being.
  • The intimacy of reading to your kid is such a pleasurable experience to him that he will have a positive attitude towards reading as he grows up.
  • It calms your child, especially when he is fretful and restless.
  • It promotes increased communication between you and your child.
  • Preschool children who are exposed to language by hearing words that are read to him and in conversation tend to do well in school.
  • Many studies show that students who love learning and do well in school were exposed to reading before preschool.
  • Your baby learns early the basics of reading a book, that words represent sounds and concepts, words are read from left to write, and stories continue when you flip the page.
  • It promotes longer attention span, which is an important skill for your kid to be able to concentrate.
  • It builds listening skills and imagination.
  • Your young child learns about colors, shapes, numbers, and letters, while your older child discovers an expanding chain of knowledge.  His interest in cars, for example, will expand to his interest in trucks, and other transportation like planes and rockets, and soon he will be reading about outer space, science and technology, and so forth.
  • A study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science in January 2013 concluded that “reading to a child in an interactive style raises his or her IQ by over 6 points.”
  • Books teach your child thinking skills early. When you read to your child, he learns to understand cause and effect, he learns to exercise logic, as well as think in abstract terms. He learns the consequences of actions, and the basics of what is right and wrong.
  • Books teach your child about relationships, situations, personalities, and what is good and what is bad in the world he lives in.  Fantasy books provide material for his imagination and free play.  Fairy tales fascinate your kid, and help him distinguish between what is real and what is not.
  • When your child reaches a new stage in his growth, or experiences a new and unfamiliar situation, reading to your child about a story relevant to his new experience can relieve his anxiety and help him cope. For example, if your child is stressed about his first day in school, or about moving to a new location, you can read a book to him that shows that these should not be painful experiences.
  • According to a study published in Pediatrics, children who had been exposed to home reading showed significantly greater activation of a brain area that is “all about multisensory integration, integrating sound and then visual stimulation,” according to Dr. John S. Hutton, the lead author and a clinical research fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Reading to your child build brain networks that will serve him long-term when he transitions from verbal to reading.
  • Your child learns early that reading is fun and not a chore. When your child grows up, you will not be stressed about getting him to read, as reading has become, for him, a pleasurable habit.

 

 

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Playing Games With Your Kids

In our house, we are in a stage where board games are a hot commodity. My girls LOVE Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Headbandz, Guess Who?, Enchanted, etc. Basically if it is a board game, we are all in! I love that we can turn the television off, relax with one another, have some good laughs and enjoy the company of being a family. I believe this art of “gaming” is transforming into an art of “video gaming.” Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for video games (we aren’t in that phase of life and probably won’t be anytime soon) but there needs to be a consistent push for parents to require “family time” on a weekly basis. If we allow kids to isolate themselves at an early age, I believe it only hinders the future relationship parents will have with their children.

Delise is three and is the perfect age to begin playing board games and card games—especially if you like these kinds of games, too. Board and card games help teach your child about aspiration, success, and disappointment. They gain experience with both winning and losing—and learn that no matter what the result, next time they try they’ll begin again with a clean slate. Games also give you the opportunity to teach your preschooler about rules, about integrity and honesty, and about luck. Games also can help increase your child’s ability to focus their attention. Nearly all games, for example, involve taking turns, sharing dice or a spinner, waiting for your turn, patience, and learning how to be a good sport. (When you play games with your child, try to emphasize the fun of game as much as possible, rather than focusing on “who’s winning.”)

Besides helping to acquaint your child with “life lessons” and to practice valuable social skills, most good children’s games also afford preschoolers the opportunity to sharpen certain academic skills.

In introducing board and card games to your preschooler, choose the simplest ones first. If your child has to master a complicated set of rules before even playing the game, she—or you—will soon lose patience with it. Games that involve moving pieces around a board in a race to the finish, spinning a spinner or throwing dice, and counting up as high as six provide the perfect introduction to board games.

 

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Help Me Grow Saved My Family…

Our family has been on a road that has taken us so many places and allowed us to meet so many people. Our girls were diagnosed with Hypotonia at a very young age. This just meant that their limbs were very “loose” and doing gross motor activities such as walking, running, jumping, riding a bike, keeping their balance, etc. came at a much slower pace than your average child. As a first time mommy and daddy, this news was awful (and I am well-aware our news could have been worse). We felt alone and unable to put together a plan that would best support our oldest daughter and her needs. A specialist doctor recommended Help Me Grow and I decided to give them a call. I was AMAZED at their professionalism, their quick response to my situation, and their support right from the beginning.

Annora, our eldest, was tested within a week of my phone call, accepted within that same day of being tested and a plan was put in place within the next week of how they were going to best serve her AND my husband and I! It may sound like a whirlwind but it was an answer to prayer. We now had a solid plan of how to best help our child, we had access to OT’s and PT’s, Play Groups and Interventions galore. Our life went from unorganized chaos on how to best help our child to a solid plan within a matter of 2 weeks. The best way to describe our feelings at the time as a first time parent being bombarded by the news that your child is and will be “different” was GRATEFUL.

When our second child was born, we knew pretty quickly that she suffered from the same diagnosis and would be on a similar path as her older sister. This time, the phone call to Help Me Grow was easy, I knew how to handle what was going on with Delise, and the feeling of being alone never crossed my mind. My feelings were more of a “Let’s conquer this bad boy” rather than the first time around of “Where do we begin?” We were FAR from alone and the the HMG team was ready for action.

If it weren’t for the specialist doctor’s recommendation and us deciding to pick up the phone, we are 100% confident our daughters would NOT be where they are today. We owe everything to HMG and their amazing team.

If you are a parent of a child under the age of 3 and have been stuck in a similar situation as my husband and I, feel overwhelmed and not sure how to handle the whirlwind going on in your life, I encourage you to pick up the phone and make the call. You won’t be sorry you did. The link to Help Me Grow is attached below.

 

http://www.helpmegrow.ohio.gov/

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How Much to Allow a Child to Dictate the Day

Who is in the driver’s seat in the house? Is it you? Your child(ren)? Sometimes balance can be tricky…especially when it comes to  a child with disabilities. Balance is one thing every parent strives to conquer and usually fails before getting it right.

As parents, we tell our children what to do. It is our job to set limits and boundaries, and teach them how to behave and be respectful. I would imagine I bark orders at my kids at least 20 times a day: “Be nice to your sister.” “Get dressed.” “Sit up.” “Chew with your mouth closed.” “Clean up your toys.” These are just a few of the everyday utterances that leave my mouth.

For the child being on the receiving end, I can imagine how this may get frustrating. Nobody likes someone telling them what to do, and just like us, children have opinions, desires, and needs.

And so the power struggle begins…

My children’s demands constantly tempt me, and I often contemplate how much say they are allowed to have: Should they get to choose what they want to wear in the morning, or do I? Should they get to pick what they want to eat for dinner, causing me to cook two or even three different meals? If they don’t want to do a planned activity, such as going to a soccer practice or friend’s house to play, do I give in to their request?

Most of the time society tells us that as parents, we are in charge and need to maintain authority within the family. But I’ve noticed an epidemic of children acting entitled and disrespectful towards their parents, teachers, and coaches. I’ve also noticed that most children don’t just automatically respect their elders; instead, elders must earn their respect, which is different than it was generations past.

So how do we earn our children’s respect? It’s simple—by respecting them. It is important that we truly listen to what our children say, and that we listen to them the same way we listen to our partners and friends. Then, we need to let our children know that we’ve heardwhat they’ve said. That might mean that we repeat it: “I hear that you want to play longer, but it’s time to go.”

Answering a child with, “Because I said so and I am your parent” certainly has a time and place. But if we don’t allow a child to question the world they live in, we may be teaching them not to be curious. When we disregard our children’s feelings, or tell them we don’t care what they think, we may be sending a message to be silent. In the moment it can be effective, but the long-term impact may be that we raise our children not to speak up when they are bullied, assaulted, or mistreated. We may be raising young adults who do not have the resources to speak out for what they believe in, because we never gave them the chance. We may be raising adults who cannot resolve a conflict because they are too frightened to speak their mind.

As parents, we must teach children to trust themselves, and to do this, we have to validate their voice. That doesn’t necessarily mean giving in to their every wish and demand. We all want what’s best for our children. We all try to do the best job we can. Ultimately, we will never be perfect.

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Growth Spurts…YIKES!

I don’t know about you, but when our girls are going through a growth spurt, our household is in disarray. In fact, we have started recognizing the “symptoms” of growth spurts so that we can adjust the way we handle certain situations accordingly. The first step though is recognizing them.

Here’s how to recognize your little sprout’s spurt:

 Your baby wants to eat nonstop. If you’ve been breastfeeding every three hours, your baby will now want to belly up to the milk bar every hour or two. That’s just fine. The more often your baby breastfeeds, the more he stimulates milk production to keep up with his growing appetite. Older babies will also want to nurse more and up their intake of the jarred stuff if they’re eating solids.

Your baby will be up more often at night. Even if your baby was sleeping for a blissful five- or six-hour stretch, during a growth spurt he’ll howl for a midnight snack, then one at 2 a.m., and 4 a.m., and so on. You may find your older baby waking up earlier from his naps, too.

Your baby will be crankier than usual. At the breast he’ll be extra fussy, latching and unlatching because he wants more milk right now, and your production might not be up to speed yet. Plus, all those late nights don’t help his mood (or yours!) either.

***Now that you have recognized the spurt and know what to expect, how do you deal with it? Here are some tips that we do in our household that help with this crazy time in life.***

HOW TO DEAL WITH BABY GROWTH SPURTS:

Since you were already struggling to get enough rest or do anything other than feed your baby, it’s extra-exhausting to have a newborn who suddenly treats breastfeeding like a 24-7 all-you-can-eat buffet. So make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, recruit help from your partner or a friend to do dishes and other household chores, and settle in for the long haul. (A DVD can help pass the time.)

Whatever you do, don’t give up on breastfeeding now. When your baby seems hungrier and crankier than normal, you may worry that he’s not getting enough to eat and think about abandoning breastfeeding altogether. But those temporary round-the-clock feedings are actually your baby’s way of boosting your milk supply to keep pace with his oh-so-healthy appetite.

If you’re really concerned, keep an eye on two things: diapers and weight gain. If he’s packing on ounces (that adorable little T-shirt seem tighter today than it did two days ago, for example) and soaking five or six diapers a day, he’s doing just fine. Soon enough his hunger pangs will be over, the growth spurt will end, and things will settle back to normal. Until the next baby growth spurt hits, that is.