Parenting Tips

Parenting TipsWhen it comes to figuring out the best parenting tactics, nothing works but the trial-and-error approach and gut instincts. No matter how hard you try, sometimes you may still go wrong. Here are a few expert insights.

See how these common behaviors can impact your child’s health.

BAD: NOT BEING STRICT ABOUT BEDTIME

“Kids need not only a consistent bedtime, but also a consistent bedtime routine,” says Jeffrey Fendrick, MD, a pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Although the routine may differ depending on their age, they will benefit from stability. Encourage a period of winding down prior to bed — for little kids it could be a bath and a story, while for older ones, it means turning off the stimulating TV shows or video games. Setting the limits that help them establish good sleep habits now will set them up for success.

BAD: LETTING BABY SLEEP IN BED WITH YOU

Proponents of attachment parenting advocate for the family bed, in which everyone sleeps together. But there are some concerns when it comes to having a child —especially an infant — in bed with you. “The mattress may be too soft, blankets could end up covering the baby or a parent could roll over and injure the infant,” warns Arsenault. If you want your baby as close as possible, use a co-sleeper that attaches to your bed, but allows baby to have her own space.

BAD: COMPLAINING ABOUT WEIGHT IN FRONT OF KIDS

You might assume that kids don’t really understand much of your adult conversations, while older kids are probably ignoring them (since they still ignore you when you speak directly to them!). But kids of all ages take in more than you may think. And if what they’re hearing constantly is how bad your hair looks, how much weight you need to lose, that’s not a good thing. Try to keep the self-trash talking quiet — or don’t be surprised when your 10-year-old daughter tells you she’s going on a diet.

BAD: SKIPPING VACCINATIONS

Some parents have very strong feelings about not vaccinating, spreading out the shots or waiting until kids are slightly older to get them. But the consensus in the medical community is that following the standard guidelines (set out by the CDC and the AAP) protects kids from some very serious illnesses — and is not associated with autism. “The danger of waiting or spacing out the vaccines is that there’s that much more time before your kids are fully protected,” says Fendrick. “During that time they could get something serious, even life-threatening, which is totally preventable.”

BAD: FOLLOWING THE 5-SECOND RULE

Anyone — parent or otherwise — who’s ever dropped something tasty on the floor, has probably cited the so-called “five-second rule” as an excuse for eating it anyway. But research at San Diego State University recommends caution. According to their findings, bacteria doesn’t need more than five seconds to attach itself to food, and it’s not just food on the floor you need to worry about. The study found that the most germ-laden surface was actually the kitchen counter, followed by tile floors and then carpets.

BAD: OVERSHARING ABOUT YOUR KIDS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Not only can it be annoying (your Facebook friends don’t really care what adorable thing your son said at breakfast), it can potentially be unsafe. Sharing specific details about your children — including their full names, photos or any identifying information about where you live or where they attend school — could give potential Internet predators too much information. Also, remember that things posted online tend to live forever. Think of how will your kid feel in five years when he/she discovers that nude photo from the bathtub that you posted for all to see?

BAD: LETTING BABY FALL ASLEEP WITH A BOTTLE

There are two problems with this practice. One, you’re creating an association between the bottle and sleep, making it harder for your child to sleep without it. Secondly, it may damage your child’s teeth. “The sugar in the milk creates bacteria that will stay on the teeth overnight and cause decay,” explains Fendrick. If your child still downs a bottle or sippy cup of milk prior to bed, help prevent cavities by brushing or wiping off his teeth before putting him into the crib.

BAD: BEING BLASÉ ABOUT BPA in Plastic

The evidence against the Bisphenol A (BPA) chemical — found in many plastics as well as the linings of food cans — continues to pile up, and much of it relates to the hazards of babies and children being exposed to it. Possible health risks may include disruption of hormones, behavioral problems, heart disease and even cancer. And while the chemical was removed from many baby products, try to limit the number of plastic toys and other things that your kids usually chew on.

OK: ENCOURAGING THE PACIFIER

For newborns, sucking is one of few ways they are able to soothe themselves. So giving a fussy infant a pacifier can be a great tool — one that buys mom and dad a few precious moments of peace. But be careful about creating a habit that will be hard to break and may also inhibit the speech development. “A pacifier shouldn’t be a child’s only way of soothing themselves,” warns Fendrick.

OK: EMPLOYING THE DIGITAL NANNY

There are times when nearly every parent resorts to the screen (TV, smartphone, PC or tablet) to placate and entertain a child. But as long as you don’t park your kid there for hours on end, it’s not so bad. The AAP discourages parents from allowing any screen time at all for children under 2 (in favor of more interactive play); for older children, they are OK with no more than one to two hours a day of screen time — as long as the content is educational in nature.

OK: SKIPPING THE NIGHTLY BATH

A bath can be a relaxing part of the bedtime routine for your baby or young child. But if you don’t it do every night, that’s OK. In fact, for newborns, it’s actually better. “Infants have very sensitive skin, so you don’t want to immerse them in the tub more than three times a week,” says Carole Arsenault, RN, founder of Boston Baby Nurse and author of The Baby Nurse Bible. Toddlers and older children with dry, sensitive skin will also do better with a less-than-nightly routine, especially during the winter months. For no-bath days, just make sure that there’s still frequent hand washing, and be sure to keep the diaper area clean.

OK: IGNORING YOUR KID

We’re not talking about neglect; go ahead and take a few precious minutes for yourself every day. “Babies and toddlers don’t need attention all the time,” says Aresenault. “So don’t feel guilty if you’re not interacting constantly.” Let your baby sit in his swing or let an older child play by himself while you steal 20 minutes to read a magazine or call a friend. Even better, have dad, grandma, a friend or babysitter watch the kids for an afternoon while you go out and enjoy some quality “me time.” It’s not a purely selfish endeavor, because as Arsenault says, “A happy mom means a happy family.”

OK: LETTING KIDS SNACK BETWEEN MEALS

Most kids need a snack or two to get them through to the next meal. But with obesity rates on the rise, even among toddlers, you need to be careful what you give your kids to snack on. Think low-calorie, low-fat and in small portions. Instead of letting your teen sit down with a whole bag of potato chips, serve out a portion of healthier baked chips in a bowl. Remember that younger kids have tiny tummies—a snack less than an hour before a meal may mean they don’t eat the meal. “And snacks don’t always have to be ‘snack foods,’” encourages Fendrick. “Don’t be afraid to offer a fruit or vegetable and say, ‘This is today’s snack, take it or leave it.’”

OK: BUYING NON-ORGANIC FOOD

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said in 2012 that although opting for organic items has some benefits — including fewer pesticides in organic produce and lower risk of exposure to drug-resistant bacteria from organic meat and dairy — the ultimate goal is to feed your children a healthy variety of fruits and vegetables. If you can’t afford to buy everything organic, consider the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen.” It lists the produce with the most pesticide residue — and thus the ones most worth getting organic whenever possible.

OK: SENDING KIDS TO SCHOOL “A LITTLE BIT” SICK

According to pediatricians, the standard rule is don’t send your kids to school if they’ve had a fever of 101 or above in the past 24 hours. “You want to be cautious, but not neurotic,” advises Fendrick. Every little cough or sniffle is no reason to stay home. Of course, you do want to make sure your child learns the importance of covering his mouth when he coughs or sneezes, and washes his hands frequently. Other illness, like stomach flu, require staying home until the vomiting or diarrhea cease. In the case of pink eye, don’t send your kids outside until they’ve been on antibiotic eye drops for at least 24 hours, says Fendrick.

OK: TEXTING INSTEAD OF CALLING

When it comes to communicating with your teen and tween, texting is often the weapon of choice. It’s what they do, which means it’s also what they’re most likely to respond to. And while texting is certainly no replacement for face-to-face connection, it is a great way to stay in touch with kids throughout the day, and an easy way for them to keep you up to date on their whereabouts (without their friends even knowing they’re checking in with mom!).

OK: VIDEO GAMES

The answer depends on what games your kids spend their time playing. Too many hours of sedentary screen time can contribute to obesity, while active video games encourage kids to wage a war against obesity. So make sure the majority of the video games will get them off the couch.

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Published in: on July 17, 2015 at 6:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

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