Preparing Kids for a New Baby

A baby or young toddler may not really understand that there’s a baby growing in your belly. And he also has no concept of time. So it’s not necessary to clue him in until you are nearing the end, otherwise you may hear every day, “Is the baby coming out yet?” Since the concept of a new baby is pretty much out of their range of understanding, you don’t need to spend much time preparing him for it.

Older toddlers and children should definitely be clued in to what’s happening in a way that will make them feel involved and excited. Life will be very different after the baby is born, so your kids should be prepared, and hopefully looking forward to the new addition.

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image from hypeplug

Here are some ideas from Dr. Sears to introduce the topic and learn about new babies!

1. Arrange to be around very young babies. This lets your older children hear how they sound, see what they look like, observe you holding one now and then, notice that they need comforting, and learn about nursing.

2. Talk about the new baby. Once your belly is really big, eight months maybe, talk about the new baby. Referring to the baby as “Suzy’s new baby” will add an extra degree of protectiveness instead of competition.  Let her feel kicks, help her talk or sing to baby, and stroke your belly.

3. Show her simple children’s books about new babies. Show pictures of when she was a tiny baby and tell her about all the things you did for her. Say things like “Mommies hold tiny babies a lot because they need that.”

4. Tell older toddlers and preschoolers about the baby early on in the pregnancy. The older the child, the sooner you can tell him; very young children may be confused or disappointed when the baby fails to arrive the next day. With an older toddler or preschooler, try all of the toddler suggestions above, and in addition, use the diagrams in books on birth to talk about how the baby is growing, month by month. You’ll be surprised by questions like “What part did baby grow today, mom?”

5. Depending on the age and level of understanding, tell your child why you are feeling so tired, grouchy, short-fused, impatient, and whatever else you feel while pregnant: You might say, “Baby needs a lot of energy to grow, and that’s why mom is tired and sleeps a lot…” Or, “The hormones baby needs to grow make mommy feel funny…”

6. Expand on what newborns are like. For example, let them know babies cry (some cry a lot) and they like it when you talk to them and make funny faces. Explain to them “You can help me change the diaper, bathe baby and dress baby. Babies can’t do anything for themselves for a long time, and they can’t play games until they grow bigger. They need to be held a whole lot, just like I held you when you were little.”

7. Take them to your doctor’s appointment. Children close to three should be able to behave well at the visit to your healthcare provider and may learn from this visit. For older children already in school, include them on special visits, such as the three-month visit when you are likely to first hear baby’s heartbeat, the visits at which your practitioner has told you will include an ultrasound, and several visits toward the end, so they’ll catch the excitement and be more tuned in. Prenatal bonding cannot be overdone for siblings old enough to understand.

8. Give a hands-on demo. Usually by the fifth or sixth month, older children can feel their baby brother or sister move. During times of the day or evening that experience tells you your baby moves the most, lie down and invite your children to feel the show. Let them guess which body part they are feeling.

9. Encourage baby bonding. Invite your children to talk to and about the baby. If you already know the gender and have chosen a name, you can encourage them to use it when referring to the baby. Or you can welcome the baby nicknames your child invents. Babies can hear around 23 weeks of age, so this is a good time for the kids to start talking to the baby so he or she will get to know them. After about three months of this, their voices will be very familiar to the baby still in utero, and bonding will already be under way. Studies show that babies tend to turn toward voices they recognize right after birth.

10. Know your limits. Realize that it’s impossible to give other family members the same degree of attention they are used to while you’re pregnant. Sooner or later the children will realize that they must share mom with another tiny taker in the family. Fortunately, pregnancy provides you with plenty of time to prepare your older children for what life will be like after the baby arrives. Getting them used to helping you while baby brother or sister is still inside is actually another good tool for bonding. The children will have invested their time and energy already even before baby comes, and the baby will have more personal value to them.

For more pregnancy, birth, & parenting info, visit Ask Dr. Sears.com!

Beware of Teething Gels for Babies!

WebMD reported this month about an FDA warning about teething medication, saying that the main ingredient, benzocaine, is linked to a rare but serious disease.  Benzocaine is the main ingredient in over-the-counter liquids and gels used to reduce teething pain in babies and young children.

The warning is about a rare but possibly life-threatening condition called methemoglobinemia, which greatly reduces the amount of oxygen carried through the bloodstream.  Most cases occur in children aged 2 or younger who were treated with teething gel.

The products are used to treat pain caused by teething, canker sores, mouth and gum irritation.  Brand-name liquids and gels that contain Benzocaine include:

  • Anbesol
  • Hurricaine
  • Orajel
  • Baby Orajel
  • Orabase
  • Other store brands
  • Some lozenges and spray solutions, as well

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Warning signs and symptoms:

  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, and nail beds
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • confusion and lightheaded
  • headache
  • rapid heart rate

These symptoms appear within minutes to hours of using the medication. Children under two years old should NOT be given products containing benzocaine, unless they are under the supervision of a health care professional.  Adults should follow recommendations on the product label, and seek immediate medical attention if symptoms show up. Use sparingly. Store out of reach of children.

Teething Relief

Instead of using teething gels, here are some ideas to give your child some relief, especially if the pain is keeping him/her up at night.

  • Give baby something cold to suck on, such as a chilled teething ring, cold spoon, Popsicle, or other frozen treat
  • Gently rub baby’s gums with a finger
  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen– these are both safe and effective pain relievers to help your baby, and you, get some sleep. Click on these for dosing.

Respect: Will you Kids Know What This Word Means?

When I was little, my  grandfather used to sing a song from an old musical that went something like this: “Kids, what’s the matter with kids today? La da dee da… Kids, disrespectful, disobedient oafs!” Well, if that’s how kids were in his day, how do we even begin on the subject of respect today? I’m trying hard to instill it into own darling five year old, but she’s still has her moments– issuing ultimatums, disregarding “pleases” and “thank you’s,” and being rude to neighbors– kids and parents alike.  Don’t get me wrong, she can be sweet and polite when she wants to be, but how do we change that to being polite and respectful all the time?

Nicole Caccavo Kear (Parents.com: The Return of Respect) writes:  “Respect. Thanks to Aretha, we all know how to spell it. But sadly, in today’s world (where rudeness is so pervasive that even our president gets heckled while making a speech), we no longer expect that everyone will show respect for others. The good news is that we can teach our kids this critical value — and in doing so, we’ll end up imparting crucial lessons in kindness, consideration, honesty, open-mindedness, and gratitude as well.”

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Victoria Kindle Hodson, coauthor of Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids, says that the most effective way to teach kids respectful behavior is to model it yourself. This means that as tired and frustrated as we are, we cannot resort to shouting, name-calling, sarcasm, or rudeness with our kids. Stay calm, explain why their behavior is unacceptable, and issue consequences when necessary.

In addition to being a role model, here are some other guidelines for teaching respect and good manners.

Demand Good Manners

Even if young kids are just going through the motions of acting polite (saying “please” and “thank you” on cue, etc) they will grow up to learn that acting polite isn’t merely a formality. Teach them when to say “excuse me” and “I’m sorry,” greeting others properly with a “hello” or “goodbye,” and how to act in special situations (ie: library, restaurant, toy store). With time, this type of proper behavior will become second nature. Reinforce good manners with praise and note why their acts of consideration matter: “Thank you for including Sam in your game. It makes him happy to be included.”

Don’t Tolerate Rudeness

Back talk and other bratty behavior are so common these days that it’s easier to just ignore it than deal with it.  But a child who’s allowed to speak rudely to his family will also think it’s okay to sass others; therefore you must respond immediately.  When your child is upset, help him express himself by making “I” statements (as in “I feel frustrated!”) rather than ones that start with “You” (as in “You are stupid!”). Encourage your kids to talk about their feelings (“You seem very angry. Do you want to tell me what happened?”) Giving your child a positive way to express his emotions, while letting him know that it’s not OK to insult others or scream at them. You may find that it takes a lot of work to help your young child get a handle on her temper, but keep on reminding and instructing.

Don’t forget to lead the way by being a good example: You too should apologizige when it’s appropriate, and urge your kids to do the same.

Teach Listening Skills

Showing respect means giving others your time and attention. Important rules your kids should learn about being a good listener are: Removing distractions and making eye contact, waiting their turn to speak and not interrupting, and of course being courteous. So teach your child to look up from their games and focus on you when you’re talking. Practice role-playing different types of conversations. They’ll catch on!

Establishing Rules

House rules teach kids that the world doesn’t revolve around them and that they’ve got to be considerate of others. It also helps them adjust to school and beyond, where they must follow certain rules. Instilling a regard for authority in your little ones starts at home.

First off, sit down and explain the house rules to them. Write them up (or draw pictures) and post them on the fridge. Explain why these rules matter. (“It’s important to go to bed on time because your body needs enough sleep to be happy and healthy the next day!”) Then let them know what will happen if the rules are broken, and be prepared to follow through with those consequences if necessary.

Encourage Open-mindedness; Embrace Diversity

We all know kids who will make fun of those who are different than they. Teaching kids to be open-minded means understanding that everyone is differerent but still worthy of our respect. Even if we don’t hit it off with someone immediate, we should taking the time to get to know them and see where they’re coming from. People who may seem totally different at first may turn out to have many things in common with us! (“Rhonda wears a headscarf, but she loves to draw just like you! David prays in a synagogue on Saturdays, but he enjoys rollerblading too!”)  And, even if they don’t like someone else, it’s not OK to be rude or unkind. This will open up their futures in terms of meeting exciting people, experiencing interesting things, and learning new things.  It also shows them that sometimes it’s OK to “agree to disagree” and go on with our own lives peaceably.

Respect Stuff, Too!

Kids to who learn to treat belongings with respect are also developing the values of consideration and responsibility. Some ways to drive the point home:

Explain value. Let kids understand why things are worth what they are. If he tramples the neighbor’s flower garden, don’t just scold or punish, explain how much time and effort she put into planing, watering, and tending her plants, and how they beautify our surroundings.

Less is more. Kids don’t need tons of toys. The more they have, the less they will appreciate when they get something new. Instead, let them work towards earning something they like (for example, making a point chart) or find new ways of playing with things they already have.

Make it clear. If you let them play with something valuable, spell out the rules first. My daughter loves to snap pictures with our camera, but I tell her she must hold it with two hands, stand in one place, etc…

Adapted from Parents.com. Original article published in the November 2010 issue of Parents magazine. Read the complete article here.

Training Children to Eat Well

What to feed an infant is pretty straightforward, and toddlers tend to eat whatever you give them, but as they grow up you may discover the frustrating phenomenon of picky eating. Nancy Piho, author of “My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything, warns: “It’s not always pretty!”

No, it’s not. Sometimes, it gets quite ugly.

As the proud (and somewhat harried) mother of a 3 year old and a 5 year old, it seems the only acceptable food choices are the Familiar and the Full-of-Sugar. Definitely not seeing any octopus in my future.

What is the secret to turning out the “good eaters?” Nancy Piho says that the key is to put firm and healthful eating habits in place from the beginning, and then stick to them, even when the going gets tough. Easier said than done? I don’t know, I’ll have to try it out on child number three.

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photo: Dr. Ann Wigmore

But it’s never too late to try instilling good habits. Ms. Piho presents 8 good eating tips to implement in your home:

1. Sit down! Now is the time to teach your kids that meals play an important role in their day. Make breakfast, lunch and dinner a definite sit-down-to-eat occasion, even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes at a time.

2. Doesn’t this look good? Talk it up! Comment on the yummy smells from the oven, or how pretty and juicy the steak looks. Young children “eat with their eyes” just like adults do.

3. It’s a dinner, not a diner! That means, no short order cooking! From their earliest eating days, children can and should eat what everyone else at the table is eating.

4. Focus on the whole meal. If you’re serving chicken, peas and rice for dinner, then your child should have chicken, peas and rice on their plate, too. What if they scarf down the rice and want more? Make them wait until they have a bite or two of the rest of the items in the meal.

5. Spice it up. Don’t be afraid to let your child sample spicier dishes, like those found in Indian or Mexican cuisines. If it’s really too hot, stir a little milk or sour cream into their portion, so that they still get the flavor of the dish without the full effect of the heat.

6. Repeat, repeat, repeat. If at first they dislike spinach or Brussels sprouts or broccoli, try, try again. Researchers have found that up to 15 separate introductions of a food may be required before a child will be accepting of it. Wait several days or weeks, but don’t drop the offending item out of the menu entirely.

7. Pour out the juice. Kiddie beverages all have one thing in common: they are sweet to the taste. Don’t start your little one off believing that drinks have to be sweet to taste good. Stick to plain milk and water.

8. And nix the other kiddie products. If it’s a food product made for and marketed to kids, chances are it’s going to be inferior in taste and flavor to comparable adult products. Avoid these and you will be way ahead in the game of preventing picky eating.

In-law problems? Teenagers in the house? Annoyed with your spouse? Sex life need a pick-up? Find more good family advice on  Hitched.com.

Pregnant Women Should Avoid “Silver” Dental Fillings

If you’ve been to the dentist to have a cavity filled, you may (or may not!) have been offered a choice between the silver filling (also known as dental amalgam) or bone-colored resin (more attractive, as it blends in with the color of your teeth). Although slightly  more expensive, added uncertainty about the safety of the mercury-based silver fillings should be enough for pregnant women to choose the resin filling.

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feature image: Top News

Recently, a U.S. advisory panel declared that it wants the FDA to look at the latest data and reassess its guidance after the agency last year declared the fillings safe.  Mercury has been linked to neurological damage at high exposure levels and makes up about 50% of a metal filling.  “Vulnerable people” such as children and pregnant/nursing women should be especially wary.

Some dentists and trade groups cite data showing that the fillings pose no harm once set in a patient’s tooth.  Other dentists testify that mercury is too risky and that they no longer use such fillings. Dozens of patients also detailed how their health deteriorated after getting amalgams and urged the panel to push FDA to reverse course and initiate strong warnings, especially for children and pregnant or nursing women.

The Environmental Protection Agency lists mercury as a neurotoxin. It can interfere with brain development and cognitive and motor skills. In addition, groups such as Moms Against Mercury and Consumers for Dental Choice say mercury fillings may trigger health problems, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • brain damage
  • kidney damage
  • migraines
  • multiple sclerosis
  • irritability (erethism)

Short of banning amalgams altogether, patients should at the very least be warned about the dangers of these metal fillings and offered a choice. Amalgams have already been banned in some European countries.

Read more: Rueters, World Dental.org

Can You be Forced to Vaccinate?

You might be surprised to learn that you are not required by law to vaccinate  your children, even when you want to enroll them in a school or daycare.  All states offer either a philosophical, medical, and/or religious exemption from vaccinations. It is important for parents to know this, since many believe that the law is children must receive “x” amount of vaccines. However, you do have the right to design a vaccine program that is right for you and your child.

image: Prison Planet: Revolt Against Dangerous Vaccines

The National Vaccine Information Center has the info on each state and what type of exemptions are available. Click here to find out the requirements and exemptions in your state. For example, in California, a parent can “submit a letter or affidavit stating that the immunization is contrary to his or her beliefs.” You can also submit testimony from a clergyman that vaccinating is against your religious beliefs, or a doctor’s letter explaining why you do not vaccinate for medical reasons.

Whether you choose to vaccinate your child is a personal decision. While my first two children were vaccinated according to the recommended schedule, baby number three (who is now 7 months old) is going to be different. The more I read, learn, and discuss, the more compelled I am to take a stand against routine, unquestioned vaccinations, some of who’s benefits may not outweigh the risks.

What do you want for your child? The only way to find out is to research and talk to others about it. Some parents want their child to be vaccinated, but only one or two at a time. This would call for an alternative vaccination schedule. Some advocate waiting until a child is 2 years old before starting a vaccination program. Others make a decision that certain vaccines are a worthwhile investment while others have risks that outweigh the benefits. And some will not vaccinate at all.

Learn the facts. Research both sides of the equation. The bottom line is, you are the only one who can take full responsibility for your child’s health. Neither the government nor your child’s school nor even your doctor can force you to do something you feel goes against your child’s best interest.

You’ve probably heard the arguments in favor of vaccinations. For more info on potential issues:

A User-Friendly Vaccination Schedule

National Vaccine Information Center

Dr. Bock’s Proposed Schedule of Vaccines

Generation Rescue: Do I vaccinate?

Rotavirus: The Vaccine Nobody Wants

Baby Center: Alternative Vaccination Schedules

Easing the Back-to-School Butterflies

In some families, it’s hard to say who’s more nervous about the first day of school– the kids or the parents!  New beginnings are exciting but kids and their parents may also feel apprehensive, especially if your child is attending a new school. You know that these jitters will pass, but doing a little advanced preparation will help put everyone at ease. These 10 tips from Hitched will help make the first day of school easier.

1. Scout it out. Before school starts, take a walk or drive by the school and let your child see the route you both will be traveling each morning and afternoon. Point out the school office, the library and any other areas of the school that you can see from the street. Try guessing which classroom your child may be in and talk about what he or she may be learning this upcoming school year.

2. Start a trend of going to bed earlier every day of the week. It will be easier to fall asleep the night before the first day of school if your child has already established a habit of an earlier bedtime.

3. Visit the school website. Spend some time with your child reviewing the cafeteria menu, supply list, teacher roster and anything and everything else that may catch your child’s attention.

4. Make friends. If your child will be new to the school, call the school office a few weeks ahead and request a phone call or visit from a host family. Invite the family over for a casual dinner or dessert so your child will know a familiar face before the first day of school.

5. Don’t skip the open house. Attending this informative event is essential in order to learn what will be expected from you as parents, as well as your child, this upcoming year.

6. Get your child’s school clothes ready a week prior to the first day of school. Whether your child wears a uniform or regular clothing, have their clothes clean, ironed and ready to go. Every second counts on such a hectic morning.

7. No loitering on the first day. Walk your child to the door, help them locate their desk and lunch cubby, kiss them on the cheek and say goodbye. Avoid the urge to circle back and peer through the window to see how your child is doing. It makes it much harder on your child to say goodbye the second time around.

8. Help your child find the restroom. It’s important for a child to know where key locations are and the bathroom is top on this list.

9. Make a special breakfast. Plan a special “First Day of School” menu with your child and offer a selection of healthy choices. Set the table the night before and sit down together to eat breakfast. Attempting to slow down the pace on a busy morning will relax your child and give them time to ask you questions or discuss fears.

10. Assure your child that everyone gets a little nervous on the first day of school. Talk about what other children are probably feeling and how the feeling will pass very soon. Remind them that you will see them in the afternoon and how you will look forward to hearing all about their day.

For more great advice on life, family, kids and marriage, visit Hitched.

Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.

feature photo from Your New Favorite Song

Medication you should NEVER give your Baby

Babies are much more likely than adults to have adverse drug reactions, so any medicine you put into that little body should be taken seriously, even prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medication and “herbal” medicines.

Until your baby is 6 months old, consult a doctor before giving her any medication at all, advises Baby Center. Once she’s 3 months old you can give a carefully measured dose of baby dose of acetaminophen, but even that is not always necessary at the first sign of fussiness.

Here are 9 types of medication that you should never give your baby.

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Aspirin

Aspirin can make a child susceptible to Reye’s syndrome — a rare but potentially fatal illness. Aspirin is sometimes referred to as “salicylate” or “acetylsalicylic acid,” and is sometimes found in “children’s medicine.”  Read labels carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you’re not sure whether a product is aspirin-free.

For fever and other discomfort, ask your doctor about giving your baby acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines

Studies show that they don’t actually help to soothe symptoms of kids this age.The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against giving OTC cough and cold medicines to babies.  And they can be harmful, especially when a child mistakenly gets more than the recommended dose.

In addition to side effects like drowsiness or sleeplessness, upset stomach, and a rash or hives, a child can suffer serious effects such as rapid heart rate, convulsions, and even death. Every year, 7,000 children under the age of 11 are treated in U.S. emergency rooms after taking too much cough or cold medication.

If your baby’s miserable with a cold, you may want to try a humidifier or other home remedies.

Anti-nausea medications

Don’t give your baby an anti-nausea medication (prescription or OTC) unless her doctor specifically recommends it. Most bouts of vomiting are pretty short-lived, and babies and children usually handle them just fine without any medication. In addition, anti-nausea medications have risks and possible complications. (If your baby is vomiting and begins to get dehydrated, contact her doctor for advice on what to do.)

Adult medications

Giving your baby a smaller dose of medicine meant for an adult is dangerous. If the label doesn’t indicate an appropriate dose for a baby her size, don’t give that medication to your baby.

Any medication prescribed for someone else or for another condition

Prescription drugs intended for other people (like a sibling) or to treat other illnesses may be ineffective or even dangerous when given to your baby. Give her only medicine prescribed for her and her specific condition.

Anything expired

Toss out medicines, prescription and OTC alike, as soon as they expire. Also get rid of discolored or crumbly medicines — basically anything that doesn’t look the way it did when you first bought it.

After the use-by date, medications may no longer be effective and can even be harmful. Don’t flush old drugs down the toilet, as they can contaminate groundwater and end up in the drinking water supply. Find out how to safely dispose of expired medication.

Extra acetaminophen

Some medicines contain acetaminophen to help ease fever and pain, so be careful not to give your baby an additional separate dose of acetaminophen. If you’re not sure what’s in a particular medicine, don’t give her acetaminophen or ibuprofen until you’ve first gotten the okay from your doctor or pharmacist.

Chewables

Chewable tablets are a choking hazard for babies. If your baby’s eating solids and you want to use a chewable tablet, crush it first, then put it in a spoonful of soft food, like yogurt or applesauce. (Of course, you’ll have to make sure your baby eats the entire spoonful to get the complete dose.)

Chinese herb ma huang (ephedra or ephedrine)

Never take or give your child the Chinese herb ma huang, also known as ephedra or ephedrine. In adults this herbal decongestant has been linked to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, seizures, heart attack, and strokes.

Check with your doctor or an alternative medicine practitioner before giving your child any herbal products. And always let the doctor know about any herbal remedies your child is taking before she prescribes a medication.

Many herbal remedies are gentle and safe, but just because something is natural, or derived from a plant, doesn’t mean it’s safe for your child. Herbal products can cause allergic reactions, liver damage, and high blood pressure. In certain doses or when combined with the wrong medications, they can be fatal.

Source: Baby Center

Getting Kids Excited about a New Baby

Younger toddlers won’t have a clue about a baby “growing in your tummy.” Because they can’t see it, they won’t be able to understand much of the explanation. Even when you are in your ninth month, big as a house, your older baby won’t take much notice of the bulge, except to realize that it is harder for her to sit on your lap.

Being pregnant with young children in tow can be both challenging and exhausting. Involving your kids in your pregnancy makes things a bit easier and is often fun. Here are some ways to involve everyone in the “family pregnancy” and prepare them for life with a newborn.

Arrange Baby Time

Make to be around very young babies. This lets your children see what they look like, hear how they sound, observe you holding one now and then, notice that they need comforting, and learn about nursing.

Baby Talk

Small kids: Once your belly is really big, eight months maybe, talk about the new baby. Your toddler will feel more secure if you refer to it as “Suzy’s new baby.” Let her feel kicks, help her talk or sing to baby, and stroke your belly.

Bigger kids: Tell older toddlers and preschoolers about the baby early on in the pregnancy. The older the child, the sooner you can tell him; very young children may be confused or disappointed when the baby fails to arrive the next day. With an older toddler or preschooler, try all of the toddler suggestions above, and in addition, use the diagrams in books on birth to talk about how the baby is growing, month by month. You’ll be surprised by questions like “What part did baby grow today, mom?”

Read Books about Babies

Show her simple children’s books about new babies. Show pictures of when she was a tiny baby and tell her about all the things you did for her. Say things like “Mommies hold tiny babies a lot because they need that.”

Explain Your  Moods

Depending on the age and level of understanding, tell your child why you are feeling so tired, grouchy, short-fused, impatient, and whatever else you feel while pregnant: You might say, “Baby needs a lot of energy to grow, and that’s why mom is tired and sleeps a lot…” Or, “The hormones baby needs to grow make mommy feel funny…”

Talk about the  Future

For example, let them know babies cry (some cry a lot) and they like it when you talk to them and make funny faces. Explain to them “You can help me change the diaper, bathe baby and dress baby. Babies can’t do anything for themselves for a long time, and they can’t play games until they grow bigger. They need to be held a whole lot, just like I held you when you were little.”

Hands on Demo

Usually by the fifth or sixth month, older children can feel their baby brother or sister move. During the time of the day when your baby moves the most, sit down and invite your children to feel the show. Let them guess which body part they are feeling.

Stock photo

image: The Johns Hopkins Gazette

Baby Bonding

Invite your children to talk to and about the baby. If you already know the gender and have chosen a name, you can encourage them to use it when referring to the baby. Or you can welcome the baby nicknames your child invents. Babies can hear around 23 weeks of age, so this is a good time for the kids to start talking to the baby so he or she will get to know them. After about three months of this, their voices will be very familiar to the baby still in utero, and bonding will already be under way. Studies show that babies tend to turn toward voices they recognize right after birth.

Little Helping Hands

Realize that it’s impossible to give other family members the same degree of attention they are used to while you’re pregnant. Sooner or later the children will realize that they must share mom with another tiny taker in the family. Fortunately, pregnancy provides you with plenty of time to prepare your older children for what life will be like after the baby arrives. Getting them used to helping you while baby brother or sister is still inside is actually another good tool for bonding. The children will have invested their time and energy already even before baby comes, and the baby will have more personal value to them.

Adapted from 10 WAYS TO INVOLVE CHILDREN WITH YOUR PREGNANCY

feature image: The Johns Hopkins Gazette

A Glass of Wine for Better Behaved Kids?

A study published last month from BJOG (an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology) reported a link between women who drank moderately in the early months of pregnancy, and the behavior of their children years later. And what do you think they found? Well, they discovered that women who had 2-6 drinks per week early in their pregnancy tended to have children with more positive behavior than women who didn’t drink at all.

How’d they come up with that? And does it mean anything?

They enlisted 2900 women to provide data at 18 and 34 weeks of gestation on weekly alcohol intake: no drinking, occasional drinking (up to one standard drink per week), light drinking (2–6 standard drinks per week), moderate drinking (7–10 standard drinks per week), and heavy drinking (11 or more standard drinks per week).

Then, their children were followed up at ages 2, 5, 8, 10 and 14 years, using a standard checklist to measure behavior.

“This positive behavior meant that the children of light and moderate drinkers had less emotional and behavioral problems through childhood and adolescence,” Dr. Monique Robinson, from Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in West Perth, Western Australia, told Reuters Health.

If this report has you jumping out of your chair to pour yourself a glass of wine, you might want to stop and think about it for a moment. Good behavior is great, but the study addresses nothing relating to cognitive abilities or general health. It also seems to me that measuring something like “positive behavior” is incredibly subjective.

As one eloquent commenter at iVillage said:  “Maybe they are less emotional because the brain cells are dead.”

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a pattern of mental and physical defects which develops in some unborn babies when the mother drinks excessive alcohol during pregnancy.  Fetal alcohol exposure is the leading known cause of mental retardation in the Western world.  The current recommendation of both the US Surgeon General and the UK Department of Health is not to drink alcohol at all during pregnancy.  (Wikipedia)

Remember, while an occasional glass of wine may or may not have an affect on your unborn child, no amount of alcohol is proven safe for consumption during pregnancy. Sacrificing your baby’s mental and physical health for good behavior seems very silly indeed.

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