What Are Some Great Winter Activities for Kids?

The winter doesn’t have to be a time to hunker down indoors and stay warm. There is plenty to do and see, even if the weather is a bit crisper than you would like. It doesn’t seem like kids even notice the cold if they’re having fun, anyway. Here are some fun winter activities you can do with the kids.

Sledding

Sledding is an old classic. There’s nothing better than zooming down the hill on your platform of choice. Just make sure that you go to a hill that’s safe, and that everyone is bundled up properly, since there will be much time spent in the snow. Smaller children should only ride with an adult.

Skiing

Skiing is great fun for the whole family. You can go cross-country skiing as a group, or go downhill skiing on the appropriate skill-level hill. It may seem difficult for those who haven’t tried, but after a quick lesson, everyone can get the hang of it quickly.

Snowboarding

Snowboarding is like skateboarding on the snow. Lots of kids love this activity because it gives the opportunity to try out tricks and stunts. Kids as young as 5 can strap on a board, but this activity is a favourite for tweens and teens. They have the muscles and the balance to stretch the limits of what they can do.

Snow Angels

This one is good for kids (and adults) of all ages. Make sure everyone is wearing a full snowsuit, and get them to flop down in the snow on their backs. Then they can move their arms above their head and their legs back and forth. For more fun, you can decorate the angels with fun colors and even clothes.

Don’t stay inside all winter. Brave the cold and enjoy all their is to do with your family.

Child Development: 5 Essential Tips

Child development presents itself from early infancy all the way into the adolescent stages. Children are naturally curious about the world around them. By the time your child begins to crawl, numerous things at once will draw their attention. This is true even if it’s not particularly interesting to adults.

This natural curiosity is a gift, but can sometimes be exhausting to keep up with. While it can take a toll on parents, it’s important to keep facilitating this curiosity as children continue to age. Here are some incredibly valuable tips to enhance the lives of children through their development and facilitate proper growth.

Be a Good Role Model

Young children look up to their parents as role models. The way you conduct yourself in many given situations will be reflective of their behavior as they age along with their outlook on life. Try to think and behave as positively as you can, and your child will follow in your footsteps.

Actively Listen to Your Child

Let your children know that they can come to you whenever they need to talk with you about something. It is common for parents to become angered when your children ask an influx of questions. It all stems back to their natural curiosity. It can take some patience, but it’s important to answer as many of these questions to your children as possible. In these moments they are trying to be sincere. These moments should be valued.

Share Your Emotions

Children are really just smaller adults. They can tell when you’re feeling good and when you’re feeling lousy. Let your children into your life by letting them know what’s on your mind and good times and in bad. Even though your children might not know what to do on the surface, their presence and their knowledge that you’re not on your game will help them gain understanding. They may even find creative ways to make you feel better.

Go Outside

A great component of child development is to help your child appreciate the outdoors. There are so many things about the world your child can learn by being immersed in nature. So many skills they can develop by not constantly looking at screens. This is a chance for parents to escape the hectic nature of their day and simply be present with their child. Whether you’re going on a hike or simply playing soccer in the backyard, make sure your child spends a considerable amount of time outdoors.

Set Rules

It is important to set limits with your kids. As a parent one of your main responsibilities is to set your child’s expectations for the real world. Early childhood are incredibly formative years, and it is up to you to set appropriate guidelines for your child to follow. These will be incredibly valuable to your child as they grow up. You don’t have to be strict, but they should be sturdy. Rules are meant to guide your child. They are not meant to constantly punish them. Be sure to act accordingly.

Help Your Kids Avoid Getting Sick With These 6 Tips

Winter means many wonderful things. The crisp air, fun in the snow, and drinking hot drinks after coming in from the cold, just to name a few. Unfortunately, winter also brings with it some unpleasant things, not the least of which is illness. Colds and the flu are very common in winter, especially among kids. Here are some ways to keep your kids healthy during the colder months.

Hand Washing

Hands are constantly collecting bacteria, so they should be washed often. The best way to encourage kids to wash their hands is to make it fun. You can buy fun-smelling soaps, or even a motion sensor dispenser, to make it more interesting to wash up.

Sanitizer

Sometimes it might not be possible to wash with soap and water. Hand sanitizer will kill germs and bacteria on your hands when you are in a pinch and there is no sink nearby.

Layers

Make sure your child dresses in layers during the cold season. For one, you do not want them dressing too lightly. You also do not want them dressing too warmly, because they might sweat which will cool when they take their coat off. Layers mean that your child can have the right level of covering at all times.

Covering Up

It is very important that kids, or anyone for that matter, cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. If they use their hands, then they will end up touching door knobs and other things that will spread the germs to others. They should use the crook of their elbows.

Tissues Everywhere

Make it easy for your kids to have tissues at hand so they are not using the backs of their hands. You could have a box open in every room of the house so they will never have to go looking for one. You can also send them to school with smaller packs, and put those little packs in their coat pockets as well.

Keep Them Home

There is no reason to send them to school or to do activities when they are sick. The best way to get over a cold is with rest. Not only will it allow their weak immune system to do its work, but they also will not be a risk to others.

If you are interested in learning about Today’s Life Schools & Child Care’s Minnesota day care services, feel free to contact us online or call 952-358-2020.

What Are The Benefits Of Day Care Centers?

Ever since the industrial revolution, when not only the world changed, but attitudes towards gender roles started changing, day care centers became essential for many households with two working parents. No longer was it just about the man going to work to bring home the bacon. More and more women needed to leave the home to help provide for the family. Now, day care centers play a vital role in our economy as they allow both parents to make money and have satisfying careers. Here are some other benefits.

Environment

While the parents might be out of the home, that does not mean that the kids cannot have a home-like environment. Day care centers are often set up like a home, and the kids are provided with care, attention, and healthy meals.

Learning

Learning is a big part of every day care center. They provide age-appropriate activities and lessons that help the children get prepared for their school years to come. They can get a head start on their alphabet and number literacy. Parents can certainly teach these things, but day care centers are staffed by professionals.v

Social

Day care centers provide an opportunity for children to learn how to work in groups, and get along with others. These are vital skills to have once school starts. They will learn to adjust to different personalities, and share toys and other items with others without fighting.

Fun

With all the learning and sharing, there’s still plenty of time for fun! They play games, read stories, do crafts, and spend all day being engaged. They make new friends that in some cases, last for life. The staff are professionals in child development and also very knowledgeable about activities for kids.

Choosing

When you are choosing a facility, it’s important to take a few things into consideration. This means that you must visit the center to see how it operates. When you are there, ask about group sizes, and how many kids there are per class member. You will want to make sure that your child will not feel too uncomfortable or be lost in the crowd.

A day care center can help a family reach financial goals and help provide children with an excellent quality of life. If you’re deciding whether or not to send your kids to day care, remember these benefits.

If you are interested in learning about Today’s Life Schools & Child Care’s Minnesota day care services, feel free to contact us online or call 952-358-2020.

Fun Things For Kids To Do In the Fall

It is that time of year again when the kids go back to school, the air has a particular crispness, and the leaves start creating a beautiful mosaic of colors. The time between what can be extreme heat and extreme cold is the perfect time of year for playing outside. With that in mind, here are a few fun things your kids can do during autumn time.

Playing in the Leaf Piles

Remember being a kid and jumping in freshly raked piles of leaves? Kids still love to do that! Instead of being annoyed at your hard work being ruined, you can simply rake it all up again to continue the fun. You can create several piles, or one large one. Having several piles makes it a perfect spot for a game of hide and seek. Forts, beds, and other imaginative creations are all just at the swipe of a rake.

Collecting Leaves

The one thing that is unmistakable about fall is how beautiful it is because of the colorful leaves. Grab a basket or a bucket, and search for different types of leaves all over the neighborhood. Your child can collect different colors and different shapes. You could even hold a competition or a scavenger hunt for several children. This is a great learning opportunity, as you can teach them about trees from which the leaves came, and how the leaves will regrow in the spring. Collecting leaves is the first step to creating a fun leaf-based craft.

Tree Planting

Trees don’t just get planted in the spring. There are many places where the fall is the best time to plant a tree. That way, it will already be a little bit mature when the growing season starts in the spring. Kids can dig the hole and help put the tree in. Then they can refill it, and watch the tree that they planted grow throughout the years. You can even give them the responsibility of watering the tree, even if it doesn’t really need it.

As you can see, there is so much for your kids to enjoy in the fall. Get out there and have some fun!

How To Talk About Safety With Your Child

There are many things that we need to teach and demonstrate to our children as they grow up. One of the most important is safety. Part of a nurturing and loving parental relationship is keeping a child safe from harm, and as the child gets older, making sure they know how to keep themselves from harm, too. That means you will have to provide correction when they do something that is unsafe. Here are some ways that you can effectively talk about safety with your child.

Talk About The Behavior

When a child does something wrong, our first instinct is often to scold them. The important thing is separating the behavior from the child. Talk about the act, and the possible repercussions, but do not describe the child as “naughty” or a “bad listener”.

Speak, But Also Listen

While you certainly want to provide information, you also should make sure that you are listening to the point of view of the child. If they are old enough, get some feedback about why they did what they did, and do your best to get to the cause of the actions.

Stay Positive

The focus of any conversation about safety should be on teaching, not on disciplining. If your child does something unsafe, like runs into the road, only raise your voice if there is an emergency and you need them to move quickly. Otherwise, remove them from the dangerous situation, and talk about what they can do next time to be safer.

Find A Cause

If your child does something unsafe, take a look at the whole situation. What caused it? Did he not know any better? Was she distracted? Did you perhaps say or do something that caused them to act that way? Sometimes finding the cause and eliminating it will prevent the issue from reoccurring.

Never Forget That We Are All Human

It is highly unlikely that you are a perfect person, and have always been a perfect person. We have all made mistakes, especially as children. It is therefore unfair to expect our children to be perfect. They will make mistakes, and it is important that you work with your child, not against them, to eliminate the safety issue and prevent it from ever happening again.

Now Enrolling Toddlers & Preschool Age Children!

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Today’s Life Schools & Childcare is devoted to providing the highest quality care and education for every child. Our curriculum for all age groups is built on enduring child development principles. Explore our infant, toddler, preschooler, pre-kindergarten, Spanish language, summer fun and enrichment programs.

Four Developmental Benefits of Dramatic Play

Four Developmental Benefits of Dramatic Play

According to experts, dramatic play is any type of play where “children assign and accept roles and act them out”. This means that whether your child likes to pretend to be a doctor or wants to be a mechanic working the big wheel, they’re engaging in dramatic play.

But dramatic play is about more than just play. In fact, there are four developmental benefits of pretend play, including:

  1. Intellectual – Dramatic play is known to help children solve problems, negotiate, organize and plan.
  2. Physical – Most play also increases motor development, strength and coordination (depending on the activity).
  3. Social – Social development means being able to share, take turns, cooperate, negotiate and handle disappointment when it happens.
  4. Emotional – Emotional developments might include feelings of protection, a sense of self and individually as well.

At Today’s Life Schools & Child Care, we focus on dramatic play, making our classrooms and facility a great location for your little one!

About St Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year on March 17th. In Ireland, St Patrick’s Day is both a holy day and a national holiday. Saint Patrick is a patron saint of Ireland as he was the one who brought Christianity to the Irish.

According to the legend, St Patrick used a shamrock to explain about God. The shamrock, which looks like a clover, has three leaves on each stem. Saint Patrick told the people that the shamrock was like the idea of the trinity, that in the one God there are three divine beings: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The shamrock was sacred to the druids, so St Patrick’s use of it in explaining the trinity was very wise.

Although it began in Ireland, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in countries around the world. People with Irish heritage remind themselves of the beautiful green countryside of Ireland by wearing green and taking part in the festivities.

St Patrick’s Day is usually celebrated with a parade. The one in Dublin, Ireland is known to some as the Irish Mardi Gras. But the one in New York city is actually one of the biggest. It last for hours. Two Irish wolfhounds, the mascots of the New York National Guard Infantry regiment, always lead the parade. More than one hundred bands and a hundred thousand marchers follow the wolfhounds in the parade.

Saint Patrick and the Snakes:

Another tale about Patrick is that he drove the snakes from Ireland. Different versions of the story, tell of him standing upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea, banishing them forever from Ireland.

One version says that an old serpent resisted banishment, but that Patrick outwitted it. Patrick made a box and invited the snake to enter. The snake insisted it was too small and the two argued. Finally to prove his point, the snake entered the box to show how tight the fit was. Patrick slammed the lid closed and threw the box into the sea.

Although it’s true that Ireland has no snakes, this likely had more to do with the fact that Ireland is an island and being separated from the rest of the continent the snakes couldn’t get there. The stories of Saint Patrick and the snakes are likely a metaphor for his bringing Christianity to Ireland and driving out the pagan religions (Serpents were a common symbol in many of these religions).

Sharing these fun stories with your children most always leaves them wonder.

5 Ages Of Brain Development

Throughout our life, starting at conception week 4, our brain continues to undergo growth and changes. Here are the 5 steps our brain develops into:

STAGE 1

By the time we take our first breath, the brain is already more than 8 months old. It starts to develop within four weeks of conception, when one of three layers of cells in the embryo rolls up to form the neural tube. A week later, the top of this tube bends over, creating the basic structure of fore, mid and hindbrain.

From this point, brain growth and differentiation is controlled mainly by the genes. Even so, the key to getting the best out of your brain at this stage is to have the best prenatal environment possible. In the early weeks of development, that means having a mother who is stress-free, eats well and stays away from cigarettes, alcohol and other toxins. Towards the end of the brain-building process, when the fetus becomes able to hear and remember, sounds and sensations also begin to shape the train.

In the first two trimesters of pregnancy, though, development is all about putting the basic building blocks in place: growing neurons and connections and making sure each section of the brain grows properly and in the right area. This takes energy, and a variety of nutrients in the right quantity at the right time.

 

STAGE 2

In childhood, the brain is the most energetic and flexible that it will ever be. As we explore the world around us it continues to grow, making and breaking connections at breakneck speed. Perhaps surprisingly, learning, memory and language begin before we are even born.

During the prenatal period, up to a quarter of a million new cells form every minute, making 1.8 million new connections per seconds, though about half of the cells will later wither and die, leaving only those reinforced by use. From birth, a child undergoes more than a decade of rapid growth and development, in which every experience contributes to the person they will become. So what can a parent do to help maximize the potential of their child’s brain? A nurturing environment and daily individualized communication. Negative and/or harsh treatment may come with emotional consequences in the future.

 

STAGE 3

Teenagers are selfish, reckless, irrational and irritable, but given the cacophony of construction going on inside the adolescent brain, is it any wonder? In the teenage years, our brain may be fully grown, but the wiring is certainly a work in progress.

Psychologists used to explain the particularly unpleasant characteristics of adolescence as products of raging sex hormones, since children reach near adult cerebral volumes well before puberty. More recently, though, imaging studies have revealed a gamut of structural changes in the teens and early 20s that go a long way towards explaining these tumultuous teenage years.

Jay Giedd at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and his colleagues have followed the progress of nearly 400 children, scanning many of them every two years as they grew up. They found that adolescence brings waves of grey-matter pruning, with teens losing about 1 percent of their grey matter every year until their early 20s.

This cerebral pruning trims unused neural connections that were overproduced in the childhood growth spurt, starting with the more basic sensory and motor areas. These mature first, followed by regions involved in language and spatial orientation and lastly those involved in higher processing and executive functions.

 

STAGE 4

So you’re in your early 20s and your brain has finally reached adulthood. Enjoy it while it lasts. The peak of your brain’s powers comes at around age 22 and lasts for just half a decade. From there it’s downhill all the way.

This long, slow decline begins at about 27 and runs throughout adulthood, although different abilities decline at different rates. Curiously, the ones that start to go first – those involved with executive control, such as planning and task coordination – are the ones that took the longest to appear during your teens. These abilities are associated with the prefrontal and temporal cortices, which are still maturing well into your early 20s.

Episodic memory, which is involved in recalling events, also declines rapidly, while the brain’s processing speed slows down and working memory is able to store less information.

So just how fast is the decline? According to research, from our mid-20s we lose up to 1 point per decade on a test called the mini mental state examination. This is a 30-point test of arithmetic, language and basic motor skills that is typically used to assess how fast people with dementia are declining. A 3 to 4 point drop is considered clinically significant. In other words, the decline people typically experience between 25 and 65 has real-world consequences.

 

STAGE 5

By the time you retire, there’s no doubt about it, your brain isn’t what it used to be. By 65 most people will start to notice the signs: you forget people’s names and the teapot occasionally turns up in the fridge.

There is a good reason why our memories start to let us down. At this stage of our life we are steadily losing brain cells in critical areas such as the hippocampus – the area where memories are processed. This is not too much of a problem at first, even in old age the brain is flexible enough to compensate. At some point though, the losses start to make themselves felt.

Clearly not everyone ages the same way, so what’s the difference between jolly, intelligent oldie and a forgetful, grumpy granny? And can we improve our chances of becoming the former?

Exercise can certainly help. Numerous studies have shown that gentle exercise three times a week can improve concentration and abstract reasoning in older people, perhaps by stimulating the growth of new brain cells. Exercise also helps steady our blood glucose. As we age, our glucose regulation worsens, which causes spikes in blood sugar. This can affect the dentate gyrus, an area within the hippocampus that helps form memories. Since physical activity helps regulate glucose, getting out and about could reduce these peaks and, potentially, improve your memory.

 

Stay healthy!

Cold Weather Rules & Tips

Whether winter brings severe storms, light dust or just cold temperatures, the American Academy of Pediatrics has some valuable tips on how to keep your children safe and warm. We follow most of them here at Today’s Life, most of them I say because children will never be going outside in temperatures under 15/20 degrees here at the center and at those temperatures; children would not spend more than 10/15 minutes outside. But read below and see what you can get out of it:

 

What to Wear

  • Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities. Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Don’t forget warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat. Choose boots that are large enough to comfortably accommodate two pairs of socks.
  • Remove drawstrings from clothing which may get caught on tree branches or play equipment. Replace with Velcro.
  • The rules of thumb for older babies and young children are to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
  • When riding in the car, babies and children should wear thin, snug layers rather than thick, bulky coats or snowsuits.
  • Blankets, quilts, pillows, bumpers, sheepskins and other loose bedding should be kept out of an infant’s sleeping environment, which we follow here at Today’s Life, because they are associated with suffocation deaths and may contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It is better to use sleep clothing like one-piece sleepers or wearable blankets is preferred.
  • If a blanket must be used to keep a sleeping infant warm, it should be thin and tucked under the crib mattress, reaching only as far as the baby’s chest, so the infant’s face is less likely to become covered by bedding materials.

Hypothermia

  • Hypothermia develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to colder temperatures. It often happens when a youngster is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without proper clothing or when clothes get wet. It can occur more quickly in children than adults.
  • As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. Speech may become slurred and body temperature will decline in more severe cases.
  • If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap him/her in blankets or warm clothes.

Frostbite

  • Frostbite happens when the skin outer tissues become frozen. This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose. Skin first becomes red and tingly, then gray and painful and finally white, cold and hard without pain. Blistering occurs after the skin thaws.
  • Playing in temperatures or wind chills below -15 degrees Fahrenheit should be avoided because exposed skin begins to freeze within minutes.
  • Prevent frostbite by dressing in layers, covering all body parts when outside in cold weather. Bring children indoors if clothing gets wet.
  • If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water. 104 degrees Fahrenheit (about the temperatures of most hot tubs) is recommended. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips.
  • Administer acetaminophen or ibuprofen (consult your doctor or pharmacist on dosage) when you begin rewarming because as the skin thaws pain occurs.
  • Do not rub the frozen areas.
  • After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him/her something warm to drink and seek medical attention immediately particularly if blistering occurs

Winter Health

  • If your child suffers from winter nosebleeds, try using a cold air humidifier in the child’s room at night. Saline nose drops or petrolatum jelly may help keep nasal tissues moist. If bleeding is severe or recurrent, consult your pediatrician.
  • Many pediatricians feel that bathing two or three times a week is enough for an infant’s first year. More frequent baths may dry out the skin, especially during the winter.
  • Cold weather does not cause colds or flu. But the viruses that cause colds and flu tend to be more common in the winter, when children are in school and are in closer contact with each other. Frequent hand washing and teaching your child to sneeze or cough into the bend of her elbow may help reduce the spread of colds and flu.
  • Children 6 months of age and up should get the influenza vaccine to reduce their risk of catching the flu. Around 80% of all influenza illness generally occurs in January, February, and March.

Winter Sports and Activities

  • Set reasonable limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite and make sure kids have a place to go warm up when they get cold. When weather is severe, have children come inside periodically to warm up.
  • Alcohol or drug use should not be permitted in any situation. They can be even more dangerous in winter activities like snowmobiling or skiing.

A few tips that we hope will help and answered some of your questions.

Teething: What To Expect

Somewhere between 2 and 12 months (or later), your baby’s teeth will make their grand, grumpy entrance. Here’s how to read the symptoms of teething along with remedies to ease baby’s discomfort.

When your baby’s first tooth shows up, you might be taken by surprise (“Ow! Was that just a bite?”), or you might just finally understand what all those surefire teething signs — drooling, night waking, crabbiness — were pointing to. Every baby experiences teething differently: Some have virtually no symptoms, while other babies experience teething pain for months. Fortunately, there are some signs to watch for as this developmental milestone approaches that can help make teething easier for your baby — and for you.

When Do Babies Start Teething?

Most babies grow their first tooth around 7 months old, although there’s a wide variation in timing of teething. For example, some babies grow their first tooth as early as two or three months whereas others don’t get one until after their first birthday. Teething symptoms, however, can precede the actual appearance of a tooth by as much as two or three months.

In What Order Do Teeth Appear?

The most common first teeth are the two in the bottom center, followed by the two in the top center. Then, the pattern goes outward with lateral incisors, which are in the next spot over, followed by the first molars, or the molars closest to the opening of baby’s mouth. Then come the canines on either side of the lateral incisors and last are the second molars in the very back. See the American Dental Association’s tooth eruption chart.

9 Common Teething Symptoms

Your little one is not likely to understand why he feels so achy, why he keeps waking up in the night with soreness in his mouth or why his chin is so itchy. So here are top teething symptoms to keep an eye out for:

  1. Drooling. It’s hard to believe so much fluid can come from the mouths of tiny babes, but teething stimulates drooling, and the waterworks are on for many babies starting from about 10 weeks to three or four months of age. If you find that your baby’s shirts are constantly soggy, fasten on a bib to keep her more comfortable (and cleaner), and gently wipe her chin throughout the day to stave off chapping.
  2. Teething rash. If your teething baby is pouring out prodigious amounts of drool, the constant drip may cause chafing, chapping, redness and rashes around her mouth and chin (and even on her neck). Patting away the drool will help prevent the rash. You can also create a moisture barrier with Vaseline or Aquaphor, and moisturize with a gentle unscented skin cream as needed. Have some nipple cream (like Lansinoh) on hand? It’s great for protecting tender baby skin, too.
  3. Coughing and/or gag reflex. All that drool can make babies gag and cough (you’d choke too with a mouthful of spit). It’s no cause for concern if your baby has no other signs of cold, flu or allergies.
  4. Biting. Pressure from teeth poking through under the gums causes baby a lot of discomfort — and that discomfort can be relieved by counterpressure (aka, biting). Teething babies will gum whatever they can find, from teething rings and rattles to your soon-to-be sore nipples (if you’re breastfeeding) and fingers.
  5. Crying. Some babies breeze through teething with nary a whimper, while others suffer from a good deal of pain due to the inflammation of tender gum tissue — which they feel compelled to share with you in the form of whining or crying. First teeth usually hurt the most (as do the molars, because they’re just plain bigger), although most babies eventually get used to what teething feels like and aren’t quite so bothered later on. Talk to your doctor about when to offer pain relievers like infant acetaminophen.
  6. Irritability. Your baby’s mouth will ache as that little tooth presses on the gums and pokes up to the surface, and, not surprisingly, it’ll probably make her feel out of sorts. Some babies may be irritable for just a few hours, but others can stay crabby for days or even weeks.
  7. Refusal to feed. Uncomfortable, cranky babies yearn to be soothed by something in their mouths — whether a bottle or the breast. But the suction of nursing may make a teething baby’s sore gums feel worse. For that reason, teething babies are fussy about feedings (and get more frustrated as neither their discomfort nor their hungry tummies find relief). Babies eating solid foods may also refuse to eat during teething. Keep at it, and call your pediatrician if the strike lasts more than a few days.
  8. Night waking. The teething fairy doesn’t only work days. As your baby’s teeth begin to emerge, her discomfort may disrupt her nighttime slumber (even if she previously slept through the night). Before offering comfort, see if she can settle herself back to sleep; if she’s still restless, soothe her with patting or lullabies but avoid a return to nighttime feedings (which will come back to haunt you when teething is done).
  9. Ear pulling; cheek rubbing. Teething babies may tug furiously at their ear or rub their cheek or chin. The reason? Gums, ears and cheeks share nerve pathways, and so an ache in the gums (especially from erupting molars) can travel elsewhere. (Babies with ear infections will also yank on their ears, so do check with your pediatrician if you suspect your baby may be bothered by more than just teething.)

The type and severity of these symptoms vary wildly from baby to baby — for one baby, teething means lots of discomfort and big-time tears, while another child might breeze right through to a mouth full of teeth without a complaint.  Still, you can expect to see at least some, and maybe many, of these symptoms (some of which can precede the actual appearance of a tooth by as much as two or three months — so hang in there Mom!).

The 7 Best Teething Remedies

While you can’t take on your baby’s teething discomfort, you can help take it away with these mom-tested remedies:

  1. Chewing. Teething babies love to chew, and for good reason: The gumming action provides counterpressure, which relieves the aching pressure of new pearly whites pushing up and out into the mouth. Bumpy rubber teething rings, rattles and other teething toys work well (including — your baby has probably figured out — the plastic bumper on a crib rail). Chewing is even more effective when the object is cold and numbs the gums. Keep a supply of teething toys or wet washcloths in the fridge, rather than the freezer — very cold comfort can hurt sensitive gums just as much as an erupting tooth does.
  2. Counterpressure. Your clean finger, teething toys with nubbly edges or a soft, wet toothbrush (no toothpaste) rubbed firmly on baby’s gums can provide the same soothing counterpressure. Your baby may balk at first because it seems to hurt initially, but it soon brings relief.
  3. Cold drinks. A bottle of icy cold water can offer chilly relief to achy gums for babies over six months (when water can be introduced), or, if baby doesn’t take a bottle, give (ice-free) water in a cup.
  4. Cold food. Like icy food to rest gums on, chilled food to eat, such as yogurt, blended peaches, and applesauce (once they’ve already been introduced to your baby), can be more appetizing than warm or room-temperature foods, and can ease achy gums. Or give frozen fruits like bananas and plums in a baby feeder mesh bag (so large chunks of gummed-off food can’t pose a choking risk), but only under adult supervision and with baby sitting or propped upright.
  5. Pain relief. If chewing, rubbing and sucking chilly foods don’t do the trick, break out the baby acetaminophen — but only after checking with your pediatrician.
  6. Comfort. Extra snuggles, extra kisses and lots of patience are what a teething baby wants most.
  7. Avoid numbing agents. Using rubbing alcohol on your baby’s gums is a no-go, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against topical numbing agents, which can put children under age 2 at risk for reduced oxygen levels in the blood. The FDA also recommends against any herbal or homeopathic natural teething meds, especially since some contain an ingredient that can cause heart problems and drowsiness.
  8. Avoid amber teething necklaces. They don’t work, and they can pose a choking hazard.

What not to worry about: Teething can cause bleeding under the gums, which may look like a bluish lump in baby’s mouth. It’s nothing to be concerned about and can be relieved with cold counterpressure using a cool wet washcloth.

While some parents swear that low-grade fever and diarrhea are teething symptoms, doctors are divided on whether that’s true. But like inflammation anywhere else in the body, inflamed gums can sometimes produce a low-grade fever. So if your little one does develop a temperature of less than 101 degrees while he’s cutting a tooth, it could be caused by inflammation of the gums and is not a cause for concern. If the fever continues for more than three days, or if it’s higher than 101 degrees or accompanied by any other symptoms of illness, call your pediatrician. The same goes for diarrhea, which some parents speculate can be caused by all the extra drool that gets swallowed when a baby is teething. It’s nothing to worry about, but if it lasts for more than two bowel movements, give your child’s doctor a call.

FOR MORE INFO: http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/teething/

Healthy Eating Habits for Your Child

By teaching your children healthy eating habits, and modeling these behaviors in yourself, you can help your children maintain a healthy weight and normal growth. Also, the eating habits your children pick up when they are young will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are adults.

Your child’s health care provider can evaluate your child’s weight and growth and let you know if your child needs to lose or gain weight or if any dietary changes need to be made.

Some of the most important aspects of healthy eating are portion control and cutting down on how much fat your child eats. Simple ways to reduce fat intake in your child’s diet and promote a healthy weight include serving:

  • Low-fat or nonfat dairy products
  • Poultry without skin
  • Lean cuts of meats
  • Whole grain breads and cereals
  • Healthy snacks such as fruit and veggies

Also, reduce the amount of sugar sweetened drinks and salt in your child’s diet.

If you are unsure about how to select and prepare a variety of foods for your family, consult a registered dietitian for nutrition counseling.

It is important that you do not place your overweight child(ren) on a restrictive diet. Children should never be placed on a restrictive diet to lose weight unless a doctor supervises one for medical reasons.

Other approaches parents can take to develop healthy eating habits in their children include:

  • Guide your family’s choices rather than dictate foods. Make a wide variety of healthful foods available in the house. This practice will help your children learn how to make healthy food choices. Leave the unhealthy choices like chips, soda, and juice at the grocery store. Serve water with meals.
  • Encourage your children to eat slowly. A child can detect hunger and fullness better when they eat slowly. Before offering a second helping or serving, ask your child to wait at least 15 minutes to see if they are truly still hungry. This will give the brain time to register fullness. Also, that second helping should be much smaller than the first.
  • Eat meals together as a family as often as possible. Try to make mealtimes pleasant with conversation and sharing, not a time for scolding or arguing. If mealtimes are unpleasant, children may try to eat faster to leave the table as soon as possible. They then may learn to associate eating with stress.
  • Involve your children in food shopping and preparing meals. These activities will give you hints about your children’s food preferences, an opportunity to teach your children about nutrition, and provide your kids with a feeling of accomplishment. In addition, children may be more willing to eat or try foods that they help prepare.
  • Plan for snacks. Continuous snacking may lead to overeating, but snacks that are planned at specific times during the day can be part of a nutritious diet, without spoiling a child’s appetite at meal times. You should make snacks as nutritious as possible, without depriving your children of occasional chips or cookies, especially at parties or other social events.
  • Discourage eating meals or snacks while watching TV. Try to eat only in designated areas of your home, such as the dining room or kitchen. Eating in front of the TV may make it difficult to pay attention to feelings of fullness, and may lead to overeating.
  • Encourage your children to drink more water. Over consumption of sweetened drinks and sodas has been linked to increased rates of obesity in children.
  • Try not to use food to punish or reward your children. Withholding food as a punishment may lead children to worry that they will not get enough food. For example, sending children to bed without any dinner may cause them to worry that they will go hungry. As a result, children may try to eat whenever they get a chance. Similarly, when foods, such as sweets, are used as a reward, children may assume that these foods are better or more valuable than other foods. For example, telling children that they will get dessert if they eat all of their vegetables sends the wrong message about vegetables.
  • Make sure your children’s meals outside the home are balanced. Find out more about their school lunch program, or pack their lunch to include a variety of foods. Also, select healthier items when dining at restaurants.
  • Pay attention to portion size and ingredients. Read food labels and limit foods with trans fat. Also, make sure you serve the appropriate portion as indicated on the label.

Understanding Your Child’s Development

Children are amazing . . . growing and changing every day.

As parents, we experience many joys (and sometimes frustrations!) with our child’s rapidly changing behaviors, skills, and feelings.

One way to better understand your child is to know more about child development. With advances in brain science, we are learning more about how a child develops and the importance of good early experiences.

The more you know, the more you can help your child.

Helpful Websites

Minnesota Parents Know (parentsknow.state.mn.us/parentsknow/index.html)
Parenting information, resources, and activities to help your child grow, develop, and learn from birth to high school

Zero to Three
Information to support the health and development of infants and toddlers

Minnesota Business for Early Learning
Help your child prepare for kindergarten

Your Child’s Immunizations

Babies are born with protection against certain diseases because antibodies from their mothers were passed to them through the placenta. After birth, breastfed babies get the continued benefits of additional antibodies in breast milk. But in both cases, the protection is temporary.

Immunization (vaccination) is a way of creating immunity to certain diseases by using small amounts of a killed or weakened microorganism that causes the particular disease.

Microorganisms can be viruses (such as the measles virus) or they can be bacteria (such as pneumococcus). Vaccines stimulate the immune system to react as if there were a real infection — it fends off the “infection” and remembers the organism so that it can fight it quickly should it enter the body later.

Types of Vaccines

There are a few different types of vaccines. They include:

  • Attenuated (weakened) live viruses are used in some vaccines such as in the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
  • Killed (inactivated) viruses or bacteria are used in some vaccines, such as in IPV.
  • Toxoid vaccines contain an inactivated toxin produced by the bacterium. For example, the diphtheria and tetanus vaccines are toxoid vaccines.
  • Conjugate vaccines (such as Hib) contain parts of bacteria combined with proteins.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids get combination vaccines (rather than single vaccines) whenever possible. Many vaccines are offered in combination to help reduce the number of shots a child receives.

10 Ways to Ease Kindergarten Anxiety

Kindergarten can be very different from anything your child has ever experienced before.  The thought of the unknown can make kids feel anxious and unsure about starting school.  While there will always be some level of nervousness when faced with a change, there are things you can do to ease anxiety and help calm fears about school.

1.  Talk to your child.

Discuss what fears he or she may have about school.  This sounds simple, but can be overlooked.  It’s easy to assume what things about starting school are making a child nervous, but what seems scary to adults isn’t always the same thing that is scary to a child.  Find out what your child is worried about.

2.  Share your experiences.

Make sure that your child knows that everyone feels nervous sometimes and it’s okay to feel that way.  Talk about how you were nervous on your first day of work or school and what you did about it.  Use your story to share strategies that would work at school.

3.  Play school.

Play is a wonderful tool for helping to set expectations, manage fears, and gain a sense of confidence about school.  It’s also just plain fun!  Act out possible situations and model how to do things like ask a new friend to play, raise your hand, and ask to go to the bathroom.  Pretend to do the things that teachers do at the beginning of the year, like pre-tests or assessments.  When your child is confronted with a similar situation in school he will feel confident instead of nervous.

4.  Visit the new school and classroom.

When a child can start to see and imagine himself at school he can start to feel more confident about going to school.  If you haven’t already taken a tour of the school arrange to stop by and see it.  Walk around, take pictures, talk about the types of things that will happen in each area.  After you are home sit down and create your own mini-book about school to read.

5.  Read books about school.

Books are fantastic for helping kids deal with change.  Go to the library or bookstore and find books about beginning kindergarten, going to school, making friends, or whatever your child is nervous about.  Even kids who aren’t worried will benefit from reading about going to school.

6.  Write a letter to the teacher.

Once you find out who the kindergarten teacher will be ask your child if he wants to write her a letter or draw her a picture.  The child can ask the teacher questions and tell her a little bit himself.  Writing a letter will help your child connect with the teacher.

7. Host a play date.

Invite other kids over who are in the class or go to the school.  Let your child get to know some of his classmates better so that the idea of kindergarten is more fun.  You don’t need to plan anything huge, even a meet up at the park gives kids a chance to talk and play together.

8.  Develop a goodbye routine.

Kids do better when they know what to expect and transition times can be tough.  Help ease the stress of goodbyes by rehearsing and planning what you both will do.  Tell your child what you are going to do when you take him to school or the bus stop, for example, walk him to the door give him a hug and say see you later alligator.   That way during the craziness of the first week of school you both will know exactly how that transition will go.

9.  Send in a comfort object.

Having comfort object from home can help kids who are anxious about being in a new place, just make sure to follow school rules when choosing something to send in.  A family photo in the backpack, a special bracelet, or a handwritten note can all help make the day easier for students.

10.  Stay calm.

It’s sometimes for parents to deal with the thought of sending their child off to kindergarten.  Make sure your anxieties and feelings aren’t rubbing off on your child.  Talk to friends about how you feel and do your best to maintain a calm and confident manner around your child so he doesn’t get the idea that school is something for him to be worried about.

Starting school can take awhile for some kids to get used to.  Don’t worry if it takes your child more time to adjust than his friends.  All kids handle changes differently.  Keep the teacher informed of any concerns and involve the guidance counselor or your pediatrician if necessary.

 

For more info, visit: http://www.coffeecupsandcrayons.com/10-ways-to-ease-kindergarten-anxiety/