Dads Matter!

This is one of my favourite videos that show the brain science behind why Dad’s matter just as much, but differently, in the parenting relationship.

Why Dads Matter – Same love, different approach

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Baby Playtime: How Much is Enough?

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New moms often ask, “How much should I play with baby?”  The simple answer is, “As much as you wish to.”  Babies love faces and the best time to interact with those they love is face-to-face contact times such as bath times, diaper changes, and feeding times.

During those contact times, it helps to sing, talk, tickle, read, make facial expressions and use vocal variety to baby.  Don’t forget to smile.  Babies love facial interaction and they will naturally turn their head away when they have had enough.

Try to give baby some “tummy time” for several minute periods each day.  It helps baby to develop neck and upper arm muscles and it relieves pressure on the head so that the risk of plagiocephally (flat head) is reduced.  Many babies don’t like tummy time, on a hard floor, so it can be helpful to put baby on parent’s chest while parent is lying down on the sofa.  This counts as tummy time.  Also, keep in mind that tummy time can be several minutes, several times a day, instead of a twenty-minute marathon every day.

Baby carriers are a wonderful way for babies to be stimulated and entertained through the day.  Baby watching you make dinner from the elevated view of a backpack is fascinating for him and is just as stimulating for his brain development as watching “educational” videos.

In spite of our society’s intensive push to give early learning to young children, try to avoid worrying about how much stimulation and playtime she is supposed to be getting.  If you enjoy spending time with baby, interacting with your natural enthusiasm, rest assured she is getting enough stimulation!

http://www.professionalparenting.ca (403) 714-6766 jarnall@shaw.ca

How to Help Soothe a Crying Baby

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My 2 month-old won’t stop crying. What can I do?

Brain development stage: Even though it doesn’t seem like so at the time, this crying stage passes very quickly. It’s very normal for baby to cry at 2 months and this is the peak. From 4 to 5 months of age, baby’s crying time decreases immensely.

Suggestions:

  • Offer food first. Even if you’ve heard that babies should eat every 1.5 to 2.5 hours, perhaps she is going through a growth spurt and needs to “cluster” feed for several days. She should be feeding 12-14 times per day. You can’t overfeed a baby. She will turn her head away from breast or bottle and not suck.
  • Check for illness next. As you get to know your baby, you will have intimate knowledge when things are not normal for her. Trust your “gut feeling” if you think she is sick or something is seriously wrong. Call your local baby advice line or take her to the hospital emergency.
  • Check her diaper. A heavily wet or poopy diaper won’t bother some babies, but will irritate others.
  • Check for gas. Try carrying baby with your forearm around her tummy and gently rub her back. Or lie her down on your forearm with your inside elbow supporting her head and your hand supporting her pelvis. Gently rub her back with your other hand.
  • Check for prickly tags on clothing and hairs or threads wrapped around toes, wrists, fingers or neck. Baby may be in pain from some kind of irritant.
  • Check if baby is too hot/too cold. Baby should wear the same amount of clothing layers that you do.
  • Check if baby needs more sleep. Some babies wake up and seem fussy. Try not to disturb her and encourage her to go back to sleep.
  • Motion really calms fussy babies. Walk, dance, sway, or rock her. Go for a walk in the car or stroller.
  • White noise from a fan, ticking clock, aquarium, vacuum or dishwasher can help too. Buy a white noise machine that will play white noise or nature sounds, or use a phone app.
  • Carry your baby in a sling, snugli, or similar carrier. Studies done in cultures where babies are constantly carried, show that babies cry very little. Warmth, touch and motion works magic for babies because they simulate life in the womb.
  • Wrap baby in a blanket heated from the dryer. Then rock her in a rocking chair.
  • Music or yourself humming, or shhhhhing may help calm the baby.
  • Sway your baby while standing up or sitting on an exercise ball.
  • Put baby in the swing.
  • Run the dishwasher, vacuum or washer near your baby’s seat.
  • Go for a car ride. Keep a pillow in the back seat so when baby is asleep and car is parked, have a bit of a nap yourself.
  • Try a baby massage.
  • Hold her using the tummy hold. It applies a bit of pressure on her tummy to help releive gas.
  • Bicycle her legs so that gas can move out.
  • Distract your baby with a bath.
  • Swaddle baby. Flinging arms and legs can upset some babies. Others like loose clothing that allows movement of arms and legs.
  • Babies that are over-stimulated from too much activities can be soothed by a dark, quiet room with gentle rocking.
  • Go for a walk outside.
  • If your baby’s doctor diagnoses colic, or you have a fussy baby, get support systems in place for you and baby. Know your limits. If you start feeling helpless, frustrated, and angry because baby is still screaming, hand her over to partner, or a friend or relative that can give you a break. Make a list of her likes and dislikes to post on the fridge. If no one is around, make a safe choice and put the baby down in the crib while you take some deep breaths and calm down. It’s okay to take a breather, even if baby is screaming.

Parent Time-Out

How to Take a Parent Time-Out with Small
Children Underfoot

One of the very best parenting tools is the Parent Time-Out. When parents are feeling
upset, angry, or frustrated over a parenting issue, or over their children’s behaviour, it
can help to diffuse the situation if the parent removes themselves to get calm and
centered, rather then force the isolation of their child into a Child Time-Out. After the
parent is calm, they are in a much better frame of mind to deal with the issue at hand
and they’ve avoided saying and doing things they might regret later. Sometimes, with
young children, this is easier said than done!

Many parents object to the parent time out because they complain that their toddlers and preschool children just follow them around the house, screaming, whining and crying.

How True!

Here are some tips to Mentally Time-Out when you can’t physically time yourself out:

Throw a CD on the stereo and dance hard!
Use an IPOD or MP3 player filled with your favorite songs to distract you.
Have earplugs everywhere. In the car, kitchen, purse, and bathroom. They take the edge off a child’s screaming that can damage your ears.
Lock yourself in the bathroom. Tell the children that you love them, and Mommy/Daddy is feeling angry, and needs to take a time-out for herself or himself. Turn on the fan or shower so you can’t hear the children, and breathe slowly. Visualize yourself in a calm place.
Do the Hokey-Pokey, and shake it out! Smile and make a funny noise and you will all be laughing.
Phone a friend to have a brief conversation. Tell her how you feel. Call from the closet or a bathroom if you have to.
Distract yourself with a magazine.
Drop everything, dress your children and yourself for the weather, and put them in the stroller. Go for a brief walk outside. Exercise, fresh air, peace and quiet! Children will be distracted by the sights and sounds and you can think out your anger in peace.
Put a children’s DVD or Mom’s movie on the player. It will either distract you or your child, and will give both of you time to calm down.
If you are in the car, pull over to a parking lot or some other safe place. Get out of the car, leave the children in there, and walk around the car 20 times. Cry, deep breathe, vent or stomp. Get back in the car when you have calmed down.
Imagine a soundproof, gentle, clear shell around yourself to protect you from screaming children.
Sit on the porch, find a closet, basement, or somewhere you can be alone. Make sure the children are in a safe place.
Tell your child that you both need a group hug. It can be very hard to hug someone that you feel angry with, but the touch is soothing and helps to heal the anger. It works well for some people.
Use “Self-Talk” Say over and over to yourself, “My child is not trying to bug me right now. She is only coping with her strong feelings in the only way she knows how. “But me first.”
Remember the phrase: “Get myself calm, Get my child calm, and then solve the problem.”

 
What skills do you use to calm down in situations other then parenting? Use some of those strategies if you can. Just as the oxygen masks in airplanes are meant to be used on adults first, so they can be in a position to help the children, you must take care of your needs first when you are angry. The bonus gift is that you are truly modeling for your child, how to take a calming time-out when situations become
overwhelming. Modeling by example, instead of forcing them in time-out, is the best way for children to learn self-calming tools.

FOR YOUR CHILDREN’S SAKE, TAKE A BREAK!

Judy Arnall is a professional international award-winning Parenting Speaker, and
Trainer, Mom of five children, and author of the best-selling, “Discipline Without
Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out,
spanking, punishment or bribery” and a new DVD called “Plugged-In Parenting:
Connecting with the Digital Generation for Health, Safety and Love.”
http://www.professionalparenting.ca (403) 714-6766 jarnall@shaw.ca
Copyright permission granted for “reproduction without permission” of this article in whole or part, if the above credit is included in its entirety.