Preparing your toddler for a holiday dinner

by Maxine
Posted January 4 2012 04:16pm
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The ultimate goal of a family get together is to have a pleasant meal and enjoy each other's company. Stress occurs when young children misbehave, cause disruptions or don't comply with expectations. Our Comfort, Play & Teach approach can help you make the dinner more enjoyable for all.

You comfort your toddler when you recognize and support his needs, showing him that you respect and value him as a separate person. Preparing your toddler ahead of time for the dinner will help him feel a sense of security and comfort:

  • Tell him who will be coming for dinner.
  • Inform him that there will be lots of new and different foods to try.
  • Warn him that the meal will take a long time because grownups like to talk.

You can also prevent problems and comfort your toddler by understanding what is considered reasonable behaviour for this situation and for your child's age. For instance, it is unreasonable to expect a toddler to sit in a highchair or at the table for more than 20-30 minutes without wanting to be the centre of attention. By reading his signals and taking certain measures, you can prevent temper tantrums or outbursts from happening:

  • Give your child something nutritious to eat before the holiday dinner. That way, even if he doesn't want to try the foods being served, he will not feel too hungry.
  • Allow him to come and go from the table. He can play nearby in between courses and join the family when he is ready to eat some more.

Have some of his favourite activities ready beforehand, e.g. blocks, cars, crayons and paper. This way you can supervise and interact from a distance as he plays without causing too much disruption at the table.

Have you had dinner time successes or disasters with your toddler? Let us know by sharing your comment below!

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TV, videos and video games and your child

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 09:35pm
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Once you've realized that TV, videos and video games are probably going to be a part of your child's life, it's time to figure out how you're going to make sure they don't do more harm than good. The single most important thing you can do is become involved in what your child is watching at home and at school.

Try to watch, or be close by, whenever your child is watching TV or a video, and then make sure you talk to him about what he has seen. By doing so, you turn an otherwise solitary activity into a social and learning experience.

It's important that you're aware of what good options are available. For example, suggest or choose certain stations that don't have commercials during children's programming. And select children's videos and games that are educational as well as entertaining. Finding these alternatives may take time, but your efforts will be rewarded.

Try to organize activities for the time immediately after a TV program or video ends so your child is eager to get involved in something else.

Be wary of letting your child watch programs intended for adults. Many parents think that very young children can't understand the content of adult programs, such as soap operas, crime shows and newscasts. But research is discovering that children might actually be absorbing these scenes. With this in mind, tape "adult shows" for later viewing when infants and young children aren't present.

Finally, it is recommended that you limit your child's TV viewing to no more than two hours a day. This leaves plenty of time for her to do things like read, draw, play with others and exercise.

What are your thoughts on children’s television, video and video game habits? Share your thoughts below or ask one of our parenting experts for more information.

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Shopping with your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 06:42pm
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Taking a young child shopping for gifts and groceries in crowded stores and malls can be a stressful event for parents and children alike. During the holiday season, it can be even more intense. Nonetheless, if you take your child with you on your shopping excursions, you can turn this event into a rich learning experience.

Remember that young children learn new things constantly, and that there are many ways and many opportunities to teach while you are shopping together:

  • Involve your child in some of the shopping decisions. Ask your child to help you choose a gift for a friend, a sibling, or a family member. Present some choices and discuss what this person would prefer, and talk about how happy this person will be to receive a gift. This will help your child learn to see things from someone else's point of view.
  • Make shopping fun. Play games such as "I spy with my little eye..." or talk about colours and shapes.
  • Be a good example. Model patience for your child when waiting in a long line by talking about how it makes you feel and how you can deal with it. For instance, "I don't like waiting like this, but I have to. Maybe time will go by faster if we talk about the decorations we are going to put in the house later." Be prepared and bring some snacks from home to eat while waiting in the check-out line.

Watch for signs that your child is getting overwhelmed. At this age it is still difficult for children to behave appropriately in stressful situations, and it is a good idea to keep shopping trips as short as possible.

Have you ever taken you preschooler shopping with you? How did it go? Share your stories by leaving a comment below!

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Feeding your baby: Dos and Don’ts

by Maxine
Posted January 2 2012 01:08pm
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Remember that feeding time with your newborn should be a time for you and your baby to be close, both physically and emotionally. Holding your baby close, making eye contact and talking or singing to her when you are cradling her all help to increase her feelings of security and attachment.

Below are several do's and don'ts that will help make feeding time a close time between you and your baby.

  • DON'T feed in a place where it is noisy and chaotic. Use quiet rooms for feedings, and turn off or down phones, televisions and radios. If there are other children around, try to redirect them to a quiet activity during your baby's feedings.
  • DO get comfortable. Find a comfortable position to feed your baby. Before starting a feeding, make sure you are comfortable and have adequate support for your back and under your baby. Feeding time should be a time for you to relax and feel close to your baby.
  • DO go skin-to-skin whenever possible. There is a special feeling babies get when they make skin-to-skin contact. When feeding in private, this can increase your baby's feeling of warmth.
  • DO switch arms. This gives your baby a chance to see things from a different perspective, and also gives your arms a break. This should usually be done mid-feeding.
  • DO take your time. Don't rush. Follow your baby's cues. At some feedings your baby may be faster and at other times slower. Breastfed babies may do non-nutritive sucking to satisfy their need to suck. You can also let your baby suck on a clean finger. This comforts them and satisfies their craving to suck. The closeness of feeding times can be extended by singing and socializing with your baby.
  • DON'T interrupt a feeding. Your baby will have to concentrate at the beginning, and will do better with fewer distractions or interruptions. This may mean restricting visitors or visiting times.
  • DO let your baby call it quits. A healthy baby knows when to stop feeding. If your baby drinks less during a feeding, try offering once more after his refusal, but don't push.

When your baby is unable to breastfeed, be sure to take note of the following information:

  • DON'T prop the bottle. All babies, but especially newborns, need the emotional fulfillment that comes from cuddling during a feeding. Holding your baby also leads to a more satisfied baby, since propping the bottle can result in poor positioning, which may mean that your baby does not get as much to eat. There is also a danger of choking if the bottle is propped.
  • DON'T put your baby to bed with a bottle. In addition to the risk of choking, and your baby missing out on the closeness of a feeding, there is a greater chance of your baby developing early childhood tooth decay.

If you have questions or concerns about feeding your baby, ask our national panel of experts.

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