Living smoke-free with your toddler

by Maxine
Posted December 17 2010 04:00pm
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Breathing in second-hand smoke causes over 1,100 deaths in Canadian non-smokers from lung cancer and heart disease every year. A Health Canada Report in 2007, noted that 7% of Canadian children under 12 years old were exposed to second-hand smoke from cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Although this number is dropping, it still means that about 300,000 children under age 12 continue to be exposed regularly to second-hand smoke. 

The good news is that most Canadian families agree they should avoid exposure to second-hand smoke in their home and car. Currently, four out of five (82%) Canadian homes already restrict smoking in some way and parents report there is general agreement about these restrictions among family members. Parents also report that the primary reason they want to cut back on the amount of second-hand smoke in their home is because of their children.

Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals which are known to be linked to cancer. Second hand smoke also contains these chemicals; 2/3 of the smoke from a burning cigarette remains in the environment such as a room or a car-the other 1/3 is inhaled by the smoker.  Third hand smoke also contains the same chemicals. This is the smoke that gets trapped in hair, skin, fabric, carpets, dust and toys; which accumulates over time. Babies and young children may take in more third hand smoke because they put their hands in their mouth and they spend more time playing on the floor.

Children are more vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke because:

  • They breathe faster than an adult and will breathe in more air relative to their weight and, therefore, absorb more toxins. 
  • Their immune systems are less developed than an adult and their lungs are still developing. 
  • Their airways are smaller and more sensitive to impurities in the air. 
  • Children may not be able to move to a less smoky environment (e.g. go to a different room or get out of the car). 
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke in children has been linked with health problems such as colds and upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, croup, ear infections, asthma and allergies. 

What do these statistics mean to you as a parent? Well, for one thing, they mean that you are not alone. Across Canada, hundreds of thousands of families are struggling with the issue of second-hand smoke and are looking for ways to protect their children from its harmful effects. For a guide on how to make your home and car smoke free visit Health Canada’s website or visit The Canadian Lung Association website which has tips on how to protect yourself from Second and Third Hand Smoke.

Visit Health Canada's website for a Guide for Parents: Making Home and Car Smoke-Free.



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Pre-school and balancing a new routine

by Maxine
Posted August 8 2011 03:25pm
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Starting child care or pre-kindergarten is an important change for both you and your child. It may stir up many different feelings, and will likely affect your daily routine.

Here are some suggestions that might help you cope more easily with this new transition and turn it into Comfort, Play & Teach time!


Your child may need reassurance about her new teacher and learning environment. Prepare her for the new experience by talking about it ahead of time, and if possible, visit the new classroom and meet the teacher. Pre-school will seem more familiar that way, and going there each day may be easier.

Encourage your child to participate in daily tasks like choosing the clothing he will wear to pre-school the next day. Routines can provide him with a sense of predictability and security by enabling him to anticipate what will happen, and will give him some needed control over the new situation.


Both you and your child will have busy days now and will need opportunities just to relax and enjoy each other's company! Remember to set aside special time to go to the library, play at the park, bake blueberry muffins, dance to music or to simply cuddle up together and talk about the best part of your day.

Provide your child with items she will need for playing pre-school with her dolls. She will enjoy showing them how to colour, looking at books, singing the alphabet song, and printing with chubby pencils! Role playing pre-school experiences will help her gain confidence as she practices all the new skills she is learning.


Before bed time, relax and read books together like Franklin Goes to School (by Paulette Bourgeois) or Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten (by Joseph Slate). The words and pictures describe typical experiences at school, and will give your child a chance to ask questions and perhaps work out his fears.

Share some of your favourite memories of school with your child. Show him school pictures and tell stories about your classroom, teachers and friends. He can compare similarities and differences between your school experience and his. Most importantly, he will learn that you were once a child and that you understand what he is experiencing now.


How do you balance new routines with your toddler? Was it hard to get a new routine in place when he started child care or pre-school? Share you experience with other parents by leaving a comment below.

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Helping your toddler sleep through the night

by Maxine
Posted January 4 2012 01:07pm
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Sleeping problems are very common between the ages of two and four, even in children who slept well before then. Teething, mild infections and bad dreams can also cause sleeping problems. Many parents are concerned about their children's sleeping habits, especially problems around getting to sleep or staying asleep. Sleeping problems are troublesome because lack of sleep, by either children or adults, can lead to difficulties in functioning well during the day.

Here are some suggestions that may help you deal with sleeping problems:

Make sure you have a consistent bedtime routine. This means carrying out bathtime, storytime and any other bedtime rituals at the same time and in a calm way. Avoid exciting games, such as running or rough play before bedtime. Calm music and a warm bath can also be relaxing.

Encourage your child to sleep with a special toy or blanket. This can help your child feel more comforted about being separated from you at bedtime.

Leave a light on in your child's room or the hallway. This can comfort a child who seems to be genuinely scared of the dark. If your child is afraid, do not minimize these feelings. Listen to his concerns, but let him know that you believe that he can cope.

Sometimes a child who has overcome sleeping problems may have them re-appear because of illness, bad dreams or a change in the family situation (such as moving house, her parents' separation or a new sibling). This is to be expected, and you will need to re-establish the sleep routine and coping strategies. Gradually, when your child feels safe, secure and able to cope, she will learn to fall asleep and stay asleep on her own.

Video Alert!
For more on bedtime with your toddler and Comfort, Play & Teach, watch this short video.


Does you toddler have trouble sleeping thought the night? What methods do you use to have her get to sleep and stay asleep? Share you experiences by making a comment below.


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Growing up to be kind and caring

by Maxine
Posted December 16 2010 08:29pm
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Toddlers don't understand when other people don't feel like they do, or that sometimes they are not the most important people in the world. But does this mean that they won't grow to be kind and caring individuals? No, it does not. 

You may wonder if children will ever be kind and caring when they constantly interrupt your phone conversations or fail to understand that "Mom is too tired" to play with them. You may also be surprised at how cruel young children can be to each other. Toddlers simply don't understand that other people don't feel like they do, or that sometimes they are not the most important people in the world.

Most parents hope their children will learn to be sensitive to others and act with kindness. But caring doesn't happen unless children themselves are treated with sensitivity and kindness, so it helps to be aware of what you can do to encourage empathy.

Empathy develops from infancy when children are treated with kindness and understanding. Empathy is often described as the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes - in other words, to understand how someone else feels and how to respond to them. When children feel valued and loved, they will naturally respond to others that way.

It may not be until school age that your child has the thinking skills needed to learn how to take someone else's point of view, and what to do about it. But by showing your child love and sensitivity from the day he is born, you're setting a good example for learning to be kind and caring.


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