Tips for Parenting a Toddler

Toddlerhood is not always jolly!

Toddlerhood is not always jolly!

Parenting a toddler is a fun and exciting adventure. It is also a daily (or hourly) challenge. While your child is growing and learning new things constantly, he is also often finding himself frustrated or out of control, which can quickly turn into a meltdown or tantrum. Sometimes you’ll feel like throwing a tantrum of your own!
While you can’t prevent every single tantrum, there are a few things you can do to minimize the meltdowns and help your child navigate the new waters of toddlerhood.

It can be fun, though!

It can be fun, though!

  • Be consistent. Children do best when they have a predictable routine and when the adults in their lives are consistent in their behavior and reactions.
  • Make your rules simple and clear, and don’t have too many of them.
  • Have realistic expectations. Toddlers need more time to do things, so plan accordingly.
  • Remember that being a toddler can be frustrating. Children of this age can’t think ahead, control their emotions, or sometimes communicate effectively. They need your grace and understanding, even when you’re frustrated too.
  • Give age-appropriate choices to help your child gain a sense of control and responsibility.
  • Be respectful. Use a calm voice when you talk to your child, even when you are upset. Make it clear that while you dislike her behavior, you still love and like her very much.
  • Make sure you are taking plenty of time each day to positively interact with your toddler, by playing, cuddling, and using affirming words.

Raising a toddler can be difficult, but at the Salida Pregnancy & Family Center, we have a variety of resources to help you meet the challenge head-on. Our trained volunteer counselors can help you create an individualized learning plan to help you understand more about being the best parent you can be. We welcome you to visit our center at 215 E. 3rd Street in Salida, CO, or you can call us at (719)539-7436 for more information or to schedule a meeting with a trained volunteer counselor.

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Tips For Successful Potty Training

Potty Training: the first milestone as parents that we really dread (sometimes even more than dating, drivers’ licenses, and college drop-off). Few things in parenting are as intimidating and shrouded in mystery as the transition from diaper to toilet. It requires a great deal of understanding and patience, on the part of both child and parent. However, potty training doesn’t need to be stressful or scary. While every seasoned parent and every expert has their own spin on how to best help your child make the transition, there are a few common tips that can help you succeed.

potty training comic

Tips for successful potty training

  • Don’t start until your child shows signs of being ready (it’s not a contest!)
    • Telling you when they need their diaper changed
    • Stopping play to fill their diaper
    • Waking up dry from naps and nighttime
    • Showing interest in what you are doing in the bathroom
    • Usually between 2 and 4, with boys often ready later than girls
    • Early training is more stressful, takes longer, and usually results more in the parent being trained rather than the child
  • Use the right tools, but don’t make it complicated
    • Small potty at first (so they don’t get intimidated)potty seat and chart
    • Kids’ seat on top of regular toilet when ready (reduces fear of falling in)potty seat on toilet
    • Training pants or big kid underwear (avoid pull-ups, because they don’t give the sensation of being wet)
  • Establish routines
    • Train your child to go to the potty before key events (nap, bed, leaving the house, etc)
    • Use this opportunity to establish good hand-washing habits
  • Use Rewards and Positivity
    • Keep rewards small (sticker, one M&M, etc)
    • Praise your child’s independence (“Look what you did on your own!”)
    • Don’t go overboard on the praise, after all, everyone has to be responsible for their bladder eventually
    • Don’t berate a child for accidents. Deal with them calmly and start over
  • Don’t let it be stressful
    • The ease of potty training will vary with each child’s personality
    • Don’t compare your child with anyone else
    • If you are getting stressed out, so is your child
    • Don’t give up, but if your child is showing no interest or progress after several days, it might make sense to wait a couple of months and try again.

Potty training is something that few parents look forward to, but at the Salida Pregnancy and Family Center we have a variety of information and resources to help you learn more about effective parenting. We welcome you to visit our center at 215 E. 3rd Street in Salida, CO, or you can call us at (719)539-7436 for more information or to schedule a meeting with a trained volunteer counselor.

Negative Effects of Smoking During Pregnancy

There are many things we as moms do during pregnancy to ensure our baby has the best, healthiest start possible. We eat right, we take our prenatal vitamins, we get our monthly checkups from the doctor. Most of these things are pretty easy to do. One thing that can be much harder is giving up or quitting something that we were attached to before pregnancy. Smoking is one such habit that can be very hard for some pregnant moms to quit, especially because pregnancy can be filled with different types of stress, and smokers often find that smoking helps relieve stress. However, it is very important for pregnant moms, their partners, and families to make the commitment to put their baby’s health ahead of their own habits and desires.

Pretty much everyone knows that smoking is hazardous to your own health. Even people who choose to continue smoking rarely deny the fact that smoking causes various lung and heart diseases. It’s also widely known that second-hand smoke is dangerous to people who inhale it. But did you know that both first- and second-hand smoke can have a significant negative effect on your unborn baby?

Break the Habit!

Break the Habit!

Cigarettes contain thousands of different chemicals and compounds, many of which are quite dangerous. When you smoke or are around someone who is smoking, you absorb many of those chemicals into your bloodstream. Because many of them can be passed through your placenta, your baby also gets a dose of harmful chemicals. Smoking also interferes with blood flow and blood oxygen levels. Babies whose mothers smoke during pregnancy can suffer from small size, birth defects, or even be stillborn.

Smoking is just as harmful after your child is born.

Smoking is just as harmful after your child is born.

After your baby is born, it is still important that you protect him from secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause lung problems and ear infections in babies and children. In addition, second hand smoke nearly doubles the risk of babies dying from SIDS. Overall, the best way to protect your child is to quit smoking, and to encourage others to not smoke around your child.

What Will You Do?

What Will You Do?

Quitting smoking can be hard, but there are resources available to help you quit and support you in your journey to a healthier pregnancy. At the Salida Pregnancy and Family Center we can connect your with information and programs such as Baby & Me Tobacco Free that can help you make the change.  We also have a variety of information and resources to help you learn more about pregnancy and parenting. We welcome you to visit our center at 215 E. 3rd Street in Salida, CO, or you can call us at (719)539-7436 for more information or to schedule a meeting with a trained client advocate.

The Third Trimester of Pregnancy

The third trimester of pregnancy is a very exciting time. After the rapid development of the first trimester and the growth of the second trimester, your baby is making his or her final preparations for life on the outside.  You’ve begun counting down the weeks until you meet your little one. As you prepare for the birth of your child, you may notice some fatigue starting to return. As your baby grows, your expanding uterus will put more pressure on your other organs, which may make you feel short of breath or like you constantly need to visit the restroom. As your body prepares for labor, you may notice more Braxton-Hicks contractions, and you might find that your joints and ligaments feel looser than usual. Most mothers will also get an urge to prepare the home for the baby by cleaning, organizing, and decorating; this is usually called nesting, and is a fun part of the last weeks of pregnancy. If you have not already done so, now is the time to discuss your options for labor and delivery with your doctor and to take a tour of your hospital’s birthing center. While you are busy getting the nursery ready, your baby is doing her own preparations for life outside the womb. Her eyes are learning to respond to changes in light, and her nervous system is ready to regulate her body temperature. Her hair and fingernails continue to grow, and she is gaining weight. In fact, during the last few weeks of pregnancy, your baby gains about 1/2 a pound every week! By the time she is born, she will likely weigh around 6 1/2 pounds and be between 18 and 21 inches long. The pictures below give you an idea of what your baby looks like during the third trimester.

Sucking His Thumb

Sucking His Thumb

8 Months

8 Months

9 Months

9 Months

The third trimester is such an exciting time, but you may find yourself overwhelmed as the idea of being a parent becomes more real.  At the Salida Pregnancy and Family Center, we have a variety of information and resources to help you learn more about pregnancy and parenting. We welcome you to visit our center at 215 E. 3rd Street in Salida, CO, or you can call us at (719)539-7436 for more information or to schedule a meeting with a trained client advocate.

The Second Trimester of Pregnancy

In our last post, we talked about the first trimester of pregnancy – what you as a mom might be experiencing, and how your baby is growing and developing. Today we’re going to look at the second trimester, or weeks 14-26. These weeks are a time of amazing growth for your child.

In the second trimester, you will probably feel some relief from the morning sickness and fatigue that are hallmarks of the first trimester. While this will come as a relief, you may find that you now are having more difficulty getting comfortable at bedtime, and you may begin to experience an achy back because of all the changes your body is going through.  If you have not already had one, you will have an ultrasound to get a better look at your baby. Your doctor will check the development of your baby’s organs, baby’s size, and will be able to tell you if you are having a boy or a girl (as long as baby cooperates!). This first look at your child is a wonderful event. Somewhere between 16 and 20 weeks you will begin feeling your baby move and kick. She’s been active for several weeks, but is just now finally big enough for you to take notice.

Your baby is growing by leaps and bounds. Her fingers and toes are developed, and she even has her own unique set of fingerprints. Her mouth has now developed tiny tooth buds that will become her baby and permanent teeth, and she is practicing swallowing and sucking, two skills she’ll need as soon as she’s born.  She is beginning to grow hair, and her eyes can now open and sense light. By the end of the second trimester, your baby is nearly 13 inches long, and weighs about 2 pounds.

These photos show your baby’s progression during the second trimester.

16 Weeks

16 Weeks

20 Weeks

20 Weeks

24 Weeks

24 Weeks

26 Weeks

26 Weeks

During the second trimester, you will be excited by the feeling that you are starting to bond with your baby, but you may also be overwhelmed by the idea of being a parent or by all the changes in your body and your life. At the Salida Pregnancy and Family Center, we have a variety of information and resources to help you learn more about pregnancy and parenting. We welcome you to visit our center at 215 E. 3rd Street in Salida, CO, or you can call us at (719)539-7436 for more information or to schedule a meeting with a trained peer counselor.

The First Trimester of Pregnancy

The first three months of pregnancy are an exciting time. Your baby goes from the meeting of an egg no bigger than a grain of sand and an even smaller sperm, to a tiny person only 2.5 inches long and weighing about half an ounce. In spite of her small size, by the end of the first trimester, your baby has a fully formed and beating heart, a complete spine and spinal cord, arms, legs, eyelids, a nose, ears, and the beginnings of fingers and toes. The major organs and systems of her body are already beginning to work.

You won’t be able to feel your baby moving yet, but he is already making his presence known by the changes going on in your body. You’ll notice changes in your emotions, your sleep (and how tired you are!), your appetite, your bathroom habits, and more. You may notice morning sickness (though it can happen any time of the day). Don’t worry, though, most women find these symptoms lessen by the 2nd trimester.

These photos show the progression of your baby from the beginning of cell division at fertilization through the end of the 1st Trimester at 13 weeks.

Fertilzed Egg Beginning Cell Division

Fertilzed Egg Beginning Cell Division

Embryo Implanted in Uterus

Embryo Implanted in Uterus

Baby at 3-4 Weeks

Baby at 3-4 Weeks

Baby at About 6 Weeks

Baby at About 6 Weeks

Baby at 9 Weeks

Baby at 9 Weeks

Baby at 13 Weeks

Baby at 13 Weeks

Pregnancy is a miraculous and exciting time. You will likely feel a wide range of emotions from surprise to joy, to fear, and back to excitement. At the Salida Pregnancy and Family Center, we have a variety of information and resources to help you learn more about pregnancy and parenting. We welcome you to visit our center at 215 E. 3rd Street in Salida, CO, or you can call us at (719)539-7436 for more information or to schedule a meeting with a trained peer counselor.

Keeping Your Child Warm and Safe this Winter

We all know that car seats are important to keep our kids safe on the road, but they can only do their job if they are installed and used correctly. Car seats work in two ways: absorbing impact and restraining your child. We’ve all been told numerous times how important it is for a car seat to be installed correctly. This is because the tighter the seat is in the car, the better it can absorb the impact of a collision. What we often neglect to be as diligent about is making sure our children are correctly strapped into their seats.  The straps and buckles on a car seat keep your child safe by keeping them from becoming a flying projectile, and by keeping their head and neck from being able to move far enough to cause injury.

In general, when your child is in his or her car seat, the straps should be buckled securely between their legs, and the chest clip should be at armpit level. This keeps the straps positioned correctly coming over the shoulders. The straps should be tightened so that you cannot pinch any extra strap. Remember to check for slack in the hip/waist area. You should also occasionally check where the straps are coming through behind your child’s shoulders. If your child is rear-facing, the straps should be coming from below his or her shoulders to keep him from being thrown up and out of his seat. If your child is forward-facing, her should straps should be at or above her shoulders to keep her from moving forward and injuring her head and neck.

That covers all the basics. You should be good to go, right? Not so fast!

Chilly winter temperatures add extra potential dangers for little ones riding in car seats. In our desire to keep our children comfortable, we may be unwittingly defeating the safety we trust our car seats to provide. You see, when you bundle your child up in a thick or puffy bunting, snowsuit or coat and then strap him or her into the car seat, you cannot properly tighten the straps that are essential to keeping your child safe. What happens is that even when you think you have tightened the straps as much as possible, in the event of a collision the coat will compress, creating slack that you didn’t think was there, allowing your child to possibly be thrown from the seat or sustain head and neck injuries.

20150115_124135(0)

Strapped in with his winter coat on. Looks tight, right?

20150115_124348

This time without the coat, and with no adjustment to the straps

20150115_124258

I can pinch almost two inches of extra strap now – definitely not safe!

20150115_124328

Now tightened correctly – see how I can’t pinch the strap anymore?

Fortunately, there are several alternatives that can keep your child comfortable and safe.

  • Options for all ages of children:
    • Multiple thinner layers to add warmth without danger of compression
    • Wear a coat to the car, take it off to buckle in, then wear backwards over straps
    • Wear a thin but warm jacket, such as fleece or wool
    • Use blankets after strapping in to stay warm
    • Warm up the car for 10-15 minutes before putting your child in the car
  • For young infants in carrier car seats:
    • Use a Cozy Cover that fits over the car seat (do not use any product that attaches to or goes around/between/behind the straps unless made and authorized by the car seat manufacturer)

      20150115_121001

      Cozy Cover – Fits over the car seat like a shower cap, unzips for easy in/out, has velcro flap to see that sweet face!

Keep in mind that car seats can keep your child warmer than you think, so it can actually be more comfortable for them to be able to remove a layer such as a coat or blanket, rather than be stuck with a heavy coat that causes them to overheat. Also, unless the distance you have to go from your car to inside is very great (more than 3 or 4 minutes of walking), or the temperature is extremely cold (well below freezing), your child (with the exception of newborns and  young infants) may get a little uncomfortable transferring from building to car, but he or she will be at no risk of illness or injury from a brief exposure to cold.

Here are some additional resources on car seat safety. Please take the time to ensure the safety of your most precious treasures!

http://www.cpsafety.com/default.aspx

http://www.seatcheck.org/

http://thecarseatlady.com/

http://www.carseatsite.com/

Keys to Safe Infant Sleep

A peacefully sleeping baby. As new parents, it’s what we all dream of.  As you shop for baby gear, you’re presented with all kinds of blankets, bumpers, quilts, and cuddly toys to help this dream come true. And yet,  leading health organizations are now telling us that these things could become a nightmare. According to government data, the rate of infant suffocation doubled between 2000 and 2010. In 2010 alone, between 600 and 700 infants died from accidental sleep-related suffocation. Safety experts recommend avoiding anything soft in a baby’s sleeping area to reduce the risk of baby suffocating in his or her sleep.

We want our babies to be comfortable when they sleep, because we all sleep better when we are comfortable in our environment. However, we have to keep in mind that our standards of comfort are different than our babies’. Many of us are conditioned by years of experience and sore joints and muscles to find a fluffy mattress, soft pillows, and cuddly blankets the most comfortable environment for sleep. On the other hand, people in other countries, such as Japan, find it perfectly comfortable to sleep on a mat on the floor, without a pillow, because that is what they have always done. Our babies do not have any preconceived notions of a comfortable bed, and they do not have the same aches and pains that we as adults often seek relief from. Our priority should be the safety of our child, even above his or her comfort.

What to avoid:

  • Crib bumpers, even the mesh type, as they can reduce airflow and cause the baby to rebreathe carbon dioxide
  • Blankets, quilts, or comforters
  • Pillows
  • Stuffed animals/toys
  • Loose clothing
  • Soft mattresses
  • Sheepskins
  • Waterbeds
  • Couches or other soft sleeping surfaces

Safe Alternatives:

  • Warm, one-piece sleepers
  • Wearable blankets/ sleep sackshalo sleep sack
  • Velcro swaddling blanketsswaddlme
  • Firm mattresses
  • Keeping baby’s room at a comfortable temperature (safely – do not use free-standing heaters, as they can be a fire hazard and can burn baby)
  • Put baby to sleep on his or her back in a safe crib

For a good explanation of what a safe sleeping space looks like, visit the Safe to Sleep website: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/sts/about/environment/Pages/look.aspx .

Finding Healing After Abortion

There are many things that abortion providers don’t tell women. These “secrets” range from the details of fetal development, to the abortion process itself. However, one of the biggest things that those who are pro-abortion would like to conceal and deny is the long-term emotional and mental effects that abortion can have on women.

secret

Abortion is by its very nature a traumatic event. The woman seeking an abortion may be in a very difficult financial, relational, or family situation. She may be the victim of rape or domestic violence. She may have been told by her doctor that the child she is carrying has a defect or disease, and that “terminating” the pregnancy is the best thing for both her and the child. Women who seek abortions are dealing with loss before they even step foot in the abortion clinic: loss of family support, loss of a boyfriend or husband, loss of the hopes and dreams they had before they got pregnant.

Abortion offers what seems like quick relief from many of these problems. In fact, many women report that relief is one of the main emotions they experience immediately after the abortion. Unfortunately, abortion only removes the child from the situation; it does not fix the underlying issues of poverty, abuse, family problems, or relational troubles. The woman is still in the same circumstances she was in before she became pregnant.   Over time, the relief fades, and for a large number of women, feelings of guilt, regret, and loss take its place.

Depressed woman

Many of the women who struggle with negative emotional or mental effects after an abortion will not immediately be able to recognize the trauma of abortion as the cause of their problems, because the outward symptoms may seem totally unconnected to the abortion. Women struggling with post-abortion emotional trauma and stress have a significantly higher rate of suicide attempts. In fact, studies in Scandinavia, Britain, and the United states found that women who have had an abortion may have anywhere from 2 – 6 times greater risk of suicide than women who have carried their babies to term. A long-term study in New Zealand found that women who have had an abortion are more likely to have problems with drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence (aggressor and victim), and depression. Women who have had abortion often experience nightmares or flashbacks about the abortion, or about their babies. They may have trouble bonding with later children, or on the other hand become overprotective of children born after their abortion experience.

woman drinking

These problems stem from guilt, anger, regret, and grief caused by a woman’s abortion experience. The symptoms of post-abortion trauma may not manifest themselves until years later. Often they are triggered by a change in life, such as the birth of a later child, which brings back memories of the abortion.   If these underlying issues are not dealt with, the cycle of emotional and mental distress will continue, and will have an effect not only on the woman, but on her children, husband, and her other relationships.

Post-abortion trauma is healed when a woman is supported by a loving group of people who can help her work through the events and feelings surrounding her abortion, help her deal with the current issues that may be resulting from her feelings about her abortion, and helping her find forgiveness from herself, her family, and most importantly from God. Professional counselors and supportive family and friends can be part of the healing process, but most women who are seeking healing from the wounds of abortion find the most help and support comes from sharing their stories and struggles with other women who have also experienced an abortion. These groups are understanding, compassionate, and are equipped to provide emotional and spiritual support and guidance.

flower in sunshine

If you are dealing with the aftermath of an abortion, whether it was a month ago or 20 years ago, healing and hope are possible! Your local pregnancy resource center can help you find a post-abortion healing group. Please do not delay your opportunity for healing out of fear or shame. God is ready and waiting to forgive and heal you, and there are others out there who know what you’ve gone through and would love to walk through the healing process with you.

If you are in the Chaffee County, Colorado area, the Salida Pregnancy and Family Center would like to invite you to join our Post-Abortion Healing Group, Thursday evenings from 5:30-7:00 beginning January 8th, 2015. You can call the Center at (719) 539-7436. If you are not in our area, you can find a pregnancy resource center in your area by searching Heartbeat International’s directory at http://www.heartbeatinternational.org/worldwide-directory .

Apples to Oranges

Have you read any articles with these kinds of titles lately?

“How to Raise a Compassionate Child”

“Is Your Child Eating The Right Foods?”

“15 Unique Birthday Party Ideas”

“Are You Creating a Negative Child”

“How to Get Your Baby To Sleep All Night”

“Losing the Baby Weight and Getting Fit”

“5 of the Cutest Nurseries We’ve Seen”

And the list goes on. Just a quick spin around the internet will turn up countless blogs and articles on how to be a better parent, and how to have better kids. But the question is, “Better than who?”

As humans, we are constantly falling into the trap of comparing ourselves to others, and nowhere is that more true than in our roles as parents. We want to be calmer, more organized, more fun, more productive, and more successful than other parents. We want our kids to be more intelligent, more athletic, more artistic, better behaved, and better sleepers than other kids.

Just a hint: this is not you

Just a hint: this is not you!

In some ways, it’s natural that our sense of self becomes somewhat wrapped up in our kids; after all, they are made from us and raised by us, so they’re a pretty good reflection of us. But we need to remember that they are also 100% themselves. And you are 100% yourself.

Three children are all born around the same time – one walks first, one talks first, and one sleeps through the night first. Which one is the best child? Which one has the best parents? Oh, you can’t tell me? Exactly, because it would be like comparing apples to oranges.

apple orange comparison

Comparison is so tempting as parents, because we desperately want to know if we are doing a good job. Raising our kids is the most important thing we’ll ever do, so it feels like a very high-stakes situation. Let me ask you some questions: Does your child love to be with you? Does he or she come to you with hurts and problems (physical and emotional)? Does your child show signs of growing in understanding of morals and values (even if it is a slow growth)? If the answer to most of those questions is “Yes,” then there’s a good chance that you are on the right track.

The Bible gives us some clear direction for being good parents

  • We are to teach our children about God
    • Deuteronomy 6:6-9And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
    • Deuteronomy 4:9 Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.
  • We are to lovingly discipline and train our children
    • Proverbs 19:18Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.
    • Ephesians 6:4Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 
  • We are promised that all our work will pay off
    • Proverbs 22:6Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
    • Proverbs 29:17 Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul.

Train_up_a_Child

What the Bible is telling us is that we can’t compare ourselves or our kids to others. The only useful comparison is with the guidelines in the Bible. Will we sometimes fall short of God’s standards? Yes, without a doubt. But the good news is that we can call on the God of the Bible to get us back on track and to give us the strength, love, patience, and gentleness we need to parent our kids according to His Word.

Stop comparing yourself with others. There will always be someone better. Instead, accept God’s grace for you as a parent and as a person, and know that you are loved and treasured completely by him.