Thursday, January 31, 2008

Is it OK to raise a baby night owl?

It is not OK to raise a baby night owl. When my son was born my husband worked nights and did not have a drivers licence. I would drop him off and pick him up, and baby had to come with me. I would get the baby down to sleep only to put him into a car seat and drive my husband to work. Then I would try to get him to go back to sleep when we got home. No luck, we would be up all hours of the night. Then finally sleep, and the alarm would go off so I had to get up and put the baby in the car again to go pick up Daddy.

When we got home Daddy would want to play with baby. So we were up for a few hours more. Then we would all fall asleep during the day. Missing out on every thing that happens in the day, like walks and sunshine. We all ended up sleeping in the day and being up at night. Finally my husband realised this was killing us. It was to hard to be a family, do things or just live life if we slept all day and were up all night. So he ended up getting a day job when our son was about six months.

Looking back I know we missed out on a lot of things for the first year of his life. Just being up when every one else is makes a big difference on how you live your life. Staying up all night made it impossible to socialize so our son did not have a lot of contact with other kids, or other people in general. We missed out on park time, baby groups, or just getting out of the house. What do you do when you live in a small apartment and are only up at night? You are not very active, you feel isolated, you watch a lot of TV and you never get a break. It became stressful for all of us. It was not fair for us to do that to our child, or to ourselves.

It has taken years to get our son to sleep at night. He would always try and stay up as late as possible, and would fight going to bed. It took hours to get him to go down. We would start around 8 pm only to get him to sleep some time between 10 pm and 12 AM. When we did get him to go to sleep he would wake up in the middle of the night and we had to start all over again to get him to sleep. It was a hard thing to break, having a night owl baby.

I know that it is not possible for every one to have a stable day job, too many shift work jobs and night shifts. If it is possible though, give your baby a nighttime bedtime routine so they can be up with every one else and fit in with most of society. My husband was a night owl as a baby and most of his life. He could never seem to sleep at night and ended up living a life of night shifts, always struggling to fit his life schedule with daytime society. Being a night person can be lonely and difficult to balance. It is also harmful to your health and well-being. Even after years of not working nights he will end up awake all night because he feels more awake and alert at night. This is some thing he will struggle with for the rest of his life. This lifestyle is not some thing I would knowingly inflict onto a baby.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Five must-have safety products for new parents

It is so scary how many children are harmed by being in a non-child proof home. There are a lot of things people just don’t think about until it is to late. Or some one tells them about it. Here are 5 safety products you need in your home, and any home your child will spend any amount of time at.

1) Car Seat - The most important safety product every parent needs is the right car seat for your child. Make sure that you have a rear facing infant car seat. You use the rear facing car seat until your child is a year old or your child out grows the height and weight limit of the seat. Properly installed car seats can reduce the risk of serious injury or death by 71%. That was a properly installed car seat, please go to a car seat clinic to make sure you are using your car seat correctly. Car seat clinic reports show up to 80% of car seats are not installed correctly. Usually people don’t tighten the seatbelt and harness enough or don’t use the tether strap.

A rear facing car seat should rest on a 45-degree angle and not move more then 2.5 cm (1 in.) side-to-side or forward at the base. Harness straps should be at or below a baby’s shoulders. You should not be able to fit more than one finger under the harness strap at the collarbone. The chest clip should be lay flat on the chest at armpit level.

Things you need to think about before buying a used car seat. Sure they cost less but you need to make sure the one you get meets today’s safety requirements. You also need to make sure the seat was never in an accident. Car seats can be damaged in an accident and become unsafe for use.

In Ontario hospitals will not let you take your baby home unless you have a rear facing car seat that is less then 5 years old and meets current safety standards. Even if you don’t have a car. If you do have a car you must show the nurse that you know how to use it and that it is properly installed.

2) Safety gates – Safety gates can save your baby’s life. Use gates to keep children out of unsafe rooms, and from falling down stairs. As soon as your baby starts rolling, or trying to move around then you put the safety gate up. Better safe then sorry. A lot of deaths and injuries could have been avoided if people just used safety gates. People have them in their homes, but don’t use them because they think the safety gate will be inconvenient.

With all the new safety gate designs out there you will be able to find a gate that works with your house and budget. There are even gate systems that you can use to divide a large room into kid friendly and not kid safe. There are two types of gates, pressure or hardware mounted. The hardware mounted is screwed right to the wall and kids cannot push them down. This is needed at the top of stairs. Pressure gates use pressure to stay in place, are easy to put in any door way, often are adjustable to be used in more then one doorway, and easy to move from one door way to another as needed. Not to be used at the top of stairs though.

3) Door handle locks or knob covers – There are locks or covers for almost any type of door handle and knob out there. They are designed so that small hands are unable to open your doors. We have them on all doors going outside, and on any room that we don’t want our children in unsupervised, like the laundry room. Kids move fast and they love to explore and get into things we don’t want them to. These locks help out so much keeping children safe. Safety latches and locks should also be used on cabinets and drawers to prevent poisonings, or getting into knives and other harmful items.

4) Window guards and safety netting – Keep your child from falling out the windows, or off balconies, decks, and landings. A fall from the couch can seriously injure a baby; a fall from a window can kill. Just last week we saw one of our neighbours baby fall from the living room window. The baby was ok, but it proved the point that window guards and safety netting need to be used.

5) Safety Tassels and Inner Cord Stops – Kids are strangled in blind cord loops all the time. You can find lots of devices to help prevent kids from strangling on window blind cords. If you do have window blinds please take the time to go to and make sure your child is not in danger.

Some of the information was taken from The Ontario Government web site, safe & secure: choosing the right car seat for your child.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Enforcing bedtime for your children

We spent years trying to get our son to go to bed and stay in bed. Every night we dreaded bedtime. We waited until he was so tired he would start to fall asleep or until he became grumpy we knew he was tired. Then tried to get him to go to bed and stay there. It would end up with me fighting a grumpy tired child. He was so over tired he was impossible to deal with or get to sleep. I was going out of my mind.

We tried every thing. Lots of physical activity so he would be tired, soft music, bath before bed, anything someone told me to try. Nothing worked. It all started when he was a baby and Dad worked nights. We all ended up being on the night shift. It was too hard so we changed to a normal day schedule. Our son was very resistant. A year latter he was still trying to stay up at night. He never wanted to go to bed. He ruled the house. We had not time for ourselves, and very little sleep most of the time. When his little sister was born we hit a breaking point. He would be up to 10 or 11 at night and she would be up at the latest 6 am.

The house was not a fun place to be. Every one was suffering from sleep deprivation. It took very little for tempers to explode over the littlest things. We were all impossible to deal with. It went from frustration to anger because he would not go to bed. It was a bad place to be. Screaming and time outs does not help get children to go to bed, it just made things worse. No one liked bedtime in our home.

I went to some parenting classes and what do you know, the most common parent issue was children’s bedtime. We were all going through the same thing; our children did not want to go to sleep. We found out that we did not have good sleep routines. We had to learn the importance of a good sleep routine. What we had was inconsistent bedtime routines the result were very frustrated children and parents.

We needed to have a consistent routine so our children knew what was expected from them, and had the security of knowing what was going to happen next. Routine means security to most children. So we had to set a bedtime routine. Turn the TV off, toothbrush, PJ’s on, story time, monster check, then into bed with favourite stuffed animal. We needed to do this every night at the same time. Our wants had to take second place to our sons need for a consistent routine.

It usually only takes a few weeks for the change to take place, for us it was months. We had to learn how to be consistent, some times it was just too much to deal with and we would slide back. It only works if the parents are both working with the same routine, both in time and activities. Other wise the child is still confused. Finally we learned and got our act together as parents. We started getting him to bed by 9 pm. Then we were able to move it back by about 15 minutes every few weeks. Both our son and daughter go to bed between 7 and 7:30 every night. The struggle we went through to build a good sleep routine paid off. It was worth going through a few weeks of stress to get a good routine established. Casino Review site website review

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Baby fashion: How to save money on brand name baby cloths

I live on a limited budget and one day I realised that I was able to dress my kids better then my friends who do not have limited budgets. I have better quality baby clothing and more of it then they have. I found it funny, but then realised that my limited budget forced me look for those bargains and I got very good at finding them.

How to save money on new brand name baby cloths. It is always a good feeling to get a bargain and have some thing new.

End of season sales are great if you don’t mind taking the chance your baby will be to big for it when the season comes around again. Not a big problem in mild climates.

You can always go to the discount, and outlet stores. You can often find name brand baby clothing, however you have to be careful as the clothing is usually seconds or damaged, sold as is. You get the brand you want but not always the quality you expect.
Stores like Winners, liquidation world, and the Dixie value outlet mall, full of large discount and outlet stores.

Store liquidation/closing sales are a good way to buy for less. These are hard to find and most stores going out of business will sell off the name brand items to other retailers and then sell the rest at or below wholesale price to you just to try and get some money back. The sales are often very crowded.

Discount online retail sites and auction sites are a good source as well. You can get some very good deals from the very same people who just bought up seconds, not perfects from the manufactures, or bought the name brands from the store closing. Though some times you do have people who sell good product at a lower price because they believe in a quick nickel over a slow buck. Look at Ebay, Blujay and Kijiji to find some of these retailers.

You will find a bigger savings on second hand brand name baby clothing.

Second hand shops are a good place to look. There are good and bad second hand shops. Some only take items on commission, they have to be name brand, in perfect condition and dry cleaned before they are put out for sale. Others take any thing and every things and the condition it came in is the way it goes out for sale. It takes time to go through all the clothing, but if you take the time you can find almost new name brand baby clothing. You end up spending pennies on the dollar for that item, $6.00 for a $60.00 item is not unusual. There are also some great online second hand shops as well, but you have to keep in mind shipping cost.

Garage sales – This takes time to find good garage sales, but you can get some great name brand baby clothing. People just want to get a bit of money and if they don’t sell it they are usually donating it to the second hand shops. I have bought boxes and bags of clothing for a few dollars only to find it full of name brands. Once you know what families have the good clothing in the sizes your kids need you make sure you keep an eye out for when every they have a garage sale. A few cities and towns down here have a once a year city/town wide garage sale day. The one held in Caledonia is organized by the city counsel and is held on the same weekend every year, it is so big people come from all over from hours away with empty trucks and trailers. It is a great place to find families with kids just a little older then yours and you have a good source of clothing. I have been able to get some great clothing from 25 or 50 cents to $2.00 apiece.

Mom-to-Mom sales – I just love these. You have to get to them early to get the name brand clothing though. There is usually quite a few people selling clothing at great prices, they had to cart it there, they don’t want to have to take it home again. I have been able to find name brand boys jeans for a $1.00 or $2.00. Mom-to-Mom sales can be hit or miss though. I find that there is ether a lot of clothing available in the sizes I need or no one has that size at all because some one just bought it all.

Flea markets - You can find new and used name brand clothing at flea markets. You will not get the same deals as you do at garage sales, or Mom-to-Mom sales because that is where most of the flea market vendors buy it.

Free ad sites – people put lots of clothing out on kijiji all the time. I know that there are other free ad sites out there that people use. You just have to find the ones that are for your local area. It is a matter of timing though, you never know when you will find some thing.

Auction sites - There are more auctions sites opening up every day, you just have to find ones that people are selling on. EBay is the most common one, and you can get some great deals on new and used name brand baby clothing. You do have to be careful about shipping costs, they can eat up any savings and if you are buying internationally you may be hit with brokerage fees and all sorts of other unexpected fees.

Clothing exchanges – community run clothing exchanges are an interesting way to get clothing. The idea is that the local community centre or church has a room that is open one or two days a week. People in the community bring the clothing they no longer need and drop it off, and they can go through what others have dropped off and take what they want. You would be surprised at the quality of the clothing. Most of the people who take the time to do this also care about their clothing. I have dropped off and picked up name brand baby and kids clothing. I just moved and my new neighbourhood does not have a clothing exchange and the one I used to go to is only open for people in that area. I miss it already, I have boxes of clothing my kids just grew out of. Now I have to decide, do I hang onto it and have a garage sale next year, or just donate to a charity that will sell it to a second hand store.

Is there a secret way to get clothing straight from the designer/manufacturer/retail store that will help parents save money. I run my own business so I have an advantage over most people, I have a venders permit that allows me to buy from designers, manufacturers and wholesalers. I can also keep items for my own use as long as I pay the taxes on those items. The only problem is that you have to do a minimum buy, usually the same items in bulk. It works great if you have a group of people with kids the same size, you can buy the clothing, every one pays for the clothing plus the tax. Every one wins. Is it fair to every one else, no. The one thing you have to be careful about is that you have to sell the clothing to your friends for more then you paid, even if it is just a few dollars. Other wise you can lose your venders permit. Now the real question is, do I do this. No, the savings are not enough for me to go through all that work, unless I was selling it on my web site.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Do developmental delays always mean learning disability?

I can say from first hand experience that developmental delays do not always mean learning disability. A developmental delay is exactly that a delay. The sooner it is caught and treated the easer for the child to catch up with their peers. If the delay is not caught then it can become an overwhelming hurdle a child has to struggle with. Even though it is not a learning disability it can still have a large impact on all aspects of a child life, their socialization, self-esteem, and their ability to move to the next level or stage of development. One developmental delay can cause other delays. For example if a child is delayed in speech, this can delay the child’s social development, because they have a problem talking with their peers, it also affects their self-esteem. It is also very hard to relate to a child that points and screams for things instead of trying to say what they want.

Often the same types of delays are grouped together. Communication delays, socializing delays, potty training delays, and self-care delays are all linked together. It is very easy to see how if a child cannot talk or get people to understand them it would affect the other areas of their development. It is frustrating for both the child and the parents. It is such a big issue that in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada we have a Government run program called Early Words.

Early Words is the umbrella organization of Hamilton's preschool speech and language services for young children. Parents, childcare providers and other professionals working with young children can call for information about children's speech and language development and workshops. They have a web site,, which will let you compare your child’s development from 3 months to 6 years with what is considered to be normal development. On top of that they tell you what you can do to help your child develop.

As stated on the Early Word web site - Early speech and language skills help your child to tell others about their ideas and feelings, wants and needs. Difficulties in communicating can lead to frustration and social or behaviour problems. Learning to communicate is the foundation for learning at school. Research has also shown that early development of language is important for academic success, for understanding the teacher, learning to read, write and do math, and for developing relationships with teachers, peers, and others that come to be a part of the lives of our children. One in ten children in Ontario will need help developing their speech and language skills to get ready for school.

Early Words has your child’s hearing tested to identify delays that are caused by hearing problems. Then a paediatric doctor sees your child and tracks any developmental delays and helps identify if there are any other causes for delays, such as a learning disability as they are treated differently.

I would take my son to a play at an Early Years Centre from the time he was a year old. Early Year Centres are places that you can take your child from birth to 7 years of age to play with other children, socialize yourself, and take part in programs and activities. They have classes on how to make toys, to how to be a parent and every thing in between. Classes to promote child development and child/parent interaction. I.E. Early sign language so you can talk with your child before they speak clearly, Mother goose which is singing and talking with your child in a large group, potty training, baby massage and more. However, part of the mandate of Early Years is to get information about programs and services that are available for young children to the families with young children. As well as giving access to early years professionals, like health nurses and art teachers, at the Early Year centres.

Why is this important? Because I was going to the Early Years Centre I was able to get information and guidance about where my son should have been in his development. I was able to find out that my son was not on track and was directed to the right program, Early Words to get my son help. He was tested at about 1 ½ years and found to be delayed and was put into a speech program and therapeutic daycare with in a few months. When he was 3 he was delayed in some areas by about 2 ½ years and we were told to hold him back from kindergarten. You child must be potty trained, speak, and be able to read and write a little before they can go to kindergarten in Hamilton, Ontario. After a lot of hard work, by him and the professionals in his life, at 4 ½ he is only delayed by about 6 months and getting better every day. He is expected to catch up with the other kids so that he will be going to senor kindergarten next year.

I do not know what I would have done with out Early Years and Early Words. I thought that my son might have been learning disabled not delayed. These two programs have helped so many children get the help they need and prevented kids that were just learning delayed from being labelled learning disabled. So many children do not get the help they need in the first few years of their lives and end up struggling to keep up with other kids, or end up being seen as learning disabled. Please take the time to look at the Early Words web site. If you do see any delays in your child’s development take your child to a paediatric specialist and find out if there is any thing you can do to help your child. There is so much that can be done if a delay is caught in time, if people can just identify it in time to make changes. A child with a learning delay does not have to be labelled learning disabled and struggle for the rest of their lives.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Tips on talking to your teen girl about sex

As a parent when I think about my girl as a teen and sex a chastity belt comes to mind. You know those medieval contraptions used by husbands going off on a crusade. They would put them on their wives, take the key and go away for a few years. Now I am not thinking about this to keep her from having sex, but to keep other people from having non-consensual sex with her. I figure that if I did my job right I don’t have to worry so much about her decisions but other people’s actions.

As parents we need to have the sex talk with our children, both boys and girls as early as possible. This way they will hopefully have a good idea of what sex is, what is ok and not ok, and the consequences like pregnancy, Aids and other STD’s. We cannot stop our teens from wanting sex, or even having sex. All we can do is try to make sure they make the best possible informed decisions. So how do we start the conversation?

There are a lot of ideas of how to start the sex conversation with your teen. Here are some different tips on talking to your teen girl about sex:

Let her know that you are there for her, and will be glad to answer any questions she has and then wait for her to come to you. This lets her pick the topic and the time. Only problem is most teen girls are not going to turn to their parents for answers about sex.

If your daughter is not a teen yet, start the sex talk by teaching the different body parts. Discus private parts and where babies come from. The earlier you start the easer it is to have the bigger sex conversations as she becomes older.

When explaining about menstrual cycle and what to expect include sex information. Discus how her “parts” work, what they are designed to do, and how and why people have sex. This is a great opportunity to have the big sex talk, and find out what she already knows, and what she has already done.

The best way to start a conversation about sex with you teen girl is to ask some questions or make some observations in a non-accusatory or non-aggressive way. Here are some examples:

When watching TV or a movie as a sex scene comes on, like kissing ask what she thinks about it? Has she kissed any one yet? Who would she like to kiss? Why would she like to kiss them? Does she know what happens after people kiss? This can open the sex conversation, or just help you have small conversations that give the information you want them to know or leads up to the big sex conversation.

When a commercial for contraceptives or safe sex products like condoms is on ask if she knows why people use them. What purpose do they have? Is it important to use them? This will give you the chance to discus consequences of sex such as pregnancy and STD’s. You may even find out she is using them. You can also fix some myths like using a candy bar wrapper is just as good as using a condom to prevent pregnancy and STD’s or that oral sex is not real sex, or that you can not get pregnant your first time. Awareness commercials for Aids are also a good way to start the conversation. Ask if she knows how people get aids.

There are some great talk shows like Dr. Phil and Montel Williams that cover sex topics. Watch them with your teen. Use whatever information or open questions on the show to start the sex conversation with her. Some times the show will do all the hard work for you. You may need to watch more then one show with different sex topics but it all helps. Find out what your daughter thinks about the show and the information given. Talk about what happened to the people on the show or other people you know.

When talking with her about her day or her friends ask if any of her friends are dating. Who she likes and if she has a boyfriend. This is a good way to find out if she likes boys yet, if any of them like her and how she feels about it. This is a good way to steer the conversation to find out if her friends are having sex, or what her friends have told her about sex. Very good way to find out any misinformation she has about sex and for you to clear it up.

There are some great story books out there that you can read as a story to your pre-teen or read with your teen that open the conversation about sex. It lets you be comfortable talking about it and hearing about it from your little girl. It opens the door way for the hard topics and questions; like how do you have sex, why do people have sex, does sex feel good, are you having sex (question for your teen), and what the consequences of sex are.

All these tips can be used to open the conversation. Make sure you have books or some thing to help you answer any questions or explain things. Have honest truthful answers and explanations ready. Give her real explanations about the why and how’s of sex. She cannot make good informed decisions if she does not have the right information. Sex is a good thing at the right time and place.

What we need to make sure our teen daughters understand is that teen boys and even grown men want to have sex with them. Yes even when a teen girl is only 13 guys are trying to get into their pants; they don’t just want to be fiends. For the most part teen boys and men will tell her what ever she wants to hear to try and have sex with her. Others may go a more direct rout, using drugs and alcohol to get rid of her inhibitions, and make it easer for them to convince her to have sex. Others will use alcohol, and drugs to cause her to be unable to fight them off as they rape her. If you are passed out it is kind of hard to say “NO”. Others will just rape, with or with out the use of drugs and alcohol. Our daughters need to know this, not some sanitized version of life. They must understand that this can happen to them, it does not just happen to other people.

We also need to build our teen girls self-esteem so they don’t need to turn to teen boys and men to feel better about them selves. Girls with low self-esteem often turn to sex to become popular and mistake the attention they are getting for love or as giving them value. Others with low self-esteem will let people treat them badly, even selling them to others for sex because they don’t think they are worth more or deserve better. We as parents need to do what we can to stop this from happening. We must let them know they are valued and loved by us, just the way they are.