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Heroes or Villains?

I was finally sitting down on the couch for a minute after a long day of work, getting dinner ready, doing dishes, and corralling my kiddos.  I had been trying to sit down for about ten minutes, but my littlest bean (4 year-old) needed a drink…then he needed a “potty friend”…then he needed to find a specific train…then he needed a blanket.  So, when I finally sat down, I know I must have audibly sighed when he came up saying “Mommy, Mommy…”.  I am sure my answer was not overly enthusiastic when I said, “Yes, Jackson.”  He looked up and said “Cuddle me quick, mommy.  You is my only hope!” 

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I stopped in my tracks.  When you live in a household full of boys, being compared to Obi Wan Kenobi is high praise indeed.  I immediately took him in my arms and cuddled my sweet baby while my eyes filled with tears.  In that moment, I was a hero.  Most days, I am not so sure that, as I parent, I would fit this bill.  Most days, I feel more like the villain of the story.   I wondered about heroes and villains long after he got up and went about his play. 

As parents, there are times when our children are going to be mad or upset at us.  I don’t know how many times I have been the meanest mommy in the world.  Most of these times, it was for good reason.  You see, sometimes being a good parent means being a villain.  We have to say “no”.  We have to set limits.  We have to help our children learn from natural consequences.  The villain may get pegged as the bad guy, but often it is he or she who pushes the hero to be better.  That is what I hope to do for my children. 

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It is hard being a villain!  I want to my children to be happy all the time, but I know, that in order to help them to be better, I will have to be the bad guy sometimes.  So, I grit my teeth, hide the tears, and push through because I know that I will have many opportunities to be the hero.  When those chances come, I want to take full advantage of them.  I mean, who can pass up the opportunity to be someone’s “only hope”?!

Final thoughts:

If you need some help honing your parenting super powers, we are here!  There is no better time to act than now!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:   http://www.racsb.state.va.us/

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Awareness or Acceptance?

In April, we join together to celebrate individuals with autism.  I have heard April referred to as “Autism Awareness Month” and I have also heard “Autism Acceptance Month”.  Is there a difference?  Are these words interchangeable?  My answer is that yes, they are different, And we need them both. 

Awareness:  The first step is awareness.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines being “aware” as “the knowing that something exists.”   We have made great strides over the past decade increasing awareness that autism exists.  Autism Speaks is celebrating its 10th year anniversary this year and they re-cap their 10 years of knowledge using 20 short facts.  I would like to list the first four of these directly from their website.  You can find the entire list at www.autismspeaks.org.

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1. Autism’s prevalence has skyrocketed.  Ten years ago, autism’s estimated prevalence was 1 in 166. Today it’s 1 in 68 – an increase of more than 100% in one decade.

2. Direct screening suggests that autism’s prevalence may be even higher.

3. Autism can be reliably diagnosed by age two.  Because earlier intervention improves outcomes, Autism Speaks is redoubling their efforts to increase early screening, especially in underserved communities.

4. High-quality early intervention does more than develop skills.  Early intervention can change underlying brain development and activity. It’s also cost effective as it reduces the need for educational and behavioral support in grade school and beyond. (www.autismspeaks.org)

Please visit Autism Speaks to learn more about autism, research, and advocacy efforts.

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Acceptance:  The focus and initiative on awareness over the past decade has help spread the word about and recognition of autism, but this is not enough.  We now need to expand from that knowledge towards a focus on acceptance.  Miriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines acceptance as “the quality or state of being accepted or acceptable”.  Individuals with autism need to know that they are accepted in our community, lives, and hearts just the way they are.  The state of having autism should not negatively impact acceptance.  The Autism Acceptance Campaign proposes that “Autism acceptance means embracing and valuing autistic people as autistic people instead of being afraid of us, having low expectations, or trying to find a way to make us not autistic.”  Self-advocates propose that autistic individuals do not need to be fixed but rather celebrated as a natural expression of diversity.  Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/autism-awareness-how-about-autism-acceptance.html#ixzz3WXRG9uHv.

By moving from awareness to acceptance, we grow from knowledge into the active acceptance of individuals with autism.  I would argue that as we progress from knowledge through acceptance, we will be inevitably led to a third “A” word, appreciation.  Appreciation is the combination of awareness and acceptance in order to appreciate the value of what each individual has to offer. 

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Final thoughts:

If you have any questions or concerns about autism, we are only a phone call away!  Learn the signs and act early.  If you have concerns about your child’s development, we can help!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:   http://www.racsb.state.va.us/

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Don’t Get Burned during Spring Time Fun!

I am “snow” over the weather of the past month!  I am ready for the sunshine and longer days of Spring!  Part of my excitement stems from the ability to get outside and play with my kids.  However, all that fun in the sun can be dangerous for babies and toddlers, especially in the spring, when the temperature may be cool enough that we don’t feel the burn.  Your baby’s skin is especially sensitive to sun during all seasons.  Here are some helpful hints to avoid dangerous sun exposure for your baby:

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No sun fun for babies under 6 months:  Infants under 6 months should avoid direct exposure to sunlight.  Use window shields in your vehicle to block UV Rays.  Limit outside walks to before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.  Make sure to use a stroller with a visor which provides shade for your little one.  Dress your baby in light, loose clothing which covers as much of his body as you can.  Accessorize with wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to protect your baby’s face.  Sunscreen is not yet appropriate to use on your baby under 6 months.

Dress to protect:  For all infants and toddlers, dress them in clothing which can offer protection from the sun.  Loose, lightweight clothing in materials such as cotton is best to block the harmful UV rays.  Some clothing is available with built in SPF protection.  Keep an extra stash of clothing in your diaper bag or in your car for unexpected outside activities.  Hats with wide brims and sunglasses are a great way to protect your baby’s face and eyes.  The earlier you start, the less fighting you will have with your baby about wearing them.

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Apply sunscreen and repeat often:  After 6 months of age, sunscreen is appropriate to put on your baby or toddler.  Make sure you are using a sunscreen that offers at least SPF 15+.  You also want to check that it covers a broad spectrum.   Some sunscreens also are “tear-free”, so they do not sting if your baby gets some in his eyes.   Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you plan to go outside and at least every two hours.  You will have to apply more often if playing in the water.  Finally, replenish your stock of sunscreen frequently as the effectiveness of the active ingredients wears off over time. 

 

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Avoid complications from the heat:  In addition to the strategies above, make sure you take precautions against the heat as well.  Visit places with air conditioning on days with extreme heat.  Cool down your car before taking drives.  Make sure your baby is drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.  Have fun in the shade to avoid the heat of direct sun.

Lead the charge and check in with other caregivers:  Be a good role model by modeling the importance of sun precautions.  Your baby or toddler is watching the way you protect yourself from the sun.  Also, check with other caregivers to make sure they are on board with the sun protection measures you have chosen as well. 

Final thoughts:

Remember, we are here to help you if you have concerns about your child’s development!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:   http://www.racsb.state.va.us/

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I’m a Big Kid (Eater) Now!

So you and your infant have tackled baby foods like a pro and now it is time to try some “real” table food.   The good news is that your baby is already eating these “real” foods, just in pureed food.  Table food just increases the variety of textures of the foods he or she is eating.  Here are some things to consider during this transition.

 

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Preferences-You probably have started to notice some of your baby’s food preferences.  Does he love his green beans and refuse applesauce?  Is he a banana baby?  Knowing your baby’s preferences can help you narrow down some foods to start off with.  You want to continue to provide success during meal times and starting with preferred foods can be a good motivator.  You can also present new foods, as well. 

Physical Development-Is your baby able to complete the muscle movements (both large muscles and small muscles) to allow for her to safely explore different food textures?  Consider how your baby is using her large muscles to maintain an upright position.  Does your baby mash food with her gums?  Can your baby uses her hands to bring foods to her mouth?  These are all important questions to answer in order to prepare to transition to table foods. 

Same Meal for Everyone- Feed your baby the same foods that you are eating at the table during meal times.  (Always be sure to start with mashed or very finely diced pieces).  Your baby may be more willing to try new foods if he can see others eating the same thing.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again- Your baby may not like a food the first time (or even first 15 times) around.  Keep presenting the opportunity for your baby to explore new foods.  Sometimes, multiple presentations are necessary before your baby will even taste a new food.  Don’t give up!

Always consult your child’s pediatrician prior to changing your baby’s diet.  He or she can discuss specifics with you regarding your child’s development and risk for allergies.  Avoid foods that pose choking hazards for young children.

 

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Final thoughts:

Remember to consider what works best for you and your child!  The transition to table foods is not a one-size-fits-all process.  If your child is having difficulty transitioning to different textures or you have concerns about his or her development, we can help!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:   http://www.racsb.state.va.us/.

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Let's Eat!

In our last post, we talked about the timing of starting your baby on solid foods.  This posts talks about getting done to the “nitty gritty” with a few helpful hints for those first meals.  Remember, learning to eat baby foods is a process.  This new experience can be exciting and intimidating at the same time.  Try to keep it as positive as possible for you and your baby.

Things to try:

Start with one food at a time.  Traditionally, pediatricians would recommend starting with rice cereal when transitioning to baby food.  Recently, the order that different types of baby food is offered has been up for debate.  One point of agreement is that parents should only offer one new food every three to five days.  This helps you know if your baby is allergic to a specific food.  Start with baby foods that only have one ingredient.

Rinse and repeat.  Give your baby multiple opportunities to taste test a food.  It may take many tries to see if he or she will “like” a food.   Don’t give up.  Try, try again.

Get messy.  Allow your baby to make a mess.  Touch is one way that a baby explores his world.  Give him a spoon to hold during feeding to help introduce utensils.

Position your baby in an upright position.  This will help your baby develop his or her swallowing coordination.

Pay close attention to your baby’s clues.  Allow your baby to set the pace around feeding.  If she becomes fussy, try again during the next meal time.  Avoid force feeding your baby.  This can lead to a negative association with meal time.  Your baby simply may not be ready. 

Know the “No Go Zone”.  Do not feed your baby cow’s milk or honey before their 1st birthday.  Both of these foods can be detrimental to your child’s health.  Talk with your pediatrician prior to introducing high allergen foods, especially if anyone in your family has a history of food allergies. 

The next post in this series will talk about moving on to table foods and weaning to a cup.    

Final thoughts:

Remember to consider what works best for you and your child!  The transition to baby foods is not a one-size-fits-all process.  If your child is having difficulty transitioning to baby food or you have concerns about his or her development, we can help!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:   http://www.racsb.state.va.us/

 

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About Brandie

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Join my blog to find early childhood developmental tips, tidbits, strategies, and activities to support children and families.   As a mother of multiple sons (18, 14, 8, 6, and 3), I know that life can be hectic, so all strategies and activities can fit in the context of daily routines and places families typically go.

I am enthusiastic about supporting families who have concerns about their child’s development and helping connect them to desired resources.

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