Baby Sleep Specialists... a parent's best friend

baby Cry

Baby Sleep Specialists… a parent’s best friend– Part 1

By: Haley Callicott, Contributor  

Every parent has experienced the frustration of putting a restless child to bed. After many failed attempts at getting their baby to bed or establishing a successful nighttime routine, some parents have turned to sleep consultants for assistance. In the first of a two part series, we will discuss who are sleep consultants and what they do.

Who are sleep consultants?

Sleep consulting is an increasingly popular industry for sleep deprived parents who need a little extra help with putting their baby or child to bed. Generally, sleep consultants are certified experts who work with infants and young children to identify and resolve behavioral sleeping troubles.

mom and baby
expert nurse

What do sleep consultants do?

“The first six months [of a newborn’s life] goes by in a blur,” said Sweet Dreams Infant Care sleep specialist, Pam Jones. “We want the parents to enjoy that time with their kids and actually remember it.”

Sleep consultants and sleep trainers work with parents to create a personalized plan to facilitate a better nap and bedtime routine or adjust the bedroom environment to guarantee that the child falls asleep faster and stays asleep for longer periods of time.

Many sleep consultants will offer initial consultations. Most consultants offer phone and/or in-home consultations or an overnight stay where they observe the child’s sleeping patterns. The consultants then offer individualized services, or even sleep plans, based on evaluations of the child’s sleep patterns. They will usually provide follow up appointments in order to monitor progress or make adjustments to the original sleep routine plan.

Sleep consultants usually work with families for two to six weeks. Some offer phone call consultations that may last from 30-90 minutes where they discuss techniques or adjustments to the child’s nap and bedtime schedule.

Initial Planning

For in-person consultation and overnight stays, the specialist will require the parents to provide them with a medical or behavior background of the baby via questionnaire or sleep log. Next, they will meet with the family for an initial consultation to talk about their current bedtime routine.


After an overnight observation, the consultant will give the family a plan to make behavioral or environmental changes to help the child’s sleeping problems. For example, they might teach the parents to put the child to bed at a certain time or provide techniques for making sure their child does not get overtired. Some may even suggest environmental changes such as making the room darker or incorporating noise machines into the child’s room.

“My job is to teach people and make sure they understand how sleep works and why it works,” said Jessica Dodson, sleep coach and founder of Starlight Sleep Coaching. “I aim to empower [my clients] with this knowledge.”

 

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2

Sleeping Baby

How to Help Your Child Learn to Read

How to Help Your Child Learn to Read
Contributor, Our Friends at Wooden Toy Shop

Getting your child excited about reading is an important role that each of us must play in our child’s lives. Here are some of our favorite tips for when to start instructing your kids, ways to make reading fun, and how to keep them motivated!

How to Help Your Child Learn to Read

For more information about the Wooden Toy Shop, check them out at www.woodentoyshop.co.uk

What Can I Do to Help My Child Learn Better?

What can I Do to Help My Child Learn Better?
By Serena Morris, Contributor and Founder of Kitty Moms

As parents, one of our biggest aims in life is to raise a child who embraces learning fully. Our goal is to raise children who are motivated enough to enjoy the process of learning new things. A child is naturally inquisitive and the best way to help them continue this way is to ensure that they become eager learners for life who find fun in challenges, understand the value of efforts and are persistent enough to never give up in life. So what can we do to motivate our children?

Make Learning A Fun Activity

I personally feel that every child is always curious and the best way to engage them is to make learning a fun activity. Motivation comes automatically to children n to bakn they consider the activity they are doing is fun. Using humor, letting children explore things and being playful, all help in making a child love learning.

When my child was trying to learn to cycle, I would ensure that every time we took the cycle out, it was an adventure. We would pretend we are going hunting for chocolates in trees or searching for flowers beyond the cycling ground. She would love the pretend play and took up learning to cycle as a challenge and conquered her fear of falling. Any learning becomes easy , when there is a sense of fun attached to it.

Let Children Have a Hobby

The importance of having a hobby as a child is often underestimated by parents. Many parents believe that a child needs to do academically well, but a hobby is a waste of time. However, it has been proved many times, that having a hobby often brings a sense of focus in children. Playing a musical instrument or collecting stamps or learning to dance, all help in the overall development of the child’s brains.

Having a hobby also has long term benefits in the mental health and wellbeing of a person. Hence, let your child enjoy some time picking up something he or she loves. Any task related to the hobby is always a learning and then this sense of motivation can be applied to other tasks too.

Reading Books

Everyone loves stories. The best way to help children becomes learners for life is to surround them with books. Bright colored board books for babies, or picture books for toddlers or chapter books for older children – All of these help children enjoy stories.

Surround your child with books. Read to them. Read with them. Read for them. Any kind of reading always helps and creates a wonderful bond between the parents and children. Not only this, it always motivates children to learn more, wanting to understand more words and enriches their imagination.

Having Open Conversations

In today’s world of smart phones, we often forget the importance of having one on one personal conversations. It is very important to have open ended conversations with children to give them the confidence of voicing their opinions and concerns.

Talk about taking on personal challenges and what can be done to achieve them. Talk about what happens if one cannot complete the challenges but how the time, effort and learning spent on the challenge is equally important. Most important, listen to them without distractions.

Search For Answers Together

My child came up to me and asked me what fossil fuels were. I could have easily answered the question in two lines and told her to get back to her work. But I did not. I decided to take her to the library and we searched through books to find out what exactly fossil fuels were. We went on the internet to get information on them and how they were formed.

We did a small project in a scrap book sticking pictures of things we thought were made from fossil fuels. In short, we enjoyed the process of learning together and ended up knowing a lot more about fossil fuels than what I could have just told her. Not only that, now my child loves to ask me things and she takes it up on her own to find out additional information about it from the library or internet (under supervision).

Explore With Your Child

We underestimate the importance of just simply going out and exploring. Whether it is exploring the leaves of autumn or the new buds of spring, there is so much to learn. And the more children are exposed to outdoors, the more curious they get about things.

We did a short walk around our neighborhood the other day, and my child asked me questions about why leaves turn brown in autumn and how does the tree produce food if all the leaves have fallen. We enjoyed the walk and learnt something new. This kind of outdoor activities creates a life-long opportunity of learning.

Be Enthusiastic About Experimenting

When I was young, I asked my father about Newton’s Laws of Motion. He set up a pendulum tied down from the ceiling fan and explained the laws of motion to me. For me, it was a lifetime of learning. I can never forget the laws of motion. This is what children need.

They need to be taught practical lessons in life. Lessons which motivate them to learn more and which spike their curiosity levels. Take up small practical things and don’t be afraid to experiment with your children.

Know When To Back Off

Often as parents we tend to be over enthusiastic and go on and help our children even if they don’t need it. It is important to know when to back off. Finishing off that jigsaw puzzle for your child or prompting them the last word of the sentence may not be the right way to motivate them.

While the work does get done in time, it always leaves the child with a feeling that I will always get help. That is not a positive way to help a child build on his learning. Give the child a feeling of competence and let them know the importance of taking efforts.

Focus on the Process, Not on the Outcome

We often tend to forget that the process is more important than the outcome. While it is natural to want to prepare your child for the future, it is equally important to teach them the importance of enjoying the process and learning from it. We may end up pushing our children to learning too much too soon.

Take it one and a time and let the child learn and enjoy the process. Take notice of what the child is doing at that moment and how he is learning to learn by himself. While outcomes are important, focusing on the process, teaches the child that learning is important

Let Children Be Children

In today’s high competitive world, we often forget that children need to be children. Pushing them to doing things or making them learn a thousand things is not the right way to inculcate the love for learning in them.

What is important is that children take up learning as a part of their lives and enjoy it. Whether it is just learning to swing as a baby or trying to understand how things work, ensure that the process is an enjoyable one!

About the author and Kitty Moms

Serena Morris is a mother of three children and founder of Kittymoms.com. They have chosen to homeschool their children and focus on living an active, natural lifestyle. Her family loves to travel, but most of the year, you can find us at house gardening and taking care of our small homestead.

Follow Serena Online
Twitter: https://twitter.com/serena_Kittymom
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/serena.Kittymoms/

Saving Money for College- 529 Plans Explained

Saving Money for College- 529 Plans Explained
By: Haley Callicott, Contributor

In a time when college tuition costs nearly as much or more than a home, it is more important than ever for parents to start thinking about an investment plan for your child’s future education. However, there are many misconceptions and financial jargon that surround the understanding of a 529 plan because of the different types and offerings of plans that vary by state. Luckily, we’ve broken down the terminology and types of 529 plans to make it easier for you to start planning for your child’s future.

What is a 529 Plan?

A 529 plan is a higher education savings plan that is exempt from taxes and specifically designed to help finance a child’s college or university expenses. The idea behind the plan is to encourage account holders to set up a plan and start saving money for the beneficiary’s future. 529 are especially ideal in today’s economy because the funds in the account are tax-exempt, which allows the funds to grow over time and withdrawn once the beneficiary reaches college. However, all states enforce a contribution limit that is typically between $300,000-$500,000.

Anyone can open up a 529 plan and they are either operated by a state or educational institute and can be expensed through a savings plan or prepaid tuition program.  Every state sponsors at least one type of 529 plan, but many plans also function through private or public universities and colleges. The tax benefits and terms of of the plan vary from state to state, but we have generalized the following explanation to account for all different variations of a 529 plan.

Any U.S. citizen 18 and over can open up an account through a bank. The beneficiary of these plans tend to be a child, grandchild or someone under the age of 18. However, there are usually no age restrictions on who can benefit from the plan, so adults may open a plan for their own higher education expenses.

All 529 accounts are owned by one person and are allocated to one beneficiary. Multiple people can mutually contribute funds to the account as long as these funds don’t exceed the maximum contribution limit.

What is the difference between a savings and prepaid program?

A savings plan is similar to a 401k or IRA as investments are made within an individual account and can be paid through a variety of ways, depending on the contributor’s preference. Once the account is set up, the account holder choses from a variety of investment plans in order to oversee that their investment will grow over time.

Investment options usually includes stock mutual funds, bond mutual funds, money market funds, and age-based portfolios. Most investments in a savings plan are made through mutual funds. However, investments made through this type of plan are not guaranteed and are not federally insured.

Savings plans tend to be more popular than prepaid tuition programs because there is no age or time restriction for whom and when the funds can be spent. Unlike most prepaid tuition plans, savings plans cover all college costs, including tuition, room, board, and other living expenses. Also, this type of plan can be used at any college or university, regardless if it is an in-state or out-of-state public or private school. The caveat is that most savings plans come with various fees, such as advisor fees, management and program payments and other investment related expenses.

A prepaid tuition program allows the investor to buy tuition directly so that it can be used by the child in the future. These programs are either sponsored by the state or educational institution. Through this method, the account holder directly buys credit or units of tuition from the participating college or university. This usually does not include other expenses, such as room, board, and books, but the account holder may choose to include these specific expenses depending on their plan.

Investments are made at a fixed price, meaning the tuition value when first purchased stays the same when the funds are withdrawn. Unlike a savings plan, the value does not grow and thus may not reflect the increased tuition value when the funds are actually used. Also, most of these plans have a limited enrollment period and age/grade restrictions, meaning the money must be spent within a certain period.

How will this affect my taxes?

Although 529 plans are not federal tax deductible, the funds within the plan are not subject to state or federal taxes, which allows the account to grow over time. Currently over 30 states offer partial to full state tax deductions and some states will even offer matching grants to the investment. Also, once the funds are withdrawn, they can be spent on tuition and other costs without being taxed, as long as they are being used for college related expenses that are outlined in the original plan.

The principle, that is the original amount invested into the plan, will always be exempt from taxes and penalties because the investment was made after taxes were deducted. However, if money from the plan is withdrawn and funded towards a non-authorized expense, then those funds may become subject to federal and state taxes and up to a 10% penalty tax.

How can I open a 529 account?

It is crucial for parents to start saving for the child’s college sooner rather than later. This way, their college savings will begin to grow on a tax-deferred basis. An account may be opened directly through the state college’s program website. Another way is to start a plan with a financial advisor, who can help guide you through the different investment options and payment methods.

What are the advantages?

529 plans offer a variety of tax and financial benefits. These include:

  • Growth. Allowing college investments to grow free of tax deductions.
  • Potential state tax-deductions. Depending on the plan and the state, some states allow for tax-deductions that amount to the full or partial amount that the contributor has allocated to the plan.
  • The primary account holder has the power to manage and withdraw funds. Also, the beneficiary does not have access to these funds until they reach college and then they may use the money to pay for tuition and other college expenses.
  • The primary account holder may change the name of the account holder at any time. Also, funds that go unused by the beneficiary may be transferred to another 529 account without losing any of its tax benefits.
  • Low impact on financial aid- Funds under these plans are viewed by the federal government as parental assets. Meaning, only 5.6 percent of the plan’s assets will be calculated into the federal financial aid formula when the institution or federal government determines the amount of federal aid a student may be qualified for.
  • Financial support. A 529 plan is a smart and efficient way to start planning for your child’s future and making sure that the financial burden of paying for college is lessened when the time comes to make tuition deposits.

What are the disadvantages?

While 529 plans offer many benefits to the account holder and beneficiary who will eventually be receiving the funds for their education, parents should be aware of the disadvantages when determining the costs and benefits of starting a 529 plan.

  • The account holder will encounter administrative and investment fees when opening up an account. These fees are heavily dependent on the size of the fund and on the investment option that you select.
  • Non-qualified withdrawal repercussions. The account holder will face tax expenses and penalties if funds are withdrawn for expenses that are not related to the education expenses outlines in the original plan.
  • Time and residential restrictions. Those who chose prepaid tuition programs may have to use the funds within a certain timeframe or enrollment period. Also, some states mandate that an account holder must be a state resident in order to open up certain in-state account plans.

What are my other options?

There are several other college saving options that all have different contribution limits, federal and state tax effects, level of account control, and payment methods. For example, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts allow parents, grandparents, or other contributors to give up to $2,000 a year per beneficiary until they reach the age of 18. However, these are significantly smaller contributions than what 529 plans allow.

Uniform Gifts to Minors Act or Uniform Transfer to Minors Act allow for contributors of all income levels to create an investment account towards a beneficiary’s college education. The account holder can choose from a variety of investment plans are there are no limits to the amount of contribution. However, these funds are subject to federal and state income taxes every year and these funds may affect other financial aid as they are considered an asset to the child.

Bonds may be purchased to help finance a child’s higher education, but there is an annual maximum purchase of $10,000 for most bonds that are designed to pay for colleges and universities.

More traditional ways to pay for college include taking out a loan or applying for financial or merit-based aid. However, loans accumulate interest and can be a huge financial burden on the parent. Also, financial aid and merit-based aid have become increasingly competitive to receive as more students apply to and attend college each year.

Overall, there are several investment plans you may choose to set your child up for the future. Average college tuition has increased over 260% since 1970, according to Business Insider. This is mostly due to the large increased in college enrollment and the job market’s demand for higher degrees. Therefore, it is now more important than ever to start considering your best financial options for a college savings plan.

529 plans offer a great way for contributors to make larger investments for their beneficiary’s college and allow these funds to grow in a tax-deferred way. The details, benefits and fees vary by plan, but overall the funds in each plan will be protected from market fluctuations and downfalls and will be at the control of the account holder.

For more tips and details, visit https://www.sec.gov/reportspubs/investor-publications/investorpubsintro529htm.html to learn more about your state’s 529 plan offerings and limitations or contact a financial advisor to start saving for your child’s future today.

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Comparing the Cost of Daycare v. Nanny v. Au Pair

Comparing the Cost of Daycare v. Nanny v. Au Pair
By: Paige Goodwin, Contributor

While your child’s well-being and growth is the most important factor in choosing whether to use a daycare, nanny, or au pair a secondary factor that we all must consider is cost. We took a hard look at the cost for care in major metro areas to help you make the best financial decision for your family and provide a benchmark when comparing options.

Daycare Costs

The following prices are calculated averages based on both national chains and local centers in each city.  While some daycare centers offer discounts for the second child, many offer no more than 10%, or none at all.

City Weekly Price for Infant Care Weekly Price for Toddler (~2.5 years old) Care Combined Weekly Price for Two
Washington DC Area (including Bethesda, MD/Alexandria, VA) $425 – $575/wk $300 – $425/wk $725 – $1000/wk
New York City $425 – $700/wk $325 – $450/wk $750 – $1150/wk
Boston $400 – $625/wk $300 – $425/wk $700 – $1050/wk
Palm Beach, FL $225 – $300/wk $175 – $215/wk $400 – $515/wk
Houston, TX $290 – $305/wk $200 – $280/wk $490 – $585/wk
Chicago, IL $350 – $525/wk $225 – $350/wk $575 – $875/wk

Au Pair Costs

 Au pairs require not only food and room/board, but also car insurance and access to a car )or one of their own). Without factoring in those funds as they can vary greatly depending on the family, au pairs through programs require a $425 match fee, an annual program fee of about $8675 and a minimum stipend of generally $9996 per year, worked out in equal weekly payments.  For the average au pair, the costs are about $390 plus room, board and insurance.

Nanny Costs

When it comes to paying a nanny, there is not a set cost like there is for Au Pairs or local daycare centers. Many nannies accept a certain pay range, which largely depends on not only the standard cost of living in your area, but also your family’s needs as well as the experience of the caregiver.

First and foremost, nannies who hold education degrees or have extensive training courses are going to charge more than young nannies who may still be in school.

If you have a child with special needs or want your nanny to cook meals from scratch for your kids every day, expect to pay more than the baseline price as well.  Duties such as laundry for the children or watching pets will also cause your rates to go up.

Not included in these rates are compensation for gas/mileage if you have your nanny take your child places, which is considered standard.

 City  25 hours per week  35 hours per week 40 hours per week
Washington DC Area (including Bethesda, MD/Alexandria, VA) $312.50 – $400/wk for one child

$350 – $450/wk for 2 children

$437.50 – $560/wk for one child

$490 – $630/wk for 2 children

$500 – $640/wk for one child

$560 – $720/wk for 2 children

New York City 

 

$325 – $425/wk for one child

$362.50 – $462.50 for 2 children

$455 – $595/wk for one child

$507.50 – $647.50 for 2 children

$520 – $680/wk for one child

$580 – $740/wk for 2 children

Boston 

 

$325 – $425/wk for one child

$362.50 – $475 for 2 children

$455 – $595/wk for one child

$507.50 – $665 for 2 children

$520 – $680/wk for one child

$580 – $760/wk for 2 children

Palm Beach, FL

 

$300 – $387.50/wk for one child

$325 – $412.50 for 2 children

$420 – $542.50/wk for one child

$455 – $577.50 for 2 children

$480 – $620/wk for one child

$520 – $660 for 2 children

Houston, TX

 

$287 – $375/wk for one child

$312.50 – $412.50 for 2 children

$402.50 – $525/wk for one child

$437.50 – $577.50 for 2 children

$460 – $600/wk for one child

$500 – $660 for 2 children

Chicago, IL

 

$287 – $375/wk for one child

$312.50 – $412.50 for 2 children

$402.50 – $525/wk for one child

$437.50 – $577.50 for 2 children

$460 – $600/wk for one child

$500 – $660 for 2 children

How To Potty Train: Ultimate Guide, FAQs And Common Problems

How To Potty Train: Ultimate Guide, FAQs And Common Problems

By, Nancy Shaw,  Baby Friendly America Contributor & Founder/Main Editor of HifiveBaby

One of the most critical milestones in every child’s life is when they learn to poop and pee on their own. They can’t wear diapers forever.

Aside from the unnecessary expense (they could use up at least
four naps in a day unless you’re using cloth diapers), it’s also more convenient if your little one already knows how to use the toilet.

It may not sound like a big deal when you’re not a parent yet, but as a first-time parent to a toddler, it feels as if I somehow won the lottery. Yes, the sense of accomplishment is that incredible.

The thing is, I’m sure other parents have told you, it’s not easy. There’s never such thing as someone just breezing through the process. If there is, it’s one in a million. Any mother I talk to says the same thing: it’s messy and challenging.

You’re dealing with a child who has just discovered his independence and they will uphold and assert it in every way possible. They’ll pretty much do anything that’s the exact opposite of what you tell them just because they feel like it.

So yes, I’m telling you upfront you’re going to need every bit of patience you can muster. Trying to learn how to potty-train your child is both dreadful and exciting. But for the most part, you just want to get it done.

Nevertheless, rushing your child through any milestone or training is never the best means to go.

Why Potty Train?

It is a skill your child needs to learn. Learning to control their bladder and bowel is a lot like developing fine motor – it’s a process, and they need your help. Soon enough, you’re going to have to ditch the diapers and just let them wear pants.

If potty training is successful, they can now tell you when they need to go and use the bathroom.

When To Potty Train?

The answer here is simple: whenever they’re ready. You see, one important element is timing. Don’t force the child before they’re ready because it will only be frustrating for both of you.

Some doctors agree it’s often somewhere between 18-24 months or 22-30 months but just like in crawling, walking or other milestones, children will learn depending on their pace. You need to check for certain skills before proceeding with the training.

Keep in mind that you should do this when it’s not a stressful time for your family – no significant changes like the arrival of a new baby or moving to a new home.

Readiness Checklist

  • They can already follow simple instructions like “please bring that toy here” or “please pull down your shirt.”
  • They don’t like the feeling of wet or dirty diapers and may even tell you when they’re peeing.
  • They can pull down their pants or diapers.
  • They can stay dry for at least two hours during the day.
  • They can sit on and get up from the toilet or potty chair.
  • They’re interested in using the bathroom or toilet.
  • They pass their bowel at predictable times of the day.
  • They have terms they use for stool and urine like “wee-wee” or “poo.”

Benefits of Potty Training

It goes beyond the mere convenience of having a child who knows how to use the toilet and the economic factor (you can now use the nappy money for other things).

In fact, there are several advantages after reaching this milestone:

  • They learn about personal hygiene. Of course, at this point, you still can’t expect them to clean after themselves, but this is a start.
  • It makes them feel capable which in turn, enhances both their confidence and self-esteem – two important traits in growing up. Do you remember those times when you told your child “Good job” and they beamed at you with so much happiness?They have a certain sense of accomplishment – the kids know they’ve done something major and it makes them feel more confident in anything that they do.Keep in mind, however, to avoid scolding them if they commit mistakes during the process because that’s like going against what we’re trying to achieve here.
  • It asserts their autonomy and independence because it makes them feel like they’re already “grown-up girls or boys.” Especially for toddlers, they now want to try and do everything – from feeding to putting their clothes on.If they’re potty trained, they can add that to the list of things they can do without your help.

Because this is an important life skill, learning it will also improve their social status. Assuming they’re attending daycare, they might experience peer pressure if they’re the only one not toilet-trained.

Potty Training Chart

Because potty training is very challenging for both the parents and kids, it’s always a good idea to add some fun while you’re at it. In my experience, our first day was a total mess –literally and figuratively.

We had to throw one underpants filled with stool and at one time, my son pooped on the floor. I was this close to giving up, throwing in the towel and just putting some diapers on him. But I didn’t. Instead, I pushed on. And you should do the same.

What you can do is take it one step at a time and do what you can to make it a memorable experience, not a traumatic one.

Don’t impose what you want them to do because if you’re training a toddler, they will continue challenging your authority and that’s not going to work so well. Instead, ask for their cooperation.

In the scheme of reward and punishment, I’ve always leant towards the former because I find positive reinforcement to have better results in the long run.

To make my little boy tell me he wants to pee and go independently to the bathroom, I promised him he will get a ‘tattoo’ each time he pees on the urinal. It’s not much really, I simply draw a star or moon on his forearm using a pen. And he enjoyed it.

So you can do the same. This potty training chart will work well with stickers too. You can tell them that each time you mark one, they get a sticker. They will love seeing their progress and accomplishment and that will motivate them.

Also, while it’s nice to give them rewards (some mums even use chocolates or other treats), don’t forget that the most important thing is to praise them – verbally or with hugs and kisses.

How To Potty Train

In 3 Days

It is pretty challenging, mind you. Sure, it’s shorter than most training but what you should know is that for three days, you will need to spend all of your waking hours with your little one.

It’s a lot like a crash course, so you need enough commitment and dedication to accomplish this.

Your whole attention will be on your child. Clear up your schedule and don’t even think of scrolling through your social media newsfeed while in the midst of it all. Also, because of that, cooking, cleaning the house or doing the laundry in between is a big no-no.

You can ask your spouse to do those things. Don’t worry though, aside from potty training, you will get to bond with your little one. And even though it sounds like the training is going to be rigid, it’s the opposite of that.

The author of this method advocates praise instead of punishment.

With this 3-day method, you will include nighttime potty training too.

Reminders

  • Your kid will either go commando or wear cotton underpants. My son went for the former, but he wore an oversized shirt just to cover his private parts. At first, he still didn’t get the concept when he had to wear briefs because he thought it was still like a diaper where he can pee or poop.
  • Accidents can happen during and after the 3-day potty training. It’s important not to get upset or react negatively since it can have an impact on your baby. Just clean up the mess and help them through.

What To Do

  1. After waking up, take off their diapers and tell them you won’t be using it for the rest of the day which is why when they pee or poop, they have to do it in the bathroom.
  2. Join them for breakfast; you can go for high-fiber foods like fruits or those with high water content like watermelon. Then, if they usually drink half a cup of juice or water, add a little extra.
  3. After that, you can now take a trip to the bathroom to use the potty. If it’s successful, praise them but if not, tell them it’s okay. They can still try next time.
  4. While waiting for their next pooping or peeing session, do a variety of activities like learning to play simple musical instruments or reading their favourite books (not the bedtime stories).Just remember not to give them something that’s hard to get away from like a full two–hour movie.
  5. Always have a cup of water within reach. Every fifteen or twenty minutes, you can go back to the bathroom. Afterwards, make them take a sip again.
  6. After finishing their dinner, don’t give them any more milk, snacks or other liquids. In the middle of the night, you need to wake them up to use the potty and pee.
  7. For the next two days, just repeat the whole process.
  8. If accidents happen (and they will), reinforce your teachings by telling them poop and pee should go in the potty, not on the rug or floor.

In One Week

For some parents, this one seems more realistic compared to the three-day method. Besides, most experts claimed that it was most effective for kids younger than 28 months because they’re still not resilient to most things.

However, this one-week option requires readiness from all the parties involved – the child, the parents and the rest of the family.

What To Do

  1. Preparation includes allowing the toddler to practice sitting in the potty for about 5-10 minutes. This is an important step. I remember one hurdle I encountered during our potty training – after a minute, my boy would suddenly tell me he’s done.And when I check the potty, there’s no poop or pee. One method that worked for me was giving him a book to read, or letting him watch videos on my iPad. I don’t typically allow that, given that I have strong opinions against toddlers using gadgets but this is one of the few exceptions.Besides, it’s not going to last forever, just for the time you’re training.
  2. Aside from the one mentioned above, another way to prepare your child is with the help of visuals. You can download potty training videos or read books of their favourite characters pooping or peeing. This will give them an idea of what they need to do.At this stage, avoid setting any expectations because chances are, you won’t see that much progress yet. That’s okay because you’re still prepping them. Also, explain how the toilet works like how to flush and what happens to the poop.
  3. Prepare a potty training chart similar to what I showed earlier. You can purchase stickers to mark them or simply put a smiley face each time they successfully use the potty. As to the rewards, you can give them whatever they like.My son isn’t much of a sweet tooth so giving him chocolates isn’t a good option.
  4. You can put on diapers during naps or bedtime, but if you want to go big, you can put it off. After eating breakfast, take off the nappies and make them wear briefs or panties. It will put them in ‘big boy’ or ‘big girl’ mode.
  5. Every fifteen minutes, let them sit on the potty for about 5-10 minutes. This is the hard part. Again, do what you can to keep them there – read books or watch videos. However, the fifteen-minute interval is flexible.My boy got annoyed when we had to do it that close so I tried 25 minutes, and it worked. Do what works for your child. The important thing is how long they stay on the potty.
  6. Give them more fluids than usual and the moment they start showing signs that they need to go to the bathroom, whisk them to the toilet immediately. Yes, this is why you need to monitor them and pay attention.If they pee or poop, give them a reward or praise them – a little “hurray” goes a long way. But don’t overreact since they might feel deflated if there’s nothing on the potty.
  7. If accidents should happen, explain again where the poop and pee need to go – the toilet. But don’t scold or shame them. You see, even if you finish the training, don’t expect them to be potty trained 100%.They might still have accidents now and then, but most of the time, they will opt for the toilet instead of nappies.

Reminder

If the potty training doesn’t work, you can try again for around 6-8 weeks.

Potty Training Tips From Parents

There are plenty of books and guides for potty training, but I firmly believe that the best tips come from those who experienced it first-hand and there are no better ‘advisers’ than fellow parents.

Let them go commando. When I potty trained my son, he had to play around naked for an entire day. Of course, they’re more prone to accidents this way. There were several instances when the potty was just a few feet away but of course; he had to pee on the living room floor.

You need to look out for signs that he has to pee or poop – like stopping in the middle of playing and straining or looking down on their private part. When they do, take them immediately to the potty.

Let them go commando
Patience is necessary. I can’t even begin to count how many times I considered giving up during the first two days. Take note, frustration won’t take you anywhere, it will only delay the process.

I started out with 15-minute intervals and gradually increased them until we went to the potty every 25 minutes. You cannot afford to lose patience because trust me, it will pay off.

Patience is necessary
Timing is just as essential. It’s all useless if your child is not ready or if there are significant life changes which can affect their training. Keep in mind that this is as challenging to them as it is for you, so the best thing you can do is to make sure there are no additional stressors for them. Make them feel secure.

Timing is just as essential
Give them treats or rewards. Bribery is a good motivation for the kids. You can buy stickers, chocolates, or other tokens. For example, you can give them one sticker for pee and two for poop.

You can even promise them an extra episode of their favourite cartoons. Again, do what works for your child.

Give them treats or rewards
Pack on the positive reinforcement. Sometimes, kids just need words of praises like “Good job!” or “Whoa, you pooped on the toilet!” It may sound simple enough, but toddlers will love it.

Pack on the positive reinforcement
There’s nothing quite like a big smile and hug from mummy and daddy. You see, if they don’t usually get rewards, you can just do whatever parenting style worked for you in the past. Sure, bribery does wonders but so can undivided attention.

  • Talk to them about fears. It’s natural for kids to get scared of things they’re not used to. They still don’t have a full understanding of the concept of pee and poop and sometimes, the potty might look scary too.The best way to handle this is to ask them what makes them feel afraid and try to explain to them in the simplest terms possible.
  • If you’re travelling, always bring a portable potty with you because chances are, kids might feel intimidated by ‘big people’ restrooms. If they do, you can’t force them to pee or poop.
  • Always remind them that they need to go to the potty. Often, they get so busy with playing or doing stuff that they forget it’s time to pee or poop and they might end up doing it on the floor.You can set the alarm every 15 minutes and tell them, or you can walk with them towards the bathroom or wherever the potty is.
  • To make them sit longer on the potty, give them something to keep them occupied – gadgets, toys or books. They can easily sit still for 5-10 minutes.
  • Help with their aim. Another tricky part in potty training for boys is they seem to want to pee everywhere. What you can do here is place some Cheerios into the toilet so they have something they can use as a target.There are products like urinals for kids with spinning wheels in the middle to help improve aim and focus.

Common Problems Encountered

  1. How to travel with a Potty Training Child

You have two options here: a portable potty or soft toilet cover seat. Of course, if it’s long trip, you may want the potty because you can stop anywhere and let them pee or poop there and wipe it clean.

With the cover seat, you need to stop at gas stations or public restroom which isn’t the best option for most parents. You have to prepare yourself to deal with accidents, though. If you’re using bribes and rewards, continue doing so.

It is to avoid any interruption to whatever routine you have created for them.

2. How to Potty Train Multiple Kids with only ONE Bathroom

One parents suggested the use of potty stools since you wouldn’t need to buy another trainer. The kids will go directly to the toilet – the same one mummy and daddy are using.

They can take turns and you can adjust the intervals so they won’t go at the same time. Also, once they see the success of one sibling, it’s more likely they will be motivated and follow suit. Don’t sweat it.

Don’t let them see you getting frustrated because potty training should be a fun experience even though it’s challenging. Also, make it a family ‘activity’ and involve everyone at home. Instead of getting stressed out, take it slowly.

3. How to Potty Train Kids With Autism

First of all, you need the perfect timing – it should be stress-free. Then develop a routine based on the pattern you’ve observed from the kids. You can use clear and simple visuals like photos or videos to explain to them what you’re trying to help them learn.

Make sure everything’s easy to understand and not confusing. A laminated sequence pasted to the bathroom wall is a fantastic idea. When it comes to rewards or praises, it’s up to you which one works better for your child.

Some kids with autism are okay with verbal praises. Others aren’t so comfortable with it. Also, help them communicate especially if they’re encountering difficulties. And as always, reward their accomplishments but don’t make a big deal when accidents happen.

It’s also important to take note of non-verbal cues like suddenly stopping in the middle of doing something and concentrating or looking at the bathroom. These are ways you can tell if they need to pee or poop.

You have to give them your undivided attention so you can easily see when it’s time to go. If all else fails, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

4. When to Start Potty Training

The first thing to look at is your child’s readiness. While some kids are ready by the time they’re 18 months old, there are those who can begin earlier or later. Just like with every milestone, there’s no such thing as one exact age for every baby.

You need to observe any indication that they’re all set for potty training. The key here is to avoid rushing when they’re not yet developmentally prepared. It’s not going to work if you’ll force them into something they cannot do yet and it will only end in frustration.

You can assess your little one with the help of the checklist above. If they’re not yet ready, you can always start prepping them with the aid of books or videos of their favourite cartoon characters like Elmo or Dora – you can find plenty of these on YouTube.

5. I Am Having Trouble Potty Training my Tot, What Should I do?

your child refuses to use the potty, they’re probably not yet ready for it. That’s pretty much the gist of it. Their readiness is an important factor for the success of potty training. If you’re using soft covered seat, the child could also be afraid of the toilet which isn’t surprising at all.

Especially with toddlers, they might see it as one big, scary monster. If that’s the case, buy a small potty trainer and once they’ve gotten the hang of it, you can start transitioning to the toilet.

The thing is, don’t insist if they adamantly refuse because it doesn’t work that way. Don’t make it a traumatising experience for them. As much as possible, keep it light and fun.

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About Hi Five Baby: HiFiveBaby is a professional blog written by a registered nurse that focuses on health, tips to care for babies, product reviews, child development, toys, and gifts.

Is My Toddler Ready for Potty Training

Is My Toddler Ready for Potty Training
By Elliot Totah, Contributor and co-founder of Tot on the Pot

There are two words that will send a chill down the spine of any parent who has a toddler: Potty Training. Almost immediately, the questions start pouring in: How should I do it? How long does it take? Is there a best method? What should I buy? Do I have to? Really though, do I have to?

All of these questions touch on relevant issues that every parent will have to consider (well, all except for the last two…). But before answering any of them, there’s one basic piece of information that all parents will need: When do I start potty training my child?

I wish I could tell you that there was a simple
answer to this one but the reality is that it differs for each child. Lots of different factors play in to the equation: your child’s gender, how quickly they develop, whether they have older siblings, etc. The good news is that there are several great tools out there to help gauge your child’s readiness. The first place you should turn is BabyCenter’s Potty Training Readiness Checklist. Answering the questions posed in this article will give you a good idea as to whether your child is ready to take the plunge into the wide world of the potty. Another good resource is the questionnaire provided by Parents.com.

Run through the links and if they both point you in the same direction, then start planning accordingly. Simultaneously, make sure you, as a parent, are ready. Potty training works best when parents/caregivers are positive and supportive throughout. Particularly since potty training can take months, make sure you have the patience and the peace of mind to be your toddler’s cheerleader and motivator through their highs and lows. Now, before you proceed any further, it’s very important that you understand the following: Potty Training your child earlier will not increase their chances of getting into Harvard, becoming a Hollywood star or winning the lottery. Too many parents err on the side of trying to potty train their children too early. More and more research suggests that even if kids are successfully potty trained before the age of 2, they face an increased chance of complications later on like UTIs, bedwetting and chronic constipation. The basic reason is that kids who learn how to hold their pee/poop will usually end up over-holding it. I mean, who wants to stop playing, watching TV, building a fort, being a princess or emptying out the kitchen cabinets for the 15th time in 3 hours when the alternative is pooping? When it comes to potty training—like so many other aspects of parenting—don’t be too quick to have your children grow up. Let them be little. Or as we say at Tot on the Pot, cherish every minute with your children…even the crappy ones.

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About Tot on the Pot: Tot on the Pot is a new, Pediatrician-recommended potty training system that utilizes rhymes, activities and fun to inform, incentivize and reward your toddler out of a diaper and onto the toilet. Our system includes the Tot on the Pot Book, a Tot doll which comes in a variety of genders and skin colors, the Tot’s very own potty and the Activity Reward cards. Tot on the Pot is set for release in mid-2017. Sign up to receive product launch updates and early bird specials at www.totonthepot.com today.

Deaf-Friendly Games for a Children's Party

Deaf-Friendly Games for a Children’s Party
Contributor, Our Friends at Wooden Toy Shop

While its natural to worry about all the children feeling included in a kids party, there really is no need to worry if you throwing a party with a deaf child in attendance. There are loads of great games that all children, and quite a few adults, will enjoy. Here are some of our favorite party games and tips for throwing an inclusive children’s party. These games are ones you will probably already know, but with fun twists to make them more inclusive and even more fun!

Deaf-friendly games for a childrens party

For more information about the Wooden Toy Shop, check them out at www.woodentoyshop.co.uk

5 Tips and Tricks to Deal With Two Little Munchkins

5 Tips and Tricks to Deal With Two Little Munchkins
Guest Contributor, Our Friends at www.tinystep.in

It’s no easy task managing children. They need a lot of care and attention, and they’re not afraid to ask for it. Managing one child is a challenge in itself, so it’s understandable that the thought of having to deal with two might be daunting for many of us; double the workload, double the energy required, double the attention given. But, like most things in this world, there are upsides and downsides to having two kids, and it’s important to keep these in mind when you think about raising two kids.

Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when dealing with two children:

1. Hear ye! Hear ye!:
When it comes to taking care of the needs of multiple little kids, the principle you need to follow is to attend to the greater needs first. For example, one kid just pooped in his diaper which is now on the verge of explosion and the other one has fallen down and proceeded to bawl her eyes out. The most sensible solution would be to ignore the dirty diaper for the time being and tend to the injury first.

2. The One Where You “Trick” Your Baby:
Another helpful trick is to try to keep one kid busy if you’re going to have to focus on the other one for a while. Example – when you need to feed one child, give the other one some toys or a game or put on a TV show to keep them busy while you feed your other child.

3. Santa’s Little Helper:
It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t force your older child to like his/her younger sibling. Often, the older ones get jealous when there’s a new addition to the family because they know that it means that they’ll receive less attention from you. When your child shows dislike towards their sibling, try to comfort them rather than telling them that they must like him/her. Try to get your older child involved in helping out with the care of their younger sibling – this will make them feel helpful and needed.

4. Born Besties:
Sometimes, you can take a back seat as your kids start to bond. Sometimes, it becomes easier to have two kids. They satisfy each other’s need for a playmate and friend, and it gives you time to rest and spend with your spouse without constantly having one eye on your kids. Though they may fight, siblings tend to find a great amount of comfort in each other. They’re born besties. They look out for each other, may even synchronize with each other’s schedules, and keep each other entertained when bored.

5. Time Management:
Ha! This one follows you everywhere, doesn’t it? You may think “I’ve got this down” or “I’ve been failing at this since I was in school!” Well, I’m here to say that it never hurts to try anyway. Make a schedule for each day your kids to follow and try your best to ensure that they stick to it. This can help ensure that nap time and feeding time for both children coincide. What’s in it for you? Well, imagine how much peace and quiet there’ll be if both your kids are asleep at the same time? If your kids adapt to those timings it could simplify your life a whole lot.

Having two kids can be quite a blessing if you’re open to thinking of it that way! You now have two shiny stars in your life instead of one. It’ll also prevent your child from getting lonely. Even better, it will teach him/her from a young age what it means to share, adapt, and compromise.

About Tinystep.in: Tinystep is a social media platform for parents, where they connect, ask and share. They help each other on the everyday parenting journey. Be it learning best ways to feed, finding a nanny or a pediatrician, finding the best neighborhood school or just deciding the best diaper.

Gender Reveal Party Ideas

Gender Reveal Party Ideas
By Alexis Pollitto, Contributor

So, you’re having a baby…how exciting!gender-cake Arguably even more exciting, is finding out if you will have a son or a daughter. What better way to be surprised than through a gender reveal party.

Gender reveal parties have been up and coming for the past few years. Essentially, you can gather your closest family and friends and all experience the magical moment of learning the gender of your baby together. We have put together a list of the cutest gender reveal party ideas to kick off your planning.

First, you may want to select a theme forpink-v-blue the party. If you love sports, you may be interested in a Team Pink or Team Blue theme, or Touchdowns vs. Tutus. If you plan to have the party during the summertime, you can put a twist on a summer classic by having a BaByQ and serve barbecue food. You can certainly select the theme based on the time of year you will have the party, like decorating blue and pink pumpkins for the fall or blue and pink shamrocks for St. Patrick’s day. You know you will want to treat your little one like royalty, so why not start at his or her gender reveal party with the theme of prince or princess. Developing a theme for your gender reveal party is a great way to tie together invitations, decorations, food, and activities that will happen at the party, but of course keeping the party simple with a minimal theme will be just as special.

Once you have decided on if your partyshuttefly-invite will have a theme, you may want to announce the party through invitations. zazzle.comshuttefly.com, and paperlesspost.com (for evites) has many cute invitations to go with some of the themes previously mentioned, and they also have a variety of simple designs at reasonable prices.

After the invitations have been sent, thepinata real party planning begins. Of course, the most important part is deciding on which way you are going to find out the gender. Often it is common for the parents-to-be to give their sealed envelope to a baker who will fill the inside of a sweet treat with something blue or pink. But if you are looking to break away from the traditional, the possibilities are endless. Babycenter.com has some fun and unique ideas, especially if there will be asilly-string lot of kids at your party, such as announcing the gender through a silly string fight (with the color of the outside of the can covered by a brown paper bag). This is definitely an affordable and memorable way to learn the gender of your baby. Another fun idea for a kid-friendly party is a gender reveal pinata.

Alternatively, you can open a baby outfit to findpush-pops out. Go to your favorite children’s store and pick out an outfit for a boy and a girl. Hand the sealed envelope to the cashier and have him or her wrap the correct outfit for you while you continue to shop. Balloons are another exciting way to find out. Go to the party store and give the sealed envelope to the cashier. While you are shopping for party decorations, have him or her seal a box with blue or pink balloons. If you want to get your guests more involved in the reveal, you can order Gender Reveal confetti push-pops from etsy.com and watch as blue or pink confetti flies into the air.

While you may find great party decorationscookie-gender in store, there are also some convenient options for ordering online. Be sure to look for awesome decorations, such as balloons, temporary tattoos, banners, and fun games for your guests to play. When you have decided on decorations, you will nearly be done with planning your gender reveal party, but one important decision to make is what kind of food you would like to serve. Some hosts serve food that mom hahersheyss been craving, while others will decorate pink and blue cookies for dessert. I personally love these glam DIY He or She Hershey bars from etsy.com. Another idea we loved courtesy of popsugar.com is to have your guests pour white Kool-aid powder into their water and watch as it changes color to pink or blue.