Archive for the ‘ Babies ’ Category

Kids of All Ages Want You to Read to Them

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Once your child can read by herself—especially if she has to read independently for 15 or 30 minutes each night for homework—you might figure she doesn’t really need you to read aloud to her anymore. Maybe it’s harder to find the time, or she seems too old for bedtime stories. However, kids ages 6 to 11 wish their parents read to them more often, according to a new study from Scholastic.

The study found that 54% of children ages under age 5 are read aloud to at home five to seven days a week, as compared to only 34% of kids ages 6 to 8 and 17% of kids ages 9 to 11. Nearly one in four parents stopped reading to their child entirely by the time she was 9. However, 86% of 6- to 8-year-olds and 84% of 9- to 11-year-olds (and even 80% of 12- to 14-year-olds) said they either liked or loved being read to.

I’ve got nothing against Ivy and Bean, but the truth is that sometimes the books at your child’s reading level just aren’t as interesting as ones that are a bit too hard for her to tackle on her own.

For the last few years, I have been reading to my daughter, now 10, while she eats breakfast. One reason I started this routine was just to distract her so she’d sit still and eat, but it has really helped her get her more excited about books. And I’ve been able to introduce her to titles she might not have chosen on her own. “Sometimes it’s easier and more fun to listen to a book than to read it yourself,” she told me today.

Ten minutes at a time, we read all three of The Land of Stories books, by Chris Colfer, for example, and she’s recommended them to all her friends. The cover of E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan (one of my childhood favorites) looked boring to her, but I insisted we give it a try, and she loved it. Although she’d read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by herself, she got scared when she started reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was less scary when I read it to her, and I’m hoping that she’ll go back to finish the rest of the series on her own. Since she had enjoyed reading Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind on her own, we’re now reading Stella by Starlight, the author’s newest book about a North Carolina girl’s encounter with the Ku Klux Klan in the 1930s. It’s already sparked a lot of discussion.

Part of me wonders whether I’m robbing her of the opportunity to read these great books on her own, but maybe she’ll go back and read them again someday. Right now, I feel lucky that I can share the experience of reading them with her.

Diane Debrovner is the deputy editor of Parents and the mother of two daughters.

Image via Shutterstock

3 Things to Help Kids Read
3 Things to Help Kids Read
3 Things to Help Kids Read

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Birth Stories: The Joy and Angst of ’40 Weeks’

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Pre-motherhood I didn’t want to hear the details of anyone’s birth; I definitely preferred to cut to the “everyone’s doing fine” ending—which is the birth-story equivalent of “happily ever after.” Details about length of labor and strength of pushing were TMI and, I thought, greatly exaggerated to scare people away from parenthood.

Of course, now that I’ve birthed two babies I simply can’t get over the fact that women do this every minute of every day. And I’ve become one of those people who will not only listen to a birth story, but press for details. Wait, what time did you feel the first twinge? How dilated were you when the doctor showed up? My own births were fairly standard, but I still wrote the full story of my daughter’s birth and would talk about it or my son’s subsequent (and very similar) birth for hours if you let me.

If you feel the same, and you’ve already streamed all the episodes of “A Baby Story” that you can, there’s a documentary movie being released called 40 Weeks that I recommend. It follows more than a dozen women on the path from pregnancy test to pushing and manages to capture so much joy and angst, it really is a wonder to see. And there’s lots of payoff with the real births at the end! You can check for a screening in your area, or, starting March 1, download it from iTunes for $14 or buy the DVD for $17. Here’s the trailer!

The movie is sponsored: Cord Blood Registry, Mederma skincare, and others helped fund it—so expect some product plugs. But I really loved how candid and honest all of the parents are in the film, and how they don’t shy away from describing the craziness of pregnancy and unpredictability of birth. There are a lot of good stories in it; some of them are sure to remind you of yours—or prepare you for what’s to come!
Jessica Hartshorn is the Entertainment Editor at Parents and the Senior Lifestyle Editor at American Baby, where she is literally paid to talk about pregnancy, birth, and babies all day.

Birth Stories:
Birth Stories:
Birth Stories: "My Water Broke..."

Image: 40 Weeks


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Is Your Home as Safe as You Think?

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Nearly 9 million children end up in the emergency room each year.

Roughly 8,000 children die each year from unintentional injuries.

In fact, preventable injuries are the leading cause of death for children in the U.S.

And among children up to 12 years old, their injuries often happen at home.

This is what prompted Nationwide Insurance to embark on an ambitious campaign called Make Safe Happen. The goal is simple: to reduce the number of preventable injuries in and around the home. Through the web site and free app—both called Make Safe Happen—parents and caregivers can learn exactly how their child is at risk. Both methods are impressively user-friendly; you can sort the info based on your child’s age, the various parts of your home and yard, and injury types.

One of the most helpful features of the app is the product recommendations. Say you’re looking at a checklist of steps to take to make your toddler’s bedroom safer: Among them will be to install window locks and guards. In addition to the tip, you’ll be prompted to immediately shop for the items and can be directed straight to Amazon to buy them.

Also key: Automatic reminders imported into your calendar, which are perfect for precautions like testing your smoke alarms every month and replacing their batteries.

All of the information has been created and vetted by experts from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and Safe Kids Worldwide in Washington, D.C. Among the main contributors was Lara B. McKenzie, Ph.D., principal investigator for the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s—and mother of 3-year-old triplets! (I’m exhausted simply typing that phrase.) Though she’d already been working in the injury-research field by the time she became a mom, motherhood is what really brought this issue to life, she says: “In my professional world, we’re always asking how we can get parents to adopt countermeasures to prevent home-related injuries. When my kids were born, I thought, ‘Why do we have to make it so hard?’ And this is the idea behind the app: I’m standing in my kitchen, and I know I need to lock the cabinets. But what kind of locks do I need? I need to secure my TV to the wall—but what kind of straps should I buy? We’re answering those questions for parents. We’re telling them about the hazards, as well as the products that can reduce the consequences.”

I blogged just the other day about parents who go to incredible lengths—true extremes—to keep their children safe. It would seem I’m being hypocritical, following that up with a post about how dangerous our homes can be. But the reality is this: If you’ve taken the proper precautions around your home, with help from resources like the Make Safe Happen site and app, and if you’re aware (not hyperaware!) of what your child is up to, then you’ve done right by your child.

Kara Corridan is the health director at Parents. She has two young daughters and needs the Make Safe Happen app more than she cares to admit.

Babyproofing Your Home: Kitchen
Babyproofing Your Home: Kitchen
Babyproofing Your Home: Kitchen

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Being Smart About Antibiotics

Monday, January 12th, 2015

I’ve been battling my annual cold that morphs into a nagging cough. Although I wish could take antibiotics and be done with it, I know they won’t really have any effect on the virus that made me sick. Similarly, whenever my daughter has a bad sore throat and I take her to the doctor, I admit that I kinda hope she does have strep throat—because then we’ll get a treatment that works and she’ll be healthy enough to go back to school in 24 hours.

However, pediatricians prescribe more than 11 million unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics each year for children and teens who have viral ear and upper respiratory infections, according to a study from the University of Utah. It’s not because they’re bad doctors, but more likely because parents are eager to give their kids antibiotics just in case they might help.

The problem, of course, is that they can also cause harm: Overuse of antibiotics has led to a scary increase in antibiotic resistance. One way this may happen: When you take antibiotics for a viral infection, the antibiotic attacks other (healthy) bacteria in your body, and can promote antibiotic-resistant properties that are then shared with other bacteria, say experts at the Mayo Clinic. Another factor: Not finishing an entire course of prescribed antibiotics. Let’s say your kid does have a bacterial infection but feels better on day 4 and hates the taste of the medicine. You might figure she doesn’t need to take it for a week. But this can leave lingering bacteria that become stronger and multiply.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause at least 2 million illnesses each year and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. (The situation is even more serious in other countries; this article about the epidemic of antibiotic-resistant infections in newborns in India is heartbreaking.) Last fall, the federal government launched a new national strategy to combat resistance, which includes tracking infections to try to slowing their spread, and also supporting research. Part of the problem is that developing new types of antibiotics has not been a priority for drug companies.

I was grateful to read the news that smart scientists are doing the nitty-gritty research needed to dig up—literally—new antibiotics. As reported in the journal Nature, researchers at Northeastern University have discovered a new way to extract antibiotics from bacteria that live in dirt. Animal studies suggest that that the novel antibiotic they found has a unique ability to resist resistance.

For now, if you or your kids have a cold, home remedies and TLC are your best bet. (My new favorite tea is Stash Lemon Ginger.) If a cold lasts longer than two weeks, it makes sense to check in with your doctor because it might be caused by something else. In fact, a chronic cough is one of the most common reasons why children see the doctor.

Take our quiz to test your cold and flu IQ.

Diane Debrovner is the deputy editor of Parents and the mother of two daughters who’ve frequently had coughs, croup, and strep throat, but not one ear infection. You can follow her on Twitter @ddebrovner.

What Does Whooping Cough Sound Like?
What Does Whooping Cough Sound Like?
What Does Whooping Cough Sound Like?

photo via Shutterstock

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Tags: | Categories: Babies, Big Kids, Health, News, Safety

Having a Baby? Here Are Smart Ways to Save…

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Pregnant woman with piggy bankEllie Kay, a Moms Money Clinic advisor for Parents, guest blogs regularly to answer mail about money issues. Today she’s helping expectant parents navigate the challenges of preparing for a baby.

Q. We are expecting our first child, and it seems like it’s more expensive than ever to raise a baby. What are some creative ways we can prepare for the new addition and try to stretch our “baby bucks?”

 A. I understand how concerned you are about rising expenses. It costs more than $245,000 to raise a child to age 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And for new parents, the diapers, clothing, furniture, stroller, car seat, and other necessities can really add up. One thing that helps: Making the most of a baby shower. Chances are your hostess will ask for a “wish list,” and that’s where you can choose wisely.

 • Be fashionable First, take inventory of what infant clothing you have and what you really need. Don’t be shy about asking for different size clothing starting with 3 to 6 months. Your newborn might not even fit into the tiny 0 to 3 month clothing (our youngest started out in 6 to 9 month outfits). Pick up a few of the smallest sizes from garage sales so you’ll have a supply on hand.

 • Be specific It’s not self-serving to ask for the exact baby things you want. A good hostess will ask you for a list and include your requests on the invitation. Most people appreciate knowing what to get.

Be prompt on returns After your baby arrives, people will ask how they can help. If you didn’t have a chance to return and exchange baby clothes, or if your child is a different gender than you expected, ask a friend to run this errand for you. She can get you a gift certificate, and then you can purchase the exact size and style your child needs. I once received two outfits that were too small and cost $45 each. By shopping the sales after returning them, I was able to buy 12 outfits.


 Q. We are having twins and are considering a nanny for the first year. What do I need to know about the tax issues in hiring someone?

A. Congratulations on twice the blessings! I always wanted twins, but my husband said that after seven Kay kids, twins were not a part of our future. If you plan to employ a nanny, you’ll need to add up all the costs and talk to your tax professional. Keep in mind that it can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 per year—and in some cases, the taxes can cost almost as much as the salary itself.

You’ve no doubt heard the buzz about the various nanny taxes that employers are required to remit to the government. You may be tempted to avoid paying these in the hope of cutting costs. Don’t. If you get caught, you may find yourself on the hook for your share of back taxes, the nanny’s share, plus penalties and interest. If you pay an employee more than $1900 per year, you are considered a household employer. If that’s the case, go here to learn about how to keep her “on the books.” Good luck!

Ellie KayEllie Kay is a family financial expert, the author of The 60-Minute Money Workout, and a mom of seven. Read more of her advice at


Baby Shower Games: Baby Shower Bingo
Baby Shower Games: Baby Shower Bingo
Baby Shower Games: Baby Shower Bingo

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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