Archive for the ‘ Toddlers ’ Category

The Most Dangerous Toy

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Scooters are cool, but they’re sending kids to the emergency room. Toy-related accidents increased almost 40 percent between 1990 and 2011, according to a new study in Clinical Pediatrics by researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and foot-powered scooters were the #1 cause of injuries such as lacerations and fractures.

My older daughter had a Razor scooter when they first became popular—even before organizations like Safe Kids Worldwide and the American Academy of Pediatrics had issued safety guidelines. I remember watching her and a friend come speeding down a hill in the park and thinking, “This is an accident waiting to happen.” Fortunately, she never got hurt.

In addition to wearing helmets, kids should be wearing knee pads and elbow pads, urges study senior author Gary Smith, M.D., Dr.P.H., a Parents advisor. However, our editors have noticed that fewer kids are wearing them these days—and the rise in stunt scooters may encourage more dangerous scootering. Any child younger than age 8 needs to be closely supervised when scootering. And parents, if you’re riding with your kids, set a good example and wear a helmet too.

Buy the safety gear you need here. 

It Worked For Me: Safety Solutions
It Worked For Me: Safety Solutions
It Worked For Me: Safety Solutions

Photo via Shutterstock

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Tags: | Categories: Big Kids, Fun, Health, News, Safety, Toddlers

Adopting Older Children: What You Need to Know

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Adopting Older ChildrenNovember is National Adoption Month, and there are over 100,000 children in foster care in the United States alone who are eligible to be adopted. The average age of children waiting for families is 10 years old. However, more often than not, prospective parents bypass older children.

In their new book, Adopting Older Children: A Practical Guide to Adopting and Parenting Children Over Age Four, co-authors Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero, Gloria Russo Wassell, and Victor Groza dispel some of the myths about parenting older adopted children, and delve into both its unique challenges and rewards. Some of the benefits of adopting an older child:

There are typically fewer restrictions compared to adopting an infant. While single prospective parents, lower-income families, same-sex partners, and older couples may face challenges adopting babies, they’re typically much more welcome by public agencies to adopt an older child. Also, while families can wait up to a decade to adopt an infant, older children can be adopted more quickly.

There are trained professionals, adoptive parent support groups, and other help available to guide parents through the unique challenges of adopting an older child. These challenges may include past trauma, grief and loss, attachment issues, and developmental delays. Adoptive parents can feel better knowing that there is an understanding community available to answer their questions and appreciate their concerns. While love may not solve every problem a child might have, the authors contend that with adequate post-placement services, most older child adoptions can succeed.

We’re a Match! 3 Families Share Their Adoption Stories

The cost of adopting older children is considerably less than adopting an infant. Also, many post-placement services and benefits to parents who’ve adopted domestically in the U.S. are free or covered by insurance. These include medical, dental, and vision care; physical or occupational therapy; and tuition reduction. Most older children adopted from the public welfare system come with an adoption subsidy to help meet the child’s needs. There are often reduced fees for intercountry adoption of older children.

Adopting a child of any age can help parents to grow personally and culturally, as well as to make them much-needed advocates for needy children all over the world. This type of growth is influential on all children, but especially adopted children looking for role models.

Image courtesy of New Horizon Press

Adopting a Child with Spina Bifida
Adopting a Child with Spina Bifida
Adopting a Child with Spina Bifida

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Which Age Is Hardest to Parent?

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

I used to think that babies and toddlers were the hardest to parent, with all the sleep deprivation, bodily fluids and baby proofing that come with that age range. It felt like my children were trying really hard to get themselves killed, and we spent our waking hours standing sentinel and worrying that all that stood between my daughters and certain doom was a flimsy plastic cabinet lock. Those were the days of guacamole in the hair and 3 a.m. wakeup calls, but at least we got nap time to recover and get our groove back.

Now that I’m the mom of a tween and an almost tween, I find myself dreaming of those days. Because while the really physical days of parenting are done—no more bending in half and hunching my back for hours over a struggling-to-walk-toddler—parenting an older kid requires tremendous mental fortitude. And I’m not sure I have the skills necessary to survive the next few years. Here’s where I’m falling short:

Scheduling Prowess I need military-level precision to keep track of all the school projects, teacher meetings and extracurriculars—something a girl once voted most disorganized by a jury of her peers simply can’t muster.  I used to be horrified when I read stories of moms using their minivan as a traveling office/dinner table/living room, until my daughters began to fill every day with their various extracurricular passions. And now, my car comes stocked with paper towels, an array of snacks (and used wrappers), and is my regular conference call spot (thank God for Bluetooth!).

Mind Reader My daughter has developed a split personality, as she straddles the precarious line between childhood and adulthood. One minute, she’s begging me to let her watch The Fault in Our Stars—the next, she’s saying that she’s not too old for Sophia the First. And I’m never quite sure whether I’m talking to the grownup or the kiddo, which makes it hard to determine whether any suggestion I make is going to be greeted with a dramatic eye roll and sigh or excited exuberance. It’s hard to find that happy medium, where I’m allowing her to learn and grow, but not learn too much, too fast. So, despite the fact that I hear that every other parent in the fifth grade lets their children Snapchat on cell phones and watch Walking Dead marathons, we’re sticking by our guns.

Peace Maker I simply don’t have the negotiation skills necessary to get my girls to stop the battles and bickering and actually be the loving sisters I know they are, deep, deep (deep) down inside. I’d love to just tell my children to work it out themselves, but that often leads to tears and pain (and not just for me).

Book Smarts I was a straight A student when I was in school, but apparently I killed a lot of brain cells between then and now, or they decided to rewrite the curriculum just to make me look like the village idiot. Either way, there were things in fourth grade math that had me stumped, and I’m frankly a bit nervous about what comes next. I hope my daughters can teach me.

I’ve talked a bit about my struggles with tween parenting with my mom, and she just chuckles. “Wait until they hit the teens,” she says, ominously. “That’s when parenting really gets tough.” I hope I can survive it.

Tell us: Which age was the toughest for you as a parent? Why was that? Keep up with your kiddo through every age and stage through our Parents.com newsletters.

Mom Confessions: My Latest Parenting Fail
Mom Confessions: My Latest Parenting Fail
Mom Confessions: My Latest Parenting Fail

Image: Busy mom by Angela Waye/Shutterstock.com

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These women take mom humor to a new level

Monday, August 18th, 2014

From left, guest Castiglia with the Pump and Dump moms

Social media has made humor a constant undercurrent in the average mom’s day, but it can be beyond therapeutic to get together with real friends “IRL” as my kids would say and watch something funny happen right before your eyes. That’s the beauty of The Pump and Dump show, which a few of us from Parents caught in New York City not long ago. There is something about seeing other moms (and a few brave dads) laughing uncontrollably at the same crazy stuff that you’ve noticed happening in your own life that is very freeing–and more powerful than getting your laughs watching YouTube.

The PND team, Shayna Ferm, a comedian and mother of two, and MC Doula (aka Tracey Tee), mother of one, host an evening packed with inappropriate lyrics set to live music, games (such as a motherhood-themed version of “Never Have I Ever”) and other audience interaction, and often a local guest comic who is also a mom. In New York it was the hilarious Carolyn Castiglia, whose riff on dating as a single mom was upstaged only by her own freestyle rap to audience members’ anonymously contributed confessions of “The Most F—-d Up Thing My Kid Did This Week.” (See a sample of mom confessions here.)

Ferm and her “coach” MC Doula are on tour now, leaving their kids at home in Denver, so join their audience of “breeders” (their words) if you can. Songs include “Eat Your F—ing Food,” and “When I Die, I Want to Come Back as a Dad.”  Yes, the F word features prominently here. I was counting the number of times it was used but was laughing so hard I lost track. Underlying the irreverent lyrics is a message of acceptance for all our many mommy shortcomings and an embrace of all kinds of mom. “We have placenta-eating moms and moms who’ve never even tried a cloth diaper. We just all have to remember that we are doing the best that we can,” Ferm said at one point. Or, to quote her lyrics: “You’re an awesome mom and you’re not alone. You’re doing fine. Just pour yourself a whiskey during bath time.”

Can’t get to Chicago, Mill Valley, or Denver, where the show is playing  this fall? Download the tunes, gather a few friends, decide on a signature cocktail and have a listening party. Keep the tissues handy—you’ll laugh until you cry.

 

Here’s a video from another fun mom, Honest Toddler’s Bunmi Laditan: 

You Know You Have A Toddler When...
You Know You Have A Toddler When...
You Know You Have A Toddler When...

What’s your parenting style? Take our quiz to find out!

 

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College is Just Around the Corner

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Last night I asked my tennis partner, whose daughter is a junior at a private college in the Northeast, how much he was spending on her education. He estimated around $60,000 per year. If that sounds like a shocking figure, just imagine what college will cost in 18 years, when your baby is ready to attend. It’s enough to freeze many new parents into inaction. That’s natural: If you can’t envision saving enough to pay for college, why even try—especially when there are so many other, more-pressing expenses? Besides, you can always worry about college later.

Well, that thinking is wrong. College savings needs to be a priority as soon as your child is born. Socking away even $100 a month could add up to almost $50,000 (assuming a healthy 8 percent return) by the time your newborn is ready to leave the nest. Granted, that’s still only a small chunk of the big bill, but it could make all the difference to your child when the time comes. Keep in mind that you don’t have to fund college entirely on your own. Your could be eligible for financial aid and your child could earn scholarships and be eligible for student loans and work-study programs. So opening a college fund—early—is a vital first step.

That’s the idea behind National 529 College Savings Day, which is set for May 30. It’s designed to raise awareness about the importance of saving for higher education and the many advantages of 529 plans, which are the best way to save for college. This map shows what’s happening in your state. One example: Virginia is offering a $50 match for new accounts as well as a drawing to win a $2,500 bonus for your child’s future.

I won’t bore you with the details of how to choose the right 529 plan or open an account. You can read about it here  and here as well as watch this video.

Save for College
Save for College
Save for College

But I would like to offer these suggestions:

Pick a plan with tax advantages. Granted, not every state offers a credit or a deduction. But if yours does, trust me, you’ll be grateful come April 15.

Set up an automatic deduction. You won’t miss the money as much if it’s being taken out of your paycheck and will be less likely to forestall a contribution from your checking account if you’re forced to budget for it.

Get Grandma and Grandpa to help. Your parents and in-laws want their grandkids to go to college. So don’t be shy about asking them to contribute to your account or open their own in your child’s name. And at birthdays and the holidays, suggest that they give a small present and write a check for his 529.

I’m lucky: My parents believe strongly in education and have been contributing to my kids’ accounts since they came into the world. Even with their efforts, and ours, it’s unlikely our 529s will cover more than half of their tuition. Still, that’s a darn good start.

Create a monthly budget with our spreadsheet.

Baby with mini laptop via Shutterstock

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