Archive of ‘Care’ category

How the Television Temporarily Stole My Kid, and How I Got Her Back

By RaddestMom

Who else is guilty of using the TV as a babysitter? I’ll admit, over the last year, the TV has been on a lot, and my two year old is an iPhone pro. We’ve used to to pacify her in a restaurant when she became too cranky, in the car when she wanted to get out, and pretty much any other time of the day when she would ask for it.

I’m being completely honest when I say the last 5 months had been hell. Her temper tantrums were rampant. Nothing interested her other than snacks and TV. Sophia the First & Octonauts became her BFF’s. I felt insecure when I saw my other friends’ kids doing things, like, coloring, playing with dolls, and building legos. Even though she is outdoors for a minimum of 3 hours a day, I would try every day to get her interested in something fun like an art or science project, and it was usually met with 60 seconds of interest, followed by 30 minutes of defiance, crying, and purposeful naughty behavior. I convinced myself that my child was just going through her terrible 2 phase & that this would pass. She wouldn’t always act like this, and she would eventually get to the point where she wanted to do something imaginative indoors.

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In the beginning of December, after increasingly concerning behavior regarding her attention span, I sought out advice from some other mom friends & asked questions like, “Is your toddler interested in toys? Do they play and entertain themselves? Are they interested in crafts & other fun sensory things?” Some of their answers were yes, some were no. I was ashamed to admit that my 2 1/2 year old had absolutely no interest in doing most of these.

After a horrible 2 weeks of some of the worst temper tantrums and crying fits our household had ever seen, a lightbulb went off. We had attempted several fun holiday outings that most children would be delighted to get to do. We went to see Christmas lights, made s’mores, and hung Christmas decorations. All of these things should be super fun for a toddler. Not for her. She put on a spectacular show of defiance & made sure nobody had any fun at any point. It was there in the car, listening to her crying & screaming in the backseat over christmas music on the radio that my husband and I began to talk about this behavior she’d been displaying over the past few months. We went over her diet and routine a bit before realizing a correlation between the behavior and days she watched the most TV, or when she’d watch TV first thing in the morning. It quickly became apparent that the television had taken our sweet, intelligent, fun little girl hostage & was holding her there in Disney Jr. land until we demanded her back.

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At that point, my husband and I decided we were ditching the TV and phones, effective immediately. I started doing some research on toddlers & what science is saying about the impact of TV on their little brains. In short, toddlers are supposed to be highly sensory, imaginative, curious, and job oriented. Think of their brain as a spark plug. The second they spark it with something imaginative such as building lego’s, the brain ignites & the imagination quickly leads to other things. This is why a healthy toddler can go into a room full of toys, start playing with something, and then pick up another toy and incorporate it into their play. The imagination is like wildfire for them.

The television stunts this process. When a toddler stares at a TV screen for too long, all of these wonderful sparks of imagination come to a complete halt. It causes them to be irritable, confused, angry, unsatisfiable, sleepless, etc. I witnessed literally all of these in my own offspring. When she was at the height of her TV watching, it was only for collectively 1 1/2-2 hours a day. This was enough to send her into an induced state of attention deficit. She never wanted to entertain herself, play with her toys, or do any fun crafts with me…and may I note that this is a kid who goes to the park or some other outdoor activity for 3 hours a day, nearly every day. It doesn’t matter how much outdoor time your kid gets, the TV cancels it out.

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I hear parents say things like, “The tv is so educational these days, it’s good for them.” This is a lie, people. The TV shuts off every avenue of true cognitive learning for a toddler. You have more of an ability to teach your kid something in 60 seconds than the TV has in an hour.

When the TV was no longer used as a source of entertainment for her, in two days time, after many tantrums, I saw a miraculous change. For the first time in her entire 2 1/2 years of existence, my sweet little angel woke up, went straight into her playroom, and started playing with her toys without asking to watch TV, not even once. I saw her pick up a doll & put it in the dollhouse and play with it. She then went over to her play kitchen & started cooking breakfast for me. She started talking more. She started spending over 30 minutes at a time with her toys. Instead of becoming disinterested in an art project after 2 minutes, she now sits for 15 minutes. She asks for her coloring book & colors. She draws me pictures. These are all simple things toddlers should be doing that mine wasn’t doing before. She is now.

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I’m not ashamed of this process. Being a parent means learning through trial and error. I knew the TV wasn’t great for her, but I didn’t realize how much pain and suffering I was causing MYSELF by letting her watch so much. As parents, we think the TV makes our lives easier, and sometimes it does…for a minute. But, the after-effects from it can be catastrophic & cause a major strain in the parent-child relationship. I saw this first hand.

You can undo the temporary attention deficit behavior by simply turning off the TV. I recommend shutting it off cold turkey for one week before even letting them watch at all, later, when they aren’t dependent on it anymore.

Watching TV now is a treat for my daughter, and she is completely aware of it. It is only used when she is sick, and on some nights when it’s late and we have 30 minutes before bed, she asks for “one episode”…because she knows she’s only allowed to watch for a short period of time at the end of the day when she’s played hard. I have seen a significant decrease in temper tantrums. I now have a toddler who has the appropriate attention span for her age. She still does all of the little toddler things that are completely annoying yet totally acceptable for her age, but I no longer see that rearing dragon that is only summoned by excessive TV watching.

I understand that sometimes you need the TV on for 30 minutes while you get that important thing done. The goal is to be able to have your toddler play and entertain himself while you do that, without the TV being on. We are nearly there, and it feels good.

Here are some interesting facts from articles written about this very subject:

  • “Baby Einstein” and “Brainy Baby” series, researchers find that these products may be doing more harm than good. And they may actually delay language development in toddlers.
  • Every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos.
  • Babies learn faster and better from a native speaker of a language when they are interacting with that speaker instead of watching the same speaker talk on a video screen. “Even watching a live person speak to you via television is not the same thing as having that person in front of you,” says Christakis.
  • The more television children watch, the shorter their attention spans later in life. “Their minds come to expect a high level of stimulation, and view that as normal,” says Christakis, “and by comparison, reality is boring.”
  •  “The evidence is suggesting that there’s a whole syndrome of different outcomes related to television viewing, ranging from attention and learning problems to problems related to obesity, aggression, and sleep problems,” he says.
  • Youths who watched three or more hours of television a day were twice as likely to develop attention difficulties than those who watched less than one hour.
  •  “For every hour of television toddlers watch a day, they are ten percent more likely to develop attention problems at school,”
  • Some activities, such as reading together, going to museums, and singing help support a child’s brain development in these critical years, watching television can have the opposite effect.

And here, the most impactful of all the words on this page, the reason why TV causes ADD and ADHD like behavior is because:

“The reason? Most television programming, even some of the educational variety, features quick edits, flashing images and rapid sequences, as opposed to the slower pace of “real life.” “Our attention is broken up because we biologically have a tendency to shift our attention to changing stimuli, so television tends to take advantage of that,” says Johnson. In other words, the rapid pace plays off our instincts to track fast movements, and serves to “hook us” into the program. “But if viewers get dependent on these rapid changes,”says Johnson, “when they turn their attention to something else, like reading a book, their brain might have difficulty staying focused.” Christakis observed a similar tendency in his study of young children. After prolonged exposure to television, which conditions the mind to expect rapid-fire stimulation, he says that “in contrast, reality is boring.”

 

http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1650352,00.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/19/tv-guidelines-for-babies-_n_1019815.html

http://www.education.com/magazine/article/TV_ADHD/

What do you make of all of this? Please share your insights and experiences in the comments!

XO

Lisa O

3 Illnesses Your Child Will Probably Get That Sound Worse Than They Are

By RaddestMom

When I became a mother, I was so hyper vigilant in making sure that I did my best to avoid my child getting sick. I religiously washed my hands, pacifiers, and pretty much everything that touched her. I wouldn’t let certain friends’ kids come over who often had runny noses for fear of Pearl catching whatever pre-school crud was going around. Needless to say, when she got her first cold, I panicked. Fast forward to 3 years later, and my toddler fights off infections and viruses on the regular. Just over the last 2 months she’s been sick 4 times. We’ve been to the doctor more times than I can count, and she’s on even more homeopathic supplements and vitamins than I can remember to give her.

If you’re a first time mom, or are going to be soon, I’m here to tell you that it’s totally normal and OK (dare I say “good”) for kids to get sick. It boosts their immune systems & this is how they regulate their little systems to grow up into healthy adults. We need not panic so much. Here are 3 scary sounding illnesses that most kids get (some you’ve probably never heard of) that really aren’t that scary at all. I had never even heard of a couple of these until I had a child, so you’re not alone!

1. Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease

OHHHHH scarrrryyy! It sounded so bad when it came out of the doctor’s mouth, I teared up. I thought for sure we were doomed to some kind of flesh eating bacteria, and that my child would end up disfigured and spread some awful plague throughout her school. WRONG. HFMD is soooo common in little kids. They are actually in the same family of enteroviruses. Sadly you can get HFMD more than once, and it is generally not as bad in children as it is if an adult or infant catches it (it’s generally worse). The symptoms of this illness are a couple of days of fever, followed by red, cold-sore like bumps in the back of the throat. Some children develop the red bumps on their hands and feet as well. My child only had the bumps in her throat, and one unnoticeable bump on the hand. Nothing ever appeared on her feet. I was cued that something was bothering her throat when she refused to eat or drink anything other than water, and cried when she drank juice or had anything salty. That was pretty much the worst part about it. After a few days, the sore throat mellowed out and that was about as bad as it got. It definitely did not live up to its scary name! Some kids get it worse than others, but it is rarely dangerous. It is most contagious for 7 days, but can remain contagious for longer. Kids can spread it through sharing sippy cups, licking tabletops, and all of the other contaminated things they put in their mouths. The friends I have who’s kids have had HFMD also said it was mellow & nothing particularly grievous. So, if your kid gets this, don’t panic. It’s no worse than some of the colds we’ve experienced in our household.

example of HFM on hands, though it usually does not appear this pronounced.

example of HFM on hands, though it usually does not appear this pronounced.

2. Roseola 

Here’s another one I panicked over. I thought for sure Roseola was a rare, life threatening condition, once again trying to kill off my family. Wrong, again. Roseola is a rather harmless virus that MOST small children develop at some point (some, multiple times). All of my friends’ babies have had it before the age of two. This strange little virus starts off as a high fever for 2-3 days, generally with no other symptoms. After the fever breaks, a crew of tiny, red bumps appear all over the torso of the child. They last for a few days and then go away. The only worrisome part of this virus is the high fever. My daughter’s fever got pretty high in the first couple days, but don’t worry, you can bring it down with infant tylenol & ibuprofen. Once the fever passes, the rash that appears is pretty much painless and itch-free for the child. It looks scary but the child doesn’t even notice it, usually. Roseola is contagious during the fever portion, not whenever the rash is visible. Roseola spreads through tiny drops of fluid from the nose and throat of infected people, meaning other kids can catch it pretty easily through sneezing, laughing, touching, etc. Still, it is not a disease to be frightened of.

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Roseola Rash

3. Chicken Pox

While the other two may remain new to you, everyone knows what chicken pox is. Most of us have had it. Almost everyone has had chicken pox by adulthood, though it is most common in children. CP is most mellow in children over the age of 3. It is more complicated & severe in infants, adults, and those with compromised immune systems. It is highly contagious, which is why most of the time, when one kid gets it, some of the children in his or her class as well as siblings will contract it if they haven’t had it before. The Varicella vaccine is for the prevention of chickenpox, though not everyone gets it. It starts out with a fever & then the blisters appear on the skin. By far, the worst part is the severe itching, so soothing oatmeal baths, essential oils, and calamine lotion are usually used to calm the skin. It is best not to scratch the bumps. It is most contagious the day before the rash appears. Once you have chicken pox, you usually don’t get it again. Most kids with chicken pox live to tell the tale of their week on the couch watching tv, eating popsicles, and getting lots of love and attention. I still remember when I had it as a kid. It was a week of being treated like the only child (even though I was the youngest of 4)!! Oh, the pampering!

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Chicken pox

**note: I understand that on a case by case basis, some of these diseases can be bad, but I’m giving a general perspective of the majority of well children who contract them**

XO

Lisa O

Flying With Babies! Raddest Mom’s Travel Tips

By RaddestMom

As you can imagine, we do a lot of traveling. We’ve been on some pretty long plane rides, up to 12 hours. I’ve learned some do’s & don’ts over the last couple of years of traveling with an infant and now toddler, and I’m willing to share all the info. Traveling with a small child is basically a few hours of distraction on your part. You have to have a bag full of tricks at your disposal, and pray to all that is holy that your kid takes a nap at some point (pearl usually falls asleep during the landing.) Here are some hacks to help you get through these possibly tough times.

1. Don’t worry about over-sized liquids for baby including milk, water & baby food. TSA will test the vapors & let you through security with them. The 3 ounce rule does not apply.

I learned this because Pearl’s formula was home made and liquid only. I didn’t have powdered formula, so I was quite worried. Called TSA & they explained that any liquid baby products or food were allowed through, they just test the vapors on top of the liquid, or make you take a sip of it to prove its authenticity.

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2. Pack 3x as much baby food or formula than you think you need.

You’ll want to give the baby your breast, pacifier, or a bottle during take off and landing, even if they don’t drink the whole thing. Sucking on something during these times greatly reduces ear pressure.  The other bottle is for when the baby is actually hungry. If your flight is long, you may want to pack 4 or 5 servings of milk & food. Food can become a great tool to cure boredom & restlessness.

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3. Pack LOTS of diapers & a change of clothes incase baby has a diaper blowout

For some reason, my child always finds a way to have a massive blow out every time I’m caught without a change of clothes. She’s famous in our family for it. Bring more diapers than you think you need, obviously, but don’t forget that extra pair of pants!

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4. Pack a changing pad for the bathroom

I normally didn’t carry these with me everywhere, but airplane bathrooms are small & the pull down changer is hard and likely very dirty. Pearl would freak out when I’d try to put her on the hard surface. I started traveling with one of those soft roll-up pads. I love the memory foam roll-up ones by “Ah Goo Baby”.

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5. Pack a buffet of snacks, including emergency candy

If your kid is old enough to eat snacks, pack a lot of them. On our most recent trip I brought 7 different types of snacks. My husband thought I was insane, but she (and he) ate nearly all of them. She would get bored & I would introduce a new snack. She would pick at it, and it would buy me some time to think of a new activity for her. I also keep an emergency piece of candy in the bag incase of a total meltdown. In those cases, it’s not for her, it’s for the poor people around us who have to hear her have a tantrum. Nothing stops an unprovoked meltdown like a piece of chocolate.

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6. Charge your iPad and fully download every show, movie, and toddler app you want BEFORE getting to the airport

Airplanes, even if they have wi-fi, are famous for having super slow speed when it comes to the internet. You can’t stream anything up there, and there’s nothing worse than your kid having a meltdown because Peppa Pig is skipping & only downloaded half way.

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7. Enable Guided Access as a CHILD LOCK on the iPhone and iPad to prevent kids from pressing home button & volume control

This changed my life. Go into your settings—>general—>accessibility—>and scroll down to “guided access” and turn it “on”. Now your ready to set up the lock. By clicking the “home” button 3 times in a row, a passcode entry should show up. Set your pass code & then hit “start” guided access. Now try and press the home key or any other button. It doesn’t work :) To unlock, triple click the home button again and enter the passcode to turn it off. You’re welcome!

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8. Download kids’ books on a smart device rather than bringing heavy children’s books

If your kid likes books like mine does, you could easily get stuck bringing 10 heavy books in your diaper bag. When we’re home, Pearl reads her physical books, but when we travel, she reads them on the iPad. You can download most of the ones you have on iBooks.

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9. If you’re bringing your carseat on the plane, get one of these:

One of our favorite purchases as parents so far. Strap the carseat to the cart & it turns into a stroller. Pearl always has her own seat now that she’s two, and this really makes car-seat traveling a heck of a lot easier.

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10. Check your stroller at the gate instead of with the bags

If you’re not bringing a car seat on the plane, and you don’t want to carry your child through the airport in an Ergo baby or Bjorn, take your stroller with you to the gate. As you get on the plane, they will take it from you and put it in the plane last minute. When you leave the aircraft, they will take it out for you & this only takes a couple of minutes. When we don’t fly with the car seat, we usually do this & it saves us from having to carry a wiggly two year old around the airport.

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11. Use a baby carrier to get small infants through security & also go through metal detector

You’ll need 2 hands to get all of your explosive, I mean, non-explosive laptops and cameras out of your bag and into the trays. Keep the Bjorn or Ergo strapped to you and just put the baby in it. You can even walk through the metal detector with the baby strapped to you. They’ll just swab your hands real quick to check for explosive residue and what not, no need to be alarmed.

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12. Make a copy of child’s birth certificate and keep it in your bag

Most airlines are not too suspicious of children under two, but incase you have to PROVE your kid is under two, and that they are traveling for free because of this, you’ll at least have some proof in paper form.

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13. Ignore the haters who are un-sympathetic towards children 

There will be people giving you dirty looks when your kid cries, but as my husband likes to say, “We were all babies who screamed and annoyed people at some point.” Don’t let anyone’s grandiose attitude affect you or your family. Babies cry, and people will get over it!

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XO

Lisa O

Best Kid’s Lunchbox EVER!

By RaddestMom

Tired of losing lids to tupperware and having to pack a bunch of different containers for your kids’ lunches? Look no further….PlanetBox is a game changer. A friend of mine recommended these and I am extremely happy with the purchase. They are stainless steel lunch boxes that look a bit like prison trays, but they come with a cute little carrying bag. A bit pricey at between $40-$60 for varying styles, but hear me out on why it’s worth it. For one, you don’t have to buy ANY other containers because this can hold everything. Two, the lid is attached, so you won’t ever lose it. Three, there is no BPA leaching in stainless steel like the plastic containers do. It doesn’t stain if you put spaghetti in it, and you can literally use it for years. It comes with a cup holder and condiment pouch. As a mom, I’m thrilled about it. Added bonus is how aesthetically pleasing and organized your kids’ lunches look. Being as OCD as I am, well, it really tickles my fancy. Get one HERE at their website or you can also order on Amazon.

Pearl’s packed lunch for her first day of school!:

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XO

Lisa O

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