Archive for Parenting

How to Stop Grocery Store Meltdowns

How to Stop Grocery Store Meltdowns  | @bloommaternityWhile ordering your groceries online and having them delivered is certainly one option for moms who want to avoid incurring a grocery store meltdown when their toddler is in tow, in reality, that’s not always the most practical grocery shopping solution. Fortunately, with a little advance planning and preparation, people will be staring at your toddler because he’s so well-behaved instead of gawking at him for tipping over the candy display in aisle four because he wants candy now.

The key to avoiding a grocery store meltdown is to prepare to prevent one. Taking overtired, hungry toddlers to the grocery store is setting him up for a meltdown. Grocery stores are stimulating places. There’s so much to touch, see and hear and it can be really hard for toddlers to keep their hands to themselves – even when they are at the top of their game. Developmentally, toddlers are at a stage where exploration is how they learn and experience their world. They want to see, touch and hear everything. Timing your trip to the store when your toddler is well-rested and well-fed will reduce the likelihood of a meltdown.

The next most important thing you can do to prevent a grocery store meltdown is to lay out the expectations you have for your child in advance. “We are going into the grocery store. We are getting dinner foods. We are not getting candy. I need you to walk beside me and not touch items on the shelves.” Only when your children know your expectations can they live up to them. Telling your child to be good isn’t good enough. Providing clear and concrete expectations will help your child understand what you expect him to do while in the store.

Telling your toddler what he can do is just as important as telling him what he can’t do. “While we’re at the store I need you to drive the car.” “I need you to look for carrots.” “I’ll need you to help carry the box of crackers.” Assigning your toddler manageable tasks will help him be invested in ensuring the trip is a success.

Offering a motivator is another way you can decrease the likelihood of a meltdown.  Offering up an “If you don’t touch things on the shelves, when we are finished shopping we will stop at the playground for a bit” will go a long way in facilitating cooperation. Consider your toddler’s currency. What does he love most? Playing outside? Getting a special treat? Spending one-on-one time with you? Figure out what motivates him most and offer a motivator that speaks to his head and heart.

Following through is key to sending the message you mean what you say and you say what you mean. If you offer your child a motivator, be prepared to deliver. If you threaten to leave your cart and walk out the grocery store if he touches something on the shelf one more time, be prepared to pick him up and  head out. Empty threats won’t fool your child. Once he knows you won’t follow through be prepared to be tested.

Going to the grocery store doesn’t have to be a horrendous experience. In fact, it can be pretty stress-free if you set yourself and your toddler up for success. And if you find it’s not, there’s always Peapod or your local online grocery delivery service.

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10 Reasons Why Some Kids Aren’t Ready for Kindergarten

10 Reasons Why Some Kids Aren't Ready for Kindergarten | @BloomMaternityStarting kindergarten is one of the biggest milestones in a young child’s life, both for the child and his parents. For kids who have never attended daycare and were not enrolled in preschool, kindergarten can mark the first time he ventures into the world and takes the first steps along a long road towards independence. While most kids start kindergarten at around five years old, there are those who simply aren’t ready to start school when the time rolls around. These are 10 of the most common reasons for delayed kindergarten readiness.

  1. He Has a Late Birthday – Depending on when your child’s birthday is and where it falls in relation to the cut-off date for kindergarten enrollment in your school district, your child could potentially be one of the youngest members of his class and, as such, not quite ready for the rigors of school. Social readiness is also an important factor in determining kindergarten readiness.
  2. She Didn’t Go to Preschool – Kindergarten has changed quite dramatically over the years, and is no longer dedicated to singing songs or taking naps. These days letter and color recognition, basic counting and even early mathematics and pre-reading skills are required to be considered ready for kindergarten. If your child didn’t attend preschool, she may not be quite ready for the demanding atmosphere of kindergarten.
  3. He’s Developmentally Different – Some developmental differences begin to present themselves around the time a child would begin kindergarten, which is one of the reasons why some parents are surprised to find that their little one isn’t quite ready. If you suspect that your child is developmentally different, discussing your concerns with his doctor can help you determine what your next step should be.
  4. She Was Born Prematurely – Premature babies can lag a bit behind their peers developmentally, even as late as kindergarten. According to a study by the University of Nottingham published in the New England Journal of Medicine, up to 52% of prematurely born children experienced developmental delays at age two, with many prematurity-related problems not showing up until the age of five.
  5. He Struggles With Behavioral Problems – Kids who have difficulty controlling their behavior may struggle to adhere to the rules of a kindergarten classroom, especially if he has little experience with a classroom setting. Your child’s behavioral differences can affect his kindergarten readiness and may require a bit of special attention.
  6. She Has a Physical Disability – Public schools are required by Federal law to make allowances for children with special needs, but a physically disabled child may simply not be ready for the relatively demanding schedule of kindergarten when other children her age are starting school.
  7. He Has Speech Problems – One of the areas in which many kindergarten screening tests look for kindergarten readiness is in regards to verbal skills and speech ability. A child who struggles to speak, isn’t verbal at all or has a severe speech impediment may require a bit of extra time before he starts school with his peers.
  8. She Isn’t Fully Potty Trained – Legally, public school districts are not allowed to turn away a student based on their lack of potty training. Still, the humiliation that can accompany regular accidents in front of her classmates may keep your child from thriving. If she’s not potty trained and kindergarten enrollment is approaching, you may need to consult with a pediatrician for advice.
  9. He Can’t Focus On a Given Task – Some kids simply can’t focus on a task they’ve been given. Whether it’s due to attention deficit disorder or developmental differences, a child who isn’t able to focus at all may require special attention in order to thrive in kindergarten.
  10. She Suffers From Severe Separation Anxiety – Most kids who suffer from separation anxiety during the first few days of kindergarten learn to overcome it. An incapability to shake separation anxiety or severe emotional distress can point to more complicated emotional differences, however, which may need to be evaluated by a medical professional before she attends school.

It’s important to remember that at such a young age, most children are developing at their own pace and may not reach milestones at the same time as their peers. Delayed kindergarten readiness isn’t always an indicator of developmental differences that will set your child apart throughout his academic career. Remember how important it is to be patient with your child and help him reach developmental milestones at his own pace.

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10 Reasons Kids Should Sleep in Their Own Beds

10 Reasons Kids Should Sleep in Their Own Beds | @BloomMaternityIt’s the middle of the night and you’re awakened by a sleepy-eyed child mumbling something about monsters under the bed. Then comes the request, “Can I get in bed with you?” At this point, you have three options. Say no, turn over and try to ignore the whining and tears that will inevitably follow, take the little darling back to her room and assure her that there are no monsters and risk having to spend the next hour or so cramped in a bed made for munchkins or toss back the covers and hope you don’t get kicked in the back too much as you invite your little visitor in.

Once in a while this might be okay, but on a regular basis, sleeping with the kids gets old fast. Even though different cultures may view co-sleeping differently, there are several reasons why kids should sleep in their own beds.

  1. Keeping it Safe – When it comes to infants, sleeping with your child can be dangerous. There have been cases where a parent has inadvertently smothered their baby by rolling over on the child during sleep. While it may be convenient to keep baby in bed for feeding, it is best to put him back in his crib or bassinet afterward.
  2. Get Some Sleep! – Yes, Mom and Dad, this means you! It may seem like it’s worse to let your child cry herself to sleep every night, however, with proper sleep training, it won’t be an every night experience. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need at least seven hours of sleep. The ramifications of sleep deprivation are not pretty and will definitely have adverse effects on other areas of life. Starting off the day as a grumpy parent is just one of them.
  3. Making Sure Your Child Gets Enough Sleep – On one hand, it may seem like he’s getting a wonderful night’s sleep while you are wrestling the covers back from him or taking his elbows and feet out of your side. On the other hand, consider that your child may be having a difficult time getting to sleep in the first place and is then waking up in the middle of the night to come to your room. He probably is not getting the quantity or quality of sleep he needs either. Now there’s a grumpy kid in the house to contend with along with a grumpy parent.
  4. Setting Much-Needed Boundaries – Sharing a bed with the little one is a game most parents play reluctantly, but they get coerced into playing by children who simply don’t want to sleep alone. These kids figured out that if they play their cards just right, they will be able to work their way into Mom’s and Dad’s bed and sleep there cozy comfortable all night, thus demolishing any boundaries parents have managed to set.
  5. Avoiding Co-Sleeping Stigma for Kids – For older kids, sleeping with parents can be a source of embarrassment and shame. Toddlers don’t have peers that will humiliate them for sleeping with their parents. School-aged children are susceptible to all kinds of ridicule from peers, and the older they are the worse it can get.
  6. Establishing a Firm Routine – Part of setting boundaries for kids is having a regular routine. The routines establish a framework that kids come to rely on. They know what to expect and they know that the rules will be enforced. This is especially important for children who require more structure.  Having a regular bedtime routine gets your child prepared for entering a good night’s sleep. It can also be a quiet time of bonding for you and your child, making co-sleeping unnecessary.
  7. Maintaining Your Own Privacy – You have a right to privacy in your bedroom. Night visitors can spoil romantic interludes and once the mood is broken, sometimes it can be difficult to get it back. It’s virtually impossible if your night visitor is there to stay!
  8. Helping Your Child Learn to Self-Soothe – If your child becomes dependent on sharing your bed in order to sleep properly, what happens when you cannot be there? There may be times when circumstances arise in which you will not be available to sleep with your little one. It is far better for your child to learn to sleep in her own bed than to have to worry about how she will get to sleep when you’re not there to sleep with her.
  9. Helping Your Child to Embrace Growing Up – In many homes, the arrival of the big kid’s bed is a quite a big deal. It signals a rite of passage in a way. It’s the movement from babyhood to being a big boy. Helping your child see this as a positive, important step in growing up and encouraging him to sleep in his own bed will help him in his discovery of autonomy. With your encouragement, he will also feel very proud of himself for taking on the challenges of being a big kid and learning to sleep alone.
  10. Avoiding a Crowd – When one child becomes accustomed to sleeping with you, the rest of your brood could easily follow suit. You could find yourself with a very crowded bed and a lot of sleepless nights, or children that feel excluded because they’re not in on the slumber party.

Sleep training at an early age can lead the way to restful sleep for you and your tot. There will, of course, be times when your presence is called for out of compassion for your youngster. Consoling your cherub in the face of night terrors, bad dreams or monsters in the closet and cuddling with your little one till he falls asleep is therapeutic and comforting. For the long haul though, and for your own peace of mind and cheery disposition and that of your child, everyone should sleep in their own bed.

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How to Decide Between Public and Private Elementary School

In some markets, a parent is having to decide where their child will go to school as soon as they are born. More and more schools have waiting lists starting from preschool on up.

Choosing between enrolling your child in public school and providing him with a private education is a big decision, and one that isn’t an easy one to make. There are benefits and drawbacks to both options, so it’s important to weigh each one carefully to determine which environment is best for your child. Because this choice can have such far-reaching implications and affects both the immediate and long-term future of your child, it’s one that can’t be taken lightly. Before making your decision, it’s wise to take the time to consider the following points:

How to Decide Between Public and Private Elementary School | @BloomMaternity

  • Spiritual Versus Secular Education – If your family is very religious, the idea of a curriculum that draws heavily on your spirituality and places an emphasis on spiritual instruction may be one of the most appealing aspects of a private school. Because these things cannot legally be part of a public school’s curriculum, this can play a large role in the decision that parents ultimately make. In smaller cities and rural areas, religious schools can often be the only option for private education.
  • Cultural Diversity – Most private schools are far less culturally and racially diverse than public schools, and will almost exclusively house children who come from a similar socioeconomic and cultural background to that of your own child. For some parents, this lack of diversity can be off-putting, so you should consider this aspect of private education before making your decision. If it’s important to you that your children’s peers come from a wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, a private school may not be the best choice for you and your family. Keep in mind, however, that this is far from being a hard and fast rule. When you visit a private school, ask about the level of diversity there. You may be surprised by what you learn.
  • Economic Feasibility – Private schools can be very expensive, even on the lower end of the spectrum. You may find that it puts a bigger economic strain on your household than you anticipate, leaving your family struggling to afford tuition. Some private schools have scholarship programs in place for academically outstanding children, which can make the costs more manageable. On the same token, just because you can afford private school doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best option for your family. It’s best to make your decision based largely on other factors, but the financial implications shouldn’t be completely ignored.
  • Parental Involvement – Private schools typically expect parents to be more actively involved in their children’s education and to periodically volunteer for special activities. It’s important to consider how much involvement you would like to have in your child’s classroom education and to then choose a school that’s an appropriate match.
  • Special Programs – A child with special needs may have those needs better met in a private school that focuses on special education, but he may also be more suited to a public school environment if there are no dedicated private schools in his area. Because public schools are required by law to provide classes and assistance that private schools do not, a public education may ultimately be the best choice for him since there are often more resources and services. Kids who require special attention in the form of advanced classes and gifted programs, however, may do better in a private school with a curriculum designed for high-performing students.
  • Safety and Security – In areas that have a particularly high crime rate or a history of violence in their public schools, a private school may be a safer, less threatening environment. Kids who are frequently bullied in public school will often be so distracted that their academic performance suffers, but may thrive in a private school environment where smaller class sizes make it easier for staff to monitor such situations.

There are rules that are set in stone for determining which school a child should attend. Because every child is different, each situation must be considered individually. Taking all of these factors into account can help you make the right decision for your child and your family as a whole.

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8 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Medications for Kids

8 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Medications for Kids | @BloomMaternityHealth care costs are soaring higher every year, and as they do many American workers are watching their health insurance coverage simultaneously diminish. In this economic environment, many families are forced to find ways to cut medical costs wherever and however they can. Consider these eight ways to reduce the cost of their kids’ medications.

  1. Generic Alternatives – Any medication that your child might need will almost always have a generic equivalent that can be substituted for the name brand version at a cheaper cost. Ask your child’s doctor or pharmacist if going generic is an option.
  2. Start with Samples – You don’t necessarily have to buy an entire month’s worth of medication that’s been prescribed for your child all at once, especially if there isn’t a specific medical need for that much. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if they have any free sample packs.
  3. Buy in Bulk – On the flip side, if you’ve been prescribed a medication for your child that you expect she will need for an extended period of time, try buying a 3-month vs. a 1-month supply. Medications are often cheaper per dose in larger quantities.
  4. Larger Dosage Sizes – Another way of reducing your per-dose expenses is to buy a larger dosage size than the prescription and then split the pills to match the prescribed dosage. Here again, the larger pills are often cheaper per milligram than the smaller versions. You’ll need your doctor’s permission before going that route and the medication needs to be conducive to easy splitting.
  5. Shop Around – Like everything else, prices vary for medications. For instance, Wal-Mart pharmacies have a $4 prescription plan for 30-day supplies, and $10 for 90 days’ worth. Sometimes referred to as a 4/10 plan, this doesn’t require insurance. You can find a list of medications and available doses here. Ask your pharmacist if they’ve got a 4/10 plan.
  6. Mail Order – This is rapidly increasing in popularity as a means for purchasing prescription drugs at a discount. You can find deals for a 3-month supply of a prescription that for the cost of only one co-pay.
  7. Coupons – Yes, drugs have them too. You may be able to get them from your doctor or find them online. Check the website of the drug’s manufacturer too. You can save a bundle with coupons.
  8. Discount Cards – Certain groups and organizations offer memberships which afford their members discounts on certain products. You may already have a means to save on your child’s medications right there in your wallet, next to your hard-earned cash.

You don’t have to resign yourself to high medication costs. Instead, try to find different ways where you can reduce the price. Health care coverage may be diminishing, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to stay healthy.

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Ways to Teach Your Child to Call 911

Ways to Teach Your Child to Call 911 | @BloomMaternityPreparing your child to act calmly under unthinkable circumstances is a scary and disheartening responsibility, but it is an essential one. Ensuring that your little ones are equipped to properly handle an emergency situation at a young age gives them the ability to reach out for assistance when they need it most, even when you’re not available to point them in the right direction. Teaching small children how to reach emergency services is less of a practical challenge and more of an emotional one, though there are some ways to simplify the process even further to make sure that they gain this much-needed skill.

Work on Critical Information

Emergency dispatchers can trace a call to determine a child’s location if they’re too shaken up to provide their address or aren’t quite sure what it is. Knowing their full names, your name, their address and telephone number makes the dispatcher’s job much easier. If your household is among the increasing number of American families that don’t maintain landline telephones, you’ll also want to make sure that your child knows how to turn on a cell phone and that he’s confident entering the three digits before connecting.

Talk About What 911 is For

Explaining to your child what 911 services are for helps him understand that dialing the number will summon help from police, firefighters and paramedics if he’s in trouble. Talking about what sorts of situations would warrant a call to 911 and how the emergency responders can help him when there’s an emergency lets him know that there is help just around the corner if he needs it, and that all he has to do is dial three numbers to get help if there’s no conscious or capable adult in the house.

Talk About Emergency Workers

Kids need to know who to expect when they call 911 and that it’s okay for them to come into the house if an adult is incapacitated and can’t let them in. This is especially important if you’re also working on the concept of “stranger danger.” When your child is in the process of learning that some strangers can be dangerous and he shouldn’t talk to them, the idea of a large group of strangers coming into your home can be terrifying. This conversation is also a good excuse to discuss the role that emergency workers play in society, and what each uniform or title means.

Discuss Accidental Dials

While it is possible for kids to accidentally dial 911 on a landline phone, it’s more likely to happen when they’re playing with a cell phone that has an emergency dial feature. Kids who understand how important it is to only call 911 during an emergency may panic and hang up, which forces the dispatcher to call back or send help to ensure that there is no emergency in your area. Make sure that your little one knows that he should stay on the line and explain to the person who answers that he made a mistake and that there is no emergency.

What is an Emergency?

In a small child’s mind, the concept of “emergency” can be rather vague. Little ones need to understand the difference between a real emergency and merely an unpleasant situation to avoid tying up the time and efforts of a dispatcher who may be delaying an actual emergency to handle the call. Kids should be taught that a lost dog, missing toy or sibling altercation are not emergencies. Working on understanding what types of situations warrant attention from emergency service responders and which ones need to be handled by an adult at home can help to prevent unnecessary calls that waste resources because children are confused about the role of 911 in their lives.

Some Jokes Aren’t Funny

For the most part, prank calls have gone the way of the dinosaur with the advent of private-call blocking and caller ID. To ensure that your child never decides to explore the concept of a prank call by dialing emergency services, you should make sure that he understands the danger of taking time and energy away from dispatchers who could be missing an important, legitimate call. Letting your little one know that dialing 911 as a practical joke is never funny and will have severe consequences is an effective way of discouraging the idea before the idea manifests itself and he is tempted to try it out.

When you’re teaching a toddler how to actively dial the numbers that will connect him with emergency services, it’s wise to remove the battery from a cell phone or unplug the line from a landline phone altogether to prevent accidental dials. Remember also that working on mastery of his address and when to call 911 is an ongoing process, not the result of a single conversation.

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Proper Etiquette Rules for Any Child

Proper Etiquette Rules for Any Child | @BloomMaternity

Teaching children to confidently navigate the sometimes complex world of etiquette can be a difficult task, but instilling courtesy and good manners will help them better manage society as they get older. Social skills that you pass on to your children will help them make friends, build relationships and prepare them to respond graciously in a variety of situations. As they approach adulthood, those skills will form the foundation of courteous behavior in polite society. Everyone from playmates to educators will appreciate your child’s good manners, paving the way for him to succeed throughout his life.

Kids’ Dining Etiquette

While it’s not realistic to expect children to confidently and correctly manage a formal dinner with full place settings, you can establish some simple dining etiquette that can be built upon as they age. Learning to properly use their eating utensils, to pass food at the table and to place napkins in their laps are great skills for kids to acquire, though you may find it easier to focus on the absolute basics when children are very young. Emphasizing the importance of chewing with his mouth closed, not speaking with food in his mouth and avoiding unappetizing behavior at the table is essential; his dining etiquette skills can be expanded upon as he matures.

Phone Manners

Because more families are making the switch to a cell phone-only household and are eliminating landline telephone accounts altogether, kids may not have the chance to learn the same etiquette that their parents were taught during childhood. Still, working with your child to establish the proper protocol for answering the phone, taking messages and conducting polite conversation is important. Role-playing polite phone behavior is a particularly effective method of instilling strong phone etiquette, along with explaining the changing rules of phone manners in the age of mobile devices.

Be a Considerate Conversationalist

In order to be a good friend and a sought-after acquaintance, your child will need to learn the art of polite conversation. Stressing the importance of greeting friends and relatives correctly, asking considerate questions and inquiring about the other party’s wellbeing will help your child understand some of the basic aspects of mannerly conversation.

It’s also wise to discuss the impoliteness of interrupting someone when they speak, which is often an area of difficulty for more excitable and enthusiastic children.

Mind Your “Pleases” and “Thank Yous”

If your child learns no other etiquette skills, understanding that he should always say “please” and “thank you” can go a long way towards compensating. Children who make demands rather than polite requests and show no gratitude when those demands are met aren’t likely to be favorites with playmates, teachers, relatives or family friends.

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

The old adage about not saying anything at all if you can’t say something nice is one that kids need to learn early, as their statements regarding someone’s appearance or habits can be blunt to the point of being inadvertently hurtful. Work with your child until he understands that some things shouldn’t be commented on, especially in a negative light. Explaining that Aunt Sally knows she has a rather sizable mole on her nose, but that talking about it might make her sad or self-conscious can prevent hurt feelings and embarrassment.

Show Gratitude

In addition to learning to say “thank you” when someone does something for them or presents them with a gift, kids need to learn the slightly more complex concept of showing real gratitude and expressing it in their daily lives. It’s entirely possible for a child to toss a “thank you” aside carelessly while still exhibiting the air of utter ingratitude, which simply isn’t attractive behavior. Discussing sincere gratitude can help your child understand that there’s more to being thankful than simply saying “thank you.”

Teaching your child basic manners creates a foundation for more complex etiquette rules down the road, but it’s important to keep in mind that your kindergartener isn’t likely to understand the complexities of formal etiquette and almost certainly will not be quoting Emily Post any time soon. Keeping your expectations realistic and focusing on primary politeness and common courtesy can keep you from feeling disappointment and your child from growing frustrated when he can’t tell his salad fork from a dessert fork. Remember that instilling good manners and teaching formal etiquette is an ongoing process, and that your lessons will ultimately be taught as you model good etiquette. Kids may not always listen to what you say, but they do watch you and often mimic the behavior they observe. In the end, one of the best ways to teach your child the rules of etiquette is to model them yourself.

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