Baby Naping Do's and Don'ts
Do: Spot Sleepiness
If your little one yawns, you may know it’s nap time. But there are other clues: Rubbing eyes, crying, and fussiness can be signs of sleepiness in newborns. Babies who are overtired have more trouble settling down for sleep, so watch for these cues. Older babies may also act clumsy, clingy, and hyperactive.
Don't: Wake Baby
What if baby falls asleep in her car seat? Just carry the whole thing inside and let her finish her nap in the car seat. Keep her buckled in. If she starts to snooze in her baby swing, make sure she is buckled in and keep an eye on her. A short nap is OK, but don’t let her sleep there overnight. For the safest way to sleep, place her on the firm mattress of a crib on her back.
Do: Know Babies Sleep a Lot
It may not seem like it at first! But your newborn may sleep about 16 hours a day, waking for feedings and changing. As babies get older they need less sleep during the day and more at night. By 6 months some babies should be able to sleep through the night plus take two to three naps. But don't worry if she doesn't: each baby is different.
Don't: Rely on Naps To-Go
It may be tempting to squeeze napping into carpooling and errand time, and it's OK once in a while. But constantly napping on the go may not get your child the rest he needs. If he always seems tired and your schedule is packed, consider cutting back or rearrange your schedule. Or you can use a sitter or ask a friend to help out so baby has regular, thorough naps
Do: Feed, Take a Break, Then Nap
It's natural for babies to fall asleep after a feeding. And nursing or bottle-feeding newborns to sleep is a great way to feel close to your baby. Over time, though, it can become the only way they can fall asleep. Babies should learn to fall asleep on their own. Try to separate nursing from naps even by just a few minutes. Read a story or change baby’s diaper in between.
Do: Stretch Out Naps
Is your baby older than 6 months and still taking lots of 20-minute naps throughout the day? Encourage him to take longer naps. Try keeping your baby up. And stretch the time between baby’s naps, making it longer bit by bit. You may be rewarded with longer naps -- ideally, one to two hours each -- and sounder nighttime sleep.
Do: Set a Routine
Set a good nap routine and stick to it, when possible. Help your little one sleep better by:
- Having the same nap times each day.
- Avoiding late afternoon naps. If your baby has trouble falling asleep at night, make nap time earlier or wake him from his nap well before bedtime.
- Using the crib at night and nap time, so he thinks "sleep" when he's in there.
Don't: Rush In
Sneezing, hiccups, whimpers, sighs, and even squeaks are common baby sleep noises. You probably don’t need to rush in. Even fussing and crying may just mean that baby is settling down. Wait a bit before checking on him -- unless, of course, you think he’s unsafe, uncomfortable, or hungry.
Do: Put Baby Down When Awake
After a few weeks, your baby doesn’t have to be sound asleep when you lay her down. Sleepy is good enough. You'll be teaching your little one how to fall asleep on her own and not need to be held, rocked, or fed. This also can help her learn to fall back to sleep on her own if she wakes during the night.
Do: Think Safety
If your baby falls asleep on the couch, your bed, a waterbed, or the floor, move him. Those places aren’t safe for him to sleep. Always put your baby down to sleep on his back to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Remove blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, bumpers, and other soft things from baby’s crib or bassinet. Don't put babies down to nap with other children or pets.
What Should My Child Listen to?
By Laura Lewis Brown
A Library of Variety
Whether they’re singing along with Curious George’s theme song or asking you to turn up a popular song on the car radio, children love music. But what kind of music should kids listen to at a young age? Here are some helpful tips on creating an appropriate musical library for your child.
Not Just for Listening
Before you pick the songs, keep in mind that your child benefits from doing more than just listening. To get the full benefits of music, children need to sing, clap and dance along with the tunes. Singing and moving to music tells the brain to make meaning of it, a cognitive process called audiation, explains Lili Levinowitz, cofounder of Music Together and professor of music education at Rowan University of New Jersey.
Audiation in music is like thinking in language. We learn by practicing it, making sounds and essentially training our brains. The brain can only develop its musical comprehension if we tell it to through voicing and dancing, not through simply listening. "We’re isolating ourselves with the earbud,” she says. "My research shows that 50 percent of children enter kindergarten without knowing the difference between singing and speaking.”
As you start to build your child’s music library, focus on interaction with the music that’ll help train your child’s musical ear. Peggy Durbin, a music educator at Kindermusik in Columbia, Md., suggests using bought or homemade instruments to play along. Help your child make music, not just listen to it.
The best musical library for your child includes a wide variety—a mixture of genres you like and music they like. Levinowitz compares music you play to the foods you serve: you don’t want your child eating only mac and cheese, or similarly, listening to the same CD all the time. "Create an ear food buffet,” she says. Your musical menu should consist of songs from your culture and those around the world, as well as music that you love.
"In addition to playing multiple genres of music, parents should play music that they enjoy,” says Eric Rasmussen, chair of early childhood music at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. "I emphasize classical and jazz especially (that’s my taste), but there is no bad type of music. It’s harder to find appropriate music in some styles than others.”
In order to challenge your child musically, aim for a variety of rhythms and tonalities, or songs that are in different keys. "Play adult quality music,” adds Rasmussen. "It is also best to play music that does not have strident tone quality, that is, music that changes its sound frequently. Orchestral music is best for this. By contrast, most thrash metal bands usually don’t have much contrast from one song to the next, let alone within a song.”
Variety exposes children to more styles, but more important, musical variety may help them learn better. "Children learn through the juxtaposition of difference,” Levinowitz says. "They should be singing those songs in unusual tonalities. Other beneficial actions include singing along or chanting to songs that are in asymmetric meters and not necessarily inherent in the culture.”
Start with the Familiar
When determining how to introduce your child to music, consider the songs you sang growing up and start there. Durbin suggests starting with nursery rhymes put to music before gradually moving into folk songs and classical numbers as the children reach preschool age.
When in doubt, consult the experts. The National Association for Music Education (NAfME, formerly MENC) created a list of 42 songs every American should be able to sing in hopes of uniting more people and communities through song (see below). The list was created in 1995 and has since been expanded; it is a great starting point for a family musical library.
"For ages two to nine, most of these songs are sophisticated,” says Elizabeth Lasko, assistant executive director of NAfME. "Little kids can sing ‘I’ve Been Working on the Railroad’ with ease, but they may have more trouble singing ‘Blue Skies’ by Irving Berlin. The list imitates book form, making it a resource for kids to start with and potentially master by the time they are teenagers.” Parents can also learn these songs with their children, making it a bonding activity to do together.
Rasmussen has a list of songs (see below), some of which are also on the NAFME list, that he uses to teach young children melody and harmony.
As you expand your child’s library, consider adding classical music—especially if the piece tells a story or teaches them about instrumentation. You can try Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens or Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev, both of which use instruments to represent different animals and characters. The children can learn about specific instruments while learning a story. "A programmed classical piece is going to help children feel comfortable with classical music and get the story at the same time,” Durbin says.
Rasmussen suggests avoiding very long orchestral music, and instead listening to short pieces about four to five minutes in length. He also says that string quartets or other pieces that rely on only one class of instruments are not the best for young children because they may not demand as much of the child’s attention.
"Any music that has strident timbre (or tonal color) will not distract children to listen to it as much as music that shifts in tonal color more frequently,” he says. "String quartets are wonderful, but it is all strings and doesn’t distract a child’s listening as much as an orchestra that has more variety of instruments. The same would go for brass or woodwind groups.”
What Should Be Off Limits?
While many music educators believe there is no such thing as too much music, it’s up to you to decide what, when and how your child will listen to it. Some music educators caution against purchasing mainly "children’s music,” which may be more about the lyrics than the tune, and instead aim for child-friendly music.
"Kids’ CDs that are geared toward children are not necessarily very healthy music for children to be listening to,” Rasmussen says. "They are often poorly produced, sung by children singing as if they are adults, and in major keys only,” he says. Follow this rule: If you think it’s bad, it probably is.
"Music with inappropriate lyrical content should be avoided,” Rasmussen says. "There is no bad style, it’s just harder to find hip hop that is high musical quality and also has appropriate lyrics.”
Parental Guidance Suggested
Although your child may be an expert with your iPod, you may want to be nearby to guide him. "Until you think your child can make good selections, I would recommend supervising what they are listening to,” Durbin says. Sit with your child at the computer and go through iTunes or Pandora to find new songs to add to your developing collection. "As children get older, encourage them to be more independent with their selection of music. In the car, give them a choice of CDs or stations,” Rasmussen says. Then take turns playing music you like. Also, remember to turn off the music and give children the opportunity to sing on their own and practice the songs.
Sharing Music Time
Your child may not like your passion for Pink Floyd, no matter how loudly you sing along, and that’s okay. The point is to give them time with the music they like, and then bring your own music into play. Take them to an outdoor concert so they can see the music in action. The more they hear different types of music, the more expansive their tastes and respect for artists and genres will inevitably be.
"They may find something they like that is particularly awful,” Rasmussen says. When Rasmussen’s daughter discovered a popular music show with kids that was musically horrendous, he allowed her to watch it, but "Daddy and Mommy music time” followed. "I was also open with her at four years old that I didn’t like the show, but that it’s perfectly acceptable for her to like it; I validated her taste, but also told her she might not like some of my music.”
Whether it’s your choice or hers, remember above all to model your love for music. Sing, hum, dance or air guitar to your favorite songs, even if your child doesn’t like them. It doesn’t matter if you can’t sing in tune or dance well, because you are showing them the joy of music.
America the Beautiful
Battle Hymn of the Republic
Danny Boy (Londonderry Air)
Dona Nobis Pacem
Down by the Riverside
Give My Regards to Broadway
God Bless America
God Bless the U.S.A.
Green, Green Grass of Home
He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
Home on the Range
I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)
Let There Be Peace on Earth
Lift Every Voice and Sing
Michael, Row the Boat Ashore
Music Alone Shall Live
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’
Over My Head
Puff the Magic Dragon
Rock-a My Soul
She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain
Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
This Land Is Your Land
This Little Light of Mine
All the Pretty Little Horses
Ants Go Marching
Bei mir bist du schoen
Comin’ Around the Mountain
Down by the Bay
Itsy Bitsy Spider
Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho
Mary Had a Little Lamb
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
On Top of Spaghetti
Patsy Ory Ory Aye
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
There Was an Old Woman All Skin and Bones
This Land Is Your Land
This Little Light of Mine
This Old Man
This Old Hammer (John Henry)
Two Little Kitty Cats
When the Saints Go Marching In
You Are My Sunshine
Stop Children from Biting
You're enjoying a sunny afternoon on the playground, when suddenly you spot yourtoddler with teeth embedded in a playmate's arm. Horrified, you rush to discipline your pint-sized vampire -- but what's the best way to handle the situation?
Before you panic, know that biting is a normal part of childhood development. Young children bite for many different reasons, from teething to seeing what reaction it will provoke. Many children between the ages of 1 and 3 go through a biting phase, which they eventually outgrow.
Still, biting is something you want to discourage. Here are a few prevention tips to stop your little chomper from sinking his or her teeth into friends and family, as well as some ways to manage biting when it does happen.
Why Children Bite
Kids bite for a number of reasons -- and most of them aren't intentionally malicious. Here are possible explanations for why children bite:
- They're in pain. When babies bite, typically it's because they're teething. They're are just doing it to relieve the pain of their swollen, tender gums.
- They're exploring their world. Very young children use their mouths to explore, just as they use their hands. Just about everything infants or toddlers pick up eventually winds up in their mouths. Kids this age aren't yet able to prevent themselves from biting the object of their interest.
- They're looking for a reaction. Part of exploration is curiosity. Toddlers experiment to see what kind of reaction their actions will provoke. They'll bite down on a friend or sibling to hear the surprised exclamation, not realizing how painful the experience is for that person.
- They're craving attention. In older kids, biting is just one of several bad behaviors used to get attention. When a child feels ignored, discipline is at least one way of getting noticed -- even if the attention is negative rather than positive.
- They're frustrated. Biting, like hitting, is a way for some children to assert themselves when they're still too young to express feelings effectively through words. To your child, biting is a way to get back a favorite toy, tell you that he or she is unhappy, or let another child know that he or she wants to be left alone.
How to Stop Biting
Rather than having to stop a biting incident, practice prevention so that your child will be less likely to bite in the first place. Here are some tips:
- If your baby is teething, make sure to always have a cool teething ring or washcloth on hand so he or she will be less likely to sink teeth into someone's arm.
- Avoid situations in which your child can get irritable enough to bite. Make sure that all of your child's needs -- including eating and nap time -- are taken care of before you go out to play. Bring along a snack to soothe your child if he or she gets cranky from being hungry.
- As soon as your child is old enough, encourage the use of words ("I'm angry with you" or "That's my toy") instead of biting. Other ways to express frustration or anger include hugging a stuffed animal or punching a pillow. Sometimes shortening activities or giving your child a break can help prevent the rising frustration that can lead to biting and other bad behaviors.
- Give your child enough of your time throughout the day (for example, by reading or playing together), so he or she doesn't bite just to get attention. Extra attention is especially important when your child is going through a major life change, such as a move or welcoming a baby sibling. If your child is prone to biting, keep an eye on any playmates and step in when an altercation appears to be brewing.
- Even with your best prevention efforts, biting incidents might still occur. When your child bites, firmly let your child know that this behavior is not acceptable by saying, "No. We don't bite!" Explain that biting hurts the other person. Then remove your child from the situation and give the child time to calm down.
You might have heard from other parents that if your child bites you, bite your child back. This isn't good advice. Children learn by imitation. If you bite your child, the child is going to get the impression that this behavior is acceptable and he or she will be more likely to do it again. The same goes for hitting a child for biting.
If you are unable to get your child to stop biting, the behavior could begin to have an impact on school and relationships. You or another adult might have to closely supervise interactions between your child and other kids. When biting becomes a habit, or continues past age 4 or 5, it might stem from a more serious emotional problem. Talk to your child's health care provider, or enlist the help of a childpsychologist or therapist.
What to Do About a Biting Injury
The first thing to do for any biting injury is to wash the area with soap and water. Even little teeth can break the skin. If the bite is bleeding and the wound appears to be deep, call your child's doctor. The bite may need medical treatment, which could include antibiotics and/or a tetanus shot.
Time out Guidelines for Parents
What is time-out?
Time-out is a way of disciplining your child for misbehavior without raising your hand or your voice. Time-out involves removing your child from the good stuff in life, for a small amount of time, immediately following misbehavior. Time-out for children is similar to penalties used for hockey players. When a hockey player has misbehaved on the ice, he is required to go to the penalty area for two minutes. The referee does not scream at, threaten, or hit the player. He merely blows the whistle and points to the penalty area. During the penalty time, the player is not allowed to play, only watch. Time-out bothers hockey players because they would rather play hockey than watch. Keep this hockey comparison in mind when using time-out for your child. Children usually do not like time-out because they would rather play than watch other kids play. So when you use time-out in response to a misbehavior, remove your child from whatever he or she is doing and have him or her sit down.
Where should the time-out area be located?
You do not have to use the same location each time. Just make sure the location is convenient for you. For example, using a downstairs chair is inconvenient when the problem behavior occurs upstairs. An adult-sized chair works best, but a step, footstool, bench, or couch will also work. Make sure the area is well-lit and free from all dangerous objects. Also make sure your child cannot watch TV or play with toys.
How long should time-out last?
The upper limit should be one quiet minute for every year your child has been alive. So if you have a 2-year-old, aim for two quiet minutes. Keep in mind, children do not like time-out, and they can be very public with their opinion. So it may take some time to get those two minutes. This is especially true in the beginning when children do not know the rules and still cannot believe you are doing this to them. For some reason, the calmer you remain, the more upset they are likely to become. This is all part of the process. Discipline works best when you administer it calmly.
So, do not begin the time until your child is calm and quiet. If your child is crying or throwing a tantrum, it does not count toward the required time. If you start the time because your child is quiet but he or she starts to cry or tantrum, wait until your child is quiet again and then start the time over. Do not let your child leave time-out unless he or she is calm; your child must remain seated and be quiet to get out of time-out. Some programs suggest using timers. Timers can be helpful but are not necessary. If you use one, remember the timer is to remind parents that time-out is over, not children.
What counts as quiet time?
Generally, quiet time occurs when your child is not angry or upset, and is not yelling or crying. You must decide when your child is calm and quiet. Some children get perfectly still and quiet while in they’re in time-out. Other children find it hard to sit still and not talk. Fidgeting and "happy talk” should usually count as being calm and quiet. For example, if your son sings or talks softly to himself, that counts as quiet time. Some children do what we call "dieseling,” which is the quiet sniffling that usually follows a tantrum. Since a "dieseling” child is usually trying to stop crying but cannot find the off switch, this also should be counted as quiet time.
What if the child leaves the chair before time is up?
Say nothing! Calmly (and physically) return your child to the chair. For children who are 2 to 4 years old, unscheduled departures from the chair are a chronic problem early in the time-out process. Stay calm and keep returning the child to the chair. If you tire or become angry, invite your spouse (or any adult who is nearby) to assist you as a tag-team partner. If you are alone and become overly tired or angry, retreat with honor. But when help arrives or when your strength returns, set the stage for another time-out.
What if my child misbehaves in the chair?
Say nothing and ignore everything that is not dangerous to child, yourself, and the furniture. I repeat: Say nothing! What do I mean by nothing? I mean not anything, the absence of something, the empty set, the amount of money you have when you have spent it all, the result of two minus two or what zero equals. I mean nothing. Most of your child’s behavior in the chair is an attempt to get you to react and say something, anything. So expect the unexpected, especially if you are a nagger, screamer, explainer, warner, reasoner, or just a talker. And I mean the unexpected. They may spit up, wet, blow their nose on their clothes (you may be tempted to say "Yecch” but... do not), strip, throw things, make unkind comments about your parenting skills, or simply say they do not love you anymore. Do not worry. They will love you again when their time is up, believe me.
When should I use time-out?
When you first start, use it for only one or two problem behaviors. After your child has learned to "do” time-out, you can expand the list of problem behaviors. In general, problem behaviors fall into three categories: 1) anything dangerous to self or others; 2) defiance and/or noncompliance; and 3) obnoxious or bothersome behavior. Use time-out for "1” and "2” and ignore anything in category "3.” If you cannot ignore something, move it into category "2” by issuing a command (e.g., "Take the goldfish out of the toilet.”). Then if the child does not comply, you can use time-out for noncompliance. Be sure to use time-out as consistently as possible. For example, try to place your child in time-out each time a targeted behavior occurs. I realize you cannot be 100 percent consistent because it is in our nature to adapt. But be as consistent as you can.
In general, immediately following a problem behavior, tell your child what he or she did and take him or her to time-out. (With older children, send them to time-out.) For example, you might say, "No hitting. Go to timeout.” Say this calmly and only once. Do not reason or give long explanations to your child. If your child does not go willingly, take him or her to time-out, using as little force as needed. For example, hold your daughter gently by the hand or wrist and walk to the time-out area. Or, carry her facing away from you (so that she does not confuse a hug and a trip to time-out). As I suggested earlier, avoid giving your child a lot of attention while he or she is being put in time-out. Do not argue with, threaten, or spank your child. And what should you say? Hint: Starts with "No”’ and ends with "thing.” Answer: Say nothing!
What do I do when time is up?
When the time-out period is over, ask your child, "Are you ready to get up?” Your child must answer yes in some way (or nod yes) before you give permission for him or her to get up. Do not talk about why the child went into time-out, how the child behaved while in time-out, or how you want your child to behave in the future. In other words, do not nag. If your child says "No,” answers in an angry tone of voice, or will not answer all, start time-out over again. If your child chooses to stay in the chair, fine. It is hard to cause real trouble in time-out.
What do I do when my child leaves the chair?
If you placed your child in time-out for not doing what you told him or her to do, repeat the instruction. This will help teach your child you mean business. It also gives your child a chance to behave in a way that is good for business. If he or she still does not obey the instruction, then place him or her in time-out again. In addition, add in a few other easy-to-follow, one-step commands. If he or she does them, praise the performance. If not, back to time-out. Generally, use this opportunity to train your child to follow your instructions when those instructions are delivered in a normal tone of voice without being repeated.
The general rule for ending time-out is to praise a good behavior. Once time-out is over, reward your child for the kinds of behaviors you want him or her to use. Catch them being good.
Should I explain the rules of time-out to my child?
Before using time-out, you should explain the rules to your child once. At a time when your child is not misbehaving, explain what time-out is (simply), which problem behaviors time-out will be used for, and how long time-out will last. Practice using time-out with your child before using the procedure. While practicing, remind your child you are "pretending” this time. They will still go "ballistic” when you do your first real time-outs, but you will be reassured that you have done your part to explain the fine print.
- Choose time-out areas.
- Explain time-out.
- Use time-out every time the problem behaviors occur.
- Be specific and brief when you explain why your child must go to time-out.
- Do not talk to or look at your child during time-out.
- If your child gets up from the chair, return him or her to the chair with no talking.
- Your child must be calm and quiet to leave time-out once time is up.
- Your child must answer yes politely when you ask, "Would you like to get up?”
- If you wanted your child to follow an instruction, give him or her another chance after time-out is over. And, in general, deliver a few other easy-to-follow commands so your child clearly learns who is in charge and who is not.
- Catch them being good.