Good parenting in 4 paragraphs, toddler to preschool edition

Telling a toddler or preschooler "no" doesn't teach him what you want him or her to do.

Instead of saying no, try: 1. giving a positive direction to his urge; 2. distract and redirect; 3. offer choices that lead to the behavior you want; or 4. childproof the situation. Children naturally want to please adults and get that positive attention, so work with it.

Use those 4 tools to guide the child, and add one more: teach him or her to think for himself. Example: "It's cold outside, do you want to be chilly or warm?" (warm!) "What do you need if you want to go outside and stay warm?" (coat!) -- do this a few times and he'll start thinking it through on his own.

Once a child learns to do something on his own, never do it for him, even if you're tired, or it's late and you're in a hurry. Responsibility cures misbehavior, and the first responsibility we all have is toward ourselves. As a parent, it's your job to make sure your child takes on that job as soon as he or she is able. Whether it's cleaning up a mess they've made, making other good behavioral choices, problem solving, negotiating, or simple social skills that lead to forming friendships, the sooner your child learns to take an active role in his or her own life, the sooner you'll have a little freedom to enjoy their new skills and achievements with them.


What is colic?

Q: My baby can't fall asleep at night, he starts crying and nothing I can do will calm him. He pulls away from the breast and screams until he shakes. Should I let him cry it out? Is he sick? What can I do?

A: What happens if you hold him in burp position on your shoulder and pat or jostle his bottom? How about when you bounce him gently and walk him around in that position? If that seems to give him relief, your son may have colic. Of course, check with your pediatrician to make sure nothing else is wrong.

Colic is a term for tummy distress that happens every night in very young babies. It's painful, and loud, and it takes a while for baby to settle. Letting your child "cry it out" won't work, because he's really in pain. It usually takes from a few days to a few weeks to pass. That's likely because your child's digestive system is maturing and becoming able to handle what you eat. You may not want to put him through this suffering every night, though. So how do you help?

Colic has been tied to mother's diet in breastfed babies, and to the ingredients in formula in bottle fed babies.  If you're formula feeding, try switching to a non-dairy, or non-soy based formula. Whatever you do, don't put rice cereal in a young baby's formula. His tummy is not ready to digest grains, so it just sits in his tummy and blocks the nutrients he needs from getting into his system. If you're expressing milk, or formula feeding, ake very sure you are sterilizing properly. Don't use bottles that have been sitting out or in the fridge too long.

If you're breastfeeding, the top colic triggers moms report are: dairy, onions, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, and chocolate, followed by spicy foods and other strongly flavored foods. Some even report that cutting out beef seemed to relieve colic.

Now vegetables and beans are believed not to cause gas in a breastfed baby, because the fiber that gives adults gas doesn't travel through breast milk. But some babies do react to something after mom eats certain vegetables, that causes intestinal distress. So my advice is go through the list, starting with dairy. It takes about a week to see full relief. You may even see improvement within a day or so. It's fine to try avoiding everything on the list, just make sure you get the proper nutrition without them. It may take some time to figure out what's causing the problem, and baby will grow out of colic on his own over time.  If symptoms get worse, or new symptoms show up, call your pediatrician to be sure there isn't something else going on.

Engaged parents, happy babies

Engaged parents, happy babies