Friday, June 30, 2006

Children and Contact Dermatitis

By Christina VanGinkel

It was an itchy day at my daughter's house yesterday, and it looks to be for the next couple of days. She phoned me in the morning and asked if I could take a run over and look at my young grandson. By the time I arrived about a half an hour after her original call, she had made the decision to go to the emergency room. He was covered in a bright red rash that was very prominent on his chest, arms, and legs. His face seemed to be spared for the most part, with just some of the rash seeming to creep up his neck just a bit.

She had first called their family doctor, but found that the office was closed. With the rash so red and covering so much of his body, she felt that the emergency room was required. As mornings such as this go, she could not find her car keys, and as I was there by this time, she just bundled him into my vehicle.

By the time the doctor came down the hall to see him, about twenty minutes after arriving, my grandson had already been checked out by the nurse, and his temperature and other vitals all seemed to be normal. He is a typical two year old though, and in order for the nurse to check him, he first made her do everything to his uncle (my thirteen year old) who was with us.

My grandson's other grandmother happens to work at the hospital and my daughter let her know that they were there. She came down to the emergency room and brought him a pack of coloring pages and a small pack of crayons. She also brought him a large chocolate chip cookie because by this time he was exclaiming that he was hungry. Through this all, he was scratching and my daughter was trying to do anything to keep him occupied so he would not scratch.

The diagnosis was quickly made, contact dermatitis, which translates into him being directly exposed to some type of irritant or allergy causing material. He had been fishing with his father the evening before, so the likelihood that it was something along the lines of poison ivy or some type of grass or itch weed that he was sensitive to seemed to be the most likely culprit. The doctor also questioned that if she had changed laundry soaps or lotions, this might also be the cause. He has very sensitive skin to begin with, and she has used the same products for as long as she can remember to help avoid situations such as this, so she knew it was not from a new product that she used on him, and it must have been something he touched.

He was prescribed two over the counter medications including a lotion to help soothe on contact the offending rash and a liquid anti histamine to also help with the itching and redness. Treatment can vary from patient to patient and because the rash was caused from something, he was most likely allergic to, it was important that she had followed through with a visit to see a doctor, as his breathing could have been compromised. As obvious as his rash was, as the doctor said, it is not something you want to try and self-diagnosis, as there is many other illnesses that can cause a rash that need immediate medical attention, as his did.

When I talked to my daughter late last evening to see how he was doing, she said that he was currently sucking his thumb, something he had not done in months. They were dealing with the situation, as best as they could, and he appeared itchy but ok. She had picked up some soothing oatmeal bath to let him soak in the tub with, had followed a course of mostly popsicles throughout the day, along with a light lunch and supper, and was more or less just trying to keep him occupied and free of scratching. The doctor had said that he would most likely be red and itchy for a couple of days, and that if she could narrow down what he were exposed to, to avoid it in the future. No kidding!

Summertime is prime time for kids, and adults for that matter, to come into contact with irritants such as those we suspect he was exposed too. Poison ivy or oak, various grasses, itch weed, and such. If you are fishing, hiking, camping, or spending any time outdoors in places that you normally do not, avoid tall grasses and other overgrown areas. Stay on trails, and do not let kids touch plants that you do not know what they are. Actually, my grandson and his dad were fishing in a spot they always do, but he had stepped off the trail. Apparently, this was all it took.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Introducing your Toddler to the Computer

By Christina VanGinkel

It is an electronic world that we live in today. By the time, our children enter Kindergarten, most will already know how to use a mouse, maneuver through Windows, and play a game or two on a computer. The most basic computer skills are often already well on their way to being instilled. Just a few years ago, this was not the norm, and most children were not introduced to a computer until sometime in elementary or even middle school.

Now, when children are first introduced to the computer though, it is often on the lap of a parent, with the parent actually working the computer and the toddler just looking on. From here, they often begin pounding on the keyboards and when they get a reaction out of a parent, they realize that hitting those keys makes something happen. With the way, most little minds soak up data that is all it takes for children to want to learn just how to make that thing on the desk, work. If you just push their hands away though, and tell them not to touch, they will either be more inclined to bang away at the keyboard, or end up losing interest in it all together.

Instead of waiting for such a scenario to happen, take the time to sit with your toddler at the computer. Be prepared with a program that was created for toddlers, such as the Jumpstart Advanced Toddlers computer game. The Jumpstart Advanced Toddlers CD will work with Windows 98 / Me / XP / 2000, or the Mac OS X. It is available for less than twenty dollars and I have seen it listed at Amazon.com for less than fifteen dollars. Jumpstart Advanced Toddlers is designed to engage your toddler through colors and sounds, and includes learning and activities through colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. It comes with three CD ROMS, which also include sing along activities, arts and crafts, and much more.

Besides taking the time to engage your toddler in such a game as this or some other game created for toddlers, also allow your toddler to hold the mouse and actively move it, even clicking the buttons. If banging on the keyboard is still uppermost in their agenda each time they sit at the computer with you, move it. I have a cordless keyboard, and when I first allowed my young grandson, who is not yet three years old, sit at the computer, I would move the keyboard right out of his reach. Now that he is capable of understanding the function of certain keys over other ones, I allow him to use it for certain activities, but will still move it out of the way if it is not needed for whatever activity we are doing together. He loves to play Ice Age the Meltdown, and he quickly learned that the arrow keys can make the characters on the screen do what he wants them to do.

A few notes: There are computer programs that come with keyboards made specifically for baby to use. When baby hits any key on the board, certain tasks play out. While some parents say these are great, I have never used one, so cannot comment on if these are a good way for your toddler to experience the computer. I also know of someone who gave their toddler an old keyboard to bang on, not connected to the computer. As long as you sit right there, I would see no harm in this, but do not let them take the keyboard away from you to play with. The keys can easily come off many keyboards and could quickly become a choking hazard. Also, never let your toddler play unattended anywhere near the computer. With the maze of cords and other electrical issues, there can be nothing good to come for a toddler who is allowed to crawl around by the family computer.

Remember that toddlers can quickly become bored or over stimulated, so keep their time at the computer limited to short periods. A parent or other caregiver should also, always sit at the computer with a toddler for a variety of reasons, including that a toddler should never be left unattended with electronic equipment. In addition, children are going to gain a lot more from the experience if they have the guidance and the camaraderie of someone else. It is a great way for parent and child to share a few quiet moments doing something fun.

Introducing your toddler to the family computer is a great way to know that they will gain the skills to operate a mouse, something that more and more schools expect when your child eventually enters preschool or kindergarten.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Should Children Share a Bedroom?

By Christina VanGinkel

What happens, when you have kids, as in plural, and a move to a new home means you suddenly have an extra bedroom? Should that room mean someone no longer has to share a bedroom, or should that room be put to some other use? What if you have a spare room, but you find yourself adding a new family member, should that spare room be given up so the new family member has a space of their own? On the other hand, what if someone, such as an older child, moves out and there is suddenly extra space? Should that now empty room be offered to a child that is currently sharing with another sibling?

These are just some examples of how the question on sharing a room could suddenly come up, and questions such as these can be tough to sort out. Often, there is no right or wrong answer that someone can give you, as the answer must come from the adults who run the household, as they are the only ones who know the actual needs and possible uses that such a room could provide.

However, when I was asked recently what my opinion was on kids sharing a bedroom to either free up an existing room, or to keep a room in a new house free for some other use, I had no problem giving my opinion. There are always exceptions to any rule, but for the most part, I see no reason that siblings should not share a room. Kids of the same gender can share a bedroom indefinitely, even if there is a noticeable age gap between them. With siblings that are of the opposite gender, sharing until a few years before they reach puberty is also fine, though once they do, they should be in a room of their own, or with another sibling of their own gender.

Growing up in a large family, I shared a room with my sister for years. When two of our older brothers moved out and we were able to each have our own room, we continued to find ourselves staying in each other's rooms all the time, as we missed the camaraderie that comes with sharing with a sibling something as basic as a bedroom. Not long after moving us each into our own room, our mother moved us back together. She then claimed the room as her own domain, where she then set up her sewing machine and a little table, and chair, where she could go and have a quiet cup of coffee, sew, or just close the door to all of us kids who still lived at home.

No, kids do not always get along, but when they share something like a bedroom, they learn to respect each other's belongings, and they also learn a lot about each other. Boundaries are set, and just as often broken, but a learning process of respect for others and understanding exactly what boundaries are, is something that is learned.

Unless there is some underlying tension from one of the children, such as an illness or a behavior that needs professional help dealing with, kids will benefit from sharing a room much more than they would ever be hurt by it.

The other advantage is what an extra room can mean to a family. If a parent works at home, it could be put to use as office space, or it could be claimed as a private room much like my mother claimed the room in our home. If you have several young children, the room could better be put to use as a toy room or family room of sorts, where toys, television, and video games can be kept, leaving your living room as more of a room for entertaining guests without having to worry about sweeping up a pile of Lego's when guests stop by unannounced.

If you have the opportunity to gain space by having your kids share a room, do not let anyone talk you out of it. Kids have been sharing rooms for eternity, and will continue to do so. For once, let them go with the crowd, and tell them everybody shares, so you just want them to be like everybody else for once!

Baby First TV

By Christina VanGinkel

We have a satellite dish for our TV viewing. With it, we are able to view literally hundreds of channels. Recently, flipping through the included onscreen guide, I came across a channel that I was not sure I had noticed before. I had not subscribed to it, and what later found out was that I was actually viewing a sneak preview of the Baby First TV channel, a satellite and cable channel that is filled with programming for baby. Reread that last bit if you think I said about baby, as that is not what this channel is about. It is programming made exclusively for the entertainment of babies.

While I am not a fan of parking a child in front of a television set to keep them occupied, I nonetheless was intrigued by a channel that was supposedly filled with educational, fun shows just for them. What I discovered were shows that not only seemed like they would be good fun for young babies, but also for kids up through about kindergarten. And while there are other channels already available that carry programming for kids, this channel's programming is definitely different than what is already out there.

They have a show, I Can Sign, that teaches signing, which is a task that more and more childcare specialists are promoting for interacting with young children who cannot yet verbalize vocally their wants and needs. I also thought this was a great idea for children in general, especially as children who need to sign could potentially be your own child's classmate, neighbor, or best friend. They also have a show Black & White, which is created with the color scheme of black and white. Very young infants have long been known to be stimulated by this stark color difference.

The Number Farm gets the youngest kids counting along with Peep the chick and all the farm friends. Sandman allows young viewers to watch a sculpture shape all sorts of creations out of sand. As the name suggests, this can be a very soothing show for kids to watch. That aspect seemed to be a big part of what this channel is all about. While a lot of channel's shows that are supposedly geared for young children are loud, action packed to the point that they could be described as inciting of children's erupting, this channel's program often seems to have the opposite effect. Many of the shows have a very specific task that they are helping infants and young children to learn, or are at the least helping kids to keep calm while taking in some often useful information. Besides the shows I listed, there are several more regulars, including Rainbow Horse, Color Symphony, Brainy Baby, and Hide and Seek.

While I am still not a fan of the act of sticking a child in front of a television to occupy their time, I think there is a lot to like in this channel's offerings. If a mother were having a hard time getting a little one to settle down for a feeding, or to be soothed to sleep while being rocked, turning on this channel for a bit of extra soothing could come in handy for the fussiest of kids. If a parent or caregiver had several young children, playing together while he or she supervises, and something tempting other than the other child could keep one child from hitting or poking at the other one for a few minutes, this channel might be just what they need. That they might actually learn something, while watching is a bonus.

If you are interested in learning more about this channel, check them out on the web at BabyFirstTV. Be sure to read the section on what this channel can do for you and your child. It has some interesting facts listed, including that instead of just another channel; it should be looked at as an educational tool. There is also an explanation there on how the programming guide that accompanies the channel is color-coded. The flower logo that accompanies each show changes color according to the shows value. The following chart is included on the site to help you discern what value your child might gain while watching their programming:

Yellow Flower for Thinking Journey (creative thinking)
Blue Flower for Numbers Parade (math)
Green Flower for Sensory Wonderland (sensory)
Red Flower for Language Playground (language)
Orange Flower for Feelings Garden (social skills)
Pink Flower for Imagination Lane (creative play)
Multi-Colored Flower for Rainbow Dreams (soothing lullabies)

If you have a young child and have a chance to check out this new channel, do so. You just might find it as interesting as I did.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Too Early for Reading? Think Again!

When is it too early to introduce your baby to books and the joy of reading? The answer may surprise many new parents, but the reply is that it is never really "too early." Experts are saying that as soon as you want to start reading to your little one is fine. If he or she is not able to comprehend what you are actually saying, at least there will be an association with good feelings, a calm and even voice, and a book.

Children are learning to read earlier than in the past, too. Parents often work with children with some kind of phonics program before the child is at the point in school when learning to read usually took place in the past. It may be one of the few things that have proven beneficial when it comes to wanting children to excel a little earlier than it would have happened if a parent would not have gotten involved.

One of the better ways to make sure a child knows what a wonderful and magical world it is when one has a love of reading is to let the little one see you with a book. When the baby has grown into "toddlerhood" and can comprehend what you are saying, talk about some of the books you liked when you were a child. Let him know that there is a whole magic world in the pages of books.

As soon as the child is old enough, start taking him to the children's section of your local library. It is a good idea to allow him to choose the books that will be checked out. They may not look so great to you and you may have chosen differently, but try to grin and bear it and let the little one choose her own adventures.

Allow your toddler or preschooler to follow along in picture books. Take the time to point out what's happening in pictures and listen to what the child is saying and observing. After a time you will notice that they have parts of favorite books memorized and will go along pretending to "read" by reciting the memorized sections of the book.

Don't forget that there are words, and thus a reason to read to a child, everywhere in life. All the food boxes and cans have words, billboards while traveling, things that come in the mail, and so on. Point out words, especially the same words that you know the child is used to seeing in favorite picture books.

One thing that is always fun is to record a reading session on a micro cassette recorder. The child will not only be able to hear you reading the book again (and will maybe want to follow along in the book while listening to the tape) but will be learning to follow along with the words while doing so. Kids love hearing their own voices on cassette tape, so it will be fun hearing the discussion about the pictures, too.

Consider playing a word game. Print out a dozen or so words onto papers and tell the child to try to match the word to the household item it matches. (Don't forget to make one of those cards "Mom") If he is too young to truly be able to read the words, draw a little helpful sketch onto the card. It may seem like too young of an age to catch on, but they will start associating the shapes of the letters they see with the sounds that come with the words.

Remember that starting to build a library for the child is important even if you visit the library often. It is always a good idea to have some books available that will belong to the child. One great place to look for books is yard and garage sales. You will also be able to find tons of books on eBay, but keep an eye on the shipping charges. Unfortunately many sellers are starting to charge much too much for shipping.

If it is difficult for you to buy books due to finances and the budget, consider requesting books for the child for birthdays and Christmas from family members who will be asking for gift ideas. It is a great way to be able to add to the ever-growing personal library that will hopefully be a treasure to the child for many years to come.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Getting Your Baby Registry Right

I recently helped plan a baby shower for a friend of mine who is due with her first baby at the end of the summer. Her husband (who is in on the surprise baby shower) gave us gals a tip that his wife had registered at Babies R Us. She added a second and a third registry at two chain department stores as well. So when it came to gift-buying time, I was thrilled to have three extensive registries to choose from. Problem was, girlfriend didn't have a clue as to what she was doing when she went registry "shopping".

My friend, who knows the sex of her baby, has no rhyme or reason to what she registered for. From the three stores, she has registered for over 2 dozen fleece blankets, 5 baby bath tubs, 5 terrycloth baby robes-- not to mention a bunch of room decor items that have nothing to do with her nursery theme--we're talking she's asking for jungle print stuff, Winnie the Pooh stuff, moon and stars stuff-- you name it. I honestly think the poor girl just went through the stores and put a checkmark next to anything and everything that she thought was remotely cute. The girl has registered for 4 different Boppy pillows but not one bouncy seat, car seat or baby monitor.

I realize that not all first time mom's have a network of Mommy friends to help guide them through times like this. That is why I am here, to guide you to what you should and shouldn't do when it comes to your baby registry:

Do only register at one store. Two at the most. Why? It's too confusing for people to bounce back and forth to see what you already got from where. And in this age of online shopping, any store you pick is convenient for your friends to shop at-- no matter where they live.

Do pick a theme and stick with it. If your baby's nursery is going to be teddy bear theme, try to register for coordinating items. People love to buy cute items like that!

Do ask for big ticket items. Sometimes, shower guest like to pitch in for things like strollers, Pack and Plays and car seats. Wait until you're sure your last baby shower has been thrown before you break down and buy these items yourself.

Don't register for a million of the same item-- you might end up getting them all and even in this day and age of gift receipts it's a real pain to return stuff when you have a newborn in tow.

This is what you need of the following:

Just a few fleece baby blankets. Believe me, someone's Grandma or Aunt Tilly will be crocheting you a homemade one, too. You will soon find that you (and your baby) will like to use the same two blankets over and over. All the rest are overkill.

Baby robes. Cute idea, but not necessary. Your baby will go from the tub straight into to his or her pajamas. There is no time for robes. But if you register for one, it's cute for photo ops. Other than that, it will hang all alone in baby's closet.

Baby gear. Don't ask for 3 kinds of tubs-- pick one that you like and hope that you get it. Same goes for baby monitors, baby chairs and every other type of baby accessory.

Skip the stuff for older babies. Resist the urge to register for stuff that your baby won't need during his or her first year. You will have enough new baby "junk" cluttering up you house that you won't want to deal with stuff that's not needed until the baby starts walking!

Forget gadgets like diaper warmers and bottle warmers-- they just take up space and may even turn your baby into a demanding diva. If you're breast feeding, you will have no need for a bottle warmer and if you're bottle feeding, start your baby off right by serving formula at room temperature. Rest assured, your baby can tolerate room temperature baby wipes, too.

Pick a few fun things. If you see an interesting toy or a book, register for it. Your friends want to buy you gifts that you will love. Help them out by making your baby registry concise and easy to understand!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Importance of Prenatal Vitamins

When a pregnancy occurs, most people will want to immediately find out what are the best and most healthy things to do for the baby. One of the things that you will be discussing with your doctor at the first office visit concerns a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement.

You will probably question whether you really need to take a supplement. Most doctors will say that yes, it certainly is something that is important for the growing and developing baby. Even if the expectant mother is very careful about the foods she eats, there are certain nutrients that are vital for the baby, so a supplement assures that the mother is receiving the proper nutrition.

Prenatal supplements have many of the minerals and vitamins that are needed, but there are a few things in which they lack. One of these things is calcium so drinking milk and eating dairy products such as yogurt, cottage cheese, hard cheese, and so on, becomes extra important while you are pregnant. If you are lactose intolerant or can't digest dairy products for some other reason, ask the doctor about taking a separate calcium supplement.

As a side note here, I have been buying and using calcium chews in a chocolate flavor for a while now and it is certainly a more pleasant way to get a calcium supplement than swallowing the huge pills that I had before for a calcium boost.

Another thing that your prenatal vitamin probably won't be sufficient with is the Omega-3 fatty acids that you get in things such as fish. It is important to eat fish but you may also want to ask your doctor if you will need a separate supplement for those fatty acids.

Keep in mind that your prenatal vitamin should never replace eating properly. It needs to be an addition to a good diet. Be sure to eat protein and vegetables, fruits and dairy products, etc. Grains are also important at all times, but especially for healthy eating during a pregnancy.

There are a few nutrients found in prenatal vitamins that a mother-to-be probably doesn't get enough of from her daily food alone. These include iron and folic acid. Your doctor will be able to tell you how much of each you should have in your supplement. Don't be afraid to ask these questions if they do not come up during your doctor visit.

Folic acid definitely helps with the development and health of the baby. Having enough iron assures that you will not have to be facing a rather common problem in pregnancy that involves a temporary anemia. You need more iron during pregnancy than you need at other times, so be sure to get enough, both with the foods you eat and your prenatal supplement.

It is important to remember that your supplement during pregnancy is to replace any vitamins you may be taking daily at other times. Do not add a prenatal vitamin to any others that you are already taking. Take only what the doctor prescribes during these nine months.

Your doctor will most likely suggest writing a prescription for your prenatal vitamin. That is fine and a great idea especially if you have some kind of prescription coverage with your health insurance. If you feel that you can not afford a prescription, however, the doctor should be glad to tell you what nutrients to look for if you buy a generic prenatal vitamin over the counter. It is important to take the time to ask for special instructions, such as whether you may need more iron than a usual generic brand will provide. It is also a good idea to take your vitamins to the next doctor visit (if you didn't use a prescription) to have your doctor check to see if it does indeed contain all the vitamins and minerals that you should be having, and in the proper amounts for you.

It is really quite rare, but sometimes certain vitamins or minerals can cause nausea or other stomach upset. Iron seems to be one of the biggest culprits in causing this. If you feel that something isn't feeling right after you start to take your prenatal vitamins, by all means mention it to your doctor. He or she can certainly suggest an alternative way for you to get your nutrients without having to face all those months of extra sickness from your vitamin.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Need a Sitter for the Summer?

Another school year has passed and it's time for school children to start making some great summer memories. It should be a time of laughter and happiness, not a time for them to get up in the morning and dread having to see the babysitter. There are ways to assure you find a good sitter for the kids, it just takes a little bit of research and a checklist of sorts. Just because you already have a great sitter for the baby doesn't mean the same person will work well for older children suddenly being under her care at the same time.

The first thing to remember is that every babysitter is not going to be a magically perfect fit for each child or group of siblings. As a parent, you need to ask questions and not just assume that if someone is a babysitter they will know how to take care of children properly or even be attentive to the children at all.

Don't be afraid to ask questions and by all means, ask for references and follow up on them. That may sound like a useless activity since a sitter would not give a reference of someone he or she had trouble with, or that their kids didn't like the sitter, but take it a step further and when you are calling a reference, ask if they know anyone *else* for whom the prospective sitter has worked. In that way you will have more of a full picture of the sitter's style and knowledge of child care. Being good with babies doesn't mean the same sitter will be good with a 5th grader at the same time.

The trend in desired sitters seems to have turned over the last decade or so. In the past, the "perfect" summer babysitter was often a teenager who was also free from school and wishing to make a little money during vacation. Slowly the trend turned toward working parents wanting to have other parents watching their children, however. That does not mean that it's necessarily the better choice, but an added benefit may be a playmate or two for your child.

If you decide on a younger sitter, you may want to ask the teen to come by your home for a day or two when you can be there. It will give you a chance to watch the interaction with your children and they will be able to tell you their feelings about the sitter before you make a final decision. It is only fair to pay the teen for the two or three days for that observation. If you just have someone starting to come by out of the blue one day, it will be too late for your children to have any say in the matter concerning who they will be spending most of the summer with.

If it is at all possible, it is usually a better idea to have a sitter come to your home for the day than to have to take the children somewhere else. It means a lot to be with their own belongings, own room, etc. during the daytimes to avoid boredom. Be sure that the sitter knows (and will adhere to) any house rules you have concerning internet time or supervision or television time.

Having trouble finding a sitter? Check to see if the Red Cross babysitting course is offered in your area. If it is, they should be able to give you some referrals on people who have completed the course. It is especially important for sitters of school aged children to know first aid and basically know how to handle any emergency that may arise. This would include natural disasters (such as being in an earthquake or tornado prone area, or a city that may be marked as a terrorism target).

Babies and preschoolers are often supervised constantly, but older school aged children are often outside playing and maybe even going with friends or around the neighborhood. This makes it extra important to make sure there are rules for the sitter about knowing where the children are, having them check in when possible, and so on. Make sure to write down the house rules on matters such as this.

The other things to keep in mind are just basic babysitter issues. Have a list of phone numbers available and go over security issues. Be sure the sitter knows if he or she is allowed to discipline the children (with time outs or being sent to their room, NEVER by striking, of course).

Friday, June 09, 2006

When your Infant turns into a Toddler

By Christina VanGinkel

Keeping your infant safe is often straightforward. You handle them with care, you do not expose them to people who are sick, you watch over them to keep them safe from various troubles, such as not leaving them unattended when they are playing, or in situations that could cause them harm, and you love them. The rest of it in most circumstances naturally follows. Then, that same small infant transforms into a toddler, and the task of keeping them safe still involves all of the same things you did when they were infants, but also much more. They can often be their own worst risk factor when it comes to some of the things they will find to get into or attempt to do.

Toddlers are busy exploring the world around them, and they are not concerned with issues such as safety. To them, jumping off the couch is the perfect way for them to see if they can fly like the birds at the feeder. They do not see the coffee table with the glass top as a potential hazard. They watch you plug the radio into the light socket, and out comes music. They wonder if they plug the dog's tail into the same outlet, if the dog will sing. What looks like water under the sink might be ammonia, but they just see a bottle that looks like something to drink. Crossing the road each day to grab the mail from the roadside mailbox is second nature to us, so why should they not be able to cross it they wonder. If you do not watch them and explain to them why they are not allowed to cross it without your help, you can almost be assured that they will try it. They like to mimic what we as adults do, and then some. They often come up with things that just leave the adults around them shaking their heads in wonder on how they ever dreamed up what they are doing. With all of the confusion, as they are learning so much about life in such a short span of time, it is up to the adults in their lives to be sure that these and other hazards never have a chance to happen.

As a good parent, you probably walked around your house, or even got down on your hands and knees and crawled around it so you were at their eye level, looking for hazards that as an adult you might otherwise have overlooked. You think you have done everything you can to keep the place they call home safe. You installed safety covers on the electrical outlets, and wrapped up loose cords. You have locks on the cabinets, and covers on the stove knobs. Now that they are getting a bit older though, it is time to go through the house again. Also, add any outside area that they play in, and be sure to pay close attention to all the entry doors leading into and out of your home. If you have a child who wanders, make sure that they cannot gain access to the outside of the house without you being aware of it. Years ago, I had friends who had problems with their three-year-old daughter leaving the house whenever she felt like going to visit her grandmother who lived just down the street. Recognizing the potential danger in this, they not only talked to her about why she should not do this, they added bells to the doorknobs, and also changed the locks so that she could not as easily open the doors.

My own grandson recently tried a similar tactic, escaping to the yard while his parents thought he was safely in his room playing. They also ended up changing the locks and talking to him about why this was not something he should do again. His parents explained to him that if he wanted to play outside, all he had to do were to come and ask. As long as they were not busy doing something else, they would take him, or they would shortly after, as long as he asked. With toddlers, parents and caregivers often just say no or punish a child when they do something that they should not. They forget to explain to the child why they are taking the action that they are. Toddlers are like big sponges when it comes to information though. If we just take the time to explain things, once, twice, a dozen times, eventually it will sink in and they will gain an understanding.

If you have progressed from being the parent of an infant, to being the parent of a toddler, take the time to do another household safety check, then never take anything for granted where your child and safety is concerned again. Toddlers are notorious for doing things adults never thought they would or could do. While this is natural, it does mean that from here on out, a major portion of your time is going to be used up staying on top of all the things your toddler will do in exploring the world around them. Take heart in knowing that this is all natural and every parent of a toddler will go through some of the same things you are going through. Also, remember that talking to your toddler and explaining why they cannot do certain things, can go a long way towards helping them understand and keeping them from repeating at least some of the unwanted behavior and actions.