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Everyday Moments throughout provides you and your child memorable opportunities to learning through summer adventures! A time to capture sights and sounds where you and your child make new sensational experiences. Whatever you have planned for the summer, creating a summer routine adds memories to the precious moments you already spend with your child.

What are Everyday Nature Activities?

For new parents, summer is a great time to bring your child outside to explore nature using their five senses: hear, touch, smell, sight, and taste. This could be your child’s first time exploring nature; take it slow as they become more comfortable with their senses as you explore those moments together. For instance, you could point to a flower and describe the petal and stem colours. Then, smell the flower together to discover a particular scent. Being able to share outdoor Everyday Moments means your child will become more comfortable exploring nature-like features such as plants, animals, and weather conditions. A nature activities offers a variety in terms of materials, along with new ways of experiencing existing indoor activities. A planned routine could mean your child feels more prepared and confident to conquer the activities planned for the day!

Planning a routine is like having a tool box of activities to experience throughout the summer. Having a variety of activities on hand makes life easier for you and your child to plan activities and build your schedule. Summer time feels warm and light, feel free to change up activities to fit your child’s interests and environment. For example, if it rains when you initially planned an outdoor picnic, don’t be afraid to host an indoor picnic!

Activities Anytime Anywhere

Everyday Moment Summer Activities

› Wake Up Time

Infant : Massage your Baby: Arms and Hands
Toddler : Toddler Sees Mr. Sunrise
Preschooler : Preschooler Wake-up Routine

› Meal Time

Infant: Baby Feast Food Experience
Toddler: Toddler Picnic
Preschooler: Preschool Ice-cream Snack

› Play Time

Infant: Baby Nature Walk
Toddler: Toddler Playing Ball
Preschooler: Preschool Painting with Nature

› Tidy-up Time

Toddler: Toddler Cleans up a Mess
Preschooler: Preschool Tidy-up Time

› Change Time

Infant: Baby Tickles
Toddler: Toddler Colour Day Game
Preschooler: Preschooler Buttons

› Bed Time

Infant: Baby Bath and Wash Time
Toddler: Toddler Sees Twinkle Star
Preschooler: Preschool Bed-Time

Everyday Moments are precious moments in the day where nurture, explore, and share happen between you and your child (i.e. wake-up, meal time, bed time, story time). A summer routine is unique because children can respond differently to the outdoor environment (i.e. weather, plants, animals, scent). The outdoors provide another place to bond with your child. Bonding time supports your child’s emotional and social development to think out loud and describe feelings of other and of self. Activities in this summer guide are geared towards babies, toddlers, and preschoolers which you may find helpful to add to your summer routine.

Participating in summer activities is entertaining and enjoyable, however, planning the activity can be just as fun! Hunting for materials for an art project for example, can be a game in itself. One way to get into planning is to be as curious as your child is. For example, you might point at a beautiful rainbow and your child might ask “What is a rainbow? Add an outdoor element to your painting activity outdoors, by painting the colours of the rainbow with your child with sticks and leaves instead of paint brushes.

Spending time with your child creates a lifelong social and emotional connection towards a loving relationship. When your child is familiar with your voice and touch, they will respond with safety and security. Your child will thrive knowing you are there to support them even when they feel afraid. Is your child afraid of walking under a running water spray? To reassure your child’s fear, you might say, “The water is surprising, but if watch the rhythm of the fountain, you might figure out the best time to run through, watch me!”. Exploring new activities together in a nurturing environment helps to develop their understanding of fear and how to overcome those fears.

Did you know:

  • Pretend play helps your child to develop problem-solving and social skills to be able to share ideas and feelings.
  • Building independence means giving your child time to try a challenging task such as pulling their shirt over their head.
  • Sharing feelings develops your child’s emotional understanding of others and self.
  • Your child can overcome fears based on your reassuring voice. For instance, you pet the dog and say “This is a nice dog”. Wait for your child to pet the dog, then in a calm voice respond, “The dog loves to be petted by you, I’m right here”.

Complete Summer Guide PDF download coming soon!

« Summer Activity Guide Part 2: The Pursuit of Summer Fun »

Have you ever wondered how your child is learning, for example, learning languages? Little do we know, it’s all comes from the way we speak and how much we speak. In other words, repeating words and sentences to your child can improve their development in language and literacy—their ability to read and write. Below are some great tips that will support you as a parent in taking part in your child’s speaking, understanding, writing and reading skills.

Reading bedtime stories

What are the reasons behind reading to your child? There are many benefits but the most important is that reading helps your child learn new words and understand different languages. The best part is, you can read to your child in more than one language and they will still learn to speak and understand that language. The key is to keep reading to your child, as much as possible, especially the stories they are most interested in.


  • A child needs to hear 1000 stories before they will learn to read
  • Reading aloud to babies builds their memory skills
  • Asking your child what’s not in a story could expand their thinking and imagination
  • Bonding– chemical change of skin to skin while reading

Repeating words & sentences

How is your child able to remember so many words? It all depends on how many times you repeat a word. Your child will learn as many words as you say out loud but the key is to repeat words again and again. For example, when you take your child grocery shopping, you can name the items you place into your basket such as “this is orange juice”. The more detailed the sentence, the better for your child to understand. Grocery shopping is not the only time to teach words to your child, you can teach your child at any time of the day or night: dinner time, bath time, cooking, play time etc. The everyday moments you are already spending with your child are the very best times to build language and literacy skills.


  • 50% of words in English language can be learned by just sounding out the word
  • Children need to hear a specific word 250 times before they remember it
  • The more words parents use when speaking to their baby, the greater size of their child’s vocabulary by the age of 3

Singing songs

Songs and nursery rhymes are always a great way of leaning new languages. Usually, your child will end up getting bored by simply hearing the words but you can make it more fun by singing songs and nursery rhymes to them. This way, your child is not only having fun but also learning new words through the songs and nursery rhymes. The songs below may be enjoyable for your child because they consist of many repeating words:

More songs with lyrics »


  • A child who knows 4 nursery rhymes by the age of 4 will naturally be a better reader by age 8
  • During the first few months, your baby just likes to hear your voice, so it doesn’t matter what you sing or read to them
  • When you sing, your voice soothes your baby

Preschoolers will love to mix together the following ingredients, and squeeze, stretch and shape the dough into crazy creatures they can bake, butter and bite into!

You will need:

  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
  • Coarse salt, sesame or poppy seeds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425° F. Grease two baking sheets.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Combine the flour, sugar and salt, and gradually stir it into the water and yeast mixture. When enough dry ingredients have been added, begin to knead the dough on a floured surface. Keep adding the flour until it is all mixed in. Children can use small pieces of dough and shape them into snakes, dinosaurs, insects…anything! There is enough dough to make about 25 creatures. When all the dough has been shaped, place the creations onto the prepared baking sheets. Brush each creature with the egg mixture and sprinkle with salt or seeds, if desired. Bake for 25 minutes, and when cooled, enjoy!

1. At about this age, children start to think more about the feelings of others.

You can talk with your child about things they do that affect other people. For instance, ask how your child would feel if someone interrupted them while talking. You might agree on a signal, like touching your arm, for when your child wants a turn to talk.

2. During the preschool years, your child will learn to share you with other people.

Give your child the chance to be involved with you or other children for short periods of time. Praise your child for the times when they are playing contentedly on their own.

3. Encourage your preschooler to try new things.

Refrain from pushing  beyond your child’s limits. An activity may seem easy to you, but your child may not be ready for it. Listen to your child, especially when they are scared. Avoid making them try something because you want to do it or you see other children doing it.

4. Resist the impulse to take over your child’s play and make it better.

This may reduce your child’s self-confidence. It can make your child feel as if their work is not worthy of your appreciation.

5. The most important way to build your child’s self-esteem is to make sure your child knows they are loved.

Your child will then begin to see himself as a good, lovable person. Each time your child learns a new skill, right from the earliest days, let your child know how well they have done. You should also encourage your child to cope with new situations, but only expect what’s likely for their age, not perfection.

6. Give your preschooler lots of chances to play – alone, with brothers and sisters, with other children and with you.

When your child plays, they are practicing skills in every area. Your child thinks, solves problems, talks, moves, co-operates and makes moral judgments. Play is helping them get ready for the real world.

7. Praise your child’s attempts to try new things and to deal with frustrating situations.

Never punish, shame or ridicule a child who tries and fails. This can damage or destroy their fragile self-esteem. For the same reason, don’t look for perfection or constant success. Expect only what your child is capable of for their age and stage of development.

8. Make it clear what your expectations and limits are – it helps to prevent problems.

Enforce these limits consistently but always respect your child. Try not to yell, or humiliate your child, and never use physical punishment.

9. When you spend time with your child, let him take the lead sometimes.

Choose what you’ll do together by talking about possible choices and exchanging points of view.

10. A child needs to be given choices as they build confidence and independence.

Deciding what to wear each day is a good place to start. Offer your preschooler two or three choices that suit the weather and (hopefully) the occasion. Even if your child’s choices are not what you would prefer, be happy that your child is happy.

1. Now is the time to start setting limits that go beyond safety.

Decide on a few rules that really matter. For instance, “be gentle” and “no hurting others” are good rules for a toddler. Try not to have too many limits or rules about little things that are not important. If you do, everyone will end up getting angry. Let your child know what the rules are and stick to them. Be firm and be consistent. Remind her of the limits before going out or doing something new. And make sure your child’s caregivers know the rules, too.

2. Toddlers respond better to limits when they feel loved. Try talking to your toddler in a positive way.

Say, “Please close the door quietly,” instead of “Don’t slam the door.” Pay attention to his good behaviour and tell him that you are proud of him. This can build your child’s self-esteem and he won’t want to battle with you all the time.

3. It takes time for toddlers to learn to make friends and get along with others.

Their social skills will improve as they learn to talk and control their movements more. Playing with your child will help her get ready to be with others. Talk with her in a happy, playful way. You can even act out ways of dealing with new situations that your toddler will face.

4. When you need to leave your toddler with a new caregiver, start by introducing them for short periods of time when you are there, too.

Try to let your child get used to the caregiver before you leave them full-time. For the first few days, stay with your child and the caregiver for a little while. This will help your child adjust and help you learn more about daycare. Stay for a little less time each day. This will make the first couple of weeks easier for you and your child.

5. Bring your toddler’s favourite toy and a snack when you go out.

Talk about where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. Tell him how you expect him to behave (“Stay with Mommy”). Also be careful about the time of day you go – children need their snacks and naps. If you think the outing will be too much for your child, leave him at home or with a caregiver, if you can.

6. Toddlers need routines.

They learn to expect what will happen next. This gives them a feeling of control. Bedtime routines are important and can make life happier for everyone. Set a regular bedtime hour. Make a routine that includes calming things like a bath or reading a book. To help your child learn the routine, tell her ahead of time what the next step will be.

7. Toddlers will get into mischief.

Faster than you can imagine! They are busy exploring the world around them. It is not difficult for them to break things or hurt themselves. Make sure your toddler has safe surroundings and is never alone for long.

8. All toddlers break the rules at times.

How you respond depends on the situation and your child’s age. Think about how your child is feeling. When he misbehaves, it’s often because he is upset. He isn’t trying to make you mad – he just doesn’t know how to tell you what’s bothering him. Try to figure it out. Was he bored without you? Was he excitedly trying new things? Understanding your child’s feelings may help you guide him better.

9. Your toddler needs to know that you will be there when she needs you.

A secure child will more eagerly explore the world around her. If you notice that your child is having difficulty, stop what you’re doing and go to help her. If she is finding it hard to be part of the group, try giving her a toy related to the group’s play to help her join in.

10. Being a parent can be tough.

Parents need to give each other support. Some parents form groups to talk and help each other out. Ask your local health unit, library or community centre to help you find one of these groups. It’s important you know you’re not alone. Research confirms that all parents both need and want help!

1. Long before your baby can talk, they are learning about language.

They are sending you clues about what they need, wants and feels. They will test different cries, gurgles and facial expressions to see how you respond. Then they’ll keep doing the ones that get the results they want. As they learn that they can make things happen, they will develop confidence and want to try new things. Keep on talking with your baby. Try repeating the sounds they make and adding new ones.

2. Learning to “read” your baby is fun, but can be a challenge.

They smile – you smile back. They reach out – you touch their hand. If they turn their head away when you speak, that can hurt you. But she may be telling you they are tired. Or maybe they need your voice to be softer. They may just want to be left alone for a moment. It takes trial and error to figure out what your baby is trying to tell you, so be patient.

3. Babies experience relationships through their senses.

The best way to tell your baby you love them is with lots of talking, cuddling and eye contact. You cannot always be there when they want a hug. But when they are“asking” for a hug, do your best to deliver.

4. Your baby forms a secure attachment to you as you care for them.

Through daily routines, your baby learns that they can rely on you. They gain a feeling of safety. This trusting attachment sets the basis for their future relationships.

5. You cannot spoil your baby by responding to their needs.

Babies are born with a need for human contact. In the process of providing it, you learn more about them, and they learn more about you. They learn that they can count on you.

6. Special moments need time.

Not all of your one-on-one moments with your baby will be happy and special. You need to spend lots of time getting used to each other for those special moments to happen. They will happen more if you focus on your child while doing everyday things.

7. Babies are most ready to learn when they are calm and alert, in a quiet environment.

This is a good time to spend with your baby and to play.

8. Toys can’t take your place.

Giving your baby toys and other safe things to play with is good for their development. But playing WITH your child is even more important to their well-being.

9. Even when you are really busy, it’s important to make time for your baby.

Housework isn’t the top priority. If you have a partner, try to take turns with chores and with spending time with your baby. Build a circle of friends, relatives and neighbours. We can all use a bit of help!

10. You don’t have to be perfect to be a terrific parent.

So relax. And your child doesn’t have to be perfect to be a terrific child. You will both make mistakes, and you will both recover. So enjoy each other now because babies grow up quickly!

As your infant grows a little older, here are some things to add to your daily routine.

It’s a good idea, whenever you’re with your baby, to just carry on a running conversation about what you’re doing. This is an important way of preparing them to speak for themselves later on.

Realize that since crying is still your baby’s main way of communicating with you, it helps to learn to be more aware of what many of your child’s cries mean, such as “I’m hungry,” or “I need changing,” or “I’m tired or bored,” or “I want attention.”

And, as your baby becomes more interested in exploring their world with you, and shows interest in colours, music and touching things, it’s best not to over-stimulate your child. For example, there’s no need to buy all sorts of toys at this age, although your child will enjoy toys such as rattles to grasp and bright objects to look at. Ordinary household objects and regular routines like feeding, bathing and dressing usually provide enough stimulation.

Baby and toy stores are full of toys for babies. Our experts have put together a list of some of the most popular options to help you choose what will work best for your new baby.


Mobiles help your baby focus and improve their vision. Watching moving objects stimulates your baby to track the object with their eyes, and if the mobile offers music or sounds, this can enhance your baby’s listening skills.

  • Encourage your baby to take notice of their surroundings by pointing out the mobile’s features, colours, characters or lights if it has them
  • Change the mobile’s position every once in a while, or change your baby’s position so they get a new view.

Music Boxes

Playing music or recordings of sounds from nature is a great way to enhance your baby’s listening skills as well as to calm and soothe your infant.

  • Use a crib soother to help stop crying or calm them down, this helps to support your baby’s efforts to self-regulate.
  • Sing or hum along with the music to encourage your baby to focus attention on you and to feel soothed by the sound of your voice.

Soft or Stuffed Toys

These toys help to encourage your baby’s emotional and intellectual development. Babies recognize and respond to faces very early. As they develop the ability to focus, seeing a familiar face is comforting to them. The soft, cushy texture of a stuffed toy is also soothing, especially when babies are not being held and cuddled.

  • Place the toy or doll within her view at arm’s length away. The doll’s face will be a source of visual interest, and the soft texture of the fabric will be interesting to touch.
  • Hug, kiss and coo at them. Near the end of the first month, demonstrate cuddling and nurturing behavior on a stuffed animal. for your baby.
  • Move the doll up and down in front of your child, then a little to the left and to the right. Watch to see if your baby is able to track the doll with their eyes.
  • Be sure to remove any stuffed or soft toys from your baby’s crib when they are sleeping.

Child-Safe Activity Mirrors

Babies love to gaze at their own reflection; they are fascinated by what they see. This encourages self-recognition, enhancing their emotional development. It also fosters eye-hand coordination as baby reaches to touch the mirror.

  • Initiate your baby’s sense of self-recognition by pointing to their reflection in the mirror, and then to your own.  Play a peek-a-boo game.  Also, point out your facial features to help your baby make the connections.
  • Go to other mirrors in the house and show your baby how your reflections show up in those mirrors, too.
  • Give them some tummy-time play. Position this mirror in front of your baby so when they are ready to put their face up, they can look at themselves in a new way.

Manipulative Toys

Manipulative toys examples include simple rattles; teethers; light, sturdy cloth toys, squeeze toys; toys suspended above or to the side of baby for batting and grasping. Your baby will start to grasp these toys at about 6-8 weeks. As they move their hand, they will be attracted to the colours and the sounds.

Although, these toys can encourage your baby’s development, you will still remain as your baby’s favourite toy!

Learn more about choosing baby toys for your infant


All babies need their parents and caregivers to provide sensitive, responsive attention to them. When you do this, your baby learns to trust you and forms an attachment to you.

Your baby will send cues to you when he is ready for you to engage with him, and will send different cues when he has had enough.

  • Crying: babies cry when their feelings are out of control. They cry when they are hungry, tired, bored or in pain. Find more on crying here.
  • Facial expressions: quivering lips and furrowed eyebrows usually mean your baby has had enough stimulation, and just needs some comfort, or some down time. A smile means she is ready to engage with you.
  • Eyes: wide open eyes are an indication your baby is ready for more contact. An averted gaze means, please stop whatever you are doing.
  • Gestures: even small babies can bat things away, when they are tired or irritable. And they quickly learn to hold their arms up, when they want to be picked up.

Your baby’s cues are signals for you to provide some attention, but what kind of attention? Here are a number of different ways you can engage with your baby:

  • Soothe him
  • Feed him
  • Hold and cuddle him
  • Provide body contact, or skin-to-skin contact
  • Show affection
  • Gesture back – mimic him
  • Change your facial expression
  • Sing, hum, whistle
  • Talk to him as if he can understand you
  • Do some physical activities, like running, skipping or jumping together

If your baby is feeling hurt, sick, upset, sad, frightened or lonely:

  • Comfort and reassure her by holding, kissing, and talking quietly and calmly
  • Take her to a quieter environment where it is calm

You can make it easy for your child to become attached to you by paying special attention to her when caring for her daily physical needs. For example, during:

  • Feeding – hold your baby comfortably, looking at your baby face-to-face, this is an opportunity to hold your baby skin-to-skin
  • Diapering/dressing – talk, sing, smile, and play games, such as peek-a-boo
  • Sleeping – sing a pre-nap song, recite a rhyme or tell a story, hold and rock your baby
  • Bathing – talk about the body parts as you wash and dry your baby

Sometimes new parents feel awkward with their new baby or have trouble relating to her. This is a normal feeling and will usually pass.

Our experts have developed some tips to help you when you’re feeling this way.

If you are having trouble relating to your baby, here are some tips that may help.

Remember that bonding is a process that takes caring, patience and time. Your feelings for your baby will grow stronger over time.

Understand how important you are to your baby. Your baby needs to feel comforted and protected by you.

Although some of these things might feel awkward at first, here are some ways to begin to build a warm relationship with your child (even if you don’t feel that warm at first)

  • Hold your child close, talk warmly about what you or your child is doing, and provide hugs and kisses.
  • Try singing or telling a story to your child – whatever songs or stories you like. Be yourself and your baby will come to love it.
  • Try playing some games like peek-a-boo or ‘I’m going to get you.’

Even if it feels like this is “not really you,” create your own version of these activities. Over time, both you and your baby will become more relaxed and appreciative of each other.

Were you warned? Many new parents are. Often, grandparents and other experienced parents pass on solemn warnings to new parents like you about the challenges of dealing with your baby’s willful misbehaviour. But, what is the truth and what is fiction? Is it possible that your baby is capable of defying you? Of being manipulative?

It’s hard to believe but, as your baby’s mind develops, it can happen: Your little angel demands to be picked up or refuses to nap. Our experts have put together some tips to help you find out when this behaviour starts and what you can do about it.

The Beginnings of Will

Let’s take a closer look at your baby’s will. What does “will” look like in the beginning?

You will begin to see glimmers of your baby’s will during the period from 4 to 6 months. By 4 months of age, your baby may begin to cry in an attempt to have you come and play with her. This behaviour doesn’t usually become regular or really purposeful until the end of the sixth month or later.

The onset of your baby’s deliberate crying to call for you indicates that she has trust in your relationship, because you have reliably met her needs when she has cried in the past.

This type of crying is different from regular fussy periods, which often appear at the end of the day. The fussy periods are more related to your baby’s adjustments to her nervous system, along with her ever changing sleeping, eating and activity levels.

What triggers will?

Your baby’s newfound ability to crawl around independently fuels his developing sense of separateness. From 7 to 10 months, your baby experiences a rapid growth in his awareness of what he can control or cause to happen. What a stage! Babies become accomplished at asserting themselves in both delightful and exasperating ways.

What is will?

At about 9 months of age, willful behaviours tend to emerge. Your baby will begin showing that she has an opinion that doesn’t always correspond with yours.

There is an important distinction you need to make regarding what it means for your baby to “mind.” Often, what distresses parents is the fact that their baby refuses to have the same mind set as they do. If your baby doesn’t mind, it’s because she’s following her own will rather than listening to you. With a 6- to 12-month-old, this rarely stands for real defiance (as in, “I won’t”).  At this stage, it almost always means that she is simply stating her wishes (such as, “I don’t want to,” or even, “I really, really don’t want to.”)

Defiance is rare before your baby’s first birthday and is not very typical before 18 months of age. If you think you see an early onset of defiance, ask your baby’s physician for a referral to a child guidance clinic. This type of challenge is most successfully handled in the early stages.

A Helpful Strategy

Remember—a strong will is a sign of good health. Your baby need’s a strong will to achieve all the milestones in the following months and years of life! Don’t be afraid of it. When thinking about and working with your baby’s emerging will, there are two aspects of Positive Parenting that are particularly important.

1. Positive Parents are understanding of their baby’s temperament.

You are an understanding Positive Parent when you:

  • Understand your baby’s temperament and work with it.
  • Build on your baby’s strengths.
  • Are flexible with your baby.

2. Positive Parents are reasonable.

You are a reasonable Positive Parent when you:

  • Are consistent and predictable.
  • Set and communicate clear limits and expectations.
  • Construct consequences for irresponsible behaviour that are natural and reasonable, but not disciplinary.

If you’re going to attempt to have your baby sleep through the night, you need a good plan! If you’re not sure how to proceed with this approach, we can help.

If you’re going to attempt to have your baby sleep through the night, you need a good plan! If you’ve done night weaning, have a good going to sleep routine and you feel like your child will respond well to Cry it Out, it’s a good idea to have a plan for how to start using the method.

Not sure how to proceed with this approach? This is where we can help. In the link below, we have outlined specific steps for you to follow. Remember that if you encounter too much resistance, wait a few weeks and then try again. The timing of this approach can vary so much—depending on your individual child and yourselves.

  1. Be prepared. This method requires a large amount of groundwork. The success of this method depends on both parents preparing themselves emotionally and planning their steps carefully in advance. To begin, if you don’t have a stable bedtime routine for your baby, give yourself at least two weeks to get that firmly established. Take whatever time you need to discuss together and agree on your Cry It Out plan.
  2. Put your baby in his crib when he’s drowsy but not quite asleep.
  3. Whisper your comfort words to your child—something like “night, night” or “sh-sh-sh”—and leave the room. If she cries when you leave, let her cry for your predetermined wait period
  4. If your baby is still crying at the end of your predetermined wait period, return, but leave the light off. Keep your voice quiet and reassuring. Don’t pick him up. Instead, pat him and reassure him for no more than a minute or two. If possible, lay him down and pat his tummy or massage his temples. Leave again while he’s still awake—even if he’s crying.
  5. If your baby is still crying, follow your plan, and stay out of the room a little longer than the first time. Follow the same routine. Stay out of the room for gradually longer periods. Each time, return for only a minute or two to pat and reassure your baby. Then, leave while she’s still awake.
  6. Follow this routine until your baby falls asleep—with you out of the room.
  7. If your baby wakes up again later, follow the same routine. Begin with the minimum waiting time for that night and gradually increase the intervals between visits. Do this until you reach the maximum for that night.
  8. Increase the amount of wait time before responding each night.
  9. Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate. Each day, ask yourself how things are going for you, for your relationship and for your family. During stressful times, it’s critical for you to stay open and honest with your partner. Let your combined creativity adapt this approach to your particular needs and desires.
  10. Decide whether to continue. The Cry It Out method doesn’t always work. For some families, it works just the way it is supposed to. After a few nights and a few tears, their child sleeps contentedly through the night. For other families, the tears continue and the promised sleep doesn’t come. When this happens, you need to try something else.

Babies learn to talk long before they say their first word. Therefore, both you and your partner should talk to your baby, right from birth. Listening to and becoming familiar with the sounds of language help your baby’s brain get ready to speak. Try to talk to your baby as you feed, change, dress, soothe, bathe or play with her. For example, you can describe what you’re doing, or put what you think she is feeling into words.

Try to look at and smile at your baby, and be expressive and animated when you’re talking to him. When your baby starts to make sounds, try to repeat them and add to them. For example, if your baby says “ba-ba,” you can make it into a word, like “bye-bye” and wave as you say it.

Another way to prepare your child to speak is to talk about things your baby is seeing as you go through your daily routine. For instance, on a walk you could point out the leaves on a tree or children playing. And as your baby begins to reach for objects, repeat the name of what she is reaching for.

It’s also a good idea to read lots of stories and rhymes to your baby, and sing songs. It doesn’t matter if your baby doesn’t understand the words. The more he hears language, the more easily he will learn it.

Don’t think you can speed things up or avoid having to talk to your baby by playing tapes or the radio. It’s just not the same. Your baby needs warm interaction with you, the expression in your voice and the smile on your face in order to feel secure enough to learn. So, when listening to tapes or the radio, join in. Sing along, talk back to the radio and dance with your baby to the music.

During the first few weeks after your baby is born, you are probably not going to have the time, energy or desire to leave your baby. Eventually, though, you will want to spend time together with family or friends. Here are some tips on how to ease back into circulation:

  • Plan ahead for your outing, and how you are going to go out.
  • Look for a babysitter fairly soon after the birth or even before your baby is born.
  • Choose someone you trust, a family member or someone you know well to take care of your baby.
  • Have the sitter come over to help care for your baby while you are at home for the first few times.
  • Plan to go out for only a short period of time for the first few times.
  • Time your outings around your baby’s schedule.
  • Plan for plenty of time to give the sitter a thorough orientation.
  • Leave a number where you can be reached.
  • You may still experience some anxiety, so call home to check how things are going.

The first few times may be stressful, but your ability to relax will improve as you take more occasions away from your baby.

Babies are born with the need to form close relationships with caring and responsive adults – what childhood experts call “attachments.” If children don’t have the opportunity to develop close, uninterrupted attachments with nurturing adults during the early years, young children will find it more difficult to learn, to become confident and to trust others.

Babies can form consistent attachments with the people who are around them most. These few important relationships create a sense in your child of what kind of world this is and what her place is in it.

A secure attachment to caring adults helps your child learn to adapt to circumstances more easily, and to overcome difficult situations throughout his life. This kind of attachment helps your child to believe the world is a friendly and safe place. Having a parent or caregiver who learns to understand and respond to a baby’s signals, such as picking baby up and comforting him when crying, will help to form a secure, healthy attachment.

Relax, and don’t worry about making mistakes. It will take some time for you to learn what your baby is trying to communicate. All parents learn by trial and error. As long as your baby knows she can count on you most of the time, she’ll be amazingly flexible and forgiving.

Your baby’s sleep habits are very different than what you’re used to! If your baby isn’t sleeping or is sleeping poorly, we encourage you to check out our articles on those areas, but if you’re wondering what you can do to encourage good going-to-sleep habits (and hopefully more regular sleep), read on to see what our experts suggest.

Everyone wakes up several times each night for brief periods of time. As adults, we put ourselves back to sleep most of the time. We often do it so quickly that we don’t even remember the next morning. If your baby hasn’t learned to put himself back to sleep, he may wake up crying in the night, even if he’s not hungry, teething or lonely.

Before Night Time

Often parents don’t consider what they do during the day when they are trying to set up night time sleep routines. But good going-to-sleep habits don’t just begin at bedtime.

Make sure your baby has a regular daytime schedule

For the first month your baby’s day and night schedule does not vary much; she will eat and sleep about every 2-3 hours. By 3 months, your baby will have a period where she will be awake during the morning, afternoon and evening with a longer stretch of sleep usually between 7pm and 1 am.  For many babies, bedtime seems to go more smoothly if their daily schedule has been consistent. Have your baby nap, eat, play and get ready for bed at about the same time every day; she’ll be much more likely to fall asleep without a struggle.

Encourage your baby to get plenty to eat during the day

Except during those times when a baby is going through a growth spurt.  In the first few months this may happen around 2-3 weeks, about 6 weeks, 3 months and later; the spurts usually last for a few days although for some babies may last longer.  During these times your baby will need to feed more frequently. Feeding your baby more often will help to increase your supply of milk. As your baby gets older after 6 months this strategy is especially important if your baby becomes so involved in what he is doing that he forgets to eat. If you help him get enough to eat during the day, he’ll be less likely to wake up hungry during the night.

Establish regular naps

A consistent nap routine helps to regulate your baby’s 24-hour sleep/wake cycle.

Create a comfortable sleep environment

Create and tailor a comfortable sleep environment for your child. Some babies need more quiet and darkness than others. You may want to use recordings of soft music, nature sounds or the sound of a gurgling aquarium. These can be very soothing. Also, don’t overdress your child or overheat the room. If your child is a light sleeper and rouses easily with noise or changes in light, try using a baby monitor or video monitor instead of opening his door to check him.

For more about bedtime routines, see the following articles:

Click here to learn more about your sleep and your baby.

Our experts have looked at both sides of the debate – the Cry it Out method and the Attachment Parenting approach. Below you’ll find a series of articles that can help you get a better understanding of the Cry it Out method so you can decide whether or not it’s right for you.

Want your baby to start sleeping through the night? It can happen! But, first you need to begin night weaning your baby. We can guide you through this process with some time-tested Comfort, Play & Teach® strategies.

Generally, it’s okay to start night weaning your baby after he’s 6 months old. But check with your health care provider to be sure there’s no medical reason to continue a night time feeding. Some babies wean themselves, while others are open to it if their parents take the lead.

In many cases, babies cry only a little for a night or two along this process before adapting to going through the night without waking for a feeding. However, if your baby cries inconsolably for several nights in a row, go back to your normal routine and try again in a week or two. He may be going through a growth spurt and need that feeding to satisfy his hunger. This is not spoiling him. In this situation, you are not training him to get what he wants by crying. Instead, you will be responding to his needs—and this is a good thing.

These activities can help you night-wean your baby

  • Timing is everything. Don’t try night weaning if your routine is changing or about to change—especially if you’re about to become less available. For example, it’s not good for your baby to attempt night weaning just before you return to work. Try to undertake night weaning a long time before or considerably after you make such a change. It’s also not a good idea to try night weaning during a vacation or shortly after a move. Your baby can be affected by these changes in her routine. She will naturally want to connect with you at night if she is in a strange place or if she has less of your time during the day.
  • If you’re the one who comforts your baby when he cries at night, try having your partner attend to the baby. The smell of you or your breast milk can make your baby want to feed.
  • Throughout the process, gently soothe and comfort your baby when he wakes. Explain that it’s sleepy time. Repeat gentle soothing, but firm words such as “sh,sh” or “night night” while patting his back or tummy. Even though he’s too young to understand your words, most babies gradually understand the meaning, and your presence soothes them.
  • Be sure to keep any play that takes place just before bed quiet and calming such as reading a book or giving baby a massage. A revved up baby may fall asleep in exhaustion, and then wake up in the middle of the night with energy left to burn off.
  • Don’t reward your baby with play in the middle of the night. Some parents feel that if their baby is awake, they might as well get up and play. Keep nighttime for sleeping and daytime for play.
  • Wean slowly and gradually. This is the most important key to successful night weaning. Remember that your baby is still young and has a tremendous need for comfort, closeness and reassurance—particularly from his parents.
  • Very gradually give your baby less time on each breast or a little less milk at each feeding.
  • Very gradually prolong the intervals between feedings by patting and comforting your baby. This will gently urge him to go back to sleep.
  • Make sure your baby gets plenty to eat throughout the day. Offer your child extra feedings in the evening so he won’t be hungry in the middle of the night. Wake him for a final feeding before you go to bed.

The sound of your baby’s crying comes along with the joys of being a parent. But does the prolonged sound of your sweet child’s wailing make you want to burst into tears yourself? Why is she crying? Is he crying too much? We answer these questions and more in a series of articles created by our experts to help you cope with your baby’s crying.

Don’t fret – all parents experience stress and frustration when it comes to their crying child!

When it comes to young children and sleeping the most predictable thing might be how unpredictable their sleeping habits can be! It can be frustrating and exhausting when your child isn’t sleeping well. In this section you’ll find articles to help you better understand sleep and your baby.

There are valid reasons for parents to use either the Attachment Parenting approach or the Cry It Out approach. Let’s continue to look at what we believe:

The success of either approach depends on:

  • Is the approach done well? (For example, do it gradually for the Cry It Out method; avoid smothering your baby with attention with the Attachment Parenting approach.)
  • Are there other factors in your baby’s life? (For example: Did Mom go back to work? Is your baby teething? Is your baby ill? Is she having a growth spurt? This happens at around 6 months for some babies.)
  • Are you emotionally prepared for it? (For example, the amount of crying in Cry It Out; the amount of dependency in Attachment Parenting.)

Can you tolerate waking up in the night?

Not every parent can tolerate waking up in the middle of the night. When you respond to your baby out of frustration, anger or stress, your baby can pick up on your emotions.  If this is the case, the Cry It Out method may be more helpful. If any of the following apply to you, consider using the Cry It Out method:

  • Do you become sleep-deprived easily when your baby interrupts your sleep at night? Sleep deprivation may leave you unable to parent well during the day.
  • Can you control your emotions in the middle of the night? Some parents always feel anger when their baby wakes them up. They just can’t stop these feelings.
  • Do you need to conserve your energy and alertness for your daytime job? For some parents, their co-workers, patients, customers, students or clients count on their alertness, creativity and courteousness—even though these parents have a baby at home.

When it doesn’t work.

The Cry It Out method doesn’t always work! For some families it works just the way it’s supposed to. After a few nights and a few tears, their child sleeps contentedly through the night. However, for other families, the tears continue and the promised sleep does not come. When this happens, parents need to try something else.

Some parents look forward to their first outing without their new baby, while others dread it. Some are eager to think about something other than diapers and feeding, while others think two hours away from baby is far too long. Whichever category you fall into, there are strategies to help make time away from your little one easier.

For some of you, the first separation may have happened shortly after birth if Mom or your baby were unable to come home right away and were forced to be separated. Maybe a work or family commitment has called upon one or both of you to leave your baby for a few hours. For others, the day hasn’t arrived yet. In fact, it may not be for several weeks or months after your baby is born. However, eventually, you will have to leave your baby in someone else’s care for the first time.

The Stress of Leaving

It’s hard to leave when you know your baby is still so vulnerable, so you may experience different levels of distress at different times. For example, Dad, you may be going back to work just a few days or weeks after your baby is born while Mom may not leave baby for any reason for a couple of months.

Leaving your baby can be a very emotional time. It can bring up feelings of worry, guilt or even a sense of emptiness. These emotions can strengthen if your baby is upset just before you leave or is difficult to console when you return. You may feel terrible that your baby cried for a long period of time or refused to eat when you weren’t there. It’s important to recognize that there is a wide range of experiences as to how parents react in general and how you react in particular when that “first time away” happens.

Dealing with It

If leaving your baby for the first time isn’t that difficult for you, don’t question yourself. This certainly isn’t a measure of how much you love your baby. Enjoy your time away—guilt free!

However, if you are having a hard time leaving your baby, here are some ways in which to handle your first time apart:

  • Accept the idea that, eventually, you will need to leave your baby in someone else’s care.
  • Talk about your feelings with your partner, other family members or friends.
  • Plan and put energy into selecting a childcare provider who provides you with a high level of confidence. Otherwise, when you’re gone, you’ll just be worried that your baby isn’t receiving the level of care that you want her to have. Stress will be your destiny!

Time Away Made Easy

Being prepared for time away can also make it easier. Here are some strategies that can help you prepare.

Teach your baby to be at ease with other adults. Let others hold and comfort your baby. If you’re the only one to respond to him when he needs comforting, he will have a more difficult time feeling calm when others take care of him.

Have your babysitter spend some time with your baby when you’re home. Don’t hover and interrupt. Let the caregiver have some independent time with your child.

Plan a “graduated” absence. The first time, go out for just an hour or even less. Go for a walk or for a cup of coffee. Go out in the yard and read, or go shopping. Each time you go out, stay away a bit longer until both you and your baby get used to the time apart. The idea is to do something where you can control the time and distance you’re away.

Carry a cell phone or leave a number where the sitter can reach you. Knowing that they can contact you at any time can be reassuring.

Tell your sitter that you’re struggling with the whole separation issue and may be checking in. It’s important that your sitter doesn’t become offended when you call to check on your baby—maybe even repeatedly. She needs to see it as helpful for your comfort level. Try not to overdo this though. Make a rule; for example, you’ll only call once an hour.

Planning your Time Away

Make a plan with your babysitter. You know your baby best. You also know how much discomfort you think your baby can tolerate before you need to become involved. Decide in advance what your limits and your baby’s limits are. Do you want to be called if your baby wakes up—no matter what? If so, then tell that to the babysitter. Do you want your babysitter to try her best soothing techniques for 20 minutes, and then if they aren’t working, call you? If so, specify that. Babies under 1 year are too young to be left to “cry it out” with a babysitter. If you can’t be reached and your baby is having a prolonged crying episode, be sure to list who the babysitter should call.

Plan your first outing so that it fits into your baby’s schedule. Go out during your baby’s usual sleep time. Plan your time away so it falls between feedings, especially if Mom is breastfeeding. Try going out during a time in the day when your baby isn’t fussy.

Don’t make a big fuss just before you leave. Your baby will pick up your stress, which is more likely to make him anxious.

Always leave an extra feeding. This is a wise idea, just in case you return later than you planned.

On your return, fall back into the usual routine. Avoid trying to make up to your baby for being gone. There is nothing to feel guilty about; you’ve done nothing wrong by taking some time for yourself.

Every day, there are plenty of opportunities to use Comfort, Play & Teach: A Positive Approach to Parenting. The following examples from our experts show how you can support the social development of your baby while doing your routine errands.

When you are running errands with your baby, he often gets lots of attention from the people around you. He sees many new faces and hears new voices, so make sure to talk to him and let him see that you are close to him so he feels comforted by your presence. This will help him develop a sense of security and give him the confidence to face unfamiliar people and surroundings.

You will also find that your baby is interested in the other babies you meet along the way. Don’t hesitate to stop for a few minutes and let your child interact and play with them; they may “socialize” by making eye contact and communicating through sounds or gestures.

When you leave the house and return, say “Good-bye” and “Hello” to other family members. Over time, this teaches your baby that he always comes back to his family, and that he can trust them to return when they go out too.

When your baby’s bottom is red and sore, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve done something wrong as a parent. But almost every baby gets diaper rash at least once before outgrowing diapers. This can be painful for your baby and upsetting for you, so what is diaper rash and how can you prevent it?

Diaper rash is a form of dermatitis, which is a skin irritation or inflammation that’s confined to your baby’s diaper area around the buttocks, genitals and thighs. When your baby has a diaper rash the skin in one or more of those areas will appear red and puffy and will feel warmer than other areas of your baby’s skin. He might appear fussy or cry, especially when you touch him in that area.

When your baby is wearing a diaper, that diaper can keep his bottom warm and damp, which is the most common reason for diaper rash. If the diaper or other clothing fits too snuggly it can also chafe and irritate baby’s sensitive skin, leading to diaper rash. Other reasons include urine and stool irritating baby’s skin, a change in stool when your baby begins to eat new foods after six months of age, bacteria or a yeast infection and, occasionally, it is caused by a reaction or allergy to a product such as laundry detergent or lotion, or to the fragrance in such products.

While diaper rash can’t always be prevented, there are several things you can do to decrease the chance that your baby with get it.

  • Change your baby’s diapers often, especially when they are soiled with stool.
  • Clean your baby’s diaper area and then apply a layer of petroleum jelly or zinc oxide ointment over the area before putting on a fresh diaper.
  • Make sure the diaper isn’t over-tightened.
  • Diaper liners and breathable covers for cloth diapers can help to keep your baby’s skin drier.
  • Wash cloth diapers in hot water and mild detergent, after pre-soaking them if heavily soiled. Avoid fabric softeners and fragrances.

Skin-to-Skin contact is holding or laying your baby on your chest or abdomen with your baby just wearing his diaper. This can be done immediately after your baby is born and in the weeks and months following his birth. You can put a light receiving blanket over baby. Both mom and dad can provide skin-to-skin contact with baby.

Skin-to-skin contact has many benefits for your baby, including babies that were premature. Immediately following birth, it helps your baby adjust to the world around her. She is warmed by your body heat, her heart rate and breathing stabilize and her presence helps to release Oxytocin, a hormone in Mom’s body that will help in breastfeeding and keep Mom’s uterus contracted. Your baby’s senses are heightened immediately following birth; she will smell her mom’s body, look at her parents, hear their voices and feel their touch. Skin-to-skin contact in the weeks and months following birth continues to offer benefits to your baby such as:

  • Helps increase breast milk supply as frequent skin-to-skin contact allows baby frequent access to breastfeed
  • Baby has an increased ability to keep warm
  • Increased comfort from the warmth of your body, hearing your heartbeat and closeness of your voice
  • Improved weight gain
  • Increased baby-parent bonding
  • Improved oxygen levels in baby
  • Continued improvement in baby’s breathing patterns and heart rate
  • May help calm baby during painful procedures

Most new parents have heard about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or “Crib Death,” as it is sometimes called. The sudden and unexpected death of a healthy infant under the age of one occurs more often than you would think – in Canada, three babies a week die from SIDS. Why this happens is still unknown, but certain factors are known to increase the risk of SIDS.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce the risk.

SIDS is a scary prospect for parents but through a few simple precautions there are some strategies you can use to limit your baby’s risk.

  • Put baby to sleep on his back. Unless your baby’s doctor has told you otherwise, the safest position for newborns to sleep is on their backs. Contrary to what lay people may have told you, this position is not more likely to cause your baby to choke. When babies are old enough to turn over on their own, you do not have to force them to sleep on their backs.
  • Ensure there is good air circulation around baby’s face. Check that the mattress is firm and flat, and that it fits the crib well. Don’t forget to throw away the plastic wrapping that the mattress came in. This will help prevent your baby from smothering. Also, to prevent suffocation, do NOT put pillows, comforters, stuffed animals or bumper pads in your baby’s crib.
  • Make your baby’s environment smoke and drug free. To reduce the risk of SIDS and other causes of disease and disability, moms should not use drugs, alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs before and during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding. As parents, you will need to make sure that nobody smokes near your baby. This is healthier for your baby and it reduces the risk of SIDS.
  • Don’t let baby get too hot. Babies need to be warm, but making them too hot can increase their risk of SIDS. How can you tell? Chances are that if the room feels warm enough for you, it’s warm enough for your baby. Feel the back of your baby’s neck, rather than your baby’s hands and feet – they’ll always feel cooler. If the back of his neck feels warm, your baby is warm. Put the same number of layers as you’re wearing on your baby, with maybe an extra light layer. Your baby should not be sweating.
  • Try breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not only the best way to feed your baby, it may also protect from SIDS.

No sleep environment is completely risk free, but you can do a lot to keep your baby safe. In addition to the recommendations above, The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends:

  • Place your baby in a crib that meets the Canadian Government’s safety standards. This is the safest sleeping environment for your baby in the first year.
  • Do not share your bed with a baby under the age of 1 year. This increases the risk of SIDS. If you want your baby near you at night, put your baby’s crib in your room.
  • Avoid air mattresses, waterbeds, pillows, soft materials and loose bedding. They are unsafe—even for temporary sleeping arrangements.
  • Avoid using foam wedges or rolled towels for positioning your baby for sleep.
  • Don’t use your baby’s car seat or infant carrier as a substitute crib—even when travelling. The harness straps could cause your baby to stop breathing.
  • Do not sleep or nap with your baby on a couch, recliner or cushioned chair. It could result in a fall, injury or suffocation.
  • Don’t leave bottles of milk or juice in your baby’s bed because these are choking hazards.

Click here to learn more about your sleep and your baby.

Your baby’s sleep habits are very different than what you’re used to! If your baby isn’t sleeping or is sleeping poorly, we encourage you to check out our articles on those areas, but if you’re wondering what you can do to encourage good going-to-sleep habits (and hopefully more regular sleep), read on to see what our experts suggest.

Everyone wakes up several times each night for brief periods of time. As adults, we put ourselves back to sleep most of the time. We often do it so quickly that we don’t even remember the next morning. If your baby hasn’t learned to put himself back to sleep, he may wake up crying in the night, even if he’s not hungry, teething or lonely.

At Bedtime

Once you have a good daytime routine, your bedtime routine should go more smoothly. Here are some tips to help:

Put your baby to bed early. Keeping your baby awake to make her more tired is a myth! This will not help her fall asleep sooner or sleep through the night. Be sure to put your baby to bed early. Overtired babies seem to have a harder time regulating their sleep at night.

However, if you need to move your baby from a later bedtime to an earlier one, make the change gradually. Don’t suddenly move her bedtime from 9:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Gradually move her bedtime a little earlier each night until you reach the time that seems best for you and your baby.

Stick to a bedtime routine. You and your baby will both benefit from a regular bedtime routine that is at the same time every night. For most, it’s quiet play, a bath, a book and then lights out. You may want to add or substitute a last feeding, a song or a quiet game. Just be sure to follow the same routine every night. Babies thrive on consistency!

Use words and sounds to signal that it’s time for sleep. Whisper something like “night, night” or “sh-sh-sh” over and over when you are soothing your baby to sleep—or back to sleep. Soon he’ll link the phrase with going to sleep.

Give your baby plenty of chances to fall asleep on his own. Put your baby in bed when she’s relaxed and drowsy, rather than nursing or rocking her all the way to sleep. This helps her learn to fall asleep on her own. Without this skill, she will probably need you to help her fall asleep when she wakes up during the night. Partial wakenings in the middle of the night are normal even after baby is 6 months old; a baby who can self-soothe will be able to fall back asleep without your help and you will be able to get the sleep that you need.

For more about bedtime routines, see the following articles:

Click here to learn more about your sleep and your baby.

A sippy cup hits the floor with a thud and your baby laughs madly as you mop up spilled milk and remind her that we don’t throw our things.

Later, she pulls every item out of the kitchen cabinet, spilling pots, pans and cooking supplies all over the floor. As you stack up the extra dishes it can be hard to see the positives of this behaviour.

Your baby, however, is just experimenting and learning about her world. When she drops her cups or pulls items out of cupboards she wonders what will happen, what will you do? Will the same thing happen if she does it again? And again?

Babies are miniature scientists. They learn about their world by experimenting, observing cause and effect and testing everything—including you. And they are relentless!

A baby who is experimenting is not misbehaving. Babies and young toddlers are way too young to know right from wrong. It may try your patience at times, but when you scold your baby or deem the behaviour naughty it puts both you and your child into a negative space. Instead, be patient and positive. Your persistent little scientist—with not a whole lot of memory yet—will definitely need your patience and guidance through positive parenting. Stay positive by criticizing your baby’s actions, not your baby and setting a good example, not throwing items when you are angry or frustrated.

You’ve decided to try Cry it Out, also know as The Ferber method after the doctor who popularized it, but you want to make sure that your baby is ready. Our experts suggest that you start the Cry it Out method no earlier than 6 months, and preferably wait until your baby is 9 months old or older. They base this opinion on many developmental factors of infants. But, you need to decide what is appropriate for your own baby and your family.

If you’re not sure whether your baby is ready, just give it a try. If you encounter too much resistance, wait a few weeks and then try again. Waiting doesn’t mean that you’re spoiling your baby; you’re simply responding to your baby’s needs.

There are a few things you need to do to ensure that you have a good chance for success with the Cry it Out method. Before starting, have a bedtime routine already in place, and wean your baby’s night time feedings as much as possible.

Once that’s in place, talk to your partner and determine that you are both totally on board. It is essential that both parents understand and agree with how to proceed and create a unified parenting front. Be prepared for a few difficult nights – it can be excruciating to hear your baby cry and you need to support each other if one of both of you finds it hard to do.

You should have a plan in place for how you’ll endure the periods of crying. Maybe you’ll want to watch TV or listen to music to distract you from the crying. If one of you finds the crying too hard take turns staying close to the baby while the other leaves for a bit.

You’ll also want to decide in advance how much crying you’ll allow before determining that this isn’t the right method for you or that your child isn’t ready. If you have a plan in place beforehand you will have an easier time then you would making a decision in the heat of the moment.

When you start the Cry it Out method make sure that both of you are relaxed. Maybe you’ll choose to start on a Saturday night or a long weekend when neither one of you has to be up for work the next day, and you have the emotional reserves to handle the first few nights of this method. You also want to make sure that the baby’s life is pretty stable. If you are expecting any major changes to your baby’s routine, and especially if you are going to be less available, it’s probably best to wait. Start the method well before or well after going back to work and don’t start close to vacation time or a move.

In Dr. Ferber’s book, he suggests the following intervals for crying:

  • Night #1: Let your baby cry for 3 minutes the first time, 5 minutes the second time, and 10 minutes for the third time and any other periods.
  • Night #2: Let your baby cry for 5 minutes the first time, 10 minutes the second time and then 12 minutes for the third time and any other periods.
  • Night #3: and beyond: Make the intervals a little longer on each subsequent night.

There’s nothing magical about these wait periods. You can choose any length of time, and any number of nights that you feel comfortable trying.

If you’re feeling frayed after a few nights try to relax and think about the end result. When it’s all over everyone in your household is going to sleep more easily and happily and that should make it all worthwhile.

Placing babies on their backs to sleep can decrease the risk of SIDS. However, some babies who sleep on their backs develop flat spots on the backs of their heads.

This does not affect brain development, but the flat spot can develop over several weeks and become permanent over time. This is often called Flat Head.

By alternating the way you position your baby in the crib or infant seat, you can help to prevent flat head. For example, one day place your baby with his head pointing toward the headboard of the crib; the next day, place him with his head pointing toward the footboard of the crib. Babies can turn their heads and will do this, especially if they have something interesting to look at, like a brightly-coloured toy or mobile. Make sure you place it close enough for your baby to see—about 10 to 15 inches away.

The other way to help prevent flat head is to be sure to give your baby some tummy time several times every day while your baby is awake.  Tummy time not only takes the pressure off the back of your baby’s head it also helps the muscles in your baby’s neck, to develop further.  You can do this in a variety of ways

  • Lay on your back and place your awake baby on your chest;
  • Place a blanket on the floor and place your baby on their tummy – you can even lay beside them and talk or sing to them;
  • If you have an exercise or birth ball you can rest your baby tummy-side down on the ball, hold the baby in this position and gently move the ball.

Some babies may not like being on their tummy, listen to your baby’s cues and try again at another time. Begin with short periods of time at first and gradually increase the amount of time they are on their tummy.

Babies are born with the need to form close relationships with caring and responsive adults, which are called “attachments.” If children don’t have the opportunity to develop close, uninterrupted attachments with nurturing adults during the early years, young children will find it more difficult to learn, to become confident and to trust others.

Infants and young children can form consistent attachments with the people who are around them most. These few important relationships create a sense in your child of what kind of world this is and what her place is in it.

A secure attachment to caring adults helps your child learn to adapt to circumstances more easily, and to overcome difficult situations throughout his life. This kind of attachment helps your child to believe the world is a friendly and safe place. Having a parent or caregiver who understands and responds sensitively to a baby’s signals, such as picking baby up and comforting him when crying, helps the baby form a secure, healthy attachment.

Relax, and don’t worry about making mistakes.  All parents learn by trial and error. As long as your baby knows she can count on you most of the time, she’ll be amazingly flexible and forgiving.

Experts recommend that babies are always placed on their backs to sleep because this reduces the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS, also called crib death, is when a baby dies suddenly and unexpectedly, for no apparent reason.

Some babies, however, develop flat spots on their heads as a result of always lying on their backs. This occurs because the weakness in their neck muscles can cause them to turn their head to the same side over and over again, and this puts pressure on their soft skulls.

Head flattening does not affect brain development, but in some cases it can be permanent. There are some things you can do to prevent flat head. For example, when putting your child to bed, you can alternate putting a mobile to the left and to the right of your baby, so he turns his head a different way every night. It’s also important to make sure your child spends some time during the day lying on his tummy (learn more about tummy time), when you are there to watch him. In addition to helping you prevent flat head, spending time on their tummy is also important for babies’ development.

For more detailed information on SIDS and flat head and other practical suggestions on how to prevent them, visit Caring for Kids (from the Canadian Paediatric Society) If you continue to be concerned about your child’s flat head, however, talk to your doctor.

There are things that you can do to help teach your baby the difference between daytime naps and going to bed at night. It is suggested that starting with a consistent bedtime routine from the very first night. Routines really help ready your baby for sleep by gradually decreasing stimulation. New parents are often exhausted as they realize that their baby doesn’t know the difference between night and day – meaning many sleepless nights and a big adjustment to their usual sleep schedule.

Here are some suggestions you can follow to create a routine:

  • Give your baby a warm bath – keep in mind that some baby’s develop dry or irritated skin when bathed daily, so this may not work for your child.
  • Give your baby a massage.
  • Dress your baby in different clothing at bedtime, such as pyjamas.
  • Make sure your baby has a dry diaper.
  • Read a book to your baby (even though baby doesn’t really know what you’re reading, this can be comforting and it is a way to bond).
  • Quietly sing a lullaby or play soothing music.
  • Keep the lighting low – use a night light or draw the blinds.
  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
  • Feed your baby.
  • Walk, rock or cuddle to help relax and calm your baby.

If your baby wakes up, always respond. Once you’ve figured out and solved the reason for waking – hunger, wet diaper, etc. – keep talking and other stimulation to a minimum. This will make it easier for your baby to settle again.

For more about bedtime routines, see the following articles:

Click here to learn more about your baby and sleep.

It doesn’t take new parents long to begin to understand their babies’ sleep patterns…or lack of them. When new parents with young babies get together, one of the common topics of discussion is their babies’ sleep! Many ask the all-important question, “When will my baby start sleeping through the night?”

The term ‘sleeping through the night’ means different things for different parents. A baby’s sleep schedule is anything but predictable! For some it means their baby sleeps continuously from midnight until 7am, for others, it means 11:30pm to 5:30am with several awakenings in between that don’t wake the parents.

Babies often wake briefly several times during their sleep; if nothing stimulates them, they fall back to sleep again and parents may not even realize the baby was awake. If baby wakes and is hungry, that may cause some crying, it is the only way she is able to tell you that she needs you.

For the first couple of months, it may be easier to have your baby sleep in their crib next to you. You will begin to hear her stir and can feed her before she starts to cry, which means you may be able to return to sleep a little faster.

By six weeks of age, many babies begin to sleep for a five to six hour stretch between seven p.m. and 1:00 a.m. and have about six feedings in a 24-hour day. It’s normal for a seven-week-old baby to sleep 14-18 hours a day. They may sleep for five to six hours at night and then again in the morning and afternoon and then have a period during the day when they are awake and sociable.

Foster is quick to point out, however, that each baby is unique and that it’s important when your baby is little to do what works for him. If your baby still needs that 5:30am feeding, you should continue it. In another month or so, at around 10 to 12 weeks old, he may only need five feedings in 24 hours and he will adjust his sleep schedule.

Hang in there! Your baby’s night time schedule might not be ideal for you, but it’s probably very typical and likely won’t last much longer.

If you are concerned that your baby isn’t sleeping enough or is sleeping too much, be sure to contact your health care provider.

Click here to learn more about your sleep and your baby.

Both new and seasoned parents strive to help create some order out of the possible chaos of the few first months and routines are a great way to achieve that.

Here are some some common routines you might establish with your little one.

Bedtime Routines

Did you know that a nightly routine can help your baby learn to go to sleep and to sleep better? Now, what parent would turn that down? So how do you do it?

Watch your baby for signs of sleepiness; closing his eyes, squinting, rubbing his eyes or face, yawning, etc. Those signs present an opportunity to start a bedtime routine. If your baby likes water and relaxes in it, this would be a good time for a quiet bath, if instead a bath wakes him up or dries out his skin, perhaps soft music will help him relax. Once he’s dressed for bed, cuddle up together and read a few books. Help him to learn the difference between day and night by making his surroundings quiet, dark and cool when putting him to bed.

The same goes for naps. Creating a predictable routine to ease into a nap will help him learn to do this for himself. On another note, some babies have a very difficult time waking up, especially from naps. They rise totally disoriented and many cry very hard. A wake-up routine that provides them with the comfort they require is very important for these babies.

To learn even more about bedtime routines check out our articles on sleeping.

Mealtime Routines

Until your baby is 12 weeks or 3 months old, she should be eating on demand and she may still be feeding during the night. After that, you may notice that your baby feeds about five times a day at fairly predictable times. This pattern is actually the beginning of her future eating routine.

By the time she’s 6-months-old, her eating patterns will be more noticeable and predictable. This is also the time that you’ll start to feed her solids, iron rich foods, such as iron-fortified rice cereal and meats. Some experts feel this helps to establish mealtime routines. You can start your baby’s mealtime routine at this time, perhaps feeding her on your lap at the dinner table or using a high chair pulled up to the table, and using a baby spoon or plate.

Watch this Infant Mealtime Video for strategies and tips!

Play Routines

Talk to your baby from the beginning of his life, even though he can’t hold up his end of the conversation. Sometime during these first 6 months, he’ll start making the beginning sounds of talking, maybe even responding to your chatter. Now that’s exciting! Talking to your baby about what you see, what you’re doing, about everything, helps him to learn language and communicate.

Playing is the work of babies. It’s how they learn about themselves, others and the world around them. By the time your baby is 3 months old, set aside regular play time every day.

While playing with your baby, teach him about his world—the textures of items, the different sounds you can make with your voice, the different shapes and colours of objects. Everyday activities, such as diaper changing, bathing or helping your baby to wake up, all provide opportunities for you to make teachable moments from the everyday moments you spend with your child.

For some parents, the idea of babies having routines sounds crazy, while others knowingly nod their heads in agreement. Both new and seasoned parents strive to help create some order out of the possible chaos of the few first months and routines are a great way to achieve that.

Babies are born into a world where everything is new to them, and they arrive without much memory to help them remember from one day to the next. Their brains are growing at an amazing rate, though! The more the learning circuits in their brains are repeated, the easier it becomes for them to learn—about us and how we live.

Starting a Routine

While it is important to feed your baby on demand for the first several months of life, once you start to follow a pattern, you’ll help your newborn learn to trust that you will soothe her hunger—if not right this minute, then soon. The same goes for sleeping. Newborns don’t know the difference between night and day. Starting from the first day at home with your baby, follow a nighttime routine of bathing, changing, feeding, lowering the lights and eventually leaving the room. This will help your baby transition into the nighttime sleep routine, teaching her that night is the time for sleeping.

Don’t expect your baby to understand or stick to a routine right away. The patterns that will become routines will soon be clear to you.

To help pave the road to a routine, do things in the same order each day, as you get a feeling for your baby’s rhythm and for what works for both of you.

Our experts have created a list to help you understand why it can be important to have a routine.

Routines help your baby learn about all of the following:

  • Your baby will learn to trust you and know that you will make her feel safe and secure.
  • A routine will help your baby learn and remember things. Repetition helps build your baby’s memory as she learns to recognize predictability in her strange new world. This makes your baby feel safe and secure. She’ll be able to relax and will have the energy she needs to be curious, to want to explore and learn new things.
  • Your baby will begin to build social and language skills. For example, if you always say “goodbye” when someone is leaving, your baby will learn the word “goodbye,” the meaning of the word and the social response that goes with it.
  • Routines will help teach your baby about the concept of past, present and future. The repetition of routines helps your baby become familiar with things, which boosts her brain development.
  • Your baby will start to build skills. Routines, like a daily bedtime story, give your baby a chance to learn and practice skills, practice taking turns and understand new ideas, such as “wet” and “full.”

Click here for some common routines you might establish with your little one.

It’s common for new parents to worry that their baby is crying too much. And, like most new parents, you are likely being bombarded by advice and ideas on how to deal with this from your friends and family.

It’s completely normal for new parents to be concerned when their baby cries. Of course parents feel uncomfortable when their baby cries, but all babies do. It’s the main way they have to tell you that they need something.

Parents worry that if they always pick up their baby when he cries they will spoil him, but that just isn’t true. Your newborn isn’t crying to please or upset you – he doesn’t know how to do that yet. He’s just letting you know that he needs something or that he’s upset and unhappy. In fact, babies that are soothed when they cry actually cry less in the long run. Also, if you don’t respond to your baby’s cries on a regular basis it can interfere with his ability to trust you and other people now and in the future.

Our experts have put together some facts about crying and some tips to help you cope.

  • It’s common for many babies to cry more during the first six weeks. Gradually, as they learn to soothe or quiet themselves down, they’ll cry less and less. It takes a while for this to happen, though. Some babies who have very sensitive temperaments, can take a long time to learn to soothe themselves.
  • It’s typical for young babies to cry many times a day for a total of about 2 hours in a 24 hour period. But you have to remember, every baby is different. Some cry more often or for longer periods. This can add up to 3 or more hours in a day. Most of these babies are healthy and growing well.
  • Talk to your doctor about your baby’s crying at your next appointment. Ask if she has any guidelines about when to call or when you should worry. There are no real hard and fast guidelines, but if you want to know what’s typical and normal try filling out a crying log to show to your baby’s doctor.
  • And never hesitate to call the doctor if you are worried about crying. The staff will ask you more specific questions and help you gauge your baby’s needs.
  • Babies cry for lots of reasons. He could be hot or cold or have a tummy ache. Maybe he is just lonely and needs to be held. Finding the reason for his cries is part of the learning – in time you will learn most of his cues.
  • Babies do not need to cry to develop their lungs. Most babies don’t know how to soothe themselves for at least the first six months and sometimes longer. So always try to soothe your crying, young baby.
  • Avoid letting him ‘cry it out.’ Keep trying to soothe him. Your baby needs to feel your presence.
  • If you feel frustrated or angry, you can let your baby cry until you feel calm again. Letting your baby cry is better than you feeling the urge to shake him or worse. Try calling someone for support; ask for help. It’s OK to need a break now and then.
  • When your baby is fussy try consoling him by walking, rocking and talking softly to him. Sometimes a warm bath helps or singing. Some parents find taking their baby for a drive helps, as the motion of the car can be soothing.
  • There are two red flags to watch for when your baby is crying: one is a very high-pitched cry and the other is a really feeble cry. IF your baby cries in either of these two ways, or if you’re worried about your baby, call the doctor or take the baby to the emergency room.

As a new parent, one of the first things you discover is that your baby’s sleep patterns are very different than your own. A baby’s sleep pattern is not predictable and it can be a big adjustment! Some newborns sleep 16 hours a day, some 21 and some only 11 – and over the course of their first 6 months, they will pass through a number of different stages.

In the first few months, your baby will pass back and forth between periods of sleep and wakefulness, each amounting to about 3 or 4 hours. Once your baby is 3 or 4 months old, nighttime sleep tends to lengthen.

Adults tend to spend about 20% of their night in a light Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, but very young infants spend about half of their sleep there. It’s normal for babies to lie quietly or seem like they’re neither really awake nor really asleep. If nothing catches their attention, they may just fall back to sleep.

Sleeping and eating go together, so as time between feedings increases, your baby will have stretches where they will sleep for a longer period of time. But remember, babies wakeful times are not completely linked to food. Your baby’s internal clock regulates eating, sleeping, elimination and moods. As newborns, babies don’t know the difference between night and day – they sleep and wake at any time.

New parents are often at their wit’s end dealing with a baby’s crying. Sometimes it feels like the baby will never stop crying and nothing you do seems to soothe her. So what do you do when you feel like you just can’t handle one more minute of your baby’s cries?

It can be hard to walk away from a crying baby, but if you’re starting to feel especially stressed out or frustrated, the best thing to do is put the baby down in a safe place – usually her crib – and remove yourself for a few minutes until you’re calm enough to be safely with her. Remember that it’s normal for babies to have these crying spells when nothing seems to work and, while it’s important to try to comfort and soothe her, it’s equally important to know when you’ve reached the limits of your patience.

It is suggested that new parents have a back-up plan, someone who they can call to come help, or who can talk it out with you until you feel calmer. Unfortunately, sometimes a parent will get so frustrated that they will shake their baby to stop the crying. This is very dangerous and can lead to injury or even death. No one means to hurt their baby, but it does happen. That’s why it’s so important to put your baby in a safe place when you’re at the end of your rope.

When these moments hit, try turning on your favourite music, or running the dishwasher or washing machine. Sometimes white noise will help to muffle the sound a bit and it can give you a short break to calm down and a different noise to focus on. This white noise may even be soothing for your baby and help her to settle.

It’s also important to remember that your babysitter or other caretakers for your child may have the same frustrations. Babies are even more likely to have a crying spell when someone else is caring for them, so talk to your sitter about ways to cope if she feels like she’s losing her patience.

Never be afraid to call your doctor or go to the emergency room if you are concerned about your baby’s cries. You are the best person to judge the condition of your baby.

When babies are awake, it’s important for them to have some ”tummy time” every day. This helps prevent babies from developing a flat spot on the back of their heads.  It also gives them the chance to develop muscle strength and it encourages them to practice movements that are part of normal physical progress. Daily tummy time prepares babies for important milestones, such as pushing themselves up, crawling and walking.

Before you begin tummy time, wait until your baby’s cord has come off—about a week to 10 days. Be prepared to have tummy time right along with your baby. She may need to be coaxed at first because lifting her head is hard to do. However, she will love your company. Have fun!

We’ve all experienced a child melting down in a store or public place. It can make a parent want to scurry away in shame, but remember that it’s happened to almost every parent at one time or another.

Every parent wonders if there’s a way that they can prevent tantrums altogether. There’s no magic formula, unfortunately, and tantrums are a common part of many children’s development, but our experts advise parents that there are things they can learn about the types of situations that are likely to set off tantrums. Armed with that knowledge you can prevent at least some blow-ups.

Here are several suggestions for preventing tantrums:

  • Try to make sure your child doesn’t get too tired or hungry. So if you’re going out, plan ahead and take along a snack, or a favourite toy.
  • If you know you’re going somewhere that’s going to be boring, make sure you bring along enough things to keep your child occupied.
  • Let your child know what to expect when you’re going out together. For instance, if you’re going to the grocery store, let him know in advance that you’re not going to be buying any treats, but that you’ll let him pick out the kind of cereal to buy.
  • If you see your child is getting restless, encourage her to talk about what she is feeling – Is she tired? hungry? feeling confined? Encouraging your child to talk about her feelings can help her manage her emotions better, so that she doesn’t get overwhelmed.

Basically, once you learn your child’s patterns and you’re aware of what situations could be possible triggers for tantrums, you can help prevent many meltdowns. But remember, no parent can completely prevent tantrums. Tantrums are a common part of children’s development, particularly during toddlerhood.

Is there anything more comforting to a child than the gentle touch of a loving parent? It is said that touch can speak louder than words and that touch is our first language. How true! When a mother rubs the back of a crying toddler her touch is saying in no uncertain terms, “I care.” This quiet yet clear communication between a parent and child is powerful, and its positive effects on children cannot be overstated.

So remember, when you comfort your young child, regardless of her age, touch can play an important role in how you communicate your affection and support.

It is also important for parents to be in tune with their children, and to read the cues and clues that children give about the type and amount of touch that suits them at a particular moment. Sometimes too much cuddling will make a child cranky; if this happens, it’s time to back off. In fact, some children are naturally more reactive and sensitive to touch than others and at times may find too much touch over-stimulating. They’ll let you know when they need a break – your job as a parent is to recognize and follow their lead. Often, a casual touch on the shoulder is enough to let children know that you love them.

So read your child’s cues, and remember that touch can speak louder than words. When it’s used sensitively, it sends a powerful message of love and security.

When toddlers get upset, it can be very hard on them and the people around them. Here are several suggestions from our experts to make things easier on everyone.

  • Offer your child a safe quiet place to calm down, away from others, but where she knows she is not entirely alone.
  • Help your child regain control of his emotions by teaching him deep breathing and to think about good things.
  • Try to calm your child by gently changing the scene into something more positive, like baking cookies, going for a walk or cuddling together while you watch TV.
  • Encourage positive, fun physical activity, like jumping on cushions, to help release strong feelings.
  • Most importantly, try to keep yourself calm when your child is upset. Remember that you can’t be helpful unless you are in control of your own emotions.
  • During your regular daily life provide a good example of coping with your own emotions by saying things in front of your child like, “I’m sure I can get through this if I slow down and think about it.”

Fortunately, most young children can learn two or more languages as they grow up, especially in the years before they go to school. They might show slight delays in vocabulary growth in each language at first, because they are learning two or more sets of words at once. But by the time they have reached grade five, they often have a more advanced knowledge of language than other children who speak only one language.

When a child is learning two languages, she may mix words from both languages into her sentences, but she will eventually learn to separate the languages correctly.

You should go ahead and speak the language you are comfortable with to your child. It’s also good to read to him in that language, and use it when you are playing with him, as well.

And remember, it’s much better to speak to your child in your native language often than to talk very little because you think you should only speak in English or only French, and you aren’t comfortable doing so.

Reading is one of those pleasurable activities parents can engage their children in, that provides so many developmental benefits. When done on a regular basis, reading helps young children to develop language and listening skills and prepares them for recognizing the written word. Most importantly, reading provides the opportunity for parent and child to enjoy each other’s company in a quiet, fun and emotionally satisfying way.

Make reading a part of your child’s daily bedtime routine. From the youngest infant to the oldest preschooler, reading at bedtime provides comfort and security. The nicest way to end the day is sharing a favourite story with a parent.

Pay attention to which pages or books become your child’s favourite. When you support your child’s interests he gets the message that what he likes or cares about is valued.

Describe the emotions shown in pictures or in the characters, e.g., “Baby bear looks sad. Do you think he needs a hug?” Young children need to hear and learn the words for feelings as they begin to make sense of their own emotions.

Take time to talk about the story together. Say, “I wonder what will happen next” or ask, “What do you think this girl is going to do?” This simple conversation stretches your child’s imagination and creative thinking. For younger children ask them to point to an object when you ask, “Where’s the cow?” or wait for a response when you ask, “What’s that?” Very young children will learn that communication is a two way process.

Change the tone of your voice and use lots of animation in your face, e.g., whisper for someone who is sleeping, or use a lower tone for something that is big. This will engage your child in the story and she will also learn to watch your face and listen to your voice for different emotions.

Reread stories that have become favourites and leave out key words or phrases. Your child will love to fill in the blanks, practice beloved rhymes or take the opportunity to retell the story in her own words. This will make reading an interactive experience.

Take the opportunity to talk about the colour, shape and size of objects. Your child will be into his preschool years before he’ll be able to identify and label the abstract concepts of size, shape and colour but books provide a simple vehicle to make them aware of such concepts.

Some toddlers are more expressive, some more timid. Some are very physically active, and some are more sedate. Some are sensitive to loud noises, while others are not bothered at all. Some thrive when surrounded by people, while others are content to play alone quietly. These differences are what we call temperament, and much of this becomes evident in the first few months after birth.

As parents, it is important to recognize and accept the basic temperament of your child, so you can respond appropriately. For example, if your child’s temperament is timid, introduce new activities slowly and allow time for him to build up confidence. If your child’s temperament is highly active, give advance notice of changes, so she doesn’t fly off the handle. And, if your child’s temperament is easy-going, remember that even though she copes well, you are still needed – so check in and stay connected.

At around 18 months of age, children will begin showing more independence, such as insisting “I do it myself.” It’s important to understand that your child sees herself as the centre of the universe – not in a selfish way, but in a self-centered way. In other words, she believes everyone is experiencing what she is experiencing; what she knows, everyone knows. This happens because, at this age, seeing herself as a separate being can be a bit scary and confusing.

You also may notice that your child’s moods swing rapidly – between being proud and bold, to whiny and scared, or even to being angry and throwing tantrums. This, too, is part of your child’s struggle for independence.

It’s around this time that children start experiencing the new emotions of pride and shame. Dealing with these emotions can be very tricky, so try to be careful not to make your child feel ashamed of his efforts to do something, even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you expected. For example, feeding himself is usually pretty messy at this age. But acknowledge his efforts and soon the neatness will come.

Socially, children will enjoy playing near other children, but not necessarily with them. At this stage, your child isn’t ready for you to teach her to take turns. That comes a little later. In the meantime, provide opportunities to have other children around, but be ready to gently intervene (many times) when her lack of sharing skills needs shaping.

Remember, each child is unique. Not all children develop at the same rate in each area, such as movement, communication and relating to others, so this information is meant only as a general guide. If you have concerns about your child’s development, you should consult your child’s doctor.

Every day, there are plenty of opportunities to use support the social development of your toddler while doing your routine errands.

Describe your toddler’s good behaviour when you go out in public together. For example, when you are at the bank, say things like “You are being so patient while we are waiting in line”. This will give your child a sense of comfort and help her feel good about her skills.

Make play a part of your errands by making a stop at the park or by inviting another parent and child to come along so that your child can enjoy interacting with other children in different environments. This will make errands more fun for both of you and help your child learn to interact with others.

Outings with your toddler are full of opportunities to teach your child to respect limits and obey rules. Remember that children are more likely to cooperate and comply with your requests when you teach them in a positive way by saying things like “Please hold my hand when walk on the sidewalk” instead of “Don’t let go of my hand”.

If you are going on a trip

If your child has a favourite stuffed toy, blanket, etc, don’t forget to take it with you on your trip. Children who need a special object to feel safe and secure at home will need it just as much, if not more, while they are away. Make sure to bring extras in case some of these precious objects get lost in transit. This, along with some favourite games and books, will help to maintain a sense of routine and familiarity that will be very comforting to your child in the midst of all the new things he will see and do.

You may not be able to take a vacation from being a parent, but you can take advantage of your break to explore the more fun aspects of parenting. Take your child to a local festival, ask the hotel staff to help you find children’s activities in the area, or simply take the time to play in the water with your child at the pool or beach. By spending time with her and playing with her, you are making her feel important and giving her opportunities to use and develop a wide range of skills.

Take advantage of being in a new environment to teach your child about different things. You and your child may be seeing trees, flowers, animals and other things that you never see at home. Outings in your new surroundings are adventures that will stimulate your child’s curiosity. Encourage him by showing an interest in his discoveries, pointing out new things, answering his questions and letting him share his impressions with you.

If you are staying close to home

When you plan special outings, take along what you need to prevent little problems from becoming crises: pack some favourite snacks in case there is no food available when your child gets hungry. Carry a lightweight change of clothing in case of falls, spills, etc. It is also a good idea to bring the stroller in case you end up walking more than you planned. Responding to your child’s basic needs in this way will comfort him and help ensure that everyone has a good time.

While it’s tempting to squeeze in lots of activities in the little free time you have with your children, remember that less is often more for young children because they tire quickly. Choose one activity per day and take the time to really enjoy it together. You may also want to invite a friend and her children along. This will allow the activity to be a social one for both you and your child.

Plan to arrive at the activity, event or place early in the day when your child is still fresh and has the energy to appreciate what is happening. This way he will be in the best disposition to participate fully and learn new things. Later, discuss with your child what she saw and did and encourage her to share this experience with others who were not there. Doing this will exercise her memory and help her practice her story-telling skills.

When you comfort your frightened child, you are helping him feel safe. This sense of security gives him the courage he needs to eventually face and conquer his fears. It’s normal for all youngsters to be afraid of something at one point or another, whether it’s thunder, large dogs, bees, the dark or imaginary things such as ugly monsters under the bed. And some children’s temperaments make them naturally more fearful than others.

Here are some things to consider when you are comforting your fearful child.

  1. Even if you don’t really understand what your child is afraid of, or you don’t think it’s something that should frighten her, remember that the fear is very real to her, so deal with it seriously. Never belittle the fear as a way of forcing her to overcome it. For example, it won’t help matters if you say, “Don’t be ridiculous! It’s just a clown.”
  2. It’s important to talk to your child about his fears. Words have a way of taking some of the power out of negative emotions and making them more manageable for young children.
  3. No child should be forced into dealing with something she is afraid of before she is ready. When you feel she can handle it, gently encourage your child to confront a fear by gradually exposing her to what she finds frightening. For example, if your toddler is afraid of the sound the vacuum cleaner makes, let her touch it when it is turned off, or have someone else turn on the vacuum while you hold and comfort her. Gradually, she will become less afraid as her feelings of safety and security increase.
  4. If you show excessive concern when your child is upset, you may unintentionally reinforce your child’s fears, giving him the impression that there really is something to be afraid of. Sometimes just providing age-appropriate information in a calm and reassuring tone can be helpful. For example, you might say, “That’s a very loud noise, isn’t it? It’s an ambulance. It must be on its way to help someone.”
  5. Prepare your child for things you expect will frighten her. For example, if you’re visiting a friend who has a dog, tell your child about the dog before you arrive, reassuring her that the dog is friendly and gentle and really likes children. Give her the opportunity to talk about any concerns she has in advance, and together you can develop a plan to help her cope when she eventually encounters the source of her fear. Maybe you’ll both pat the dog together, or she’ll offer him a biscuit to show that she’s his friend.
  6. Keep reminding your child of the things that he is no longer afraid of. This will help him feel empowered, and he’ll realize that it’s possible to overcome other fears, too. Learning to deal with fear is an important part of growing up and can greatly increase your child’s confidence. Therefore, you play a big role in gently and gradually helping your child confront and overcome his fears. But remember, let him work up to it. And if he gets upset, comfort him, hold him calmly and reassure him that he’ll be OK.

Being away from your child can be very difficult for both of you.Research shows that parental absence is usually difficult initially when your child is between six months and two and a half years. If you’re away for a few days or even a few hours, you may find that your child becomes very upset with you, even angry. If this happens, try to comfort and reassure her.

Spending time away from your child is sometimes necessary and, in most cases, these absences will cause no harm. If you have to be away longer than one or two days, you can make things easier by leaving your child with someone who knows him well, will understand he may be anxious and upset, and who will consistently reassure him of your return. It’s also best to leave your child in familiar surroundings. It is helpful to try and have their day remain as consistent and predictable as possible, whether you are with them or they are in the care of another person (getting up the same time, having the same bedtime routing, nap time, etc.).

You can help to reassure your child and keep a positive relationship. When you return at the end of the day or after a trip, your child may tell you to “go away,” or say, “I don’t want you.” What your child really means is that she missed you terribly and wishes she could have more control over your coming and going. Let you child know that it is okay to be mad or sad or grumpy. Tell them that you love them no matter what they feel and you are so glad to be home with them. To help your child feel a little of this control, allow her to keep her distance for an hour or so after you return if that’s what she wants, or let her direct where you should sit. This may help your child feel more secure that she still has some say in her relationship with you. Above all, don’t get upset or chastise your child for not being happy to see you.

Be Honest. Some parents are inclined to tell their child they will be right back, or not tell their child they are leaving and then leave when the child is occupied or sleeping. Although this might seem easier it usually causes greater distress in the long run. You child may start to become extremely upset whenever you are out of their sight because they fear you are not going to return It is much better to tell you child you are leaving and when you are coming back. They may be too young to understand time, but you can help them by putting jellybeans (or a similar small, non-perishable food item) in a jar. One jellybean goes in for each day you are away. The child eats one jellybean at the same time each day and when all the jellybeans are gone, Mom or Dad is coming home.

Make coming home special. Always greet you child right after you arrive home and spend a few minutes with them. Cuddle, share stories, show pictures; just spend some nice time together. If there were issues with the child when you were away, save dealing with this until a little later. Your return home needs to be a pleasant time for all of you.

Include your child in preparing for you to leave. Give your child a role in helping you pack and in taking something to remind you about your child, (i.e. a picture, one of their toys, etc.). Having them participate will help them feel more included and will also help them to understand the difference between a “long trip” and just going to the store.

Connect with our child while you are away. Children respond well to structure and predictability. If you are away for more than a day, call just before bed, send an e-mail or talk to them via one of the social networking sites. Try to make your connection at the same time each day. After they wake up, at supper, or just before bed as an example. You might want to take one of their storybooks with you and read it to them as a part of their bedtime routine. A great idea that some parents have used is to have two copies of favourite storybooks so that as the parent read one over the phone or internet, the child can follow with their own book.

Children do adjust. Remember that there are millions of parents who work full time, part time and travel away from home and their children are doing just fine.

When it comes to a child’s language development, it’s safe to expect that by 24-months, or 30-months at the latest, the average child will be saying 50 different words and/or two-word combinations, such as “throw ball,” or “red ball.”

Although most children can say simple words in their first year and small sentences by age two, some children begin talking at a later age. We don’t really know why some children begin to talk faster than others, but it does happen.

For some children, language can continue to develop without many words. These children may need to have more time to recognize the patterns of language and how to say what they are thinking.

For others, particularly children who have older brothers or sisters, a pattern may develop where they let the older children speak for them – reducing the need to speak for themselves. But this doesn’t mean the late talker is less intelligent. When your child does start to speak, it may even be at a more advanced level than you’d expect.

Although it is better if your child can speak for himself, it’s okay to let older children speak for your child, as long as he tries to communicate in some way, like using gestures. No one should shame or criticize your child for not being able to talk – it’s something he can’t help.

If you find that your child makes no attempt to speak by 18 months, doesn’t use many gestures to communicate, or seems to have trouble understanding what is said, discuss this with your child’s physician, or call the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists at 1-800-259-8519.

As much as you’re looking forward to being through with dirty diapers, you can’t rush your child’s learning to use the toilet. Some children may start to be ready for potty training at 18 months others are not ready until they are about two or three years old, they don’t have the necessary physical control along with the ability to tell you they need to use the toilet.

Typically, the following signs show your child may be ready for toilet learning:

  • She begins to dislike being in a soiled diaper and indicates she wants to be changed
  • She is able to stay dry for a couple of hours between diaper changes
  • She has regular and predictable bowel movements
  • She shows an interest in the toilet or potty and why it is used
  • She can follow one or two simple instructions
  • She can recognize that her bladder is full or she has the urge to have a bowel movement. She might pull at her pants, hold her genital area, squat or tell you.

But even then, if your child won’t use the toilet or is worried, frightened or upset about it, wait and try later.

To begin toilet learning, choose a time with no stress for you and your child. Toilet learning requires an easy-going parent and a relaxed child. Avoid times when your child is dealing with change – like a new baby in the family, a move to a new home, parents’ separating or starting daycare.

You’re headed towards the check-out counter when your toddler spots a colourful candy display. You quickly try to focus his interest elsewhere, but it’s too late. He asks for candy and you explain that he’s already had a treat today, dreading what is likely to come next. He arches his back and starts to wail as you look nervously at the shoppers around you and brace for a shopping meltdown.

When your child has a tantrum in public it’s hard not to have a meltdown yourself, but there are things you can do to try and avoid these blow-ups.

Remember that shopping can be really overwhelming for young children. They can be over-stimulated by stores and may become more difficult to manage in response to this.

It’s not always easy to discipline a child while others are watching. However, it’s important that you try to be consistent with what you would do at home. Often it may seem easier to look the other way or give in to a demanding child, rather than deal with it right there. However, inconsistency may encourage even more demanding behaviour in the future.

Our experts have put together some strategies you can try when going out, in order to prevent your child from having a tantrum:

  • Try to remain calm and maintain firm limits from the beginning to the end of the trip.
  • Talk to your child while you shop, run errands and so on – engage her attention. Ask her opinion, and ask her to help you find what you are looking for.
  • Allow your child to participate in what you are doing. For example, if you are shopping, let him help pick out the fruit.
  • Don’t go on an outing when your child is tired, hungry or ill.
  • Try to keep trips short.
  • Bring a snack along to make sure your child does not become hungry, and so you won’t be tempted to give your child a treat in an effort to stop a tantrum.

To help your child to talk more, it’s a good idea to talk to her whenever you’re together, carrying on a flow of conversation about what you’re doing, and about what she is doing. Try to be animated, using gestures and lots of expression in your voice. Emphasize important words and phrases. But you should pause frequently and for what may seem to be a long wait, so your child has a chance to digest what you have said and to respond. It also helps to have lots of books around and to read to your child often.

Try to encourage his talking by asking some open-ended questions (such as “How do you…?” or “What do you think?”) or by talking about subjects he is interested in. Sometimes, for very quiet children, a good beginning is to ask him to fill in words in familiar rhymes or stories that they know by heart. Really listen to your child, getting down at his eye level and looking at him when he talks. When playing together, follow your child’s lead and talk about what you’re playing with.

It may be tough, but try not to get frustrated by what sounds like “baby talk” from your child. And don’t correct your child’s speech too much. The best thing you can do is set a good example in the way you talk. If you are concerned that your child is behind in language, you may want to call the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists at 1-800-259-8519.

Here are several strategies from our experts that you can try to help your toddler stop wetting the bed:

Limit how much your child drinks after dinner especially any drinks with caffeine. Try and limit any fluids 2 hours before bedtime.

Use training pants and not diapers.  Diapers may interfere with your child’s motivation to get up and use the bathroom.

Make access to the bathroom easy. Place a nightlight in the bathroom or leave the hall light lit.

Encourage your child to empty his bladder a second time, just five minutes after the first time, right before bed.

Wake your child during the night to go to the toilet. However, some experts say that if she’s not really awake, it’s almost like encouraging her to pee while she’s sleeping.

And, place a portable toilet by your child’s bed so that if he wakes up and has to go quickly, he can.

Use of rewards and punishments is no longer recommended as an effective way to manage bedwetting.

If the bedwetting continues despite all your efforts, consult your child’s doctor for more specific strategies.

Some people might think that because they only yell at their child, and don’t do anything physical, that it’s really not that bad. But frequent, angry yelling can be as harmful as hitting your child because of the emotional hurt it causes.

If you do lose your temper and yell at your child, tell your child as soon as possible that you are sorry, and it wasn’t right for you to behave the way you did. Also, explain that you will try very hard not to yell in the future. Most importantly, show your child that you will always love them.  This is also great modeling for your child, who will learn that yelling is not an acceptable way of dealing with problems.

Yelling is usually a sign that you have lost control and so it will be difficult to parent effectively.  When you are not in control, step back, take a few breaths or remove yourself until you are calm.  You might ask your partner to step in for you as well.

If you are yelling at your child regularly, consult your physician about possible medical reasons for your anger.

Work, household chores and social activities all put a strain on your time with your toddler but it’s really important to spend quality time together. This will help build a trusting relationship, and reassure your child that he can count on you. But you can’t turn on quality time like a light switch. It comes sometimes when you least expect it, if you spend enough relaxed time and do enough things together.

You will, no doubt, start by looking for things that you can do to free up more time for family, such as:

  • Deciding which household chores can be left undone or be done imperfectly in order to make more family time.
  • Leaving certain things until after your child has gone to bed to make the most of your time together.
  • Turning some routines, such as driving to daycare or doing the dishes, into quality time by singing together or talking seriously about what is happening in your lives.

There will be occasions when the time you spend with your toddler may have to be juggled around a bit, but try not to skip them entirely. Also, try to spend time alone with EACH of your children.

Remember that children like things that are predictable. So plan your quality times so that they can take place regularly. Maybe you can eat dinner together, or go to the park first thing every Sunday morning.

It is important to remember that no matter how old a child is, all areas of development are intertwined, and progress depends on nurturing every facet of development – social, intellectual, language, emotional, gross and fine motor. Each child develops at his own pace within a distinct period of time. Every child is unique and requires different care.

Toddlerhood is a balancing act for everyone, as your child struggles between the need to be independent and try so many new things and the need to rely on and feel protected by parents and caregivers. As a result, toddlers shift suddenly in their emotions, going from “me do it” to tantrums when they are frustrated. She wants help, but then again, she doesn’t – it’s all part of becoming an individual. Lots of patience and encouragement are essential, as parents and caregivers guide toddlers who need to do so much for themselves. Toddlers cope much better with separation and are better equipped to form new attachments. Although routines are important, so are flexibility and giving your toddler easy choices. Parents and caregivers are beginning to see a real sense of their child’s temperament and personality.

Your toddler demonstrates a new level of self-awareness – by how he calls himself by name, identifies body parts, recognizes himself and family in a photograph, dresses himself and has a simple understanding of having his own things. Practicing self-help skills is an important part of a toddler’s day, and many children begin toilet training during this time. Toddlers can communicate feelings, desires and interests using words and gestures. They also have a good idea of where things are located in and around the house or at child care.

By age two, many toddlers can play on their own and concentrate on an activity for a brief period of time. There is more and more pretend play with props, looking at books and singing simple songs. As toddlers gain more control over their bodies, they love to run, kick balls, jump and climb, get on and off chairs, step backwards and sideways, go up and down the stairs and push and pull toys. As the movements of the small muscles become more refined, toddlers can do simple puzzles, take lids off jars, fit a series of objects into one another, draw vertical lines, turn pages of a book one at a time, build bigger towers and use a fork. It is during this age range that children begin to sort and match things, count, tell the difference between “one” and “many” and start distinguishing colours and shapes.

Toddlers continue to play alongside other children. Sharing can be encouraged at this age, although it should not be expected to be perfect. At times, toddlers become very frustrated, especially if they are unable to make themselves understood, and may bite others as well as hit or pull hair. A lot of play is accompanied by language, as now toddlers have a vocabulary of approximately 50 words. They can name familiar everyday objects, use two-word sentences and communicate whole ideas with one word, such as “milk” for “I want a glass of milk.” Sometimes it can be a difficult task for parents and caregivers to figure out exactly what the child wants. Toddlers begin to have a basic understanding of time, such as “soon,” “not now,” and “after your nap,” but do not have a concept of “yesterday.” And “no” is still a very popular word with the two-year old!

It is very important to give your toddler plenty of opportunities to cooperate with household chores: setting the table, cleaning spills, cooking, loading and unloading the washing machine, sorting dirty clothes, etc. Your toddler has a fascination for all these activities and by allowing her to participate in them you are not only making her feel important and helpful to the family, but you are also giving her a great opportunity to develop inner aptitudes for concentration, order, calmness, coordination, and motor skills, as well as teaching her to take care of her environment.

Remember, no child purposely wets the bed. And while it can be frustrating or upsetting for both of you, there are ways to make it easier on everyone. Here are several of them.

Try to decrease the amount of fluids your child has before bedtime and especially drinks that have caffeine. Make a routine of having your child go to the bathroom immediately before bed.

Put a plastic sheet on your child’s bed and keep extra sets of clean sheets and blankets close by. You can even place a towel on top of the bottom sheet to help absorb any urine when your child doesn’t wake in time to go to the bathroom. This makes clean up in the middle of the night a lot easier on both of you, and you don’t have to worry about ruining the mattress.

Use training pants instead of diapers. Diapers can interfere with your child’s motivation to get up and use the bathroom.

Make access to the bathroom easy. Place a nightlight in the bathroom or leave the hall light lit. If the bathroom is a distance from your child’s room, consider using a portable toilet in your child’s room.

Be supportive. Tell your child you know it’s not her fault and let her know that many children take longer to develop this kind of control. Other family member such as siblings need to be supportive and not tease about bedwetting.

Don’t expect too much too soon, or punish or shame your child for bedwetting. If you do so, things will only get worse.

If your child is becoming embarrassed about wetting the bed, or you think bedwetting is going on too long, consult your child’s physician for more specific strategies. Most children stop by age 5-6 years.

It is important to limit your child’s exposure to TV and other media. In times when we are bombarded with images and stories in the media about difficult and upsetting topics, be they flu pandemics, natural disasters, wars or terrorist attacks, parents often cannot avoid their young children hearing or seeing information about these events. Here are some strategies to help you and your child manage the stress and upset that can result from seeing upsetting things in the media.

Through television and other media children can sometimes be exposed to violent and disturbing images of war, terrorism, pandemics, disasters and tragic accidents. Some are affected by these images more than others. However, young children are very sensitive to their parents’ and caregivers’ reactions. If you and your spouse are upset, or if your child’s regular caregiver or teacher is upset, chances are good your child will become distressed too.

It is a good idea to limit young children’s exposure to violence or upsetting stories in the news. It is even more important to limit your own exposure, if it is preoccupying you or distressing you. Turn the TV and radio off. Reassure your child that you are basically all right, even if you are sad. If it is important for you to keep track of what is happening during a traumatic event, then turn on the TV or radio at key news moments to catch up. But turn it off again and reconnect with your child.

It is also important to limit the time you spend worriedly talking about the event or situation with others and give your child some quality attention. Some children are very sensitive and if you are anxiously talking to teachers, grandparents, neighbours and others.

If your child does see some news event that upsets him, or upsets you, talk about it. It is not necessary to explain it in detail. You can simply say that a sad thing happened and some people got hurt and died. In many cases you can tell your child that the event happened far away, and emphasize that you and your family are safe. Don’t forget to tell him that the people in charge are doing everything they can to protect you against the danger, and to make sure this doesn’t happen again. It may also help some children feel better if they help out in some way. For example, they can send drawings or letters to the communities touched by the event.

If your young child is still anxious over an event that happened more than one month ago, consult your child’s physician.

Going on an outdoor half day or full day trip with the kids? Here are some things to keep in mind.


Keep everyone warm from head to toe. There’s nothing worse than you or the kids being cold. Check the weather for the area you are planning to visit – temperatures can vary significantly across relatively small distances.

Be prepared with extra layers. Even after checking the weather and dressing appropriately, you may reach your destination and realize it is chillier than expected. Keep extra layers in the car that can easily be added under your child’s snowsuit.

If there is snow, make sure things are waterproof. Kids of all ages love the snow – rolling in it, playing with it, and generally covering themselves in it. Make sure that snowsuits, boots, and especially mittens are waterproof. Labels will indicate if the garment is waterproof. If this is not stated on the label, the item is likely not waterproof. For your young day tripper, mittens are best rather than gloves.

Check for wetness at lunch. It’s not unusual in the winter for people, including children, to sweat if they have been physically active. This can often make clothing wet. If you are continuing in the afternoon, make sure clothes are dry – especially socks and mittens. Keep extras with you to change into.

Put some tissue into your child’s pockets – it may be needed along the way.

Keep some lip balm with you in case of chapped lips.

In the Car

Weather during winter is unpredictable so better to be prepared. Keep extra snacks (including water) and blankets in the car as well as an emergency kit.

Keep some age appropriate activities your child can use to pass the time in case of traffic or other unexpected delays.

Adjust your child’s clothing to meet the climate of the car. If the kids have been in snowpants and many layers during the day, reduce the number of layers for the car ride home. Hot kids soon become cranky kids and our ability to respond while driving is limited.

Take along some of the kids’ favourite tapes. A sing song can make the ride fun for everyone.

Winter Activities for the Family

Tobogganing is a great family activity that everyone can take part in. Some things to remember:

  • Dress warmly ensuring that coats, mittens and boots are waterproof.
  • Check in with your child frequently to ensure s/he is warm and dry.
  • Have your child wear a helmet that is approved for outdoor winter activities.
  • Children 5 years old and under should not go down alone. This means you will need a toboggan that can seat two.
  • Try to pick a hill that isn’t filled with skiers and others who may overwhelm a young child.
  • Toboggan away from roads and any bodies of water.
  • Ensure the hill is clear of any obstacles including large trees or rocks.
  • Also ensure there is adult supervision with young children.

Skating is another family activity that is often close to home too! Remember to:

  • Dress warmly ensuring that coats, mittens and boots are waterproof.
  • Check in with your child frequently to ensure s/he is warm and dry.
  • Have your child wear a helmet that has a mouthguard on it.
  • Make sure an adult has checked the ice if skating on lakes or ponds.
  • If you are introducing your child to skating for the first time, choose a rink that is not too crowded or overwhelming for your child.
  • Ensure there is adult supervision if you are not joining your child.

Winter activities can be loads fun so long as you are prepared and everyone is warm.

Learning to talk is a gradual process. It’s common for a child’s speech to become less clear as she tries to use more words with more difficult sounds, because these require more effort and motor control.

Your child may in fact end up saying as little as possible during different stages of learning to talk, or they may begin to act up, out of frustration at not being able to communicate the way your child would like.

It is very important for parents to pay close attention to their child’s attempts to communicate, and to encourage these attempts.

Here are some tips to use if you’re having trouble understanding what your child is trying to say:

  • If you don’t understand what your child is saying, encourage them to repeat it by saying things like “Tell me again” or “Tell me more.”
  • If you got part of what your child said, repeat the part that you understood, and ask them to fill in the missing parts.

Watch your child closely.

  • Watch for eye movements or gestures that might give you a hint about what your child is trying to say.

Ask your child for help. 

  • Make it appear like you’re having trouble hearing by saying things like “I didn’t quite hear that” and ask your child to say it again.

If after all of your attempts, you still can’t understand what your child is trying to tell you, you may have to apologetically say that you do not understand.

Usually children’s speech improves over time. If you are concerned that your child’s speech isn’t improving or if your child keeps acting up out of frustration over not being able to be understood, you may want to discuss this with your child’s doctor. You can also call the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists at 1-800-259-8519, and they will guide you to an appropriate referral if needed.

These days, with both parents working in most families, mornings can be a difficult time as everyone tries to rush out the door. The result can be that each family member ends up unhappy and stressed — as if you’ve already put in a day’s work. But the bottom line is, you have to get to work, and your child has to get to school or childcare.

Consider the following reasons why small children dawdle in the morning:

  • Your child may not want to leave the comfort and safety of home for the outside world.
  • Your child may find it hard to move as fast as you want her to, because that speed doesn’t match their natural rhythms.
  • Your child may still be tired and sleepy in the morning, so if you push them to hurry, they become stressed. If your child is tired almost every morning, they may need to go to bed earlier in order to get more sleep.
  • Your child may be worried that you think your work is more important than they are.

Helpful tips for an easier morning:

  • If your child seems tired, reassure them, but explain that they still have to get ready. As frustrated as you might become, never yell at or physically hurt your child.
  • Lastly, when you drop your child off, let them know that you’re not angry with them and make it clear that you are coming back.

Learn more about making mornings more pleasant for you and your child.

Let’s be honest – mornings can be a struggle even for adults. Throw a child into the mix and unleash the chaos.

Here are several strategies that may help make mornings a little easier on everyone:

It’s important to allow enough time in the morning.

  • Even if it means getting up a bit earlier than you already do, this guarantees a no rush zone in the morning. This will allow you to stay calm and avoid acting stressed around your child.

Create a workable schedule and explain it to your child, so they know what to expect in the morning.

  • For example, let your child know they have to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast and leave the house by 7:30 am. It’s also a good idea to keep this routine as regular as possible.

Build in a little time for your child to play.

  • Let your child know that they can come back to the game later.

Prepare the night before.

  • Try to lay out clothes, prepare lunches and pack up anything else that goes with your child the night before.

Try to incorporate some fun into your morning rituals.

  •  Fun can be singing songs and just getting a little silly together.

Some children become very anxious or scared about going to childcare or school. This is especially common in September, or when your child starts in a new setting, but it can happen at any time. The typical signs are complaints about feeling sick, crankiness, tantrums, saying they can’t find things or refusing to get dressed or get in the car. This can be very stressful and frustrating. It is usually difficult to tell whether your child is really coming down with an illness, or whether they are anxious and developing physical symptoms that look like illness.

As a general rule, it is good to send a child along to daycare or school, unless they have signs of illness such as a fever or a sore throat.

  • The longer children stay home when they are not sick, the harder it is to return to school. So it is better to send them, even if they are upset.
  • Teachers and caregivers are very accustomed to dealing with this type of anxiety. And by all means, alert the school or daycare provider to what is happening, and ask them to monitor your child’s health.

However, if you and your child have had a bad morning where he has become very upset about not wanting to go to school, find a time when you and your child are both calm to try to find out what went wrong.

  • Talk with your child about his school fears and worries. Explain that there is no choice about going to school, but that you appreciate how he feels and will try to help.
  • Then talk to your child’s caregiver or teacher and ask for help and advice.

Sometimes anxiety can be eased by something as simple as the teacher changing your child’s seat in the classroom.

  • Or you or your child’s teacher may notice that he is having difficulty making new friends. You can help in this situation by inviting these other children to play in your home.

If you are feeling guilty about leaving your child, she may pick up on these feelings and become anxious herself.

  • Therefore, it’s very important to show confidence that you know your child and your child’s teacher or caregiver will have a good day when you leave them.

You know what it’s like when your little one starts in with that whiny tone. It can drive even the calmest parent crazy!

When preschoolers begin to whine, the most important thing to do is not to give in.

  • If you do, it will teach your child that whining is a good way to get what they want, and they will do it again, and again. Instead, let your child know that you expect them to speak to you without whining.

Acknowledge your child’s efforts when they speak without whining.  If your child keeps whining, stay calm and ignore it until they speak properly. If you think your child is really overwhelmed by a situation, though, they may need a hug or a back rub to break the cycle.

Here are some suggestions from our experts to prevent whining:

  • Watch for situations where your child may get bored, and prepare for them.
  • For example, have a bag of toys for your child to play with while you’re on the phone.

  • Teach your child the difference between whining and asking properly.

  • Try to pay attention to your child when they talk to you in a normal voice.
  • If you ignore your child when they are asking for something nicely, your child may start to feel that the only way to get your attention is to whine.

It’s a good idea to help your child learn to manage his emotions, but remember you don’t want to stop young children from having feelings all together. It’s much better to help your child learn better ways of dealing with his feelings instead. Here are several things that you can try:

Try to set a good example for your child. When you find yourself getting upset or frustrated, try saying things out loud like, “I’m sure I can get through this if I slow down and think about it.” This is a great way to teach your child how to calm himself down and remain in control.

Help your child put what she is feeling into words. Teach her what to call different types of feelings.

Talk about the way people in storybooks and pictures are feeling, and talk about what might cause those feelings.

Explain that you understand she’s upset or angry, but at the same time let your child know that some behaviours, like hurting others or constantly whining, are not acceptable.

Take your child’s feelings seriously and acknowledge how he is feeling. Never say “It’s not such a big deal” or “Why are you so upset about that?” Instead, help your child understand that many people have similar feelings on occasion, and some people have them more often. Then discuss the acceptable ways to express them.

Be a positive influence when your child does get upset by helping to calm him and change the situation into something more positive.

Avoid labelling your child by his feelings, such as “He’s always been an angry boy” or “She can’t help it, she’s shy.” Too often, a child will start to believe what is being said, and live up to the label.

If your child’s control of her emotions doesn’t seem to be improving, consult your child’s physician for referrals to appropriate family services in your area.

Some children are shy. They “hang back” in groups. They need your assistance to learn how to become comfortable talking and playing with others.

The main things to remember when trying to help a child like this to cope with new situations are:

  • Don’t label a child “shy” or introduce your child as a “shy child.” Sometimes children will define themselves as this and never move beyond the label.
  • Don’t push your child into situations that he might find overwhelming. It’s important that you accept your child’s nature and help him develop ways to overcome his shyness – that may take time and patience. Instead of pushing, offer your child opportunities to be involved with others with your support.
  • Prepare your child ahead of time by talking about new situations, such as what she will encounter, or who may be there, and talk with her about ways to become involved in groups.
  • Don’t nag your child about being shy. Parents who get irritable or impatient with a child’s shyness may find that their child reacts by being even shyer.

Remember, every child is unique. Some children will be shy, to a greater or lesser degree, all their lives. It’s important for them to feel valued for who they are.

Bedwetting is challenging for parent and child. There is the waking in the middle of the night, changing clothes, cleaning up, constantly laundering bedding and changing the sheets! It’s a tough time for you both.

Remember, no child purposely wets the bed. And while it can be frustrating or upsetting for both of you, there are ways to make it easier on everyone. Here are several of them:

Try to decrease the amount of fluids your child has before bedtime. Make a routine of having your child go to the bathroom immediately before bed.

Put a plastic sheet on your child’s bed and keep extra sets of clean sheets and blankets close by. This makes clean up in the middle of the night a lot easier on both of you, and you don’t have to worry about ruining the mattress.

Be supportive. Tell your child you know it’s not her fault and let her know that many children take longer to develop this kind of control.

Don’t expect too much too soon, or punish or shame your child for bedwetting. If you do so, things will only get worse.

If your child is becoming embarrassed about wetting the bed, or you think bedwetting is going on too long, consult your child’s physician for more specific strategies. Most children stop by age 5-6 years.

When you’re expecting another child you want to prepare your child for the changes that a new sibling will bring.

Our experts have created some tips to help you make the transition a little smoother.

  • Let your child know that the baby is coming two or three months before the birth. Talk about the changes that will take place in the household and answer any questions she may have about birth and reproduction in a way that suits her age.
  • Assure your child that you will love him just the same.
  • Make your child feel important by saying, “You’re going to be a big brother (or sister).” Let your child know he has a role and a relationship with the new baby.
  • Have your child help in choosing a name and in picking out baby clothes. Let your child feel the baby kicking.
  • Take your child to visit someone else’s new baby so he can learn what to expect and get used to the size and sounds of an infant.
  • If you are the mother, encourage your partner to spend more time with your child before the birth so she becomes used to that before you get too busy with the baby.
  • If your child is going to be moved out of a crib and into a bed, it’s best to do this long before the new baby arrives. This gives your older child time to become attached to the “new bed.” This way he won’t think the move out of a favourite sleeping place (the crib) was because of the new baby.
  • Read children’s books that are about new babies to your child.

Adjusting to a new setting takes time. Your preschooler needs to know that you are on his team as he moves towards being comfortable in a new daycare or school.

Here are several ways to help your child adjust to a new daycare or school:

Let your child know that you realize change isn’t easy and that you know it takes time to adjust to new places, people and things.

Be supportive and encouraging, not impatient or frustrated.

Explore the new area, or new daycare or school with your child in advance of going there on the first day.

Along with your child, get involved with new groups and activities at daycare or school. This will help you feel more connected to your child’s new situation, too.

Help your child find the playgroups and activities she has always liked doing, and try to get her involved, outside of daycare or school.

Where possible, allow your child to stay connected with friends from his old daycare or school.

Ask your child what you can do to help – children often have great ideas about how you can help them feel better.

It would be a mistake to let your child stay home from a new daycare or school just because he is afraid and doesn’t want to go. But don’t force your child to get involved in outside activities too soon – he’ll let you know when he is ready. And try not to say things like, “We moved three months ago – aren’t you over it yet?” That will just make your child feel worse.

If you find that your child is sad, withdrawn, angry, acting out, doing unusually poorly in the new daycare or school, or showing physical symptoms of anxiety and things don’t seem to be getting better even long after the move, consult your child’s daycare provider or school teacher to see if they are noticing the same behaviour, and then consult your child’s physician.

By age three, your child is becoming more and more her own person and you’ll be able to get a real sense of personality. Your child will gain self-esteem and a sense of who she is. Children are not as afraid of being abandoned now, and are generally optimistic and cheerful.

Your child is probably more willing to please you, but that won’t stop him from expressing his own unhappiness and opinions about things. This is actually a step forward, because your child will learn to stand up for himself, so try not to discourage it totally.

Your three-year old will be sociable and capable of some cooperative play, although she still won’t be great at taking turns or sharing. She may spend more time negotiating how to play, and with whom, than actually playing. For example, “I’m not playing with you today, I’m playing with her.”

Your child will be getting better at pretend play, with themes and stories, not just roles. His play may often have a “danger and rescue” theme with him taking the lead as the strong character, like Superman or a lion. Try to give your child the opportunity for play, both alone and with others, as often as possible.

By now, your child will begin to understand simple rules and be better at controlling her impulses. There may be fewer tantrums, because she can express herself and her feelings better with words. She may label feelings, like “I’m mad” or “I’m tired.”

Your child will also begin to understand that other people have feelings too. He will have more understanding of what “no” means, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll do what you’re telling him. Setting consistent limits and expectations continues to be important at this stage of development.

Remember, each child is unique. Not all children develop at the same rate in each area, such as movement, communication and relating to others, so this information is meant only as a general guide. If you have concerns about your child’s development, you should consult your child’s doctor.

Pick up your toys! Eat your dinner! Hang up your coat! Sound familiar?

When you tell your preschooler over and over again to do something, she can become pretty good at tuning you out.

Here are several ways to avoid nagging all the time:

Talk to your child when everyone is calm, about what is expected, what the rules are and develop a schedule for the tasks.

When your child doesn’t do what you want, instead of nagging, go to your child, get her attention, ask what she is feeling about the task and why she is hesitant to do it. Then, after you’ve dealt with your child’s reasons, in a calm way make it clear what your child is to do.

If your child often refuses to do, or never gets around to doing what you expect, speak to other parents to find out if what you’re expecting is reasonable. And ask what they do that works, instead of nagging, that gets things done.

Don’t nag to the point where you’re yelling and making threats about what will happen if your child doesn’t do what she’s asked, especially threats you know you won’t carry out (“If you don’t pick up your coat, you’ll have to wear it for a week straight!”). This is usually ineffective. Once you’ve lost your temper, all that most children think about is how upset you are. Be calm and consistent. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Follow-through is very important.

As your young child learns to play with others, she may need your help to learn what behaviour is acceptable. If you see that your child is upset when playing, encourage her to put all her emotions, particularly her frustrations, into words. Try to identify with your child’s feelings, but let her know that there are still certain ways that one should behave in such a situation: “You want to play with that puzzle, but Jason has it now. Even though you really, badly want it, you will have to wait.”

If there’s been a problem with another child, help your child see the other child’s point of view, and talk about possible solutions to the problem. “You grabbed Jason’s puzzle and now he is very sad. Please give Jason the puzzle back and wait until he is finished.” You will need to be a good role model, as your child will be watching you to learn social skills. You will need to avoid reactions like rudeness or impatience. Little children watch adults all the time, and copy our worst as well as our best behaviour.

Making friends works best if you let your child choose when he wants to play and whom he wants to play with. Children don’t necessarily become friends with each other just because their parents are friends or relatives. Learning to get along with others takes time, so don’t push your child to play with others.

If your child is having difficulty becoming part of the group or getting along with others, watch him, and see if there are ways you can help him join in. Sit on the sidelines with him and discuss what is happening in the room, where he would like to play and how he could join in to be accepted. Or give your child a toy that will fit in with the group’s play, in order to help him join the group.

For many children, the death of a pet is their first experience with death and grieving. Some children are particularly close to their pets, and may feel the loss intensely. For those who have already lost a loved one, a pet’s death may reawaken the feelings of anxiety, loss and pain they felt before.

Children need to know that you understand and accept how anxious, sad, angry and confused they are feeling – and that their feelings will change with time. If they begin to worry that you, or even they, may die too, you should reassure them that they are safe and that you expect to live a long, long time and will be there to care for them.

Help your child express their feelings. The most helpful process for anyone experiencing grief and loss is to be able to talk about their feelings and to have them accepted by loved ones around them. Avoid saying things like, “Your dog died last month, you should stop being sad by now”. Whether they are sad, or angry, or lonely, or scared, let your child know that it is okay to feel that way. Give them a hug, tell them you love them and that you miss the pet as well. Talk about the pet and what you remember.

Depending on their age, children can react to a pet’s death in a lot of different ways. It’s not unusual for children to have nightmares, start wetting the bed, get stomach aches or headaches, start acting out aggressively, become withdrawn and want to be alone or not want to go to school.

Children under five in general do not understand that death is forever. They may mention that their dog has died one minute and the next ask you to buy some dog treats when you are at the store.

It is not unusual for children to feel strongly and intensely sad about the death of a pet for a period of six to eight weeks. However, if it lasts longer than this, consult your child’s physician or a counsellor. It may also be helpful to consult your child’s daycare provider or school teacher, principal, or guidance counsellor to see if this behaviour is happening at school, too.

Taking a young child shopping for gifts and groceries in crowded stores and malls can be a stressful event for parents and children alike. During the holiday season, it can be even more intense. Nonetheless, if you take your child with you on your shopping excursions, you can turn this event into a rich learning experience.

Remember that young children learn new things constantly, and that there are many ways and many opportunities to teach while you are shopping together:

  • Involve your child in some of the shopping decisions. Ask your child to help you choose a gift for a friend, a sibling, or a family member. Present some choices and discuss what this person would prefer, and talk about how happy this person will be to receive a gift. This will help your child learn to see things from someone else’s point of view.
  • Make shopping fun. Play games such as “I spy with my little eye…” or talk about colours and shapes.
  • Be a good example. Model patience for your child when waiting in a long line by talking about how it makes you feel and how you can deal with it. For instance, “I don’t like waiting like this, but I have to. Maybe time will go by faster if we talk about the decorations we are going to put in the house later.” Be prepared and bring some snacks from home to eat while waiting in the check-out line.

Watch for signs that your child is getting overwhelmed. At this age it is still difficult for children to behave appropriately in stressful situations, and it is a good idea to keep shopping trips as short as possible.

We often hear that children are like “sponges”, and that they can learn any language easily while they are young. This is true, but only when they have lots of exposure to the language. Children can only absorb as much as they are given. This means that for your child to develop his or her ability to use both languages equally well, your child must hear and eventually speak both languages often.

In some communities, this can happen naturally if both languages have equal status and the child is exposed to various people, in the family and beyond, who speak one language or the other (or both). In other cases, raising a bilingual child requires conscious planning and effort. Both parents will need to agree on their strategies for making this happen.

If one of you speaks English and the other parent speaks a minority language, like French in many parts of Canada, or any other language that is not widely used in your community, it is important to create opportunities for the child to be exposed to that language. Children understand from a young age that one of their languages is not used very much outside their home, and because they naturally have more opportunities to hear and speak English, their ability to use the other language may lag. This can lead to a situation where the child understands the other language, but does not speak it.

Here are some tips to help your child be bilingual:

Speak your own native language to your child. You are a better model for your child when you use the language you know best.

Develop a social network that includes both languages. Attending friendly gatherings, community events and doing other activities with people who speak each language provide opportunities to practice, and reinforce the message that both languages are useful and valued.

Ensure that your child develops a strong foundation in the minority language from a young age by enrolling him or her, if possible, in a child care or preschool where the minority language is the primary or only language spoken.

Research and create a list of services available in the minority language, and give them a preference (e.g. health professionals like doctors and dentists, as well as libraries, movie theatres, community centres, etc). This may involve planning ahead, or driving a little further, but your efforts will greatly benefit your child.

Make sure you have books, videos/DVDs and music in both languages in your home, and that your child is exposed to them. This reinforces your child’s language skills and strengthens your child’s appreciation of each of your cultures.

Arrange visits to and from family members who speak the minority language. Stays abroad or visits from extended family can give a boost to the language that tends to be neglected.

Depending on the languages you speak and the community where you live, some of these options may not be available. The important thing is to create as much balance as possible between the two languages, and to start doing this as early as possible in your child’s life.

As your child’s first day of school creeps up, you will both experience different feelings. You’re excited that he’s old enough to start school. At the same time, you wonder if he will adjust to the new routine.

Your child may also be excited. But if she’s never spent time away from you she may feel a bit overwhelmed by the prospect. Similarly, for a child who is already in a childcare setting, spending part of her day in junior or senior kindergarten may pose some new challenges. A new and unfamiliar routine and teacher may take some getting used to.

Whether it’s your child’s first time away from you or he’s making the transition from childcare to school, here are some things you can do to help make the move easier.

  1. Talk about the new routine.
    Talk to your caregiver about the new routine when school starts. Share this with your child so he is prepared for the change.
  2. Talk about what won’t change.
    Prior to school starting, both you and your caregiver can talk about kindergarten, providing reassurance by reminding your child about all the things that will still be the same.
  3. Visit the school in advance.
    If possible, during the summer, visit the school your child will be attending. If there is a playground, you may even want to spend some time there letting her play to become familiar with the environment.
  4. Find out the name of your child’s teacher.
    School administrative offices are often open before the first day of school and may be able to provide you with some information.
  5. Ease your child into class.
    Ask the school if you can visit during the first week perhaps staying for the first hour or until your child seems settled.
  6. Reassure your child that you will be back.
    Make sure your child knows who will pick her up when school finishes. An anxious child may want to know exactly when that will be. Offer a cue from the routine, for instance: “After you clean up the room you will hear the bell ring and you will know it’s time to go home. We’ll be waiting to pick you up.”
  7. Be enthusiastic about school.
    Talk about the wonderful things he will be doing at school – making friends, different kinds of art and play activities and of course learning. This should be done at home with you as well as with your child’s caregiver.
  8. Help your child find friends from school.
    Find other children in the neighbourhood attending school. Your caregiver can help. Talk about them noting how much they enjoy school. Schedule some play dates in advance and have at least one familiar face.
  9. Share your own stories.
    Talk about some of your own stories about school – what was it like for you when you started. If there are older siblings have them join in also.
  10. Get ready together.
    Include her in the preparation for school. This can be as simple as deciding on snacks to send each day or buying school supplies. Including her will make her feel that this day is special and it really is all about her.
  11. Share the excitement of growing up.
    Starting school is often seen as a sign of being a “big boy”. Talk to your child about how he feels about school. Being a “big boy” may be just what he wants or the prospect may be overwhelming. Be sensitive to his feelings and gently continue to talk about the wonderful things that happen at school.
  12. Create a neighborhood walking bus.
    If there are other children in the neighborhood who your child knows and will be attending the same school you may want to walk to school together giving a sense of community to your child even away from his home.
  13. Make a special exhibit at home.
    Set up a special place at home where your child will be able to display work that comes home from school. Even before school starts you can decorate this space together

The transition to kindergarten can be hard for you and your child. Being prepared and explaining to your child some of the things he can expect will give you both some peace of mind.

A long car or plane ride can be stressful but it is also a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to enjoy each other’s company. Capitalize on this time to laugh and play games. This will not only make a tedious journey more entertaining but you will also get a better understanding of how your child is thinking and what is important to her.

When you let your child take the lead in suggesting or inventing her own play activities you are sending an important message. Following rather than always directing tells her that you like and respect her ideas. This will encourage her to continue thinking and making more decisions. Here are some ideas for interactive play for you and your child during the drive:

  • Guessing games – these games encourage young children to observe and think about how objects function in their environment as well as give practice in language. You start off the game but then let your child take the lead so that you have to guess what’s in her mind. Some examples include:
    • “I Spy with My Little Eye – something that is blue”
    • “I’m thinking of something that starts with the letter ‘A’ “
    • “I’m a spoon – what am I used for?”
  • Storytelling – listening to a story without a picture book takes a lot of concentration and imagination. Create your own story together by starting off with “Once upon a time there was a girl who….” Invite your child to add a sentence to the story. Respond with a new sentence and keep this pattern going until your child has had enough of story creating.
  • Creating silly rhymes – use the “phonic families” to devise funny sentences, e.g. the cat sat on a hat looking for a bat; the goat put on his coat and swam to the boat which wouldn’t float.
  • Counting – understanding the concepts of numbers takes a lot of concrete practice. Ask how many cars of a particular colour can she count? Let her choose the colour and help her when she gets lost with the sequence of numbers; ask your child what else she would like to count as she is looking out the window.
  • Reading signs – point out common signs that your preschooler may be aware of and beginning to recognize such as “Stop” or “Exit”
  • Singing songs – encourage your child to pick her favourite tunes and sing together. Also, bring favourite tapes to listen to in the car.
  • Talking – seize this opportunity to have a conversation about things that you don’t always have time for, e.g. who she likes to play with at school/child care; what is her favourite thing to do during the day at school/child care; what was something funny that happened this week? The topics are endless and allow your child to give you a glimpse into her life.

When you and your preschooler argue it can be hard to keep your cool, but there are ways to handle these squabbles that will help resolve the situation and hopefully cut down the number of arguments you face.

An argument is hard on everyone involved. Tempers flare and it’s not always easy to stop and listen to what the other person is trying to say.

It’s important to remember that there are at least two sides to every argument. And that there are complicated feelings at work on both sides. While you may be feeling that your child isn’t recognizing your authority, your child may be feeling she isn’t being heard, and that her views and feelings aren’t important to you. Both of you are sure to be feeling frustrated and hurt.

It is good practice to repeat what you heard your child saying. For young children, they may have some trouble saying what they really mean and it is helpful to make sure you are getting their message. For example: “What I hear you saying is that you want to finish the show before you clean you room.” If your child agrees that is what they are saying you can then give your position.

When someone feels you are listening to them it is usually easier for them to listen to you.

Validate the child’s feelings. “I see that you are angry,” or “I hear that you are feeling upset,” are great statement to make that let your child know you not only hear what they are saying but what they are feeling.

Identify if feelings are getting in the way of solutions. When feelings are high it can stop anyone from listening, but especially a child, who sometimes stops listening and responding to you. You cannot reason with a child who is in the middle of a temper tantrum or starts to stomp their feet. Let the child know that you know they are angry, or upset, or frustrated, but they need to calm down before you can talk with them. Give them some space and time and do not get into any discussion or arguing while they are in their “temper.” This is a great life skill to teach a child while they are young and one that many adults have not learned well.

Also, if your emotions are overwhelming you, let the child know that you need to calm down before you go on. This is great modeling. Once you are in control of yourself you can sit down with your child to go through their side and to give yours.

Don’t go on forever. Once all has been said it is time for a solution or decision. If it is something small you may consider having the child make the decision. If it is something more important or a consequence is required then you need to make the decision. Once made, the message to your child is that the arguing is over. There is no appeal court. If your child continues to argue the best response is silence or to ignore them. Follow up on whatever the decision is and give them time to calm down and respond.

Acknowledge their behaviour, Comment when your child behaves in the way you want them to act; For example; “Thank you for saying what you think so clearly,” or “Thank you for calming down so we can deal with the problem.” Or “Thank you for doing what you need to do and not arguing anymore.”

Once you’ve realized that TV, videos and video games are probably going to be a part of your child’s life, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to make sure they don’t do more harm than good. The single most important thing you can do is become involved in what your child is watching at home and at school.

Try to watch, or be close by, whenever your child is watching TV or a video, and then make sure you talk to him about what he has seen. By doing so, you turn an otherwise solitary activity into a social and learning experience.

It’s important that you’re aware of what good options are available. For example, suggest or choose certain stations that don’t have commercials during children’s programming. And select children’s videos and games that are educational as well as entertaining. Finding these alternatives may take time, but your efforts will be rewarded.

Try to organize activities for the time immediately after a TV program or video ends so your child is eager to get involved in something else.

Be wary of letting your child watch programs intended for adults. Many parents think that very young children can’t understand the content of adult programs, such as soap operas, crime shows and newscasts. But research is discovering that children might actually be absorbing these scenes. With this in mind, tape “adult shows” for later viewing when infants and young children aren’t present.

Finally, it is recommended that you limit your child’s TV viewing to no more than two hours a day. This leaves plenty of time for her to do things like read, draw, play with others and exercise.

To make the transition smooth from home to childcare, it’s important to build a relationship with your child’s caregiver and keep the lines of communication open. Talk about your child’s likes and dislikes, any particular fears (such as thunder), how your child is behaving, what your child usually does or likes to do during the day, any problems you are currently facing, and so on. You should also share anything you’re concerned about regarding your child’s behaviour at home.

Here are several ways to make leaving your child with a caregiver easier and less painful for everyone.

If possible, start leaving your child with the new caregiver for short periods of time, at least two weeks before you need full-time care.

Stay with your child and the caregiver for a little while each day, for the first few days, to help your child adjust. This will also allow you to learn more about the childcare. Remember, you and the caregiver are a team, working in the best interests of your child. So try to stay in touch regularly.

Try leaving a favourite toy or blanket or a picture of you with your child. These can be comforting when you are gone.

Before leaving, be sure to explain to your child that you’ll be back. Do so confidently, without appearing anxious or sad.

Create daily rituals, such as kissing three times and waving good-bye together, when you’re leaving. After a while, these rituals will give your child a sense of predictability over your leaving.

Accept and be sensitive to your child’s display of emotions, such as crying or purposely ignoring you, when you are leaving. Stay calm if your child acts scared or angry. Acknowledge the fear so she knows it is okay to have these feelings.

When you are leaving your child at child care, here are some things to avoid:

  • Never make fun of your child, if he cries when you leave.
  • Never sneak out – an upset because you’re leaving is much better than an upset because you suddenly disappeared without warning.
  • Try to avoid going right back in, even if you’ve forgotten something. This can be confusing and distressing for your child.
  • Never force a shy, anxious or “slow to warm up” child to jump into a situation. Let him stay close to you until he feels comfortable enough to join in.

If you find that your child isn’t adjusting well to being left in childcare, be sure to talk with the caregiver. Remember, you are a team.

Some children are picky eaters. They don’t like broccoli just because it’s green or they don’t like mushrooms because they’re mushy. Here are some suggestions for improving your child’s eating habits.

First of all, don’t call your child a “picky eater,” or he may become one forever. Children’s eating habits can develop and change for a lot of reasons. Their tastes are naturally evolving.

Have a wide variety of healthy foods available, recognizing that children do have different tastes.

Set a good example by following healthy eating habits yourself, including having a good breakfast. If your child won’t eat breakfast, make sure she has nutritious, high-energy snacks for getting to and from daycare or school.

Provide a variety of foods rich in calcium, not just milk. Include foods such as calcium-fortified orange juice, cheese, yogurt or calcium-fortified soy milk. Some children dislike milk.

Try to involve your child in planning, shopping for and preparing meals. Even two- and three-year olds can do this in a simple way.

Allow your child to help you make his favourite meals from time to time, even if it’s not something you really enjoy.

Try not to make mealtime a battleground by nagging, threatening or arguing about your child’s eating.

Try not to criticize your child’s choices, or say that some foods are “bad.” Instead, make sure that the foods offered are all healthy choices. Be creative.

Stay neutrals about all foods. Your child is sensitive to your cues and might how they see a food. Instead of calling food “bad”, whether it’s junk food or something you don’t like eating, give your child a chance to try and decide for himself.

Be patient. Your child’s tastes in food will continue to change.

If, however, you feel that your child’s eating habits are making her unhealthy, consult your child’s physician.

Some children are shy. They “hang back” in groups. They need your assistance to learn how to become comfortable talking and playing with others.

The main things to remember when trying to help a child like this to cope with new situations are:

  • Don’t label a child “shy” or introduce your child as a “shy child.” Sometimes children will define themselves as this and never move beyond the label.
  • Don’t push your child into situations that he might find overwhelming. It’s important that you accept your child’s nature and help him develop ways to overcome his shyness – that may take time and patience. Instead of pushing, offer your child opportunities to be involved with others with your support.
  • Prepare your child ahead of time by talking about new situations, such as what she will encounter, or who may be there, and talk with her about ways to become involved in groups.
  • Don’t nag your child about being shy. Parents who get irritable or impatient with a child’s shyness may find that their child reacts by being even shyer.

Remember, every child is unique. Some children will be shy, to a greater or lesser degree, all their lives. It’s important for them to feel valued for who they are.

Here are a number of things you can do to make toilet learning easier for both you and your preschooler:

Help your child become familiar with what learning to use the toilet is all about. Before and during the learning process, read stories about using the toilet such as Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel. Explain to your child in simple terms how food and drink become “poo” and “pee,” and what the potty and toilet are used for. Remember, to a little child, a toilet is a big hole that makes a lot of noise. It’s common for some children to think they might fall in and disappear, or that a monster might come out of the toilet after them.

Choose a low-stress time to begin your child’s use of the toilet. Toilet learning works best when both you and your child are relaxed. Avoid times when he is dealing with change, like the arrival of a new baby in the family, a move to a new home, parents’ separation or starting daycare.

Help your child get started by saying that it’s time to start using the toilet like Mom or Dad. Allow her to watch other young children or family members on the toilet, to help her get the idea. Let her have her dolls or stuffed animal pretend to use the potty.

Use a potty chair.It allows children’s feet to touch the floor, helping them to feel more secure. It also allows them to get on and off without having help. Include your child in picking out a potty chair. Let your child just sit on the potty to get used to it, wait at least 1-2 weeks before starting any toilet learning Reading a short story to your child while they sit on the potty may help them to relax as we..

Stay nearby while your child is on the toilet or potty, and don’t make him stay any longer than he wishes to.

Dress your child in loose clothes that he can easily pull up or down. Use training pants or “pull-ups” or cotton underwear once he has been successful for 1-2 weeks.

Help make “going to the washroom” part of your child’s routine, by giving reminders like, “Let’s take a potty break.” Encourage her to use the toilet or potty right after meals, and just before and just after sleep. And when she says she has to go, act fast!

Teach bathroom hygiene. Show your child how to wipe properly after peeing or pooing-girls should wipe from the front to the back. Both boys and girls will need help with this particularly after a bowel movement. Show your child how to wash his hands after using the potty or toilet.

During the process, here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Be patient. It may take a child 3-6 months before the diapers are gone for good during the day. Some children learn to control their bladders first others learn to control their bowels first. Bladder control through the night takes longer than day control. It can take several months or even years for your child to stay dry during the night.
  • Expect accidents to happen. Be calm do not overreact or blame, shame or punish your child. Have a change of clothes easily available. Accidents are common until about five years of age — ask any kindergarten teacher! And even when your child is staying dry during the day, naps and nighttime will still pose a challenge — this kind of control will take longer.
  • Also, a child who has learned to use the toilet may start wetting her pants or the bed due to stress or change. This is common and doesn’t usually last long, in terms of daytime dryness, but nighttime bedwetting may take longer to reinstate.
  • Try not to use words like dirty, stinky, smelly – this may make some children self conscious about using the potty or the toilet.
  • It’s very important to compliment your child’s attempts, even if he misses.
  • If your child resists toilet learning, back off and try again later; he may not be ready yet. To not force him this will only make it more frustrating for both of you.

Finally, remember that every child is different, so don’t worry if your child takes longer to be fully toilet trained.

Talk to your doctor:

  • if your child was using the toilet for several months and has now regressed;
  • she is withholding stool;
  • she is experiencing pain or
  • there is blood in the urine or stool; there is a rash;
  • is over 4 years old and not able to control his bowels or bladder
  • or you have other concerns about your child’s toilet learning

Sleeping problems are very common between the ages of two and four, even in children who slept well before then. Teething, mild infections and bad dreams can also cause sleeping problems. Many parents are concerned about their children’s sleeping habits, especially problems around getting to sleep or staying asleep. Sleeping problems are troublesome because lack of sleep, by either children or adults, can lead to difficulties in functioning well during the day.

Here are some suggestions that may help you deal with sleeping problems:

Make sure you have a consistent bedtime routine. This means carrying out bathtime, storytime and any other bedtime rituals at the same time and in a calm way. Avoid exciting games, such as running or rough play before bedtime. Calm music and a warm bath can also be relaxing.

Encourage your child to sleep with a special toy or blanket. This can help your child feel more comforted about being separated from you at bedtime.

Leave a light on in your child’s room or the hallway. This can comfort a child who seems to be genuinely scared of the dark. If your child is afraid, do not minimize these feelings. Listen to his concerns, but let him know that you believe that he can cope.

Sometimes a child who has overcome sleeping problems may have them re-appear because of illness, bad dreams or a change in the family situation (such as moving house, her parents’ separation or a new sibling). This is to be expected, and you will need to re-establish the sleep routine and coping strategies. Gradually, when your child feels safe, secure and able to cope, she will learn to fall asleep and stay asleep on her own.

The ability for a preschool child to sympathize and empathize with others is influenced by a child’s experiences – how she is treated by those around her, world events that she may hear about, and by the behaviour she observes toward others. A simple definition of empathy is the ability to recognize the emotions that another person is experiencing. Sympathy builds from empathy as a person will be moved to show concern or sadness in response to someone’s emotional state.

For example, following many world disasters we often hear about young children demonstrating in many touching ways their capacity to empathize and sympathize with others in need.

As this capacity develops in your child, you may find your child:

  1. Asks more questions about how certain events or experiences make others feel.
  2. Asks you specifically how certain things make you feel.
  3. Begins to make some conclusions about how others might feel in certain situations.
  4. Begins to show both empathic and sympathetic behaviours during pretend play with a doll or playmate, e.g., says “Don’t cry baby. Mommy will make it better.”
  5. Begins to comfort and express concern for another individual.

Such behaviours are to be celebrated in children. This capacity is fundamental if we want our children to be caring, respectful and generous individuals. While recent world disasters have brought to our attention to warm-hearted examples of preschoolers who have created pictures to raise money for other children, parents need to be aware how this growing ability influences the different areas of a child’s immediate world. The ability to empathize and sympathize affects:

  • A child’s interactions and reactions to others
  • A child’s belief about his /her ability to make a change on someone’s behalf
  • A child’s network of relationships
  • A child’s current and future personality

Our ability as parents to support the development of this capacity is profound. Parents, who show sensitivity and responsiveness to their infants’ and toddlers’ needs, have preschoolers who are more secure and pro-social in their relationships with other children. Here are some other parenting behaviours that contribute to building a child’s capacity for empathy and sympathy:

  • Talk to children about how their behaviour makes other children feel, e.g., if a child hurts another child. Offer suggestions how to rectify the emotional situation;
  • Model caring behaviour toward others so that children can see how it makes other people feel;
  • Take time to discuss emotions and feelings associated with problems or situations; and
  • Take every opportunity to let children know they have the power to make another individual happy by showing them an act of kindness.

Doing chores can help your child learn to organize time, handle responsibility, set goals and learn various other skills. But that doesn’t mean your child will want to do them – sometimes it’s going to be a chore to get your child to do chores.

To make things easier on both of you, give your child a reasonable time in which to do the chores. Give him complete freedom to finish the chores, on his own, by the deadline. Avoid nagging your child to do them.

If the chores are not done by the deadline, don’t do them yourself. If you do, you give the message: “You don’t really have to do your chores unless you want to because, if you don’t, good old mom – or dad – will do them for you!” If a chore has to be done again because it wasn’t done properly, it is up to you to patiently and gently insist your child take the time to do it properly.

Remember, it takes all of the preschool years, and then some, for children to assume responsibility for chores without reminders. Just ask parents of teens! But do start early.

You can help your child cope with the death of a pet by helping her to understand that loss and grief are a natural part of the cycle of life. Encourage your child to tell you what she is feeling and answer any questions. There are also books available in the children’s section of the library about a pet’s death, that you can read and talk about together.

Remember, it’s not the size or kind of pet that matters, but how important it was to your child – so don’t say things like, “It was only a goldfish.” If your child feels you don’t approve of the depth of his loss, it just makes it harder for him to cope.

It may be comforting for your child to have some kind of a farewell ceremony for the pet. Put a picture of the pet in your child’s bedroom. Encourage everyone in the family to talk about their special memories of the pet.

It’s not a good idea, while your child is grieving intensely, to try and distract him with fun activities. It can be very hard to accept the loss of a pet that was really loved. Children need time to experience all their feelings and accept the loss. Don’t rush to replace a pet in an attempt to help the child feel happy. Grief is an important natural process for all of us to learn about.

It is not unusual for a child to feel strongly and intensely sad about the death of a beloved pet for a period of six to eight weeks. However, if it lasts longer than this, consult your child’s physician. It may also be helpful to consult your child’s daycare provider or school teacher to see if this behaviour is happening away from home, too.

There are many things that can cause your child to stay awake at bedtime or to wake in the night and stay awake. Some examples are illness, digestive problems, allergies, a move to a new home, or change in child care provider and even anxiety. You may not know it, but your child could be feeling genuinely anxious about being separated from you at bedtime.

The best way to make sure that both you and your child are getting the rest you need is to establish a regular bedtime routine. It should be at the same time every night, with no rough or active play just before bed. A nice bath and bedtime story is a great way to calm your child before going to sleep.

Be gentle but firm about your child staying in bed after being put down. Encourage your child to learn to stay calm by singing and talking quietly to herself, or cuddling with a pillow or stuffed animal. Leave the room with your child awake, so he can learn how to fall asleep on his own. It’s also important that while your child is falling asleep, she is not distracted by excessive noise in the home, such as loud television programs, or the sound of older brothers and sisters playing.

It’s normal for your child to call out to you in the night, but you don’t have to go running right away. Try calling back to him first, just to let him know you’ve heard the cries and are near by. If your child continues to fuss, go into the room and use your voice and presence to calm him. Instead of picking him up, pat or massage him gently.

And remember, almost every child goes through several phases of testing you to see how late they can stay up. Stay gently firm and consistent. Getting angry doesn’t help ease your child into sleep.

According to our experts, the key to effective communication between you and your preschooler is active listening and providing an appropriate positive response. This may sound simple, but sometimes we forget to use these important skills with our young children.

Here are their suggestions to enhance your communication with your child:

  • Active Listening: when your child is speaking with you make sure you are:
    • Looking at your child (“what you are saying is important,” is your message)
    • Eliminate distractions (music, reading, etc)
    • Don’t interrupt (let your child finish what they are saying)
    • Summarize (what you said is…so and so….did I get it right?)
    • Let you child know that you appreciate them sharing their thoughts or concerns with you. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, but if your child feels you have heard them it gives them a greater sense of connection with you and actually decreases arguments.
  • Providing an appropriate response: Sometime children will say something that upsets us, or we jump to a conclusion, or we provide a consequence to a child for something that they told us they did. These responses teach children not to communicate with us. Instead, thank your child for sharing with you and, if there is an issue, ask the child what they think would help or should be done. Children are usually pretty fair and understand right and wrong, as well as the need to “fix” things. Instead of responding to their confession with, “That was a bad thing you did, so go to your room,” you might say, “Thank you for letting me know about that. I am proud of you for telling me the truth, but now we need to do something about what you did. What do you think would be fair?”
  • Timing: If you child is in the middle of something, (watching a TV show, brushing his teeth, etc.) you should tell him that you would like to talk about something and wait for him to finish. Remember that if you are busy, or you know you have to leave in a minute, you will not be able to be an active listener.
  • Play: One of the best ways to communicate is while a child is playing a game or with a toy where he is also able to talk with you. Colouring, building blocks or puzzles are some examples. As he is enjoying his activity you can ask him about his day, what was interesting, etc.
  • Create routines: Have a “talk time” every day at the same time. You can schedule one early in the morning, at supper or just before bed, whenever you regularly have a bit of quiet time together. For young children this would only be a few minutes, but it becomes a part of their daily life to have time to communicate with you. At supper, for example, you might have each person say one thing that was good about their day and one thing that was not so good.
  • Go on an adventure: Go for a drive in the car, a hike, visit the museum or beach and talk about what you are seeing, hearing, feeling, etc. You can even do this in your imagination and pretend you are flying in a plane and talk about what you are seeing or doing.
  • Read: Reading books to each other and talking about the story afterward is a wonderful and easy way to foster communication with your child. You can do this with TV shows or movies as well. Ask your child what they think about things that are happening. “What do you think he is feeling right now?” Why do you think she did that?” “How would you feel if they did that to you?” If you are watching a show together don’t have the communication get in the way of your child following the story. If that is happening wait and talk about it once the show is over.

Keep in mind that even if you do all these things, your child may still not want to talk with you. Pressuring children to talk will usually make them clam up even more. Talking about things that your child is interested in will help, but sometimes the key is to wait until you child initiates a discussion. When this happens make sure you are using your active listening skills.

You and your child are enjoying a play date when suddenly, your toddler grabs a toy from the other child. What do you do?

Aggression in toddlers is normal and more frequently driven by frustration and the impulse to get what they want, than by the intent to hurt someone. Toddlers tend to fight over possessions; they just know that they want something and they want it now!

Learning to control their emotions is a challenge at this stage. Tantrums are quite common and sometimes go with aggression. Toddlers can easily use aggression to gain attention. They do it spontaneously or imitate others and experiment with different behaviours. “No!” is a word toddlers love to use to assert their growing independence.

While physical aggression increases with age – generally peaking between the second and third birthdays – the good news is that somewhere around age three, the frequency of physical aggression should begin to decrease.

When emotions turn into aggressive behaviour, help your child learn how to channel those feelings
into acceptable behaviour. Using these strategies to prevent or to respond to aggressive behaviour will help your toddler contain his emotions and get along with others.

  • Respond to aggression with words of acceptance for what he is feeling, e.g., “I know you are angry.” He needs to know someone understands him.
  • Talk about what might be making your child feel the way she is feeling, e.g., “I can see you are angry because I won’t let you eat that. Let’s go over here and talk about it.” Your toddler needs to know you care about her feelings and that you will help her to cope with them.
  • The life of a toddler can be full of “no’s.” Be sure to notice and reward his good behaviour.
  • Provide opportunities for pretend play during which your child can experiment with and express different emotions. Join in the play so you can act out different emotions and show your child ways to work out challenging ones, without becoming aggressive.
  • Have play dates with other children on a consistent basis and be present so you can help your child deal more positively with any frustrating experiences that might lead to aggressive behaviour.
  • If your toddler hurts someone, get involved immediately. Toddlers need your help to understand what is wrong and how to repair the harm. Stay calm and avoid overreacting as this can actually increase aggression in children who are using aggression to gain attention.
  • Look into your child’s eyes and speak calmly, but firmly. You might say, “No hitting/pushing/ biting people!” and point out, “Look. You hurt him and he’s crying.” Young children need to learn the consequences of their aggression.
  • As things calm down, give a short explanation of what went wrong, acknowledging your toddler’s feelings, e.g., “I know you were mad, but what you did hurts. We don’t hurt people.”
  • Teach your child to say, “I’m sorry,” and help your child learn how to patch things up.
  • Encourage your toddler to use words to describe his emotions through activities such as pretend play or reading books together. Language offers children an alternative to expressing anger and frustration through aggression.
  • During daily routines and activities talk about your own emotions or those that your toddler may be feeling and expressing.

Positive Parenting Strategies to Cope with Aggression

  • It’s not helpful to be harsh, but it is necessary to be firm. Your toddler’s memory is under construction, and she will test to see if you are definitely consistent in many different settings.
  • It’s important to be a good example in handling your own anger and frustration. Brothers, sisters, and playmates will be imitated, too. Remember, set a positive tone for your toddler’s behaviour through your own actions, those of your other children and by choosing friends for your toddler who will be good models to copy.
  • Provide lots of reminders about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. It can be frustrating having to tell your child something over and over again, but some children need to be told many times before they fully understand you.

If your preschooler pushes someone, how can you teach her a better way to get what she wants?

Aggressive behaviour is a normal and typical part of growing up and it is critical for parents to help their children learn how to manage it. As preschoolers get older, they show less and less physical aggression mostly because the parts of their brains that control aggression are better developed. However, because preschoolers are bigger and stronger, they are capable of more harm when
they do get rough.

Preschoolers are also smarter and more calculating. They test their growing independence with strong opinions about what and who they like to play with, and what they like to do. To get their way they negotiate with friends, parents and caregivers. Every day, playmates try to figure out who will have what, who will do what and who can play. Later, they will remember what worked, or didn’t. This leads them to choose more indirect forms of aggression and use their increasing language skills to get what they want. They make fun of and exclude certain friends; they tease, taunt, and call each other names. The goal of this type of aggression is to harm another person through insults or isolation.

Use the following tips to respond to aggressive behaviour, and help your child learn appropriate strategies that will help him meet his needs and interact with others in constructive ways.

  • Read stories together about some of the angry feelings or aggressive behaviours your child has shown. Talk about the emotions the characters are feeling. Ask your child how else the characters might handle their feelings. Remind your child of situations when she felt that way, too. Recall together whether the outcome was good or bad, and what could have made it end better. Preschoolers are capable of learning alternatives to aggression. The more choices your child can see, the less likely she is to act aggressively.
  • Praise your preschooler for positive behaviour, without overdoing it. Complimenting your child is especially important when he clearly chooses not to act aggressively. Moderate praise makes your child want to please you.
  • Pretend play gives preschoolers the chance to test different emotions, including anger. If you take part in your child’s pretend play you can be right there to explore other ways to resolve those feelings without physical or indirect aggression.
  • Take the lead in making up stories where people get frustrated, e.g., “Jennifer was playing ball when Jack came and took the ball from her.” Encourage your child to make up the next part. Ask, “What do you think Jennifer did?” Decide together how everyone in your story will react. Have your child draw pictures to go along with the story and share them with others. Learning to talk about and share feelings are good alternatives to physical aggression.
  • “Rough and tumble” play is normal in children this age. It helps preschoolers learn social skills, the boundaries of their strength, and when to stop. However, parents need to monitor children’s play. Parents are very important in helping preschoolers master the fine line between rough physical play and physical aggression.
  • If your child hurts someone, include her in treating the hurt child. This helps her to develop empathy for others and understand the pain her actions can cause.
  • Help your child learn how to apologize and make up. Understanding how to take responsibility for hurting someone and taking steps to make things better are critical skills for preschoolers.
  • Be a good role model by managing your own frustrations. When you are frustrated, share your feelings and talk about different ways you might cope that are not physically or indirectly aggressive.
  • Provide routines that include frequent reminders about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. For instance, if you go to the park, remind your preschooler that it’s important to wait her turn and not push her way into line.
  • Communicate rules and limits and be sure they are age appropriate. Talk about these daily to ensure that they are understood. Observe, monitor and respond consistently when rules are broken.

Positive Parenting Strategies to Cope with Aggression

  • Stay calm.
  • Treat any child who may have been hurt by the aggressor.
  • Make sure no one is laughing or encouraging the child’s aggressive behaviour.
  • Try to understand what caused the aggressive behaviour to explain it to each child involved.
  • Tell the aggressor why the behaviour is inappropriate and what she can do instead.
  • If necessary, apply age-appropriate consequences.
  • Be consistent with any consequences, and follow through.

Positive Parenting Strategies to PREVENT Aggression

  • Observe what happened before, during and after aggression. Look at what triggered it, who the victim was, what the behaviour was, where it occurred, what stopped it, and how everyone felt about it afterward.
  • Be patient, firm, direct and consistent in your directions and requests regarding your family’s expectations on manners, chores, routines, and ways of interacting with others. This helps your preschooler understand and manage his emotions and relationships on a daily basis.
  • Set a good example for your child. Modeling positive ways to resolve conflict and communicate when emotions are involved has a big impact on your child’s development of positive social skills.

Even very young babies can show aggressive behaviour, like howling and thrashing. But how should you react if your 11-month old hits another infant?

Some typical adult reactions to aggression include punishment, laughing at it, or just pretending it didn’t happen. Some even think it is best just to “let the kids work it out” and not interfere at all. Like anger, aggression is a normal part of a child’s development and dealing with it is one of the most important challenges of parenthood. How your child displays her feelings and behaves with others can be influenced by her temperament. Differences in temperament will cause some children to be more aggressive while others are hardly aggressive at all.

When infants display anger and aggression, it is often due to discomfort, pain or frustration. Older babies will use aggression to protect themselves, to express anger or to get what they want. When your baby is aggressive, it is because he has not learned a better way of behaving.

Use these strategies to prevent or respond to aggressive behaviour. They will help your baby learn more appropriate ways of behaving with others.

  • Your crying baby is telling you something and it is important for you to respond. When you do, your baby will learn to trust you and other adults and know that you will respond consistently and sensitively when he is uncomfortable or upset.
  • Use a soothing voice and gentle touches. Expressing warm feelings through touch is crucial for your baby’s emotional development.
  • Try to understand what caused the aggressive behaviour and eliminate as many sources of
    frustration as possible.
    This helps her feel safe and secure.
  • Create safe play spaces so your baby can move through the house without constantly being told “don’t touch” and “don’t do that.” Too many “no’s” will frustrate and anger your baby.
  • Provide your baby with periods of play with you or other caregivers throughout the day. Play is a wonderful way for your baby to learn about his environment and how to relate positively with the people and things that make up his world.
  • When playing with your baby, provide many examples of your own caring behaviour, and use simple words like “softly” and “gently” to describe your actions.
  • Talk to your baby, congratulating him on every effort. Even if he doesn’t understand the words, he understands he is important to you and this makes him want to please you which is critical when he needs to follow your directions.
  • Support your baby’s early efforts to soothe herself. Thumb sucking or hugging a soft toy or blanket are rarely hard habits to break, and they help your baby learn to calm herself.
  • Provide your baby with consistent daily routines, which are the prelude to rules. Taking the guesswork out of his day will help him develop a sense of what to expect and how to respond to your family’s routines and activities.
  • Infants need to learn to cooperate and share. If your baby is grabbing or hitting another child, let her know that it is not OK. Show her how to ask for toys how to offer toys to others or redirect her attention to another toy or activity.
  • Use simple words to let your baby know that her behaviour is too aggressive. Remember, it will take lots of repetition before your baby understands what “no” means.

Positive Parenting Strategies to Cope with Aggression

  • Stay calm.
  • Treat any child who may have been hurt by the aggressor.
  • Make sure no one is laughing or giving the child’s inappropriate behaviour attention.
  • Try to understand what caused the aggressive behaviour to explain it to each child involved.
  • Tell the aggressor (even a baby) why the behaviour is inappropriate and what she can do instead.
  • Be consistent with any consequences and follow through.