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Travelling with your child is a different experience for every family. Whether your child is a natural explorer or not, these Nurture, Explore & Share tips will help you and your child with your travelling experience.

Travelling can be an exciting journey when you have a toddler with you. These Nurture, Explore & Share tips will help you make the most out of your travel time with your child!

Travelling with your baby can be a scary but joyous occasion. Use the Nurture, Explore & Share tips to learn more about travelling with your baby. This can be a fun experience for everyone!

Why wait to take advantage of the nice weather? Take some indoor activities outdoors, as your baby develops important relationships, and learns new words. As new parents, it is important to encourage your baby to use their five senses (to touch, to see, to hear, to smell and to taste) because it encourages them to try new challenges, negotiate activities, and cooperate with others. Developing these lifelong characteristics in the early years will benefit your baby’s healthy development.

As new parents, playing along with your baby means your baby will be less stressed and more willing to explore in their everyday life. The five senses (touch, smell, see, hear, taste) are the pathways to your baby’s learning; this is what your baby brings to every new environment. The moments you spend exploring and nurturing your baby’s development through nature walks, nesting boxes, and songs, the more your baby will be motivated to explore the world! Participating in your child’s play is the window into who they are!

Did You Know…?

  • Lacing, pinching a clothes pin on a line, and using a spray bottle, all help build your child’s finger muscles for writing later on.
  • Providing different spaced boxes allows your child to compare sizes (i.e. smaller, bigger, really little) that build on their thinking development.
  • Babies are very sensitive to your tone of voice and your natural body scents.

Travelling as a family with baby in tow, can be fun, but it does require some planning ahead.

Consider the following if you are traveling by car:

  • plan that the drive will take longer than you would normally expect.
  • take a break after every 2 hours – this gives your baby some time to be in a different position than the car seat – consider some tummy time or time on his back so he can kick and wiggle.
  • have one parent sit beside baby so you can be close by to attend to her needs – take turns with your partner – it provides each of you a break from driving or entertaining your baby.
  • you know your baby and baby’s schedule, if possible plan your trip when your baby normally naps or has a longer sleep, this will allow him to have part of their nap during the time you are driving. Try and avoid driving when your baby is having their fussy time of day.
  • some babies are more sensitive to travel than others – tummy upsets, changes in elimination or eating may happen, carry extra diapers, hand wipes and waterless wash where it can easily be reached.
  • have toys, rattles, books, music or items to distract your baby when she gets bored – even singing to her will help.

Packing:

  • pack items for baby that are used frequently at the top of their bag i.e. diapers, wipes, bibs, a variety of mix and match clothes in dark colours (they hide any spills or stains) suitable for changeable weather, suitable outdoor clothes including a hat, any diaper creams or ointments.
  • baby’s blanket, soother, or special toy, stuffed animal that baby likes will help her feel more comfortable during your trip.
  • any medication or vitamins that baby takes.
  • take a large resealable plastic bag for smelly and dirty clothes.
  • remember baby’s health card, and if you are travelling outside of your country your baby’s passport.
  • some parents find it helpful to pack a nightlight to use in their hotel room; it provides enough light if you need to attend to your baby in the middle of the night.
  • don’t forget your stroller or baby carrier
  • place an extra change of clothes at the top of your suitcase, just in case baby has a spit up that lands on you.

At your destination:

  • see if your hotel provides cribs and book one in advance of your trip.
  • when possible try to maintain baby’s normal routine including bed time routine.
  • use soft lighting or a plug-in night light if baby wakes during the night.

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.

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 you’re taking your baby outside, especially in very cold or very hot weather, it can be tough to decide how many layers your baby needs. Dressing your baby can be different from dressing yourself, so making the right decisions take some thought. Here are a few tips to get you through winter and summer weather.

Summer

Avoid the sun as much as possible. Too much sun exposure can lead to skin cancer later in life. Avoid using sunscreen on babies younger than six months of age. If your baby is less than six months old, your best bet is to keep his skin covered and stay out of direct sunlight. For babies older than six months, avoid being in direct sunlight during its peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on days when the UV index is 3 or higher, your baby should be wearing sunscreen. Use unscented sunscreens that:

  • Have a rating of at least SPF 15
  • Block both UVA and UVB rays
  • Are waterproof

Avoid sunscreens with ingredients such as PABA, which can trigger allergic reactions. Slater the sunscreen on your baby 15 to 30 minutes before heading outside and reapply every 2 to 3 hours, or after your baby gets wet or sweaty.

During hot weather alerts, keep your baby indoors or in the shade, and avoid the sun during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Baby’s summer wear:

  • Dress your baby in loose-fitting lightweight clothing with long sleeves to cover arms and legs.
  • Put a wide-brimmed hat on your baby.
  • Put UVA/UVB-blocking sunglasses on your baby to protect her eyes.
  • If you’re using a baby carrier or sling, make sure that it’s not lined with heavy fabric and that your baby is not too hot.

In hot weather, because babies and toddlers dehydrate and get sunstroke more easily than adults, be sure to give your baby lots of extra fluids in addition to the ones he gets at meal-time.

Winter

Babies cool down much quicker than adults, so they’re more prone to frostbite and wind chapping. Keep that in mind when you’re picking their clothing and use these rules of thumb:

  • Dress your baby in one layer more than you’re wearing .
  • Don’t stay outside for too long – if your baby is suddenly fussy, that could mean she’s not comfortable.

Be sure to watch for the physical signs of frostbite and keep an eye out for exposed fingers and toes: A frostbitten nose, ears, fingers or toes will start to turn white.

Baby’s winter wear:

  • A hat that covers his ears is a must.
  • UVA/UVB-blocking sunglasses and a visor on baby’s hat protect his eyes on sunny days, especially from light reflecting off snow and ice.
  • Warm socks, booties, a scarf or neck warmer, and mittens keep your baby’s hands and feet toasty.
  • Dress your baby in lightweight fabrics such as polyester or fleece.
  • When riding in a car seat put your baby in a snowsuit or bunting bag that will allow for correct placement of car seat straps.
  • When riding in a stroller put baby in a fuzzy-lined stroller seat, or a bunting or baby jogger bag if you regularly walk with him.
  • Rain covers on strollers can protect baby from wind, rain and snow.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

Starting childcare can be an adjustment for the entire family. Routines will be new for everyone and some family members will adjust easier than others.

Whether it’s a family home care setting or centre-based care, here are some tips to help make the transition easier for everyone.

  1. Start talking about the new routine well in advance of the first day.
    For instance, if mom will be doing the drop off, she could start talking about the ride to childcare. Talk to your child about the new routine that will take place once in care. Familiarize yourself and your child with the names of the teachers as well as the other children.
  2. Arrange advance visits.
    Advance visits, for children of all ages, allow your child to become familiar with the caregiver, the routine, and the other children. Visits can begin several weeks before the first day.
  3. Ease your child in and out.
    At the start, a parent or other family member should visit with the child for 30 minutes to two hours. Over the next few weeks, arrange to leave your child for a period of time without you. This will help the caregiver and child get to know each other. It will also show your child that you will come back. During the first full week, you may want to pick up your child a little earlier on the first day, gradually increasing the length of stay as the week progresses.
  4. Make introductions to the new children.
    Getting to know the other children and the other parents will be important for you and your child. During visits, be sure to introduce your child to children in his or her group. Similarly, don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to some of the other parents.
  5. Take touches of comfort.
    Allow your child to take something that will give her comfort—a special toy, blanket, even a picture of you.
  6. Make a comfort call.
    Talk to your caregiver to agree on a time you can call during the day. It’s important to plan this together to ensure your call won’t take the caregiver’s attention away from the children at a busy time.
  7. Touch base with your caregiver every day.
    Exchange information about your child’s day or the evening at home. For instance, if your child had a restless night it is important your caregiver know so she can respond to any unusual behaviours or needs that may arise as a result. Similarly, as you head into the evening, you should know if your child was fussy at childcare.
  8. Talk with your child.
    Each day, talk with your child about special things that happened at childcare.
  9. Have an older sibling visit.
    If there’s an older sibling in the same childcare setting, ask that she be given the opportunity to visit her younger brother during the day during the adjustment period.
  10. Be specific about pick-ups.
    Reassure your child that you will be back. Make sure he knows who will pick him up at the end of the day and when. Even if he is not old enough to really tell time, one of the ways children learn to tell time is when pick-up routines become established.

We know it can be hard to leave your child in childcare for the first time. Preparing yourself and your toddler will smooth the transition and contribute to making it a positive experience for everyone.

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.

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.

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

Clothing

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.