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Are Dads Less Important Than Moms to Raising a Child? Father impact parenting

Are Dads Less Important Than Moms to Raising a Child?

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Over the years, fathers were often seen as the parent who was less important to child raising while the mother shouldered all the work and responsibility. Paul Raeburn gathers overwhelming evidence that fathers bring more to the child-rearing than many people believe.

In the 1970s, it was thought that fathers didn’t have much to contribute to the development of their children. Admittedly, science journalist Paul Raeburn writes in his new book, Do Fathers Matter?, researchers at the time had little data to prove the value of fathers—but that was because few had taken the time to look into the impact of fathers on their offspring. “When we bother to look for the father’s impact, we find it—always,” Yale psychiatrist and fatherhood research pioneer Kyle Pruett told Raeburn. Ignoring dads, Pruett says, produced a field of research with “staggering blind spots.

Fast forward to today, and the body of work that psychologists, biologists, sociologists, and neuroscientists have begun to produce on fatherhood is “one of the most important developments in the study of children and families,” Raeburn believes, even though many findings have yet to receive wide attention.

When it comes to his own family, Raeburn, who is a father of five, shares, “I’m glad to know my involvement is a good thing. But that’s not why I spend time with my kids. I do it because I like it.”

Raeburn shares seven ways that fathers are influencing their offspring from before birth to the child’s teen years.

In the Womb: Fighting for Resources

Some imprinted genes, or genes that are identified as coming from the male or female parents, compete for resources long before the baby is born. According to Harvard University biologist David Haig, there are maternal genes that push the fetus to pull as much nourishment and energy from the mother even if it’s a risk to her health. Maternal genes will deliver only what the growing child needs. He explains that the maternal genes have a vested interest in the mother’s well-being while the paternal genes favor a greater allocation of time and effort.

In Pregnancy: The Power of Presence

During a woman’s pregnancy, there would appear to be little a father could do to impact the growing child. A recent University of South Florida study shows that’s not the case. Infants whose fathers were absent during pregnancy were more likely to be born prematurely or with lower birth weights than those whose fathers were present. Such babies were also four times more likely to die within their first year. Even in mothers, complications of pregnancy that would seem to have no connection to male involvement, including anemia and high blood pressure, were more common when fathers were absent.

At Birth: Men Deliver Relief

Old sitcoms showing fathers anxiously pacing in waiting rooms while their wives delivered their children were no exaggeration: From the 1930s, when most U.S. births had moved from the home to the hospital, until the late 1960s, when more men had successfully agitated to gain a place by their wives’ bedsides, delivery was a women-and-professionals only affair, to the apparent detriment of everyone involved. As more men took their place in the maternity ward, women reported feeling less pain, and requests for pain medication declined. Mothers were even less likely to cry. What’s more, men present for their children’s birth report being more attached to their infants and more involved in their care. Letting dads in, Raeburn writes, “pays off in ways no one anticipated.”

Postpartum: An Underreported Risk

How can we gauge the importance of paternal companionship in a child’s early months? In part by observing what happens when infants are deprived of it. One in 10 men experience some form of postpartum depression, Raeburn reports, limiting their ability to emotionally connect with their babies. Children of fathers with major episodes of postpartum depression appear to be eight times as likely as others to have behavior problems as they grow and 36 times as likely to have difficulty getting along with peers.

Toddlerhood: Dads Limit Aggression

Researchers from the University of Oxford found that when fathers kept their infants at a remote distance from them, the children were more likely to develop aggression later in life. In those cases, it didn’t matter how the mothers interacted with the child. Swedish researchers in a related meta-analysis of 24 studies of paternal involvement found that dads who helped care for the children, played with them and took them on outings developed fewer behavior problems in early childhood as well as lowering the risk of adolescent delinquency.

Early Childhood: Look Who Gets You Talking

In at least one aspect of childhood—acquiring language—fathers simply matter more than mothers. For example, researchers studying parental roles in language development among poor, rural children found that a father’s use of vocabulary when reading to kids at six months of age predicted their expressiveness at 15 months and their use of advanced language at age three—regardless of the mother’s educational level or how she spoke to the children. The hypothesis: Since mothers spend more time with children, they’re more likely to use words with which kids are most familiar, while fathers, less attuned to their children’s linguistic comfort zone, introduce a wider vocabulary.

Teen Years and the Scent of the Dad

Evolutionary biologist were bewildered over the fact that girls with absent fathers tended to reach sexual maturity earlier and had high rates of teen pregnancy. University of Arizona’s Bruce Ellis studied families where the parents were divorced as well as families where the daughters were at least five years apart, which gave the older daughter more exposure to the father. In the families with daughters five years apart, he found that the younger girls were getting their first periods almost one year earlier than the older girls.

Psychologist Sarah Hill of Texas Christian University told Raeburn that she believes a father’s absence delivers a subconscious cue about “the mating system they are born into” and that men will not stick around, so they need to find mates quickly. Their genes then effectively push the girls into early puberty. (This effect is more pronounced in families in which the absent fathers had not been a positive presence while in the home.) Ellis believes the source of this phenomenon could be related to a father’s scent. In animal experiments, there is evidence that sustained exposure to a father’s pheromones can slow down puberty. That hypothesis remains largely untested in humans.

How to be a good parent: It’s all about you! Self Improvement

How to be a good parent: It’s all about you!

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Focus on self-improvement in order to improve as a parent.

Modification of your child’s ways is generally the focus of mainstream information on how to be a better parent. But that is not really the answer. Research indicates that being a better parent begins with self-improvement. Improvement of oneself is where becoming a more nurturing, quality mom or dad starts. While it is easier to look at what must change in the child, looking inward at ourselves for greater personal understanding only enhances our parenting abilities.

Through our children we revisit our own childhood and its unresolved issues.

We may have shelved painful feelings from our past. But our children reawaken those hurt feelings through their own innocence, spontaneity and liveliness. When we avoid dealing with these feelings from our childhood, we are blocking closer relation to our own children. Discomfort, anger and resentment toward our own children can surface when emotional connection is present. By blocking our feelings being reawakened in these times, we cut ourselves off from our children and miss the cues of what they are experiencing.

Researchers have explored this area, saying:
A child’s open arms reaching for us open up our own wounds of loneliness. But these moments bring to the surface all at once the physical smells new and stagnant of ghostly sensations awakened in ourselves. These are awakened by that dead self of the parent, who was the child now seen in the baby. The baby reaches out using the heartfelt language of innocence, the language long forgotten by the parent through learned mistrust.

In lieu of continuing this defense mode we place ourselves in against the feelings of our youth, we can face those feelings and explore any unresolved trauma to make sense of those pains. As we gain better understanding of what happened to us during our own youth, we become much more effective as parents to our own children. We also develop more stable and cohesive attachments with our own children. Another researcher states, “The integration of our own self-knowledge facilitates our being open to the process of becoming emotionally connected with our children. Coherent self-knowledge and interpersonal joining go hand in hand.”

Whatever we criticize within ourselves and about ourselves, we project onto our children.

When exhibiting ambivalence and other attitudes toward our children, we are actually projecting the attitudes we have about ourselves onto them. Within each of us exists conflict between self-confidence and self-appreciation versus self-hatred and self-deprecation. Unsurprisingly, these conflicts and contradictions manifest through our attitudes toward our own children. The attitudes a parent has about his or her own children are directly influenced by the internal conflicts that parent feels in regard to his or herself.

It is common for parents to project their own feelings of self-criticism and poor self-image onto their children. By doing this, they then become heavily critical of the projections then seen as qualities and behaviors of their child. This perpetuates the problem, with the children starting to see themselves through the same light as the parent did of him or herself during childhood.

By looking internally, and by examining the genesis of our negative attitudes and beliefs about ourselves, we gain greater compassion for ourselves and our offspring at the same time.

Leading researchers say that children are of particular vulnerability, when it comes to being the target of parental projection of unresolved issues from the parent’s childhood. The defense mechanisms which served us well in childhood later inhibit our ability to parent our children with empathy and receptivity. Without engaging our own inward-looking self-understanding, we are inflicting our distorted patterns of defensive response onto our children’s own experiences.

We perpetuate our parents’ behaviors by acting the same with our children, as they did with us.

At some point in time, usually when scolding their child, every parent experiences that moment when they think they sound just as their own parents did. This is a horrifying moment wherein it is hard to believe that you are using the same words or behaving the same way toward your child. But the reality is that all parents are somewhat programmed to repeat their parents’ patterns.

This reenactment may occur when the child is at an age which was particularly difficult or traumatic for the parent. At these stages in development, parents often reenact how they were parented during the same phase.

There are three phases comprising this perpetuation of negative parenting through the generations. Those are:

(1) During formative years, each of us experienced hostility, trauma, rejection and deprivation to varied degrees. When our parents were not emotionally or physically in control as we experienced these things, we developed an internal voice of criticism in their place. In essence, we took on the role of parents when they were not able to provide the support or guidance we needed during their worst moments.
(2) This critical and detrimental internal voice remained with us throughout our lives. It punishes, creates limitations, restricts and even soothes us, as we act for ourselves as our parents did for us.
(3) As we parent our own children, we feel drawn to similarly parenting our children, using the same tools of mistreatment as were used on us.

To stop the cycle of reenactment, we as parents must directly face the feelings of our childhood, those felt as a result of received treatment. If these are revisited, we can then more clearly see the negative attitudes internalized in youth and end the cycle of those attitudes. It is then that we can provide the affection, warmth, guidance, sensitivity and love that is so critical for a child’s well-being.

You are your child’s role model.

Leading researchers presented their findings of a study about what makes a quality parent. This study utilized 2,000 parents to formulate results. As part of a resulting list of ten critical parenting competencies, only five were relative to the relationship between parent and child. The remaining five were only relative to the parent.

Three of the top ten competencies were based in modeling. One of the three was relationship skills, as having a quality relationship with one’s significant other models those skills. The second of the three was education and learning. Having a quality education models educational opportunities and learning. Health was the final of the three modeling competencies, as eating right and remaining physically active models good health.

It has been realized by psychologists that children act as they see their parents act, not simply doing as their parents do. This makes being a positive role model even more powerful than any form of training or discipline in rearing of children. Rules, statements and guidance are overshadowed by these processes of imitation and parental identification. Children become as they see their parents being as part of everyday life. Everything a parent does should be worthy of imitation by the child, as children will re-enact what they see.

Another researcher said, “While most parents are ready to teach their children discipline and know that they are the ones to do so, they are less ready to accept the idea that they can teach only by example.” Parental traits of congeniality, non-intrusiveness, consistency and generosity all positively affect their child’s personality.

The truth that our children emulate us is reason enough to focus on self-development. Only through living with integrity in our own lives are we able to adequately model our children as mature adults. Maturity and honesty are key in determination of our children’s healthy formation, even more so than other techniques provided by experts.

Live well for yourself.

It is not healthiest to sacrifice our own fulfillment for our children, but to seek self-fulfillment. Through pursuing our own goals, we provide a positive example to our offspring. Living well starts with genuine value of ourselves in acceptance of our wants, needs, feelings and priorities. This means actively living our own lives. By doing so, we profoundly impact our children’s personal development and their futures positively.

“We need not make any claim to be perfect. But if we strive as best we can to live good lives ourselves, our children, impressed by the merits of living good lives, will one day wish to do the same.”

Many parents choose to live through their children’s lives, in lieu of living their own. By doing so, they are taking away from their children, not giving to them. These parents are emotionally feeding off of their children, in desire for deprivation of love and care in their own childhood. This is a confusion of the feelings of need and love, draining the child through emotional hunger of the parent.

In lieu of working to be the “best parent,” parents can provide more by being real and honest with them, admitting weaknesses and shortfalls. They should share history of their own childhood with their children, revealing struggles they endured, successes they achieved and generally being honest and open with the children. Compassionate child rearing is developed through the parents’ own compassion for themselves.

Accept your children’s love.

Parents raised through self-imagery of being unlovable often present obstacles for close, tender bonding with their own children. Parents unable to accept their child’s love often provide negative response to these attempts by the child to grow closer. Many texts written about child-rearing fail to provide this behavior the attention it needs.

In Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, it is written, “Our children need to be able to feel their loving feelings for us, for the people we really are behind our roles as parents. If we deny this opportunity to our children, they will suffer emotionally. We need to learn to be receptive to our children’s spontaneous expressions of affection and love toward us. This seems obvious, yet it may be the most difficult task faced by us as parents.”

Best Guide to Infant Teething Symptoms & their Remedies Baby Teeth

The Best Guide to Infant Teething Symptoms & their Remedies

By | First Year, My Newborn 0-6 M, My Newborn 7-12 M | No Comments

Your super-fussy baby might simply be experiencing the painful symptoms associated with teething. Here, you can learn how to identify these symptoms along with the best strategies for pain relief.

Are you wondering when those pearly whites will first start to appear? The majority of babies have their first tooth arrive around the time they are six months old, but your baby’s teeth might appear as soon as they are three months old or even as late as fourteen months old. The timing of the first tooth will greatly depend upon other factors such as how old their parents were when they got their first tooth and whether or not they were a preemie. Preemies typically have their first teeth arrive on the late side. Every baby’s reaction to teething can be very different, too. Some babies show no symptoms at all, while others experience drooling, crankiness and swollen gums weeks before the first tooth appears.

Timeline for the Appearance of Baby Teeth
Usually, infants receive their first teeth in pairs, and these are usually the two on the bottom front. Next, the two top front teeth appear. However, it is very normal for a child to have four bottom teeth and none on the top, or vice versa. Here is a typical tooth timeline:
• 6 months: lower central incisors
• 8 months: upper central incisors
• 10 months: lower and upper lateral incisors
• 14 months: first molars
• 18 months: canines
• 24 months: second molars

Teething Signs
Keeping in mind that every baby’s teething process is different, you can expect to notice these possible signs:

A Constant Urge to Chew
Emerging teeth cause pressure in the gums that is relieved by counter pressure. It is also possible that chewing occurs due to the sensation that something is coming through the gums.

Puffy Gums
Shortly before a tooth pokes through, the gums may be slightly red and swollen. If they appear bruised, your baby may not prefer counter pressure since it can irritated their already inflamed gums.

Increased Drooling
Excessive saliva is normal for many babies so it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are teething. While there is no way to know for sure if the drool is teething-related, it might be if you notice the other symptoms as well.

Fussiness, Especially at Night
Pain and discomfort will always lead to crankiness. Fussiness due to teething tends to happen more at night for two reasons. First, the teething process occurs more at night since this is when the body repairs and grows. Second, your baby will have fewer distractions while they are sleeping, so any pain that wakes them up is certain to be noticed.

Tooth Eruption
When that first tooth appears, you will notice a small, white bump along the gum line. It might be slightly sharp, and some infants experience a small amount of bleeding at the site of eruption.

Ear Pulling
The nerves in the face run from the jawline to the ear, and your baby’s ear tugging might not signal an ear infection. Instead, they could be responding to referred pain from teething.

A Change in Eating Habits
For some babies, the counter pressure that comes from their bottle nipple or spoon while eating may lessen the pain so they try to eat more. For others, this causes more pain, and they may refuse their meals. Any changes in your baby’s eating habits may signal a new tooth coming in.

Soothing the Pain
It may take some experimenting to find the pain relief technique that works best for your baby. Some infants enjoy gnawing on a washcloth that has been wet with water and frozen in the freezer. Teethers with different textures can also be of help.

Early Teeth Care Tips!
During the teething process, many babies prefer to chew on their crib rail, which can cause damage to their baby teeth. Use plastic guards to protect those chompers.

When a tooth is still below the gums and it has not caused any bruising, counter pressure can be applied using a clean finger. Simply rub the area to see if it helps ease your baby’s crankiness.

Similar to a headache, teething can cause constant, low-level pain that is frustrating. Distraction from the pain can work wonders during these times. Spend some extra time with your child, cuddle or surprise them with a new toy that can help keep their mind off of teething.

Teething Tricks to Avoid
• Chewing biscuits and other hard foods such as frozen bananas, zwieback crackers and melba toast. Although they can help with the strong urge to chew, they can break into chunks that pose a risk for choking.
• Applying a little brandy on swollen gums. This old home remedy is now known to be unsafe. Even tiny amounts of alcohol are poisonous to babies.

When to Contact a Doctor
Since many of the symptoms of teething can mimic other conditions, you may need to call the doctor if they continue without the appearance of any teeth. Babies who haven’t had their first tooth appear by 15 months may also need to visit a dentist for x-rays to make sure they are developing normally.

You can expect for teething to continue for approximately two years, but don’t worry…it gets less painful as time goes on. No one is certain why this occurs, but experts believe that babies get used to the sensation after their first several teeth erupt. Remember that it is time to brush that precious little tooth as soon as it appears. Just use a fingertip toothbrush or a clean washcloth, and brush it twice a day. Also, never let your baby fall asleep with their bottle since the pooling juice or milk can lead to decay. While the teething process can be tough, keep in mind that it doesn’t last forever, and soon you will be enjoying every moment when you see your baby flash their beautiful smile.

Top 10 Tips for Stay-at-Home Parents Advice Parenting

Top 10 Tips for Stay-at-Home Parents

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Some glamorize the stay-at-home mother role, but it’s a job like any other. It is typically a series of routines that cause a great deal of stress and overwhelming chores. It ends like any other work week with complete exhaustion. After years of perfecting the art, I have learned there are a few things that you do and others you don’t. Here is a list of 10 tips for stay-at-home moms and dads.

1. Find a Back-up Sitter

You never know when you will need to do things for you or the home. Have a sitter on speed dial so that if it’s just a quick jolt to the store, you can do it in peace.

2. Make Sure To Have Friends and A Life

Though your children are precious, you need a life outside of them. You will appreciate your family more when you have time away.

3. Learn To Block Out The Noise

Kids are very loud, and you cannot expect them to be quiet. Rather than yelling at them for every noise, just learn to ignore. It will save your nerves in the long run.

4. Have Fun

The whole idea of staying home with your kids is to have fun. Make sure to dance, sing and make them laugh. If you are stressed out all the time then you are not doing your kids or yourself any good.

5. Lower Expectations and Say “Yes” More

Remember they are kids! They are not going to get everything the first time or clean like you do. Stop saying “no” so much and find a way to say “yes” more. Don’t be a “Negative Nellie.”

6. Only Clean Up Once A Day

If you constantly try to clean up the home, you will drive yourself mad. Clean up once at the end of the day.

7. Put Yourself In Time Out

If you are at the end of your rope, it’s okay to take a time out. Go outside or shut yourself in a room for a while till you cool down.

8. Don’t Give Toddlers Options

Toddlers can’t make choices very well and don’t do well with yes or no questions. Make the decisions for them and save yourself the heartache.

9. Take Care of Your Own Hygiene

Don’t get so busy and wrapped up in your day that you don’t have time to shower and dress. You are first and foremost a person and your hygiene is just as important.

10. Don’t Get Too Much Advice

There are tons of books out there that offer great advice. However, getting too much advice is just not necessary. Make your own path through trial and error. You know what t do, and they’re your kids.

9 Bizarre Facts About Newborn Babies That Doctors Don’t Tell You

9 Bizarre Facts About Newborn Babies That Doctors Don’t Tell You

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Babies cannot taste salt, are unable to shed actual tears, and are born without kneecaps! Here, more weird facts about our tiniest humans.

Young infants are born with a well-developed sense of taste, but are missing the ability to taste salt. Studies demonstrate that infants cannot taste salt until they are four months old. They do taste other flavors like everyone else, particularly sour, sweet and bitter flavors. This could also explain all those videos on YouTube of babies tasting lemons. Additionally, some studies show infants can possess more taste buds than adults.

They Cry…But Without Tears
Newborns cry often, but they are unable to shed tears. They lack functioning tear ducts until they reach between one to four months of age. Their eyes do make, however, basal tears. These are non-emotional tears designed to moisturize the eyes.

They Menstruate
Before they are born, babies are exposed to high levels of the female hormone estrogen. At birth, when the baby is disconnected from their mother, estrogen levels rapidly decrease. In girls, this can cause what is known as pseudomenstruation, which is similar to menstruation in young and adult women. Rapid drops in estrogen and other hormones are actually what cause menstruation to occur in adult women. Mothers often worry when they see blood in their babies’ diapers when they are not familiar with the phenomenon, however it’s normal and happens to approximately one-fourth of all female babies, typically in the first week of life.

They Lactate
The decrease in hormone levels that triggers psueudomenstruation can also cause galactorrhea, a condition where newborns have tiny breast buds that actually lactate and produce small amounts of milk from their nipples. It can happen to both genders. Similar to pseudomenstruation, it’s not dangerous or uncommon. It occurs in about five percent of all newborns, and it can continue for up to two months. In European folklore, milk from newborn babies was called “witch’s milk,” and it was believed to have magical powers.

They Drink Their Own Urine
Shortly after conception, babies begin urinating in the womb. Yet, it has nowhere to go so they drink it. To be more precise, the urine is mixed with the amniotic fluid that cushions the baby in the uterus. By the third trimester of pregnancy, the fetus drinks almost a full liter of their amniotic fluid each day. Since a fetus does not require hydration or nutrition in the womb experts believe that this is merely practice for when they swallow and eat after birth. This means that we all spent the first several months of our lives drinking our own pee. Just so you know…fetal pooping also happens, even though it is rare. But that’s all we will say about that for now.

They Have No Kneecaps
Seriously! Well, kind of, but it’s complicated. When a doctor X-ray’s an infant’s legs, you cannot see anything where the kneecaps would normally appear. If anything, you might see little smudges or spots. This is because all bones begin as cartilage that hardens, or ossifies, over time. Kneecaps for over three to five years, and since cartilage never appears on X-rays, babies look like they do not have kneecaps. Not having hard kneecaps is beneficial for babies because the sponginess of the tissue helps to absorb the impact from frequent falls those babies endure as they learn to walk.

They Have More Bones Than Adults
Adults have only 206 bones, and newborns enter the world with 300. The explanation for this is similar to why they do not have kneecaps. After birth, some of a babies bones will fuse together as they harden. An example of this includes the skull. When babies are born, the skull is in multiple pieces that fuse together around the time a baby turns two.

They Form Taste Memories in Utero
Around four to five months after conception, babies can taste their amniotic fluid. While they may not be able to taste salt yet, they are still building memories of the other flavors they experience. It is currently believed that amniotic fluid is affected by the food that a mother eats, and the tastes a mother’s diet generates could influence a baby’s later preferences for food. For example, a mother who eats lots of garlic may introduce that flavor to her baby, and they may later enjoy eating garlicky dishes due to the memories they formed from tasting that flavor in the amniotic fluid.

They Are Covered in Hair
Most people have seen babies born with tiny amounts of hair on their head or a little peach fuzz covering their scalp. This is not the hair that we are talking about. While in the womb, babies develop a special type of hair that covers their entire body called lanugo. It is believed by child development experts that this fine, dark hair helps a baby to regulate their body temperature in utero. This means that it is perfectly normal if your baby is born looking like a miniature werewolf. If this happens, do not worry since most of this hair will fall off shortly before their birth and the following weeks after. If your baby is born without lanugo, really all that means is that it fell off early, and they probably ate it.

Weird stuff because most of us did not know this. Very normal in the baby world though.

babies are smart, 8 Brilliant Ways Babies Are Smarter Than You Think

8 Brilliant Ways Babies Are Smarter Than You Think

By | First Year, My Newborn 0-6 M, Parenting | No Comments

Sure, babies are chubby, cherubic, and drooly. But babies are more than just lovable lumps, according to intriguing new studies that reveal the genius behind those “ga-gas” and “goo-goos.” Babies are smarter than you think!

Infant brains develop at an astonishing rate—doubling in size by the time a newborn turns one year old. Their brains grow to full adult size by the time they reach kindergarten four years later. To aid this growth and learning, babies’ brains have around 1,000 trillion synapses (connections between brain cells). That’s twice that of an average adult!

It’s no wonder that new parents and grandparents look at their babies and think, “Just what is she thinking?” These days, there’s more proof than ever that your child has a lot going on upstairs.

Babies know when a different language is being spoken.

We’ve long known that babies’ brains are uniquely suited to learning more than one language. Recent research helps explain how they’re able to do this. A University study found that even four month-olds can discern from visual cues when a different language is being spoken (based on the rhythm of speech and the shape of the speaker’s mouth). According to a university press release, the “babies growing up in a bilingual environment advantageously maintain the discrimination abilities needed for separating and learning multiple languages.”

Another study revealed that babies who live in bilingual homes have a longer length of time when their brains are flexible enough to learn different languages. This window only lasts a short while though, suggesting that a baby’s propensity to pick up a new language is a bit of a “use it or lose it” situation.

Babies understand others’ emotions.
Even infants who have had few interactions with dogs were able to match sounds of angry barks and friendly yaps with photos of dogs displaying threatening or welcoming body language, according to a study published in Developmental Psychology. Previous research from the same lab at the university found that infants can pick up on mood swings and changes in Beethoven’s music.

Very young babies “understand” what words mean.

Certain child development experts believe that infants don’t understand the link between images of objects and object names (knowing a picture of an banana is the word “banana”) until around age one, but a University study found that babies as young as six months old can possess this ability, long before they are able to say these words themselves.

The authors of this study had six- to nine-month-old babies look at images of food and various body parts. Next, their parents gave them simple directions (“Where’s the ear?”). The researchers found that the babies looked more at the item that was named than any other image, indicating that they knew the word’s meaning. The study authors say this is proof that parents should talk to their babies, even if they seem unresponsive to the words they are being told.

Young toddlers can gauge fairness.

Every parent of a toddler is familiar with the phrase “that’s not fair!” What you may not know is that babies learn about “fairness” as young as 15 months. Scientists at the University studied babies watching videos in which milk or crackers were distributed either equally or unequally between two people. The babies paid more attention when the distribution was unequal, indicating they can tell—and were surprised by—the difference.

Fascinatingly, the babies who were most sensitive to the violation of fairness in the food task were also most likely to show signs of altruism (by sharing their own toy) in a subsequent study.

Babies appreciate rightfully deserved punishment.

Babies may not appear vindictive, but children as young as eight months old seem to enjoy when bad things happen to bad people. Last year, University researchers presented different scenarios of puppets acting either negatively or positively toward other characters. The babies were shown puppets either giving or taking away toys from these “good” or “bad” puppets. The babies preferred the puppets that mistreated the bad puppets in the first scenario compared to those who treated the bad puppets nicely.

The study authors think this may be a precursor to social behaviors kids express later in life, such as tattling on “naughty” kids. This indicates that this may be an innate trait rather than a learned one.

Young children value altruism.

Young kids and babies may seem selfish, but a study published earlier this year found that toddlers are actually happier when they give things to others. The researchers gave a group of toddlers Goldfish crackers and asked them to give them to a puppet. Then the toddlers were given an extra treat to give to the puppet (so they could keep one and give one away). When researchers videotaped the toddlers’ behavior and rated their happiness, they found the children were happier when they gave away their own treat as opposed to the “extra”.

Toddlers’ desire to give suggests that the capacity to derive happiness from helping others is an innate part of human nature.

Toddlers are influenced by peer pressure.

According to a 2012 study published in the journal Cell Biology, if you want your baby to share, eat his vegetables, and take good naps, you should surround him with well-behaved friends. Researchers found that two year-olds were more likely to copy behaviors when three or more of his peers were doing it, compared to just one–a sign that even young kids are susceptible to peer pressure.

Music makes babies’ brains thrive.

Most parents have heard about the link between music and IQ. New research even suggests a link between playing an instrument during childhood and a reduced risk of dementia later in life.

Recently, a Canadian study suggests that even young babies can benefit from making music. One-year-olds who took interactive music classes (learning hand motions to songs and “playing” percussion instruments) showed better communication skills (including pointing at hard-to-reach objects, waving goodbye, and showing less distress in new surroundings) than babies who took classes that only used music as background noise.

So. Babies are much smarter than they appear. Babies are thinking much more than they let on. How we interact with them while learning this information is what will help us make better parenting decisions.

How To Survive The Last Month of Pregnancy, 3rd trimester

How To Survive The Last Month of Pregnancy

By | 3rd Trimester, Pregnancy | No Comments

Well, I have good news and bad news.
The bad news is that the last several weeks of your pregnancy will not be easy to survive for a number of reasons.
And, the good news is that you are not alone and it is not just you. The last several weeks of all pregnancies are really hard for everyone.
The last several weeks of your pregnancy will be challenging in several ways.
To begin, your baby bump will continue to grow despite the fact you cannot possibly imagine that you could get any bigger. However, you can take some solace in the fact that once your maternity tops begin to feel tight and your belly begins to peek out from the bottom, you are close to the end.
Another challenge will be the reality that even the small things you do each day become difficult such as walking. With my second child, I literally felt like I was about to deliver each time I stood up. One of the reasons each moment becomes awkward and uncomfortable is from the pressure of the baby dropping.
Do not forget about the insomnia that is inevitable and the unimaginable torture that is trying to get comfortable enough to actually sleep. You might even begin to dread nighttime because you will be so exhausted yet unable to fall asleep because you cannot find a comfortable position that will allow you to rest well or to sleep. Ugh.
The hardest part is absolutely the waiting for the arrival of your bundle of joy.

Thirty-seven weeks is labeled as full-term which means that medical professionals believe this to be the moment at which it is safe to deliver your baby with the greatest chance for a successful delivery. And, if you are similar to me, when that magic moment at 37 weeks arrives, you will anxiously analyze every little twinge in your belly just hoping and waiting for labor to begin.
And hoping.
And waiting.
And waiting some more.
The wait can be excruciating, particularly when you feel as though you are the largest pregnant woman there ever was. Fortunately, there are three tips to make preparing for your baby slightly more tolerable.

Pamper yourself. It is hard to feel pretty during those last several weeks, so take the time to treat yourself to some pampering activities. If your budget allows, spend an afternoon at the salon to get a new hairstyle or a blow-out just because. Or, try the personal favorite of many pregnant women and get a pedicure or a pregnancy massage. You might just have the added bonus of hitting those pressure points on your feet to start your labor!

If you have older children, schedule quality time with each one of them to ensure you have some one-on-one time prior to the arrival of the new family member. A new baby will be a big transition for the entire family. In between preparing for the arrival and feeling exhausted, it can be difficult to have any quality time with the older children. Use those last several weeks to let your other babies, even if they are older, know how special they are to you and they just might be more likely to fetch a diaper or two once the baby arrives!

If this is your first child, schedule some dates with your significant other. Go to the movies, a nice restaurant or take a babymoon. Make sure it is somewhere close because early deliveries can happen with first babies. And, plan a few fun things you may not be able to do for a while after the new arrival.

Do not forget to give yourself a break. Sometimes, it is ok to allow yourself to be miserable. We can find ourselves so caught up in focusing on what we need to do to get ready and running around trying to finish everything before the baby comes that we forget to just listen to our bodies and rest. Those last several weeks may just be nature’s way of ensuring you have some downtime prior to the craziness of life with a newborn begins. Try to take advantage of this time!
What do you find hardest about the last month of pregnancy?

The 13 Rules of Safe Pregnancy Exercise

The 13 Rules of Safe Pregnancy Exercise

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If you exercise during your pregnancy, you will reap great rewards. It will assist in labor preparation, it will help with the process of childbirth and it will lift your spirits. However, you need to approach exercising while pregnant with extreme caution. Whether you exercise frequently and you are looking to continue your regimen during pregnancy or you are looking to become active for the first time, follow these 13 rules to keep you and your baby safe.

1. Firstly, contact your medical team
People who exercised regularly prior to becoming pregnant who also have an uncomplicated pregnancy can most likely continue exercising just as before with some slight modifications. In various instances, it is not okay to exercise during pregnancy; therefore, it is imperative to discuss your exercise options with your doctor or midwife to ensure the activities you choose do not put you or your baby at risk. If you did not work out regularly prior to becoming pregnant, reference our pregnancy exercise guide for beginners and speak to your medical team.

2. Consume extra calories
When you exercise, you burn extra calories. It is important to eat well to provide the proper nourishment to yourself and your child and to strengthen your body. While you are pregnant, you will naturally gain weight as your baby grows. The exact amount of weight you should gain will vary greatly based on your pre-pregnancy weight.
If your body mass index (BMI) is within a healthy range, which is between 18.5 and 24.9, you will need to eat 300 or so additional calories a day than before you were pregnant. If you are exercising, you will likely need to consume more calories than that. If you are underweight or overweight, you may need to gain a little more or a little less than someone with a target BMI for their body and adjust your calories accordingly.
Your doctor will monitor your weight as your pregnancy progresses and will help you determine the best ways to keep your weight gain on track through proper diet and exercise.

3. Avoid dangerous sports
Avoid dangerous contact sports, as well as any activities that might interfere with your balance such as horseback riding, downhill skiing or mountain biking. If you are comfortable on a bicycle, regular cycling early in your pregnancy should be okay; however, it is probably best to use a stationary or recumbent bike after a few months. It is important to note that, despite your coordination and athleticism, throughout your pregnancy the increased levels of the hormone relaxin, which relaxes pelvic joints in preparation for childbirth, loosen all ligaments and joints which will make you more susceptible to sprains and injury from falls. Review our list of the best exercises for pregnant women.

4. Wear the right clothes
Wear loose-fitting and breathable clothing. Wearing layers makes it easy to peel off a layer or two once you have warmed up or if you feel uncomfortable and too hot. It is also important that your maternity bra offers enough support and to choose trainers that fit your feet properly with good support. If your shoe size has changed because of mild swelling, put your pre-pregnancy sneakers in the closet and buy a new pair.

5. Warm up
Warm-ups prepare your muscles and joints for exercise and build up your heart rate slowly. If you skip the warm-up and dive straight into strenuous activity before your body is ready, you could strain your muscles and ligaments and experience increased post workout aches and pains.

6. Drink plenty of water
Drink water before, during and after exercising. If you do not drink enough water, you can become dehydrated which can cause contractions and raise your body temperature which are sometimes raised to levels that are dangerous for you and your baby. James M. Pivarnik, director of the Center for Physical Activity and Health at Michigan State University, says that while there is no official recommendation for how much water pregnant women should drink while exercising, a good guideline is to drink one cup, or rather 8 ounces, before you exercise, one cup for every 20 minutes of exercise and one cup after you finish your workout. If the weather is hot and humid, you will require more water.

7. Do not lie flat on your back
After the initial trimester, avoid lying flat on your back. This position adds unwanted pressure to a major vein called the vena cava, which reduces blood to your heart and could diminish blood flow to your brain and uterus which could make you dizzy, cause shortness of breath and even nausea. Some women are comfortable in this position well into their pregnancies, however this is not necessarily a good measurement of whether blood flow to the uterus has been affected. If you place a pillow under your right hip or buttock it will allow you to be almost supine without compressing the vena cava. It is important to stay in shape and practice recommended breathing techniques for labor and birth combined with prenatal yoga. These videos will demonstrate the best way to do the cat stretch and nine more yoga poses during pregnancy.

8. Keep moving
Standing in one place for prolonged periods can decrease blood flow to the uterus and cause blood to pool in your legs which will cause you to feel dizzy. Activities such as lifting weights or doing yoga poses can contribute to this type of sensation; therefore, keep moving by switching positions or walking in place.

9. Do not overdo it
Do not exercise until you become exhausted. A good rule of thumb is to slow down if you cannot comfortably carry on a conversation. Generally speaking, the best guideline is to listen to your body. If something hurts, you should stop because something is wrong. You should feel like you are working your body but not punishing it. To be extra cautious and safe, read our list of 10 signs of danger during pregnancy exercise.

10. Do not get overheated
Prevent yourself from becoming too hot, particularly during the first trimester when the major organs of your baby are developing. Raising your core temperature above 102 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 10 minutes could harm your baby. The increased blood flow and higher metabolic rate that happens when you are pregnant means you will feel warmer than usual and even more so when you exercise. And, since feeling warm is standard throughout your pregnancy, you may become overheated much more quickly than normal, even before your bump becomes overly big. Each individual will show unique signs that they are becoming overheated, however pay attention to whether or not you are sweating a lot or feeling uncomfortably warm, nauseated, dizzy or short of breath. To cool off quickly, stop exercising, take off layers and change your environment. You should immediately seek out air conditioning or take a cool shower. Hydration is also essential; therefore, you must drink a lot of water.

11. Get up from the floor slowly
As your baby bump grows, your center of gravity shifts. It is important to take great care when you change positions. Getting up too quickly can make you dizzy and may cause you to lose your footing and fall.

12. Cool down
Take 5 to 10 minutes to walk in place and do some pregnancy-friendly stretching at the end of your exercise routine. This will allow your heart rate to return to normal and help to prevent sore muscles.

13. Make it a habit
Regular exercise must be a habit throughout your pregnancy; therefore, you must be committed and dedicated. A routine is far easier easier on your body than long periods of inertia interrupted by spurts of activity. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you can safely engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. As long as you have the consent of your medical team, go forth and exercise.

Deciphering pregnancy dreams: First trimester

Deciphering pregnancy dreams: First trimester

By | Pregnancy Calculator | No Comments

First you give birth to… your spouse. Next you have a fast escape(on a flaming motorcycle!). Eventually, you’re surrounded by a giant tsunami.

Certain dream ideas usually show up at specific times in pregnancy. For help deciphering what these dreams may be telling you, continue to read. The following fragment from Women’s Bodies, Women’s Dreams by psychologist Patricia Garfield give some first-trimester dreams and their potential explanations.
Return to understanding your child-bearing dreams index
Concerns about childbirth and parenthood
“I give birth to an adult-like child. He is like a tiny grown-up, dressed like an adult, and walking and speaking like an adult.” — Julia’s dream during her first trimester
Many first-time mothers, when they learn they are pregnant, dream of giving birth to a completely matured infant or grown child. Possibly, an older infant or child seems less scary than a delicate newborn to the unpracticed mother. Julia felt the adult baby in her dream mirrored her anxiety that she would have to return to her job and would therefore miss her baby growing up.
In the beginning of child-bearing, first-time mothers know little about the birthing experience; they usually feel worried. The fusion of wishes for a pain-free delivery and insufficient knowledge of the actual process result in dreams of the child “popping out” or simply materializing.
Self-consciousness about your altered shape

“I was driving my truck. As I drive, I have a rubber tire encircling my waist.” — Pamela Halfield’s dream while pregnant with her son.

A lady’s opinions concerning her figure might either increase or worsen during child-bearing. In Pamela’s dream it is apparent that the “spare tire” is her increasing stomach. Operating an automobile was usually a metaphor for the way the woman is going through life during the time; with the extra tire, Pamela’s movements were quite awkward. Pregnant ladies often see themselves operating buses, trucks, vans, or other automobiles which are harder to drive than cars during their dreams — mirroring their belief of difficult movements.

Scientists that have examined pregnant ladies’ dreams see repeated allusions to architecture in dreams, from small houses to gigantic skyscrapers. The dream places were usually areas where items were produced, such as a mill or a workshop, most likely mirroring the “construction” of an infant that is occurring within the woman’s uterus. Perhaps pregnant ladies dream about construction since they are sensitive to their “increasing interior stomach.” Often, the type of construction depicted in the woman’s dreams can increase in height as her pregnancy continues; one researcher found that dream constructions became bigger and more complicated the closer the woman was to labor; skyscrapers were particularly frequent.

Awareness of your amniotic fluid
“I’m within a country, probably a tropical jungle. I discover that the country’s rainfall was 700 inches! I’m shocked.” — Meghan’s dream

From fish tanks to washing machines to turbulent seas, a pregnant lady’s dreams refer to liquid throughout her child-bearing. A expectant mother will usually see herself swimming through her first-trimester dreams. When creatures are in first-trimester dreams, they are usually water animals such as fish and dolphins. The liquid in her dreams probably shows a knowledge of the water within her uterus. Liquid in dreams can take on a larger appearance as child-bearing continues. Near her labor time, a pregnant lady is more likely to dream of liquid as a sign of the “broken water” that heralds approaching labor. One lady dreamed near the start of her third trimester of carrying a large purse of huge ocean waves swelling and threatening her. We start our childhood as aquatic animals, floating in a pouch of fluid within our mother’s uterus. A pregnant woman is consuming liquids for both her and her infant.

No surprise that her dreams overflow with visions of water.

The 10 Most Powerful Things You Can Say to Your Kids

The 10 Most Powerful Things You Can Say to Your Kids

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These 10 powerful and supportive comments to your children will help you to build strong, meaningful and lasting relationships with your kids.

According to the Pew Research Center, parents across America have new priorities when it comes to the skills they feel are most important for their children in the world today to get ahead. When parents were presented with a list of 10 skills for their children to get ahead, communication was chosen as the most important. Communication was seen as more important than logic, reading, teamwork and writing which have all traditionally been priorities in the past.

This new perspective from parents may not be entirely surprising given the that everyone in this world is constantly connected today; however, many parents do not realize the level of importance in their role in developing and nurturing this skill set. In my book, “Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids: Creating the Relationship You Want with the Most Important People in Your Life,” I stress that effective conversation such as what you say, how you say it, when you say it, is one of the only tools parents have in creating lasting and meaningful relationships with their kids.

As the father of two adult children and a grandfather to 13 in my blended family, I know that parents must be conscious of what they say and how they say it. Comments that are negative can often shape a conversation in a way we do not realize and it is critical to be aware. Your words and conversations create your reality, your future and your relationships. What you talk about and what you do not talk about defines your relationships. The primary conversations that surround your children are the conversations you have with them both directly and indirectly with others while your children are present. These are the conversations within your power to facilitate and change.

You can start by using my list of the 10 most powerful things you can say to your kids:
1. I like you.
I like you is saying that you like who they are as a person. It is still important to use I love you, as well.
2. You’re a fast learner.
Children love to learn and they are great at it. They see learning as something that is fun when it is conveyed in the right way. Encouraging them and reinforcing their ability to learn influences how they relate to learning later in life, when it can be more difficult or frustrating.
3. Thank you.
Simple courtesies are a sign of respect. Social skills are critical in life and the best training for tact and grace starts at home.
4. How about we agree to…
Establish a few basic agreements that set the stage for how you will work together within the family. Agreements help to avoid common issues and provide a framework within which to solve problems when they do arise.
5. Tell me more.
This request to your children invites them to share more of their thoughts, feelings and ideas with you. It also involves learning to listen, which shows them that you care.
6. Let’s read.
Reading to your kids is an endless and simple gift. It helps them build skills they need for success in life. It enriches your relationship and creates a positive association and love of learning. And, books provide an imaginary escape to the world of people, places and ideas.
7. We all make mistakes.
Problems happen and no one is perfect. Dealing with problems and learning from mistakes are vital life skills. When you have a moment in which you do not live up to your own standards, it is an opportunity to demonstrate by example to your children how to take responsibility for mistakes and move on. Kids can beat themselves up over not meeting your expectations or not being perfect. Give each other a little room for mistakes to ease the pressure of perfection on your relationships.
8. I’m sorry.
While it is ideal to learn to catch yourself before saying something that might later require an apology, a simple “I am sorry” can go a long way to repairing a strained situation.
9. What do you think?
Ask for input and give kids a chance to be part of family conversations to allow them the opportunity to learn, to exercise their decision-making skills and to begin to take responsibility for their choices. The ability to express what you think and ask for what you want are fundamental skills that will serve your children well throughout their lives.
10. Yes.
Try to use positive reinforcement more so than negative reinforcement. While I do think “no” is still a viable option at times, too often parents are “a ‘no’ waiting to happen.” If you create a pattern of “yes” in your family, you’ll find that “no” doesn’t need to be said as often as you think.