Parenting

Babysitter Tips
Write down key information. It is a good idea to have a written set of instructions for a babysitter. This should include basic information such as your home address, telephone number, emergency contact numbers, cell phone numbers, pager number, etc. and what hospital to go to in the event of an emergency. Some of the key points to keep in mind when using a babysitter include the following:

  • Instruct the babysitter on various emergency procedures such as where to call for an ambulance or a fire department. Also be sure to include your address and any other information for the police and fire department to locate the house.
  • Give the babysitter your cell phone number or the phone number of where you can be contacted in case of an emergency. Instruct the baby sitter to contact you for any questions. You may want to write, "In the event of an emergency contact Mr. and Mrs. ________________, our neighbor who lives across the street at __________________ address. In the event of a fire call _____________________."
  • Instruct the babysitter as to how many hours of television are allowed. Suggest other activities or games that the babysitter can play with your children.
  • Show the babysitter where various first-aid supplies are kept such as band-aids, thermometer, as well as Tylenol.
  • Give your babysitter some suggestions for healthy snacks for the child as well as some ideas for the children's meals.
  • Point out any dangers around house such as stairwells etc., if you have infants or toddlers. Also let them know if you have a pool and that a gate or the doors must be kept locked at all times to avoid children wandering into the pool area.
  • Instruct the babysitter about the location of fire extinguishers.
  • Inform your babysitter about the importance about keeping the children away from the stove top to avoid children reaching for pots and getting a burn injury.
  • Encourage your babysitter to have the children play outdoors, weather permitting.
  • Give clear instructions regarding homework, indicating whether homework is to be done before outside play or afterwards. Review the children's homework each night; practice spelling works and/or math quizzes, etc.
  • Inform them that the priority of watching the children is from the youngest to the oldest. Children under the age of ten should never be out of your sight.
  • Leave a note of consent signed by you with instructions to call XYZ ambulance and to ABC Hospital in the event of an emergency. Also include the name of your pediatrician or family doctor.
  • Let the babysitter know if the child has any medical problems such as seizures, asthma, allergies to various foods, etc.
  • Give the babysitter a second telephone number of a close friend or neighbor who can be contacted in case you cannot be reached. It is also a good idea to have a neighbor keep a key to your house in the event that the babysitter gets unexpectedly locked out.
  • Instruct the babysitter about the child's bedtime routine such as taking a bath, reading a book, singing a song, etc. Ask the baby sitter to start getting the children ready for bed at ____ p.m. The children should be ready for reading in bed at ____ p.m. and should be tucked away by ____. Ask you baby sitter to read to the children for twenty or thirty minutes before bed.
  • Keep the house doors locked at all times. Do not open the doors for any deliveries, strangers, or other people.
  • Let the babysitter know that other people such as friends or dates are not permitted in the house while you are gone.

Car Seat Tips
Children under the age of eight years old should not use an adult seatbelt—adult seatbelts do not protect them. But did you know that four out of five car seats are installed incorrectly or used incorrectly? In addition, one out of five children does not use a booster seat properly.

The LATCH system
All cars and mini vans built after September 2000 are required to have LATCH, a tethered anchor for car seats. This allows you to install a car seat into a system that is already built into the car. You must make sure that your car seat is built to fit this system.

Important facts
There are several life-saving facts about car seats that every parent needs to know:
Never place an infant in the front seat of your car because the airbag can inflate and kill a child who is in a rear-facing infant seat.
Use booster seats with children under the age of eight or under 4'9" in height.
Never put the shoulder belt under your child's arm.

How can I ensure that my child's car seat is installed correctly?
Contact your local hospital or fire department. Many of the larger hospitals have a certified child passenger safety technician on staff. This person can check your car seat to make sure it is installed correctly. In addition, many hospitals have annual safety events, at which they will check your car seat for free. However, do not wait for an annual safety fair to make sure that your car seat is attached properly.

Breastfeeding Tips
The key to breastfeeding is to be persistent. Understand that mothers have been doing this for thousands of years and children intuitively and genetically possess the instincts needed for breastfeeding.

How soon should I start breastfeeding my newborn?
It's usually a good idea to breast feed within the first hour of delivery. This is important because it initiates the bonding between mother and child, but it also helps stimulate the production of a hormone that will decrease your vaginal bleeding. The hormone that causes mild production and that causes your uterine blood vessels to contract is called oxytocin (pronounced "oxey-toe-sin").

How long does it take for my breast milk to come in?
The initial milk that flows during the first few days is called colostrum. This is actually a thin yellowish fluid that contains less calories then breast milk. However, colostrum is important because it is loaded with antibodies, which will help your child's body fight off infections. About three to five days later your milk will change to the typical white colored breast milk.

How much weight will my baby gain after birth?
The average weight of a newborn is approximately seven pounds. Your baby will lose weight during the first three to five days, due to the fact that the colostrum has fewer calories than breast milk. However, your child should return to her normal birth weight by approximately day number ten. After this time, the child will gain approximately one half to one ounce per day.

When will my baby stop breastfeeding in the middle of the night?
Typically children will not require a middle of the night feeding after approximately two to three months of age. However, some children may not give up this feeding until 4–6 months of age.

How often should I burp my child?
The child should be burped when you switch breasts.

Drug Abuse
Drug and alcohol abuse is a huge national problem. Studies have shown that children who drink alcohol before the age of fifteen have a four times greater risk of becoming an alcoholic in their lifetime.

What are the most commonly abused drugs by children and teenagers?

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Certain over-the-counter cold relievers
  • Sedatives such as Valium, Xanax
  • Narcotics such as Vicodin, Oxycontin
  • Methamphetamines sometimes called MDMA or meth
  • Cocaine
  • Inhalants such as paint glue, paint solvents, and other spray chemicals

What complications can result from drug use?

  • Cocaine could result in sudden brain hemorrhage or cardiac arrest and death.
  • Methamphetamine can also result in cardiac arrest, due to the fact that it is a very strong stimulant.
  • Speed can also result in death and cardiac arrest due to its excessive stimulation of the heart.
  • Inhalants contain toluene which is a chemical that can cause permanent brain damage. In addition, toluene can cause sudden irritability of the heart and cardiac arrest. Frequent use of sniffing solvents can result in permanent behavioral problems and a decrease in intellectual function.
  • Marijuana can result in psychological dependence and loss of inhibitions, car accidents, and unwanted sexual encounters due to its effect on decisionmaking.
  • Date rape drugs. Young girls should be advised that boys might place a date rape drug into their drink if they are not paying attention. A girl should never leave an open drink unattended at any time. Boys who are planning to take advantage may place one of the date rape drugs in the girl's drink, which will cause her to fall asleep and also result in a loss of memory as to what happened. The most common date rape drugs are Rohypnol, GHB and Ketamine.

What can I do to prevent my child from abusing drugs and alcohol?
The key to preventing drug abuse is maintaining a strong and positive parent-child relationship. Good communication between parent and child correlates strongly with the lack of drugs and alcohol. Parents also should have discussions with their children at various times regarding the negative effects of drug and alcohol abuse. For example, when alcohol is portrayed in a positive light on various TV commercials parents should tell children about the negative effects of alcohol, including addiction, loss of judgment, its potential for causing severe car accidents and increased chances of sexual encounters due to the loss of inhibition.

Autism
Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized by abnormalities in a child's social interaction and communication as well as repetitive behaviors. Some studies suggest that autism may occur in one out of every 160 births. Parents usually start to recognize the signs of autism in their children between the ages of two and six years old.

Symptoms
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) lists five behaviors that can be early signs of autism:

      • The child does not gesture, point, wave or grasp by the age of 12 months
      • A child cannot say a single word by the age of 16 months
      • The child does not engage in two-word phrases by the age of 24 months
      • A child has lost a significant portion of their language or social skills
      • The baby does not coo or babble by the age of 12 months

Causes
No one is really sure what causes autism although scientists believe there is a genetic component. Some environmental factors may play a role, but this is not proven. The most important thing for parents to understand is that autism has nothing to do with their parenting skills or their effectiveness as a parent.

Treatment
Autistic children require treatment on several levels—a behavioral level, language level and a social level.

Screening and diagnosis
Schools and health departments have trained individuals available to do a complete assessment of your child. A specialist will screen your child for any visual hearing or neurological problems that could mimic autistic behavior.

When to seek professional help
If your child exhibits two or more of the signs of autism you should contact your local grade school for an evaluation. If the child is a preschooler, then contact your local health department for an evaluation.

Dyslexia
Children who have dyslexia say that it looks like the words are all jumbled up when they describe them to you. Dyslexia occurs equally in boys and girls. It is important for parents to identify early whether their child has dyslexia in order to initiate remedial treatment.

What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning disability that makes it difficult for the child to read. Children with dyslexia have normal intelligence but they have trouble interpreting the individual sounds of each word. Approximately 5% of school age children have some type of learning disability, and dyslexia is the most common one.

What are the signs of dyslexia?
Some clues that your child may have dyslexia are the following:

      • Difficulty pronouncing words
      • Difficulty learning the sounds of letters
      • Reversing letters such as "b" and "d"
      • Trouble learning new words
      • Speech beginning later than expected
      • Difficulty rhyming words

What should I do if I think my child has dyslexia?
If a parents suspect that their child has dyslexia they should ask the teacher to have the child evaluated for dyslexia. The federal law requires that schools must provide a diagnostic and treatment plan for children with dyslexia or learning disabilities.

ADHD
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is a problem which affects 3 to 5% of children. The disorder is characterized by attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

What are the signs of ADHD?
Children with ADHD may fidget frequently and feel very restless. They may blurt out words or thoughts without thinking. In addition, they may have difficulty:

      • Staying focused on one area
      • Listening to and understanding directions
      • Following a sequential order of direction
      • Taking turns
      • Waiting in line
      • Working on homework

How is ADHD diagnosed?
There is no laboratory test or brain scan which can definitely confirm the diagnosis of ADHD. The diagnosis is based on behavioral assessment by a physician, psychiatrist, and/or psychologist as well as teacher and parent rating skills. There are some questions whether ADHD may be related environmental factors that the mother may have been exposed to during her pregnancy.

What are the causes of ADHD?
Specific causes of ADHD are unclear, but there is a strong genetic component. ADHD may run in families who have a history of this disorder. For example, if there is a family history of ADHD, there is a 25% chance that another child in the family may have ADHD. In addition, if a twin has ADHD there is a strong correlation that the other twin may have it also.

How is ADHD treated?
The preferred treatment of ADHD is a combination of medications and behavioral therapy. The most common medications that are prescribed include stimulants of amphetamines like drugs such as Methylphenidate. Though these are stimulant drugs for normal people, they actually help people with ADHD to relax and to focus and pay attention better.

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