BabyChildren grow at different rates and may have different body structures from their siblings and friends. Weight is one of the characteristics that distinguish children from each other. It implies on the physical as well as mental level. There is lot of parent–child disagreement about what is or is not eaten and in what amounts. The question that is always asked by most parents is, “What is the “Right” Weight for My Child?”. Parents want their children to be as perfect as possible. But in weight the word “Perfect” differs from person to person. Standardized growth charts give height and weight of boys and girls at different ages and can be used in consultation with a pediatrician in determining a child’s weight.
Parents can help a child who is medically defined as overweight or obese
Parental action depends on whether only the child or the whole family has a weight problem. Also reassure the child of parental love regardless of the child’s weight. If the whole family needs to change some eating and exercising habits, then the parent and child should work together.
Food should never be given as a reward for completing a task, as a sympathetic gesture to ease hurt feelings, or as a cure for boredom. These habits may lead the child to eat food in these situations, regardless of any feelings of hunger. Here you can help the child learn that such behavior is occasionally–but not always–permissible, the child may avoid forming some of the dependent habits that can cause later weight problems. If the child is the only family member to have a weight problem, then other factors should be considered, like any medical problems or emotional stresses that might influence a child’s eating behavior.
How to help an underweight child
Consult a pediatrician and discuss the size of the other family members help put the child’s size into perspective. Also keep in mind growing slowly is not bad. However, when a child shows a sudden weight drop, other medical or emotional problems can be looked for. You can seek professional help from your pediatrician, dietitian, or child psychologist.
Three responsibilities in feeding children
Nutritious food should be given to children at regular intervals. A regular source of energy through meals and snack are to be given. Also a sensible eating pattern encourages the child to learn correct food behavior. Overweight children indicate that those children who eat regular meals control their weight more successfully. Parents can help the child learn to identify and pay attention to feelings of hunger and fullness. They should not force a toddler to eat one more bite. Parents can demonstrate a healthy lifestyle. Children like to imitate their parents so they are likely to want to do what parents do, whether that’s eating chips and watching television or eating while driving, etc.
Actions a parent should avoid
Parent’s primary role is to give support. For example, when playmates tease the physical appearance of the child, it is upseting when parents respond with, “When you get thinner they won’t tease you anymore” this only makes the child suspicious that there is indeed something wrong with him or her. A parent should listen to the child’s feelings about the teasing. And discuss the situation with the child like.
Parents should not treat the overweight child differently from the rest of the family, for instance forcing the child to eat meals, desserts or snacks that are different from what is served to the rest of the family. Likewise, children should not be put on a strict weight reduction diet which is a form of punishment. By doing this they might ignore feelings of hunger and may start believing that there is truly something wrong with themselves for wanting to eat more than their parents want to give them.
Specific actions parents need while helping their children learn good eating habits
- Encourage kids to eat a variety of foods.
- Gradually introduce new foods. Start with small portions but do not force the child to eat it.
- Parents set a good example by practicing healthy eating habits for themselves.
- Plan and provide regular meals and snacks for all the family.
- Have a pleasant conversation over meals and do not discuss problems.
- Serve food depending on the child’s size and age. Offer 1 tablespoon of meat, fruit, and vegetable per year of age up to age 5.
- Appetite also depends upon the child’s physical activity and growth spurts. There should be some lower calorie food items than can be offered for second helpings.
- Give high–calorie, low–nutrient foods only on occasional treats, not regularly.
- Involve children in planning, shopping, and label–reading.
- Never make nagging comments about a child’s weight. Children who are above or below their “Right“ weight need your support.
- Encourage regular physical activity. Set an example by walking or biking instead of driving, using stairs instead of the elevator, planning week–end hikes or swimming outings or simply walking around the block after dinner.
Arrival of a New Sibling
You often think that your child will adjust to a new baby quite easily. But it is very common that conflict of some sort will occur at the arrival of a new baby. Parents should hope for the best but prepare for the worst. They should be open with their children about how different life will be after the arrival of the baby. There should be ongoing conversation between you and your sibling, starting around six or seven months of pregnancy (earlier with school age or teenage children). The parents should reassure the child (especially preschoolers and younger) that they would be loved as much. Take them to friend’s place who have babies in their house. Then remind them that their friends play with the new babies, and sometimes even get to help take care of them.
Arrival of New SiblingOn the arrival of the new sibling the older kids always get insecure so the parents have to reassure them that their mothers will still read stories to them, pay attention to them, take them places, play with them, etc. This is a way to reassure them that makes sense–on their level. And, of course, tell them often that you love them. Show them that you love them even more by reading to them, holding them in your lap, singing to them, rocking them to sleep or just doing fun things that they love to do.
Some Questions a typical 3–Year–Old might have about his new baby brother/sister.
- Will mother and father love him more than me?
- Where will he sleep?
- How does he come out of your tummy? Does it hurt?
- Will I still live here when he comes home?
- Why doesn’t he talk?
- Why won’t he stop crying?
- Can I hold him?
- When will he learn to walk?
- Will he tear up my toys? Will he take my toys?
- Will he play with me?
Arrival of New SiblingYou should involve siblings in the preparation, this helps them feel more positive towards the newSiblings baby. Take them on shopping trips to buy clothes and supplies for the baby. Let them pick out some of the babies outfits or special toy. Then buy something special for them, too. Or take them out for lunch afterward and have a talk about the upcoming event. Be sure to show lots of love and affection during this time. Include your child in your preparations such as folding the baby’s clothes, go with you for your check–ups, draw a picture for the baby’s room, help pack your suitcase for the hospital.
In the last months of your pregnancy you should try and make plans for grandparents, friends, other relatives or babysitters to take care of your other child (ren) so you can get some rest or just catch up around the house. You will have that free time to develop a sense of what your baby needs from you, and to work on getting the baby on a feeding and/or sleeping schedule, if possible. Spend some time thinking all specific situations you will go through before your new baby comes. Don’t wait until you’re so busy with your children that you can’t really think clearly. Prepare your mind for an older child’s negative reactions to the new baby well in advance.
Some Signs of Jealousy or Insecurity in an Older Child
- He hits the baby or is rough with him.
- Doesn’t let you feed the baby.
- Whenever you hold the baby he becomes angry and wants to sit in your lap.
- Starts having major behavioral problems at school and/or at home.
- Becomes very moody.
- Becomes clingy–won’t let you out of his sight.
- Loses his appetite.
Teaching Sex Education to Children
As your child reaches 4 years of age, he starts developing a healthy curiosity about sex and other people’s bodies. They start asking various questions, such as “How come I don’t have a penis?” and you should give them honest, brief answers. If your child doesn’t ask sexual questions by 5 years of age, it is your responsibility to bring up the topic. If you don’t help your child with sex education, he may acquire a lot of misinformation from his friends and schoolmates. If you are among the many parents who are uncomfortable talking to their children about sex, get a book and read to them.
Teach your child the differences in anatomy between the sexes
While your child is bathing with siblings or swimming with friends of the opposite sex. Another opportunity is while changing diapers or clothing. Be sure to include the genitals when you teach your child the names of body parts. Use proper names (vagina and penis), not nicknames or baby talk. If you postpone teaching proper names, your child will become embarrassed to use them as he grows older.
Teach about pregnancy and where babies come from
While you are pregnant, be sure to keep your child informed about the baby’s development. Otherwise, you can ask a pregnant friend to let your child feel her baby moving about. Explain the birth process in simple terms.
Talk about how the bodies of girls and boys differ
That will take away some of the air of secrecy. With the help of other parents you can read sex education books to the group. Tell your child that genitals are private. That’s why we wear clothes. Clarify to them that it is NOT OK to touch other people’s genitals. Also, it's not acceptable to deliberately show someone else your genitals or ask to see theirs.
You are advised to subtly supervise your child’s play a little more closely. Up to a point, sexual play in preschoolers is very common and beneficial. But if you notice that the behavior is becoming more frequent, don’t hesitate to discourage it. Tell the children that it is not polite and has to stop. Try to divert their attention by suggesting a different game. If that doesn’t get your message across, give them a five–minute time–out in separate rooms, or send them home for the day. It’s up to the parents to put the brakes on undressing games. But keep your response low–key. Don’t act shocked or angry. Don’t make your child feel guilty and don’t give any major punishments.
Show your child how to be affectionate
It is very important to teach your child to accept and enjoy physical affection (in the form of cuddles, hugs and kisses) from relatives and friends. Lots of children feel shy and awkward to accept such affection if the environment in the home is not warm and friendly. When parents exchange warm hugs and kisses in front of the children, they will understand that it is normal to do so. Give your child ample cuddling each day. Demonstrating a healthy attitude toward physical affection and appropriate ways of touching can help your child in developing the right attitude towards display of affection.
Teach your child respect to privacy
Teach your children to respect privacy as soon as they are 4 or 5 years of age. Close the bathroom or the bedroom door when you get undressed, and teach your children to do the same. Teaching about such things however depends on the attitudes withheld by the family.
Be open to sex related questions
Be an open, responsive parent. When your child is old enough, explain about sex to him. You can use books explain about topics you find difficult to explain. Convey to your children that sex is an important part of love and life. If your child learns it's OK to talk about sex, he will not feel awkward to ask more questions as he grows older.
Soft Bedding May be Hazardous to Babies
Soft BeddingTo prevent infant deaths due to soft bedding, following is recommended for infants under 12 months
Safe Bedding Practices For Infants:
- Place baby on his/her back on a firm tight–fitting mattress in a crib.
- Remove pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys, and other soft products from the crib.
- Consider using a quilt or other sleep clothing as an alternative to blankets.
- If using a blanket, see that the baby’s feet lie at the foot of the crib. Tuck a thin blanket around the crib mattress, reaching only as far as the baby’s chest.
- Make sure your baby’s head remains uncovered during sleep.
- Do not place the baby on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress, pillow, or other soft surfaces to sleep.
Soft BeddingPlacing babies to sleep on their backs instead of their stomachs has been associated with a dramatic decrease in deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Babies have been found dead on their stomachs with their faces, noses, and mouths covered by soft bedding, such as pillows, quilts, comforters and sheepskins. However, some babies have been found dead with their heads covered by soft bedding even while sleeping on their backs.