Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Back seat laughter and a few other sibling benefits

Our family just came off a 22 hour road trip. Like most parents we left when the kids (3 yo and 10 mos) were napping. What happemded during this trip was so special I had to write about it. While driving we started hearing giggles. In the back seat locking eyes our two babies wee entertaining each other. No words were spoken, they simply gazed at each other and had a great time. I love how both interact with each other. We are at an age where they can actually relate to one another. Besides entertaining one another here are some other sibling benefits I've witnessed:

Milestones are reached earlier - When children have a peer to emulate they will reach milestones earlier. Researchers have proven this over and over. Babies learn through their social environment. Social learning theory posits that we learn how to engage the world through witnessing the successes and failures of those who we relate to. In a kids' world that is likely an older sibling. Because of this walking and talking comes sooner.

Advocacy - Another benefit is the ability to advocate on the behalf of someone else.. When children have a younger sibling they are able to apply what they know about right and wrong on behalf of someone else. Empathy is a learned skill that separates good managers and great leaders. When kids advocate for yonger siblings they are developing empathy.

A parent picked best friend - If the many sibling benefits, having s ready made best friend is my favorite. As the youngest of 5 I especially appreciate having my big sis as my best friend. When your best friend is your sibling you are more free to be who you are, flaws and all. In Social Learning theory models we know that the impact of mentors is connected to the trust placed in the person as well as the value of that particular task the person is helping with. For our kids, they are more likely to adopt the behaviors (mostly good) of their older siblings if they have a trusting relationship and see value in what they are doing.

Happy Parenting!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Congratulations Loretta Lynch!

The Senate confirmed Loretta Lynch as the next attorney general! Oprah was one of the few people who looked like me in our history books in school. For our children, especially my daughter, Michelle, Condi, Murial, & Loretta will be one of many for them.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Let's Talk - 3 ways to develop your baby's verbal communication skills

Ever wonder if your walls could talk? If you have a child, your walls are listening and will soon talk! 

At 5am, my toddler approached me with bright beaming eyes and said clearly, “Bernadine can I have some water”.  My first reaction was shocked that he could pronounce each syllable in my 3-syllable name. My second reaction was who calls me by my first name when he is around. Since his birth, my husband and I typically call each other Mom and Dad when addressing each other around him. I could not remember a time when my husband used my first name. I am usually, Mom, Honey, Sweetie, etc. Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when he pronounced it clearly and used it correctly. 

When I told the story at Daycare our provider gave stories of how all the kids tell all of their families business during playtime. My experience and her stories exemplify the importance of exposing children to language early and correctly. 

Here are some things we can do to help our child on this language development journey. 

  • Clearly articulate and pronounce words so that the little ears can pick up the complexities of language.
  • Read to your child. The best way to encourage complex language development for your child is to read to them often. Dr. Seuss’ the Cat in the Hat was written to include all the words a child should know before school. Pick up a copy of this as well as other books.
  • Talk to them even when they cannot talk back. Before baby can even verbalize words, they are soaking in how language works and how conversations grows. That quiet 1 year old will soon be a walking-talking “wall”. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. 

On Thursday, for the first time since returning from Maternity leave in October I left my computer at work. When I put my two-year old to bed that night we made shadow puppets with flashlights until he dozed off into sleepy land. What a great moment it was. It was at this moment that I was reminded how important it is to keep the main thing the main thing. It can be very tempting to let one part of your life dominate you to a point that it consumes all of your time. At this moment, it was work for me. In other moments, it could be my family commitments, hobbies I have or friends. 

In his work, Steven Covey says that one habit of highly successful people is to keep the main thing the main thing. This sounds intuitive and easy to do, until we become faced with competing priorities such as getting a report finished for work and spending quality time with our families. Here are some ways I try (am trying) to keep the “main thing the main thing”: 

Add some Pizazz to regularly scheduled events – Sometimes I add food coloring to dinner or use the cookie cutter on pancakes to bring a smile to my toddler and husband’s face. It is minimal effort that makes their day a little more exciting than the day before. 

Set aside time just for you – There are 24 hours in the day, and I try to find 1 hour a day that I set aside for myself. I am an early riser, so I use the time before my family wakes up to have a cup of tea and read before starting my day. When I get to take time for myself, I am better for my family, my work and me. 

Stay in the moment – When I talk to friends and family members on the phone or in person, I try to stay in the moment with them. This is one strategy that becomes hard to do when the kids are awake – so sometimes I call back days (sometimes weeks) later when I can have a completely available conversation. I find that this makes me more fulfilled in my relationships. My sister and I talk everyday (via Bluetooth) after work for 10 minutes to reconnect and catch up. 

Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's – When at work, I am at work. I give my all to work while. I work hard and spend my time wisely. When I do this, I am not guilty (or behind) when I leave my computer at work or take a long lunch with a friend occasionally. 

Set a schedule and stick to it – Another strategy would be to add a schedule to your personal life. By adding a schedule that you commit to and follow as serious as you do for your work schedule (I am still working on this one) life becomes more predictable. For example, set a time for dinner each night and commit to it, set a time for a family walk and commit to it. This one becomes tricky to implement because so much of our days are structured we naturally want to have free-range at home. Nevertheless, I have found when I am able to follow some type of schedule that my days are longer and the time spent with the kids is of greater quality.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Prenatal and Preschool Gap

I would like to start with a familiar parable: A group of people are standing at a riverbank and suddenly hear a baby crying. Shocked, they see an infant in the water. One person immediately dives in to rescue the child. But right away another baby comes floating down the river, and then another! People continue to jump in to save the babies and then see that one person has started to walk away from the group still on shore. Accusingly they shout, "Where are you going? We need everyone available to help save these drowning babies!" The response: "I'm going upstream to find out who is throwing babies into the river.

The desire to rescue the babies in the river is totally understandable and necessary. They are already at-risk of drowning, and someone needs to help them. But let’s get literal. The babies in the river are modern day preschoolers and kindergarteners who start school behind their peers academically. In schools, special education services, Title I programs, after school tutoring and the like are all well-meaning social services designed to get the “babies” out of the water BUT they do not address the problem. They only address, in my opinion symptoms of the problem. A big elephant in the room that policy makers refuse to address is the role that good prenatal and care before the age of 2 impacts later academic achievement.

The book Inequality at the starting gate speaks to this. In this book the authors, Valarie Lee and David Burkam share that inequalities in children's cognitive abilities are substantial from the beginning, with disadvantaged children starting kindergarten with significantly lower cognitive skills than their more advantaged counterparts. These same disadvantaged children are then placed in low-resource schools, magnifying the initial inequality.

We know from research that children who come to kindergarten with a strong base of knowledge and abilities are more likely to succeed in school than those who are not as well prepared. But those abilities and that knowledge are based on a strong foundation for learning created before age 2 – not just in the traditional preschool ages of three and four.

So how do we better prepare children for preschool?

Let’s go up stream for a minute. When we go “upstream” here is what we find. We find that kids thrive from parents who nurse, spend time with them and are not stressed financially. How do we encourage these things? We offer paid leave to mothers and fathers for the birth of their child. Moms who work full time should not be forced to decide between paying bills and staying at home bonding with their child- something research has proven over and over to benefit the long-term achievement. We must be steadfast in advocating for all parents – especially the underemployed to have the benefit of spending time with their child while not worrying about their financial stability. We fought hard to establish FMLA to protect our jobs 22 years ago in 1993 NOW we have to fight hard to ensure at a minimal that parents who are required medically to stay at home for at least 6 weeks have job and financial security. Please take up this fight with me.

Paid leave encourages mothers to breast feed longer and children who were breastfeed for one year perform better on intelligence tests at ages 3 and 7. Paid family leave boosts overall wellbeing for employees and their families, it reduces the risk of infant mortality, it can aid in the prevention of maternal depression and stress, it causes greater paternal engagement in caregiving and it improves family income. It is also good for businesses. California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island have publicly funded maternity leave laws. After California instituted paid maternity leave, a survey in the 2011 Center for Economic and Policy Research found that 91% of employers said the policy either boosted profits or had no effect. They also noted improved productivity, higher morale and reduced turnover rates.

Working families, like you and me have to make difficult choices early on to return to the workforce sooner than recommended from experts. We are all working families. Similar to the parable, we need to have a mindset to go up stream. Please understand that the catcher and the saviors are needed. Those programs are needed, we need to address those who are at-risk. BUT if we are going to create meaningful progress in ensuring that all students receive high quality experiences in school we must be stop being reactionary only. Its time to include prenatal and early childhood care in our discussions of education reform.

The blog content is taken from remarks I shared at the 2nd Annual You CAN Do Anything Too Symposium.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Run away screaming and five other ways to stay calm when the kids are not

A loving and caring adult is the most important factor in a life of a child. This is true for all kids, our own included. This has been my mantra for as long as I remember. Kids need our unconditional love. They need to know that we not only love them, but they need to know we care. Loving and caring are not the same. I think we all agree that we love our children all the time even when paint is on the wall.  Caring means to be thoughtful, loving and gentle. When we yell at our kids are we being the loving and caring adults that they so desperately need to thrive. I do not not think so. As a parent we must always react in a way that is of love for our children. 

Here are some ways you can stay calm when helping our kids work through their emotions.

Sing do not scream – Responding with a singsong tune immediately reduces your level of stress and releases endorphins that change your mood. In addition, if the song does not change your mood your little one’s reaction to your signing voice will. You can choose a classical, R&B or hip-hop tone to get your message to your child.

Always smile – Another trick I have mastered is to smile whenever I engage him in conversation. I smile even when I may be a bit frustrated, tired and overwhelmed. I look at him smile and say yes while attempting to offer a reasonable response to his request. To me it is very important to acknowledge our little ones. It gives them a sense of security in knowing that his mom is always ready to answer and meet his needs. It works even when you are answering the same request from your toddler for the 100th time. With a 2 ½ year old and a 6 month old at home while my husband travels for work I have been pushed to the point of wanting to scream and shout more times than I would want to admit. A simple smile helps me to forget about my adult problems and focus on keeping them happy.

Run away screaming – When I am really up a wall with my toddler I starting running and screaming and invite him to chase me. His face lightens up with a smile at the thought of me being silly. The smile on his face, the energy spent running and the fun of thinking of something new to scream releases endorphins that make me happy along with my toddler. I usually run in a circle while he follows closely screaming words to a familiar nursery rhyme or I will repeat his name repeatedly. He really gets a kick out of this and we usually end up on the floor laughing out of breath together.

Invite your little one to the dance floor – Get up and moving with your little one. Most of the time when our little ones are running us up the wall is because they need to burn some energy. Why not invite them to run up a while with dance. The only thing more fun than dancing, is being asked to dance when you least expect it. A slow or fast dance makes for lots of smiles and giggles from your little one.

Get laughing – Get your toddler laughing with a funny face or all over tickles. If you have a child, this one does not need much more clarification. Inviting your child to laugh is an instant way to distract them him from their emotions or a tantrum.

Change the scene – Another way to help you and your child on a difficult day is to pack them up and leave the house. A change of scenery helps your little one learn and explore a new environment. Get some retail therapy in, get a bite to eat or visit a local park. If you do not have a mall nearby try a target or some similar place, where you can strap the kids in the stroller and wander the aisles with your thoughts.  

Parenting and childhood should be a happy time for both you and your kids. What I describe in this blog are ways that we can adjust in the short-lived moments of frustration with our kids. If you find yourself experiencing prolonged feelings of frustration and anger towards your children please seek help by getting a baby sitter to give yourself a break and calling a medical professional to talk though your feelings and emotions. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

5 Life Lessons from my Daughter

This blog describes five (5) Life Lessons my daughter has taught me. The first is that I should stop apologizing for being feminine. The second is to unleash my voice and appreciate the value of it. The third is that every good idea starts with a little risk. The fourth says that we are perfectly imperfect. The final is that the woman she knows as her mom will influence the woman she becomes. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

5 Lessons from Selma the Movie

Ahead of the national release, I had the opportunity to view Selma the Movie at a local screening hosted by State Delegate, Michael Futrell (my husband). Within the first 5 minutes of the movie, I was moved to tears to see how far we have come as a nation and how far we have to go. I was reminded of the true power of the people in advancing agendas that benefit ALL Americans.

This blog describes five (5) Lessons from Selma the Movie that I hope all parents consider.

Register and VOTE

The first is simply registering and voting in all elections, especially local elections. Local elections not only influence who will make it to the federal and state ballots, BUT they determine whom the voices at the table will be for local matters important to all parents such as school governance (public and private). Elections are the starting line when it comes to all issues. As parents, we must be at that starting line in order to influence the decisions that directly affect our children.

Attend at least one school board meeting every year

The second is to attend at least one school board meeting every school year. Not only are the polls important to register your voice, parents must also register their voices at the local school board meetings. It would be ideal if parents could attend every board meeting but in reality that may be tough for most parents, there for I encourage you to review the public agendas and check for topics that are of most interest to you and attend.

Voice your opinion on the School Board and the City/County Budget

The third is to voice your opinion during budget discussions for the School Board and your City/County Board of supervisors. All governing bodies that use public funds are required by law to submit proposed operating budgets for public comment. Most Boards do this during a regularly scheduled board meeting. As a parent you can take advantage of these meetings to share your comments or you can simply write or call your representative during the budget “season”.

Volunteer and Join the PTA

The fourth is to support educators by volunteering or joining the PTA. Support our teachers. Support those who work daily to provide love, support, and guidance to your children. You have a lot offer and schools can benefit from a wide array of experiences that parents of students can offer.

Advocate for ALL kids

The final is to advocate for what is best for ALL kids - not just your own. While the lessons above are important to advancing our interests as parents for our children. I encourage you to consider advocating for “Other’s People Kids” too in your advocacy.  Many issues that do not directly affect our kitchen tables may affect students whose parents may not be in a position of advocacy. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

5 Family Resolutions for a Memorable 2015

This blog describes five (5) New Year’s Resolutions that will make 2015 a memorable year.

1. Say Cheese and Get in the Photo
The first resolution is to get in the picture with your children. Many of my mom friends, myself included, spend a lot of time behind the camera when snapping photos of our kids. No matter your reason for getting behind the camera, I challenge you to get in front of it more this year. When you get in the photo with your kids, you show your children that you matter. You teach them how to be confident in their looks. Family photos not only show your kids that you were there and present with them they also help to develop their self-esteem.

This year I am challenging myself to get in more photos with my son and daughter and I invite you to join me. On Mondays, I will post a photo of myself with the kids and use the hashtag #momsphotobomb to keep track and share my photos. Please join me.

2. Create and commit to family traditions
The second resolution is to create and commit to family traditions. A family tradition can be as simple as eating dinner as a family every night or preparing a special meal on Tuesdays. No matter how elaborate or simple you choose pick something and do it consistently year to year. Because we all have fast-paced lives today, it is even more important to make deliberate efforts to have time to spend together that all family members can look forward to. A holiday, event or timely traditions brings families together in a way that we can express our unity as a family and nourish bonds that will last a lifetime. Traditions help kids feel connected with their sense of identity as a member of the family, says Psychology Today authors. Family traditions are necessary and contribute to the emotional health, self-esteem, and self-respect of family members.

3. Take a Trip to Grandpa’s House
The third resolution is to visit with family often. The hustle of the year sometimes puts visiting with family to the backburner. What we sometimes do not realize, while rushing to meet demands of others, that we are missing valuable opportunities to connect our kids with loved ones. I challenge you and myself to make more time to visit with family members, especially Grandparents. When you establish a bond with grandparents for your children, they benefit in many ways. Grandparents can provide a sense of cultural heritage and family history important for your child’s emotional health, self-esteem and self-respect says Kids Health authors.

4. Enjoy a Family vacation
The fourth resolution is to take a family vacation. Your vacation can be an elaborate cruise on the Atlantic or a simple picnic a short drive away from home. No matter how elaborate a vacation will show your kids that life is to be enjoyed. You will feel more relaxed and fulfilled in your life. The medical website WebMD says that people who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals. The health and emotional benefits of vacations make the time away from work worth it 100 times over.

5. Celebrate Every Milestone
The final resolution is to celebrate every milestone. Our kids grow very fast over the course of a year and the transitional moments should be celebrated. When you celebrate your child’s milestones you provide them with feedback and recognition needed to have a sense of pride in their accomplishments. Celebrations do not have to be grand. For example, if your toddler learns to use the potty a simple dance and a quick photo will do the trick. On the other hand, you can make your college age child a special meal before they head back to school to acknowledge their accomplishment.

What New Year’s Resolutions will you make for a more memorable 2015? 

Thank you for reading along with me this year. 
I wish you a happy, healthy and rich 2015. Happy Parenting! 

Don’t forget to use the hashtag - #PhotoBombedbyMom to keep track and share your photos with others.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

5 Friends Our Kids Need Us to Have

This blog describes five (5) friends that every kid needs their mom to have. 

The first is a Grand Mom. She is your elder. She loves you but you are sure she loves your kids more than she loves you. This is your mom, mother in-law, church mom, aunt or older sister.  For you - she becomes an anchor for how you will be as a mom. This mom helps you carry the weight of being a new mom. She does not mind changing diapers and will offer to take the kids for a walk to allow you to get much needed rest - because she is very wise. For your kids - she gives them a sense of love and connection to an older generation. For them they will cherish time with someone who loves them as their parents do.   

Second, a Friend Mom is a mom who is in a similar situation as you. If you are married with two kids, she is also married with two kids. For you - time with her becomes a judgment free zone where you can share your thoughts (good or bad) about being Married with Children. Conversations with her make you realize how normal the things that you thought were bizarre are. With her, your discussion topics can range from diapers to designer bags. For your kids - her children are their playmates.

The third is the Not Mom. She is your fun, carefree childless friend. She reminds you of the fun things you liked to do before the kids arrived. For you - she challenges you to find time to put yourself first. She encourages you to put on a pair of heels and go to brunch without the kids. She keeps you connected to the inner you by bringing out your interest and passions that may have been dormant. For your kids - she is the fun energetic Auntie who can spoil them endlessly by exposing them to new adventures. She also gives them a mom who is balanced and enjoying life.

The fourth is the Newer Mom. Whether it is 2 weeks or 20 years this mom has less time under her belt as a mom than you. She is someone who reaches out to you with questions about what to expect as a parent. For you - she builds your confidence in what you are doing as a mom. She reminds you that you survived the stage she is in with her child. She challenges you to offer thoughtful advice that you yourself take to heart. For your kids - they benefit from having a mom who is more aware of the reasons behind the choices you make as a parent.

The final friend is Dad not Mom. He is their father. For you - he offers an opportunity to share the load of parenting. With him, you can freely discuss your hopes and dreams for the future. He will stay up all night checking temperatures with you if your little one has a fever or dash to the store at 3am to pick up diapers. For your kids – he gives them someone other than you that they can trust and believe in for all their needs.  

I am grateful to have several people in these categories. Do you have these 5 friends that your kids need you to have? Comment below.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gratefulness – Raising grateful kids

Gratefulness – Raising grateful kids

Every thanksgiving our family shares what we are thankful for. This year, my now verbal two year old bashfully looked around as I interjected “he is thankful for family” at his turn. He smiled at me and I knew at that moment that he understood what being thankful for family meant.

Barbara Lewis, the author of What Do You Stand For? For Kids, says that toddlers can grasp the concept of gratitude around 15 and 18 months. She goes on to say that, 2 or 3 year olds can talk about being thankful for specific things. By age four children can understand being thankful for acts of kindness and love. So what does it take to teach gratefulness to kids?

The best way to teach your child gratitude is to model it for them. Toddlers by nature of self-absorbed and have to learn gratefulness from their experiences says Charlotte Latvala, blogger at When children are grateful they understand the feelings of others.

Like most parents, our kids have more opportunities than we ever imagined. I want to do my best to ensure that my children get the good that came from my humble background – my gratefulness.

My husband and I are happy that my toddler is appreciative of the things he has. My heart melts when he happily smiles and says ‘Thank you, Mommy’.

Happy Parenting 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Talking about race – What is appropriate?

I wake up after midnight every night to nurse my daughter, check that my son’s pull-up is still dry, and scroll through my Facebook news feed before going back to sleep. However, after reading about the Grand Jury decision and the events in Ferguson – last night was different. As a country we were confronted with the big ole’ Elephant of racial-tension in America again. Therefore, like many parents on my news feed, I kneeled next to my little brown children and prayed for their protection and covering as they inherit this country. I also asked in that moment for wisdom to guide my words and actions as I approach conversations with them about their blackness and racism.

Because we must be thoughtful and sincere when it comes to talking about race and racism with our children, I am sharing an excerpt from where Dr. Beverly Tatum, author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race, offers five tips for talking about racism:

Don't be afraid to bring it up: For many parents, the race talk is as difficult as the birds and the bees talk. Dr. Tatum attributes this awkwardness to a lack of communication about race in many of our own childhoods. "There are concerns about saying the wrong thing and sounding racist, even if that is not the intent." says Dr. Tatum. "Sometimes parents naively believe that if they talk about issues of race with their children, they will cause them to notice race in a way that they did not before."

Look for teaching moments: Not sure how to get the conversation started? If your child comments on different skin colors, that's an easy in. Children's books that discuss race are also a gentle introduction. Or, you can look for subtle openings in everyday life. "I was cooking with my 3-year-old," says Dr. Tatum. "We used the last white egg in the carton, and then took out another carton of eggs, this time brown eggs.  My son noted that the eggs were different in color. 'Yes,' I said, as we cracked both eggs open, 'But look—they are the same inside.  Just like people, they come in different shades, but they are the same on the inside.'"

Make the message age-appropriate: For preschoolers, use concrete examples, like the egg example above. Since even young children can understand when something is unfair (how many times have they lobbed the "not fair!" charge at you?), you can break down slavery (or segregation) for them: Slavery happened a long time ago, but holding people captive and making them work without paying them is unfair. So slavery ended, because many people thought it was unfair and worked to change it. "I think it is important to emphasize that no racial group is all bad or all victims," says Dr. Tatum. "For example, in the US, white people were slaveowners, but white people also worked against slavery. Black people were enslaved, but many resisted their mistreatment by running away and helping others escape. Offering examples of people working together is also important."

Accept that prejudiced comments may happen and that doesn't mean your child is racist: If your kid makes a questionable remark, don't freak. "Children often repeat what they hear others say, and it doesn't necessarily mean that the child believes it," says Dr. Tatum. "Ask questions. 'What made you say....?' Gently dispute the stereotype or prejudiced attitudes. 'I've heard people say X about Y, but my experience with Y people is...' and give an example to dispute the stereotype."

Most importantly, be a role model: "The best way to reduce children's prejudices is to model an inclusive home, demonstrating that you have friends of all backgrounds," says Dr. Tatum. "Parents who have learned to lead multicultural lives, connecting with people different from themselves, are more likely to have children who develop those important life skills at an early age."

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pass the turkey please – The research on starting solid foods with infants.

Surprisingly there are no official U.S. guidelines on what a baby should eat before 2 years old. In reality, a child needs to be 2 before they are covered by U.S. dietary guidelines. There are however several national and international organizations that offer guidelines on what babies should eat before two. For most babies breast milk or formula is the only food they need until they hit 4 to 6 months. 

The age-old suggestion to add baby cereal to the bottle to help a child sleep through may lead to digestive issues later in life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, WebMD and the Mayo Clinic suggest staring solids once the baby is developmentally ready. This means when the baby is 4-6 months old, 

  • can sit up with support,
  • hold her head and neck up well,
  • has doubled in birth weight,
  • is interested in what you are eating,
  • can keep food in her mouth 
  • and shows signs of being hungry after nursing or bottle feeding.

Our baby girl will have to wait until next Turkey day before she gets to enjoy the bounty of turkey, stuffing, gravy, and green beans.

Happy Parenting!

Visit the sources linked in this article more detailed information on the recommendations mentioned in this blog.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Use your words – The research on talking and singing to children

Surprisingly the answer is not "it depends on who is singing. Benefits of singing to your child go beyond improved language skills. A Wiley study in 2014 found that infants who were sung too while their mothers held them skin-to-skin had better heart rates than those whose moms held them skin-to-skin but did not sing. This study also showed that moms had less anxiety. Similarly, a 2011 article reported that hearing lullabies brought a sense of calmness and security to infants and strengthened the bond between the infant and their caregiver. In the book Genius of Natural Childhood the authors shared that many parts of a child’s brain responds when a baby hears music.  

Baby talk is more effective when parents speak with a child individually, without other adults or children around. A 2014 Standard University Study found that exposure to child-directed speech -- as opposed to overheard speech -- sharpened language processing skills of infants. Researchers at University of Washington and University of Connecticut showed that baby talk in one-on-one conversations with children is linked to better language development.  

The overall goal of singing and talking is to help increase the child’s familiarity with language. 

It is super important as a parent to understand that by starting in infancy, we can play a role in changing our children's life trajectories.

How often do you talk or sing to your baby?

Happy Parenting!

Visit the articles cited below for more detailed information on the recommendations mentioned in this blog.

Articles Cited
  1. Berglund, Eriksson M., and Westerlund M. (2005). Communicative skills in relation to gender, birth order, childcare and socioeconomic status in 18-month-old children. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 46, 485-491
  2. Oshima-Takane, Y., Goodz, E., Derevensky, J. (1996). Birth Order Effects on Early Language Development: Do Second Born Children Learn from Overheard Speech? Child Development. 67; 2: 621-634; Erika Hoff-Ginsberg (1998). The relation of birth order and socioeconomic status to children's language experience and language development.Applied Psycholinguistics, 19, pp 603-629.
  3. Stanford University. (2014, February 13). Psychologist shows why talking to kids really matters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from
  4. University of Washington. (2014, January 6). Babbling babies – responding to one-on-one 'baby talk' helps master more words. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from
  5. Wiley. (2014, August 4). Maternal singing during skin-to-skin contact benefits both preterm infants, mothers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from
  6. Women & Infants Hospital. (2014, February 20). Premature infants benefit from adult talk, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Potty Training - Is Two the Golden Rule?

Toddler Toilet Training - Is Two the Golden Rule?

Recently my newly two year old and I began the path of toilet training. In looking for answers about the perfect age to train I came across the following:

Starting Before Two

Parents who have to meet a toilet training deadline for preschool can find relief knowing that children can communicate potty needs as early as 3 months. In several studies reported on children who, as young as 3 months, were trained how to control their bladders on cue. In a 2011 study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal results were inconclusive regarding the best age to train. The researchers shared that toilet training is a complex process affected by physical, cognitive and behavioral conditions. The authors did however issue a call to further explore urinary tract infections and daytime wetting as a negative outcome of starting after the age of two. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting toilet training as early as 18 months old for a child shows an interest in the process.

Starting After Two

Researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School completed a study in 2010 and suggested the ideal age range to begin toilet training as 2 and 2 years 8 months. This particular study found that starting after 2 but before 3 was more important than how a child was trained. A study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that children who are potty-trained before 2 were at an increased risk of later wetting problems. In addition, this study found that early trainers were three times more likely to complain of constipation than those who started later.

The Mayo Clinic suggests waiting until the child is two and:
·         shows an interest in the toilet or wearing underwear;
·         is able to follow basic instructions;
·         is able to show or tell you when they need to go;
·         is able to stay dry for at least two hours during the day;
·         is uncomfortable in dirty or wet diapers;
·         is able to pull down his or her pants and pull them up again and  
·         can sit on and get up from the toilet.

In summary, there is nothing magical about the age two. If parents opt to train early or late and are meticulous about making sure their children go on a regular schedule training will be successful.
Parents should start when both the parent and the child is ready. Parents should also be empowered to take a break and start again if they believe to have started too early.

Happy Parenting!

Visit the articles cited below for more information about the recommendations mentioned in this blog.

Articles Cited

  1. Canadian Medical Association Journal. (2011, August 9). When and how to toilet train children. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from
  2. Kaerts, N., Van Hal, G., Vermandel, A., & Wyndaele, J. J. (2012). Readiness signs used to define the proper moment to start toilet training: a review of the literature. Neurourology and urodynamics, 31(4), 437-440.
  3. Mayo Clinic (2014). Infant and toddler Health. Potty training: How to get the job done. Mayo Center Staff. Retrieved October 10, 2014 from
  4. Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. (2010, January 11). Best time to toilet train children pinpointed through research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from

  5. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. (2014, October 7). Potty training before age two linked to increased risk of later wetting problems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My First Blog

Welcome to my first blog post! Three years ago as a new mom, I became a student of parenting. 

My experience searching for answers lead me to create this blog. In this blog, I will compile and share scientific evidence to help parents and caregivers make informed parenting decisions. Like the “5 second rule”, this blog will provide parenting shortcuts backed by research in order to help navigate parenting.

I encourage you to read my posts and share your comments. My hope is to present research evidence in a friendly way so that moms, dads and caregivers will be able to make informed decisions about parenting. 

Happy Parenting!