Making Tooth Brushing Fun (AKA Getting Them To Brush For Themselves)

We’re lucky in that our little guy never really had an aversion to having his teeth brushed. I can’t say that he enjoyed it, but once it was established that we brushed teeth after meals he would consistently endure the process. That said, he would NOT take the initiative and work the brush on his own. It was definitely a task for Mom or Dad to initiate and perform.

How did we get past this? We bought him an electric toothbrush.

Actually, we bought ourselves electric toothbrushes first so he could see that it was the way we brushed our teeth and established it as something adults do, whereas the non-electric brushing was something for kids. Next we bought him his own and just set it down in front of him. He’d already seen how ours worked, so he was interested to see if this new brush would work the same way. Note as well that the brush we chose prominently featured characters from the movie Cars.

Surprise, surprise, by that evening he was turning it on and off and actually doing a pretty good job of brushing his teeth. At this point he takes the first stab after each meal and either Mom or Dad will bat clean-up and make sure that all areas are scrubbed. Best of all, if WE forget to get his toothbrush he’s sure to remind us!

We ended up getting him an Oral B Stages toothbrush for those interested.

Good luck all :)

Potty Training. An Update On Our Toddler

Last post I referenced an article that suggested one should not push potty training given that toddlers are generally fully capable of using the toilet, but for whatever reason choose not to. Further, that pushing them to use the potty rather than diaper can lead to issues like constipation now and later in life. We opted to follow this counsel in part due to the readings we found, and in part given the feedback from our daycare provider who has seen many, many children over the years of all personalities and schedules. I’m glad we did.

About four weeks ago our little one began to use the toilet much more frequently. Today it is the exception for him to soil is diaper vs. tell us that he has to use the potty and walk upstairs on his own to do so. Initially it was progress at home only, with reliance on diapers whenever we were traveling, or at someone else’s home. Roughly three weeks ago he decided that using the potty at his Grandfather’s place was ok, and earlier this week this willingness was extended to his Grandmother’s as well.

We’ve taken potty training / toilet related books out of rotation so as to remove any additional stress and it seems to be working well. We do asks occasinally if we’re at a time that typically would have seen toilet use, but otherwise leave him to tell us when he needs to go. We do cheer him on whenever he says he needs to go, and accompany him to the bathroom cheering all the way.

Now, granted we still use incentives as part of the exercise and have no immediate plans to remove these, but progress is progress and we’re thrilled, as is he! It’s been several days since the last time he woke up with #2 in his diaper, or didn’t make it to the toilet in time in the morning. Number 1 remains an issue, but its improving as well.

Next steps? Pull-ups and underwear when he’s ready, and having him wipe on his own.

Progress!

Potty Training And The Argument For Not Starting Early

Our son is continuing to work on his toilet training, having just passed the three year mark. I have to admit that it’s been a source of some frustration for me since a) I know he knows when he needs to use the toilet and is able to do so should he choose, b) he often doesn’t choose to when there’s something more interesting going on and of course c) many of the other children at his daycare are already toilet trained or well on their way to being so (shame on me for allowing this last item to influence me).

Today I stumbled across an article that suggests that the approach most parents seem to be taken these days is misguieded.
The article is here: A Doctor Responds: Don’t Potty Train Your Baby

I’ve pulled out some of the more interesting statements to whet your appetite.

The Oniciucs may be thrilled and proud that their daughter knows how to hold her pee and poop, but from my perspective, they should be concerned. For proper bladder development, young children need to pee and poop without inhibition.

And:

In toilet-trained children, chronic holding is the root cause of virtually all toileting problems, including daytime pee and poop accidents, bedwetting, urinary frequency and urinary tract infections.

Oh, and let’s not forget:

In truth, mastering the toilet has nothing to do with brainpower. Parents who wait until later to train their children aren’t treating babies as “stupid” and neither are they lazy; they’re wisely allowing their child’s bladder to develop in a healthy manner.

Enjoy!

Holding Your Child Back A Year From Kindergarten. AKA “Redshirting”

Today was the first time I’d heard this concept referred to as redshirting and frankly it made me chuckle in the context of kids and kindergarten. It was NOT the first time I’d heard the concept discussed as it’s surfaced many times over the past year, particularly in discussions with some of our friends in the southern US.

What is redshirting? Redshirting in the context of kids and kindergarten is the practice of holding your child back from kindergarten for a year (usually) because they are born later in their calendar year. The reasons I’ve heard are so that a) your child isn’t that much younger, and potentially further behind developmentally (I would think this would be more a reflection of the child’s personal developmental stage rather than something that should be decided purely based on age), b) your child isn’t significantly smaller than some of the older children (some folks mentioning sports / physical activity abilities as well as their ability to generally hold their own on the playground).

I’m against the practice as a general, age-based decision. Purely based on age, I’m against it. Based on developmental stage and your child’s personal needs I’m all for it. The increase in consideration of redshirting strikes me as a symptom of some issues at the parental-level that might be better addressed or focused on. Why are we concerned about sports ability of a child in kindergarten… shouldn’t we just be letting them explore their world with friends and leave the competition for a later date?

Anyway, the following article includes some additional thoughts and links that anyone reading this might find interesting. Enjoy.
Redshirting: to enter kindergarten or not… that is the question

Bereavement Rates on Westjet

I posted quite a while back on the strategy we used to ensure our pre-2 year old was left with a full seat during those two years when he was able to travel as a lap infant.

This post is one for those unforunate times when you might have to travel due to the loss of a family member. We recently found ourselves flying across Canada more than once in a short period of time due to illness, and unfortunately, ultimately the death of a close family member. Under the stress of the time we didn’t think to look into the options available to reduce the cost of this travel under such a circumstance. Westjet does offer bereavement fares and I wanted to call out a couple notes to share our experience.

1. Westjet bereavement fares don’t necessarily translate to a reduced fare price. If you have enough advanced notice to benefit from the lowest, or middle fare tranche you’re unlikely to get a discount on the price of the ticket. That said, by contacting Westjet and arranging for a bereavement ticket you will be provided with additional flexibility than you would have with a standard ticket. It was my experience that the bereavement fare ticket was priced at the same pricepoint as the middle tier tickets.

2. If you’re booking last minute and find yourself with only the most costly fare option available to you then calling Westjet for a bereavement fare ticket is definitely worthwhile. Not only will you gain the flexibility that goes along with the bereavement ticket, but you’ll find that Westjet will provide a discount on the ticket price itself.

3. If you forget to book a bereavement ticket, or weren’t aware at the time of booking you can contact Westjet and they will apply the benefit after the fact. For example, my wife and son joined me as I’d flown earlier to our destination. They booked day before and so paid the full fare price. We called Westjet several hours later and explained that our travel was due to a death in the family and they graciously revised their ticket to a bereavement fare, with the only cost being that they were reseated from their priority seats to positions further back in the plane. Definitely worth it so save almost $500 across two tickets.

I hope someone out there finds this helpful, because worrying about cost is the last thing you need when dealing with the death of a loved one.

Traveling With A Toddler. Crazy Seat Prices Over 2 Years Old

Ok, so our toddler is over 2 years old and we’ve benefited several times from the ‘lap infant’ policy of most airlines in the past. What’s got me is that this holiday two things have changed.

1. Our little guys, as stated above, is now over 2 years old and so no longer qualifies to be a lap infant. This despite the fact that I doubt he’ll sit in his seat for more than take-off and landing.
2. This year airfares in Canada are CRAZY!!! 3 people (2 adults, one toddler) flying from the west coast to Toronto totals almost $3,000. THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

This year we’re lucky and I was able to book our flights on points, but it wasn’t easy. The number of points required was higher than normal, and our program’s ‘partner airlines’ had conveniently blacked out the entire holiday season such that we weren’t able to get a direct flight and have to ping-pong through Chicago of all places (praying for no holiday snowstorms).

All this despite having booked a couple months in advance. Good times.

What makes it all the more frustrating is that a couple weeks ago I booked a work flight 5 days in advance that saw me bounce from Western Canada, to Salt Lake City, then to Silicon Valley then back to Canada and the entire trip cost less than $700. 5 days in advance.

Dear airlines. Please note that unless fares change this is likely to be the last holiday flight east for us for a long while. Further, it might help to ease the irritation if you didn’t have a UI that suggested that there would be some discount for children when there’s not. It’s very irritating to specify the number of adults, then the number of children and then be prompted what what age (greater than 2) the child is when there’s no change in fee. Might as well just ask how many passengers over 2 and be done with it, then allow the purchaser to confirm that there are adults with the group.

So irritated.

Halloween? What Halloween?

Ok, I’m disappointed, and more than a little relieved that our little one doesn’t really ‘get’ the whole Halloween thing. Why? West coast weather is why. No don’t get me wrong, what we experienced out here doesn’t hold a candle to the challenges faced by those folks on the East coast dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Not one bit, however it was unfortunate that on Halloween we experienced the heaviest downpours I can remember since I moved up here.

All you kids who didn’t make it to our door to take the candy on offer, I understand. If you come back today the candy’s all yours.

To those 7 brave souls (and the Stormtrooper parents) who did come by. My hat is off to you.

Exercise Ideas Needed For Rainy Winter Days In The Pacific Northwest

Walking in the woods in the Pacific Northwest

We live in the Pacific Northwest and as such, winter brings very little snow, but an absolute TON of rain and gray. Last year we managed pretty well as our little guy wasn’t terribly mobile, or at least didn’t require a large expanse in order to wear himself down. This winter promises to be different. VERY different. Thus far he’s occupied himself before bath time by running from the front deck window through the living room, dining room and kitchen over and over. While this does seem to tire him out, it reminds me of the monotony of a hamster wheel and I can’t bear to condemn him to that all season.

So, what are our choices?
1. Continue with the hamster wheel approach.
2. Ignore the rain, dress appropriately and get outside for walks anyway.
3. Look for activities insides elsewhere.
4. Have friends over, and vice versa.
5. Other?

At this point I’m looking at a combination of numbers 2, 3 and 4 :)
Coordinating activities elsewhere certainly seems like a good way to burn off energy, do it in a warm, dry environment and get the little guy playing with new friends (and allowing his mother and I to meet new people in the neighbourhood as well). My only pause with this relates to getting myself organized and learning what the city has to offer someone of his age, and coordinating this after childcare and between meals, bath time and sleep. Just writing it has me thinking it will easily tire him out, as it will us.

Ignore the rain and get outside anyway. This has been our weekend approach given a number of small parks in the area, well-groomed woods and a beach / seawall easily accessible. The challenge here being that someone of his age does not care about waterproofing or hypothermia which leads to attempts to launch himself into rather deep puddles despite being deep in the woods and only halfway through the walk. Good times, and requiring of planning for the unforeseen with additional backups boots, clothes etc on hand.

Have friends over. This one seemed to be the easiest and most obvious, but also the one that hasn’t come together cleanly at all. Short of quick visits on the way home from day care we’ve found challenges with coordinating with parents who have their own commitments in the evening, dinners planned and so forth. With post-day care pickups occurring at roughly 5pm that gives a short window before dinner followed by a short window between dinner and bath time. Add to this coordination across families and you can understand the challenges.

I would LOVE to hear how some other folk out there coordinate their weekdays and weekends in order to allow for playtime in the evenings with others as well as ensure appropriate, safe exercise / exhaustion before bed :)

Blast Off! Let The Terrible Twos Begin

Our son has decided that he’s not going to listen to us anymore. Well timed given that he turned two a little over a week ago. He’s now got either this scowl, or a blank stare for those times that we’ve caught up to him and are explaining the need to listen to mom & dad and respond appropriately. Good times.

Some recent examples:

Walking home from daycare and he suddenly runs toward the intersection. As we state, “Slow down please” and eventually “Stop” over and over, instead of slowing down as he once did, he continues head down into the street… or he would have had we not physically prevented him from doing so.

Time for bed. Notsomuch. Conveniently chooses to not hear us and continue playing with his toys (admittedly this one isn’t so new).

Going down stairs to bed. Where before he happily reversed down the stairs, for some reason he has a desire to proceed down forward on his bum. While in itself this might not be so bad, it is paired with his apparent inability to understand that he can fall easily from great heights.

And on and on it goes. Time to sit down with our daycare provider for some coaching.

Wrap these up in a couple of the better temper tantrums we’ve seen in his two years and there you have it.