10 Parenting Tips for Ages 0 to 5

mom falling asleep with infant child

by Kimberly Blaker

How to Win These Challenges

Despite the rewards of being a parent, each stage of your child’s development also brings its fair share of challenges. The following tips can help you overcome some common battles.

1. It’ll make you feel better.

Does your child protest taking yucky medicine? If so, mask the flavor by mixing it with strawberry or chocolate syrup. (“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!”)

2. Potty training challenge.

Offering toddlers rewards can work wonders with potty training. So fill a bowl or basket with small prizes, and let your toddler choose one each time he successfully uses the potty.

Keep it interesting by offering a variety of inexpensive prizes. Happy meal toys, stickers, gumball machine prizes, bite-size candy bars, mini Playdough containers, markers, or anything your toddler finds intriguing should do the trick.

3. Hair washing horrors.

Most youngsters love bath time play. But when it comes to washing their hair, you’d think you’re torturing them. Many young children hate water running down their faces. So fill the tub just 3 inches deep. Then roll up a rubber bathtub mat, and have your child lie on their back with the mat underneath their neck. With your child’s face above water level and head tilted back, the water will run away from your child’s face when you rinse. When you’re done, fill the tub a little more, and reward your child with playtime.

4. Binky battle.

Are you starting to think your toddler or preschooler will be heading off to school with a pacifier? If your child is really dependent on it, the best approach might be to wean your child gradually. Make a new rule that your toddler can have it only at nap time and bedtime. The added bonus is your toddler might be more cooperative at naptime and bedtime to have the pacifier. Once your child is adjusted to the weaning, take the final step, and eliminate it altogether.

5. The hellacious tantrum.

Parents often resort to a variety of ineffective tactics to bring tantrums to a halt. Usually, the best tactic is to ignore it, especially when you’re not in public, and your child isn’t acting aggressively. Just calmly state you’re leaving the room and will return when your child calms down. Then walk away. Your child will soon realize the tantrum isn’t going to help her get her own way. Removing yourself from the situation will also help you keep your cool and reduce the risk of caving in to your child.

6. You win some; you lose some.

When playing games with preschoolers, it’s tempting to always let them win. No one likes to see their child disappointed or storm off from losing. But learning to accept losing is essential to your child becoming a good sport. So the next time you play a game, allow your preschooler to lose. Then teach your child to shake the winner’s hand. Tell your child ‘good game,’ and praise your child for handling the loss like a good sport.

7. Eek! Germs.

It may seem counterintuitive, but exposure to bacteria is necessary to help kids build up their immune systems. So don’t be a germaphobe. It doesn’t mean you should intentionally expose your child to the flu or allow your toddler to crawl on the dirty bathroom floor. But allow your baby or child reasonable exposure to dirt and bacteria. If your toddler happens to eat a cracker that fell on the living room floor, don’t panic. Also, get your baby or child out of the house regularly for exposure to other people. Studies find kids exposed to infections earlier in life have greater immunity, so they’re less likely to be affected by exposure as they grow.

8. Sleep, baby, sleep.

Swaddling is a particularly useful way to get babies to sleep because it feels similar to what they experienced in the womb. Start by laying a blanket out flat in a diamond. Then flap the top corner over about 4 or 5 inches. Lay your baby on the blanket with the base of its head at the edge of the flap. Flap the right side and then the bottom over your baby. Then flap the left side over and wrap it around, so your baby is comfortably snug.

9. Can I have my bed back, please?

There’s a lot of debate over cosleeping. Although most experts agree, it’s really up to the preference of parents. There are both benefits and drawbacks for children and parents alike. But often, cosleeping becomes a ritual that parents never intended. Once it begins, it’s a challenge to get children back to sleeping in their own bed.

To take back ownership of your bed, tell your child, “you’re a big girl now, so it’s time to sleep in your own bed.” Then, sit in a chair right next to your child’s bed to keep him company, as Meri Wallace LCSW, in “6 Steps for Getting Your Child to Sleep Alone,” suggests. Over a few days, gradually move your chair further from your child’s bed. Once your child grows more comfortable, say you’re going to the bathroom or kitchen and will be right back, and do just as you promised. Eventually, your child will adjust to your absence and be able to go to bed alone.

10. One more bite, please.

There’s no doubt that vegetables top kids’ list of the most-unappetizing foods. That’s because vegetables tend to lack flavor in comparison to other foods. You can make veggies more palatable by adding sugar, salt, or fat, the flavors kids and adults often crave. Just keep it healthy by not overdoing the added ingredients.

An alternative, healthier approach is to reduce the sugary, salty, and fatty foods in your child’s diet. When the palate isn’t used to these additives, vegetables tend to taste better. Kids do still need a healthy amount of fat in their diets. But the American diet, even for kids, is far more fatty than is necessary.

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