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Car Seat Safety

Car Seat Safety

I was attempting to write a post about car seat safety, but I soon realized that while I can speak about certain common mistakes, there are some car seat safety rules I needed refreshing on myself.

Savanna’s Safety/Happy Ride Tips:

  • Make sure your car seat is secure! It should be snuggly fitted to the seat, and depending on your baby’s weight, rear or forward facing.
  • Tighten those straps! Straps should be very snug around babies shoulders, you should not be able to put a finger between strap and baby.
  • Remove thick sweaters, coats and snowsuits! I see people making this common mistake, not only do thick sweaters and jackets prevent you from tightening the straps correctly, they also cause your baby to overheat. Overheating for infants can be especially dangerous, and for older babies and toddlers it’s uncomfortable. Your baby will, understandably becoming very irritable within seconds of being in the car.  A screaming, hot uncomfortable baby is no fun when you’re stuck in traffic.
  • Don’t leave too small objects in arms-reach of baby! (chocking hazard: everything you leave in back with your child, unsupervised, should be bigger than the cardboard tube used for toilet paper.
  • For longer rides, make sure your baby is comfy! Make sure to dress baby in light, comfy clothing.  Give your baby a clean, dry diaper, and make sure babe has been recently fed. Have a water or milk bottle close by and a toy (bigger than toilet paper role).

Resource Tips: So, to supplement this advice, is some real car seat safety from Parents.com. Obviously there are better, maybe more credible sources, but I think this one is a little more accessible. I specifically like tip #5, I didn’t know the positioning for this, but luckily have be doing it right!

Mistake #5: Using the retainer clip incorrectly
Test your seat: The retainer clip should be at armpit level, resting across your child’s breastbone. The clip assures that the harness straps are in the right place.

The danger: When the retainer clip is in the wrong place, the straps can easily slip off a child’s shoulders, and the child is at risk of being ejected from her seat in a crash.

Fast fix: Parents often move the clip as they maneuver their child out of the seat, so check the clip’s position every time you buckle up.

For other tips check out these sites:

Safercare.gov

AAP

SafeNY

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Pink Guns

UnknownSemi-new action toys have come out, and they’re pink.  The color pink has become controversial in its own right, but throwing weaponry into the mix brings up a whole new set of dialogue, “Why pink? Why weapons? Should girls and boys be playing out aggression? Are weapons bad? Are pink weapons bad? Is aggression good?…” Where I live, most parents are anti-fake weapon play.  The mere pointing of a stick with the added “pow-pow” nearly brings parents to tears, likely fearing this role-play is somehow indicative of their parenting and the adult their kid will grow up to be.  I am not apart of this mode of thinking. Kids role-play all sorts of things, they pretend to be a dog or a turtle, and yet we don’t fear children will grow up to have be “furries” or “plushies”. cc_subculture_lead_130220_wmain Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Exclusive Golden Edge Bow by Hasbro is being talked about simply because it’s pink.  Toy weaponry is old hat. The focal point of the new weaponry toys is that they’re pink.  Nerf guns have been around for years, in varying blues, oranges, greens and blacks, and while Nerf guns have suffered some criticism revolving around the presumed aggression, or warfare the gun may promote, I can assure you the criticism never once revolved around the color.  Unknown-1 So why now? Why does pink, and all things typically female create such cultural upheaval?  We all know the argument against pink, I’ve written about it before, i.e., “pink is bad, it upholds gender stereotyping and women’s oppression.” Or something like this. First of all, a color cannot do these things, that’s just absurd.  Second of all, we shouldn’t look at something that loosely represents an idea of “female”, and chastise it, we should embrace it and change whatever negative meaning it might have held. In order to progress, and continue equality among men we need to actually think that Women are equal, and not place blame on things like pink, makeup, tight clothes, etc., to each their own.  And while I don’t wear pink or know how to properly apply make-up, I also don’t think that these things in anyway represent, or are cause for women’s oppression. I urge you to think about this topic. Consider what the color pink and weaponry play means to you, and why.  Read the New York Times post I linked to about the new “girl” Nerf guns, written by Hilary Stout and Elizabeth A. Harris.  I’d love to see some comments about this topic!

Shifting Ideas: Parenting Books

While I was reading Nurture Shock, by PO Bronson Ashley Merryman, this was a while ago, something came to me about how dramatically parenting styles shift.  This isn’t so much shocking as just simply annoying.  How do parents and caregivers stay on track when the theories on child rearing are constantly in flux, when do we get to just stay still and know we, parents and caregivers, are in fact doing everything right?

….NEVER.

I despise most parenting books, not because the advice in one given book is intrinsically bad, or harmful to society.  I despise the parenting book epidemic, because when we take one parenting book on attachment parenting, and one book on, well just anything else, and mix them together in the brain of one mom or dad,  then these books do become harmful.  Again, not because anything in them is particularly wrong, but because the different styles, and modes of parenting discussed are all different, and in the end don’t help parents and or caregivers do what they do any better. The mix of these books usually only create insecure and ultimately, and most disruptively, inconsistent parenting styles–where an all goes type of parenting happens. And trust me, this does not bode well for anyone, from parents to child to outside caregiver.

I think this is why I liked Nurture Shock so much, Nurture Shock, while it talked about parenting, and children, the book basically stayed clear of any child rearing styles which are not based on science.  Nurture Shock primarily dealt with childrens’ brain chemistry, and based on extensive research essentially shut down many parenting philosophies.

My point is, the moment I had was this.  While I liked and found value in Nurture Shock I also take the studies and the purpose of the studies with a grain of salt, the same I do with other parenting books, well maybe a tablespoon of salt for Nurture Shock, because, and this is the important part….  I take it lightly because I realize that the theories discussed in this book, like most other parenting/child rearing books will one day be disproved, yet with another scientific study.  Why?  Because our research is guided by where we are economically, socially and where we wish to be in the future.

When time, moral codes and cultural shifts occur, so does our idea of good, or right parenting.  We theorize and parent based on theories which claim to uphold or produce a specific type of person.  We perform attachement parenting, or cry it out method, not because it is necessarily easy at the time, but because we picture these things affecting and making up the adults our children will become, and this is good… kind of.  We should imagine, and think about our parenting and caregiving styles as something that will directly affect the adults babies will become.  But we should also know that this too will change.

Rosie Revere, Engineer: A

imagesI love this book! Written by Andrea Beaty, Rosie Revere, Engineer is a inspirational children’s book about not giving up. This book will motivate children, and adults to get going on the projects we love, specifically those we don’t succeed at the first time.  The illustrations by David Roberts are fantastic, possibly a little circus-esque-scary but wonderful and full of life.

“She handed a notebook to Rosie Revere, who smiled at her aunt as it all become clear.  Life might have it’s failures, but this was not it.  The only true failure can come if you quit.”

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The New York Times published some excerpts from Ron Suskind’s “Life, Animated.” This is an amazing piece about Suskind’s son Owen, who suffers from autism and how Owen found language and emotional connection through Disney.  Suskind gives a new outlook, and perspective on autism.

“When Owen was 3, his comprehension of spoken words collapsed. That’s clear from every test. But now it seems that as he watched each Disney movie again and again, he was collecting and logging sounds and rhythms, multitrack. Speech, of course, has its own subtle musicality; most of us, focusing on the words and their meanings, don’t hear it. But that’s all he heard for years, words as intonation and cadence, their meanings inscrutable. It was like someone memorizing an Akira Kurosawa movie without knowing Japanese. Then it seems he was slowly learning Japanese — or, rather, spoken English — by using the exaggerated facial expressions of the animated characters, the situations they were in, the way they interacted to help define all those mysterious sounds. That’s what we start to assume; after all, that’s the way babies learn to speak. But this is slightly different because of the way he committed these vast swaths of source material, dozens of Disney movies, to memory. These are stored sounds we can now help him contextualize, with jumping, twirling, sweating, joyous expression, as we just managed with “The Jungle Book.”

…………..
There’s a reason — a good-enough reason — that each autistic person has embraced a particular interest. Find that reason, and you will find them, hiding in there, and maybe get a glimpse of their underlying capacities. In our experience, we found that showing authentic interest will help them feel dignity and impel them to show you more, complete with maps and navigational tools that may help to guide their development, their growth. Revealed capability, in turn, may lead to a better understanding of what’s possible in the lives of many people who are challenged.”

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Feminism Vs. Dolls in Nanny Magazine

Feminism Vs. Dolls: Nanny Magazine

My piece “Feminism Versus Dolls” is now available to read in Nanny Magazine, and below!

FEMINISM VERSUS DOLLS: A NANNY’S THOUGHTS ON PINK TOYS

Flickr Commons courtesy of Jason Pratt

Flickr Commons courtesy of Jason Pratt

by savanna fox

One of the underappreciated skills a nanny possesses is being able to adapt to different parenting styles. A nanny, at some point in her career, will enter into a household unrecognizable from the one in which she herself was raised. It could be a house with same-sex parents or opposite-sex parents, one with processed foods or an in-home chef. The girls we care for may not be allowed to play with girl-gendered toys, or only girl-gendered toys, where pink and all things female are shooting out from every crevice in her bedroom.

While some of the choices a parent makes may seem baffling, the exposure to these different styles and methods can encourage us to grow and think constructively. Let’s, for instance, think about the gendered-toys I just mentioned. In recent years there has been a cultural backlash against the hypergendered-toy market, especially in the “pink aisle”. This backlash has stimulated a gender-neutral movement in general, from gender-neutral toys to gender-neutral colors and names. However, for some people, gender-neutral isn’t always good enough.

WHEN “IT” STARTED

The first time I heard a mother say “I never want my daughter to play with dolls; I only want her to play with trucks,” I was flooded with memories from gender studies classes in college, classes in which we discussed the potential evils of Barbie, baby dolls, and both the colors blue and pink. We theorized that these gendered toys and colors were upholding patriarchal structures and the harmful subversion of women.

I immediately felt a sense of camaraderie with the mother, thinking she too was aware of the social and feminist issues that take root in our young. By removing female-gendered toys, she was attempting to push back against outside gendering the world would inflict, both socially and professionally, on her daughter. I presumed this mother knew that statistically her daughter would likely earn less money than her male counterparts, be overlooked for promotions, feel pressure to have kids, and to look a certain way, just to name a few of the feminist issues children are still too young to have to struggle with. At the time, I believed that this mother, myself, and others like us were invoking positive feminist theory by engaging in and enforcing gendered-toy monitoring, but were we?

THINKING DIFFERENTLY

As a nanny in a progressive Brooklyn neighborhood, I continued to hear similar parenting qualms with specifically girl-gendered toys and I found myself questioning this “no dolls” logic. Weren’t we oversimplifying the source of gender separation, especially because the idea and practice consistently excluded boys from the same toy monitoring?

I believe the “no dolls” parenting fad, while masked with claims of relief from gender, patriarchy, and sexism, is severely flawed. How did we transition from believing that we are a gendered society and that some toys are gendered to removing specifically girl-gendered toys from biologically female girls and introducing opposite-gendered toys (e.g., trucks)? Does the removal of one gendered toy and the introduction of another equally gendered toy break down gender barriers? Or do we simply reinforce gender differences by acknowledging the legitimacy of gendered toys?

GENDERED-TOY MONITORING

The driving force behind the ban on dolls practice seems to be the fear that providing young girls with girl-gendered toys will pressure our daughters or female charges into subservient roles, both socially and professionally. Are we worried that toys that appear to typify stereotypical female characteristics of image over substance, nurturer over logician, will lead girls to only want to become stay-at-home moms, caregivers, cooks, and wives? Are these fears valid? And are these career and lifestyle choices inherently bad or digressive to the feminist movement?

While the fear of a gender-coercive world is real, girls’ choices to inhabit these roles are not bad or harmful to the feminist movement. People should be aware, though, that their children will have outside pressure to embody the ideals of “male” and “female”. But I do not think the knowledge of a hyper and yet unattainable embodiment of male and female warrants actions that disembody girls from all things female. Aren’t we just limiting our daughter’s options in the name of feminism?

The fundamental misstep occurs when the parent substitutes boy-gendered toys for their daughter’s girl-gendered toy collection. This action contradicts the feminist movement instead of upholding it by taking away choice and associating feminism with women’s likening to male, to becoming more male rather than being equal. The core of feminism is choice; limiting it is precisely what we are fighting against.

MALE VS. FEMALE

Substituting male playthings for female ones also devalues classical female roles. While on the one hand we are saying “no” to dolls, we are confusingly and simultaneously saying “yes” to typically male-gendered toys. In this scenario, not only are gender dichotomies upheld, sexism is amplified by highlighting the perceived differences between male and female gender norms.

The embedded message in the “no dolls, only trucks” practice is that classical female roles are less important than male roles. It appears as though sexism can be avoided so long as women don’t enter into the hyper-female roles that girl toys may represent (e.g., motherhood, the housewife, caregiver, and cook). By practicing gendered-toy monitoring, parents instill in their daughters and sons the idea that sexism only exists when a woman chooses a classically female, or not male, role in society.

STIGMA IN CHILDCARE

This reasoning places feminism in conflict with the stay-at-home-mom and all classically female roles. I myself have been subject to the stay-at-home-mom stigma because I’ve chosen to be a nanny. The stigma surrounding my career choice is clearly in conflict with my peers’ original image of me as a “strong, educated, feminist female.” When I tell my peers that I’m a professional nanny, I am greeted with awkward silences followed by statements like, “I need to really work and use my brain to be stimulated.” These comments directly demonstrate that classically female roles are not considered “real work” unless performed by a man. Men are often rewarded and praised if they choose to dedicate any portion of their lives to “female” work. Stay-at-home-dads are all the rage these days, or so it seems.

Is this what we aspire to teach future generations, that one can only be a feminist or a radical if she engages in what has been culturally determined to be “male” work? Don’t our very acts of toy monitoring only further set up a world where male and female continue at odds, where “female” maintains its subversion through the praise and likening to “male”?

THE REAL PROBLEM

Baby dolls, Barbie, the colors blue and pink are just things. They are symptoms of our errors in thinking, not the cause. I believe it’s important to remember that toys only carry as much cultural weight as we put on them. Toy dolls are not responsible for sexism, people are. When we blame objects for sexism and negative gender dichotomies, what we do, by accident, is push aside the real issue, which is our way of thinking, making it harder for us to find the real source of the problem, and thus, the problem persists.

The reality of the “no dolls, only trucks” practice does not instill feminist values. It does not teach you or the children you care for how to effectively address issues of gender coercion or sexism. Instead of addressing, teaching, and educating on issues of equality, feminism, and gender difference, toy monitoring only reinforces gender differences and women’s subversion. There is no gender neutrality when parents substitute one gendered toy for an equally gendered toy.

WHAT TO DO

If toy monitoring isn’t an effective tool against gendering and patriarchal structures, then how do we address these issues? How do we effectively as individuals and caregivers continue to pursue this topic for our children and ourselves?

I believe the best way to address these issues is to constantly maintain a dialogue with our peers and the children in our care. We should question both the short-term and long-term effects of our chosen parenting and coparenting, styles, not just turn a blind eye to the inconsistencies in logic. As long as caregivers and parents create and maintain an environment that stimulates conversations and encourages creative play of all kinds, the dangers of gendered-toy play should be limited.

Caregivers, unfortunately, will be limited in addressing some of these issues, unless specifically asked their opinion, in which case it’s good to be informed. Issues of feminism, gender, and sexism should be a topic for all.

If the family you work for is against baby dolls but their daughter is obsessed with them, point out that baby dolls can be a useful social tool. Children can learn how to relate to themselves and how to become a big sister or brother, for starters. Role playing is important and will likely happen with or without a baby doll. Gender divides, while they exist, are not concrete. Children learn how to gender themselves from the adults in their lives. You can remind the parents that inanimate objects don’t speak, they can’t have real back and forth dialogue with them, but you can.

Quinoa and Veggie Recipe

I’m not a great cook, hence the simplicity of this thrown together “recipe” but, it’s a staple I make for the child I watch.  I switch up the veggies depending on whats in the house.IMG_4094

1 cup quinoa

2 cups veggie broth (you can use water or chicken broth too)

Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.

Vegetables: I roast zucchini and sweet potatoes in light olive oil and saute spinach (great for an iron boost.)  Mix quinoa and veggies together and enjoy.