Butt Rash?

There’s almost nothing sadder than a baby with horrible diaper rash-they cry, they scream, and they stiffen up like a board when you try to, ever-so-gentily, wipe their bottom.

Unknown-1Best Solutions:  I personally like to let baby/toddler lay or walk around the house Winnie the Pooh style, that is diaperless. Obviously the risk factor is you might end up with poop or pee on the ground, or on you.  To avoid this take baby or toddler to the toilet directly after feedings, you can kind of use the elimination communication practice.  I recommend throwing on clothes you don’t care much about. If you have carpeting or rugs try to keep them out of those rooms, hardwood or tile will be much easier to clean!  If your baby isn’t crawling or walking, and you want to lay her down, put down a clean, old blanket or towel so she can get some comfy floor time. Besides for the possible accidents, the diaperless method works the best, especially for the more severe rashes.

Boudreaux’s Butt Paste:  This stuff works pretty well, it weirds me out, just a little, because it’s so thick, but it works! You can also do a combination of the paste and naked bottom.

Prevention:  The best way to prevent a rash is by frequently changing your little one’s diaper. Many parent’s I know comment that their children get the most rashes when they spend a full day with grandparents.  I’m definitely not dissing the G-parents, but remember that it’s ok to remind them to change diapers, they might forget because it’s been a long time since they had to do it.  Just casually, not bitterly, remind your parents or in-laws to change them.  You can even blame it on yourself, “I find myself forgetting to change his diaper every 2 hours or so, time just flies and then all of the sudden his diaper is full and his bum it bright red!”

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Wise Words from Kitzinger

“Babies speak a language that needs to be learned.  And with each baby you need to start discovering this one’s special language.  It takes time.  Meanwhile there us confusion, and irritation that the baby’s messages are not clearer, and that your own efforts to understand are not appreciated.  You have read books about child care, but somehow the baby is not playing by the rules. Remember that, though you are trying your best, your baby has not read the same books.”- Sheila Kitzinger (The Year After Childbirth)

Splinters

When your baby or toddler gets a splinter, first, don’t panic. It’s just a splinter. Second, deal with it, don’t let the splinter stick around.  Don’t force it out with tweezers, or dig at it with a needle the way you might with yourself.

Instead of digging around in your child’s skin with tweezers use a warm washcloth to ease the splinter out.  Tweezers can push the splinter and bacteria deeper in, and cause unnecessary pain.

Press a warm and clean washcloth over the skin where the splinter is, and try to hold the cloth there for 5 minutes if possible.  Repeat this multiple times in the day until the splinter emerges.  If your child gets frustrated from this, take a break.

Bath-time is a great opportunity to sneak this in; your child will be distracted and also isolated to the tub, making it easier for you.  If it isn’t bath-time, just plop your kid in anyway, they’ll enjoy just playing in the tub.

Stay Calm

Parents, nannies, and friends often wonder at my “ability” to stay calm and patient when dealing with children, especially toddlers.  I’m commonly asked shyly, sometimes bitterly, by parents and nannies how I remain so calm when “They walk so slow…Ask the same question over and over…Have a tantrum.”

My ability to remain calm and patient isn’t because I have a super power calm/patient gene. To the contrary, I’m quite impatient in daily life, when dealing with adults.  I am calm and patient with children because I consciously decide that being calm, patient and taking the time to listen and explain is the best way to teach kids these behaviors.

First off, let me say I too get frustrated.  Even after my conscious, educated decision that this “is the best way of parenting and co-parenting.”  I have moments when I too would like to move at a reasonable pace. I think, perhaps we will make it one full block without 5-10, stoop-stops, pebble- stops, adjustments of exactly what she wants to carry as we walk-stops.

During these moments of frustration, I remind myself that we are moving so slowly, that I need to repeat exactly why we have to leave the sandbox, not because I’m dealing with a fall-over, incoherent drunk, but a small child, who does deserve patience and explanations as she learns how to walk and talk and everything else.  I remind myself how wonderful it is that she takes everything in, and then I too can look at the scenery and smell the flowers with her—because when do we do this as adults in New York City?

Remember that letting your child walk allows him to practice new skills, gives him independence and even tuckers him out for a later nap.  This isn’t an anything goes experience, if you actually have to be somewhere explain to your baby/toddler why you must carry him or put him in the stroller.

Here are some tips to get you through the slow walks, and repetitive conversations:

Every day, multiple times a day, remind yourself that everything is going to take two-times as long, and that is okay.

I learned long ago to never stress about time when dealing with toddlers (an attribute I do not maintain in my adult, daily life: I am known as extremely, and maybe annoyingly punctual.)  If you, like myself, have always been a punctual, quick paced person, the slow movements of your life with a toddler will be a more difficult transition.

Assess if you actually have to be somewhere, or if you’re just ready to leave.

When you are asking your toddler to move faster because you “have to go!” assess what exactly you need to leave for.  We are in the habit, especially as New Yorkers, of going places, doing things.  Because of this on-the-go-mentality, we often assume after being somewhere for 20 minutes that we “MUST” leave, but maybe that isn’t true. If you don’t actually have to be somewhere, like a playdate, or doctor appointment let your toddler walk. He has just learned this amazing new thing, so be patient and take your time.  Remember that when you are calm and patient, you are simultaneously teaching him calmness and patience.

Getting ready to go:

So, you do have to be somewhere.  Allot two-four times the amount of time to get yourself, and baby/toddler ready.

My ease with children and the reason I don’t stress about time is because I allot a significant, literally two to four times, more time to get myself and baby ready, and the same goes for getting to the place.  If we are going on foot to a play-date, doctor appointment, class, etc., I decide beforehand whether we are going to take the stroller, or just walk.  I try as much as I can to allow enough time for her to walk, at least part of the way.   A walk that would take me 10 minutes, I decide will take me, and toddler 40 minutes and I leave the house accordingly (Yes, I know I tacked on 30 minutes for a one way trip-this gives us leeway, so I’m not stressed.)

Get everything you can get ready while baby/toddler naps.

I always get her diaper bag stocked with the things I’ll need, or might need.  If we’re out for the day this means any of the below:

-Water/milk bottles.

-Diapers.

-Wet whips.

-Bib.

-Extra cloth bib, for other cleanups.

-Change of clothes.

-A book or 2.

-Food (If you’re out for lunch or dinner.)

-Blanket.

-Hat.

-Sunscreen.

-Bathing suit.

-Sweater.

*Have yourself ready too!

Prepare them for the activity.

While you’re getting your baby/toddler ready to go, explain what you guys are doing (As I describe in my previous post “Baby Talk.”)  Prepare them for the activity, this will help them understand they are apart of it and can also be a motivator for them to move more quickly.

Ask them to keep walking with you and explain why.

If we are in a time-crunch, I’ll ask her nicely to “come along,” and I’ll explain to her why we need to move faster, with information that will likely excite her. “We have to get home to see Mama and Dada…We have a playdate with (name of good friend).” Filling them in on the details is always helpful, especially if what you’re doing is fun.

If you need them to move faster, be fun and make a game out of it!

Another nanny, and mother, I know sings a cute song while marching, the kids love it and always happily follow along.

Remember that like everyone, toddlers are going to be less likely to be motivated by an irritated tone. Stay calm and relaxed. Speak to them kindly, not only for their benefit, but for yours as well.  If you speak in a calm voice with some excitement about what you are doing, it will motivate them, and also, amazingly, make you excited and will rid you of your irritation.

Baby Talk

Most parents have read enough baby books to know talking to their baby while in the womb is crucial. This communication, the sound of your voice, will be a future comfort for your infant (even though your voice will sound distorted.) But what about once the baby is born?  What do you talk about?  It’s easy to see the discomfort while parents attempt to talk to their infant; by trying on different tonal patterns, speaking in baby-talk and searching for conversation topics which might interest their baby. The discomfort largely has to do with the fact that infants are terrible conversationalists, the other end is that we just don’t know what or how to talk to our infants.

I think there are two major things parents/nannies are unsure of when talking to their infant.  The first order of business is how to talk to them; do you talk in your normal voice, or do you raise the pitch? Do you speak in proper sentences with proper pronunciation, or speak in “baby talk”? Second, what do you talk about? Do you talk in long personal monologues or pointed conversations involving your infant, or both?

How to Talk:

Tip: Think about how you want to talk to your baby.

While it can be tempting to talk to your infant in a higher pitch and baby-talk nonsensical “sentences”, I try to avoid this form of communication.  We, as parents and nannies, are their model for verbal communication. Don’t we want to teach them the proper way to speak, form sentences and communicate at large?

Tip: Say words correctly.

I fight the urge to talk like this, “Who’s a tubby-wubby tummy flubber?” because I think pronouncing words correctly is important for our future talkers. I make sure to annunciate, use short and concise language and I even raise my pitch on occasion. I say, “I love you.” Instead of, “I wub you.”

Tip: Break your language down.

Remember to break your language down, so that words will be more accessible to your child when they are able to talk. Use words they will be able to say, don’t say she’s “flabbergasted” say she’s “shocked”. If you are a linguist remember that “big words” will be more difficult for your baby to say, so save your vocabulary for adults.

Be concise with your sentences, and avoid complicated grammar.  Don’t say, “Although when the temperature is appropriate this would be a lovely toy to utilize, today a storm is forecasted, so let’s just play with the ball.” Instead say, “It might rain, so we will stay inside and play with the ball.”

Tip: Be consistent.

In order for your child to understand, and eventually use words, they need to understand the words: both how to say them and how to use them. Be consistent with your words, decide what word you will use to describe something and continue to use that word, repetition is the best way for your baby learn language.  If you decide to refer to your baby’s stomach as “belly” then use that word every time. And use repetition, “This is your belly, can you touch your belly?  Can you show me your belly?”

What to talk about:

Tip: Involve your infant in the conversation.

A lot of your communication with your infant will be talking about whatever comes to mind.  A running monologue of your daily activities together is great, keep doing it, but also involve her in the conversation.  Ask your baby questions, even though she can’t respond, this shows her that you’re interested. “How was your nap? Do you want to eat? Do you like this book?”  Your perceived patience and willingness to involve her will give space for her to communicate when she can verbally or physically do so.

Tip: Take time to describe and explain.

I believe asking questions, and taking the time to describe and explain things in detail will promote verbal communication, and makes for “good-listeners”.  Babies learn communication skills through us, they learn listening, and verbal techniques by watching and hearing us listen and talk.

They will replicate our actions, so pay attention to their moods, and ask them questions about how they are feeling, even if they can’t verbally respond. Ask your infant/toddler why she is upset, happy, frustrated, etc., then repeat what she either shows you or tells you. “You’re upset because you can’t touch the stove?  I understand, but the stove is a thing for big people…” Acknowledging how they feel and giving them language to describe their feelings shows them you care, and will be patient with them, characteristics I’m sure we all want our children to have.

Tip: Explain EVERYTHING.

Explain everything, how things feel, the purpose of objects, safety, etc. It’s easy as adults to take for granted all of the things we know without ever consciously thinking about it.  Remember that your infant, baby, toddler does not know how to describe things, what things are and what they are used for (windows, fans, stoves, etc.,) so explain everything. Instead of ignoring your child’s screams explain why you are lathering her in sunscreen for the 5th time, “I know you don’t like this but sunscreen is important, it protects our skin.” It will be soothing for your baby because you’re acknowledging their frustration, but you’re also filling them in on what’s happening.

Tip: Think about what can be a learning opportunity for both your child and you.

If your infant pulls your hair, bites your nipple, or does something that is too rough, take this opportunity to explain how to be gentle.  This is not a moment to reprimand your infant, because she does not know “right” from “wrong” but begin to teach her these things when they happen. Explain being gentle both with words and show her with your touch what “gentle” means; lightly touch her arm, or the place on her body where she was rough with you and say the word “gentle” or “soft”.

This is also an important learning opportunity for the parent/nanny, because you will need to learn how to explain and show your child acceptable vs. unacceptable behaviors, so start early.  Beginning conversations of safety and behaviors early will prepare you for when you will have to do it daily, when your baby becomes a toddler.