Thursday, February 20, 2014

The 5 Major Mistakes You Are Making as a New Parent (...That You May Not Realize Until it's Too Late!)

Are you putting your child's health and safety at risk? There's a good chance you are... and you may not even realize it! This may be one of the most important posts I've ever written. Please share with other new parents - we need to make sure we're all up-to-date with this important information. I've made many of these mistakes myself : ( But I'm course-correcting early enough as to hopefully avoid long term effects on my children's health and wellness. And keeping them off The Dr. Phil Show.

The 5 Major Mistakes You Are Making as a New Parent (...That You May Not Realize Until it's Too Late!)

#1. Super-Sizing Kids' Portions
Do you know what a child's portion should REALLY be?
With news about America's obesity epidemic slapping us in the face every time we turn on the TV, you'd think we'd have this one figured out. But unfortunately, many of us do not. Me included. According to the American Dietetic Association, an appropriate portion size for our children is approximately 1 tablespoon of food for every year of life. So a two year old's portion is about 2 TBSP of food. A 4 year old, 4 TBSP. Experts say too much food is intimidating and discouraging for the child -- and SUPER frustrating for the parent who sees a full plate of food even when the child has sampled everything. Also - how many calories should your child be taking in per day? Generally, preschoolers need about 1,000 calories a day, elementary-school kids need about 1,400 calories, and middle and high-school students, about 1,600 to 2,500 calories a day depending upon activity level. The message here: think about how much food you are putting on your child's plate - and keep the rule of one tablespoon/year of life in mind.

#2. Avoiding the Dentist
Could your child have enamel hypoplasia?
It's more common than you think!
We can come up with a million excuses as to why our children don't need to go to the dentist. "Don't baby teeth just fall out anyway?" "We brush our child's teeth every day - that should be enough for this age group." "If we have to go, I'll just pay out-of-pocket. It's not like they'd need anything major done!" The truth of the matter is that your children's baby teeth are just as important as the permanent teeth. Oral health should start before the first tooth even erupts. As soon as they pop out of the womb, dentists recommend parents rub a damp washcloth over baby's gums to clear away harmful bacteria. When the first tooth erupts, brushing needs to begin. And approximately 6 months after that first tooth appears, your child needs to be visiting a dentist. Major dental issues can arise even among very young children including: enamel hypoplasia, baby bottle tooth decay and even gum disease. Treating your children's teeth can be just as expensive as treating your own. So don't risk not being covered with the proper dental benefits. Annual dental discount plans like Doc Wellbee offer family dental coverage for as little as $15 per month - and even reward you for going to the dentist! Don't set your children up for a lifetime of dental issues.

#3. Being Careless With Car Seats
Putting your child in a car seat is a no-brainer. But don't be naive -  just because they are strapped in, doesn't mean they are safe. Consumer Reports compiled a list of the top 10 issues parents are making with their car seats.  A few of the top mistakes: 1. Moving children up to booster seats too soon. Children generally can move to a booster between the ages of 4 years and 7 years. But the test is checking to see whether the seat belt lies midway between a child's shoulder and neck, flat across the lap; whether her knees bend at the edge of the seat; and whether she can sit properly for the entire ride. 2. Not using the top tether. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that only half of car seats were attached by the top tether and most parents didn’t think it was necessary. Contrary to this misperception, the top tether is very important, because it significantly reduce a child's potential for head and other injuries in a crash. Consumer Reports recommends always using a top tether. and 3. Improperly positioning the chest clip. Too many times we see the chest clip way down by a child’s belly. The clip is supposed to slide up and be placed at arm pit level. If it’s positioned too low a child can be ejected from the seat in a crash; too high, and it can interfere with breathing. The moral of the story? Don't just strap them in and forget about it. Or even worse, let your child strap THEMSELVES in without checking to make sure everything is secure. It's just not worth the risk.
#4. Undoing the Baby-Proofing Too Soon
Before our little ones are even born, we're usually scrambling through the house with baby proofing gear - plugging electrical outlets with covers, moving chemicals into locked cabinets, and installing baby gates on the stairs. But once our children move out of the toddler stage, many parents get lax on the baby proofing. They are old enough to know better now, right? Wrong! Many times, you child can get into even more dangerous situations as their curiosity grows and spends more time playing independently or out of our line of sight. About 2.5 million children are injured or killed by hazards in the home each year. Don't get lax on what may seem like the most obvious safety issues - just because your child is more independent, doesn't mean they are rational or are able to foresee consequences of dangerous action. Also - when the child is a bit older, many families outgrow their first home and move to a larger home. Don't forget: new home = new areas to baby proof. 1. Windows : Windows (including first floor windows and higher ) pose a falling hazard to children. Children should not have access to open windows; windows that can be opened more than 4" are hazardous. Use childproofing window guards and/or locks on all windows. 2. Window Blinds: Cords from window blinds should be kept out of children's reach at all times. They are a strangulation risk to children and can easily be secured out of reach. The inner cord of window blinds are also a strangulation hazard. NEVER PLACE A CHILD'S CRIB OR BED NEAR THE WINDOW OR WINDOW BLINDS. 3. Heavy or Unstable Furniture (including dressers, armoires, entertainment centers, book cases and changing tables, etc.): Every year thousands of children are injured due to tipping furniture. Children pull out dresser drawers and use them as steps to climb up furniture. Heavy and/or unstable furniture should be removed or secured with special furniture straps to studs in the walls to prevent them from tipping onto a child.
#5. Over-Dosing Children's Medicines

Medicine can do wonders for sick children. But never assume that a larger dose will work better. In fact, accidental overdoses send more than 70,000 kids to the emergency room each year, and some even die. Follow these steps to make sure you give your child just the right amount: 1. Take Extra Care with Infants - Don’t give cough or cold medicines to kids younger than age 4, unless your doctor specifically instructs you to. Many visits to the emergency room for overdoses involve infants and toddlers. And don’t give kids of any age medication packaged for adults without instructions from your doctor. 2. Don't Double Up - Many cough and cold medicines contain a pain-relieving medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Read labels closely and avoid giving more than one medication that contains the same active ingredient. 3. Know Your Child's Weight - Dosages of many over-the-counter drugs depend on the size of your child’s body. Charts on many labels guide you to the right amount per pound.

**Note: I am not an expert in child safety. But I AM an over-anxious, paranoid, borderline-helicopter crazy mama bear who reads up on these things daily. These are just some of my latest findings that I felt compelled to share.