Fun water safety games! Survival skills for your child

Swimming lessons are a tradition for many families – once children get to be school age. But don’t wait so long to introduce your children to the water, and don’t think that swimming lessons is the same thing as teaching children to be safe around the water. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that children start in swimming lessons from the age of one. Why? Because drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 globally. That is terrifying to most parents and many instinctively react by trying to keep their kids away from water until they are older, but the opposite approach will keep your child safer – for their whole life.

Think about it – babies are in water in the womb for their first 9 months. Water is naturally soothing. Do you remember your baby’s expression when they had their first bath? Quizzical at first and then a bit alarmed when they hit the water and it splashed, but then pure joy. Bath-time becomes a treasured ritual. Your baby loves the feeling of your arm around them and your close attention. And, water truly does soothe the savage beast – it’s calming. Children naturally gravitate towards water because it is soothing – and fun, and the source of great joy.

There are a number of water safety things that you can do with your child whenever you are near water, starting in infancy and adding as they get older – and remember, all of these ‘games’ are also fun for children, so it’s a positive experience for both of you.

Bath safety: Start by being positive with your baby in the bath. Toys, songs, allowing them to splash are all important ways of making your baby comfortable in and around water which will lessen their fear later on. It’s especially good for your baby to gradually get used to having water poured over their face – it’s the first step to putting their face in and blowing bubbles. Splashing may make a mess but it also lets a baby control water getting in their face. Talk to your baby, tell them you will always be near them when they are in water – and then do it – never leave your child alone in the tub.

Stories: Use a book like ‘Jabari Makes A Splash’ to teach your child ‘never go near water without a grownup’. You can order the book at Amazon and there are free coloring sheets at the web-site to remind kids of the lessons. Think about hanging up a favorite drawing in the bathroom to remind everyone that a grownup needs to be nearby whenever children are in the tub.

Humpty Dumpty: Start playing ‘Humpty Dumpty’ as soon as your child can sit up. Your child sits on the side of the pool while you hold them, you sing ‘Humpty Dumpty’ and when Humpty does a big fall you help your child ‘fall’ forward and then say ‘turn around and hold on!’ Their head doesn’t go under water and at first they probably can’t even grasp the side, so just put their clenched fist on the side of the pool. But over time you graduate to having their head go under and eventually letting go of them, but always, ‘turn around and hold on’.

Monkey Hands: When your child has the physical coordination, have them hold on to the side of the pool with both hands, with feet against the wall and ‘walk’ their hands around the pool. At first they may only be able to go a couple of feet – to the ladder or steps, but over time they’ll want to try going around the whole pool and then pulling themselves out on the side – no ladder or steps!

For Older Kids: Once they get a bit older and have mastered Humpty Dumpty and Monkey Hands, hold your child’s hand and have them push down to touch the bottom of the pool where the pool slopes. Again, it will help them internalize the correct reaction if they fall in – ‘oh yes, I just push up from the bottom and grab the side’. You are teaching them to just react correctly to save themselves.

Then move on to jumping in the deep end and swimming the length of the pool, diving for rings, and ‘coral reef dives’ – swimming between your legs without touching the coral (your legs) or the coral will scrape them. Whatever fun games you can devise that will get your kids comfortable with being in the water and out of their depth will help keep your kids safer.

The idea with all these water safety games is the same – give the child confidence, let them learn their limits in the water gradually, and most importantly, teach them what to do if they ever do fall in the water unexpectedly. You are teaching them to rescue themselves, or at worst, not panic for at least a crucial minute or two until you notice they are missing. And be prepared for each child to progress at a radically different rate. My son was diving and swimming competently at four, my daughter didn’t really connect until seven – but they both love water and understand safety and their own limitations.

Water will be around your child their whole life, and it is a source of great joy and health – help your child to enjoy the water safely!

How to Talk To Your Kids About…A New Baby

Bringing home a new baby fills a house with joy and wonder. It can also bring worry and stress to older siblings who feel their world has just been turned upside down. A sense of jealousy, resentment, and even a little anger is normal. Siblings fear there won’t be enough love, or time to go around.

As parents, there are things we can say and do to help ease the transition.

Talk about what WON’T change once the new baby arrives and emphasis all the things that will be the same. This includes:

  • Keeping a similar routine – Talk to your kids about their favorite parts of the day, and make sure you keep those consistent.
  • Avoiding making big changes like toilet training, graduating from the crib, or changing rooms. Work through these transitions a few months before baby arrives, or a few months after.
  • Keeping life predictable Remember, predictability brings a sense of security that is really important to children, so keep things predictable and consistent.

Talk about the new “big sibling role”. Be sure your conversations are realistic. Getting your kids excited about the things the baby can’t do until he/she is four will create false hopes.

Involve older siblings in making meaningful decisions, before and after the baby arrives and let them help with the new baby. Make sure that one-on-one time is still spent with each child. Make it a point to have individual conversations and experiences with each of your children. This will help them feel special and loved and let them know that the new baby has not taken their spot in the family.

A fun way to help older siblings make the new baby transition: we give each of our children a disposable camera and ask them to be the photographers. They feel important and have fun taking pictures at the hospital and once we get home. It is so fun to get the pictures developed. Some of our very best photos have come from our kids.

What’s worked the best for your family??

Are Asthma Symptoms from a Bronchial Infection Permanent?

It’s important to understand that asthma is a chronic condition that may last for an extended period of time. It is not something that happens only once and never again. Asthma occurs when there is a spasm of the muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes and airways, causing the space available for air movement to shrink. The symptoms of asthma may be coughing and difficulty breathing.

Many things can trigger an asthma attack. The most common are infections (like a bronchial infection) or allergies. But cold weather, exercise and environmental irritants can also cause episodes of asthma. If this was your child’s first experience with these symptoms, only time will tell if she has the condition.

Studies have demonstrated that a good predictor of the risk of asthma is its presence in the family tree. The point to remember is that real asthma will occur with some frequency, not just one time.

IKEA High Chairs Recalled Due to Fall Hazard

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada has announced a recall of IKEA ANTILOP High Chairs due to a problem with the high chair’s belt buckle which can unlatch unexpectedly and potentially cause a child to fall out of the chair. So far there have been eight reports of falls due to the unexpected opening of the belt buckle and three of those children sustained minor injuries as a result of falling.

IKEA has voluntarily recalled the ANTILOP High Chairs to prevent further falls and to repair the problem with the buckles. The recalled high chairs were sold in IKEA stores nationwide from August 2006 through January 2010 for about $20.

ANTILOP high chairs sold with red, blue or white plastic high chair seats with detachable silver-colored metal legs and manufactured between 0607 and 0911 (YYMM format) from supplier number 17389 are included in the recall. Look underneath the seat for the production date and supplier number, which are molded into the underside of the seat. A label on the underside of the seat has the words “ANTILOP,” “IKEA” and the model number.

The following model numbers are included in this recall:

IKEA ANTILOP high chair blue Model # 701.467.92
IKEA ANTILOP high chair red Model # 501.467.93
IKEA ANTILOP high chair white Model # 300.697.24

If you own one of these high chairs, you should immediately stop using it and contact IKEA to obtain a free replacement seat restraint.

For additional information, contact IKEA toll-free at (866) 966-4532 anytime, or visit the firm’s website at

UPDATE: Feb. Sensory Friendly Film is Journey 2: Mysterious Island

Once a month, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other disabilities ”Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings“ – a special opportunity to enjoy their favorite “family-friendly” films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! “It can be challenging enough to bring a child to a movie theater” says Special Needs Parenting Expert Rosie Reeves “they are dark, the sound is very loud, there are tempting stairs and rails and they are expected to sit still and stay quiet”. For a parent with a special needs child attempting an outing like this may seem overwhelming. And yet getting out, being with the community and sharing in an experience with an audience can be invaluable for just such children”.

On January 7th at 10am local time, Journey 2: the Mysterious Island will be screened as part of the Autism Society “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program. Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program.

Coming March 10: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax


Editor’s note: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America. As always, please check the IMDB Parent’s Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

Bully-Proof Your Child

Playground taunts and physical threats are nothing new, but until recently, children were usually safe inside their own home. Now, with email, texting and social networking, the harassment and intimidation can happen 24/7 – and anonymously. Here are answers to common questions about bullying and ways to protect your child.

What constitutes bullying?

There are three main types of bullying, according to Dr. Andrea Wiener, a child psychologist and the author of The Best Investment: Unlocking The Secrets of Social Success For Your Child. Physical bullying typically involves hitting, shoving and kicking, and is more common among boys. Social aggression includes alienation, ostracism, deliberate exclusion and spreading of untrue rumors, and is most common among girls. Cyber-bullying happens via social networking sites like Facebook, where kids post harassing comments or embarrassing photos online with the intention of hurting someone else.

Why do kids bully?

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing they have in common is a need for power. “Often they are the popular kids that use power to control others,” says Weiner. “They seem to have a strong self-image, but it’s usually the opposite. They use fear because underneath it, they are scared and don’t think highly of themselves.” Bullying behavior can also carry into adulthood, in the form of dating aggression, spousal abuse or workplace harassment.

Who is most at risk?

Bullying victims are often the loners, according to Dr. Weiner – socially withdrawn, passive kids. “They let others be in control,” she says. “They may also have problems that would make them targets of abuse.” In fact, recent research points to children with obesity and food allergies as particular targets for bullying.

How do I know if my child is being bullied?

You’d like to think your child would tell you, but that’s often not the case, according to Weiner. Kids are afraid of being a tattletale or believe that it’s their fault and shy away from telling; so if you suspect your child to be the victim of bullying, don’t ask him directly. Instead, use indirect questions like, ‘How do you spend your recess time?’ or ‘What’s it like walking to school or being on the school bus?” Also, children often show their distress even if they don’t talk about it. “Signs of being bullied may include reluctance to go to school, sleep disturbances and vague physical complaints such as stomach pains or headaches,” says Weiner. “Look for unexplained belongings that are missing or clothes that are ripped.”

What should I do if I suspect bullying?

Go straight to school and report your suspicions. Most schools have adopted a no-bullying policy and take it seriously. Find out if your child’s teachers have observed anything and ask them to watch your child’s interactions with other students, suggests Weiner. Share with them what you’ve noticed at home and anything your child may have said. Then follow up and make sure that either the teachers or school administrators are taking steps to address the problem. With childhood bullying, the only people with the power to stop it are the adults.