In my four years of parenting, I’ve been blown away by all the things I did not know or think of until I had to know and think of them. For example, how do you potty train a toddler in LA traffic? Answer: You keep a potty in the back seat of your car for emergencies or you just don’t go anywhere for a month.
So I asked my friends and family what tips, tricks and facts about parenting they have found most helpful and I compiled the following list.
Parenting tips and facts every parent should know
Remember, I am not a doctor! You should talk to your doctor before trying any of the tips below.
- Laundry starch or cornstarch work miracles on diaper rash. You can even use them on top of diaper ointments. On a really bad rash, Maalox or Mylanta dabbed on or poured on and allowed to dry works well.
- Breastfeeding can be really challenging and you can probably use some guidance from a professional lactation consultant. (Some accept health insurance.) If you have issues with clogged ducts, research soy lecithin supplements. I found them very helpful.
- When choosing fluids to hydrate a vomiting child, choose fluids the color of your carpet. This tip was from my childhood doctor.
- If your child has nighttime allergies, remove all stuffed animals from the bed and see if that helps. Next step is to buy pillow, mattress and box spring dust mite covers (they have to be the ones that fully encase the mattress and box springs).
- Coconut oil and/or luke warm baths with a little baking soda can soothe a lot of skin maladies. Coconut oil is also good for cradle cap.
- Keep Children’s Benadryl on hand. The package says not to use it for children under six but, with a doctor’s guidance, you can give it to younger kids in case of an allergic reaction. Hives don’t always manifest as cute little red bumps with a white center. Sometimes they look like something out of a horror film and will scare you half to death before you find out that they are in fact hives. Several friends of mine discussed Benadryl for nausea and mixed with Mylanta to help ease mouth sores, so ask your doctor about those too.
- Infant Tylenol and Children’s Tylenol have the same concentration of medicine. They are both 160 MG per 5 ML.
- You can alternate acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) every three hours to reduce fevers in kids. Give lukewarm and not cold baths for fevers.
- You can wash your baby’s face with tear free soap.
- Change toothbrushes after your child has been sick.
- Baby teeth need as much care as permanent teeth. Take your child to the dentist before she turns two.
- Cute baby dresses become cute older baby shirts. My daughter was able to wear so many of her former dresses as shirts with leggings under them.
- Double wrap the mattress. Put down a waterproof cover, then a sheet, then another waterproof cover and another sheet. Any nighttime accidents will only require a quick removal of the top layer.
- Put a piece of wood under the couch and beds to prevent balls and toys from rolling underneath.
- Wash anything in the washing machine in laundry bags on the gentle cycle. I’m not saying that anything can survive the washing machine even in a laundry bag and even on gentle, but I’ve been surprised how much has survived. When your kid is allergic to dust you have to attempt to wash everything. The curtains, though "washable", did not survive, but most stuffed animals have survived with flying colors.
Everyone has some sleep tip that worked for them and their kid and it may or may not work for you and yours, but there is one tip I think is pretty universally helpful:
- Make your kids tired. If your child is not sleeping well or not ready for bed at a decent hour, try wearing them out during the day. Run them. Dance them. Play them out and then don’t invite them to the after party. If your kids think that you stay up and do fun things, they want to participate. Let them think that you just go to bed too or watch super boring TV shows while they sleep.
- Don’t talk so much. There are times that your kids can’t hear you – namely when they are in the throes of a tantrum. Stop trying to give them a choice. Stop trying to reason with them. Put up your wall, go to your happy place, remove your kid from the public eardrums, and wait to speak until your kid can hear you again.
- Your child doesn’t know why she’s upset. Most adults aren’t intuitive enough to know why they are really upset. Stop asking your two year old why she’s going bat s*** crazy in the frozen food section of Target. She’s tired. She’s hungry. She’s thirsty. She doesn’t feel well. She’s having a bad day. She’s not going to be able to articulate the real issue.
- Give kids two small choices with the same end result. Do you want to put on your left shoe or your right shoe first? Do you want to use the Star Wars toothbrush or the Dora toothbrush? (Or, for some or you, do you want the Star Wars toothbrush or this other Star Wars toothbrush?)
- Parents and objects can take time-outs too. Sometimes it’s more immediate and effective for you (if you are the object of your child’s frustration) or an object to take a time-out. "You’re hitting me so I’m going to spend a few minutes in my room until you calm down and before I have an absolute and total nervous breakdown." But, of course, you leave out the nervous break down part. Or you can give a toy, or TV, or rock a time-out. It’s an easy concept for even a very young child to grasp – when he throws the blocks at his sister, the blocks get taken away.
Photo: Kristina Alexanderson