Do You Read Me, Baby?

reading to newborn

reading to newbornDear Mr. Dad: I have a two-month old baby and I love to read to him. My wife thinks I’m wasting my time and that there’s no sense reading before he starts learning words. Is it too soon to be reading to my son? If not, what should I read?

You’re definitely not wasting your time. In fact, reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do. Admittedly, for the first few months, your reading won’t seem to be having any effect. And it doesn’t really matter what you read: a Wall Street Journal article, the menu from that Chinese takeout place down the road, or your high school calculus textbook. It’s not about education. Besides being a wonderful opportunity for the two of you to snuggle together, the goal is simply to get him used to the sound of the language and to have him associate reading with comfort and fun.

“When children have been read to, they enter school with larger vocabularies, longer attention spans, greater understanding of books and print, and consequently have the fewest difficulties in learning to read,” writes Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook. If that doesn’t convince your wife, try this: 60 percent of prison inmates are illiterate and 85 percent of juvenile offenders have reading problems. I can’t guarantee that reading to your baby will keep him from getting arrested 13 years from now, but there’s no question that reading is an important habit to develop, and there’s no such thing as “too early” to start.
[Read more…]

When Kids Call the Shots + Rookie Moms


Sean Grover, author of When Kids Call the Shots.
Topic:
How to seize control from your darling bully and enjoy being a parent again.
Issues: Understanding the root causes of your child’s bossy behavior; how your own insecurities and history have shaped your parenting choices; types of parents who are more susceptible to being bullied by their kids; three most common bullying styles that kids use–and strategies you can use to restore your leadership.

Heather Flett, coauthor of The Rookie Mom’s Handbook.
Topic:
Motherhood, fatherhood, the changing landscape of parenthood.
Issues: How motherhood has changed over the last 10 years; the mom blogging community; resources for new moms; the importance of letting the dad do things his way; the role of social media in creating communities of moms.

Dog and Babies

baby and dog

baby and dogDear Mr. Dad: I’m pregnant with our first child and I’m due in about four moinths. One of the things I’m worried about is our dog, a 150-pound male mastiff, who is truly a part of our family and not just a pet. Some friends of ours say that it’s dangerous to have a giant dog around a newborn and that we should start looking for a new home for him. Is it? And is there some way to prepare our dog and keep our baby safe?

A: There’s no way to predict with 100 percent accuracy how animals are going to react in any given situation, but you can get some hints by asking yourself these questions: What is the dog’s personality? Is he aggressive or territorial? Does he growl or bite? Does he jump on you, the furniture, or guests? Has he spent time with children? Does he like children? How protective is he of his toys? Could he possibly confuse a neatly wrapped up baby with a chewable toy? Does he bark when he wants attention? Does he understand and obey basic commands? I’m sure you can figure out which questions need a Yes answer and which need a No.

But no matter how wonderful your dog is, there’s always some risk. According to Michael Wombacher, author of “Good Dog, Happy Baby,” of the 4.7 million people who get bitten by dogs in the U.S. every year, 80 percent are children under five. Eighty percent of those bites are to the face and happen during feeding, petting, or playing. Most of those dogs live in the victim’s home and have no history of biting.

[Read more…]

Dancing with Your Baby + Love’s Promises


Sue Doherty, author of Dancing with Your Baby.
Topic:
Bonding and better health for you and your baby.
Issues: How touch, music, and movement benefit your baby; the ideal time to introduce your baby to music (hint: it’s before birth) and dance; how dancing with your baby benefits you.
 

 

Martha Ertman, author of Love’s Promises.
Topic:
How formal and informal contracts shape all kinds of families.
Issues: The difference between a “deal” (I cook dinner and you wash the dishes) and an enforceable contract; Type A families (heterosexual couple raising a biologically related child) vs. Type B families (pretty much every other kind of family imaginable); how contracts shape and sustain families as opposed to simply being cold and calculating.

Preparing Your Dog for Your Baby + Raising Friends for Life


Michael Wombacher, author of Good Dog, Happy Baby.
Topic:
Preparing your dog for the arrival of your child.
Issues: How to evaluate your dog and identify potential problems before the baby arrivers; how to resolve common behavioral problems such as barking object guarding, jumping up, overprotectiveness, and more; how to be sure your dog understands his place in the pack; teach your dog to build positive associations with the baby.


Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings.
Topic:
How to stop the fighting and raise friends for life.
Issues: The most common mistake parents make with siblings; why you shouldn’t force your kids to share; how and why to schedule meltdowns; ways to foster sibling bonding; when to intervene in a sibling fight; should you force your kids to apologize to each other after a fight?

Biting and Hitting the Hand that Feeds

biting teeth
biting teeth

Photo credit: gigabiting.com

Dear Mr. Dad: Our son just turned one and, almost like flipping a switch, he went from the sweetest, happiest little guy to smacking and biting. It’s bad enough when it happens at home, but my husband and I are beyond embarrassed when he attacks friends or strangers. Is it normal for babies to turn mean like this? Normal or not, how can we get it to stop?

A: No one knows exactly why, but right around their first birthday, most babies go through a stage that involves hitting and/or biting everything and everyone in sight. So, yes, biting and hitting are normal, and it’s unlikely that he’s “turning mean.” However, as you said, whether it’s normal or not, this behavior needs to stop. Before you can do anything about the behavior, though, you need to figure out what’s behind it.

According to child development experts, there are lots of possible explanations. Your baby may be hitting or biting because: [Read more…]