Every kid grows up
thinking they can
change the world.
We’re counting on it.
All young Canadians should have the chance Through the Ted Rogers Scholarships and
to reach their highest potential. That’s why we’re Community Grants, we’re supporting youth
helping remove ﬁnancial barriers and investing as they continue their education and develop
in their future, Canada’s future. Over the last the skills to succeed, lead, and make their
ﬁve years, we’ve offered nearly 1,800 scholarships dreams possible.
to youth attending post-secondary education.
And since 2017, we’ve awarded 300 grants to Learn more at Rogers.com/GenerationPossible.
organizations making a difference in the lives
of thousands of youth.
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2022 VOL.39 ISSUE 1
50 10. FIRST PERSON PHOTO: GENEVIÈVE CARON ILLUSTRATIONS: ANDY PIZZA
Dr. McDreamy This mom’s
FEATURES OB/GYN was a hottie, and
let’s just say it got awkward.
40. Cold comfort
No matter how careful you are, your baby will probably Making allowances When it
end up with a cold (or two) before their first birthday. comes to your kids’ personal
While it’s unlikely to be serious, it’ll be no fun to get cash, who’s in charge?
through either. This guide is here to help.
46. Big little wins It’s you and me, kid Can
giving your kid 15 minutes
Solids and first steps are great, but these are the milestones of completely undivided
that actually make your life as a parent way easier. attention every day fix
50. Beauty hacks for exhausted moms
How to make yourself feel human again, despite the spit-up Could this be the year your
in your hair and many months of broken sleep. family goes electric? With
a whole new generation of
60. All bodies are good bodies battery-electric SUVs
hitting the market, the
A parents’ guide to raising fat children. electric vehicle is finally
family (and budget) friendly.
ADVICE&REAL LIFE 8. NEW AND NOW
7. HELP+HACKS True…or a bit woo-woo? When your ex gives the
kids the world—and
Everything in its place A new A look at the facts (or you’re stuck with the grunt
work It’s a common and
40 year feels like the right time lack thereof) behind incredibly frustrating
dynamic. Here’s how
for an organization project. common parenting to manage it.
Start with your kids’ toys. beliefs. HAPPY&HEALTHY
Head for the hills Sledding
is one of the best things
about winter, so get out
there—but keep safety
top of mind.
28. NEED TO KNOW
New products, the
latest studies and
Have it your way Trying
for a vaginal birth after a
previous C-section was
once thought to be risky.
4 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
Illustration by LUCILA PERINI
Art direction by EMILY VEZÉR
32. NUTRITION FOOD&FAMILY 77. NEWBORN TIPS&TRICKS
Are multivitamins magic? When and how to burp
When kids don’t eat much 67. FOOD NEWS your baby (and if you even 82. THE LIST
beyond nuggets and fries, Got milk? The transition to have to). Hear and now The best
some parents resort to a milk at 12 months is more podcasts about parenting,
daily multivitamin. complicated than ever. 78. TODDLER working moms and personal
Here’s what the experts Why is my toddler so development.
say about that approach. 69. EASY MEALS obsessed with climbing
Noodle wise The whole fam everything? In every issue
37. MENTAL will love these veggie-loaded
HEALTH versions of your favourite 79. PRESCHOOL 6. Letter from Kim
Breathe easy It might pasta dishes. Parenting a preschooler who
sound a little woo-woo, cries easily and often.
but teaching kids mindful STEPS&STAGES
breathing can truly help 80. SCHOOL AGE
them calm themselves 76. PREGNANCY Got a kid who likes to brag?
down in the heat of a Some say redheads are more Here’s how (and when) you
tantrum. prone to pain and bleeding. should step in.
What does this mean for
Kim Shiffman PRODUCTION
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January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 5
LETTER FROM KIM
One size doesn’t ﬁt allI THOUGHT LONG and hard before using thezine, tend to trot out the same old advice, offered
by well-meaning experts in earnest: Parents need
words “fat children” on the cover of this maga-to get their children eating less and moving more.
zine. The body-positivity movement may be inAvoid fast food! Change their lifestyle!
full swing on Instagram, but society at large still
seems pretty insistent on equating thinness withIt’s not bad advice. And yet people aren’t tak-
worthiness—which means that being describeding it, so something’s not working. Obesity is a
as fat remains an insult. To casually label kidscomplex problem that requires changes from
every corner of society, from industry to govern-
Ithis way feels wrong.
But “fat” isn’t actually a bad word, it’s a ment to medicine. We need an entirely new
descriptor. The fact that we think of it as a pejo- framework—and writer Linda Gerhardt provides
rative is just a symptom of a bigger problem. one piece of the puzzle in her impassioned and PHOTO: CARMEN CHEUN MAKEUP+HAIR:WENDY RORONG PLUTINO GROUP
As a journalist who’s covered health news for heartbreaking story, which starts on page 60.
a good portion of my career—and as someone Reflecting on her experience as a self-described
who’s wrestled with body-image issues for a long fat kid, Gerhardt presents a radical rethinking
time (I distinctly remember my childhood bath- of what parents can do to change the narrative.
room scale hitting 60 pounds and feeling upset It’s a must-read for anyone who wants their kids
about it)—I’ve read countless articles about to grow up trusting their bodies and accepting
weight loss and the “obesity epidemic.” There themselves and others at any size. I’m proud to
are some truths we can’t ignore and that legiti- publish this powerful story and invite you to let
mately sound scary. Obesity rates among chil- me know what you think.
dren in Canada have nearly tripled in the last 30
years; less than 40 percent of kids get enough
exercise. And we’ve all read the alarming head-
line that today’s kids are the first generation
predicted to lead shorter lives than their par-
ents. These are real problems that are absolutely
worth solving. TWEET ME @SHIFFER
The question is how. Articles about childhood
obesity, even those published by this very maga-
6 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
Expert help, genius hacks and ﬁrst-person stories
Less is more
that having fewer
toys on display
helps kids play
and for longer
periods of time.
TEXT: SIMONE OLIVERO PHOTO: STOCKSY EVERYTHING IN 1 23
PURGE AND SORT CREATE ZONES SHOP FOR STORAGE
A new year feels like the right time Sort the toys by type, which Take a cue from daycare Labelled, stackable clear
for an organization project, and will help you assess how rooms, which are always bins are a fantastic option
thanks to the holiday inﬂux, your each type should be stored organized by zones. Not for toys you want to be vis-
kids’ toys are good place to start. (for example, ﬁgurines in sure what they should be? ible and accessible. Also
But how to begin? Try these tips. a small basket, and larger Think about what your kid is consider a smaller shelving
trucks in a ﬂoor bin). Every interested in, such as Lego, unit or bookcase and ﬁll
toy should have a home to reading, dressing up or arts it with li le open baskets
return to when tidying up. and cra s. and bins.
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 7
ADVICE&REAL LIFE New and now
TRUE OR WOO?
A look at the science—or lack thereof—
behind popular parenting beliefs.
BY ALISON SARGEANT
“Crib bumpers aren’t safe “If you don’t have enough milk
to use, even the mesh kind.” for your baby, have a beer.”
VERDICT: TRUE A quick history lesson: Crib bumpers were VERDICT: WOO If you're struggling with milk supply, a well-
invented because the spaces between crib slats used to be wide intentioned person may have advised you to chug a Guinness, since
beer has been thought to increase supply. Beer was even prescribed
enough that a baby’s head could become entrapped. But when to breastfeeding women in the 1960s. But where does this advice
come from? Is it safe to drink alcohol when breastfeeding a baby?
improvements in crib regulations were introduced to reduce slat
It’s true that there are studies that suggest consuming beer may
spacing, bumpers were no longer needed. increase levels of prolactin, the hormone that makes milk. However,
These days, parents tend to use bumpers to provide a more these studies were done on non-lactating people.
Plus, it’s actually the barley in beer that causes the
comfy, cushiony environment, to prevent their baby’s limbs from rise in prolactin, not the alcohol.
getting stuck, or to keep pacifiers from falling out. The overall safety of alcohol consumption while
breast- or chestfeeding has long been debated.
But the benefits don’t outweigh the risks. A 2016 Different groups cite different evidence and give
different advice. At the moment, there’s insuffi-
study examined injuries and fatalities caused by cient proof that it’s safe. What we do know is that
alcohol passes directly from parent to baby
crib bumpers between 1985 and 2012 and found that through breastmilk, and that it may actually
decrease milk production, due to its effects on the
146 infant deaths and 48 injuries were the direct hormone oxytocin. Plus, some infants may dislike
the taste of alcohol in the milk, possibly reducing
result of bumpers in the child’s sleep space. their milk intake, which has risks of its own.
OK, but what about mesh crib bumpers, which Health Canada recommends waiting two hours
per alcoholic drink before feeding your baby. Similarly, the CDC
were designed to have “breathability”—surely NKYNOOOWUW! in the US recommends waiting two hours after your last alcoholic
these are safer? Nope. First of all, breathability is drink to nurse or express milk for an infant. It also quells a myth
an unregulated marketing term and actually refers regarding pumping and dumping, which does not, in fact, elimi-
to the ability of water to pass through fabric. Plus, nate alcohol from milk faster than the body naturally removes it.
although it’s possible mesh bumpers may reduce If you don’t have enough milk for your baby, there are safer
things to try than an alcohol-containing beer.
suffocation risk, they continue to cause injuries
and fatalities by entanglement or strangulation.
A recent report from the US Product Safety
Commission found that 13 percent of crib-bumper injuries
between 2008 and 2019 were attributed to the mesh kind.
There is no evidence that any type of bumper prevents injury
or death—but there’s some evidence they can cause them. For now,
the safest way for an infant to sleep follows the “ABCs”: Alone, on
their Back, or in a Crib/Cot—without additional bumpers, blan-
kets or cushions.
New & notable books for the littles
Bedtime I Love You Olivia Wrapped PHOT: ISTOCK
Bonnet Every Day in Vines
Wri en Wri en Wri en by Maude
by Nancy by Isabel Nepveu-Villeneuve,
Redd and O er and translated by
illustrated illustrated Charles Simard
by Nneka by Alicia and illustrated by
Myers It’s Más Sandra Dumais
bedtime, and Valentine’s Olivia’s vines
this li le girl’s Day is a grow around her
whole family time to express your love for the ones whenever she’s
is pu ing care into prepping their you hold dear, but why not do that overwhelmed by big feelings, but sometimes
hair. But then she loses her bonnet— every day? As this book shows, love they grow for no reason at all. Can she ﬁnd
an essential item—so she enlists is all around us and can be celebrated a way to keep them from swallowing her up?
everyone’s help to ﬁnd it. all year long. —Kevin John Siazon
8 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
A new made-in-Canada
program helps people
navigate the transition
to and from maternity
leave without forfeiting
their career goals.
NEGOTIATING WITH TINY TYRANTS IF YOU HAVE a beneﬁts package
through your employer, it probably
Dragons’ Den star and mom-of-two Manjit Manhas reveals the pays for things like dental cleanings
and prescription meds. If you’re lucky,
tactics that work equally well on CEOs and small children. massage therapy and psychological
services are covered, too.
CCALGARY’S MANJIT MINHAS co-founded a distill- go beyond her bedtime.
ery at age 19 and grew it into a $220-million business. She brought her points:It But it probably doesn’t include a
She also co-owns a production company, serves on was a chance to make program speciﬁcally aimed at sup-
several boards and is a co-star of CBC’s Dragons’ Den. new friends, and leaving porting working mothers, because
None of that happens without becoming an expert early would be awkward. nothing like that has existed in
negotiator. Here’s how she handles her toughest adver- I got where she was com- Canada—until now. In October,
saries: her two daughters, ages nine and 12. ing from, so we settled Vancouver’s Jen Murtagh and Sonja
on a time. Baikogli Foley launched Maturn,
Do you ever walk away a program aimed at closing the power
and salary gap experienced by work-
PHOTO:COURTESY OF MANJIT MANHAS, ILLUSTRATION: VÉRONIQUE JOFFRE Are there any tried-and- Do your kids ever see from a negotiation? ing moms. Through self-directed
modules, monthly coaching sessions,
true business strategies through your tactics? Minhas: When strong guest expert Q & As and online com-
munity groups, users learn about
that you use in negotia- Minhas: Yes, which is emotions come up— everything from preparing for mater-
nity leave, child care organizing and
tions with your kids? why you need lots of anger, tears—I often postpartum challenges to planning
for the transition back to work. Maturn
Minhas: So many! One is tools you can use. walk away. Then I do was launched with founding partner
SAP Canada, a so ware giant whose
the “take it or leave it” Are you open to my homework and employees are among the ﬁrst to be
oﬀered the program.
method. Sometimes my counter-offers? come back with a plan.
Individuals can sign up, but the
husband and I play good Minhas: A few months What’s the most hope is that employers across the
country will add it to their workplace
cop/bad cop—I’m always ago, the days were getting important skill a beneﬁts, as credit union Vancity has.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest
the bad cop. Other times cold but my younger negotiator can have? that be er support for women can
directly impact a company’s ability
I’ll offer a bogey, which is daughter wanted to still Minhas: Listening. to a ract and retain them and support
their career growth.
an issue you pretend is wear summer dresses. People often just want
“Maternity leave was undoubt-
important to you, but She surprised me and to be heard. edly the most challenging year of my
life,” says Murtagh, who’s a mom and
really isn’t. Or we use a said, “Mom, I’ll layer.” How is negotiating at stepmom of four. “Although I felt I was
somewhat prepared in becoming a
“door in the face,” where I said, “OK, that’s a deal.” work different from at mother, I underestimated the impact
on my identity, career and conﬁdence.
you make an unreason- More recently, our older home? Minhas: At work My driving force in co-creating Mat-
urn is to provide the support greatly
able demand so a second, daughter was invited to I run a democracy. At needed for the transition to and
from maternity leave without women
smaller offer is likely to an event at her new home I run a dictator- sacriﬁcing their career goals and
be accepted. school that was going to ship! —Allan Britnell
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 9
ADVICE&REAL LIFE First person
Dr. McDreamy LIKE ALL GREAT LOVE STORIES, this one starts ILLUSTRATION: RYAN SNOOK
with two strangers who don’t realize their lives
Confession: I was extremely attracted to are about to become intimately intertwined.
my OB/GYN, and it got more and more Unlike most great love stories, this one starts
awkward as my due date approached. with a speculum.
10 todaysparent.com January+February 2022 He was my OB/GYN, and god help me, he was
attractive. I didn’t notice this detail the first time
we met, as I was in stirrups while he performed
a painful gynecological procedure on me, but I
do remember thinking, at the time, that he was
kind. So kind that, when I found myself pregnant
a year later, I thought, This is the doctor I want to
take care of me.
To my delight, he accepted me as a patient.
“Congratulations, you two,” he said to me and
my husband as he walked into the exam room
during our first appointment, looking remark-
ably tall, dark and handsome. Then he flashed
his shy grin, looked at me with big, brown eyes
framed with thin-wire glasses, and shook my
hand with his warm, soft grip. I found myself
wondering what it might be like to have his baby.
Oh shit, I thought to myself. This is going to get
It’s not entirely uncommon to be attracted to
your OB/GYN, if various confessional blogs on
the topic are any indication. And it’s probably
pretty harmless, if not entirely hormone driven.
I don’t kid myself that he took any special notice
of me, the bloated pregnant lady choking on her
morning-sickness bile. I don’t actually think our
banter about how I needed to cut down my cof-
fee intake was flirtatious (looking back on it now,
he was quite stern). And I don’t think his careful
and detailed concern with my mental and physi-
cal state meant he loved me back (shoot, did I say
“love”?). But damn if my pregnancy hormones
didn’t find the thought of it all a little thrilling.
Did he notice that I started wearing lip gloss
to my appointments? It’s doubtful. Did he notice
me blushing when he would offer his arm to help
me roll off the exam table like a beached whale?
Possibly. Did he notice when I joked that he was
the only doctor I trusted with my cervix?
Probably, and I’m still not sure how he took it.
He definitely noticed that time I abruptly told
him I knew where he lived. I mean, obviously I
didn’t say it quite like that, but I’m sure “I could
find you” is all he really took from my clumsy
attempts at conversation.
Here’s what happened: In the name of due dili-
gence, I asked a friend (who happened to also be
an OB/GYN) if he knew my doctor.
“Yes,” he said, “he’s my neighbour.”
What were the chances? But I’m not sure my
OB found the coincidence as funny as I did when
I then told him all about it.
At times, my ever-growing crush was down-
First person ADVICE&REAL LIFE
right excruciating. My 20-week ultrasound Did he notice and given an epidural, I was so relieved to be free
revealed placenta previa, for instance, and Hot when I started of pain that I was practically giddy. So, I bliss-
OB (as I’d begun to call him, in my mind) grimly fully turned to my nurse and asked her a totally
informed me this meant I needed to abstain from wearing lip reasonable and not-at-all inappropriate question
exercise and sex. gloss to my for someone lying there in a thin hospital gown
appointments? with a five-centimetre-dilated cervix:
“That’s OK. I don’t do those things, anyway,” I It’s doubtful.
said, giggling while sitting in front of him visibly Did he notice “Do you know if my OB is married?”
pregnant from sexual intercourse. Then I went me blushing I still lie awake at night wondering if she ever
home and realized I hadn’t asked any questions when he offered told him.
about what, exactly, he meant by “sex.” (Clearly, his arm to help Mercifully—despite my fantasies—a differ-
I was not as concerned about exercise.) me roll off the ent on-call OB/GYN ended up delivering my baby
exam table later that night, so Hot OB didn’t get to see me
A month of raging second-trimester hormones like a beached poop myself. And I’m not sure if it was the rush
later, I gathered my courage to ask for more infor- of affection for my child or my husband’s joyful
mation at my next appointment. My husband whale? laugh as the nurse placed our squawking son on
couldn't come to this one, probably because the Possibly. my chest, but my persistent crush ended right
universe was punishing me for past misdeeds. then and there.
My awkwardness, however, had a humiliat-
After reviewing my most recent ultrasound, ing denouement.
Hot OB asked if I had any questions. When my baby was three days old, we had a
paediatrician appointment in the same building
“There’s one thing,” I muttered, twisting as Hot OB’s clinic. Since he hadn’t been there for
my wedding band around my swollen finger. my labour, I decided to pop in to introduce him
“You mentioned no sex. But is anything, you to the baby and thank him for taking such good
know, allowed?” care of us during my pregnancy. It seemed the
kind thing to do.
He nodded professionally, adjusted his glasses “This is Benjamin,” I said, beaming, as Hot OB
and proceeded to dutifully answer my question dutifully peered in at the bundle in my arms.
in horrifying detail as I silently begged to sink “Benjamin?” his secretary blurted out. “Why,
into the centre of the earth. Clitoral stimulation that’s your doctor’s middle name!”
to reach orgasm is just fine, he told me as I nod- Oops.
ded and tried to look casual, but all vaginal pen- That was the last time he saw me, his hor-
etration must be avoided. To be safe, he added, I monal, accidental stalker (I swear!). The pan-
should also avoid anal penetration. demic came along and did us both a favour by
forcing my six-week follow-up to be a phone
I think, dear reader, that is the moment I appointment, and we haven’t spoken since.
actually died. But I guess I still talked about him fondly,
because a few months later, a friend sent me a
“Now, shall we listen to the baby’s heartbeat?” link to a blog post she’d happened upon. It was
he asked me. He commented that my own heart about how the writer had been in love with her
rate was good and fast, too. Of course it was! My OB/GYN during her pregnancy.
heart was aflutter and my palms were sweating. “Is this your Hot OB?” my friend asked me,
I couldn’t waddle out of there fast enough. half-joking.
But the joke was on me, because it was defi-
Later, my husband asked how my appointment nitely him.
went, and I muttered something about “anal,” If there was any doubt left from the writer’s
then got so light-headed I had to drink some juice description of her desire, and his striking kind-
and put my head between my knees. ness and good looks, she also named him: Yup,
same guy. And that’s how I found out he wasn’t
There was no reprieve from the indignities just my Hot OB. He’s got a perpetual fan club of
in the third trimester, as I now had weekly pregnant ladies lusting after him. It’s also how
appointments due to my baby’s positioning and I found out that he isn’t married, but he does date
massive head. nurses. (The blogger did her due diligence, too!)
So, just as I knew all along, my love story isn’t
“How are your hemorrhoids?” Hot OB would special, or even really a love story. But at least I
ask me after looking at my chart. can take solace knowing that I wasn’t his only
inappropriately obsessed patient. From the
“What hemorrhoids?” I’d respond with a sounds of it, he’s had a few. —Natalie Stechyson
smile, my butthole, meanwhile, impersonating
a bushel of grapes. January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 11
As my due date approached, my placenta and
my baby miraculously righted themselves, and
I started to have fantasies of going into fast-and-
furious labour right there in Hot OB’s office so
he could save my life, thus bonding us forever.
Instead, I endured three weeks of slow dila-
tion and prodromal labour at home. By the time
I was finally admitted to the hospital for real,
ADVICE&REAL LIFE Money PHOTO: ERIK PUTZ STYLING: CAITLIN DOHERTY
Giving kids the power to decide how to spend their own money feels like the right choice for many families. But what do you do
when your kid wants to blow $40 on a single Pokémon card that they’re probably going to lose, destroy or trade away?
12 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
Money ADVICE&REAL LIFE
When it comes to your kids’ personal cash, who’s in charge?
TORONTO MOM BLAKE ELIGH was determined to It can be hard decision,” she says. Eligh’s daughter Grace once
teach her kids key financial lessons before they for parents to saved up for a particular doll with articulated
had to go out into the world on their own. She did watch their kids joints, which she had been coveting for a long
this, in part, by giving her two daughters decision- waste money or time. “Within a week, both the hands had come
making power over their own money from a young be demoralized off irreparably. That was really disappointing
age. She and her husband set the girls up with both by their poor for her because she’d spent a lot of money,” Eligh
an allowance and a savings plan when they were recalls. Still, Grace learned not to buy that brand
eight and 11 years old. Now her kids are 12 and 15 spending of doll again, and to think hard before spending
and Eligh only wishes she’d started earlier. decisions. that much money on one single toy.
“Giving them a chance to learn about spending But it’s an
money at this point allows them to make finan- important STARTING EARLY
cial mistakes when it doesn’t really count.” lesson to learn Brennan suggests starting an allowance as young
while the dollar as four or five years old, or when kids start ask-
But what do the experts say? If Grampa hands value is still ing for money or wanting to buy things from the
your kid some cash or they’ve saved up a bunch relatively low. store. “Begin by giving them some spending
from weekly allowance, should they get to spend money, and then when they get a little bit older,
it all however they want? start spreading it out into different kinds of
goals,” says Brennan.
LEARNING THE HARD WAY
When it comes to teaching your kids about money, In Eligh’s house, they started the allowances
there’s a simple rule to remember: Kids learn best off small at $2 and $5 per week, just enough to buy
from their own actions. That’s why Nancy a treat or a trinket at the dollar store, and have
Bisogno, a district leader at TD Bank who’s worked recently bumped it up to $5 and $10. Once your
with elementary schools on programs that teach child is able to get the hang of how spending money
kids about money, encourages parents to give their works, you can set up a system that includes
kids as much financial freedom as they can. spending and saving. For Eligh’s kids, one-third
“There are two big lessons that can come out of goes directly into a savings account and the other
letting a kid spend money how they like,” says two-thirds can be spent however the girls like. “If
Bisogno, who is based in Stratford, Ont. “One, they want to invest those two-thirds in gumballs,
which we can all relate to, is buyer’s remorse— that’s fine. They can do whatever they want with
when we purchase something before realizing that portion of the allowance. But the stuff in the
that it’s not worth it. The second is realizing, I bank—we need to have some discussion about
can’t afford this. This puts the cost of things in how that will be spent.” Brennan’s young sons
perspective, which kids don’t always understand divide allowance up into thirds: a third to spend,
until they have their own money to spend.” a third to save for larger purchases, and a third to
give to someone else.
Chelsea Brennan, a former hedge fund inves-
tor and the founder of Boston-based Smart VALUES ADDED
Money Mamas, acknowledges how hard it can While we shouldn’t micromanage every dollar
be for parents to watch their kids waste money our kids spend, that doesn’t necessarily mean
or be demoralized by their poor spending deci- they get carte blanche either. Brennan talks
sions. But it’s an important lesson to learn while about what she calls a family’s money values—
the dollar value is still relatively low. “We want and that it’s important for parents to decide what
to stop them from making those mistakes, but their own financial mindset is before they guide
we need them to experience making a wrong
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 13
ADVICE&REAL LIFE Money
their kids. “What values do you want to focus on FTAOHNRERATEPH’PSAT MODERN TOOLS FOR MODERN FAMILIES
through your spending? What emotions are you Cash is the best learning tool for younger kids
trying to create with your money? Are we priori- Need help because they can see their money accumulate
tizing education? Are we prioritizing feeling managing and count it themselves. But Eligh found that
charitable or feeling joyful?” she says. Those val- allowance and keeping enough cash on hand for allowances was
ues can then help establish the parameters for harder than she anticipated. So for the sake of
how your kids are allowed to spend their own chores? consistency, her family keeps a binder in which
money. Some parents will insist their kids set they track money coming in (from allowances)
aside a certain amount for charity (or for “shar- Your phone is and out (via online and in-store card payments)
ing,” as Brennan calls it with her own young your friend. and then they settle up with cash every so often.
kids), for example. Or they might enforce a hard
ban on specific types of items, such as toy weap- MYDOH: RBC’s new Older kids might like to keep a bit of cash on
ons, violent video games or makeup. app teaches kids about them as well, but there comes a time when hav-
ing their own debit card makes sense. By the time
FINANCIAL GROWTH money basics, helps kids are navigating their neighbourhoods on
As kids get older, the basic premise of letting them earn money from their own, around 12 or so, Bisogno recommends
them spend their own money within the bound- setting them up with a debit card. Don’t forget
aries of the family’s values doesn’t really change. chores and oﬀers to train them how to use it safely.
What does change with age and independence is advice on spending it
the type of things they want to spend their money wisely. It all starts from Ultimately, we want our kids to make their
on. Brennan sees this as a great opportunity to money mistakes when they’re still young and
give your children more responsibility for their a parent account. the stakes are low. “One of my core beliefs is that
spending alongside, perhaps, a more generous ROOSTERMONEY: money is involved in everything we do,” says
allowance. “When we give our kids money, one This virtual chore and Brennan. “Every time we choose to spend money,
of the things that’s helpful is telling them what money tracker app we vote on what kind of world we want to live in,
that money is for,” says Brennan. With younger what kind of businesses we want to support, what
kids between the ages of three and eight, say, you is nicely designed kind of policies we want to be enacted. And we
might tell them their money is for toys or treats. and easy to use. An can show that to our kids from a young age
upgraded version because they’re actually really good at under-
As your children move into the tween years, lets you tie allowance standing that.” —Rebecca Cuneo Keenan
you might want to expand that to include out- to chores and set an
ings with friends. And then, by the time your interest rate for savings.
kids are teens, they may also become responsible IALLOWANCE: Kids
for paying for a cell phone or subscription ser-
vices, for example. “That might mean increasing earn rewards for
their allowance by taking money that you would completing chores
have spent on them and putting it in their hands. and parents can set
Saying, for instance, we budget this much a year recurring allowances
for your clothes. We expect you to have a winter that will pay into any of
coat and so many pairs of pants and an outfit for the unlimited “piggy
holidays, but you decide what that is,” Brennan banks” you set up.
says. This gives the opportunity to start budget-
ing and thinking about bills before they’re out
in the world on their own.
What about larger cash gifts? PHOTO: ERIK PUTZ STYLING: CAITLIN DOHERTY
Grandma surprises your kid by handing them a $100 bill. Here’s what to do next.
When kids are given a many parents she speaks a fan of this approach. not going to be helpful in for spending cash gi s
decent chunk of change, to are ﬁne with le ing “When you do that, adulthood.” In her house, can work too, as long
it’s important to have a their kids spend $20 or you’re taking away their her kids can spend half as you’re consistent.
consistent rule for how so however they want, autonomy,” she says. of all cash gi s however What you want to avoid
that money should be but prefer to conﬁscate “Some kids can build they want, and then the is kids ge ing excited
accounted for. Smart larger amounts to a mental relationship other half gets divided over a large gi and then
Money Mamas founder deposit them directly that saving is my money into thirds (spend, save, feel like somebody has
Chelsea Brennan says into savings. She’s not disappearing, and that’s give away). Other rules taken their money away.
14 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
PHOTO:STOCKSY Parenting ADVICE&REAL LIFE
I’m all yours, kid
Some experts claim that giving a child just 15 minutes of undivided
attention every day can do magical things for their behaviour.
Here’s what happened when we tried it in our family.
I DREADED BEDTIME WITH my seven- and five-year-old daughters. Specifically,
nagging to get them in the bath. Followed by breaking up naked dance parties and
begging them to put on their pyjamas. Then, haggling over which books to read and
how many. More negotiating over who got a turn to sit on my lap and how long our
cuddle sessions would be. And finally, many (many!) last calls for cups of water,
missing stuffies and hugs till they fell asleep like innocent little angels.
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 15
ADVICE&REAL LIFE Parenting
I didn’t understand why getting them to listen When kids feel HOW IT WORKED FOR US
to me was so hard. Worse, that struggle was turn- connected to Our new ritual goes something like this: Before
ing me into a scolding-mom version of myself I us, they want my husband and I start making dinner, we set a
wasn’t proud of. So when I heard about a parent- 15-minute timer on our phones and play with our
ing technique that promised to completely to be more daughters, Alice and Edith, one on one. He’ll take
strengthen and transform my relationship with co-operative. the seven-year-old in one room, I’ll take the five-
my kids in just 15 minutes a day, I was intrigued. year-old in another and we’ll alternate the next
Our strong day. Scheduling “Alice and Edie time” might
I first heard about this tantalizing idea from relationship sound like overkill but when we’re juggling jobs,
Sarah Rosensweet, a parenting coach in Toronto. with them is housework, child care and a million distractions,
She recommends scheduled short bursts of “spe- ultimately the sometimes it’s the only way we manage to squeeze
cial time” for all families with kids from toddler most powerful in any time just to be fun with our kids. Apart
age to teens. She says it deepens our connection way we can from the time limit, the only rules for this rou-
with our kids, helps us empathize with them and influence them. tine are that we’re doing something imaginative
can even improve our kids’ behaviour, which or physical, there are no screens, and the kids
(I’m not gonna lie) was my biggest motivator. call the shots. My little one likes to show me how
to build dollhouses out of shoeboxes and knick-
“Our children need to feel that we see them, knacks, or play “baby time”—where I fill up her
that we understand them and that they matter,” water bottle and feed it to her like she’s an infant
says Rosensweet. “When they feel connected to while she coos and gurgles in my lap. My eldest
us, they want to be more co-operative. Our strong likes to balance on my feet like an airplane or
relationship with them is ultimately the most ride me like a horse.
powerful way we can influence them.”
TIPS AND TRICKS
WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT SPECIAL TIME? Once you’re willing to commit to special time,
Coined by parenting educator Patty Wipfler, and start by adding it to your to-do list every day. It
further popularized by Rosensweet’s peaceful- can be any time of day that works for your fam-
parenting mentor, psychologist Laura Markham, ily, but tell your kid when it’s going to be. Setting
special time is basically unstructured one-on- a timer also helps to manage expectations, but
one time with your kid (like imaginative play or be prepared for big feelings when it’s over, says
roughhousing) and entirely focused on them. So Rosensweet. You can treat them like scheduled
even if you’re home all day with your kids, this meltdowns and respond with empathy, like, “I
is not the same. know! I love special time, too. It’s so hard when
it’s over. We’ll do it again tomorrow.”
With special time, you give up control as the
parent and lose yourself in their world of play, You might wonder how you’ll think of new
whether it’s having a tea party with dolls, build- things to do every day, but here’s the best part:
ing a Lego mansion or wrestling on the bed. The It’s better if you leave it up to your kids to come
activities should be creative, active and open- up with ideas. My younger child, Edie, is a natu-
ended—for example, reading to them and play- ral at inventing magical worlds or random com-
ing board games don’t give the same result. The petitions, like a pretend sleeping contest where
amount of time can be anywhere from a few min- the silliest snorer wins. (Hot tip: The kid should
utes to an hour, but Rosensweet says it’s best to always win.) But Alice, my first-born, likes struc-
aim for 10 to 20 minutes per day, per child. If you ture. Rosensweet doesn’t recommend activities
have two parents and two kids, you can swap at in which the kid is coming into the adult’s world,
the 15-minute mark and go another round, which such as baking cookies, but Alice really loves to
would take 30 minutes in all. Or just swap kids cook, so sometimes I’ll let her put me to work in
every other day to keep it shorter. With three the kitchen, inventing creative desserts like pret-
kids (or more), even 15 minutes can be over- zel chips topped with vanilla ice cream and PB&J.
whelming, so you might have to shorten it to 10
minutes so everyone gets a turn. If you’re solo Roughhousing is also a supercharged way to
parenting, you might have to send one of the kids bond over physical play and laughter, says
to their room with an iPad—a last resort—while Rosensweet. As long as there’s no tickling, she
you’re having special time with their sibling. warns. Many parenting experts say not to tickle
because it triggers an involuntary response, and
“A lot of people think of special time as spend- even if your kid is laughing, they still feel pow-
ing the whole day with their child, and taking erless. (My youngest still asks to be tickled, so
them places and spending money, but that’s not I’m on the fence about that one.) Instead,
it at all,” says Rosensweet. “It’s immersing your- Rosensweet recommends “tickling them one
self in your child’s world, in their room or in the inch away from their body and saying something
playroom, and saying, ‘I’m all yours. What do
you want to play?’”
16 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
Parenting ADVICE&REAL LIFE
During special time, you give up control as the parent and lose yourself in their
world of play. Activities should be creative, active and open-ended.
PHOTO:STOCKSY like, ‘I’m tickling you, I’m tickling you,’ and they band—who’s always been better at being the fun
still will laugh like crazy, because it’s funny.” dad, damn him—is noticing his relationship with
Laughter is a great tool for connecting because the girls start to shift, too. They love having his
when we laugh with somebody, our bodies make undivided attention without the distractions of
the hormone oxytocin, which plays an impor- the phone and work. He’s noticed that they’re
tant role in bonding, she explains. It’s also a great happier and that everyday conflicts are less
way to off-load tension and stress. extreme than they once were.
Roughhousing was never my thing, but now I It’s helped with sibling rivalry, too. I think my
start pillow fights or chase my daughters around girls are more secure in my love for them. My
the house. We’ve also adopted one of Rosensweet’s five-year-old doesn’t want to be babied as much
go-to games, when you turn your kid into a since she gets that kind of attention during spe-
“pizza”—while they’re lying down, you roll out cial time and they are both more agreeable about
the “dough” as if their body is a rolling pin, going to bed after a couple of books and songs, as
spread the “sauce” out with a rubdown, sprinkle opposed to always begging for more. Some days
handfuls of “toppings” on them, “bake” them in it also seems like they’re listening better all
the oven (under pillows), “slice” them with karate around, which has been further helped by imple-
chops and then nibble them all over. menting other strategies, such as giving choices
and making chore charts. I’m also working on
THE RESULTS (FOR US, ANYWAY) being more patient (counting to 10 before
My family has been doing special time four or five responding helps) and nagging less. “When kids
days a week for a few months now. My goal was feel connected, they want to be more co-opera-
to do it every day—it’s only 15 minutes, right?— tive, but connection can’t be the only tool in the
but it’s challenging to fit it in around any plans. toolbox,” says Rosensweet.
When we do pull it off, I always feel like it was
worth more than just a few laughs. I’ve never been She also says the intentionality of the quality
a so-called “fun mom”—preferring to cuddle with time is the key. Even if you’re a stay-at-home par-
my girls or to watch them play while I’m comfort- ent with a toddler and you feel like you’re with
ably seated on the couch or a park bench. But this your kid 24/7 as it is, special time can still be a
has pushed me to lighten up, letting them see treat for them because they’ll have your com-
another, goofier side of me. I’m also getting to plete attention. “It’s that phrase ‘I’m all yours
know them more deeply through the eyes of a kid, for the next 15 minutes’ or ‘we’re going to spend
which is a little trippy but wonderful. My hus- time together,’” says Rosensweet. “Even a small
child can understand that.” —Claire Sibonney
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 17
ADVICE&REAL LIFE Living
Could this be the year your
family goes electric?
With a whole new generation of battery-electric SUVs hitting the
market, the electric vehicle is finally family (and budget) friendly.
WHEN I WENT ELECTRIC CAR shopping four NO MORE ARGUMENTS ABOUT WHO ILLUSTRATION: NAZARIO GRAZIANO
years ago, I couldn’t find anything that matched FORGOT TO GAS UP
the convenience, price and size of my Honda SUV. “If I’m riding in somebody else’s vehicle, I’m like,
I guiltily ended up with a lease on another CR-V, ‘We have to go to the gas station?’ How annoying
betting that the technology would catch up to is that?” says Lisa Deacon, who has a six-year-
the needs of my family (wife, two boys, best old and a toddler and has been driving a zero-
friends, goalie equipment, Costco hauls and, now, emissions car since 2019. For electric vehicle (EV)
a dog). Spoiler alert: It has. The new 2022 and owners, “filling up” is just like charging a phone:
2023 electric SUVs hitting the market have You simply plug in your car overnight when elec-
erased most of the fears about going electric and, tricity is cheap and you’re fully charged and
as they say in car speak, come loaded with some ready for daycare drop-off in the morning. The
surprising extra features, too. stress of gas price hikes? Gone. “The cost of refu-
18 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
elling my car is $8 for 350 km of range,” says Nino Living ADVICE&REAL LIFE
Di Cara, a Toronto dad and founder of Electric
Autonomy, a news outlet that reports on the low- YES, YOU CAN STILL TAKE ROAD TRIPS
carbon vehicle transition. Since about 80 percent Thanks to a leap in battery technology, the driv-
of EV charging happens at home, you’ll benefit ing range on the long-range models of the
most from the convenience if you can power up Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Nissan Ariya crossover is
at your house. “And you don’t freeze your butt about 480 km, and the entry-level Volkswagen
off in the middle of January at a gas pump,” adds ID.4 clocks in at about 400 km, which will easily
Deacon, who lives 50 km outside of Ottawa and zip you up to cottage country—or from Calgary
used to regularly commute into the capital. to Canmore and back. Even if you do need to
make a pit stop, one of the step-up improvements
YOU DON’T HAVE TO DOWNSIZE coming with the 2022 and 2023 introductions is
While sedans and hatchbacks dominated the faster charging speeds. That Hyundai, for
affordable EV market in the past, Volkswagen, instance, can go from 10 percent to 80 percent
Nissan and Hyundai have all introduced new capacity in about 20 minutes at an ultra-fast
electric SUVs with generous interior space, charger, versus hanging around for an hour.
decent cargo room and optional AWD. (Toyota
promises the bZ4X, similar to the RAV4, later Longer road trips, like that ride down to
this year.) Keep in mind that EVs are built differ- Florida, are without a doubt still going to require
ently than their gas predecessors, which usually more planning while roadside charging networks
means more room for passengers (and their stuff) become more reliable over the coming years.
in a smaller footprint. Some also have a “frunk”— Still, this shouldn’t necessarily be a deal breaker.
a trunk in the front where you would normally “We’re beyond the point now of feeling that it’s
have an engine. inconvenient,” says Di Cara. “It’s nice to plan and
know where we’re going to go and visit the wash-
room, grab a coffee, take a break. And by the time
we’ve sorted ourselves out, the charge is practi-
cally done and we’re back on our way.” Deacon,
who is planning a road trip to Sydney, NS, this
year, doesn’t stress about it either. “Like any fam-
ily, you need to make a couple of stops anyhow,
to keep the kids active.”
IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO
When you lease or buy another conventional
vehicle, you’re locking yourself in to years of
burning fossil fuels. The tipping point for Di Cara
was dropping off his son, Dane, at school and
seeing lines of cars parked and idling. “We’ve
banned smoking near schools but we’re still let-
ting toxic fumes from tailpipes loiter around our
kids,” he says. According to Public Health
Ontario, more than a quarter of elementary
schools in the province are in the TRAP (traffic-
related air pollution) zone for high vehicle emis-
sion exposure. “Because of the pandemic, there
are a lot of people who are moving out of the city
looking for more space in the countryside,” adds
Deacon, who lives rurally. “We knew there would
be fewer public transit options. That was a big
impetus for us to buy an electric vehicle so that,
yes, our commute was farther, but it would also
have a lower carbon footprint. It’s all about doing
what you can and teaching our kids that we can
try new things.”
IT’S REALLY FUN TO DRIVE
An EV is to the combustion car as the iPhone is
to an old flip phone. It just feels like the future,
gliding off silently when you turn it on (remem-
ber—there’s no actual “ignition” of flammable
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 19
ADVICE&REAL LIFE Life
Charging 101 Level 1: Standard charge higher peak will need to handle vehicles. (And sorry,
wall outlet daytime rates.) the installation, and you can’t install one
Electric vehicles plug in Your car will come costs start at around of these in your garage
to charge. How does that with a power cord that Level 2: Home $1,250 and up, because it would cost
work, exactly? you simply plug into charging station including the dock. more than your car.)
the car (you’ll ﬁnd the If you have a long
charge port where commute, you’ll likely Level 3: Fast charger If you can’t plug
you’d usually ﬁnd the want to upgrade to a Also called DC your car in at home–
gas tank) and then into charger that will let charging, this is for instance, if you live
any normal wall outlet. you power up a next- lightning fast and will in a condo and your
The only drawback is gen SUV in about ﬁve charge your car in 20 board won’t budge on
speed: three to four hours. It’s a small box to 40 minutes while installing chargers, or
nights to get back up to that can be mounted you take a break on the you park your car on
full charge. (Overnight in your garage or highway. Chargers are the street outside your
charging lets you outdoors and, like an a bit like Android and home—you’ll lose most
take advantage of electric dryer, draws Apple: Note that Tesla of the convenience
time-of-use savings, more voltage (240 V). superchargers aren’t of an EV until public
since many utilities A licensed electrician compatible with other chargers become
fuels). “It’s a very calm, smooth experience Your electric this kind of resiliency won’t just be a party trick
because there are no cylinders firing and pistons car is a car, but but the killer app that makes EVs essential.
vibrating in front of you,” explains Di Cara. it’s also a giant
“When you put your foot on the accelerator, the THE GOVERNMENT WILL PAY YOU TO BUY ONE
car just rolls forward in silence. It never gets old.” battery. That If you purchase or sign up for a 48-month lease
In the new models, the batteries span the centre means you can on an eligible electric vehicle (base MSRP of
of the car, rather than a heavy engine up top, sneak off to run $45,000 or less), the federal government will con-
which translates into a lower centre of gravity tribute up to $5,000. Crossover manufacturers
and better handling. EVs are also far more an electric have responded with sticker prices in the
responsive, accelerating and decelerating imme- breast pump at $40,000s to qualify. The result is a win-win for
diately—what owners have dubbed one-pedal your friend’s value-seeking families. Most provinces and ter-
driving. This is thanks to a magical thing called ritories (sorry, Ontario) offer additional incen-
regenerative braking, which uses the vehicle’s vineyard tives, meaning you can easily end up with $10,000
motor to slow itself down, recharging the bat- wedding, or in combined incentives for a new vehicle purchase
tery in the process. This means that when you’re in some parts of the country, bringing the cost
stuck in stop-and-go traffic, unlike a gas vehicle, keep your more in line with a comparable combustion vehi-
which will burn more fuel, you actually lose less garage freezer cle. For a Quebec family looking to purchase a
charge. (Not that it makes it any more fun with $44,995 Volkswagen ID.4, for instance, the real
a hangry toddler in the back.) on during a cost would be only $31,995 after both incentives—
blackout. just a bit more than its Tiguan cousin, but with
IT’S A BACKUP GENERATOR far lower ongoing maintenance costs. Plus, your
Your electric car is a car, but it’s also a giant bat- local dealership is responsible for processing the ILLUSTRATION: NAZARIO GRAZIANO
tery. Some of the newer models, like the Hyundai paperwork and ensuring you receive the rebate.
IONIQ 5, feature a capability called vehicle-to-
load (V2L)—really just a fancy way of saying that Deacon would love for more people to experi-
you can plug things into it. (There’s an outlet ence an EV to get over the mental hurdle. “You’re
outside the car, plus another one inside the cabin not giving anything up—you’re only adding to
on certain trims.) That means you can sneak off the convenience and the comfort,” she says. She’s
to run a breast pump in the back seat at your even convinced her most skeptical relatives. “My
friend’s vineyard wedding, or keep that freezer dad’s a mechanic, and my uncle is a geologist in
in your garage from thawing during a blackout. Alberta. They’ve both made their livelihoods off
Automakers and charging-station manufactur- of oil and gas. But on their first drive with us,
ers are also working on something called bidi- they were shocked at the power that an electric
rectional charging, which could power your vehicle has. They were like, ‘Gosh, our nicest gas
whole house during an outage, but only a few vehicles could never do what this vehicle does.’”
EVs, like the new Ford F-150 Lightning trucks Di Cara’s son, who’s eight and something of a rac-
and Nissan Leaf, are ready out of the box. As cli- ing car enthusiast, does have one regret about
mate change makes weather more unpredictable, the switch to electric: “I wish it growled more.
That sounds way cooler.” —Ilana Weitzman
20 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
The widest range of electrified
vehicles in CanadaŸ.
Plugged into you.
NEXO Hydrogen Fuel Cell IONIQ Hybrid
TUCSON Hybrid and KONA Electric
IONIQ 5 Electric SANTA FE Hybrid and
At Hyundai, we are committed to the future of Canadian mobility. That’s why we’re
happy to offer the widest range of electrified options in the country — more than
any other manufacturer. So, whether you’re looking for the accessibility of a hybrid,
the freedom of a plug-in hybrid, the cutting-edge technology of a fuel cell or the
all-in power of electric, Hyundai is plugged into you.
™/®The Hyundai name, logos, product names, feature names, images and slogans are trademarks owned or licensed by Hyundai Auto Canada Corp.. All other trademarks and trade names are
those of their respective owners. ʆClaim based on Autoplanner comparison as of August 2021. Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. is the only OEM in Canada to currently offer customers the option
of four alternative powertrains, namely hybrid, electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell.
ADVICE&REAL LIFE Relationships ILLUSTRATION: PETE RYAN
Some co-parents—sometimes referred to as “Disneyland dads”—start relying on novelties and dazzling adventures to
compensate for their lack of parenting skills and their inability to connect with their kids in more fundamental, routine ways.
22 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
Relationships ADVICE&REAL LIFE
When your ex gives the
kids the world—and
you’re stuck with the
Stuck with the heavy lifting while your indulgent ex plays “fun” parent,
spoiling the kids with toys, treats and trips? It’s a common and incredibly
frustrating dynamic. Here’s how to build boundaries, communicate
better and maybe, just maybe, find some compassion for your co-parent.
EVERY TWO WEEKS, NAOMI COOPER* SENDS her “A parent who who coined the term. Initially, it was a cheeky
six-year-old daughter to her ex-husband’s house creates reference to divorced fathers who spoiled their
for the weekend, knowing her days will be packed kids with big gifts and vacations, leaving the real
with over-the-top excursions, new toys and late non-stop fun burden of parenting to divorced moms. But since
nights. Inevitably, her daughter returns home for the kids parental indulgence isn’t gender-specific, the
tired and grumpy, and complains that her mom runs the risk of terms “Disneyland mom” and “Disneyland par-
doesn’t give her the same treats as Dad. “I’m their children ent” have sprung up in subsequent years.
always the bad guy,” Cooper says, sighing. eventually
equating love Clinical social worker and therapist Jenna
It’s been like this for the two years she’s been with getting Hill, who runs an individual and family coun-
co-parenting with her ex, but the dynamic was selling practice based in St. Thomas, Ont., has
particularly troubling the Christmas her daugh- stuff.” encountered plenty of Disneyland parents
ter returned from her dad’s house bragging about through her work with high-conflict co-parents,
all the gifts she’d received and griping that her but she first came across the dynamic in her own
mother hadn’t given her more. life. After splitting with her ex-husband when
their daughter was small, Hill continued to be
“I looked her straight in the eye and told her the “grunt-work parent,” as she puts it, while he
Christmas is about spending time with family became a Disneyland dad who dodged the hard
and I don’t have to buy her love,” says Cooper, parenting in favour of fun parenting (including
who lives near Cobourg, Ont., and recently had an actual trip to Disneyland one year).
a second child with her new partner. Although
she knew it wasn’t the most “politically correct” Twice a month, Hill’s daughter would spend
thing to say, Cooper says she’s grown tired of her the weekend with her father and return home
ex’s particular brand of indulgence and neglect. exhausted and full of attitude. Good times were
“He’s always got to show off, always be the best,” had, but not a lot of real parenting, she says. “He
she says. wouldn’t brush her hair and would feed her too
much soda and chips—and all of the things that
THERE’S A NAME FOR THIS PATTERN went against my mommy radar.” At the same time,
Cooper sees her ex-husband as a “Disneyland she knew her ex-husband to be a decent human
dad”—that is, all too willing to do fun stuff with being and loving father who only got to see his
their daughter, but unwilling to do the hard par- daughter twice a month, so she let it go—not just
enting, like enforcing a consistent bedtime or the laissez-faire parenting, but the extravagant
insisting vegetables are eaten. All of that heavy gifts and trips she couldn’t afford as a single mom.
lifting falls to her. Hill, who is more introverted, reminded herself
that she didn’t want to do most of that stuff any-
The expression “Disneyland dad” isn’t a new way. “I don’t make every day an adventure,” she
one. It shows up in parenting research dating laughs. “Here’s the adventure: It’s lunch!”
back to the early 1980s, although it’s not clear
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 23
ADVICE&REAL LIFE Relationships
DOES DISNEYLAND PARENTING HURT KIDS? Whether it’s While Disneyland parenting may not harm a
After each monthly visit, Hill’s daughter needed intentional child’s relationship with their parents, some
a couple of days to get back into her usual rou- experts worry that it could lead to other, more
tine—and shake off the sass—with some help or not, insidious, harm. Karen Skinulis, a psychothera-
from her mom. Hill would remind her kiddo of “Disneyland pist specializing in parenting and family issues
the rules and boundaries of their household, and parenting” in Richmond Hill, Ont., worries about the long-
began to anticipate this behaviour and a few days’ often stems term impact of Disneyland parenting on a child’s
grace period as her daughter readjusted. from a parent’s development.
Without a doubt, Disneyland parenting is the divorce. “In a Disneyland world, it’s all fun and there’s
tough on the other parent, says Hill, but it isn’t Indulging a no responsibility, and not a lot expected of chil-
necessarily harmful to the children—at least, child functions dren,” she says. If we see parenting as a matter
not if both parents are on decent terms and don’t as a misguided of preparing children for life, Disneyland par-
openly criticize the other’s choices. apology, and it enting may be a cruel set-up. A parent who con-
stantly creates non-stop fun for the kids runs the
“A lot of it relies on the ‘non-fun’ parent to be sends the risk of their children equating love with getting
able to say, ‘That’s so nice that Mommy got that wrong stuff, of course, but also coming to expect non-
for you, but we have some rules around that in stop fun, and perhaps even believing that others
this house,’” says Hill. In her experience, it’s pos- message. are obliged to make them happy. And, when they
sible to celebrate a child’s positive experience inevitably don’t get what they want, a heavily
with the other parent—even if you don’t agree indulged child may feel a disproportionate
with it—and maintain the rules of your home. amount of disappointment and anger. This does
Children can accept different rules at different nothing to prepare kids for adult life, which is
houses provided they’re clear and consistent. filled with disappointments, small and large,
that we must navigate with grace. “We want to
Of course, it’s hard when the Disneyland par- help children experience boundaries and limits
ent isn’t just spoiling the child, but trying to out- while they’re growing up, so they’re very com-
do their ex. Hill has seen this dynamic at work fortable with it and have a lot of practice,” says
in families, too, and, while it can be malicious, Skinulis.
the competitive parent is often unaware of it.
They may be in denial and not ready, or willing, Another possible side effect is even more subtle
to see what they’re doing, even if it’s pointed out or indirect. Megan Vandersluys, a registered clin-
to them gently and diplomatically. ical counsellor in Nanaimo, BC, notes that
Disneyland parenting often stems from a par-
But regardless of a co-parent’s motivations, ent’s guilt around the divorce. Indulging a child
the grunt-work parent must manage their feel- may function as a kind of misguided apology,
ings and resist taking the bait. “You can’t com- whether this is the intent or not.
pete with a parent who has more,” says Hill. “And,
emotionally, you don’t need to compete with the “If a child is stuck in the grief and loss [of
other parent, because your child will always love divorce] and one parent is constantly trying to
both of you.” make up for it, this reinforces the idea that ‘this
must be a terrible thing that happened to me,
In fact, if you’re anxious that your Disneyland poor me,’” explains Vandersluys. Instead, a par-
co-parent may damage your relationship with ent should build a child’s resilience by teaching
your child, don’t worry: Parent-child bonds them that we all live through difficult things and
aren’t built upon a regular influx of new toys or have the ability to move on with our lives.
damaged by regular chores. “Throughout my “Constantly parenting out of guilt and trying to
entire career, a child has never said, ‘I like it bet- make up for the divorce years and years later”
ter at my dad’s house because he lets me have the really sends the wrong message, she says.
tablet whenever I want,’” says Hill. And, in her
own life, Hill has maintained her close bond with RELATING TO YOUR CO-PARENT
her now-adult daughter, while supporting the Melanie Taylor* has not one, but two Disneyland
relationship with her father. parents in her life: her ex-husband (the father of
her 11-year-old daughter) and, after she remar-
Ultimately, it isn’t toys and treats that build ried, her new husband’s ex-wife (the mother of
connection between parents and children. Hill her two step-kids). In both co-parenting situa-
points out that children form secure attachments tions, she and her new partner are the heavy-
when their parents consistently meet their physi- lifting grunt-work parents compared to their
cal and emotional needs, and they spend time more indulgent, permissive exes.
together—something that doesn’t need to hap-
pen at a theme park. Simple activities and pre- She says none of the three kids complain that
dictable, comforting rituals like reading together they don’t get the treats they get from their other
at bedtime each night can create the bonds chil-
dren need to feel safe and loved.
24 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
ILLUSTRATION: PETE RYAN According to experts, kids can accept diﬀering rules at diﬀerent Relationships ADVICE&REAL LIFE
households, provided they’re clear and consistent.
Your co-parent may also simply lack the par-
parents, like new toys and clothes or regular trips enting skills to cope with stress or bond with the
to McDonald’s—all three seem content to spend kids without relying on special gifts or outings.
time together as a family. “I think that’s what “Sometimes, people are just not equipped,” she
most kids want,” says the Lethbridge, Alta., mom. says. These parents struggle to connect through
“It gets old fast when you just buy them things mundane activities like bedtime or cooking din-
all of the time.” ner, and don’t do the hard work of maintaining
boundaries and routines. They could be using
At the same time, it’s hard to watch both treats and novelty to compensate for their inabil-
Disneyland parents spoiling the kids while shirk- ity to connect in more fundamental ways. And
ing their responsibilities. In the case of her ex- sometimes parents are just too stressed or dis-
husband, Taylor finds herself not only playing tracted to remember that a few dedicated min-
the role of the “un-fun” parent, but also pushing utes of simply sitting and colouring pictures with
him to deliver on the extravagant promises he your kid, or playing hide-and-seek around the
makes to their daughter. On her last birthday, house, can strengthen a relationship more than
he promised her a gift of $500 but didn’t deliver a trip to the toy store.
until Taylor nudged him several times; when the
money materialized, he’d cut it down to $250. With a little compassion, it may be possible to
Although she didn’t agree with the extravagant broach the topic of your ex’s Disneyland parent-
gift, Taylor figured it would be worse for her ing. Futerman recommends starting a conver-
daughter if he failed to follow through. “I feel sation by validating your ex’s experience, just as
like I’m the only one keeping their relationship you would with your child in an effort to calm
afloat,” she says with a sigh. them. If you’ve noticed patterns, mention your
observations about your child’s behaviour when
For “un-fun” parents, Disneyland parenting they return to your home, and be clear on what
can be downright aggravating, but a little bit of you’re asking your ex to do. It’s also important
compassion can go a long way, says Carol to recognize that they don’t have to agree.
Futerman, a registered psychotherapist and
counsellor with Family Service Toronto. “There is a bit of an art to the communication,”
Consider the possibility that your ex-spouse is Futerman says. “Of course, no one responds well
unknowingly acting out of guilt over the divorce, to accusations.” She recommends identifying
fear of loss, or some other emotional baggage. common ground or a common goal in this diffi-
cult conversation, and approaching the possible
outcome with curiosity. Statements like “I won-
der what we can do to work on that” may help.
But be discerning about what you bring up
with your co-parent, says Skinulis. As much as
you may disagree with your ex’s parenting meth-
ods, you’re going to want to choose your battles.
(A couple of late nights and overdoing it on the
candy is not going to stunt your child’s growth
or cause permanent health issues, for instance).
If your co-parenting relationship is tenuous, it
may be best to bring up the parenting choices
that pose real risks to your child’s emotional or
physical health, and leave the smaller stuff alone
in the interests of co-parenting harmony.
This can be hard, but part of co-parenting is
accepting you can’t control what happens on the
other side, even if you have to deal with the con-
sequences. “The only thing you have control over
is your own life decisions and how you’re going
to parent your child,” Skinulis says.
There may be no happily ever after with a
Disneyland parent, but on your side of the castle,
you call the shots. “That’s one of the more posi-
tive things about being a single parent,” says
Skinulis. “You don’t have to compromise.”
*Names have been changed.
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 25
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Latest studies, family wellness, better living
Toboggan is from
the Mi'kmaw word
tobakun. The Inuit
made the first ones
out of whale bone.
PHOTO: STOCKSY HEAD FOR When you’re looking for far more likely than adults Paediatric Society says
THE HILLS the perfect way to spend to end up in the emergency children should wear a ski
a sunny winter a ernoon department from sledding or hockey helmet (a bike
Your kids will tell you that sledding with the kids, there might injuries, which are most helmet won't cut it). Ask
is one of the best things about be nothing be er than o en due to collisions your kids to kneel or sit feet
your local hill. Sledding is with obstacles like trees, ﬁrst when they head down
winter, so get out there at the ﬁrst inexpensive, requires no other sledders, the ground the hill—those are the safer
sight of a decent snowfall—but real athletic ability and gets or even their own ride. positions while toboggan-
keep safety top of mind. everyone outside and ac- What’s more, they're most ing. That means sliding on
tive. Still, the pastime isn’t likely to injure their head, their stomach, headﬁrst,
without some risks. Kids are which is why the Canadian while thrilling, is a no-no.
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 27
HAPPY&HEALTHY Need to know
HOUSE OF PAIN PREGNANCY CAN COME with taking acetaminophen unless
lots of aches and pains. For medically necessary; that they
It’s something you learn early in relief, many turn to acetamino- should check with a physician
pregnancy: Advil’s a no-no, Tylenol’s phen—known by the brand or pharmacist if they’re not sure
OK. But in September, the rule of thumb name Tylenol—since ibuprofen if it’s necessary or before long-
was called into question. Here’s what (Advil) is not recommended in term use; and that they should
pregnancy, especially after 20 minimize exposure by using the
expectant parents need to know. weeks, because it can result in lowest effective dose for the
low amniotic fluid. shortest possible time.
But that practice was chal- Here’s the good news:
lenged in September, when a According to the Society of
consensus statement was pub- Obstetricians and
lished in the journal Nature Gynaecologists of Canada,
Reviews Endocrinology. that’s already the current prac-
Authored by a group of 13 scien- tice in Canada. And, in a
tists and doctors, it said—based response to the statement, the
on research they’d reviewed— SOGC stated that the evidence
they were concerned that taking of a direct or causal link
acetaminophen (also known as between taking acetaminophen
paracetamol in many parts of and an increased risk of a fetus
the world) in pregnancy could developing these disorders is
potentially alter fetal develop- “weak and has many fundamen-
ment, which could increase the tal flaws.” Based on available
risk of certain neurodevelop- evidence, it will continue to rec-
mental disorders, as well as dis- ommend using acetaminophen
orders that affect the for fever and pain in pregnancy,
reproductive and urinary tracts as long as it’s at the recom-
and the fetus’s genitals. mended dose and for the short-
est duration needed. This is
Based on their analysis, the welcome reassurance for preg-
group called for a review and an nant people who have limited
immediate update to healthcare options for pain management.
guidance. They said pregnant —Alex Mlynek
people should be advised to avoid
Looking for ways to keep your kid Couples having Snuggling up with
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Kids can practise the causes of male warm hug. Designed to
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or throw down squats with own homes. Ovry, the Canadian and calming anxious
the Hulk using a weighted company known for its minds, the 6-pound
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GoZone Kids ﬁtness line ovulation tests, has launched of organic co on, so it’s super
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NEW You already know that kids should eat fruits and vegetables, and research out of the UK oﬀers
STUDY a surprising new reason why. Close to 9,000 children reported their daily dietary choices and took
part in tests of mental well-being that covered cheerfulness, relaxation and having good interpersonal
relationships. Researchers found that eating more fruits and veggies was linked with positive mental health, and
that kids who ate ﬁve or more portions per day had the highest scores. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they also found
those who drank only energy drinks for breakfast had particularly low scores.
28 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
ILLUSTRATION: NEIL WEBB Pregnancy HAPPY&HEALTHY
Have it your way
Trying for a vaginal birth after a previous C-section isn’t a risky
choice. In fact, it might even lead to better outcomes for mom
and baby. In most cases, the decision should be yours to make.
Here’s what you need to know.
WHEN LISA LOGULLO, who lives in Calgary, was pregnant with her third baby, she
knew she wanted to try for a VBAC—a vaginal birth after Caesarian—and her doctor
agreed that it was a good choice. After a relatively straightforward vaginal birth with
her first child, LoGullo ended up with an emergency C-section with her second. “I
much preferred the vaginal delivery because the recovery was so much easier,” she
says. “Plus, I enjoyed the process of actually being in labour and having it all unfold
with my husband and sister there.”
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 29
More and more evidence shows that VBACs A VBAC that duction may be delayed—although many people
are a safe option for the majority of people who ends in a have no issues with breastfeeding after a
have had C-sections before. And yet they’re C-section. You might also find it easier to posi-
declining in popularity across Canada: In vaginal birth tion the baby more comfortably when feeding
1995/96, 35 percent of births after a C-section is the safest following a vaginal delivery.
were vaginal, and in 2015/16, only 19 percent of option for both
them were. mother and Having a VBAC also reduces the chances of
baby. A planned problems with future pregnancies. The most
That’s mostly because of an incorrect belief C-section is the serious is the risk that future placentas will
that VBACs are risky, says Leslie Po, an OB/GYN second safest, attach to scar tissue from the C-section, a condi-
at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. and a VBAC that tion called placenta accreta, which can cause
“There’s a misconception that you can’t have vagi- severe hemorrhaging after birth. “The more
nal delivery after a C-section, but about 90 per- ends in an C-sections you have, the more the risk of those
cent of people who’ve had one C-section are unplanned placental problems increases. For people plan-
eligible for it,” says Po. In fact, recently updated Caesarian is ning on having more children, this can be impor-
guidelines from the Society of Obstetricians and the least safe. tant,” says Meuser.
Gynaecologists of Canada go so far as to recom-
mend a VBAC over a planned Caesarian for those VBACS AREN’T WITHOUT THEIR RISKS
who are considered good candidates. The main risk of a VBAC is a uterine rupture,
which is when the scar inside the uterus from
Here’s what you need to know about VBACs. the previous C-section tears, due to the uterus
expanding and contracting during labour. “If
LEARN THE LINGO that scar opens up while you’re labouring, it can
A VBAC is when someone who’s had a C-section have very significant consequences,” says Po.
before gives birth vaginally in a subsequent preg- One is blood loss, which can be serious enough
nancy. You might hear your doctor or midwife to require a blood transfusion. Another is an
call it TOLAC, which stands for “trial of labour injury to an organ, like the bladder.
after Caesarian.” This encompasses the fact that
the decision is really whether to try to give birth There are also risks to the baby: A uterine tear
vaginally, not whether you achieve it. “I prefer can cause the placenta to detach, which can lead
TOLAC because it describes the process rather to oxygen deprivation or even death. And while
than the outcome,” says Anna Meuser, a midwife the risks to the baby in a VBAC are higher than
in Mississauga, Ont., and chair of the Clinical they are in an elective or planned C-section,
Practice Guidelines Committee at the Association they’re still rare. There’s a one-in-200 chance of
of Ontario Midwives. uterine rupture, and if that happens, there’s a
three-in-10,000 chance of fetal loss, says Po.
WHY ARE DOCS AND MIDWIVES SO INTO VBACS?
The key benefit of a VBAC is that it avoids the Doctors will work to mitigate the risks,
risks that come with any Caesarian. “Even though. Inducing labour can contribute to uter-
though a C-section is a common surgery, and it’s ine rupture because the uterus contracts more
generally safe, any surgery comes with risks,” than it would during spontaneous labour. So if
says Meuser. Those include blood loss, infection you’re having a VBAC, your doctor or midwife
in the incision and complications from the sur- won’t use certain types of medicine to get labour
gery, like injuries to the bladder and other organs. going. Instead, they might use a Foley catheter
Also, babies who are birthed vaginally are less balloon, which stretches the cervix rather than
likely to have breathing issues, which are typi- using contractions to dilate it, says Po. To avoid
cally mild but occasionally do require time in an induction, your doctor or midwife may try to
the NICU. jump-start things using a stretch and sweep,
where they use their fingers to separate the amni-
A vaginal birth also saves you from the intense otic sac from the cervix. You can also choose to
recovery a C-section requires. “Anytime I would book a C-section that you would opt for if you
cough, laugh or sneeze, the cut would hurt,” don’t go into labour spontaneously.
remembers LoGullo. You’ll spend less time at the
hospital recovering, and have less pain, says The bottom line is, a VBAC that ends in a vagi-
Meuser, adding that it can also be easier to estab- nal birth is the safest option for both mother and
lish breastfeeding after a vaginal birth because baby, a planned C-section is the second safest
you can breastfeed right away. This is because and a VBAC that ends in an unplanned C-section
the hormones beneficial to breastfeeding, like is the least safe. That’s because when the
oxytocin and prolactin, are released in greater C-section is done in an emergency—for example,
quantities during and after giving birth vagi- due to concerns about the baby’s heart rate—the
nally, Meuser says. With a Caesarian, milk pro- procedure happens faster, which can lead to trou-
ble, says Po. “Complications can arise, whereas
30 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
in a planned C-section, there is plenty of time to It’s a myth because the baby was breech, or there were con-
organize and perform the surgery in a more con- that you need a cerns about the baby’s heart rate, it’s more likely
trolled manner.” specialist to do that a VBAC will work, says Po. If it was because
a VBAC. Family labour wasn’t progressing well or it didn’t start
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES A VBAC WILL BE spontaneously, it’s more likely that those prob-
SUCCESSFUL? doctors and lems might repeat themselves and a VBAC will
VBACs end in a vaginal birth about 75 percent of midwives do end in a C-section.
the time. Interestingly, the success rate is largely them regularly.
based on things that happened before you even But it’s highly Chat with your healthcare provider about your
got pregnant. recommended personal risk, and weigh it against your own pref-
that you deliver erences. “I have some patients who say, even if
For example, have a peek at your C-section in a hospital, there’s only a 15 percent chance that things would
scar. Those with a low horizontal cut tend to be not at home. happen vaginally, they want to try, while others
well-suited for vaginal birth, while those with a say, even if there’s a 75 certain chance, they want
ILLUSTRATION: NEIL WEBB T-shaped incision or a classical incision (a verti- a C-section,” says Po.
cal cut higher up, near the belly button) aren’t,
because those incisions are more likely to rup- DO YOU NEED TO BE IN A HOSPITAL FOR A VBAC?
ture. Don’t worry if you don’t know what kind It’s strongly recommended by obstetric guide-
you have—your doc will look at the report from lines. While there isn’t definitive research to say
your previous C-section to confirm your incision that a hospital birth will lead to better outcomes
type. Both classical and T-shaped incisions are than a home VBAC, the recommendation makes
rare these days, says Meuser. sense to many doctors and midwives, including
Meuser. That’s because the first sign of a uterine
Beyond that, a good candidate is somebody rupture is usually issues with the baby’s heart
who has had at least 18 months between deliver- rate. During a home birth or at a birthing centre,
ies and who has had only one C-section, says Po. midwives use intermittent monitoring to check
Being younger, having a BMI under 30 and not the baby’s heartbeat every five to 30 minutes.
having high blood pressure each also increases But in a VBAC, continuous monitoring is recom-
the chances of an attempted VBAC ending in a mended instead. That’s only available in hospi-
vaginal birth. tals, though both doctors and midwives can
oversee it there.
The other thing doctors and midwives con-
sider is the reason for the last C-section. If it was The other reason is that TOLACs have to be
done where a C-section is accessible, says Po. If
things go sideways and you need an emergency
C-section or a blood transfusion, being in a hos-
pital already means you can get the help you need
quickly, with no travel time. Research shows that
outcomes of uterine rupture are worse when
there’s a longer wait to surgery.
But it’s a myth that you need a specialist to do
a VBAC—family doctors and midwives regularly
do VBACs and can stay in charge of your care
throughout the birth, even if it’s in a hospital.
Some midwives with extra training, like Meuser,
can even assist in a C-section if that’s where a
As for LoGullo, she’s glad she chose to try for
a VBAC, and it worked out well for her. She gave
birth with her husband and sister in the room,
and was able to be home two days later, taking
care of her oldest two kids without surgical
recovery to contend with. “I was definitely
relieved and happy,” she says. “It felt like the
best way to end my birthing journey.” But had
it not worked out, as planned VBACs sometimes
don’t, she absolutely should not have felt like she
failed, adds Meuser: “Having a repeat C-section
is not at all a failure. It’s just another way to have
a baby.”—Vanessa Milne
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 31
HAPPY&HEALTHY Nutrition PHOTO: STOCKSY
Good news: If your kid hates vegetables, dietitians say they can actually get most of what they need
from fruit instead. But for kids who refuse both, a multivitamin can be a tempting solution.
32 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
Are multivitamins magic?
When kids don’t eat much beyond nuggets and fries,
some parents resort to a daily multivitamin.
Here’s what the experts say about that approach.
IF YOU’VE EVER BEGGED, bribed or forced your Pretty much tation, Hall recommends drops. “Kids can have
kid to eat even just a few bites of vegetables at the every kid would issues swallowing capsules and tablets,” she says,
dinner table, then you probably know all about noting that chewables and gummies often have
the gnawing concern that your kids might not beneﬁt from added sugars, which aren’t great for oral health.
be getting the vitamins and nutrients they need. taking vitamin She’s also wary of kids associating sweet gummy
Maybe you’ve even turned to a kids’ multivita- D, which is hard vitamins with candy, which can be dangerous if
min as an “insurance policy” to make sure to get from diet a toddler accidentally gets ahold of the bottle
they’re getting enough of the right nutrients. But and sun alone. unattended.
is that a good idea? Here’s what you need to know. And children
on a vegan diet Breastfed babies under one need a vitamin D
SHOULD MY KIDS BE TAKING VITAMINS? supplement of 400 IU via drops, since breastmilk
If your child eats a well-balanced diet and is oth- might need alone does not provide enough vitamin D for
erwise healthy, they probably don’t need extra B12, since it’s infants. The Canadian Paediatric Society says
vitamin or multivitamin supplementation mostly found formulas fortified with 400 IU of vitamin D per
beyond vitamin D, says Joseph Wiley, interim litre should be enough to meet a baby’s needs, so
chief of paediatrics at Markham Stouffville in animal babies on formula don’t typically need a
Hospital in Markham, Ont. “I don’t know that products. supplement.
there is evidence to say there’s much to be gained
by providing supplementation outside of a broad- WHEN ARE VITAMINS TRULY NECESSARY?
based diet,” he says. Some kids with chronic diseases or disorders can
benefit. Wiley says kids with cystic fibrosis, for
Vitamin D is the exception because it can be example, have difficulty obtaining enough nutri-
tough to get enough through diet and sun expo- ents from their diet and their doctor may recom-
sure alone, says Andrea Carpenter, registered mend vitamin supplementation. This is also true
dietitian and founder of Toronto-based of children who have severely restricted diets for
NutriKidz. Health Canada recommends a daily sensory reasons—for example, some kids with
dietary allowance (RDA) of 600 IU (international autism spectrum disorder.
units) for kids over 12 months, while babies need
about 400 IU a day. Lyndsay Hall, a registered Supplementing with a single nutrient, rather
dietitian in Toronto, recommends providing than a multivitamin, may also be necessary for
about 200 IU to kids through food and the rest kids following vegan or vegetarian diets. Hall
through supplementation. One cup (250 mL) of says she sometimes recommends vitamin B12
orange juice with added vitamin D can provide for vegan kids; they’re at a greater risk of devel-
about 100 IU, as does a cup of cow’s milk. To get oping a deficiency since B12 is mostly found in
children the remaining 400 IU via supplemen- animal products, like meat, milk and cheese,
which vegans don’t eat.
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 33
WHAT ABOUT MY PICKY EATER? Giving deficiencies. Carpenter says this week-long
As tempting as it is to throw in the towel and let your kid a approach is preferred because although kids may
your fussy-eating kid go wild on chicken strips multivitamin not get all the nutrients they need in one day or
and then just supplement with vitamins or mul- coupled with meal, they may still be getting enough over the
tivitamins, it’s generally best to work on broad- a healthy diet course of a few days.
ening your kid’s diet first before resorting to is pretty low
supplementation, says Wiley. Even if they are risk, but it’s a MY KID’S DIET IS PRETTY BALANCED
eating only small amounts of food from each of good idea to BUT I GIVE THEM A MULTIVITAMIN
the main food groups, Hall says they’re more check with ANYWAY. IS THAT OK?
often than not getting what they need. your child’s Wiley sees this frequently and doesn’t talk par-
doctor ﬁrst. ents out of it. “It’s common behaviour,” he says,
This “food-first” approach is useful because adding that it’s ultimately a parent’s choice.
it helps kids (and parents!) learn to persevere What about the risk of vitamin toxicity or over-
through periods of food pickiness. If parents are dose? The nutrient levels in many multivitamin
constantly relying on a vitamin to round out a products are high enough to have an effect on
picky-eating-child’s diet, it may make the child a kid’s nutrient stores, but are nonetheless fairly
even more resistant to certain foods because they low, says Hall, so generally speaking, giving
know there is a backup plan. Hall says it’s per- your kid a multivitamin coupled with a healthy
fectly normal for kids to go through periods of diet is pretty low risk. But take the time to run
refusing certain foods or food types, and parents supplements by your kid’s doctor first to con-
can help their kids overcome these temporary firm that your child won’t end up exceeding the
aversions in a few ways. She suggests offering daily maximum for any given vitamin or
the disliked food alongside something parents mineral.
know their kids love and especially when their
kid is hungriest. The most important thing to SHOULD I BOOST MY KID WITH VITAMINS
remember? Persistence. “Sometimes it can take IF I THINK THEY’RE GETTING SICK?
up to 15 tries for a child to actually decide whether According to Carpenter, there really is no quick
they like a food or not,” says Hall. fix when it comes to preventing or reducing the
severity of colds and common illnesses, so load-
Carpenter says cases of extreme pickiness, ing your kid up on vitamin C at the first sign of
where kids are missing entire food groups, may the sniffles isn’t the best solution. “It doesn’t
warrant supplementation until she and the fam- really work like that,” she says. Instead,
ily are able to successfully integrate that food Carpenter says your best bet is again to focus on
group and/or nutritional gap into the kid’s regu- diet and offering kids a variety of fruits, vegeta-
lar diet. But before jumping to a supplement, it bles, whole grains, healthy fats and proteins to
can be useful to review your child’s eating habits keep their young bodies fit and strong.
over the course of a few days to a week to try to
accurately judge if there really are any gaps or
Four things to consider if you’re adding a vitamin to your kid’s daily routine.
The decision to supplement 1 Look for a product the ingredient amounts listed product, so it’s important to
your kids’ diets with vitamins on the bo le are accurate. You choose one that aligns with
or multivitamins is up to you, with a natural product can look for a third-party-tested your child’s speciﬁc needs.
but it’s always best to seek out number (NPN) on it. In Canada, logo or visit the supplement’s
the expertise of a paediatrician this means the product has website to conﬁrm. 4 Understand your
or registered dietitian to been examined by Health
make sure supplementation Canada and deemed “safe, 3 Read the ingredients child’s abilities and
is necessary and will be eﬀective and of high quality.” maturity. Can they handle a
helpful to your kid’s growth listed on the bo le. chewable tablet or gummy,
and development. 2 Check to see if the item Carpenter suggests steering or is a liquid or drop more
clear as much as possible of suitable? Are they old enough to
If you do choose to has been third-party sugars and artiﬁcial dyes, which swallow a capsule? Carpenter
supplement, it’s time to tested. This means it has are usually found in the non- says gummy formats are OK,
hit the drugstore. Here’s been assessed by an external medicinal ingredients section but advises they generally
what to know when buying organization to ensure that of the label. Remember that don’t contain as many vitamins
vitamins for your li les. there aren’t any undeclared vitamin types and levels will and minerals as chewable
ingredients or contaminants vary with each multivitamin or swallowable tablets.
within the supplement and that
34 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
PHOTO: STOCKSY HOW SAFE ARE SUPPLEMENTS? Fish oil is widely believed to promote cognitive health and brain function,
It’s not impossible to have too much of a good but the safest way to get it into your kids is through their diet.
thing. Every nutrient has what’s called a toler-
able upper intake level (UL), which is the maxi- supplements to their paediatric patients. The
mum amount a person can take through food safest way to get omega-3 fatty acids into your
and supplements without risking adverse effects kid is through their diet. Chia and flax seeds,
on their health. Each nutrient and vitamin has walnuts and, of course, different types of fish
a different UL, and that amount also fluctuates like salmon and mackerel are all great sources.
depending on age and sometimes gender. The UL
for vitamin D, for example, is 2,500 IU for kids It’s a similar situation with probiotics—
ages one to three, 3,000 IU for kids ages four to research in this area is still developing, says
eight and 4,000 for kids nine and up. Wiley. He does note some limited studies that
show probiotics can potentially help resolve
Considering the recommended daily dose of diarrhea and stomach pain, although the
vitamin D for kids over age one is only 600 IU, it results aren’t definitive and the studies are still
may seem unlikely that you’ll reach toxic levels, new. This is why he doesn’t actively recommend
but it can happen, especially in situations where probiotics to kids, but he says that they can be
your child is actually eating a balanced diet and a safe and reasonable option for children. It
then consuming high levels of supplements on may not be necessary to give your kid a probi-
top of it. The same goes for children consuming otic supplement, though, if they’re already get-
both a multivitamin and nutrient-specific vita- ting it in food products like yogurt. Other
mins, like vitamin C or D. So if you’re already natural sources of probiotics are fermented
giving your kid a vitamin D supplement, for foods like sauerkraut and kimchee. Worth a
example, it’s probably best to avoid a multivita- try, right?—Arisa Valyear
min with vitamin D as well.
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 35
Carpenter says overdoing it with certain types
of vitamins or minerals may cause kids to feel
symptoms like nausea, vomiting, stomach pain,
constipation, diarrhea and/or headaches. This
is especially true of vitamin D, which, when
taken excessively, can also cause high calcium
levels in our blood and then lead to calcium or
Iron is another supplement to be careful of
when it comes to toxicity, especially with regard
to kids, says Hall. Health Canada’s recommended
dietary allowance for children ages one to three
is 7 mg per day, and 10 mg for those ages four to
eight. If a child consumes a level exceeding the
UL of 40 mg per day, the result could be organ
failure or even death. However, Wiley says chil-
dren’s vitamins don’t generally contain iron, and
if they do, it’s usually in very small amounts.
To limit toxicity risks, it’s always safest to
check in with a doctor or nutritionist to establish
both if your kid actually needs vitamins and, if
so, what kinds and which doses. But if you do
choose to supplement on your own, be wary of
nutrient levels in both multivitamin and single-
nutrient products and make sure you’re staying
within the recommended allowances.
WHAT ABOUT FISH OIL AND PROBIOTICS?
Fish oil is known to contain high levels of
omega-3 fatty acids like DHA, which research
shows can help promote things like cognitive
health and brain function in adults and kids.
Still, both Wiley and Hall say the research is too
new and insufficiently robust to recommend the
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PHOTO:JASON GORDON Mental health HAPPY&HEALTHY
It might sound a little woo-woo, but teaching kids mindful breathing
can truly help them calm themselves down in the heat of a tantrum.
MY TWO-AND-A-HALF-YEAR-OLD shrieked and stomped, tears welling like tiny
rain clouds ready to burst. Her dad was trying to put on her snowsuit and she was
just not having it. “Mommy do it,” she pleaded through the sobs. I grabbed the pants
and put her on my lap. I expected the freak-out to continue, but it didn’t. “Take a
deep breath, in and out,” she whispered, closing her eyes, inhaling and exhaling
slowly. Her energy shifted to a calmer state and just minutes later we were all out-
side playing in the snow, the tantrum a mere blip in the day. I was shocked—usu-
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 37
HAPPY&HEALTHY Mental health
ally her tantrums lasted at least five minutes 4 WAYS TO
(which always feels like an hour). TRY IT AT
After recounting the incident to a caregiver at
her daycare, she told me they were encouraging Relax and make it
the class to recognize their emotions and take a a game! Kids
deep breath when they felt frustrated or upset. are usually
I was surprised my daughter remembered to use up for it.
the skill in the moment, but it’s clear that what
they were teaching her was working. “Take a deep BLOWING “I STOP AND FEEL
breath, in and BUBBLES MY BREATHING”
I’ve since learned that mindful breathing is Best for: Age2+ Best for: Age 2+
pretty easy to teach and it really helps kids man- out,” my How to do it: Get How to do it: Before
age their emotions. toddler some bubble mixture you and your child start
whispered, and a wand. Have an activity together,
IS IT DIFFERENT FROM JUST...BREATHING? closing her your child try to blow ask them to stop, pause
It’s still inhaling and exhaling, of course, but eyes, inhaling bubbles by blowing and feel their breath.
with an awareness of the air coming in and out. and exhaling into the wand. They Children can place
It’s believed to have positive effects on the mind slowly. Her might blow really hard a hand on their belly
and body, including better focus, less anxiety energy shifted and not be able to blow to feel it rising and
and improved emotional regulation. “When we to a calmer a bubble. Suggest they falling as they breathe,
have a long exhale, it activates the parasympa- state and blow gently and tell explains Samantha
thetic nervous system, which helps us calm the tantrum them to pay a ention Snowden, a kids and
down,” explains Sara Marlowe, a Toronto-based was over. to what that feels like. family mindfulness
registered social worker and author of books When to try it: When expert at Headspace.
about mindfulness and self-compassion. you want to wind When to try it: It’s
things down, like in meant to be brief
HOW LEGIT IS IT FOR KIDS? the bath or during (compared to the
The research is limited but encouraging. A 2019 playtime before a nap. more focused Bear
study of 61 preteens found that after 18 minutes How it can help: Breathing, at right).
of mindful breathing, their attention improved Visualization—they Try it before a meal,
and anxiety decreased. Positive results also came can see their breath brushing teeth or
out of a study from Ottawa, where two paediat- create the bubble— ge ing into the car.
ric residents led biweekly mindfulness work- encourages children How it can help:
shops at an elementary school. The program to connect with their “Rituals are
included mindful breathing, and after their ses- breath. In addition to especially helpful
sions, the students were better able to recognize calming the mind and during transitions,
emotions and use relaxation techniques. body, this exercise can when children may
also promote focus have a hard time
AT WHAT AGE CAN KIDS LEARN IT? and self-regulation. switching from one
Marlowe says you can introduce mindful breath- task to another,” says
ing to a child at any age. She gives an example of Snowden. “They
doing a song circle with parents and babies, help children accept
where she would introduce them to mindful aspects of routines,
breathing using the lyrics “Breathing in I am like taking a bath
calm. Breathing out I smile.” Breathing mind- or brushing teeth,
fully with their infant helps parents respond to that may be diﬃcult
their baby’s emotions in a more soothing man- at ﬁrst.” Adding the
ner, which, according to Marlowe, nurtures emo- mindful breath in
tional regulation over time. By age two, kids can before the transition
start engaging in more intentional breathing starts allows your
exercises that involve counting or focusing on li le one to practise
the breath. emotional regulation.
That said, it won’t work on all kids. “I don’t
think mindfulness is for everyone,” says Erin
Woo of the Mindfulness Center at Brown
University in Rhode Island. “It’s important to
recognize that.” So if your kid is consistently
resisting your mindful-breathing ideas, it’s OK
to give up and move on. —Stephanie Gray
38 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
BEAR BREATHING TRY
Best for: Age 3+ THIS!
How to do it: Tell your
child to pretend they are Dos and don’ts of mindful breathing with kids
a bear, and explain that
when bears hibernate, For example: Don’t ask them to take a deep breath mid-meltdown.
they breathe slowly. Ask
ILLUSTRATIONS: SOL COTTI PHOTO: JASON GORDON them to follow your lead DO be playful and fun. It’s DO be a good role model. screaming at you for choosing
as you inhale deeply. the wrong sippy cup or for
Count to three or four important not to force it or have The most powerful way to cu ing their toast diagonally
as you inhale, pause rigid expectations of how kids teach your kids to use mindful instead of horizontally like
for a count of two, then will respond. It could be as breathing in the moment is with usual (you monster!) won’t get
exhale, counting out simple as taking a dandelion modelling. “It’s teaching our kids you anywhere with most kids.
loud to three or four, then and saying, “Let’s see if we in a non-pressured way that we Instead, introduce it during
pause again, repeating a can pretend to blow all of the all have these diﬀerent emotions calm times and talk about how
few times. Ask your child seeds, but do it one at a time.” all the time,” says Fulroop Sidhu, it might be used in diﬃcult
if they feel relaxed and This way you’re not asking a a child psychiatrist in the Infant times, suggests Erin Woo of the
cozy in their bear cave. child to be calm and take a deep Psychiatry Clinic at BC Children’s Mindfulness Center at Brown
When to try it: Before breath. Instead, you’re turning Hospital in Vancouver. “By taking University. “It’s not something
a nap, story time or mindful breathing into play. breaths when we’re upset, kids we can impose. Allow them to
a creative activity. will start to practise that and make the connections when
How it can help: DO ask your child how they learn that, too.” So the next time they’re ready to use it.”
This deep breathing you stub your toe, once you’ve
technique helps to felt a erwards. It’s common for stopped swearing under your With continued practice, your
promote relaxation. kids to comment that they feel breath, you could say something li le one will be able to start
calm or relaxed. If so, great! Try like, “That really hurts, so I’m recognizing their emotions
BELLY STONE/ something like this for a reply: frustrated right now. Maybe I and to defuse themselves
STUFFIE “If you noticed that you felt more just need to take a few deep faster. They won’t remember
Best for: Age 4+ calm a er mindful breathing, breaths. One. Two. Three.” to use these techniques in
How to do it: Have your when is a time you might use every tantrum, but over time,
child lie on their back it again to help yourself?” DON’T introduce mindful you’ll see changes. We may not
with a small stone or a Hopefully they’ll suggest using think our eﬀorts are paying oﬀ
stuﬀed animal on their it when they’re upset, but if not, breathing when your kid is in (for example, if tantrums keep
belly. Ask them to watch go ahead and recommend that, the middle of a tantrum. Telling happening), but in time they will.
the object move up and and oﬀer speciﬁc scenarios. a kid to “take a deep breath”
down with their breath. This helps to reinforce it. while they’re in the midst of
When to try it: Before
a nap or bedtime.
How it can help:
Because children have
to focus on their belly,
it helps to teach them
that paying a ention
to their body can
help them relax.
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 39
40 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
No matter how careful you are,
your baby will probably end
up with a cold before their ﬁrst
birthday. Nothing can prepare
you for that gunky nose,
those red-rimmed eyes,
that near-constant cough...
It can break a parent’s heart.
Colds aren’t usually serious,
but they’re no fun to get through,
either. This guide is here to help.
WRITTEN BY REBECCA CUNEO KEENAN ILLUSTRATIONS BY ANDY PIZZA
BRIGHT Every time your baby gets sick, their immune system builds antibodies. If they
SIDE encounter that same virus again, they’ll have a milder illness and get be er faster.
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 41
GOING VIRAL STEAM,
The first thing you want to know when your baby gets their
first cold is: How did this happen?! “Viruses are usually REPEAT!
spread through droplets and aerosols that enter the nose,
mouth and eyes,” says Toronto paediatrician Dina Kulik, the There may not be a cure for the
founder of KidCrew, a multidisciplinary health clinic. common cold, but there are
Depending on how much exposure a baby has to other peo- treatments that can help your
ple, Kulik says it wouldn’t be unusual for a baby to experi-
ence as many as a dozen viral illnesses in their first year. baby feel a lot more comfortable.
In addition to common cold viruses, babies can also get 1 STEAMY BATHROOM
sick with viral illnesses like influenza, croup, RSV and, these
days, COVID-19. These illnesses often begin with cold-like Good for: Loosening up a stuﬀy nose and helping baby breathe
symptoms but go on to make a baby feel sicker. more easily. Try it when your baby is uncomfortably congested.
FLU: Influenza is more likely to cause a fever, cough and gen- How to do it: Turn the bathroom into a steam room by running the
eral lethargy than a common cold is. Babies and young kids shower on hot for 10 to 15 minutes while holding your baby outside
are at a higher risk of complications and hospitalization from of the shower. Get as comfy as you can—you’ll probably end
the flu compared to older kids and adults. up si ing on the closed toilet seat. Grab a board book for
CROUP: The hallmark sign of croup is a barky-sounding entertainment.
cough, or stridor, a high-pitched sound when breathing. Pro tip: This works well for nasal congestion. But if your baby
Croup can sound alarming, but can usually be treated at has hoarseness, wheezing or a persistent cough, check in with
home. Still, it’s a good idea to have a baby with croup symp- a doctor to make sure you’re not dealing with a more serious
toms seen by your healthcare provider, says C.J. respiratory infection.
Blennerhassett, a Halifax registered midwife and member
of the Association of Nova Scotia Midwives, who cares for 2 SALINE DROPS
newborns in her practice. OR MIST
RSV: Symptoms of a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infec-
tion are similar to a cold, but RSV is more likely to include Good for: Helping to clear a
fever as a symptom. Kulik says there’s a greater chance that stuﬀy nose if your baby is having
RSV will make a baby sicker, but you wouldn’t actually know trouble feeding or sleeping
your baby has RSV, as opposed to a cold, unless they are because they can’t breathe
screened for it at a hospital. through their nose.
COVID-19: In babies, watch for fever, cough, shortness of How to use: You can buy either
breath and diarrhea or vomiting. saline drops or a spray in any
drugstore or grocery store—the
ones designed for babies will
be easier to use. Squirt two or
three drops of this up baby’s
nose to so en and dilute the
snot so they can breathe easier.
Pro tip: The drops tend to be
gentler on babies than the spray,
which can be quite forceful, but
either will work.
A NOTE ON BABIES CAN GET a cold at The key rule to remember is to the emergency department
NEWBORNS any age, but it can be par- to never treat a newborn fever at are vomiting, not eating, and
ticularly distressing when home. “If a baby this age has any breathing problems—which can
Colds aren’t usually they’ve been out of the womb symptoms of fever, you shouldn’t include blue lips or coughing
serious, but there are for only a ma er of weeks. treat that with over-the-counter so badly that they’re vomiting.
special considerations medications like Tylenol—you
if your baby is younger And while newborns com- should take them to the emer- “Normal newborn colds can
monly catch mild colds that gency room right away,” says involve a runny nose, sneez-
than three months. pass without incident, “there’s Blennerhasse . She says other ing, coughing, a change in eat-
a lower threshold for seeking signs that a newborn should go ing, or symptoms of fatigue
care,” says Blennerhasse . or sleepiness,” Blennerhas-
42 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
3 SNOT SUCKER PROCEED WITH DON’T BOTHER
Good for: Clearing out a stubbornly
clogged nose when saline solution on Vicks BabyRub Cough medicine
its own doesn’t work.
How to use: Supporting baby’s head, insert two You may recall your mom Cough medicine is not
or three drops of saline in one nostril. If you’re rubbing Vicks VapoRub recommended for babies
using the suction type, squeeze the air out of on your feet when you had (or any kids under six).
the bulb of the sucker before placing the tip just a cold and be tempted According to Health
inside your baby’s nose. Then let go and the to do the same with Canada, there is no
suction should pull out most of the snot. Other your baby, but there are evidence they’re eﬀective,
snot suckers are designed for caregivers to suck a few things to keep in and they can cause harm
the snot out with a tube. mind. First, the regular when misused or overused.
Pro tip: While you can use saline as o en version of Vicks VapoRub
as needed, you should suction only two to contains camphor, which The same goes for
three times a day to avoid irritation. is extremely toxic if natural cough medicines,
ingested. Keep this out of because natural ingredients
4 PAIN RELIEVER your li le one’s reach or can still cause dangerous
consider ge ing it out of side eﬀects and allergies.
Good for: Making your baby more comfortable. your house altogether. “There’s also no evidence
It can also bring down a fever. (The Canadian that they work,” says Kulik.
Paediatric Society recommends that all babies under Vicks BabyRub, on the
six months with a fever should be seen by a doctor.) other hand, doesn’t contain Homeopathic
How to use: Check with your doctor before giving camphor—but it also treatments and
ibuprofen to babies under six months. For both doesn’t contain any other essential oils
ibuprofen and acetaminophen, follow directions carefully and use medicinal ingredients that
the included syringe to get an accurate dose. If your baby isn’t a fan can relieve congestion and There are many cold
of the squirt, you can add the meds to a small amount of formula or isn’t marketed as a product remedies on pharmacy
breastmilk or, for older babies, food like baby cereal or fruit purée. for colds. However, there and health store shelves
Pro tip: Fevers can make babies fussy and uncomfortable and make likely isn’t harm in using labelled as homeopathic,
it hard to sleep. Consider timing a dose so everyone can get some this on your baby if you but these, like other natural
shut-eye at night. follow the manufacturer’s health products, are not
directions. It’s not meant as strictly regulated as
Wait! 5 HONEY to be used on babies pharmaceuticals. “There
under three months. is no convincing evidence
Never give honey Good for: Coating the throat and that they work, and they
suppressing coughs in children over Humidifier may pose a risk,” says
to babies under 12 12 months old. Kulik. It’s be er to avoid
How to use: Give your kid over one Humidiﬁers add moisture these altogether.
months old because year old a teaspoon or two at bedtime to the air in your house,
to help calm their cough so they can which can help keep snot Essential oils are
it can cause infant get to sleep. and mucus from drying out another popular home
Pro tip: Honey is one of the few natural and relieve congestion. remedy, but they can be
botulism. remedies that has been shown to work However, the Canadian toxic. Blennerhasse
in studies. Choose unpasteurized Paediatric Society doesn’t recommends against using
honey for an extra antiviral boost. recommend parents use them in a baby’s humidiﬁer
humidiﬁers—both hot or anywhere near a baby
and cool mist humidiﬁers because there are no
can breed mould and studies to demonstrate
bacteria if they are not their value or safety.
every day, and hot mist
humidiﬁers can be a burn
hazard for small children.
se says. (Other symptoms in- passage completely. If a baby is mask might make sense, too. Fi-
clude a mild headache or sore having trouble feeding, parents nally, anyone who spends time
throat, but those would be pret- can safely use saline drops and a with your baby should have the
ty hard for a parent to spot.) snot sucker, even with newborns. ﬂu shot, she says, since babies
under six months are unable to be
Don’t freak out if your new- To prevent your babe from get- vaccinated and they’re in a high-
born sounds a bit ra ly, though. ting sick, Blennerhasse sug- risk category for inﬂuenza-related
Blennerhasse says newborns gests asking people to wash their complications and hospitaliza-
o en sound like they have hands before holding them and tion. Caregivers should also be
stuﬀed-up sinuses, and there’s not passing them around at large vaccinated against COVID-19.
no need to try to clear the nasal gatherings. For the time being, a
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 43
HEY, GOOGLE? IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO ABOUT MY BABY’S RAW NOSE? While some people
recommend breastmilk to soothe your baby’s raw nose, both Kulik and Blennerhassett
When you’re deep in the say Vaseline or coconut oil is your best bet. Other gentle lotions can be used, but you
trenches of parenting a sick baby, should avoid products with added fragrance, which can be irritating.
SHOULD I STOP SLEEP TRAINING WHEN MY BABY HAS A COLD? As hard as it is to
you’ll have all sorts of middle- lose progress, it’s a good idea to take a break. “They may have different fluid needs,
of-the-night questions. We have so I recommend prioritizing their recovery from illness over sleep training proto-
cols,” says registered nurse and lactation consultant Azura Goodman, who’s based
Csome answers. in Hamilton, Ont.
WOULD ELEVATING THE CRIB MATTRESS HELP
MY BABY BREATHE A BIT BETTER? A little eleva- “A lot of sleep training is about parental confidence,” Kulik adds. “I wouldn’t feel
tion can help the nasal cavity drain and make it confident leaving my baby to fuss it out if they may have a fever.” And while sleep
easier to sleep, says Kulik. She recommends slid- training is on hold, don’t feel guilty about comforting your baby as much as you
ing something like a book under one end of the want, both through the night and during the day, when they’re sick.
crib mattress. “This will raise the head of the HOW SERIOUS IS A FEVER? A baby’s temperature can be slightly elevated from time
mattress, but there’s still a firm, flat surface to time, but it isn’t considered a proper fever unless it reads over 38°C (100.4°F), taken
underneath them,” says Kulik. Make sure to raise rectally, says Kulik. Fevers aren’t always serious, but they should always be moni-
it only two to five centimetres and that your baby tored. The exception is in babies under three months—anytime your newborn has
is still flat on their back. The crib should have a fever, you should bring them to the hospital.
only a fitted sheet—no pillows or blankets. It’s
never safe for young babies to sleep in a car seat While fevers only need to be treated with medicine to make the baby more com-
or bouncy chair. Wearing them upright in a baby fortable, a temperature over 38°C is likely to be uncomfortable, says Kulik. If the
carrier during the day could help with naps. fever doesn’t come down with medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or per-
SHOULD I TRY A BOTTLE IF MY BABY IS TOO sists beyond a few days, it’s cause for concern and you should take your baby to the
CONGESTED TO BREASTFEED? It’s true that doctor. But if the fever responds to treatment and the baby is drinking well, ener-
babies might have a hard time breathing through getic and able to be soothed, then there’s no cause for worry.
their nose while trying to feed at the breast. But HOW SHOULD I DRESS MY SICK BABY? We don’t need to bundle our babies up when
Kulik says bottle-feeding isn’t any easier for a they’re sick, nor do we want to cool them down too drastically. Kulik says that when
stuffed-up baby. “The mouth is filled either way, a baby has a fever, “a lot of parents will think the baby is hot, so they take off their
so babies need to breathe through their nose.” clothes and put a cool cloth on the forehead, and put them in a tepid bath. Then the
She recommends using saline drops and suction baby feels cold and shivers, which raises their temperature. So it’s not comfortable
to help clear the nasal passage before feeding. for the baby, nor is it helpful.” Blennerhassett says the rule of thumb in any circum-
DOES BREASTMILK ACTUALLY CLEAR A BABY’S stance is to dress your baby in one more layer than you’re comfortable wearing, and
NOSE? It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of remember that colds are caused by viruses and not by cold weather.
#momhacks on TikTok and Instagram, where CAN I TAKE MY BABY OUT IF THEY HAVE A COLD? WHAT ABOUT HAVING PEOPLE
you’ll hear about all sorts of home remedies— OVER TO HELP? The pandemic has made us all hyper aware of spreading germs and
from flushing a baby’s nose with breastmilk to you might wonder if a sick baby should isolate. Sick babies need to follow the same
using a Q-tip to clear mucus. But Blennerhassett pandemic protocols as the rest of us and isolate if there’s a chance they have COVID.
says it’s best to stick with saline drops and snot But if you know for sure it’s just a cold and as long as they seem comfortable, then
suckers. “I wouldn’t use breastmilk in the sinuses it won’t hurt the baby to run some errands or to be around other people.
because you can’t control the volume and you
wouldn’t want the child to aspirate or get breast- WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
milk in the lungs.” Kulik adds that cotton swabs
up the nose are not a good idea, either. “There is If you see these symptoms, your baby should
a risk of trauma to the nasal passage. This is not be checked out by a pro right away.
the same as a nasal swab to test for viruses that
are given by a trained professional.” • Not drinking much do and they’re pain relievers or
excessively sleepy, lasts longer than
or excessive vomit- something might three days. A baby
ing or diarrhea. be wrong. under three months
This can lead to with any fever should
dehydration, which • A fever above be seen.
can be dangerous.
38°C (100.4°F), • Constant crying.
• Listlessness or a taken rectally.
Bring your baby Baby shouldn’t be
decreased level over three months inconsolable.
of alertness. If they in if the fever isn’t • Diﬃculty breathing.
aren’t responding brought down by Don’t wait and see.
like they usually
4 4 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
Solids and ﬁrst steps are great,
but *these* are the milestones
that actually make your life as
a parent way easier.
WRITTEN BY JESSICA POLLACK
ILLUSTRATIONS BY CÉCILE GARIÉPY
One day, you won’t have
to anxiously race back
to locate the precious,
discontinued stufﬁe your
kid loses everywhere and
won’t sleep without.
46 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
Another bona ﬁde
When your kids
start fetching their
own snacks and
water (though it will
take a while to stop
calls of “WATER!”).
Dumping that last poop ATCHING YOUR BABY scrunch up their
out of the potty and into face while tasting veggie purée for the
the toilet is a huge turning first time is adorable, and seeing the
point, though you won’t sense of accomplishment they feel after
taking their first steps is one for the
realize it at the time. books. These major developmental
advances are undeniably memorable
and kick off new stages of childhood.
But there are so many mini-milestones
in between the big ones that vastly
improve our daily lives as parents.
Ditching diapers is awesome, but have you ever had your kid go
poop and actually wipe themselves, no assistance needed? That
first spoonful of solid food is super cute, but what about preparing
a meal that your whole family willingly eats, with no complaints?
And if you’ve recently set out on a road trip in a car bursting with
baby gear and toys, you can’t imagine what a gift it’ll be when each
kid needs only clothes and a couple of books or toys.
It’s not that we’re wishing away the younger years, because they
go by so quickly and there’s a lot to love about our little weirdos. But
parenting small kids is hard—why not look for a few extra excuses
to celebrate the teeny wins? You deserve it!
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 47
THEY ARE THE PACI CAPTAIN NOW Don’t forget THEY CAN DO THEIR OWN THING AT THE PARK
It’s such a tease for paci-loving newborn babies to toast having The park offers zero chill to parents of swing-
that they have an obsessive love affair with their loving toddlers and preschoolers who like to climb
soothers but can’t put them back in their own a civilized, the most dangerous parts of the play structure.
mouths when they fall out. It’s pure Montague tear-free meal You’ve probably gazed longingly at the moms and
and Capulet (why must their tiny, useless hands in a restaurant dads of older kids who park themselves on a bench
keep them apart?!). Hence the blood-curdling where there’s and scroll Instagram mindlessly, at least in con-
screams in the middle of the night, each requir- trolled spurts. When does this kind of freedom
ing a two-second pop of the paci back in their a dish that actually happen? Don’t get us wrong, most par-
mouth. It’s relentless! Getting to the point where everyone likes ents are quite happy to help their kids fight the
they can replace their own pacifier is an absolute and no one ends Death Star from the slide or watch their babies
game-changer. And if you’ve ever scattered two- up thrashing squeal in delight as they push them on the swing,
dozen pacis around your baby’s crib mattress, but sometimes Mama just wants to sit. Hard.
you know that this is really a two-part mile- around on
stone—because even more than being able to the floor. THEY ACTUALLY EAT THE FOOD YOU MAKE
replace their paci, they have to find it, too. “I don’t like the green stuff.”
“It’s too spicy.”
THEY WIPE THEIR OWN BUTT “The foods are touching each other—ewwww.”
There’s a time in every parent’s life when some-
thing sinister lurks behind every door and you’re Hear that? Soak it all in. It’s the symphony of
acutely aware that it can strike at any moment. your children rejecting another meal. When it
“What is it?” you ask? A kid in downward dog comes to food, kids really keep us on our toes. One
shaking their dirty butt while they wait for any day spaghetti Bolognese is the most delicious food
willing adult to wipe it. Are you in the middle of they’ve ever had, and the next it’s literal poison
a Zoom call? No problem. Doing a bit of rage vac- garbage they wouldn’t serve to their worst enemy.
uuming? They’ll find you. Ditching the diapers It’s a fun guessing game! Eventually, their pen-
is amazing, but what the books don’t tell you is chant for beige fades and they’re more willing to
that you’ll still be wiping your kid’s ass for at
least another year or two. And then the day
comes when they’ll go to use the bathroom (right
in the middle of dinner, most likely) and you’ll
try to shovel as much food into your mouth as
possible because you know the call is coming—
but before you can get up you’ll hear the toilet
flush and the washing of hands and they’ll come
out fully clothed. You’ll freak out because there’s
no way they wiped thoroughly. But after a few
racing stripes and wiping tutorials, you’ll reach
that blessed time where they’re independently
wiping themselves properly—no ifs, ands or
butts about it.
48 todaysparent.com January+February 2022
try new things. (Some kids especially like to do You know what’s CAR TRIPS WITHOUT ALL THE GEAR
this only when they’ve long finished their beige not fun? Peeling There is no puzzle more brain-bending than fit-
meals and the exciting, yummy new foods are on dirty underwear ting all of your belongings into the trunk of your
their mom's plate. LOL.) Then, you develop a ros- from inside-out car when you’re heading on a road trip with small
ter of recipes that work for your entire brood, and pants over and kids. It’s the adult version of Tetris that no one
before you know it, you’re having a calm, family- over in an endless asked for ever—now with more impossibly odd-
style supper where no one is saying “gross,” cycle of laundry shaped pieces! When you have littles, not having
“yuck” or “I want cereal.” Pop that champagne! hell. But it won’t all their creature comforts can destroy a vaca-
tion. So yes, you do need multiple bouncy chair
THEY ENTERTAIN THEMSELVES last forever, options, plus a travel crib and a stroller, and no,
UNTIL YOU WAKE UP we promise. you won’t whittle down the laundry basket full
How many times have you been suddenly roused of books and toys you’re trying to cram in with
from a highly enjoyable, mildly sexual dream suitcases, stuffies, snacks and more snacks. Can
at 5:30 a.m. to find a kid standing beside your you even imagine everyone packing their own
bed instructing you to wake the eff up? Unless single suitcase and placing them neatly in the
your kids are sleep unicorns (bless them), the trunk? Dreams.
answer is probably countless. Little kids need
their parents for everything: water, breakfast, THEY CAN DO UP THEIR OWN
entertainment. Even if you’re cool with throw- CAR SEAT STRAPS
ing on some early-morning Paw Patrol and Car seats are a source of so much frustration and
catching some more ZZZs, you still have to get anxiety—from babies who wail for the entirety
out of bed, stumble to the family room and turn of car rides to toddlers who use them as food
the TV on for them. Eventually, though, you’ll repositories to kids who demand one parent over
be cut out of the equation, waking at your lei- the other or complain that the straps are TOO
sure to find your kids busy and fed. And it. Will. TIGHT (they aren’t). And through all this, there’s
Be. Glorious. the constant buckling and unbuckling, tighten-
ing and loosening of multiple five-point har-
nesses day after day after day. It can drive you
wild. But once your kindergartener or first-
grader moves into a booster seat, they can finally
climb in and buckle themselves with a good old-
fashioned seat belt, while you enjoy one minute
of quiet solitude in the front seat. You’ll be feel-
ing so good about it you’ll take everyone to the
McDonald’s drive-thru, like the fun mom that
THEY THROW UP *IN* THE TOILET
Not in their bed, not on the floor and not even
beside the toilet—we’re talking right in the bowl!
A kiddie hole-in-one. Anyone with easy pukers
knows that on top of feeling so sad for your uncom-
fortable kid, you’re also dealing with some of the
toughest cleaning jobs of your life, often in the
middle of the night. Nothing wakes you faster
than being torn from your cozy bed by the sound
of retching and finding a big old pile of barf in the
middle of your kid’s carpet. Once they get older
and learn to identify the feeling of vomit in the
wings, they’re usually able to swiftly make it to
the bathroom and kneel over the toilet in time for
a clean delivery. Mazel tov!
January+February 2022 todaysparent.com 49
50 todaysparent.com January+February 2022