Toddler Development

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    My two-year-old daughter might be what you call "high maintenance." She doesn't like to play by herself, talks a blue streak, and is constantly looking for attention. One of her favorite phrases is "Look at me," something she says before doing somersaults or splits or -- gasp -- diving off the couch because another one of her traits is absolute fearlessness. I've caught her staring at herself in the mirror and pretending to cry. She asks about a gazillion questions a day about everything. Ev-er-y-thing.

    The problem is her mom is also high maintenance. I made the decision this year to quit my full-time job and do something that would allow me to raise my daughter, but as a work-from-home parent, I require hours during the day when I can just stare at a computer screen. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't often wonder if a daycare worker would do a better job of "raising" my daughter than I am.

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    While we primarily associate its benefits with the health and well being of our babies, a new study conducted in Greece indicates that breastfeeding for longer than six months may help with toddler development.

    According to the research, kids who were breastfed past the six-month mark scored higher on cognitive, language, and motor development tests when they reached the toddler phase. Yay! Yet another win for breastfeeding moms. (Imagine that.)

    But while this information is all well and good -- hopefully it won't wind up being one more thing that pressures moms who can't or don't wish to breastfeed (at all or past six months) into doing so. It's important to note that this is only a correlation -- it doesn't mean feeding your baby with formula is going to hinder his development down the road.

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    Like any two-year-old, Skylar is often not thrilled with my decisions. But when they involve a location she would rather be, I have a toddler-proof weapon at my disposal. I remind her of what is always a worse option: abandonment. I can’t fathom the desire to be around me for any length of time, much less always. But if my daughter wants to spend a second hour trying on Doc McStuffins accessories in the Disney Store, I just bluff about being off to the food court. This instantly transforms her from a pretend doctor to a real-life mental patient. (Incidentally, have you taken a careful gander at Doc McStuffins' face? Is it just me or is it more than a little possible that she became a doctor because she has fetal alcohol syndrome?)

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    We're still far from understanding the full picture of autism. But with every passing year, more research brings us closer to figuring out the perplexing puzzle. This year there were several compelling breakthroughs that gave parents of kids on the spectrum hope. Are any of these studies going to bring us closer to effective intervention, treatment, and prevention? We can only hope.

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    Most parents are not fans of that messy cleanup after toddler meals. You know it seems like there's more food on your child's face and high chair tray than in your kid's tummy? So a lot of us will do everything we can to keep the whole process as tidy was possible -- cleaning as we go, doling out just a small amount of food as we go. But here's a notion that may send shivers down every neat-freak parent's spine: Playing with food may make kids smarter.

    You think you're protecting yourself from a big mess. But actually, you're protecting your child from learning better. Oh no! Can you stand to lower your standards and watch your toddler get super messy?

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  • Rant

    8 Ways I'm 'Ruining' My Child's Life

    posted by Lisa Fogarty November 4, 2013 at 5:38 PM in Toddler
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    I consider myself an okay mom. What I lack in attention to detail, I make up for with lots of patience. My two-and-a-half-year-old isn't potty trained yet, but she speaks in complete sentences. We read lots of books together, take walks to the park, chat over dinner, and I'd say overall my daughter appears to be happy enough with my mommy performance thus far. 

    But there's at least one person in this world who is convinced I've got this motherhood thing all wrong: my dear, amazing but judgmental, 92-year-old grandmother. Here are the top 8 ways I'm "ruining" my child -- and possibly my unborn child as well -- according to granny. 

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    As a baby, Brooke Greenberg would grow at a normal rate one month, and then stop entirely the next. Born one month prematurely and weighing just four pounds, her unpredictable growth continued until she was 5 years old -- that's when Brooke stopped growing altogether. For nearly two decades, doctors have remained baffled by her rare condition, ultimately labeling it "Syndrome X." Sadly, the young woman died last week at age 20 and although, physically, she was the size of a toddler and had the diminutive facial features of a young child, her family says she had the heart of a giant. 

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    There are lots of things we can do as parents to help our children get through those really awful, irrational tantrums they have about 10 times each day. We can try to ignore them so that our kids won't associate attention with their behavior. We can distract them, enact a time-out rule, or even teach them how to calm themselves down. What should we probably not do? Laugh at them, ridicule them, and teach his or her siblings to do the same. Which is more or less what this dad did on video for kicks.

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    I didn't set out planning to breastfeed my son until he was 3 years old. In the beginning I thought I would nurse him until he self-weaned, which I assumed would happen sometime around 18 months. But just like all those back-labor techniques I thought would work but didn't, self-weaning did not happen. Eighteen months came and went. Two years old. Two-and-a-half. Still no weaning in sight. Meanwhile, I was DONE with the breastfeeding. So I had to initiate plan B: Weaning the toddler. Here's what I learned.

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    When you're the parent of a toddler or little kid, you never can tell what they'll run toward and what will send them running for the hills. One day they're begging you to buy up all the balloons in aisle six of the supermarket; the next they're screaming bloody murder at every children's birthday party they attend. Their fears come and go as quickly as any other phase they go through -- still, you have to wonder what runs through their little minds. How can you love ice cream and hate the Ice Cream Man? And just why do they have obscenely strong opinions about male facial hair at age 2?

    Here are 10 things kids should either like, or at the very least feel neutral about, that can actually fill them with terror. 

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