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Certain words send a shudder of terror through the spines of parents. The most feared word? “Lice.” As in: “We’re sending your child home from school with lice.”

Yikes.

But how do kids get lice in the first place? Perhaps if parents could sniff out the source or cause of lice, they could help their children avoid it.

With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about preventing and treating lice, as well as a comprehensive answer to the pointed question of: How do kids get lice?

Let’s get this myth out of the way first: Getting lice is not a sign that you or your child has poor hygiene habits or skills. As you’ll read below, anyone can get lice under the right conditions. So don’t feel embarrassed if you or your child gets lice, and don’t cast aspersions on others who get lice.

 

The Answer: How Kids Get Lice

Head lice are tiny parasites that must feed off another body to survive. More specifically, they need human blood to survive, and they get it from the scalps of unsuspecting people. They desperately need these scalps to survive, as they cannot fly and cannot survive in water. They only crawl, and they only live on humans.

How are lice transmitted from one person to another? Through a single method: personal contact. Lice can only transmit when the head of a person who’s infested with lice touches the head of a person who is not. In extremely rare cases, lice move onto someone’s clothing before finding their way to the scalp — but that almost never happens.

Kids get lice more often than adults for a scientific reason: the pH level of their scalps.

Humans are typically born with a neutral pH level of about 7. As humans age, their pH levels becomes more acidic, dropping to between 4.5 and 5.5. This acid isn’t a bad thing — it provides protection for our skin and keeps us from harm.

Like lice. Lice much prefer the neutral pH levels to the more acidic ones. Children under 12 have not developed their acidic layers yet, which is why they are much more likely to contract lice.

 

How to Get Rid of Lice on Kids

There’s little we as parents can do to prevent our kids from getting head lice. It’s just one of those rites of passage that many parents have to traverse before their children become safely acidic preteens.

While you may have no desire to treat lice, you’ll want to zap them effectively if they turn up in your children’s scalps. Here’s a 5-step process for how to get rid of lice on kids:

1. Use an Effective Treatment

You’ll find lots of different lice treatments, but focus on the two most popular:

  1. Piperonyl Butoxide With Pyrethrins (For Kids 2 and Older): This treatment is made from chrysanthemum flowers. It kills only living lice; not nits (lice eggs). Because it doesn’t kill nits, a second treatment will be needed if eggs hatch.
  2. Permethrin Lotion (For Kids Younger Than 2): This is a lice shampoo that is approved for use in babies and toddlers — anyone younger than 2. This treatment takes care of both lice and nits.

2. Remove Dead or Live Lice

Once your treatment of choice has killed the lice and/or nits, you’ll want to remove them. Removing lice and nits is best completed with a comb or brush, and you can find combs and brushes that are specially designed to capture as many lice and nits as possible.

3. Avoid Regular Shampoos

Traditional shampoos can interfere with the impact of some lice treatments, so avoid using them for 2 or 3 days after initial treatment. This will provide plenty of time for the treatment to take effect without interference.

4. Boil Combs and Brushes

Once you’re done with the combs and/or brushes, you’ll want to cleanse them. Soak them in boiling hot water for 10 minutes or longer to ensure that all lice and nits are completely gone.

5. Keep Checking

Keep an eye on the infected scalp for 2 or 3 weeks after the initial treatment is completed. You’ll want to make sure that nits don’t hatch and that nothing interfered with your treatment’s effectiveness. If you’re clear after 3 weeks, you have successfully treated the lice infestation. Congratulations!

 

My Kid Has Lice. Will I Get It?

Can adults get lice from kids? As noted above, lice prefer kids’ scalps to adults’ scalps, so parents are less likely to experience lice infestations. Still, it’s completely possible for adults to get lice from their children.

The best thing you can do is effectively treat lice infestations when they appear. Start treatment immediately, and always avoid head-to-head contact with anyone infested — as that’s the only way lice move from person to person.

 

Why Does My Kid Keep Getting Lice?

It can be really frustrating when your child seems to get lice over and over again. If you’re treating lice month after month, there are three possible explanations:

  1. Poor Treatment: It’s possible the last lice treatment didn’t work. Perhaps you thought you treated the lice effectively, but then nits hatched.
  2. Attractive pH Levels: Your child’s scalp may just have a pH level that lice love. That’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality for some kids.
  3. Bad Luck: When your child is in a preschool or school setting, surrounded by kids each and every day, lice happen. If they are happening to your child over and over, it may just be bad luck.

None of the explanations above are likely to make you feel better if you’re dealing with lice over and over again. But, if nothing else, they confirm that it’s not your fault and not your child’s fault. Again, lice just happen sometimes.

 

Why Do Some Kids Get Lice More Than Others?

This comes back to the science of lice: the more neutral the pH levels, the more likely a child is to attract a lice infestation. Some children have more acidic scalps, while others have more neutral scalps. If your child’s scalp is more neutral, he or she is more likely to contract lice.

 

Final Thoughts on How Kids Get Lice

Is there anything more frustrating than lice? It’s hard to think of what that something might be. Still, if you can pause to take a deep breath, be patient during a lice infestation.

You’ll be dealing with your child and your child’s teacher and school most likely. There may be other kids you know who are dealing with the same lice outbreak. All you can do is follow the steps for effectively treating lice — and be as patient as possible with everyone involved.

Do you have something to add about kids and lice? Let us know in the comments section, or send a message via our contact form.

Traveling can be stressful even when it’s just you. Add a child and an international destination, and things get much more stressful and much more complicated in a hurry. In many cases, traveling internationally with a child leaves the mother or father wondering: Do both parents need to be present for child passport?

The U.S. State Department has recently made changes to the requirements for getting a child passport. So, to help your international trip with children go as smoothly as possible, here’s everything you need to know about getting a passport, including the answer to this pressing question: Do both parents need to be present for child passport?

You might be wondering if your child needs a passport at all. The answer is “yes,” if you’re traveling to a foreign country. If you’re flying domestically, your child needs no ID (unless the airline requires proof of age for some reason, like if you’re trying to get a child under 2 onto a flight for free). If you’re flying to a U.S. territory (like Puerto Rico), your child needs no ID or passport, but he or she will need proof of citizenship and identity. But, in all cases, no matter the age and no matter the destination, your child needs a passport to travel to a foreign country.

 

4 Steps: Getting a Passport for a Child

Why has the U.S. State Department updated requirements for getting a child passport? Because it is trying to combat child abductions and human trafficking. While combatting these two issues is noble and important, it does make things more complicating for parents who need to secure child passports.

So, to make sure you have no issues getting your child a passport, follow these steps.

1. Fill Out Form DS-11

There’s just one form that all U.S. citizens must fill out to start the passport process. That form is known as the DS-11 (just click the link to check it out). This form is needed in a number of different cases, including:

  • When you need a first-time passport
  • When you need to replace a damaged, lost or stolen passport
  • When you need to renew a passport that’s been expired for 5-plus years
  • When you need to renew a passport issued to someone 15 or younger

Two tips for filling out the DS-11. First, make sure you write legibly. If the agent cannot read your writing, you’ll have to fill out the form again. And, second, leave it unsigned until you’re in the presence of an agent.

And that’s it. Start with the DS-11.

2. Collect Other Necessary Documents

Of course, you’ll need more than just the DS-11 to get a passport for a child. You’ll need a series of other supporting documents, including:

  • A certified long-form birth certificate or other evidence of the child’s U.S. citizenship (plus a photocopy)
  • A U.S. birth certificate or other evidence of the parents’ or guardians’ legal relationship to the child (plus a photocopy)
  • A passport or valid driver’s license for the parents/guardians OR a valid driver’s license for the child (plus a photocopy)
  • A passport photo for your child taken in the last 6 months (which you can typically get at drugstores, post offices and other places)

One last note: All photocopies must be on white, notebook-size (8.5 by 11 inches) paper, and only one side of each sheet can be used. Did we say that it’s complicated to get a passport for a child? This is just one of the many hurdles that can derail your application if you don’t make the proper preparations.

3. Gather Special Circumstance Documents

OK, so here’s the section that’s relevant to parents wondering if both parents need to be present for child passport. The answer is typically “yes,” both parents do need to be present. But there are 4 special circumstances that require documentation. Those special circumstances are:

  1. The Child Has Only One Parent or Guardian: You’ll need evidence of sole authority over the child, such as a birth certificate listing a single parent, a court order granting sole legal custody, a death certificate for the non-applying parent, etc.
  2. One Parent or Guardian is Unable to Appear: You’ll need a signed, notarized Form DS-3053, which is a “statement of consent” from the non-applying parent. Use the link to download the form, and don’t forget to notarize!
  3. One Parent or Guardian Cannot be Located: You’ll need to submit a Form DS-5525, which is a statement of exigent or special family circumstances. You may be asked to provide additional evidence to support your claim before the passport can be issued.
  4. Both Parents or Guardians are Unavailable: A third-party can accompany a child to get a passport, but only with a signed, notarized statement or affidavit from both parents or guardians that authorizes the third-party to accompany the minor. You’ll also need a photocopy of each parents’ ID (passport or valid driver’s license), as well as evidence of sole custody if there’s only one parent or guardian.

Take some time gathering these documents and double-checking whether or not they have been signed, notarized or otherwise executed properly. Having the wrong documents or not having the right ones is the most common way a passport application for a child gets derailed.

4. Visit an Application Acceptance Location

There are more than 9,000 places where you can apply for a passport across the United States. Once you have all your documents and materials, gather them together and take them to your closest passport office.

You’ll also need to pay a fee to apply for a child passport. There’s an application fee paid to the State Department, as well as an execution fee that’s paid to the agent.

Once you have submitted all materials and paid the relevant fees, it takes up to 6 weeks for the State Department to process the application. Traveling sooner than that? You can pay a little bit extra for expedited service that delivers the passport in 2 or 3 weeks.

 

Final Thoughts on Needing Both Parents to be Present for Child Passport

The fastest and easiest way to secure a passport for a child is for both parents to be present at application. Of course, that’s not always possible. In cases where both parents cannot be present, check out step No. 3 listed above, and make sure you have the proper documentation for your unique situation.

Here’s an overarching tip, no matter your circumstances: Give yourself as much time as possible. It takes up to 6 weeks to get a passport after initial application, and that’s assuming you have all the right documents and your application goes smoothly. To be sure there are no issues with your international travels, give yourself at least 2 months (and preferably even longer) to make sure you have no issues getting a child passport.

Also, if you have any questions along the way, you can always go straight to the U.S. Passport Service and pose questions or search for answers.

Do you have anything to add on getting a child passport? If so, let us know in the comments section below, or send a message using our contact form.

Parents can get a little competitive from time to time, which leads to questions like: When can babies stack blocks? It happens most often when parents see other children stacking and desperately want their own children to catch up development-wise.

It’s a little like this scene from Modern Family:

But you don’t have to cheat and make it appear that your son or daughter is stacking when he or she isn’t. It’s going to happen in time and it’s going to happen naturally, though there are some things that you can do to accelerate the process.

Here’s a look at everything you need to know about when babies can stack blocks, as well as some helpful tips on nudging them to stack a little earlier than average.

Here’s our standard warning: Babies development at different rates, so don’t panic if your child is a little behind the landmarks outlined below. If you really are concerned, your pediatrician is the best person to ask about the situation.

 

Timeline: What Age Do Babies Start Stacking Blocks?

Looking for a timeline on when a child can stack blocks? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Below, you’ll find a checklist of the average ages at which children can do different activities with blocks.

6 Months

Babies at this age are drawn to blocks. No, they can’t stack them just yet. But you’ll find that babies love to push blocks around, to swat at them, to chew them, etc. So make sure your baby has blocks to play with. Just having the blocks will set the stage for stacking in the future.

1 Year

There are two things you’ll start to notice stacking-wise at age 1. First, your child will start banging together anything that makes noise — blocks included. Parents don’t always love having noisy toys around, but this is one case in which you should accept it. Banging together blocks makes 1-year-olds more comfortable with them and can help accelerate future stacking.

Also, this is an age when you should start demonstrating how to stack blocks. Why? Because your 1-year-old will love to knock down any tower you build using blocks. So, if you have some blocks and you’re looking to have some fun with your 1-year-old, consider building a block tower — and letting him or her destroy it.

18 Months

A child begins stacking blocks at 18 months. Of course, some children may stack earlier and it may take other children longer to stack — but this is the average age.

Early on, stacking will include just two or three blocks. It’s not much, but it’s just the beginning of stacking abilities that will soon lead to much taller block towers.

2 Years

At age 2, the block towers get a little bit taller. Also, as we noted in our post about recognizing colors, your 2-year-old will be able to sort items by color. Encourage him or her to start organizing blocks by color.

Imagination begins to kick in at this age, too. You may find that your child stacks blocks and declares that they are a school or a library or a hotel. That’s awesome! And it’s really cool as a parent when you get to see your child intently playing and imagining that a stack of blocks is actually something else entirely.

3 Years

When can a child stack 10 blocks or more? That starts happening closer to age 3. Of course, by this age, your child is going to want to do more than just stack blocks one on top of the other. You’ll find that he or she likes to stack blocks in more intricate arrangements, declaring creations to be pyramids or forts or other structures.

 

Tips to Help Your Child Stack Blocks

What can you do to help your child stack blocks (without going the Modern Family route)? Try two things:

  1. Buy Quality Blocks: Make sure your child has blocks to stack in the first place. Look for wooden blocks that are made from either beech or maple, as these materials are more durable. Beech and maple blocks won’t splinter or crack, which is also safer for your child.
  2. Join In: Children at block-stacking ages love doing things with their parents. Don’t just encourage your child to stack blocks; get down on the floor beside your child and join in. Even block-stacking is an opportunity to bond and deepen your relationship, even as your child is developing a new skill.

 

Final Thoughts on When Babies Can Stack Blocks

Like so many posts that include helpful tips for parents, the two major takeaways are: 1) This is an activity that you can do with your child, so take advantage of the opportunity, and 2) Don’t panic if your child falls a little bit behind the average development timeline.

If your child is turning 4 and still can’t stack blocks, you’ll want to ask your pediatrician. But, in the meantime, encourage your child and celebrate the things that he or she can do — whether that includes stacking blocks or not.

Do you have anything to add from your child’s block-stacking experience? If so, feel free to comment below or send a direct message.

If you’ve spent time wrestling child seats out of one car and into another, you may be looking for something a little simpler. You may even be wondering: When can a child use a booster seat?

Booster seats are a little bit easier to manage than more traditional car seats. But, that said, you should never rush the transition from a car seat to a booster seat. There are certain landmarks that any child should hit before transitioning from one to another, and it’s unsafe to transition too soon.

Here’s a look at those key landmarks for any parent tired of wrestling child seats and wondering: When can a child use a booster seat?

Be aware of the embarrassment factor for your child. As kids start getting older and transitioning out of car seats and booster seats, your child may be embarrassed that he or she isn’t transitioning. The best way to help your child is to preach safety very early on. Make sure your child understands that car seats and booster seats aren’t just arbitrary items used for arbitrary periods of time — they are designed to maximize safety as your child grows and develops.

 

4 Signs: When Can My Child Use a Booster Seat?

The general indication that your child needs a booster seat is that he or she has outgrown the more traditional car seat. But how exactly do you know when a child has outgrown a car seat? Here are 4 signs to keep an eye on:

Height

Your car seat should have a specific height limitation. These height limitations vary from seat to seat, and it’s unsafe to keep your child in a car seat once they have reached or passed that limitation. For many car seats, the height for graduation to a booster seat is around 35 inches.

Once your child is into a booster seat, they should keep using it until they reach 4 feet, 9 inches. This is the height at which it is typically safe to graduate to the built-in lap belt and shoulder harness without assistance.

Weight

You should follow your seat’s weight guidelines and limitations, too. You’ll know it’s time to start using a booster seat when your child hits 40 pounds, and you should continue using a booster seat until your child reaches 80 pounds.

Fit

Rather than weighing your child or measuring height, consider the actual fit of your car seat and potential booster seat. There will come a time when your child no longer fits comfortably into a car seat, which is a strong indication that it’s time to move on. After the transition to a booster seat, you’ll someday reach a point at which your child no longer fits into it either — which is when you don’t need a booster seat at all.

Age

Children typically age into booster seats at the same time they age into school. If you have a child who is near kindergarten age, look for other signs that it’s time to use a booster seat rather than a car seat. Age-wise, booster seats are typically used until age 8. Keep in mind that no child should ride in the front seat until he or she reaches age 12, whether they are using a booster seat or not.

 

When Can a Child Stop Using a Booster Seat?

As noted above, there are several landmarks when a child can set aside the booster seat and use car seating without assistance. Those landmarks are when a child:

  • Weighs 80 pounds or more
  • Reaches 4 feet, 9 inches or taller
  • Turns age 8 or older
  • Fits comfortably into the built-in lap belt and shoulder harness

Until your child reaches these landmarks, keep using the booster seat. They are designed to maximize safety for your child in case of an accident.

 

Final Thoughts on When a Child Can Use a Booster Seat

Yes, car seats and even booster seats can be an inconvenience. Yes, it would be far easier to just use the seatbelts as installed in your vehicle. But this is all about safety, and today’s vehicles offer a range of safety features that could pose a threat to your child if he or she is not seated properly.

For example, there are airbags all over modern vehicles that could do more harm than good if a child isn’t seated properly. So make sure your child is using the right seat, no matter the inconvenience, and ensure his or her safety.

Do you have anything else to offer on car seats, booster seats and the ages for each? If so, send us a message, or use the comments section below.

Had enough of wiping your child’s bottom and taking out trash loaded down with wet diapers? Hey, it’s only natural after a few years of parenting. But when should a child be potty trained? That is, when do the butt-wiping and the soggy-trash come to an end?

Below, you’ll find a comprehensive answer to that question: When should a child be potty trained? You’ll also find some guidance on why a child might potty train at an accelerated or decelerated pace.

This is a common message at uncannykids.com, but you should always remember that different children follow different developmental timelines. Don’t panic if your child is slightly behind the average potty-training timeline. Some kids just take longer than others. Read below to see when you should start talking to a pediatrician about your child and his or her potty training.

 

At What Age Do You Start Potty Training?

Here’s the thing about potty training: Kids will start letting you know when they’re ready. How do they let you know? They become more and more reluctant to poop and pee in their diapers.

Age 2 is a common time to start thinking about potty training. You’ll find that a child who is ready for potty training exhibits the following behaviors:

  • Staying dry through nap time
  • Curiosity about others using the potty
  • Telling you when about to go in a diaper
  • Telling you after going in a diaper
  • Hiding a wet or dirty diaper
  • Pulling or showing other signs of diaper discomfort

If you’re seeing any of these signs, it’s time to consider potty training.

 

Potty Training Differences By Gender

Little boys and girls are a little bit different when it comes to the average potty-training timeline. In fact, a 2002 academic study indicates that girls on average potty train just a few months earlier than boys. Here are the details:

When to Start Potty Training a Boy

The study noted above tested to see when boys and girls were “staying dry during the day.” That study found that the median age for boys to stay dry during the day was 35 months — or, just one month shy of turning 3.

When to Start Potty Training a Girl

When were girls able to stay dry during the day? At a median age of 32.5 months, which is closer to 2-and-a-half years old than to 3. Of course, individual boys and girls may potty train across a range of different ages, and that’s just fine. But girls are more likely to potty train earlier than boys.

Don’t Forget About Birth Order

If you’re potty training a second child, you may find that he or she potty trains at an earlier age than your firstborn — no matter the gender. That’s because younger siblings are often watching older siblings and following their leads. If an older sibling is seen peeing and pooping in the potty, the younger sibling will be more eager to replicate that behavior.

 

How Long Does Potty Training Take?

This is a hard question to answer: How long does it take to potty train? In some cases, it might take just a few days. In others, it could take weeks. In still other cases, it might be months before your child is fully potty trained.

That said, be aware that your child might grow more comfortable with peeing in the potty before pooping. In some instances, children are fully potty trained to go No. 1 well before they are fully potty trained to go No. 2. This is natural and not something to worry about.

 

Potty Training Deadlines

You may find that potty training is a gatekeeper for certain activities. There may be preschools or day camps or church events that non-potty trained kids are not allowed to participate in. If you’re staring down the deadline for a preschool or a similar program that requires potty training, plan ahead so that you have plenty of time to help your child master using the toilet. Need a little help? Try these 30 potty-training tips from Parents Magazine.

 

Final Thoughts on When a Child Should Be Potty Trained

OK, when should you talk to your doctor about potty training? If your child reaches 4 years old and still has not potty trained, it’s time to talk to the pediatrician.

But keep in mind that potty training is a process! Your child may seem fully potty trained, but don’t be surprised if accidents happen — especially when your child is outside of his or her regular routine. It’s age 4 when those accidents should become less and less or disappear altogether.

Do you have anything to add on potty training? Share in the comments section below, or send a message using our contact page.

After you have a child, you can start to feel trapped in your home. Nights that were once spent out on the town having a nice dinner or watching an acclaimed movie are now spent sitting bleary-eyed and praying that no child starts to cry. In time, you’ll begin to wonder: How old does a child have to be to babysit?

If you have a quality babysitter, you have freedom. Yes, the cost of nights out skyrockets due to the additional expense, but you’ll enjoy those nights out that much more. Freedom is nice to have after it’s been lost, even if only for a short while.

So, if you’re wondering how old a child needs to be to babysit, here are the answers to your pressing questions.

There’s a legal answer to this question, of course. Different states have different minimum ages at which a child can babysit, so be sure to check your local regulations before making a decision. Since different states have different minimum ages, the information below will focus on when a child should be able to babysit — not when a child is legally allowed to babysit.

 

Bottom Line: When is a Child Old Enough to Babysit?

The appropriate age of a babysitter is really dependent on the conditions — as you’ll see below. But, if you’re looking for a bottom-line age, 11 years old is the bare minimum a child should be before taking on a babysitting job.

That said, you wouldn’t leave an 11-year-old to watch a newborn overnight. A babysitter that age simply doesn’t have the experience or capabilities to handle even the most modest of emergency situations. But an 11-year-old could watch a 4- or 5-year-old for an hour while you run some errands.

The right age for a babysitter really depends on multiple factors. What types of factors? Read on to find out.

 

What to Look for in a Babysitter

As noted above, 11 is the bare minimum age at which a child can handle babysitting alone. But there’s another option: Try hiring someone as a household helper. For example, you could hire an 8-, 9- or 10-year-old to spend time with and look after your child while you remain in the home as a parent.

A household helper does several things. First, it gives you a set of helping hands with your child so that you can get some work done or just relax. Also, when you hire a 10-year-old as a household helper, you can groom him or her to serve as a traditional babysitter in a year or two.

What exactly are you looking for in a household helper or babysitter? Consider the following:

Age of Children to be Babysat

The younger the child who needs babysitting, the older the babysitter needs to be. If you have a newborn, you really need a teenager, college student or someone older who has experience with babysitting children that age. But, if you have a 7-year-old who needs babysitting, the 12-year-old from down the street can likely do the job for a short period of time.

Maturity of Babysitter

Ah, maturity. This quality is at a premium when you’re looking for a babysitter. In short, you want to find the most mature possible babysitter for your child, someone who brings a true sense of personal responsibility to the job. This is one reason why it’s nice to have a recommendation from someone you know and trust. If you have a friend who recommends a babysitter, there’s a good chance that sitter has the maturity needed to look after your child.

Experience of Babysitter

As noted above, experience is nice to have. Look for babysitters who have done a lot of babysitting, or look for sitters who have younger siblings. Older brothers and sisters have typically collected some babysitting experience, whether they wanted it or not.

Safety Threats

What types of safety threats are there at your home? The more safety threats that are present, the older and more experienced the babysitter that you should seek out. Look for lifeguards or any other possible sitters that have training or education that would help them in an emergency situation.

 

How Old Should a Child be to Babysit Overnight?

Here’s a good question: How old should a child be to babysit overnight? A good rule of thumb is someone who is of driving age: If a babysitter can operate a vehicle (or, better yet, has his or her own vehicle), that sitter can likely handle the rigors and needs of overnight babysitting. You may get a little squeamish about leaving your child overnight with a 16- or 17-year old, in which case it’s best to find someone 18 or older.

 

A Must-Do: Red Cross Babysitter Training

One last thing for parents who want the perfect babysitter: Have your sitters take a Red Cross Babysitting Course. These courses cover all the necessities, including:

  • What to do in an emergency
  • First aid
  • Dealing with behavior issues
  • Appropriate activities
  • More

These courses are great when you want to develop a long-term relationship with a babysitter. And the sitter who takes the course benefits, too — each course includes tips on growing a babysitting business.

 

Final Thoughts on How Old a Child Needs to be to Babysit

You likely have a gut feel about whether or not a babysitter is ready to handle your kids or not. Follow that gut feel. Don’t let an unqualified babysitter do the job just because you want to get out of the house.

And don’t forget the power of asking for recommendations. If you know people in the same life stage as you, ask them for babysitting recommendations. You can also leverage social media. Put out a post on Twitter or Facebook asking for babysitting recommendations in your neck of the woods.

Do you have any other tips or thoughts on finding the right babysitter? Let us know in the comments section below, or you can always send a message directly.

It’s scary when your child gets sick. It’s especially scary when your child feels piping hot and is clearly suffering from a fever. Are you wondering how to bring down a fever in a child? You’re not alone.

Fever is a common symptom in children of all ages who are fighting off infections. Here are some tips for how  to treat a fever in a child, as well as other fever-related information that’s important to know as you nurse your sick child.

You probably learned somewhere along the way that 98.6 degrees is the normal temperature of the human body. While that’s true, there’s really more of a range than a specific “normal” temperature. Anything between 97.7 degrees and 99.5 degrees should be considered “normal.” If a thermometer shows that your child is 99.5 degrees or cooler, that’s not really a temperature at all.

 

Fever Symptoms in a Child

The first thing most parents notice in a feverish child is the heat. Put your hand to your child’s forehead, and you’ll notice immediately that he or she is warmer than normal.

But here’s a tip: Simply feeling your child’s head is not an accurate measure of temperature and does not confirm a fever.

Look for other symptoms, too. Common symptoms associated with a fever include:

  • Irritability and low energy
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • General pain
  • Unusual breathing
  • Sweating
  • Paleness
  • Redness
  • Rash development
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat

If your child feels warm and it also experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, there’s a good chance your child is suffering from a fever. Now it’s time to measure and make sure.

 

How to Take a Child’s Temperature

If you have one child and certainly if you have more than one child, consider investing in a digital thermometer. They are easy to find, relatively affordable and among the most accurate temperature-measuring devices you can use.

If you have an old-school glass thermometer, it needs to be thrown away safely. They are no longer used because they can break and allow dangerous mercury to escape. Call your city’s waste management department for guidance on where you can safely dispose of a glass thermometer.

You may also encounter ear thermometers, which are prohibitively expensive, as well as fever tapes, which do not provide accurate readings. Again, your best bet is a digital thermometer.

 

Oral vs. Rectal Temperatures

Digital thermometers can be used either orally or rectally. Just know that the “normal” ranges are different depending on where you take a temperature.

  • For oral measurements, the range is generally 97 to 99 degrees.
  • For rectal measurements, the range is just a bit higher — generally 98 to 100.4 degrees.

Oral measurements are best for children 5 and older.

Rectal measurements are best for children younger than 5.

 

Tips: How to Reduce Fever in Child

When your child is running a fever, you want to do something about it. Thankfully, there are several ways to help. Here’s a look at 4 things you can do when wondering how to reduce fever in child:

1. Medicate

Infants between 2 and 6 months can take Tylenol (or generic forms of acetaminophen), but it’s always a good idea to let your doctor know when medicating a baby that young — even over-the-counter medications. Children 6 months and older can take either Tylenol or ibuprofen. Never give anyone younger than 20 aspirin.

And here’s one last tip on medication: Only medicate if the fever is higher than 102 degrees. Anything less than 102 should dissipate quickly without help from medication.

2. Stay Hydrated

Encourage your child to drink a lot of clear, cool liquids. Water is great, obviously, but so too is fruit juice, Gatorade and Pedialyte. You can also have a little fun with it by having popsicles.

Keep an eye out for signs of dehydration, which is a greater threat when a child is running a fever. Babies should have at least 6 wet diapers a day, and kids who are older should be urinated at least 3 times a day. If your child is falling short of those numbers, hydrate more.

3. Keep Cool

Don’t bundle up your child in lots of clothes, and don’t bury him or her under a pile of blankets. You want the heat related to fever to escape your child’s body, so do whatever you can to keep him or her cool.

4. Take Baths

A bath always helps, too, but here’s the twist: A fever bath shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. In fact, a tepid or even room temperature bath works best to help lower a fever.

 

What to Feed a Child With Fever

It can be hard enough to get your child to eat when he or she is perfectly healthy. That said, if you want some ideas for what to feed a child with fever, consider the following:

What to Feed a Child of 6 to 12 Months:

  • Formula or breast milk
  • Popsicles
  • Warm soup
  • Fruit/vegetable puree

What to Feed a Child of 1 to 3 Years:

  • Bananas
  • Applesauce
  • Rice
  • Toast
  • Cereal
  • Chicken soup

You may see some of the items listed above and roll your eyes. “My child isn’t going to eat soup!” Hey, same for me. But these are just a few ideas you can try. So give one a shot and see if it helps.

 

Should I Let My Child Sleep With a Fever?

There’s nothing inherently bad about a child sleep with a fever. Make sure you treat the fever as outlined above, but then try to encourage your child to sleep like he or she normally would.

You may find that your child struggles to fall asleep or stay asleep. After all, a fever is an indication that the body is fighting an infection, so it’s only natural that sleep would be more challenging than usual. Also, it’s not uncommon for fevers to spike at night — but those spikes can make it more difficult of a child to get rest.

 

When to Take Child to Doctor for Fever

There are cases that require a visit to a doctor. The problem for parents is knowing when that line has been crossed. If you’re wondering when to take child to doctor for fever, here’s what you’re looking for:

  • Anytime a fever lasts 3 days or longer
  • Anytime a child can’t stay hydrated (vomiting, diarrhea, etc.)
  • Anytime a baby under 2 months is running a fever
  • Anytime a baby between 3 and 6 months is running a fever of 102 or higher
  • Anytime a child has a temperature of 104 or higher

A fever isn’t a real threat to your child until it reaches 106 degrees. Yes, follow the guidance in the bullets above for temperatures less than 104 degrees, but don’t become overly worried. If your child is running a fever of 106 of higher, call your doctor immediately — or visit an emergency room if it’s after hours.

 

Final Thoughts on How to Bring Down a Fever in a Child

That’s a lot of info on fevers in children. But there’s one more thing you need to know about: when your child can return to school after a fever.

Here’s the best rule of thumb: Wait 24 hours after your child has been fever-free without treatment. So, if you’re keeping the fever down with medication, the 24-hour window hasn’t started yet. You need to wait until your child has gone a full, fever-free day without the help of medication.

You might have a different tip for how to bring down a fever in a child. Let us know in the comments section below, or send us a message using our contact page.

Parents to young children are faced with a never-ending stream of landmarks. As you’re navigating landmark after landmark, you may find yourself wondering: When should a child know their colors?

Yes, learning colors is an important milestone for children. Look no further than PBS shows that focus on colors and color-specific days at preschools (“It’s orange day!”). Colors are no doubt important — and here’s everything you need to know about when a child should know colors.

Before we get started, two important tips. First, all children develop at slightly different rates, so don’t panic if you think your child is behind on colors. And, second, don’t stress over every landmark. Your child will eventually know his or her colors, just as he or she will someday speak, walk, use the bathroom alone, etc. To the extent that it’s taking longer than usual to learn colors (or do other things) you should always consult with your pediatrician.

 

When Should a Child Know Colors: A Timeline

Learning colors is actually a process that takes place (for most children) between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old. There are three basic steps in the process of learning colors:

  • Matching: Children are first able to understand what colors are at 18 months (or thereabouts). At this early stage, they are able to match colors. For example, you can set out Skittles and ask your 18-month-year-old to help you organize by color.
  • Identifying: After your child turns 2, he or she will be able to actually identify colors. This is the stage when you can set out Skittles and ask them to point out reds or purples or oranges.
  • Naming: Around age 3, it starts to get a lot more fun. You can point out a Skittle (or some other object) and ask: What color is this? And your child should be able to tell you. In some cases, children can name colors far earlier than 3 years. Again, it’s all according to your child’s unique development pattern.

 

How to Teach Your Child Colors

We’re all parents, and, hey, we’re competitive, right? So it’s only natural to want to accelerate your child’s understanding of colors and his or her ability to name them. What are some good color-learning ideas? Consider the following:

Décor

Make sure your child’s room is filled with vibrant, easy-to-distinguish colors. If a child’s room is all shades of blue-gray, it’s going to be hard for him or her to discern between different shades.

Think about it this way: When a child first learns colors, he or she learns about really traditional shades: royal blues, Kelly greens, bright reds, sunshine yellows. Consider adding these spot-on colors to your child’s room through décor, and he or she will become aware of them very early on — which is half the battle.

Using décor is great when your child is still a baby.

Conversation

They grow up so fast, don’t they? Well, as your child begins walking on his or her own, eating independently, and listening to every word you have to say, start talking about colors. In casual conversation, talk about the colors of different food items at home or the colors of different billboards when you’re in the car.

Children really are sponges, and they thrive on repetition. The more you’re talking about colors during the course of everyday life, the more familiar your child will become with colors — and the easier it will be for he or she to master colors.

Using conversation is best when your child is a toddler.

Activities

As your child gets into later preschool years and starts heading toward kindergarten, start using color-related activities to help him or her learn. Painting is a great color-related activity, but you can also find plenty of games and toys that help children pick up on colors.

This is also a phase when you can start introducing the concept of primary colors and how primary colors blend to make other colors (Red + Blue = Purple!). This is the type of deeper thinking that is good for your child no matter the topic.

Using activities is ideal for preschool age children.

 

Why is Learning Colors Important?

Why is learning colors important in the first place? Because colors are deeply embedded in our society. They are used to communicate, to provide warnings, to classify items, etc. Everything from when cars can and can’t go to the ripeness of fruit is influenced by color.

In short, colors are foundational knowledge, and the sooner your child masters them the better.

 

How to Tell if Your Child is Color Blind

Color blindness is certainly a possibility, though it’s a greater possibility in boys than in girls. Keep in mind that color blindness is often limited to one area on the color spectrum. If your child is incorrectly identifying all colors all the time, it’s most likely a developmental issue that needs to be overcome. But, if your child is incorrectly identifying green as brown, for example, there’s a chance it could be colorblindness.

If you suspect your child is dealing with colorblindness, consult your doctor. Colorblindness is not ideal, but it’s among the most manageable of challenges your child could face.

 

Final Thoughts on When a Child Should Know Their Colors

Remember that you’re part of a community. If your child goes to preschool, teachers there are going to emphasize colors on a regular basis. If your child ever turns on a television show, again, many of those shows are going to emphasize colors. When your child visits the doctor, the pediatrician is going to ask about specific milestones to ensure progress.

You don’t have to do this alone! Try some of the tips listed above for helping your son or daughter learn his or her colors. But never stress and feel anxiety about a landmark like color.

Do you have any other tips for helping a child learn colors? If so, share in the comments section below, or send us a note via our contact page.

Somewhere around the 6-month mark, you’ll find that your baby drools a little bit more, that he or she is a little fussier, and that sleep comes a little less easily both at nap times and at night. Your baby is teething, which is why the symptoms are emerging — which makes many parents wonder what to give a teething baby to chew on.

When you hit this challenging point in the first year, it’s important to find products that take care of the pesky symptoms outlined above. To give you a head start, here’s a look at important teething information as well as recommendations for teething products that a proven to provide relief.

This note might frustrate you, but it must be shared: There’s no guarantee that your baby will like any of the solutions below. This is a trial-and-error effort, like so many other things with playing the role of parent to a baby. Start with some of the more affordable options, and you’re your way up to some of the more expensive products. None of them are prohibitively expensive, though, and you’ll find that the right teething solution is well worth the investment.

 

Why Do Teething Babies Chew?

Why do teething babies chew in the first place? When a baby starts teething, new teeth are popping through their gums — which is painful, of course. They chew because the chewing action helps to alleviate that pain.

The goal of any parent is to find the perfect object to alleviate pain from chewing. You’ll find that a teething baby will chew on anything within reach, testing out different objects to see if they can make him or her feel better. Once babies find the perfect soother for teething pain, they won’t let it go.

Naturally, makes of baby products have tried to capitalize on teething pain by offering all sorts of toys designed to soothe. See below for a list of the most popular teething products.

 

7 Ideas: What Can Babies Chew on When Teething?

As noted above, there’s no guarantee that a single teething product will soothe your baby. All you can do is try some of the most popular option, which you’ll find in the list below.

 

1. Frozen Washcloth

Let’s start with something that’s free: a frozen washcloth. Simply place a washcloth inside your freezer and let it sit for a few hours. Then, when your baby is fussing or drooling, let him or her hold and chew on the frozen washcloth.

The coolness of a frozen washcloth is one of the most soothing things for your child. You’ll note below that other products are designed to go in the freezer, but it’s always best to try something you already have around the house — like a washcloth.

Don’t have good washcloths for teething? You can get an inexpensive bundle for a low price, and then you’ll always have washcloths on call when your baby starts fussing.

 

2. Sophie the Giraffe

Vulli’s Sophie the Giraffe has become one of the most beloved toys for babies. You may have gotten one at a baby shower, but, if not, you can get your own for between $20 and $25.

Sophie the Giraffe is a miracle worker for some babies (and those babies’ parents). But you’ll see two common complaints about Sophie: 1) Some parents complain that Sophie is WAY overpriced, and 2) Some parents complain that Sophie simply doesn’t work for their babies.

Both complaints are perfectly understandable. Keep in mind also that parents are going to be much more likely to complain about cost if something also proves ineffective.

 

3. Other Animals

If you don’t like the price on Sophie, look for another teething animal. I really like this Raccoon Teether by Tulamama, or you can search for teething animal toys online. Better yet, if your baby likes a particular kind of animal, find a teething version of it. For example, you baby loves elephants? Find an elephant teether.

You’ll notice that other teething animals are more affordable, but they can be just as hit-and-miss as Sophie. You’ll pay less, but you may still find that a certain teething product isn’t what your baby is looking for.

 

4. Mitten

Ah, the Munch Mitt. This is a really popular teething solution, but I can attest (from personal experience) that not all babies love it. For whatever reason, both of my kids refused to wear the Munch Mitt when they were little and going through the teething stage.

The Munch Mitt does come in lots of different colors and styles, which is nice. It’s also about half as much as investing in Sophie, so you might find the lower price point attractive as you search for the perfect teething solution.

 

5. Beaded Necklaces

For the baby with attachment issues, buy a teething necklace. Mom or dad wears the teething necklace, and then baby chews on the necklace while sitting in mom or dad’s lap.

I like this Teething Necklace from SMH, but, again, there’s no shortage of options out there. A lot of teething necklaces feature amber beads for reasons that are based on sketchy science. So, find a teething necklace with beads that work for you, and you’ll be glad to have an effective teething solution.

 

6. Fruitsicles

Turn fresh fruit into puree, stick it into a popsicle mold, and place the mold inside your freezer. In just a few hours, you’ll have a fruit-flavored teething device to hand your baby.

Of course, products like the Nuby Garden Fresh Fruitsicle Tray can get a little messy at times, but that mess is a small price to pay if the fruitsicle soothes a fussy baby. The price is right, too, and you can search all sorts of different fruitsicle options online.

 

7. Teething Keys

Here’s another classic teething toy option — Nuby Ice Gel Teether Keys. The keys go in the fridge so that they are nice and cool for your baby. As an added bonus, simply fiddling with the keys can keep your baby occupied for the long-term.

This might be the most cost-effective teething product on the market. We’re talking just a few bucks for what could be the ideal teething solution for your baby. If you’re looking for a next step if and when a frozen washcloth doesn’t work, go with teething keys.

 

Bonus: How to Keep Teething Baby From Chewing on Crib Rail

What’s worse than teething? How about a baby that ruins a crib you made a significant investment in by gnawing on its rails?

There’s an easy solution for this, though. To keep a teething baby from chewing a crib rail, simply buy and install a crib rail guard. These rail guards are designed to prevent chewing, and they also prevent your baby from accidentally bonking his or her head on the crib’s railing (once your baby starts pulling up and standing inside the crib).

There are countless options when you’re searching for the right rail guard. Look for one that’s easy to install, easy to clean and hard for your baby to thwart — like the TILLYOU Crib Rail Cover pictured here.

 

Final Thoughts on What to Give a Teething Baby to Chew On

Are you considering over-the-counter medications for your teething baby? The U.S. Food & Drug Administration offers some helpful tips and important warnings as you look at medicinal solutions.

It’s always the best idea to talk to your pediatrician first. Your child’s doctor has seen countless teething babies come through the office, and he or she will be able to recommend the best course of action.

Of course, the teething products listed above are perfectly safe to use. And, if you find the right one, it will save you that trip to the pediatrician’s office.

Have you found a teething solution that’s not listed above? Let us know if the comments section below, or you can always send a message via our contact form.

Between birth and age 5, your child’s brain goes through an astonishing development process. In the first year of life, your child’s developing brain triples, and it will be almost fully formed by the time he or she enters kindergarten.

Wow, right? That means each moment you have with your young child is an opportunity to promote learning, growth and brain development. But are you doing the right things?

The better question to ask is: Are you seeing your child meet the right milestones? For example, when should a child recognize letters of the alphabet? This is just one of many important milestones your child should reach between birth and the start of kindergarten.

So, read on to see a comprehensive list of those milestones, tips for helping your child fall in love with reading, where to go if your child is struggling with reading, as well as the answer to that all-important question: When should a child recognize letters of the alphabet.

It must be said: Each child developments on his or her own timeline. While you’ll see ages and date ranges listed below, keep in mind that your child might be just a little ahead or a little behind the average. And that’s OK! In case you do grow concerned about reading and literacy development, see the section at the bottom of this post that addresses what to do when a child falls behind.

 

What to Expect: Birth to 12 Months

Most parents don’t have a lot of spare time during this first year to worry about literacy development — they are too busy changing diapers, giving bottles, cleaning those bottles and stealing a few winks when they get the chance.

But, if you pay close attention, you’ll notice some important developmental milestones during these first 12 months. Here’s a look at 3 things you should notice by the end of the first year with regard to literacy development:

  1. Responses: By the end of the first year, your child should be responding in some fashion when spoken to.
  2. Noises: Your child will begin to imitate sounds, and he or she will also begin vocalizing when reading books.
  3. Books: You’ll find that your child starts reaching for books, turning pages unassisted and patting pictures in response to your words.

Here’s another funny thing you may notice: Your child may prefer pictures of faces over pictures of other things. That’s because they see and recognize faces more often than anything else, and they may not draw a clear connection between non-face photos and things in real life.

 

What to Expect: 12 to 36 Months

This is when reading with your child really starts to get fun. Your child will start to fall in love with certain books and want those titles read over and over again — they will be able to recognize favorites by their covers. Your child may even start to finish sentences in books they love, which comes as a huge surprise when you first experience it.

Also, your child will begin to turn pages, first in board books and later in books with paper pages. Between 12 and 24 months, your child may turn multiple pages at once because he or she can’t connect the pictures to the text and the text to the words coming out of your mouth. While reading to your child at this age, try asking questions about the book and objects on the pages to see how your child responds.

And here’s a real kick for parents: You will discover your child pretending to read books as they turn 2 years old and press toward 3. It’s a really sweet moment when you hear your child talking to him or herself — and then turn the corner to discover them “reading” alone.

Your child’s vocabulary is also rapidly expanding during this time. Here’s a rough look at how it should grow:

  • 12 to 18 months: First words emerge during this timeframe and perhaps even earlier.
  • 18 to 24 months: Your child’s vocabulary grows from about 20 to 100 words during these months.
  • 24 to 36 months: Your child’s vocabulary grows to 300 words and beyond during these months.

Put crayons, markers and other writing devices in your child’s hand as much as possible during these months, too. You’ll find that your child starts scribbling at around 18 months, and those scribbles gradually begin to look more and more like real characters as he or she draws closer to 3 years old.

 

What to Expect: Age 3 (Early Preschool)

This is the age when your child begins to connect a book’s text and pictures to the story you’re telling. This is a huge leap for your child, as it helps him or her develop an understanding of what reading truly is.

This is also when your child will begin to “read” more independently. He or she now knows how to handle a book, and he or she will also develop an understanding that reading is done left to right and top to bottom — a concept you can reinforce by following your words with a finger on the text as you read.

Your child’s vocabulary will grow to 900 words and beyond at this age, and it’s OK to start challenging him or her with more questions about stories. Ask your child to retell the story from one of his or her favorite books. Children at this age often recognize about half the letters of the alphabet, and they can even recognize their own names when written, as well as other oft-seen words, logos and symbols.

What can you do to help at this age? This is the perfect time to boost a child’s understanding of the alphabet through the classic alphabet song. If you want to go one step further, invest in a set of flash cards that offers large letters as well as objects whose names start with those letters.

 

What to Expect: Age 4 (Late Preschool)

Let’s go back to our original question: When should a child recognize letters of the alphabet? This is the age. At 3, your child will begin to know the alphabet and recognize some letters. At 4, your child should recognize each letter and even be able to write some words.

Work on the alphabet and words by naming letters and having your child guess things that start with that letter. Match letters to sounds adn try making up rhymes and fun phrases. Also, have your child continually practice writing his or her name.

Your child’s vocabulary has now leaped to about 1,500 words, and they are going to become much more aware of and engrossed by plot in stories. Respond by trying out longer stories with more text and fewer pictures. It may take your child some time to get used to this different type of book, but children at this age are ready for longer, more text-heavy titles.

 

What to Expect: Age 5 (Kindergarten)

Your child should take the first steps toward truly reading now. His or her vocabulary has grown to about 2,500 words, and children at this age can begin to recognize the words they know on the page.

Challenge your child even more during and after stories. Ask him or her about the who, what, when, where and why behind a story, and ask basic questions about characters and plot after a story is complete.

And here’s a fun way to engage your reader at this age: Ask him or her to predict what will happen next when reading an unfamiliar story. Your child should be able to sound out unfamiliar words using phonics, and (hopefully) you’ll find that your child actually wants to read more books in order to try out his or her new reading abilities. If not, don’t fear: See our tips below for encouraging kids to read.

 

What to Expect: Ages 6 and 7 (1st and 2nd grade)

At this point, you’re getting a lot of help from your child’s teachers. Your child should be able to recognize about 200 sight words, and he or she should be able to sound out age- and level-appropriate words. In total, your child can express about 2,600 words and understand between 20,000 and 24,000 of them.

This is also the time period when children begin to use context clues. They will begin to think much more in-depth about stories they’ve read, which means you can ask far more challenging questions after a story is complete.

You may even find that your child starts to make up his or her own stories during this period — often imitating the genre of favorite stories and the style of favorite authors.

Here’s a handy infographic that sums up many of the key reading milestones:

 

Ways to Help a Child Fall in Love With Reading

We all want our children to develop at a rapid pace, and we all want our children to fall in love with reading. But is there anything a parent can do to promote literacy development? Yes! And here are 10 ideas for you to try out:

  1. Predictive Text: Early on, make sure to read your child stories with predictive text. When your child can predict the words, he or she feels more in control, more comfortable and more successful. Those feelings can motivate more reading.
  2. Choice: Let children choose what they want to read. Consider placing bookshelves in your child’s room filled with options that he or she can easily reach. This will let your child engage in reading preferred books whenever desired.
  3. Parental Behavior: If you’re constantly watching TV or looking at a smartphone screen, your child is going to think those are the activities worth doing. But, if you’re always reading a book, your child is going to see book reading as a valuable activity. For better or worse, our children are always watching what we do.
  4. Explore Libraries: Libraries are like a gift for parents and children just waiting to be opened. They have so many different types of books and materials and activities — each of which is designed to help your child fall in love with reading. Take advantage of them.
  5. Authors: When your child loves one book, look for titles by that same author. If your child loves one book by an author, there’s a good chance he or she will like that author’s other stuff.
  6. Storytelling: Encourage your child to tell stories. Ask him or her to tell the story of a favorite book, or just ask your child to tell a story about something that happened with friends or at preschool.
  7. Fun: Make reading fun! Try wearing costumes and acting out stories. Get props that align with some of your kids’ favorite books. Change the names of characters to match the names of your children when reading. And have your kids draw pictures of their favorite characters and scenes from their favorite stories.
  8. Special Spaces: Create special spaces where the only activity is reading. You might set books and a special reading lamp inside a closet, or you might create a special reading nook in a guest room or another remote space. The key is to make that special reading space feel like a privileged area where your kids love to spend time.
  9. Routines: There’s power in developing a routine. So consider building reading routines into your days and weeks. Maybe there are 30 minutes of dedicated reading time before bed, or maybe Sunday afternoons are reserved for reading. Create reading expectations and routines around those expectations, and your kids will come to see reading as a natural part of their schedules.
  10. Rewards: Don’t be afraid to dangle a reward in exchange for meeting reading goals. This is especially important as your kids get older and begin to read longer books with fewer pictures. A reward could be as simple as getting a snow cone or seeing a new movie in the theater. But the only way to access the reward is to complete a book.

Here’s one bonus tip for helping your children fall in love with reading: Talk to them all the time, even to newborns. Why? Because studies show that children whose mothers frequently spoke to them knew about 300 more words by age 2 than children whose mothers did not. That’s stunning.

Unfortunately, there’s a direct correlation between parent education/income level and the number of words a child hears per week: a child with white collar parents hears about 215,000 words a week, a child with working-class parents hears about 125,000, and a child with parents receiving welfare hears about 62,000.

There is reason for hope, though. The mere presence of books in a home is enough to overcome economic disadvantage, statistically speaking. Studies show that children growing up in homes with at least 20 books get 3 more years of schooling than children from bookless homes — regardless of parental education, occupation or class.

Here’s a look at more stunning statistics related to child literacy.

 

What if Your Child Falls Behind in Reading?

I’m not a reading expert, so I’m not going to dispense professional advice here. But, if you fear your child is falling behind, start with these 2 things:

  1. Don’t Panic: This is not the end of the world. As noted at the top of this post, different kids develop along different timelines.
  2. Take Action: While you shouldn’t panic, you should take action. The faster you can get your child the help he or she needs to catch up with others, the better it’s going to be.

And that’s where I would point you to this post from Reading Rockets, which offers a nice, practical, step-by-step process for what to do if your child is struggling with reading. Check it out and take advantage of the resources it shares and describes.

 

Final Thoughts on When a Child Should Recognize Letters of the Alphabet

I can tell you from my own experience that reading with your kids can be an absolute blast. That said, there can be moments when reading is the last thing you’ll want to do with them — but it’s still one of the best things you can do with them.

My daughter has a habit of clearing off entire shelves and bringing me book after book to read to her. It can be exhausting, and she’s young enough (2) that she doesn’t fully comprehend what reading is. But, deep down, I know that there are few better ways that I could spend quality time with her.

My son fixates on books about certain subjects for long periods of time. Right now, he’s really into dinosaurs. That means that every book we read is filled with Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus and Triceratops. There are moments when I’d rather read about anything other than dinosaurs. But I know that reading my 3-year-old’s favorites is a great way to promote a lifelong love of reading — so I do it anyway.

Have you had similar experiences with your children? If so, let us know in the comments section below, or send us a message directly through our contact page.