Tips, toddlers

What to Do When Your Child Plays With Poop

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Our son went through a poop playing stage a back in May and we thought we were in the clear after two months of no incidents. But this week he did it again. You may pooh-pooh our predicament, but this is a serious issue. My husband is pretty sure this was premeditated. Although our son usually goes to his room to have some privacy when he poops, this time he brought a bunch of construction vehicles and shut the door. As you can see from the picture above, he had a great time using his construction vehicles to move loads of “dirt” like they would in real life. If it weren’t so disgusting, I would be more impressed with his creativity—like how he used his “dump” truck.

It is normal and natural for a toddler to play with their poop as part of the “Anal Stage.”   With all of the incidents we’ve had, I never worried about the obsession as much as the mess that I have to clean up every time. So what can you do about it in the meantime? Here are some recommendations we received and how they turned out:

  • Constant Vigilance. We would carefully monitor our toddler during the day, but the times he would get us were when he was supposed to be sleeping. He would be stealthily quiet. He would wait until he had ultimate privacy and knew we wouldn’t be checking on him. Because guys, I just don’t have the time to check on my son every 10 minutes to see if he’s asleep. I have things to do during nap time. Like clean up poop.
  • Time outs while we clean up his mess. This gave him yet another opportunity to poop and play with it, since he was supposed to be in solitary confinement. As you can see, there’s a reason this suggestion is Number 2.  bowels comic
  • Making him clean it up. Our son was thrilled when he found out it was his “duty” to spray cleaning solution on his poop and wipe it up. We then tried just making him watch us, but I felt like if he was going to go to all the effort of “decorating” (his words) the windows, then he should clean it up. Now we make him clean up his messes, but we realize that he doesn’t see this as a punishment.
  • Sensory play. Literally less than an hour after playing in the mud, our son pooped and played with it. I tried pulling out the play dough more often, but I’m pretty sure it just gave him more ideas of what he could do with his doodoo. We basically just increased his sensory play time.
  • Reprimands. Yeah, those didn’t really stink sink in. As much as we told him that it was “yucky to play with poop” and “we don’t play with poop,” I’m pretty sure all he heard was “blah blah play with poop, blah blah blah play with poop.”
  • Potty training. If you read Mama T’s post on Potty Training, you’ll know that it may take several tries. We had already tried potty training before our son’s poop playing stage and we gave up after three weeks. Nevertheless, we made renewed efforts to invite him to poop on the potty. I even left a little potty in his room so that if he needed to pull of his diaper, he could poop there instead. The next morning we woke up and he had smeared poop everywhere…except the potty.

What recommendation did end up working for us? Duct taping his diapers shut. This gem came from my mom, who apparently had to do this with all three of her children (including me). We duct taped his diapers before every nap time and every bed time. After a month, we stopped using tape just to see if he had noticed. He didn’t.

So what led to the incident this week? He was in a pull-up. I know this sounds like I’m a dumb parent, but hear me out: Up until today, our son hasn’t figured out how to get a pull-up off. It was actually easier for him to take off a diaper than a pull-up. So after lunch today I slapped one on him since we were running low on diapers. And that, my friends, was my mistake.

If you need me, I’ll be stocking up on duct tape.

Why I Needed a Mom Vacation

toddlers

You Know You’re the Mom of a Toddler When…

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Everyone knows that toddlers are crazy. Bipolar, erratic, defiant, hyper, wild animals… But they are also oh-so-sweet and oh-so-entertaining! It is so rewarding as a parent to watch your little person grow and develop into his/her own personality, and to see him/her absorb new things every single day, all day long! At this age, kids’ brains are sponges!!

YOU KNOW YOU HAVE A TODDLER WHEN…

1) You all of the sudden have a second shadow.

2) You realize one day that you’ve allowed yourself to become a garbage disposal.

*”Oh, you don’t want your chicken nuggets? I’ll just finish them for you…”

3) Getting yourself ready for the day before 3:00 pm is a tremendous victory.

4) If a stranger were to listen in on your conversations, it would sound like you are fluent in several different languages.

*Toddler: “Daddy agoo baja ROAR aba daba owtside bash coookie!”

Dad: “Ok buddy, you can have a cookie.”

5) Sometimes, the word “Mommy” makes you shudder and twitch (it’s the screaming that’ll do it…)

*Of course, the same word, said sweetly, makes your heart melt.

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6) Snuggles in the morning are the best part about waking up at the crack of dawn.

7) You’ve memorized several books, such as “Goodnight Moon”, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”, “The Foot Book”, and “Elmo’s Night Before Christmas”.

8) You have been hit, kicked, pinched, and have had your hair pulled out on occasion.

9) You have a new-found taste for foods such as PB&J, string cheese, animal crackers, and apple juice.

10) You swell with pride whenever your son or daughter learns a new word, makes a good decision over a bad one, or hugs you for no reason except that they love you.

Yes, being the parent of a toddler makes life exciting, tiring, funny, crazy, and interesting. But one thing’s for sure:

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I wouldn’t choose to have any other life than the one I have as a mommy! Having and raising my little boys has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

And one more for all the dads:

parenting reality

 

NEW Signature

 

Baby, Food, toddlers

Understanding FPIES Food Allergies

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Before having kids, the phrase “food allergies” brought to mind images of peanuts, swelling, and Epi-Pens. But after discovering that our son had Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES), food allergies meant something quite different. In our case, “food allergies” meant oats, vomiting, and potentially a hospital visit.

This article will explain our experience with FPIES and hopefully provide some tips and resources to parents with children who have FPIES. When I first googled FPIES, I was horrified with the stories I read. If you are looking for a less horrifying but still educational article about FPIES, I would read this Q&A, which I will be quoting throughout the rest of this article.

What is FPIES?

FPIES is an intestinal allergy to foods, where the stomach rejects proteins in the food it is allergic to and expels them. The tricky thing about FPIES is that the symptoms don’t set in until 1.5 to 2 hours after the food is digested. This means it is hard to figure out what food triggered the allergy since the reaction occurs hours later.

What foods are common triggers?

“The most common FPIES triggers are traditional first foods, such as dairy and soy. Other common triggers are rice, oat, barley, green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, squash, chicken and turkey.” This was true with our experience- we had our first clue to our son’s allergies when he was five months old. Our pediatrician recommended introducing infant cereal, and we chose to introduce oat cereal first. Our baby happened to be sick with a cold at the time, and so when he vomited several hours later, we assumed it was from the congestion. Two weeks later, when we tried the oats again, he had the same reaction. This time, we caught on to the pattern and didn’t introduce oats again.

What are the symptoms?

“Symptoms typically only involve the gastrointestinal system, and other body organs are not involved. FPIES reactions almost always begin with delayed onset vomiting (usually two hours after ingestion, sometimes as late as eight hours after). Symptoms can range from mild (an increase in reflux and several days of runny stools) to life threatening (shock).” This makes FPIES tricky because the vomiting could be confused with food poisoning or the flu. With our son, he would vomit until everything had been expelled from his stomach (sometimes lasting up to an hour) and then he would have diarrhea. The good news was that after a few hours, he was able to eat and drink again so he wouldn’t get too dehydrated.

How is FPIES diagnosed?

“FPIES is difficult to diagnose, unless the reaction has happened more than once, as it is diagnosed by symptom presentation.” This means that the skin prick test that they do for other allergies doesn’t work for FPIES, as the allergy is digestive based. In our case, the doctor still performed a skin test to see if our son had any other types of food allergies. What helped the doctor diagnose our son was the fact that after his reactions to infant cereal, we later introduced Cheerios (which contain oats) and it produced the same affect.

How is FPIES treated?

Since FPIES is an intestinal allergy, that means that Epi-Pens won’t help. Generally treatment is to avoid the triggering food at all costs. In the event that your child does react, the worst case scenario is that you have to take your child to Urgent Care or the ER for IV fluids. In our case, once we knew the trigger food, we were able to successfully keep him from eating oats until he outgrew his allergy.

How do I know if my child has outgrown FPIES?

“Together with your child’s doctor, you should determine if/when it is likely that your child may have outgrown any triggers.” After diagnosing our son at 11 months, our doctor advised that we come back when he had turned 3 and they would do an office food test. This meant that we would come back and feed him oats at the doctor’s office and wait to see if he had a reaction. We never had a chance to do this option as someone accidentally fed our son oats without our knowledge when he was 19 months old and he did not have a reaction. While I wouldn’t recommend doing a home test for outgrowing allergies, it produced the same result.

How do I help my child avoid trigger foods?

1. Check all food labels! Especially with grains, milk, and soy, you would be amazed with how many foods contain these ingredients. We discovered that about 75% of cereals contained oats. Not to mention breads, crackers, and cookies.

2. Tell all caregivers. We created a short letter that we gave to all babysitters, relatives, and caregivers so they would be aware of our son’s allergy. If you would like to print it off, you can download it here. Along with the letter we provided safe snacks for our son to eat while we were gone.

3. Segregate foods. We continued to eat foods with oats even though our son could not. While we tried to keep cereals with oats out of reach, I wish we had been more vigilant about segregating foods. My recommendation is to create specific spot in a cupboard or pantry shelf for all foods that can trigger your child’s allergies. Label it “Not for [Child’s Name]” so there is no confusion. Even friends and family that knew about our child’s allergy would forget to check labels or just plain forget about the allergy all together. While this was frustrating, I had to remind myself that these caregivers had never seen my son’s allergic symptoms. I’m sure if anyone had seen him vomit repeatedly until he was dry heaving, they would remember from then on about his allergy.

4. Be vigilant. I have now become one of those parents who will not give food to other children without checking with their parents first. After living with a child with allergies, I can’t tell you how stressful it is for a parent to find out someone gave their child food without their knowing. A common toddler snack like Cheerios led to devastating consequences for my son, even when parents assumed that it would “be fine.”

While food allergies are stressful, they can be accommodated and even outgrown! Our son now loves eating foods with oats, and we love not having to worry about his allergy.

Why I Needed a Mom Vacation

Food, Tips, toddlers

Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters

Pinterest Ready Picky Eaters

Photo from Pixabay.com

Here’s a little glimpse into my family’s daily conversation around dinnertime:

ME: “Who wants dinner? I’m hungry!”

C: “Not me!”

HUSBAND: “Mmmm C, do you want ________ ?”*insert menu item for that night*

C: “No. I don’t like dinner. I want breakfast!”

 

Now I know we’re not the only family with littles who have reservations about the foods served at mealtime. And for us, it is our oldest who has the pickiest palate. It’s hard for me to relate to him on this, because I don’t recall ever being a truly picky eater. Sure, there were some foods I would whine about, but as far as I can recall, I have always loved to eat! My oldest son: Now, I KNOW that he loves to eat. He’s human! And there are some foods that he goes gaga over. But it has definitely been a struggle to help him establish good eating habits.

 

The most prevalent characteristics of my son’s pickiness are:

  1. Not enjoying the concept of dinnertime (we have to stop playing, it’s more formal than other meals, it usually has foods that are less familiar than the other meals’ foods)
  2. Being wary about trying new foods
  3. Feeling pressured by eating with Mom and Dad (he seems to feel more comfortable when he eats alone)

 

It can be an extremely frustrating thing having a picky eater. As parents, we want to teach our kids healthy habits- we want them to have a healthy relationship with food. So what can we do, those of us who have kids who would almost rather starve themselves than eat vegetables?

1. Remain calm and assert your authority

 

This sounds intense, but as a parent, YOU are in control of how things go in your house: If you want to have nightly family dinner, make it a rule that everyone has to sit down and eat together; if you want your child to eat healthy foods, offer them healthy foods most of the time; if you don’t want your child to fill up on snacks before meals, don’t provide more than one snack between meals.

2. Don’t allow your child to eat snacks after dinner

In our house we don’t allow our kids to eat after dinner because we want them to actually eat their dinner. We feel that if they know they can always snack on something after dinner, then they’ll rely on that and just choose to not eat dinner if they don’t like what’s being offered. The exception here is when we have dessert after dinner. Once my oldest consistently eats a decent amount of dinner every night, then I can see us providing healthy snacks before bed if he gets hungry late at night.

3. Keep offering plenty of options

I’ve been told that it can take 10-20 times of a food being offered before a kid actually eats that food. Therefore, just because your kid rejects a food you give them doesn’t mean you should stop offering it to them! Keep putting it on their plate, and eventually they may decide that they like it. 🙂

4. Don’t force your kid to eat

Here is a little secret every parent learns pretty early-on: You can’t force a child to eat or sleep. For some reason, kids sometimes seem to fight their natural instincts! It drives us parents crazy, because we know what’s best for them!!! Nevertheless, we must let our kids make choices for themselves, even when the choices are simple. You can put food on your kid’s plate, but you can’t MAKE them eat it. Plus, allowing them this little bit of freedom may help prevent unhealthy relationships with food later on.

5. Involve your child in decisions about food

Little ones love being independent and learning how to do things for themselves. Involve your child with cooking (this is something my son has been interested in lately!). Also, let your child make choices about food sometimes. For example, you can offer a few different options at snack time and allow him or her to choose which snack they want. You can even go further if your child isn’t too excited about what’s being served at dinner; you can let them choose one food item on their plate that they will eat all of.

6. . Be optimistic

Our kids can sense when we are stressed. Try to speak positively about food and bodies. And set a positive example! If your kid sees you enjoying and trying a variety of foods, they will be more likely to try the foods as well. And remember: Your child won’t starve himself/herself! Even though at times it may seem like they’ll try…. They won’t let themselves starve, so consistently offer them a variety of healthy foods!

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cooking, toddlers

Toddler Cooking in 25 Easy Steps

Ever since I showed him how to cook eggs, Man-cub D has requested them every day for lunch. The following are 25 steps to a quick cooking session with a toddler.

Step 1: Pull out the eggs from the fridge.
Step 2: Pull a chair over to the counter so D can reach.
Step 3: Grab a small skillet and put on stove.
Step 4: Spray the skillet (unless D jumps right to step 5)
Step 5: D cracks the egg(s) into the skillet.
Step 6: Mama R digs out all the shell bits.
Step 7: Wash hands.
Step 8: Push eggs out of D’s reach so he doesn’t crack more.
Step 9: Hand D the pepper to season the eggs.
Step 10: D vigorously shakes pepper over eggs, possibly dropping it into the mix.
Step 11: Hand D the salt.
Step 12: Repeat step 10.
Step 13: Put salt and pepper out of D’s reach.
Step 14: Open grated cheese for D.
Step 15: D sprinkles cheese on eggs, also spilling some on the chair.
Step 16: Clean the chair.
Step 17: Get wooden spoon for D to stir the eggs (thus scrambling them).
Step 18: Put skillet on stovetop.
Step 19: Turn on stovetop.
Step 20: Monitor D so he doesn’t touch stove or skillet while eggs cook.
Step 21: Take wooden spoon from D momentarily to make sure the eggs get flipped so they are cooked all the way through.
Step 22: Apologize when returning the spoon.
Step 23: Declare eggs done.
Step 24: Get a plate while D gets a fork.
Step 25: Eat the eggs.

Tips, toddlers, Traveling

Airplane Toddler Travel

Man-cub D greeting the airplane passengers behind us. 

We move across the country next week! Papa M will be driving all of our belongings, and then Man-cub D and I will fly out to join him three days later. We were able to get a “practice run” in because we flew to Oregon for a family reunion last week. Here’s what I learned from that trip:

  • Car seats are bulky. Yes, you can check them at the curb or at the normal check in instead of at the gate, but I’d much rather not worry about it. So we will be borrowing one until we can fly out.
  • I will only have the diaper bag (as my small item) and a backpack as my carry on. I will also have an umbrella stroller to transport Man-cub D in. That’s it.
  • To make this happen, I have to pack light. Here’s what I’m eliminating:
    • My laptop. One of our planes actually had small touch screens for each seat, and I figure I can just use my phone and save myself a few extra pounds in luggage.
    • Clothes. I’m staying with my mom during the three day period when we move out to when we fly out, and I’m planning on borrowing some of my sister’s clothing during that time so I don’t have to pack as much. 
    • Toiletries. Borrow at my mom’s house. All I’ll have are man-cub D’s things, like his liquid multi-vitamins. 
    • Books. I only need to bring one for Man-cub D. (It’s a large look-and-find one that he loves).
What would you eliminate on a airplane trip?

toddlers

Toddler Obsessions

Toddlers go through phases of obsessions. Sometimes it’s the usual things you’ll hear about: cars, animals, tv show characters, etc. But sometimes, your toddler may become obsessed with something more unusual. Man-cub D is currently obsessed with identifying and touching eyebrows. He is also convinced that any sound that comes from the sky is a helicopter. Feeling that I needed some reassurance, I asked my friends to share stories of their toddler’s weird or random obsessions. So here are my top 10 favorites:  

Toothpaste. He loves it! He carries it around. Brushes his teeth constantly! Chews on the tube. And even wasted an entire tube on brushing his dinosaurs’ teeth.

My daughter was into singing on the toilet. Many times she wouldn’t get off until she felt she was finished singing.

My kids liked to play in the dog kennel or the laundry basket.

Moles! I know it sounds so strange but my little boy searches for them.

My belly button. To this day, it is my four-year-old’s comfort object. Any time he falls or is sad or is going to bed, he wants snuggles solely so he can have my “tummy button.” It’s been that way since he turned one. It’s embarrassing when he’s digging through my tucked in shirts to get to it in public. But he is soooooo obsessed with mommy’ tummy button.

My son has been fixated on keys (everything becomes a key or a lock) and measuring tapes (he measures everything).

My daughter was and is obsessed with packing things into bags, containers etc. Still waiting for her to grow out of that.

Spoons. He used them for everything his imagination could come up with. We had to put the spoons up high in the cabinet and bought him his own plastic ones to lose around the house.

There was a time when my son would only eat hot dogs, canned mushrooms, and mandarine oranges.

Both of my girls have a thing about freckles. Whenever they find what they think might be a new one on their legs or arms they have to come running to show me and be reassured that its okay. They count the ones on my arms and get concerned that I have so many more on my left arm than my right arm.

What are your toddler’s weird obsessions?