Parenting advice

The week's best parenting advice: July 27, 2021

COVID at camp, the danger of elevators, and more

1

What COVID at camps tells us about the coming school year

Summer camps are seeing COVID-19 outbreaks among campers, Time reports. Is this a sign of things to come for schools? Most schools are planning to forge ahead with reopening plans this fall, many with measures in place like masking and mass testing, and health experts believe these prevention techniques can limit infections. Still, "I think we're gonna see a wave of outbreaks within schools," Dr. Michael Chang, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas, tells Time. Parents should exercise caution in the weeks leading up to the first day of school. "They really need to be careful in what they're doing, where they're going, in the few weeks before school starts, just to make sure that they're preventing any COVID-19 cases from coming into the school environment right off the bat," says U.S. Public Health Service Captain Erin Sauber-Schatz. "We really want children to get back into the classroom."

2

A warning about elevators

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is raising concerns about elevators in Airbnb rental homes after a 7-year-old was fatally injured in one while on vacation. The boy, who was from Ohio, reportedly became trapped between the elevator car and the shaft. The CPSC says such elevators can be found in "multi-level homes, townhomes, vacation homes and rentals, and in large homes that have been converted to inns or bed-and-breakfast hotels." It wants Airbnb hosts to disable elevators before guests arrive, or have a certified inspection. "If the gap is too deep between any exterior (i.e., hoistway) door and the farthest point of the inner door (which is often an accordion door), a child can enter and close the hoistway door without opening the interior car door, and become entrapped between the two doors," the CPSC explains. If your rental house has an elevator, the CPSC recommends you check that the entryway gap is no more than four inches deep.

3

Pass the salt?

There are lots of rules about feeding infants: No solids before 6 months. No honey. Be careful with nuts. Many parents avoid even salting their babies' solid food just out of an abundance of caution. But is that caution warranted? While there are some concerns about how salt exposure in the first year of life affects blood pressure later on, "the data on these is not super compelling and the differences are small," writes Emily Oster, economist and author of Expecting Better. Generally, there's no reason to add salt to things like baby purees. But if you're introducing your infant to food by way of sharing the meals you're eating, do you need to make a salt-free version every time? "No, unless you eat your food really, really salty," Oster says, urging moderation. "Don't serve the baby olives, or saltines, or very salty chips. But the roast chicken you're having, the squash, the salad — it's okay if they have some salt." 

4

How often should kids bathe, anyway?

Celebrity couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher sparked a bit of a parenting controversy recently when they told Dax Shepard's Armchair Expert podcast that they don't give their two kids, ages 6 and 4, daily baths. When it comes to brand-new babies, the actors aren't entirely wrong: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends bathing babies under 1 no more than three times a week, so long as regular changes are keeping the diaper area clean. But what about older kids? The Cleveland Clinic recommends kids age 6-11 bathe at least twice a week, and says older teens and tweens should shower every day. Or if you're not fussy about dirt, you could go by Kutcher's rule of thumb: "If you can see the dirt on them, clean them. Otherwise, there's no point."

5

Parenting in the present

"Living in the moment" with kids is important, now more than ever, writes poet Maggie Smith for The Washington Post. As the pandemic lingers on, and we long for the return to some kind of pre-pandemic "normal," Smith wonders if we're overlooking the magic of the now. "I'm feeling the need to slow down and be in it, not simply moving through it as quickly as I can," writes the author of Goldenrod, a new collection of poems. "Being a poet — like being a parent — requires me to pay attention," Smith says. "I want to set this example for my children, too. I want them to know that the time we have together matters, whether we're playing catch or walking the dog or cooking together. Life is made up of these small, ordinary moments. And what a life it is — beautiful, sometimes hiding in plain view. It's plenty, when we're still enough to notice." 

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