The week's best parenting advice: October 5, 2021
Teen vaping rates, the Boppy lounger recall, and more
Is teen vaping still a problem?
The Food and Drug Administration started sounding the alarm about teen vaping in 2018. By 2019, the numbers were getting scary: Nearly 30 percent of high school students reported vaping. But this year, the government's annual National Youth Tobacco Survey finds 11.3 percent of high schoolers report they currently vape, a big drop, and the second in as many years, The New York Times reports. Yet that doesn't mean the problem is solved — and some experts worry the trend will reverse as the pandemic wanes. "The results show that the crisis of e-cigarette use among youth remained very much alive even with kids spending large amounts of time at home during the pandemic," says The American Heart Association, adding that the return to in-person learning could reverse the trend. "Immediate action is needed to prevent the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, including menthol products," the AHA adds.
Understanding the Boppy lounger recall
Another day, another baby product recall. This time, it's the Boppy lounger that's causing panic among parents. The product was recalled after reports of eight infant deaths that "seem to involve situations in which an infant was left sleeping unsupervised," says Emily Oster, author of Expecting Better, at ParentData. Boppy products are incredibly popular. How should parents of small babies react to the recall? Should they throw the lounger away? "It depends," Oster says. If you're using the lounger as intended — that is, you're supervising your child while they use it — "it's not clear that the recall should make you more anxious." But if you're using the lounger as a "primary" sleep environment, or leaving your child in the lounger unsupervised, you should probably stop. Still, "the risks associated with this remain extremely small," Oster says.
Good news about family mealtimes
Research has time and time again demonstrated the benefits of family meal time. Eating together facilitates family communication, lower stress levels, and builds better eating habits. And, encouragingly, family mealtime is on the rebound. One survey of 2,000 adults found that more than half say their families are sitting down for family meals more often now than they were in early 2020, before the pandemic put most social activities on hold. But it's not just that families have been forced to spend time together — they're actually enjoying it: Fifty-eight percent of respondents said dinner time is the most relaxing part of their day. If your child refuses to open up during mealtimes, avoid "yes or no" questions. But don't force them to speak, explains Raising Children. "It's good for your child just to be with your family and listen to other people talking. The idea is to make mealtimes enjoyable and social."
How to teach toddlers to put on socks
Teaching toddlers to get dressed independently is key to their development, but it doesn't always come easy. Take socks and shoes, for example. "There is a lot of ground work needed!" explains Hiking with Harps, a montessori Instagram account from the mother of a toddler named Harper. "Toddler hands and wrists need to have enough strength and coordination to get the socks over their feet." This can be encouraged using a few simple tools: hair elastics and the leg of an upturned stool, or even a paper towel holder. The child can practice stretching the band and maneuvering it onto the chair leg to master the necessary fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. After that, they can practice pulling scrunchies over their feet. When Harper tried this, "There were days she was upset she couldn't figure it out and wouldn't touch it again for a week. But one day she finally got it! That's when we started practicing with real socks."
Bedtime, on time
Kids are excellent stallers. When they're asked to do something they don't want to do — like go to sleep — they'll find myriad ways to drag out the process. "But there are a ways to intercept the stall," writes Sarah Showfety at Lifehacker. "In our house, the only way anyone ever put on a Pull-up or submitted to the evil of teeth-brushing is if we dangled over them the thing they cherished most in life as a reward: the pre-bedtime show." Let your kid know that if they aren't ready for bed within a certain time frame, there won't be enough time to read books, or tell a story, or whatever it is they love to do most before hitting the hay. "The tough part is enforcing this," Showfety writes. "If you often threaten to take it away but never do, they'll know you're bluffing and carry on with the shenanigans."