The week's best parenting advice: June 28, 2022

How to time the COVID vaccine for little kids, the truth about the 'Mozart Effect,' and more

A clock.
(Image credit: Illustrated | iStock)

1. How to time the COVID vaccine for little kids

The CDC is advising parents of young kids to vaccinate their children against COVID as soon as possible, but the decision is more complicated if the child has already been infected, writes Emily Oster in ParentData. The point of the vaccine is to prime the "immune system to respond to the virus if it encounters it in the wild" by prompting it to produce antibodies against the viral spike protein that will also train other parts of your immune system to fight the virus. Catching COVID does the same, and each infection or vaccine dose will improve your child's ability to fight the virus both now and later, so it does make sense to vaccinate them if they've already had the disease. But timing matters. "Multiple doses are more effective with more time between them. So if your child just had COVID last week, it likely makes sense to wait."


2. The truth about the 'Mozart effect'

In 1993, a study found that college students who listened to Mozart prior to completing a task performed slightly better than those who listened to a meditation tape or nothing at all. From these modest findings, many concluded that classical music makes kids smarter – a claim for which there remains little basis, writes Beth Skwarecki in Lifehacker. To date, researchers have found "no robust intelligence-enhancing effect of listening to classical music," writes Skwarecki. "Music can be a fun and useful part of the way babies interact with caregivers, but the caregiver is the important part here, not the music." And while some studies suggest infant music classes can help with language development, their benefit has more to do with engagement than any specific kind of music. So sing to your kids, dance with them, but don't trouble yourself over exposing them to the best genre of music.

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3. New safe sleep guidelines

New safe sleep guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirms that "simple is best," said lead author Rachel Moon. "Babies should always sleep in a crib or bassinet, on their back, without soft toys, pillows, blankets or other bedding." In contrast to previous recommendations, however, the AAP now recommends that babies should sleep on a flat surface rather than an incline, and that parents shouldn't rely on baby health devices like SIDS monitors. The statement also strongly cautions against allowing infants to sleep on couches or armchairs, which drastically increase the risk of death, and advises against bed sharing, noting that co-sleeping is particularly risky when the parent's "alertness is impaired due to fatigue or medications; if the parent is a smoker; or if they are sleeping on a soft surface, such as a couch or water bed," reports Dan Hurley in The Washington Post.

The Washington Post

4. Preparing a clingy toddler for a sibling

You have a clingy toddler and a new baby on the way – what can you do? Well, according to Meghan Leahy in The Washington Post: not much, at least not before the baby arrives. Kids don't have a great grasp of time or logic, so hinting that the new baby will bring change will only cause anxiety. Instead, "trust that your good and loving relationship with your son will carry you through this rough transition," writes Leahy. Talk to your child about the baby in a way that is in line with their development. And remember that children are meant to experience frustration. "After the baby is born, you will not be able to physically do everything for and with your son, and your son will cry in frustration," writes Leahy. "This is okay, too; just love him and hug him through it."

The Washington Post

5. How to resume pre-pandemic house rules

If you're hoping to claw your way back to pre-pandemic house rules around screen time, snacking, or video games, you'll first need to let go of any lingering guilt about relaxing them in the first place, writes Jenn McKee in Good Housekeeping. Next, make sure to include your kids in the discussion of the reset. Perhaps most importantly, do not take a tough-love, cold turkey approach, which will only set you up for failure and alienate your kids during a time when they desperately need connection. Instead, re-implement rules gradually, keeping the lines of communication with your children open at all times. "If, as a parent, you feel an urgency to suddenly [say], 'No more mister nice guy! We're done!' — that's your own anxiety. Understandable anxiety, but something that's not actually going to help," says clinical psychologist Rebecca Schrag Hershberg.

Good Housekeeping

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