BFL – Nanny Whisperers

I had a chance to talk with Nanny Whisperer Tammy Gold, LCSW, MSW, CEC, whose book was reviewed recently on these pages. As founder of Gold Parent Coaching, Gold is one of the most sought-after parenting and childcare experts in the country, and is a frequent guest on TV’s Good Morning America and Today.

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From your background in child development, what have you discovered about the importance of quality childcare?

As a therapist who worked with children, and a supporter of Attachment Psychology, I knew that quality childcare is critical to a child’s well-being. Two things occur: First, as a child’s brain is growing and developing (90 percent of brain development occurs by age 3), caregivers can have a large effect on cognitive development. By talking, laughing, engaging with and simply responding to a child’s needs, caregivers literally help create neural pathways in the child’s brain.

Second, according to Attachment Psychology (Dr. John Bowlby) and Psychosocial Development (Dr. Erik Erikson), caregivers literally shape who children become. During infancy and the early years, having a loving, responsive, regular group of caregivers allows babies to become attached to others and feel secure. Erikson describes this as learning “trust versus mistrust.”

Babies who have an uninvolved, unresponsive caregiver lose trust and cannot move through each developmental stage. Every developmental stage requires a devoted and loving caregiver who can stimulate and support the child’s developmental milestones. If the caregivers are not paying attention-often on their phone, unsupportive, or not fostering a child’s ability to play, explore and learn-they hinder developmental advancement.

What are some of the common pitfalls parents fall into when they look for a caregiver?

Parents often rush to hire a caregiver and fail to zero in on the important items. Whether it’s choosing a daycare center, a nanny or a babysitter, parents need to allow themselves plenty of time (ideally 3-4 weeks) so they can outline their needs and make good choices.

Studies show that stress interferes with clear thinking, so if parents are stressed and pressed for time they can overlook qualities they are uncomfortable with-such as a nanny who may be too quiet or a daycare center with not enough staff-because they feel pressure to choose.

Parents also tend to look first and figure out later what they need in a caregiver, which wastes time and causes stress. Parents also tend to push themselves to make their hiring decision during the interview phase, but decisions are best made after conducting daycare trials or nanny trials to really assess if the child and caregiver are a match.

Finally, parents often choose a friend’s or relative’s nanny. But just because a nanny was great with another family does not mean that person-or a daycare location-will be right for their own needs.

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What would an ideal nanny look like?

The ideal nanny is someone who loves children, has a positive and happy attitude, and is receptive and attentive. Parents tend to focus on a candidate’s education (which can be a plus), but a nanny can have little education and still possess the essential skills to promote cognitive development-such as engaging with children, having the patience to handle and support tantrums and disappointments, and most of all, having a flexible and devoted attitude toward the entire family unit. An ideal nanny is never cranky or snappy; as a paid caregiver, nannies must maintain a personal and professional demeanor for a child’s continued well-being.

If a babysitter comes only occasionally to care for children during hours when they are mostly sleeping, parents need not be as discerning about the babysitter’s manner or level of interaction. However, a nanny who comes regularly from week to week must be warm, upbeat, loving and receptive so that the child feels safe, loved and stimulated.

In my book, Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer, I present a detailed, step-by-step process parents can follow to find, interview, hire, and manage a caregiver who is ideally suited to their child and to the family’s needs.

BFL – Womentrepreneurs

The Bell Family Company brand is built on the leadership of our fearless leader, Lindsay. But we’re not the only ones who like hearing from Lindsay!

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Check out this awesome feature on Business Buff to hear Lindsay’s thoughts on being fearless and aggressive in order to grow the brand, building a family care business, and providing value to an ever growing market: http://www.businessbuff.com/buff-014-lindsay-bell-founder-president-of-bell-family-company/ 

Meet Our New NJ Nanny Coordinator, Paige!

Paige has been working with kids for as long as she can remember. She got her start in childcare working as a summer camp counselor in her hometown of Rockland County, New York, but has been a resident of Hoboken for the past 4 years where she continues to babysit.

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She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut with degrees in English and Human Development/Family Sciences. During her time in college she mentored middle school students as well as incoming freshman.  She also had numerous leadership roles within the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, which is an exciting connection, that Paige and BFC President, Lindsay, discovered when Paige began sitting for Bell Family in 2012.

After college, Paige continued her education earning a Masters Degree in Secondary English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. This launched her career in education, as she is currently a 7th grade Language Arts Teacher in Cranford, NJ. She is so excited to become a member of the Bell Family as the Nanny Placement Coordinator in New Jersey!

 

Teething Toddlers: What to Expect

“Teething is the pits!” my friend told me.  I had no clue what an understatement that would be.

As a first time mom, I had no idea what to expect when it came to teething.  The pediatrician said I will detect excessive drooling but that’s it.  She failed to warn me of hunger strikes.  I was thoroughly confused when Kermit, at 6 months adjusted age, abruptly stopped nursing and drinking from a bottle.  Complicating matters, his teething directly coincided with introduction of solids and doctor mandate for him to gain more weight since he was falling off his growth curve.  My pediatrician, who I totally respect and value, instructed me to make a “valiant effort” to feed Kermit 30 oz of milk and 3 solid feedings of diluted rice cereal.  Seriously, I spent every ounce of energy trying to feed my child.

I would wake him up two times in the middle of the night because that’s when I found him to be more amenable to drinking larger volumes.  Until he stopped.  I would sit for an hour at every solid feeding waiting for him to open his mouth.  I would sing and dance, make crazy sounds by smacking my lips, and tickle him for any opportunity to shove the spoon into his mouth.  He got smarter:  he’d laugh with his mouth closed.  I laughed and cried to the point of exhaustion.

I finally figured out he was teething when I heard loud shrieks in the middle of the night.  For an infant who loves his sleep (he could sleep 12-14 consecutive hours throughout the night at 4 months old), something was amiss.  After three weeks of his food strike and interrupted sleep, Kermit cut his first tooth on New Year’s Eve.  His second tooth emerged three days later.  He had mild discomfort for the next two weeks and then the symptoms reappeared with great force.  His uppers came in—4 at the same time!  Let’s just say feeding and sleeping was even more miserable for both of us.

I almost cried when I learned babies grow 20 primary teeth by age 3.  TWENTY!  According to Baby Center’s website, this is the order of appearance:
1.  2 lower central incisors at 4-7 months old
2.  2 upper central incisors at 8-12 months
3.  2 upper lateral incisors, right and left of center, at 9-13 months
4.  2 lower lateral incisors, right and left of center, at 10-16 months 5.  2 upper first molars, the wider teeth second to the back of the mouth, at 13-19 months
6.  2 lower first molars at 14-18 months
7.  2 upper canines/ cuspids, which fill the gap between the incisors and first molars, at 16-22 months
8.  2 lower canines at 17-23 months
9.  2 lower second molars at 23-31 months
10.  2 upper second molars at 25-33 months.

If you pay close attention to the age of each tooth’s appearance, there is a lot of overlap.  Like I mentioned earlier, Kermit got his upper central and upper lateral incisors all at once.  I suspect he is getting his upper and bottom molars simultaneously as I write.  Poor little guy.

Most reference guides list drooling, gum sensitivity, irritability, gnawing behavior, refusal of food, and sleep problems among teething symptoms.  One must read between the lines, though, to understand the extent of the experience.  Sleep problems translate to sporadic deafening shrieks in the middle of the night; refusal of food can last for weeks; and irritability demands constant attention to baby’s clingy-ness.  In addition to these symptoms, Kermit would tug on his ears and cough a lot before a tooth cut through the gums.

The one thing I wish someone told me at the beginning of this process is:  your baby will not go hungry for the duration of the food strike.  He will definitely eat when he’s hungry.

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Treatment for teething pain include:  cold things, pressure, topical medicine, painkillers, and homeopathic remedies.  I tried all of these suggestions except for topical medicine (e.g. numbing cream or gels) because, as one friend warned:  what numbed the front can numb the back of the mouth resulting in gagging.  Of course, this was my personal decision.

Kermit predominantly found relief in iceys and anything cold.  I would make flavored ice cubes out of puree and milk.  I also would feed him cold milk on some of my more exasperated feeding days.  My friend made cold or frozen washcloths for her twins’ comfort which Kermit also loved.  To soothe his growing discomfort throughout the day and particularly at night, i would preemptively give him homeopathic chamomile drops every 6 hours.

On really really bad days when he would awaken every hour in pain, I gave him half doses (that the pediatrician recommended according to his respective weight) of acetaminophen only at night time.  I also made the personal decision to give him painkillers for a maximum of three consecutive nights followed by at least two nights of no administration.  My rationale was I did not want him to be too reliant on acetaminophen because he may have a lower threshold of pain when the molars and canines appeared.

Currently, Kermit has 6 pearly whites and, I think, 4 molars cutting through the gums.  He will not let me near his mouth.  He will sometimes eat solid chunks only if he can administer the feeding himself.  He likes to test his teeth while eating puffs and wafers and gnawing on his crib rails.  We await for another 10+ teeth.  God help us.

Despite the hardship, it’s undeniably cute when he smiles his little chipmunk gap toothed grin.  It melts my heart every time.

-Jeanne

To Be or “Nut” to Be?

I have been away from my blogging desk to be a part time nanny to my twin granddaughters. I hope I’m not too rusty. One day, with my daughters okay, I gave a slight amount of natural peanut butter on a cracker to the twins. Her pediatrician said to try it after 2 years. Within a minute, hives developed on one twin’s face and quickly moved to the tummy area.

Out came the Benadyrl and slowly the rash cleared up. Why did this happen? There is no one we know of in the family lineage that has a food allergy and  why to one child and not the other? Off to the doctor I went with my lil’ peanut to get some answers.

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Unfortunately, the answers were vague or nonexistent. The test given to her determined the allergy and a future blood test will tell its severity. We left the office with the epi pen prescription, a pile of light reading on the topic, and the direction not to eat any nuts at all. I did learn that peanuts were a legume and even candy sprinkles have tree nuts in them. I will also add nutritionist/dietician to my resume as I am becoming proficient in label reading!

From one nut to another,

Mama Bell

How To: Set up PayPal

One of the main reasons a credit card might be rejected is if the credit card has been used in the past and is associated with a PayPal account. PayPal assumes that if this is the rightful user of the credit card they would log-into PayPal to use the stored card, and since it is being used without the log-in credentials, the assumption is that it’s fraud and the card might have been lost or stolen.

If would like to use the same credit card that is associated with an active PayPal account, the option “Don’t have a PayPal account” will not work unless you use a credit card that is not associated with any active PayPal account.

Being that PayPal defaults to the users associated bank account as payment, sometimes you might not want to log in to PayPal to pay. However it is really easy to change the payment method that PayPal is using to process your checkout request.

  1. On the Bell Family Company “Family Checkout” screen click on “Confirm”
  2. Select the “Log in to your PayPal account” toggle menu as shown below:

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3. Log-into PayPal with the associated email address and password. *THIS IS NOT THE SAME EMAIL AND PASSWORD THAT YOU USE TO LOG-INTO BELL FAMILY COMPANY

4. Once, you are logged in, click on the link that says “change” as shown below:

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5. When you click the “change” link, you will be able to select a different payment method other than your Bank Account.

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In conclusion, if you have a credit card on file with PayPal and want to make purchases with that credit card, you need to do it by logging into your PayPal account and selecting it as a payment method. If you try to use it without logging into your PayPal account, chances are it will be declined.

-Greg, CTO, Bell Family Company

Impromptu Child Activities

Parents sometimes have to bring their kids to places where there isn’t readily available entertainment or are running low on fun ideas. Our BFC sitters are experts in drumming up ideas, so we figured we’d share some impromptu child activities:

  • 1. Host a Hoola Hoop & Limbo contest with the neighborhood kids! Have the kids make signs & promote the contest.  Invite parents to attend, set up & play!
    Props: hoola hoop & some music
  • 2. For the car ride, play rounds of “I Spy”
    Props: Nothing necessary!
  •  3. Play a game of Keep it Up!  This is classic, get a balloon or pool ball & play rounds of keep it up. This game can be played anywhere & it can go on for hours.  Make teams, play-one-on-one & more.
    Props: Balloon or pool ball
  • 4. Duck, Duck, Goose.  Okay another classic.  This gets the kids outside or can be played indoors & encourages them to be active!
    Props: Nothing necessary!
  • 5. Hot & Cold Treasure Hunt.  Designate one person to be ‘it’ & direct the other person to go find the hidden treasure by following the map.  ‘It’ is responsible for telling the other when they are ‘hot’ or ‘cold’
    Props: Treasure map style-hide toy(s) through the house & then map it out for them to follow

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If you do not have any props/toys to work with here are some other fun ideas!

  • 1. Read books (maybe rent a few from your local library to bring with you on your outing)
  • 2. Color (bring crayons and construction paper if you have on hand)
  • 3. Dance parties (a Bell Family  favorite). Download kidzbop on pandora for an instant dance party; they also have a children’s sing along station which could be fun!

 

 

BFL – Sleep Training

Did anyone read the NY Times article on March 26th about Sleep Training at 8 weeks: Do you have the Guts? Tribeca Pediatrics, one of the largest pediatric practices in NYC, swears by it. They started the sleep training concept at 4 months, then 3, then again at 2 months to prove the theory. Obviously just because one way works for one family, doesn’t mean it works as well for the next. Do keep that in mind!

I’m not sure if I think I will take the plunge at 8 weeks. From my experience as a childcare provider & running a sitter and nanny placement service for nearly 10 years, I believe there is a fourth trimester for both the mother & baby. I’ve interviewed countless mothers during that period, which if you’re lucky is 3 months after the baby’s birth. From the mothers that I have spoke to, they are not ready to let go & it doesn’t seem like the babies are either. I do think the babies sense their mother’s anxiety, so if the mother is upset or nervous or simply not ready, the baby will sense that & react in the same manner.

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However, there is this thing called sleep that we all need. So I completely understand wanting to start at 8 weeks if the parents need sleep as they may have to get back to work and cannot function without it. Talk with your partner on what you are ready for, and then try it out. Just be ready when its go time!

-Lindsay Bell

Happy Holiday Weekend

Happy Easter/Passover weekend! We hope everyone is ready to enjoy some quality family time. Whether you’re hosting lil’ ones or just bringing yours to a friend or family member’s house, we’ve come up with some festive ideas to keep them entertained:

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  • -Every kid loves an Easter egg hunt. Don’t be dissuaded by city living; Easter egg hunts can easily be set up indoors with eggs in plants, pots and pans, and centerpieces.
  • -Dye eggs. Make sure to buy a few extra as some might crack while hard boiling them.
  • -Jelly bean counters. Fill a jar with jelly beans, and have kids guess how many are in there. This is a great exercise that will get kids doing some math without even realizing it.
  • -Bring along a craft for the kids table. Some crafts are messier than others, so make sure to carefully choose your craft depending on the age of your children and where they will be. This page is a great resource for ideas.

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Passover

  • Decorate an Elijah’s cup; you can find a plastic chalice at Michael’s or any craft store.
  • Get kids helping in the kitchen with this simple recipe for matzo haystacks.
  • Check out some great ideas to make your Seder kid-friendly.