Dentist Visits Begin
Your child probably has all twenty of his teeth by now and is ready to have them examined. Pediatric dentists have many tricks up their sleeves to get even the most rambunctious three-year old to sit still for an exam. Some even have video screens on the ceilings. (Read more of what to expect during your toddler’s first dental visit.)
Your child will receive a lesson from the dentist on how to take care of his teeth, even though, of course, he is already a champion tooth brusher already. (Right? We thought so!) The dentist may be able to give you advice on how to help your child maintain good oral hygiene, even when he is refusing to brush. Sometimes hearing about how important it is to brush teeth from someone of authority—the dentist—is all it takes to get him brushing again. Make sure to include him in the conversation with the dentist for full impact. The dentist will also assess if the teeth have grown in normally and whether or not there are any cavities or other dental concerns.
Typically, age three is when many parents take the plunge and enroll their kids in some kind of preschool program. Some already chose childcare in a preschool setting awhile back while others keep their babes home longer. Preschool is a great setting for children to hone the skills needed for social development. But, like everything else we have talked about, when to start preschool depends on the individual child and needs of the family.
If you are considering preschool when your child turns three, here are some tips so you can make an informed decision:
- This may be too late but hopefully you have allowed plenty of time to do your research. Many preschools have long waiting lists.
- Start out by talking to other families who have a child enrolled in a preschool. Parents are a great resource on the pros/cons of each setting.
- Think about how much time per day your child will spend in the program. This can be difficult if you are planning ahead but at least help you narrow down your decision to send him part-time or full-time.
- Important: Think about your philosophy of how children learn. Additionally, think about what sort of setting will make your child feel comfortable and want to learn. The hope is to find a preschool that matches your own ideas on how to support children’s learning and is a comfortable setting for your child so that he’ll want to explore and learn.
- Visit programs. Call and ask about a tour and the application process.
- If you have found a program that interests you, dig further. Find out about the staff qualifications, compensation, and the turnover rate. What is the teacher/child ratio? What are parent requirements? If your child has special needs, how will this program accommodate these needs? What is the philosophy on discipline? Is the program accredited or licensed?
- Visit the program again but this time with your child. Watch how the teachers are interacting with the children. Assess the setting for safety. Afterwards, ask your child what he thought of the program.
- Go with your gut feeling. You are the expert of your child and know what sort of preschool setting would suit him best.
We have talked to our parent readers about their experiences finding preschools for their children.
Time for Another Baby?
Slowly your body has readjusted to getting a full night’s rest. You have your child in a childcare situation that works well for everyone. In sum—you have a life again. Now, that will all change when you have another baby. You take a deep breath and wonder, “Do I want to go through that again?” You are not the first to ask yourself this question. Check out our quiz (Are you ready for another baby?), and then see what experts and other moms have to say.
Spacing Between Kids?
Another popular topic in any moms’ group is the optimal spread between children. While some parents swear on waiting at least three years, others are equally in favor of having children closer together. Usually, it is a bit (or a lot) tougher on the parents when children are spaced closer together but the logic follows that being closer in age—they’ll be able to play together for most of their childhood. Hmmm … There are probably quite a few readers who would debate this point. Read what some moms and doctors advise when it comes to ideal baby spacing.
Celebrating the Fourth Birthday!
Another birthday, another reason to plan a party! Let’s review party-planning tips to keep you sane and your child happy:
- Keep the number of guests to a manageable level. The more bodies and voices, the more stress for you and your toddler.
- If weather permits, host the party outside. Children love being outside without four walls to constrain them.
- Try to resist opening gifts in front of all the other children. These young guests have not developed the etiquette to just “oooh” and “aaah” from their seats. If they see a present that they must handle, there will be an altercation for sure.
- Respect your child’s reaction to whatever entertainment you decide to hire: a clown, musician, etc. If he is scared, don’t expect him to overcome this fear just because it is his party. Hold and talk to him about the performer and keep him at a safe distance.
- Give him a taste of his cake. Even you moms and dads who are against offering sweets can let down your guard for this occasion. Some bakeries make very small cupcakes, which are easy for small hands to hold. (Read these other tips on throwing a healthier birthday party.)
- Keep your child to his nap schedule. Try to plan the party so that he can have his nap at the usual time.
- Have a good time, yourself: Spending the whole time doing food prep or cleaning is not our idea of a party. Plan easy food—maybe even splurge by ordering prepared food—so you can enjoy yourself. After all, you’re celebrating your years of parenthood, as well!
More Development Help
As you’re considering your child’s development, keep in mind that all children are unique. Whether your child reaches milestones early or late, she has her own developmental path to follow. The dividing lines between these months are very fuzzy. If you have any concerns or questions about your child’s development, please check with her health care provider.