Common Questions Parents Ask About Young Children

Attending conferences and events, I’m always amazed by the new parenting devices and  gadgets that appear on the market. What’s timeless, however, are the questions parents have about the health of their young families.

Here’s a sampling of those common parents of new babies or of young children typically ask:

Can you really over bundle a baby?

Believe it or not, you can. Babies don’t have the best temperature control when very young so can get overheated very easily by being over swaddled or over-dressed. The best rule of thumb is to dress your baby as you dress yourself. Overheated babies can become fussy and clammy and may even run a low-grade temperature. If this occurs, try unbundling your baby a bit and if that doesn’t help calm your baby, call your pediatrician advice.

Should daycare centers and schools be nut free?

Nut allergies are very common and can be life threatening even from a simple touch or sip of water from someone who had recently eating peanut butter.  Schools vary in how they handle this but the only way to ensure the safety of the kids affected is to keep public places as nut free as possible.

How can I tell if my preschooler’s speech is normal?

The trouble with preschool speech is while there are guidelines for milestones there is a wide range for when kids are allowed to reach those milestones and still be “normal”. Here are the commonly accepted guidelines by the American Speech and Hearing Association ( If your child falls outside these guidelines, call your pediatrician or public school speech department to arrange for an evaluation.

3-4 Years:

Talks about their day at school or at a friend’s house

Understandable by people outside the family

Uses 4 or more words in a sentence

Usually talks easily

4-5 Years:

Sounds like other kids

Uses a lot of detail in sentences

Can stick to a topic when talking

Talks easily with kids and adults

Can say most sounds well except: l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, th.

Uses the same grammar as other family members

Can I pamper myself while I’m pregnant? Get my hair colored or nails done?

The short answer: absolutely! You go girl! A pampered mom is a happy mom!

The longer explanation:

The cosmetic industry has come a long way in ensuring the safety of its products, and most OB/GYN doctors and salon stylists agree that the products on the market can be used during pregnancy without hesitation. The smells may bother you early on but a well ventilated room usually alleviates any nausea that may result.

Keep in mind, though, that hair does change during pregnancy and many women find they don’t need as much artificial color. Your stylist can guide you to what makes sense for your hair as your pregnancy progresses but many advocate waiting until second trimester to start any coloring during pregnancy to give the hair time to adjust.

Similarly, manicures and pedicures pose no risk at all during pregnancy. Nail color can’t penetrate the nails at all. The fumes are the only potential annoyance but, again, a well ventilated room can help with that.

Finally, while considering other spa services, massages are a wonderful way to pamper yourself and are very safe for you and your growing baby. However, avoid any activity in the spa that could cause you to overheat such as hot tubs and saunas. Increased body temperature is a risk factor for birth defects.

Closing Thoughts

Our own experience is our best asset as a parent and one of the best gifts we can give each other is the benefit of that experience. At the Baby Faire last year, a mother of two, ages 4 years and 9 weeks, shared with me this snapshot of her family:

Me: How is your older daughter adjusting to having a new baby at home?

Mom: Great! I give her jobs which helps us all out.

Me: Jobs? How does that work?

Mom: Well, I figured by making her part of the baby stuff she’d feel more included. Her job is to get the diaper for every diaper change and help get the car seat ready. She loves this and it really helps us out! Besides, a child is never too young to learn to have responsibilities.

What a brilliant idea! I wish I had thought of it when my kids were young. Older siblings are often at a loss to figure out their place in the new family and giving them simple jobs around the baby helps them become more used to this new family entity. Of course, we all know the other show will drop at some point but no reason we can’t all enjoy some sibling harmony while it lasts.

(Originally posted March 2008; Updated December 2009)