As a new parent, the number of decisions you have to make for your child can be paralyzing. There are just so many options to consider at every turn — it’s hard not to be left questioning yourself. “Am I doing this right?”
Most people will tell you, the fact that you are even concerned if you are a good parent shows that you are one. But it still helps to have some solid direction on a few ways that you can best prepare your child for a healthy future.
Prepare for Health Woes by Banking Cord Blood
Cord blood banking, the process of harvesting and preserving umbilical cord blood after your child’s birth, can be life-saving. The cord blood collected can be used to treat more than 80 diseases, according to the FDA. Hopefully, your child will never need to use his or her cord blood as a medical treatment for a health issue. However, if the need does ever arise, it is better to be prepared to help in one of the best ways that you can. Currently, stem cells from cord blood are used to treat lymphomas, leukemias and even rare blood and immune system disorders, with numerous more treatments being tested through clinical trials, reports the FDA.
Nurture a Healthy Relationship with Food from the Start
Opt for a child-led approach like baby-led weaning, which puts your child in control of what and how much he or she eats. Doing so helps to empower your little one to have the developmentally appropriate sensory and learning experiences with food. As a parent, this method makes things easier on you, as it doesn’t require you to buy any specially formulated food for your baby; you simply offer the same foods that you eat, in smaller bites to prevent choking. Before you begin, it is most helpful to read a book on the subject or to take a short online course about infant self-feeding like this one offered by Feeding Littles, which was created by a dietitian and an occupational therapist.
Mindfulness is critical when introducing food to your baby. Avoid forcing your child to taste the food and using food as a motivator for behavior. Try not to label foods as “good” or “bad” in favor of an attitude of everything in moderation.
Encourage Social Learning
Brain development is churning at a rapid pace in the first five years of life and a child’s social learning experiences during this time can make a massive impact. In this time, play-based learning is critical, offering young children an opportunity to learn about concepts like turn-taking, problem-solving, generosity, empathy, and kindness. One key thing that many parents often feel rushed to teach is sharing. However, young children have difficulty understanding this concept and why they should have to give up something that they have. It is important not to force children to share and to help your child navigate this kind of conflict on his or her own. Parenting expert Janet Lansbury suggests that parents instead focus on modeling the desired behavior and praising their child when he or she exhibits generosity while playing with other children. By learning about sharing and numerous other significant concepts through natural social consequences, your child can have richer social interactions with his or her peers.
Give Your Child the Best Start
Above all, as parents, we all want to do whatever we can to give our children the best start in the world. By banking cord blood, nurturing a positive relationship with food, and providing plenty of pure social learning opportunities, you can help your child have a healthy future.