Why I Teach Songs and ASL Together

This is the story of how I got started teaching music and sign classes to parents, babies, and toddlers. When I became a parent, I used music and sign language as a means to introduce my baby to French and other languages. It was so fun and effective that I began teaching parent-baby classes out of my house and in the years since have taught classes in multiple cities. Depending on where I hold the classes, we may call the classes something different but ultimately the hour is the same: we incorporate motor activities, sensory play and early literacy. Nobody is forced to sing, sign, sit or “pay attention in class.” They are babies!  Babies come, absorb, play, socialize or possibly nurse the whole time and just absorb the music. Caregivers relax, connect with others and learn a little something to bring home.

My daughter’s first introduction to music and sign together was the song Apples and Bananas. The signs for that song are I, Like, Eat, Apple and Banana. Quickly she wanted to learn some signs for Savez Vous Plantez Le Choux (Do you know how to plant a cabbage?). The signs for that silly song are Know, How, Plant, Cabbage, carrot, tomato, corn, arm, leg, foot and head. As a songwriter I recognized the need to write songs about wanting other foods, songs with signs about covering your sneeze, songs about emotional literacy, asking for what you need, and the topics in gentle discipline. It sure wasn’t easy at first for me to figure out how to play guitar, sing and use my hands to sign!

I realized that having multiple languages including ASL allowed more communication opportunities for a tiny person because sometimes signs were easier than words and sometimes French was easier than English. For instance, Iris knew the sign for water but could not say it. Then at thirteen months, she heard the word for water in French, “Eau” (pronounced “O”) one time and glommed onto it with might so that it was the word for water which always went with the sign. It was easier to say and only at 18 months has she just begun to say “water”.  How awesome it was for both of us to have multiple communication options!

We still sign to each other in loud and crowded rooms, and she can sign a bit to one deaf child friend. When one of us has a sore throat, we sign. English and French both become more proficient and she became very interested in Spanish and Hebrew which we are both working on now at 4.5 years. She has retained words, songs, and signs from years ago even if we haven’t practiced them.

The children and parents in my classes each week get a whole new set of signs for a couple of new songs to keep those new neural pathways open and flowing!

Iris singing in her "chapeau"

Iris singing in her “chapeau”

We learn just enough to remember. I know that a 2 hour ASL workshop for parents is sometimes too much for the sleep deprived parents brain to absorb and then teach, and that was one of the inspirations for the weekly hour-long multi-sensory class. When we learn songs and languages while using hands, bodies, music, and sensory play we are using multiple parts of the brain which make it much easier to remember what we learn.

I don’t worry that my students don’t know perfect ASL grammar (they are babies, and even my grammar isn’t fluent yet!) or that they aren’t immersed in just one or two languages (sometimes the family hasn’t chosen a second language yet). The brain research shows that exposure to multiple languages before 1 year of age and definitely before 2 will help babies more easily acquire any language they choose later in life. I was inspired by a Bristol University study that showed that it is all about learning multiple kinds of world languages- so that the brain will more easily be able to distinguish between vastly different kinds of sounds. Another study from the University of Washington showed that it is advantageous to have even minimal exposure to Mandarin than for the infant brain to never hear Mandarin in infancy.

Because of sign and song, my daughter at 18 months knew most of her numbers, colors, animals, vegetables, fruits and vehicles in both French and English. Because of songs and sign, our learning experiences were fun and not forced, experiential, incorporated into play, and often very child-led. In my classes I try to let the families lead a bit by telling me what the children are interested in, what languages the families speak or want to learn, what communication or gentle discipline challenges they are having.


My experience with songs and signs as a mom and as a teacher have changed forever how I feel about what babies are capable of and what they might be interested in. Not all babies need or want the stimulation of language and sign classes but many do.  Not all parents are interested in having baby learn any signs- they come for the social interaction . When I first started doing art projects at 13 months with my daughter, parents of her friends the same age were astounded that their children that age would be capable of or interested in art play, and they were always thrilled to participate. I have child development and psychology degrees and I’m still learning that their minds are more developed, more intricate and capable than I can even fathom. If we don’t provide the opportunity, we never know.

Learning begins at birth. I feel that we can simply give unique opportunities for learning, refrain from any forcing or anxiety about timing,  simply observe and watch the wheels turn- let them teach us who they are.


Moorea    at www.SavvyParentingSupport.com

I currently teach at The Nest at Beth El Berkeley and soon will be teaching at the new Then Comes Baby, Oakland.

P.S. Are you worried that your baby will be slow to learn English if they learn another language or ASL signs? Read THIS and you’ll learn that what you often hear about bilingual children having slowed language expression is not true, according to the actual research. Similarly, children who sign are not prone to verbal language delay as you may have heard. All children pick up language at a different age- I think that sometimes a child who might have always had a later verbal acquisition naturally, might have had people blame it on his proficiency with signs or on bilingualism.

Please don’t use “baby sign” programs on the TV or IPad, as screen time is not recommended under age 2. Flash cards are also the very least effective way for babies to learn.  Make sure you are learning actual American Sign Language (or the sign language of your own part of the world). There are variations and dialects of ASL, but “baby sign” is not one of them and it is not a useful language in any way. It is appropriated from ASL in a way that some consider disrespectful and should your child continue wanting to sign, “baby sign” only goes a very short distance. If certain signs are hard, use them anyway and babies will come up with their own version based on what their hands are capable of.

Posted in Gentle Discipline, Parent Coaching, Play, School/Teaching, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Are We Still Talking About Spanking?


I’m calling for a turn of the tides in child discipline research.  Studies so far have proven beyond a doubt that spanking is not a healthy or effective method of discipline and yet, the studies continue to be created, funded, and published because too many homes are still spanking. Many families are simply under-educated about alternatives and it isn’t their fault.

There are too few studies about any other methods of discipline. Instead of shaming parents with more anti-spanking studies,  I suggest that we begin offering families alternatives to spanking by studying how gentle and positive discipline work, what it looks like across different families and how it can effectively be used in families with young children.

Spanking is state-sanctioned abuse. It is not legal to hit your spouse, a stranger, or your dog but it is legal to hit your child. It is possible that the wealth of research against spanking might have been originally intended to be used to change the laws. Delaware outlawed spanking in 2012 but that move isn’t trending anywhere else and I doubt it will until more parents have effective alternatives. Why are we pointing the finger at individual parents when spanking (and ownership of and disrespect of) children is just part of our culture?

80% of preschoolers in the USA are spanked. Most families who spank believe that the word discipline means punishment, when, in fact it simply means to teach. What are the efficacy outcomes of teaching gentle, respectful, emotional literacy and communication as discipline; of setting clear and respectful boundaries and staying consistent with limits? How about learning and practicing meditation, deep breathing, anger management for parents and nonviolent communication? How are our childrens’ psychology and neurology effected by these methods?  Are logical consequences more effective than just talking to your child?

We do not have these answers because all of the dollars for research on discipline and child psychology are still going toward proving that spanking is harmful and does not work. I’m tired of reading these studies. We are slapping parents’ hands and then not redirecting them to a proven better option.

I have counted 27 reputable studies that show either ineffectiveness or negative effects of spanking. Together these studies include psychological conditions like anxiety and depression, physical aggression towards parents, peers and siblings, physical conditions like susceptibility to heart disease, lowered cognitive and school scores, and substance abuse and lack of social skills later in life. You can find them all by googling “spanking study”.  Studies have shown that spanking sometimes curbs unwanted behavior for as short as 10 minutes or as long as a week, but not long term.

Participants in my Savvy Gentle Discipline workshops and my private clients always ask where the studies are comparing methods of discipline but there are none. They want and need studies about the efficacy of the gentle discipline methods I am teaching them, but there are none. There are a few small studies regarding efficacy and psychological safety of time-outs. There is one study on efficacies of different tactics used during a tantrum. I give families all of the information that exists-and it isn’t enough.

Time-Outs are not part of positive or gentle discipline. Time-Outs and positive reinforcement/rewards are the only “spanking alternatives” which have truly been studied (barely) so far. We now know that both Time-Outs as punishment and too much praise also have negative consequences. There are even better methods out there. We deserve to know that they are, and which ones work best for which children and exactly how to use them effectively. I have worked with over 500 children as a teacher and parent educator but so have many of my colleagues who may contradict the views I’ve gained from experience. Parents need real, quantifiable data on discipline methods- and that means researches have to become more interested in gentle methods than in spanking.

If you are concerned about the rates of spanking in the U.S and you want parents to have information about what to do instead and why, please share this article! I’m hoping one of the wonderful spanking researchers gets the memo.

It would be hypocritical of me to close without giving a real, effective alternative to spanking. One of the main reasons parents report spanking children for is when the child may be in danger- like running out into the street. How do you get a child to stop when they may have already heard “No” twenty times that day and are ignoring that word? You practice fun “stop and go” games at home from a very early age, so that you condition your child to stop the body when they hear the word.

Once your child has stopped and you swoop them up in your arms, you explain with emotion (yet without aggression) how scared you were for their safety, why and how they can do it differently next time. The message is clear: the situation was dangerous, this is why and I care deeply about your well-being. This method helps the child learn empathy, which will serve both parent and child in every discipline challenge to come.

Love, Moorea


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It Is Okay to Help Your Baby Walk: A Scientific Perspective

Is it okay to hold your baby’s hands to help him walk? Apparently the topic is up for debate. gorilla walk 1

The RIE article by Janet Lansbury called 9 Reasons Not To Walk Your Baby  is a stance tha she admits on Facebook is one that many will disagree with her on. I am one of those who disagree, though I do generally recommend her articles on gentle discipline and boundaries.

True, “Practice walking” with baby’s hands over head in parents hands is not preparation for real walking, but instead, a form of play. Real walking requires the baby to use her own arms for a sense of balance and the arms need to be much lower, nearer to the core of the body. Real walking starts from standing and holding onto something, or up from a squat position and then forward.

Here are the reasons I believe it is absolutely safe to hold your baby’s hands to play “walking.”  According to evolutionary biology of primates (humans are primates, evolving):

1) Chimps learned to stand on the back limbs (legs) while swinging and grasping vines and branches up above and steadying the back limbs on other branches. Like tightrope walking with a top rope.


2) Then, they evolved to be able utilize the front limbs (hands) for gathering food while walking only on the back limbs.

3) They not only help their infants to practice walking by holding them by the hands and arms, standing while a parent is holding the arms happens extremely early as infants are swung from parent’s back to the ground by the hands repeatedly throughout the day.

4) Baby primates’ moms play with their infants all day long and practice every skill needed for survival turning it into a fun activity. They also model skills.

So, I personally see holding baby’s hands to play “walking” is an evolutionary outgrowth of primates swinging from mom’s back or chest to the ground, for necessity and for play.

Cross-Cultural and Anthropological perspectives:

1) Many studies find that though there are huge cross-cultural differences in child-rearing methods encouraging or not encouraging gross motor development between 3 and 40 months, most children’s gross motor skills throughout the world are comparable by 40 months. You know how people say “Each on her own time, everyone will catch up?” It’s mostly true*- whether you “helped” a lot or not.

2) Many Asian and African cultures “practice walking” with babies from birth. These cultures see infants walking earlier than other cultures and these cultures are known for developing gaits of walking which enable females to carry heavy loads on the back and the head without harmful strain on the body. A few cultures suggest that a baby should never touch the ground in their first year of life. Still, all of these children will eventually walk. This info is from The Handbook of Cross-Cultural Development Science and is a fascinating comparison of cross cultural studies on walking and gross motor movement! You can read the whole first volume here! 

Sometimes when we read something that makes us worry about every detail on how we raise our children, or changes how we instinctually do this work, it is helpful to look at cross-cultural comparisons and how varied parenting styles can produce happy and healthy children. Parents who adhere to the RIE principles and never ever help a baby walk will also have children who learn to walk and have similar gross motor skills to their preschool peers.

Lansbury admits in her comments section of the walking article, “There is no scientific evidence that it causes problems that I know of.” And she would be correct. I cannot find any scientific evidence either. Therefore, please don’t be scared that you will harm your child or in any way delay walking by playing “walk” just for fun.There is beginning to be some evidence from the physical therapy field that overuse of baby wheeled walkers and bouncers can be harmful. I do not recommend those.

One of the reasons I believe in attachment theory in parenting is the science. walkinggorilla2Attachment draws from the cultural anthropology, biology and social science. I absolutely love what RIE parenting method has to say about discipline, and founder Magda Gerber’s perspective on boundaries is an important one, but on some topics I worry that there isn’t enough scientific basis for parents to change what feels instinctually right for their family.

RIE’s main point is that we hover and intervene too much with independent learning and play. I agree with that. I also believe that there is a middle way between not helping and not playing and doing way too much. But play walking is safe. The 9 reasons in Lansbury’s article are aligned with her own observations in line with Magda Gerber’s RIE theories and if they resonate for you, awesome!

I’ve been very influenced by RIE but not all of it sticks true for me in my own experience working with hundreds of babies and as a parent. What does your parenting intuition tell you? Did you “play walk” with your baby?

Love, Moorea


*Of course not all children will develop optimally and might have special needs around gross motor development. If you are concerned about your child’s development, here is a link to a great list of ways to facilitate independent walking and ways to get support from an OT or PT if needed: http://www.earlyinterventionsupport.com/when-should-baby-start-walking/

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Starving Our Babies: The Newborn Sleep Book; A Review

I posted about The Newborn Sleep Book by two New York pediatricians on my Facebook page, but I am so enraged that it needs a whole article. Simply put, the method the Jasseys suggest is to stretch our newborn feedings to every four hours during the day, and completely night wean by one month. This is child neglect and starvation but if recommended by the pediatrician, falls not on the heads of the new parents. 

The Jasseys boast a 90 percent success rate of babies sleeping through the night. I bet it’s true. I’d also like to see their practicenewbornsleepbook rates of breastfeeding past 3 and 6 months, Failure to Thrive, reflux (from overeating when so hungry), communicable illness, and “unexplained” infant death. Here is the video of the Jasseys method. 

If we saw these rates and compared their recommendations and the outcomes to American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations and the outcomes of breastfeeding and baby-friendly practices, I believe we would see that the Jaffeys should be sued for malpractice by every patient. 

And I’ve done the math which proves the case for newborn neglect. The AAP recommends feeding a formula fed newborn every 2-4hrs, 6-8times per day. A newborn drinks 1.5-3 ounces per feeding. So, the AAP recommends around an average of 20-25 ounces per 24hrs for optimal growth and brain development. 

The Jassey method, if we give the parents only 10hrs of baby sleep without feeding (12pm-8am), and daytime feeding only every 4hrs, with a newborn tummy the same size as all newborns, would give the baby only 4 feedings a day. The Jassey’s suggest a newborn needs 4 feedings a day That’s a total of only 12 ounces a day. But the Jasseys suggest that your baby can get up to 18 ounces if you divide the ounces out and bolster the other feedings, making the bottles more like 4oz each. Except that a newborn tummy can’t hold this much food, so they are setting parents up for confusion, challenge and disaster.

It is likely that baby may try to drink it all because they are now so hungry but then spit it up a lot, have indigestion, crying, gas, pain. Still the book states the belief that frequent feedings cause reflux, though the entire medical community dealing with reflux and the AAP would suggest not feeding too much at one time but rather having frequent feedings. 

The AAP recommends you wake your formula-fed newborn every 3-4 hrs in the night to feed them, if they don’t wake on their own to eat. This prevents failure-to-thrive. To quote the Newborn Sleep Book’s defense of not feeding newborns at night: 

 “You think your MacBook Air can take a good licking? You think a Bugaboo stroller is an indomitable fortress? These things are impressive but could they have survived during the Stone Age? Babies Did. Babies. Needless to say, not all babies survived such periods and tragically, there are babies over the world suffering from want. But if you bought this book or if someone gave it to you, the odds are overwhelming that you possess the fundamental physical and emotional resources required to raise a perfidy healthy baby- with the help of a relatively small amount of important advice.”  

So, basically, because some babies survived malnourishment and hard times in the stone age and some babies survive malnourishment in the world now, we do not need to feed newborns at night because they are likely to survive without it. But why just survival? Why not promote public health, quality of life, psychological health and prevent suffering?  I sort of like that most of our babies usually thrive and aren’t starving here in the western world. What a bunch of privileged bunk. We should be giving our children the nourishment and comfort many parents in the world only dream of giving their children. 

All of the other bad reviews of this book and Facebook slams blame the parents- those selfish parents. I can’t blame the parents or call them selfish. We all want to sleep, it’s an intense biological drive. And if our trusted pediatrician swears that night weaning is optimal for our parenting to be effective and for our child’s development, as the Jasseys promise, we may follow that advice. The main message in the book is that your instincts as a parent are not to be trusted, because they are too emotional, and that the doctors are to be trusted instead. That Newborn Sleep Book would like us to believe that our child’s sleep will be messed up for life if they don’t learn to sleep through the night as a newborn. Yep, I actually read the Newborn Sleep Book. 

 “Myth: Breastfed babies must be fed eight to twelve times each day. Truth: that’s only true until breast milk comes in- engorgement. But after that, a less frequent, more reasonable schedule is not only possible but beneficial. “

Here I went into reading it thinking that while it’s cruel to night wean any newborn, they must only be talking about formula fed babies- since breastfed babies must eat frequently to survive and stimulate milk production in mom. They go on to say that after the first 8-12 feedings of life, you can night wean and extend feedings the same way as with formula feeding. Wow. What a way to sabotage breastfeeding. This will keep milk production very low and then the Jasseys can recommend formula, which will make them look good by making sleeping through the night much easier. 

They frequently say in the book that feeding on demand is unhealthy as well as that newborn babies should tell you when they are hungry by crying and not to feed them until it is the scheduled time or if they cry and not a moment before. The Newborn Sleep Book warns that your newborn not sleeping will lead to your own dysfunctional sex life, skin aging, car accident, decrease in brain tissue, lack of attractiveness to others, loss of memory and stroke.

The primary theme in the book is that parents should not trust their instincts, but instead to trust nobody but Jasseys (apparently not even the AAP). The second theme is that a paren’t inability to deal with crying is what is causing sleep problems, and that babies need to cry regularly and that your baby is never crying out of real hunger, it’s just that they are addicted to milk. 

Infant sleep is a passion for me, it is one third of my parent coaching practice. So is helping parents and babies sleep, because I was a sleep deprived parent with a sleep deprived baby, so I understand the desire to sleep. But, I also have a strong desire to help babies and parents be healthy physiologically and psychologically and for newborns to build attachment with moms first and foremost. I was an infant nanny and then postpartum doula of years before parenthood. Then I used every sleep method including lots of controlled crying, weaning and cry-it-out when the parents asked me to do it for them. It was wrong. 

With extensive research and practice and then my own parenting, I decided that not only would I not work with families in any form of controlled crying where babies are left alone or starved, I would not even work with families on any sleep skills or gradual night weaning until the child is at least 9 months old, and only if the parents really feel they are going nuts without sleep. That’s why my Sleep Savvy Tot program starts at 9 months and works through 3 years. Gentle and gradual, the parent remains present and never ever starves the child. I don’t make a lot of money with my method because I don’t promise drastic and immediate results, just improvement and peace. Big results can come with big consequences but I do know that you can make a lot of money getting tiny babies to sleep through the night because people are always asking me to help them do it. 

I’m calling for the Jassey’s practice to be investigated by the NY Medical Board, that they be banned from the AAP and for The Newborn Sleep Book to be boycotted by bookstores so that it can’t hurt any more babies. Their recommendations endanger babies by ignoring medical recommendations, biology and the anthropology of human nutritional evolution. Please spread this article. 











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How to Teach Your Child to Share

It has been 20 years now of teaching and caring for children! The thing comes up as the most difficult things to teach and learn? Sharing (well, besides sleep, of course!)  I’m happy to share my tips.

Making them share does not teach them how to do it.  Sharing is learned best when not forced, but coached and modeled.

share meme

How to Model Sharing:
• Point out when you are sharing with your child and when you are sharing with other children and adults, and note how nice and friendly sharing is.

• When your child shares with you, give something (or the same thing) back less than a minute later.

• When your child won’t share with another child, let your child see you modeling sharing something with that child. (But not taking the same toy out of your hand to give it to the other child.)

How To Coach Your Child On Sharing:

  • The best way for your child to learn to share is actually to have the experience of having a friend not share with him. This builds empathy if you help coach them through it.
  • “It looks like he doesn’t want to share. Do you know what it feels like to not want to share?”
  • “It is really friendly to share. It makes friends feel good when we share with them.”
  •  “If a friend won’t share, you can choose a different toy. If you give a toy to your friend, he might share the one he is holding.”
  •  “If a friend won’t share you can ask for it ‘Please’ nicely.”
  • “If your friend won’t share, you can ask an adult for help.”
  •  “If you don’t want to share your toy, we can put it up safe for later and you can share different toys.” “When you let your friend hold that, your friend might share other toys you want.

Other Tips for Sharing: 

1) Some things are not for sharing. For school or at a friend’s house, your child may be allowed to bring something special of her own that she does not have to share that stays mostly in the cubby; and also an item that they will share with classmates.
We learn what sharing is by first learning what belongs to us. Something they sleep with or dearly loves is an example of something that comes along but stays in the cubby. A game or art supplies are shared with friends.

We don’t have to share everything with everyone, but having something that truly is “mine” around is a good way to help your child see that there are differences between shared things and her special things and that sharing can be safe. You can also model this as well. “This is my special necklace that I don’t share with others, but I would like to share all of my scarves with you! If feel my scarves are safe with you.”

2) When and How to Help:  For toys that belong to all children at school, parents can simply let children work it out on their own! Or, if pulling becomes dangerous or creates multiple crying episodes, a parent and teachers can reiterate:  “Now is Jason’s turn with the doll, you can hold your bear from home which is yours.” The adult can hand the child the personal item as a re-direction in challenging share situations.

3) Don’t always intervene. If there is excessive dangerous pulling, I simply say, “We don’t pull toys, it might hurt somebody or hurt the toy. We ask ‘Please may I play with that?’ or we ask a grownup for help.” These are really big concepts so the main thing is consistency in what you are telling the children, and saying it over and over again. Let them continue to work this out, don’t prevent a sharing crisis every time it comes up and don’t physically intervene unless someone will really get physically hurt or is continually crying and needs coaching on using words.

4) Make a big deal of your own sharing your things with your child and point out how good you are at sharing. “I would like to share my lip balm with you. It feels really nice to share. Okay, now I would like to use it again. May I have it back?  Okay now I’d like to share it with you again.” If your child is demanding something of yours, use it as an opportunity to request that she ask with “Please.”

5) Coach Patience and Communication Skills. Try to avoid rewarding your child when they are grabby at something in your own hand, even a cookie- by just handing it to her as a quick fix. You can stay. “Stop the hands. Would you like to ask for something? Can you use your signs or words? What do you want?” Older tots can be modeled to and coached to use “Excuse me”. Building good communication and patience is very hard work that really pays off. Point out other sharing when you see it happen in the world.

6) In a play group where you supervise, at preschool etc, you can set a timer for two or three minutes of someone playing with the coveted toy. Repeat.

7) Practice together! Make art or baked goods and share them with others! “We just get a little bit, but then we will share the rest so we can help other people feel good!”

8) After all of that, have patience. Learning to share really can take a long while. In the beginning, little ones still don’t even understand that there are boundaries between you and me, him and me, yours and mine etc. There is nothing wrong with a child who has trouble sharing or takes toys. Some personalities are even more or less inclined to share. Learning these things starts at home and then takes lots of practice in social settings.

If you liked these tips, you may enjoy my Savvy Gentle Discipline Online Program! 




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10 Dental Health Tips for Toddlers

Cavities can sneak up on your family quickly!  I thought my 4-year-old had great brushing habits, but it wasn’t enough! You already know that lots of sugar, fruit and carbs can cause cavities, but I was even told that my daughter was probably eating too much sugar-free goat yogurt. Because toddler and preschooler food is challenging for parents anyway, it can make more sense to look at cavities from the after-food hygiene angle instead.

1) Floss! Yes, floss your child’s toddler or preschooler’s teeth,irisfilling especially any teeth
which touch one another. It’s a hygiene habit to start sooner rather than later. I write this post because though we always did a great job brushing and there was zero sugar and we occasionally loved to floss, we weren’t flossing regularly. I mean twice per day. My daughter developed a huge cavity because I wasn’t flossing my daughter’s teeth regularly and I didn’t see the cavity until it was large enough to need a filling.

2) Let them brush after you brush the teeth. We don’t want to discourage them by having them think that they didn’t do a good enough job and now we have to finish it. We get the main job done and then we let them know that there might still be some food in there so they should keep brushing. Once they have shown good brushing skills, circles, all of the teeth!), we can tell them they’ve graduated to doing it on their own. Likely 4-years plus.

3) Model how to hold the toothbrush, brushing in circles, and show with your own mouth all of the places the brush should go.

4) Make it part of the routine, but be flexible. Brushing and flossing needs to be both after breakfast and before bed. But if your child is resistant to this hygiene, be time flexible, ask again when he’s in a better mood. The whole family brushing together is usually best!

5) No fluoride. Young children who might swallow small amounts of the toothpaste shouldn’t have fluoride because it is toxic. Topical fluoride treatment at the dentist for an older child with many cavities may be suggested by your dentist. I had just started using fluoride toothpaste for my daughter by default of what I found at the store, thinking she wouldn’t swallow it and it might help her teeth- about 5 months before I found the cavity. I guess the fluoride did not prevent that cavity!  So now we….

6) Use xylitol toothpaste or homemade. Our recipe for “Lemon Mint Fizz”

3 Tbsp coconut oil

4 Tbsp baking soda

2 tsp arrowroot

4 drops peppermint essential oil.

5 drops lemon essential oil.

3 drops stevia extract or one packet stevia powder or xylitol powder.

(I’ve crushed my baking xylitol in a mortar and pestal.)

If little ones don’t like the taste or texture, try plain coconut oil with some xylitol in it.

7) Diet rich in calcium. Leafy greens and bone broth soups are the best calcium intake for all of us, especially children. Milks are high in sugars and therefore not the best for teeth. Bone broth intake is said to aid in re-mineralizing damaged teeth and prevent tooth decay.

8) Oil Pulling. I know, it’s a super hippie thing to do! If you have an older preschooler who can swish and not swallow, you might try re-mineralizing and cleaning the teeth with oil pulling. Though 20 min is ideal swishing for adults, 5 min  is fine for kids. Do it with them. (My teeth are so much cleaner and whiter now!)  Make sure to rinse well. Here my friend Jennifer teaches you all about Oil pulling and just how to do it.

9) A holistic dentist.  A holistic dentist, which you can find in most big cities, is not likely to take unneeded x-rays, can do fillings with just Novocaine and without nitrous oxide or sedation for cooperative children while they watch a movie in the ceiling. I couldn’t believe  what a great experience we recently had with a filling at our new holistic dentist. There were two tiny spots on the other side that a conventional dentist wanted to fill- what would have made 3 fillings at $1000. Our new dentist said the smaller spots could be re-mineralized with the protocol she gave us and prevented from growing bigger with good hygiene. (I need to note that if your child is unlikely to cooperate with a dental visit or hates loud noises, you may need to go a more conventional sedation route.)

10) Talk about what germs and cavities are– before they happen. If you have a scientifically inquisitive child, you might show some resources that have drawings of cavities in teeth and drawings of the bacteria that cause them. My daughter enjoys brushing away the “bugs we that are too tiny to see.”  (But if you have a highly sensitive child that is already dirt or germ-phobic, this may not be the best strategy!). Microbes are a part of living. To prevent germ-phobia with this conversation, it might also be helpful to talk about and show some helpful bacteria in the body as well- probiotics are a good example.

Happy hygiene!

xo- Moorea


*Disclaimer-  I am not a licensed medical or dental professional. Take what I write as a launching off point to do your own research. My advice, experience, and suggestions are not to be considered medical advice. Consult your own medical or dental professional.


Posted in Health | 2 Comments

Summer is for Potty Learning! : 7 Tips

There are many reasons why summer is a great time to introduce potty, or to practice or solidify potty skills! summerpottypic Whether you are currently doing EC, early potty (10-18mo), Toddler or Preschool Potty Learning, or if you are just considering starting, here are seven tips for summer.

1. Go bottomless outdoors: The very best way for children to get in touch with the processes of elimination is for them to see it happening – in real time, in the flesh. You can then help them name it!  “Oh, you are peeing.” That can be a great step even before you get the potty. For kids already using the potty, the combo of bringing the potty outdoors during play to keep it close and not having to remove bottoms makes “making it” a lot less challenging, and you will likely have more to celebrate! Modeling and narrating your own potty behavior for your child in the bathroom is excellent, but for boys first learning potty skills, it might be best to practice peeing sitting down – in which case it might not be the very best thing for dad to model peeing into a bush while camping. For girls, make sure your yard or deck where your little one will be has a clean blanket for sitting, and that you have a hose-off or a nightly tush-bath.

2. Check out the great cloth options available for potty learning:  Starting in a cloth diaper or cloth training pant is essential to quick potty learning, because children know they are wet immediately. Pull-ups or plastic diapers cause a significant delay because the chemicals in them pull away/wick away moisture too fast. Cloth is great in summer, because it breathes better than plastic in the heat and line-drying cloth options in the sun get them sun-bleached and smelling great. If you haven’t used any cloth diapers until now, know that all-in-ones are easier with crawlers/walkers than pre-folds, if you decide to buy or borrow some. Still, the easiest option is to jump right into lots of basic cotton training pants (Gerber, Green Sprouts, Hannah Anderson) which are light and cool for the summer.

3. Invest in a Travel Potty: Summer is great for potty-on-the-go, because pants can come down anywhere without freezing your tushy off! Many families choose travel potties that have an open hole that can go directly into the grass (hey, if dogs can do it!) and other travel potties can be emptied into the grass and cleaned out with a wipe. Poop, of course, needs to find it’s way from the travel potty to a bathroom unless you use a bag and trash can. Travel potties are important for potty learning, because little ones can’t always wait in line or wait to find the nearest restroom when they are first learning. And then there is always the “ick” factor of a public restroom, tiny hands that would touch any part of the restroom, or a tush that would fall in or get scared of the flush. For most families, a travel potty seems like it will be a lot of work and anxiety before skills are solidified. You don’t really need to do potty out of the home until your child is verbalizing or signing potty needs some of the time. (Read Get More Out of Life with Baby Signs!)

4. Make the most of your family vacation: Many of my workshop patrons and private clients ask if they should wait to start potty until after a vacation. Actually, my experience is that vacation can be the very best time for potty learning – especially for families with part or full-time childcare. On vacation, families stick together, connect, and really focus on the kids! What a great time to practice potty when you can offer many opportunities. In the summer, cloth training pants and shorts can be very quickly washed in the sink and dried on the balcony in the sun. Of course, you need a trusty and compact travel potty. The second half of my child’s potty learning adventures happened while traveling in the summer in California and Nevada.

5. Get familiar with the assisted squat: Squatting/hovering is the natural, ergonomic way for human bodies to eliminate. Still, we might not want to teach our children to walk off and squat anywhere in the yard any time. We do want to teach our newly learning child that they need to find a potty if possible. Mostly because squatting anywhere won’t have the desired outcome of having a child who knows how to find a loo. It may be hard for them to distinguish the grass from the carpet (Oops!). However, if you start nice and young, you can easily assist your baby/tot into an assisted squat (their spine against your tummy/groin, legs lifted into them and a bit out to the side). You can then help them pee into a public loo, the grass, or as I learned on an emergency, poop into a trash can. (Eep! Note: it is not legal or sanitary to poop into a trash can. Haha!) In these cases I would add this to your regular potty adventures and use the word “Potty” as a verb for the squatting so that the association is made that this is the same action as going in the (noun) potty at home. For more on how healthy the squat position is for all humans, learn about the Squatty Potty Company (with whom I have designed a forth-coming little learning potty!).

6. Bring easy changes of clothing When you are doing travel potty (or even for the sake of your laundry load at home), summer potty is excellent because you can skip pants all together, or have considerably lighter weight wet clothing to wash or carry around. Your travel stash of changes of clothes in your bag will also be considerably smaller and lighter.

7. Don’t forget hydration It is very important that little ones stay very hydrated when learning potty. Dehydration can easily lead to constipation. Hard poops can cause some children to associate potty with pain. Sippy cups with straws allow for the most easy flow of water, as opposed to the ones that tip and don’t spill and are also better at getting your little one hydrated than a cup. Fruit can also help prevent constipation, and there is plenty of it in summer! On the other hand, too many berries will cause diarrhea and that can also be painful. So, maybe have a limit for those!

Potty learning can be amazingly easy in the summertime, and potty learning can always be about joyfully celebrating new skills.

May the Potty Force Be With You!

For more info on potty learning with Moorea, visit my potty page: http://www.savvyparentingsupport.com/#!potty-savvy/cr2d

Posted in Parent Coaching, Potty Learning | 2 Comments