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What you need to know about parenting a child with dyslexia

First of all, stop beating yourself up.

What you need to know about parenting a child with dyslexia

It was always a given that my kids would love books and reading. Frankly, I couldn't see how they could not like books and reading. It was beyond my comprehension. Raised by two educators, I loved to be immersed in the world of stories and books.

Before my first child was born, we already had shelves full of books. Just as all the experts suggest, my husband and I began reading to our kids when they were infants, starting out with the thick, slick baby books with pictures and simple text, and moving up to more complex stories, thinner paper, and higher vocabulary.

My children also loved having stories told to them at bedtime. Audiobooks made car trips far more pleasant. We all listened together, following along to the antics of Peter and his brother Fudge in Judy Blume's books or Ramona and Beezus in Beverly Cleary's.

My older daughter, Anna, quickly picked up reading and, like me, spent much of her free time absorbed in the world of books. She eventually started writing her own stories. My younger daughter, Katie, loved being read too, but she took to reading much more slowly. She found audiobooks and quickly adopted a preference for those.

It had never occurred to me that listening to a book might be the equivalent of reading with sight, which just goes to show how skewed my perspective is. Katie's teachers noticed her intelligence and were impressed by her vocabulary, and so they were surprised by her struggles with reading and writing.

Dyslexia came up, but trying to get her formally evaluated proved a mysterious process. Nobody seemed to know how – at least, not without costing a ton of money.

I didn't know much about dyslexia, so I set about researching it. It was critical that we "overcome" this obstacle. Katie needed to read and write well if she were to succeed. I didn't want to see her lose out on opportunities, especially because she's bright and motivated. I cycled between frustration – maybe she just needed to work harder – and despair.

We worry about our kids when they don't fit the mold. We worry that they will be outcast, that they won't get the things they need, not because being different is bad or wrong, but because in our society, it's just so much more difficult.

For me, someone who'd been raised to worship at the altar of books and reading, who almost unconsciously saw reading as something that all intelligent people just did, my daughter's struggles challenged my ideas about parenting, development, learning, and intelligence. I knew my daughter was intelligent. But I still worried, with an educational system so dependent on text-based learning, that she would lose out.

According to the International Dyslexia Association, 15 to 20% of people have a language-based disability, and between 70 and 80% of students receiving special services have reading-related challenges. Dyslexia has genetic links. A child whose parent or other relatives have dyslexia is more likely to have it also.

It's not a disease, but a different way of processing that puts kids at a disadvantage for sight-reading. Many very intelligent, successful people have dyslexia, including actress Anne Bancroft, director and producer Steven Spielberg, and Virgin CEO Richard Branson.

Entrepreneur Ben Foss talks about his own struggles with dyslexia and maps out alternative ways to look at it in his book The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan, pointing out that many dyslexics are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers. Foss encourages parents to focus on a child's strengths and to consider alternatives to learning via traditional sight-reading. In fact, he's developed technology to make audio texts more accessible to kids like Katie, who process information better auditorily.

Finally, in fourth grade, after a few meetings with teachers and specialists, Katie started working with a reading specialist. She enjoyed the attention and activities, and we saw some improvement. In fifth grade, Katie had a wonderful teacher who appreciated her strengths and encouraged her, and by the time she reached sixth grade this past fall, Katie was doing well in her reading and writing benchmarks.

She still much prefers listening to books over sight-reading, and I'm starting to accept that and realize it's okay. While I know Katie might always have to work a little harder on her sight-reading and writing skills, I also know that she's got to find her own way.

The best thing I can do as her parent is guide and support her in the ways that work best for her. I'll also cross my fingers and hope she continues getting teachers who will understand and support her, too.

Katie is learning what works for her, and while that might make things challenging for her down the road, she'll meet those challenges with our support and coaching.

Identifying that your child has a disability can be challenging, but also enlightening. You might come to realize that you or your partner may have struggled with the same issues. With more awareness and more resources for help and support, you and your child no longer have to be in the dark.

What you should do if you suspect your child has dyslexia

  • The International Dyslexia Association offers preliminary assessment tests on its website for determining if you or your child might have dyslexia. The site also offers a downloadable PDF handbook that offers families guidance through the process of determining if your child has dyslexia, plus next steps.
  • Stop beating yourself up. If something is deemed "wrong" with our kids, it's inevitable that we analyze everything we did or didn't do. Maybe you feel like you should have read to your kids more or limited their screen time. The fact that my older daughter took to reading quickly and easily reminded me that it wasn't necessarily anything we did wrong.
  • As soon as possible, you should request a meeting with your child's teacher(s) and the school's special education services committee to determine eligibility for services. Children with dyslexia need a more explicit style of reading instruction. I believe the six months my daughter spent getting additional, explicit instruction with a reading specialist has been critical to her success.
  • Advocate for your child. A teacher's methods might work for most kids, but might not be best for your child if she has dyslexia or another learning disability. Learn about your school district's process for obtaining services. Be sure to talk directly with your child's teachers and recruit any other school staff you can, such as the school psychologist and nurse. Be aware of your child's rights; check out the U.S. Dept. of Education's pages about students with disabilities as well as your state's and district's websites.
  • Learn about your child's disability. Find success stories which show your child that having dyslexia or another learning difference might mean that he has to do some things differently, but it doesn't make him any less lovable or successful. You might also want to try out some of the strategies reading specialists use when reading to your child or having him read to you.
  • Connect in person and online. Talk to other parents in your district, community, and around the world to share ideas, get information, and support each other.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

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Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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