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Why your big kid wants to be a 'baby' right now

And why it's totally normal, mama.

Why your big kid wants to be a 'baby' right now

So much has changed for our kids in recent weeks. The normal routines are gone, they can't see their friends and extended family (or in some cases, even their first responder parents). If you're noticing your child regressing a bit during this difficult time, don't worry, mama. It's totally normal if your preschooler is suddenly wanting to pretend to be a baby or if your school-age child wants way more cuddles and comfort than they did two months ago.

Here's what you need to know about child regression during the coronavirus pandemic:

Regression is a totally normal response to what's going on in the world.

Little kids don't have the vocabulary or experience to tell us that they are stressed and in need of comfort. Instead, they might say "pretend I'm a baby" or ask for lullabies you haven't sung in years. A potty-trained child might start having accidents and older kids may say "I can't do it" when asked to perform a task they have previously mastered.

This does not mean you are failing, mama.

"Regression is typical in normal childhood, and it can be caused by stress, by frustration, or by a traumatic event," doctors Hermioni N. Lokko and Theodore A. Stern note in their research on the subject.

According to psychotherapist Noel McDermott, everyone (even us adults) is likely to regress or not function at our normal level during this pandemic. "Children are going to regress more than adults, and the younger the child, the more the regression is likely to be." McDermott tells The Huffington Post.

Comfort is key in addressing regression.

Regression can be frustrating for parents, especially during an already stressful time when everyone is locked in the house together. It's going to be frustrating to see a puddle of pee under your 6-year-old's feet or to have your preschooler throw tantrums you thought they'd outgrown.

It's okay to be frustrated, mama, but experts suggest that scolding or punishing a child who is regressing only makes it worse. We need to meet regression with kindness, comfort and open arms, even if our kids are refusing to do something we need them to do, like brush their teeth or wash their hands.

Dr. Laura Markham of AhaParenting tells Today "the best intervention is reassurance." Markham suggests parents offer a safe space to kids who are having a hard time and try using phrases like "'You are having such a hard time right now, aren't you? Don't worry, Sweetheart. I am right here to help.'"

She continues: "You step in, hold her kindly, make it fun, and get the hand-washing accomplished."

Recognize that you are your child's rock, but you are also human.

Parenting during a pandemic and economic recession is incredibly stressful. Alone time for moms was minuscule before and practically a fantasy now. You might be longing for a quiet moment. Our hearts melt the first time our children say "mama," but if your blood pressure rises when you hear it for the 10,000th time a day that's okay. It doesn't mean you're not a great mom, it just means you're stressed and so is your child.

"With more anxious children, they may be asking more questions than usual, and seeking reassurance that everything is going to be okay," Genevieve von Lob, a psychologist and author of "Happy Parent, Happy Child" tells The Huffington Post. "Parents may also find that their children are more unsettled at bedtime and are scared to be left alone."

But it is important that mama be left alone, sometimes. If you have a partner or another adult in your home this may mean that they take over caregiving to allow you to have an extra long shower or just some alone time in your bedroom. If you don't have another adult in the home, try to steal a moment for yourself where you can, even if that means the dishes go undone or the kids watch Frozen 2 for the 10th time.

"Try to be aware of your level of stress and anxiety and be kind to yourself," Dr. Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development tells Today. "Take 15 minutes in the morning to have coffee by yourself before children wake up."

Bottom line: Regression is natural, normal and hard.

Our kids express anxiety in ways that can be very difficult for parents. Sleeping and eating problems often develop when kids are stressed, and when you've been up all night worrying about how you're going to put food on your table during this economic turmoil it's hard to deal with a kid who is suddenly very picky about what you're serving for breakfast. But for kids, anxiety and stress often manifest as eating and sleeping issues.

It's rough, but this is the time where we need to come at our kids with kindness and connection. They need us more than ever. It's okay to sing a lullaby to 10-year-old or rock a 4-year-old to sleep. They need the extra cuddles right now.

We can't control how out of control the outside world has become, but we can help our children feel safe (even when the world isn't).

As psychologist and parenting coach Dr. Rebecca Schrag Hershberg previously wrote for Motherly: "Children show their stress in different ways: throwing more tantrums, being more moody, irritable or defiant, or regressing in a particular area such as language or potty training. However your kids are showing that they're worried—or even if they are not yet—there is nothing more valuable than giving them a hug and letting them know you've got them and it's all going to be okay."

In This Article

    Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

    There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

    With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at AirNow.gov. An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $100

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

    $100

    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

    $45

    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

    $179

    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

    $100

    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $33

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $88

    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

    $75

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

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    Cameron Diaz on having a baby at 47: 'You really have to work hard for it'

    "The only pressure for me now is I have to live to be, like, 107, you know? No pressure!"

    This is the decade that saw the face of first-time motherhood change. The number of first-time mamas under 30 is shrinking, while more and more women are becoming moms after 40.

    Cameron Diaz is one of them. The actress and businesswoman, now 48, became a mom in January at the age of 47. In a new episode of Naomi Campbell's YouTube series, No Filter, Diaz opens up about what it's like to become a mom in your fourth decade.

    "A lot of people do it the other way around ... they get married [and] have a family in their youth," says Diaz."I'm kind of doing it in the second half of my life."

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