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Six rules good moms ignore that shouldn't be overlooked

 Photo; Courtesy

‘Do this,’ ‘do that’...there seems to be no end to the rules you have to follow if you want to be a good mum. But here is a wise-parent secret: There are actually some rules that are made to be broken...

1. Get into a strict routine.

A daily routine can be comforting - a little bit of structure round the chaotic edges of mum life. But wise mums know that even a routine has to be flexible; rigid scheduling can backfire on your baby and you.

The trouble with strict routines is that they assume all babies are the same - which they’re not. So if your baby doesn’t fit into your carefully worked out routine, you feel it’s all your fault - which, of course, isn’t.

Rather than relying on someone else’s timetable to tell you what your baby needs, try to tune in to the natural cues your baby’s giving you.

You’ll soon find it easy to spot the signs that she’s hungry or tired and adapt the rhythm of your days accordingly. Don’t worry about what other mums are doing. Hold fast to what works for you and your family.

2. Sterilize everything.

 All mums need to be hot on hygiene, particularly while their baby is still under six months old. And cleanliness is even more important when you’re bottle-feeding, because bacteria can breed quickly in carelessly prepared formula milk.

But sterilizing everything in your house is not the answer, washing your hands properly is. A sterilizer is not a substitute for proper hand hygiene and may even give you a false sense of security.

If you’re bottle-feeding, clean bottles and tits in hot water then rinse well afterwards. Wash her hands and yours before you eat.

3. Make them finish everything that’s on the plate.

Indeed, it’s infuriating when your child leaves half her food untouched, but experts say if you insist she eats everything up, you could make her fat. Small children eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full.

Making them eat more than they want to can lead them to overeat out of habit. You should keep servings small. When your kids leave food, your keep-cool mantra should be: “I choose what they eat: they decide how much.”

4. No TV for children.

Yes, there are studies that link TV-watching at an early age with all sorts of behavioral and developmental problems. Used wisely, television can actually be good for your child - by improving her speaking skills, for instance.

 It has been found that as long as they’re simple, age-appropriate and short, TV programmes can be used for language development. To make TV a positive learning experience, you need to watch programmes with your child and talk to her about what you’re seeing, then when the show finished, turn the TV off and go and do something else.

5. Put them on the naughty step.

 Every toddler has tantrums but, contrary to popular belief, not every tantrum needs to lead to time out on the naughty step/naughty corner/time out. The child is to put on a particular spot alone for an agreed time - one minute for each year of her age.

This is a calm place with no distractions to give her time to think about what has happened without parents or brothers and sisters bothering her.

Time out can be a very effective way to show an older toddler the consequences of continuing bad behavior, but it’s not something to use all the time. Smaller children, in particular, often don’t understand the concept.

For them, tantrums are usually about frustration rather than deliberate defence - and they need your help, not your punishment, to help them learn and develop.

6. Give yourself time-out instead.

Turn away from your child or leave the room. Nothing deflates a strop more quickly than the lack of an audience. You can often head off a tantrum completely with simple distraction.

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