Parenting tips, articles, strategies, and resources for your growing family.

Resources and information by various early childhood education experts and professionals are gathered to provide advice, strategies, tips, and news about current parenting issues you may be facing. Parenting topics range from fun family activities to child development concerns to handling life’s challenges as a parent.

We believe that parents are the first and most important teachers and decision makers for their children. The early childhood years from birth to the start of kindergarten are an important time of rapid learning and growth.

With the collaboration of Children’s Specialized Hospital, Harmony Education & Life Partners provides the Quick Peek Early Developmental Screening Program to the Irvington community to make it easy and convenient for parents to bring their child for a screening. Parents with concerns or questions about their child’s development, don’t need to worry about having insurance or transportation to get to a special facility … they can simply find when the next Quick Peek screening will be held at our facility.

Crying baby pic_sizedEach screening takes about 30 minutes and involves a series of questions for the parent and activities for the child. The Quick Peek providers talk with the parents about the screening results and provide information on general child development and activities they can do to encourage their child’s development.

At the end of screening, parents are given a letter indicating whether the child’s performance falls within the typical range or shows any concerns. If the results suggest a need for further evaluation, the Quick Peek provider reviews options with the parents and recommends parents share the findings with their pediatrician. They may supply other information as well, depending on the needs of the child: ways to access school evaluations, Early Intervention contact information, parenting workshops, resources for further evaluations.

This program allows us to engage in dialogue with parents and families on addressing a common goal which is to raise a child with the necessary skills, tools and resources to perform well in their community.


The Crying Baby

It’s normal for babies to cry, even when you are trying to comfort them. Some babies cry more than others or for longer periods of time. This is normal too. It is also normal for a parent to become frustrated. No matter how stressed, tired, angry or frustrated you feel, you must never, ever shake a baby. Shaking a baby can kill or cause serious injuries.

How to Cope with a Crying Baby

  • Make sure the baby’s basic needs (food, diapering, appropriate clothing, etc.) are met.
  • Try swaddling, tightly wrapping your baby in a blanket for warmth and security.
  • Offer the baby a pacifier.
  • Lower the lights and noise to help calm the baby.
  • Walk the baby around holding him or her close to you.
  • Take the baby for a ride in a stroller or a car.
  • Call a friend, relative, neighbor or medical provider for help.
  • Take a break – sit down and count to 10 or 20.
  • If all else fails, put the baby in the crib on his or her back. Close the door and check back every five minutes or so.

Don’t pick up the baby until you feel calm.

Remember, a baby will outgrow crying, but shaking a baby may cause permanent damage.

Shaking a baby can cause bleeding inside the brain which may lead to:

  • Death
  • Brain Damage
  • Retardation
  • Blindness
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Developmental delays

How to Handle Biting

Although biting isn’t “abnormal” in the sense that one of ten toddlers and two-year olds does it, it is a disturbing and potentially harmful behavior that parents and educators must discourage from the very first episode. If a child bites, remain calm and think about what the child experienced just before the incident. Understanding why young children bite can help you deter this aggressive behavior and teach them positive ways to handle their feelings.

Young children may bite for different reasons, and not all will respond to the same types of intervention. Identifying the kind of biter you’re dealing with will help you develop an appropriate discipline technique.

  1. The experimental biter. An infant or young child may take an experimental bite out of a mother’s breast or a caregiver’s shoulder. When this occurs, parents should use prompt, clear signals to communicate that children must not bite people. “No,” said sharply, would be an appropriate response.

These experimental biters may simply want to touch, smell and taste other people in order to learn more about their world. Their muscles are developing and they need to experiment. Provide them with a variety of surfaces to play on and a colorful selection of toys to stimulate children during this stage of exploration.

This type of biter may also be motivated by teething pain. Offer children appropriate things to chew on for relief: frozen bagels, very cold, large carrots, teething biscuits, or a safe teething ring.

  1. The frustrated biter. Some biters lack the skills to cope with situations such as the desire for an adult’s attention or another child’s toy. Even though the child may not have intended to harm another person, parents must react with disapproval. First, tend to the victim immediately. Then explain to the biter that biting hurts others and is not allowed.

You may help frustrated biters by teaching them appropriate language to show their feelings or get what they need. Give positive reinforcement when children communicate effectively. Also, watch for signs of rising frustration. Spotting potential conflict may help you intercept a potentially harmful incident.

  1. The threatened biter. Some children, feeling they are endangered, bite in self-defense. They may be overwhelmed by their surroundings, and bite as a means of regaining control. In this case, use the intervention techniques already mentioned and assure the child that his rights and possessions are safe.

Children may become threatened by situations such as newly separated parents, the death of a grandparent, or a mother returning to the work force. The threatened biter may require additional nurturing, particularly if the danger is along the lines of physical violence at home or in the immediate neighborhood. In any case, the bond between child and parent/caregiver should be as warm and reassuring as possible.

  1. The power biter. Some children experience a strong need for autonomy and control. As soon as they see the response they get from biting, the behavior is strongly reinforced. Give the biter choices throughout the day and reinforce positive social behavior (like sharing and saying thank you). If the biter gets attention when he/she is not biting, he/she will not have to resort to aggressive behavior to feel a sense of personal power.

Never hit or “bite back” a child for biting. This communicates that violence is an appropriate way to handle emotion. The approach should be calm and educational. A child should not experience any reward for biting—not even the “reward” of negative attention.

Parents and caregivers must cooperate to prevent children from biting. If children are permitted to demonstrate such behavior at home, there will be no chance of eliminating it in the center, program, or family child care home. Working as a team, educators and parents may identify possible reasons for a child’s biting and respond accordingly. While early childhood professionals may be more familiar with positive discipline techniques, parents are experts on their children’s behavior.

Take the time to look for patterns in the biter’s environment and emotional state at each episode. Does the child always bite the same individual? Is the biter simply exhausted or hungry? Be ready to intervene immediately, but carefully. Teaching children age-appropriate ways to control themselves encourages the development of confidence and self-esteem. We can guide children toward self-control and away from biting. The key is understanding — for adults and children alike.

Family Meals: Quality Time

Use family meals to enjoy time together and to help your child become more responsible. In many homes, family dinners don’t happen for many reasons including long work or commute hours, after school activities, homework, varied schedules, or being a single parent struggling to do it all on your own. All of us experience times when the realities of life result in choosing the simplest and most convenient solution which often are fast foods instead of a healthy family meal, often eaten apart from the family or staring at a screen.


Busy schedules and complicated lives can make it challenging for families to enjoy quality family time but family meals should be seriously considered due to the enormous benefits to the entire family’s well-being. Consider these tips.

Healthy Family Dinner Tips

  • Get everyone involved in preparation. Plan and shop for food once a week. Having the food on hand saves time and energy. Your child is more likely to try nutritious foods she/he helps make. She/He might wash spinach for a salad or peel hard-boiled eggs.
  • Always have nutritious snacks available. Children (and many adults) may get irritable and impatient when hungry. Stock the kitchen with vegetable sticks, fresh fruits, nuts, and low-fat cheeses.
  • Keep meals simple.
  • Turn off the TV, cell phones or any technology devices. Focus on positive conversation. Uninterrupted intimate time encourages your child to practice talking and listening. This gives everyone an opportunity for authentic family engagement.
  • Make family meals fun. Focus on relaxing and enjoying each other. Little ones can clear the table, put away leftovers and wash the dishes. The clean-up process will go faster and your child will own a sense of responsibility while helping out with the chores

Reading Matters

As a parent, you play an important role in cultivating your child’s love of books and learning to read by offering opportunities to interact with words, literacy and written context. Modeling a love of reading by creating avenues for your child to see you with your own books, magazines or newspapers can be part of your every day routine.

Here are some simple things you can do at home to grow your young reader:

  • Express how much you enjoy reading together. Tell your child how much you enjoy reading with him or her. Talk about “story time” as the favorite part of your day.
  • Establish routines that involve reading, including you reading aloud to your child and your child reading to you. Read a children’s book or a chapter before bed. Read a poem at breakfast or just before dinner. Read a favorite book or poem while waiting at the dentist or doctor’s office.
  • Surround your child with books. Try to have books in your home for your child to read. Build his/her own personal library. Collect books from bookstores, thrift shops, book drives, library book sales and gifts. Remember borrowing books from the library is free!!
  • Respond to your child’s questions in a conversational way, rather than using every question as an opportunity to tell or teach. Use questions as a chance to continue the discussion (What do you think? Why do you think that? How could we find out more?).
  • Get your child involved by letting him/her choose the book or turn the pages or by helping them follow the text with their finger along the page. Letting your child read what interests him or her is one way that reading becomes fun.
  • Encourage your child to retell a story to you by just looking at the pictures of a favorite book. Young children often use the pictures to help decode words or recall text. This will build vocabulary, imagination, and story sequencing.
  • Ask your child questions. Discuss what’s happening in the story and point out things on the page. Ask your child questions such as “What do you think will happen?” “What is this?” “What does an author do?” What does an illustrator do?”
  • Invite your child to finish a sentence, a rhyme, or the end of the story. With preschool books that have repetitive phrases (such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?), pause for your child to fill in the next words once he knows the text. This helps your child learn to predict what comes next, build memory skills, increase self esteem and confidence, and build rhyming skills.
  • Visit the library or a bookstore with your child. Provide your child opportunities to make his/her own selections by looking for favorite authors, illustrators, or subjects. Look at the illustrations or read a few pages together to generate interest and excitement before taking the book home.
  • Read it again and again. Your child may want to hear a favorite story over and over. Go ahead and read the same book for the 100th time! This is very beneficial for your child.

Rhyme Time

While waiting at the doctor’s office or in traffic or walking to school, practice rhyming words with your child. For example, say “What rhymes with sun?” (bun, run, fun). Take turns until you can’t think of any more and then pick a new word to rhyme. Playing with rhymes will help your child sound out words as he/she learns to read.