Making baby’s first haircut a good experience

baby's first haircut

Cropped image. Sean Freese, Flickr. CC license.

Preparation is key!

Start by introducing the idea of what getting a haircut is all about before taking your child to the salon. Let your little one watch you have your hair cut. Look through some hairdressing story books together or play hairdresser (minus the scissors!) at home. Introducing the concept makes the big day itself a little less daunting.

Make the big day a positive experience

  • Some kid-specific salons have special styling chairs where the child can sit in an airplane, fire truck, police car or a race car. Your child can choose to watch a video, too
  • Some kid-specific salons keep your child happily distracted with lollipops, balloons, bubble blowing and by singing songs.
  • If your child has a hard time sitting in the styling chair or is fussing, you can hold baby on your lap during the haircut. Don’t worry, you don’t have to sit in the fire truck chair!
  • Bring an extra shirt in case your child doesn’t want to wear the cape. Sometimes it helps to remind little boys that super heroes wear capes!

Other helpful tips

  • Don’t use the word “cut,” which can be scary for some kids. Say “trim” or “style” instead.
  • Use nicknames like “wind machine” for the blow dryer or “tickle” for the buzzer so they’re less afraid of the noise.
  • Choosing the right time of day is very important. If your child is overly tired or hungry, the experience will be stressful for everyone involved.
  • Be realistic. If your child has a lot of energy and isn’t particularly good at sitting still for long, then a quirky baby celeb style isn’t going to happen. Opt instead for an easy-to-maintain style until baby is older and better at sitting still for longer periods.
  • Routine is key. Try to stick to the same stylist as it helps build trust and rapport. By going for regular haircuts with the same stylist, your little one will eventually like to get a haircut as much as you do!
  • Remember to save the first lock of hair for your Baby Book! Your child’s hair will probably change in color or texture as he or she gets older. Some salons commemorate the occasion with a personalized “First Haircut Certificate” complete with a clipping of the child’s hair!

Sensitive children need special treatment.

  • If you think your child might be a candidate for excessive squirming or crying, stop by and tour the salon ahead of time. Slowly get your child comfortable with the facility and staff.
  • Book an appointment during the week as salons tend to be less busy mid-day or after 5 during the week. This is an ideal time for the appointment as there will be fewer distractions for your child, which will help to optimize their comfort level.
  • Space it out if necessary. Some kid-specific salons are happy to accommodate your child’s preferences and will space out the haircut two or three sittings over a week if required.

Remember to be patient with your little one. A haircut is a necessity and although there may be a few tears to begin with, by following these tips and making it a fun experience, your little will want to return to the salon again!

– Jodi Jaskiewicz is an owner of a children’s salon in Royal Oak. As a mom and grandma, she has a passion for providing good service for kids.

Celebrate dad this Father’s Day

man and little boy walking on trail

Moms get a lot of attention on Mother’s Day but dads are just as worthy of our love and appreciation. While you can take your dad out for brunch (yes, Father’s Day brunches do exist!), here are some creative and inexpensive ways to celebrate this coming Sunday. Most importantly, spend time together if you can.

  • Have your children sing a special song to their dad. These songs are sung to traditional kid tunes but the lyrics are specifically written for dad.

A Father’s Day I Love You (Sung to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”)

Daddy, Daddy let me say
I love you for all you do.
You are greater than the rest.
Daddy you are just the best.
Daddy, Daddy let me say
Have a happy Father’s Day!

D-A-D-D-Y (Sung to “B-I-N-G-O”)

I love him and he loves me.
And Daddy is his name-o.
And Daddy is his name-o.

  • Who doesn’t love a good Mad Lib? Older kids can fill out this fun “Dad Lib” and read it aloud to him. No doubt there will be a lot of laughter!
  • Help your child have this coloring sheet questionnaire from The picture below will take you the full-size printable. 
  • Read a book together! Each of these 10 books has a father as the main character.
    • Oh, Daddy!” by Bob Shea. Daddies sure can be funny and silly!
    • I Love My Daddy Because …” by Lauren Porter-Gaylord shows how human and animal daddies help take care of their children.
    • Just Me and My Dad” by Mercer Mayer is a classic about a dad and son going camping together.
    • How to Cheer Up Dad” by Fred Koehler. Little Jumbo is determined to turn his dad’s day around and make it better. It’s a homage to Dads and their little mischief-makers.
    • When Dads Don’t Grow Up” by Marjorie Blain Parker. These dads may be all grown-up but they’re kids at heart.
    • Interrupting Chicken” by David Ezra Stein. Papa Chicken tries to read a bedtime story to Little Chicken who just can’t help but interrupt.
    • Hero Dad” by Melinda Hardin is the perfect book for families with Dad in the military. The boy compares his soldier-dad to a superhero.
    • Daddy is My Hero” by Dawn Richards highlights the dads who help around the house and the kids who see them as heroes in imaginary scenarios.
    • Froggy’s Day with Dad” by Jonathan London. It’s Father’s Day and Froggy can’t wait to celebrate with his dad. But things never go smoothly for poor Froggy. Prepare for some giggles!
    • Darth Vader and Son” by Jeffrey Brown. Are you Star Wars fans in your house? Check out this fun comic-style book.
  • Take a family hike on a local nature trail or a bike ride down a favorite path. There are several county parks and Metroparks around our area.
  • Go strawberry picking together. Find a u-pick farm.
  • Play some board or card games together.
  • If you have older kids, play a game of “How Well Do You Know Dad?” trivia. Write up some questions ahead of time to ask your kids and see how much they actually know about him. You can even include things from before your kids were born for some extra fun.
  • Make a “Following in My Daddy’s Shoes” craft.

footstep prints from


A simple guide to sunburn and sunstroke

young sunburned boy

Erin Stevenson O’Connor, Wikimedia Commons.

Now that Michigan is warming up and summer is around the corner, it is important to recognize the signs, symptoms, and differences between sunburn and sunstroke.

What is sunburn?

A sunburn is a skin burn. It happens when you are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or tanning beds. It is important to know that you are still exposed to UV light even on cloudy days. Initial symptoms of a sunburn can include skin that is red, hot, or painful. In more severe cases, blisters can form over the skin with more intense pain and fevers. Most sunburns are not life-threatening.

What is sunstroke?

A sunstroke is when the body temperature increases due to external heat (e.g., prolonged sun exposure). The temperature will rise greater than 104°F. Examples of potential exposures include when children are left in cars on a hot summer day or when sports practice occurs under the blazing sun. Important features of sunstroke include decreased energy, dry or sweaty skin, vomiting, diarrhea, delirium, hallucinations, seizures, or slurred speech. A sunstroke is a medical emergency and could potentially be life-threatening.

How do you prevent and treat sunburn?

Prevention is key!

  • Always wear sunscreen when you are planning to go outside on a sunny (or even cloudy) day. Ideally, the SPF should be 30 or greater.
  • Avoid going out during the hottest part of the day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Choose areas that are shaded (under trees, umbrellas for example)
  • Cover as much skin as possible (long-sleeve shirts, long pants, hat), and wear sunglasses.
  • Avoid tanning beds.

How do you prevent and treat sunstroke?

Once again, prevention is key!

  • Always have checks in place (and discuss these with other caregivers) to ensure your child isn’t left behind in the car.
  • Provide athletes with adequate hydration before, during, and after sports practice.
  • Do not allow your child to participate in sports practice if he or she feels unwell.
  • Have a discussion with coaches about the plans that are in place to remove children who are exhibiting signs or symptoms of sunstroke.

If your child has signs or symptoms of a sunstroke, the most important initial step is to remove them from the sun exposure. Call EMS or take your child to the nearest emergency room for evaluation. While you are waiting for EMS or while driving your child to the emergency department, use the following rapid cooling methods: spray the child with water, use a fan, and apply ice packs to the body (on the neck, under the armpits, in the groin region).

– Gurpal Jones, MD, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician, Beaumont Health

Summer slide: It’s not a dance

boy reading

We’re all excited as the school year ends and summer is upon us. Most children are so happy on the last day of school as it means sleeping in, staying up late, and best of all: no homework! But many parents know that we must keep our children reading, writing and doing math to prevent the “summer slide.”

What is the summer slide?

This is the slide in academic skills that happens over the summer. When our children return to school, they’ve fallen to a level lower than they were at when they left school in June. Typically, students can lose up to two months of learning in the summer and it takes the next grade’s teacher four to six weeks to get students back to the level where they previously were. The most profound thing about summer slide is that it is cumulative.

Over the years, the one- to two-month slide adds up and creates a gap by the time the child reaches high school. However, a parent can help your student avoid the “summer slide,” provide the opportunity to step right into the new grade level, and even learn the new grade level materials.

Summer slide is more common in lower-income levels, although no student is exempt.

Reading over the summer

Research shows that the amount of time that students spend reading outside of school is linked to gains in reading achievement. In fact, it shows that if your child reads just six books during the summer months, the summer slide can be avoided!

However, these books need to be “just right fit” books. Talk with your child’s teacher before the end of the year to find the right reading level. The books can’t be too hard or too easy; they need to be just right. This video can help determine a “just right” book.

A child is most likely to read books that he or she selects. We need to give children the time needed to select books that will motivate them to continue to read all summer.

Summer reading programs

  • Most libraries offer free reading programs that are motivating and fun. Check out your library online or at your next visit, so your child is signed up and ready to participate. Libraries are meant to be a place to read, have fun and learn as a family. When my children were little, I packed a lunch, went to the library, then headed to the park to spend some time both playing and reading.
  • Some bookstores offer summer reading programs and discounts on books. One chain even rewards summer reading with a free book at the end of the summer. Also, purchasing books for your own home library may be fun for your child, especially for high interest books. Many stores have a book list for each age and grade that children love, as well as the top picks for different age groups.

Just keep on reading

One of the most important tips that I can offer to parents is to keep reading! It isn’t meant to be something we do for a half an hour a day. It can be done all day and every day.

In the morning, grab a newspaper and read the comics, the headlines or weather. In the afternoon, provide time for your child to read the “just right” books that they selected. In the evening, find time to read with your child and encourage them to read aloud to you. Talk about the vocabulary that you encounter in your reading. Reading together helps build listening skills, as well.

When your child was an infant, you may have had books all around the house. As children grow, we tend to keep books in a central location. Instead, I suggest keeping high-interest books all around the house because kids are more likely to pick up a book and read if they are conveniently set around the house. You might also keep some books in the car; children spend a lot of time while moms drive them from here to there. It’s the perfect place to keep a few books for them to read.

There are many online reading programs that find a student’s level and provide motivational activities and books for your child. Talk to your school to see if this is available for you to purchase.

Another idea is ordering a magazine that your child enjoys. It gets delivered right to your house each week or month. They can be very motivational and can keep kids reading.

Don’t forget about math

Math is another area where students slide during the summer. Provide level-appropriate workbooks to practice the skills that your children learned during the school year.

Estimation is an important skill that can be practiced whenever you can. It can be how many miles to you think it is to grandma’s house, how long you think it will take to get somewhere, how many M & M’s are in the jar. Whatever you think of to support this skill will benefit to your child.

Write, write, write

Writing over the summer is also important. Provide a fun summer journal. Each day, have your child take time to write. It can be a journal of what they are reading, or maybe a place to write a story or poem. It is often fun to reflect in writing what they have done that day. Of course, a letter to grandma is always loved and appreciated. Just find time to practice writing.

Enjoy your summer!

– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.

Having fun with baby’s first summer

big brother holding little brother on bench

Gray and Finley on Finn’s first road trip

There is a country song with a line that goes, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” I always love that line because the first time you do something is so underrated in my eyes. I feel like the last time you do something is always remembered but what about the first? Sure big firsts are remembered such as first words, first day of school, first kiss, and so on, but what about other firsts? Things like the first silly word (my 5-year-old boy calls salad dressing “salad sauce” and it will forever remain salad sauce in our house), your first challenge at school, your first bad kiss, etc.?

little boy playing with sandFirsts are a big deal! As a mom, I try to teach my kids that the firsts are just as important as the lasts. I have two boys (ages 5 years and 16 months). For my little guy’s “first summer” last year I made sure to document and photograph all of his firsts that the summer energy brings. Here are a few of my favorites along with a few notes:

  • First fourth of July (Note: Finley did not care for fireworks)
  • First time experiencing a glow stick
    • Mommy was quick to know Finn wanted to use it as a chew toy
  • First haircut
    • Bribed with snacks to try and stay still.
  • First road trip
    • Colorado at 6 months old.
  • First time feeling sand
  • First time strawberry picking.
    • No help picking the fruit but a big help in eating it.
  • First time camping.
    • Camping “up north” as a rite of passage
  • First time hiking.
    • Sure, he was carried on everyone’s back but still a first nonetheless.
  • First time in a bounce house (How fun is this first?)
  • First time swimming
    • Finley was naked in a bucket but we’re still counting it as first swimming.
  • First time playing at a park
    • Favorite park feature: swings
  • First time at the zoo
    • Loved seeing the polar bears
  • First time at the splash pad
  • First time having a picnic in the backyard
  • First time giving “kisses” to mommy, daddy and brother
  • First time eating peas
  • First time playing on slip and slide

trio of little boy "first" photos

Everyone says that the days go by slow but the years go by fast with children. Ain’t that the truth? I know someday I will look back and think about the last time my kids played on the slip and slide, or went up north, but for now I’m focusing on these first moments.

– Stephanie Babcock is an IFS coordinator with the Parenting Program. She’s a proud mom of two.

Things I learned outside of the classroom during Study Abroad

young woman in front of a canal in Europe

My mom was asked to write an article about my study abroad preparation. She, in turn, asked me to write a mirror article so that you, dear reader, could see both perspectives and gain understanding from both the parent and the child. Maybe this will help you if your child ever decides to study abroad.

Who I am

I don’t remember exactly when I realized I loved traveling, but I learned the word “wanderlust” in high school and have identified with it ever since. I adore traveling; I like seeing new places and exploring. I like being able to touch history, try new foods, and have fun and unique adventures. I travel with friends and family; sometimes I go alone, much to my mother’s dismay. My dream job would be traveling and blogging about it. I’m currently I’m doing it on my own dime and not getting paid, but it’s still lots of fun. Check me out at

You can meet so many different people while traveling too. I have a talent for making friends so this aspect is always fun for me. I’m also a bit of an adrenaline junkie; I like things that go fast and are a little on the crazy side. In fact, my bucket list includes cliff jumping, sky diving, bungee jumping and more. When I heard about studying abroad, I was instantly drawn to it. It helped that my school offered exchange programs where my scholarships applied and my credits transferred. I could travel and study at the same time, making a great combination.

The planning stage

The planning was mostly on me, with some reminders from my parents about making sure I was checking into things and that I knew what I needed. I’m usually organized but sometimes things fell through the cracks like forgetting an important document and having to figure out where to print it only an hour before my visa appointment in Chicago!

It stresses me out when other people get stressed, so with my parents being stressed and getting on me about me not having somewhere to live along with, “Why haven’t you packed? You leave in two-and-a-half days!” really got me in gear. Though I’m the one who did the preparations, my parents lit a fire under me about doing them in a timely fashion. It would have gotten done no matter what, because once I had my parents on board, there was no way I wasn’t going abroad; I wouldn’t let that happen.

Battling homesickness with technology

In her article, my mom mentioned loving technology. It really is great, and I’m not just saying that because I’ve been exposed to it for a decent chunk of my life. Technology is a life saver! It can help when you get lost, it can help you find places to stay and to eat, it can help you plan all aspects of your trip. Mostly, I use it to keep in touch and battle homesickness. As I said, I love traveling but I’ve rarely ever gotten homesick. Sure, this is probably because I’m usually traveling with family, am not that far from home, and not gone for that long.

That being said, this trip does not meet any of the standards that I am used to. So while I don’t get homesick at school because I’m two hours from home, surrounded by friends, and crazy busy with classes and extracurricular activities, I’m missing a lot of that over here in Europe. I’m usually about six hours ahead of everyone else, which means I don’t hear from anyone until Noon at the earliest. I also only have classes here without any of the extracurricular organizations that I regularly participate in. Being less busy means more time to myself just sitting, thinking and missing home. When I left, I didn’t expect to be homesick, even though the Education Abroad advisers warned us that it would happen. Boy was I in for a rude awakening.

Being homesick is rough. My support system is more than 3,000 miles away and six hours behind time-wise, so they aren’t always available when I need to talk. On top of that, I don’t like talking about it anyway so I usually bottle it up.

I found that FaceTiming the people at home helps a great deal. I talk to my family via FaceTime once or twice a week; yes, I am guilty of FaceTiming my boyfriend more than that (sorry, Mom). I also call some of my friends every couple of weeks. One of these calls was with my two of my fraternity brothers who I hadn’t talked with face-to-face in three months. We were on Skype for five hours until they pretty much kicked me off so I would sleep! FaceTime also means I get to see my dogs which is great because people don’t really pet each other’s dogs in France (and that’s weird to me but that’s a totally different story). Long story short: technology, specifically video calling capabilities, really help you handle the huge distance and homesickness.

Expect the unexpected

Ha. This has been a theme with me since the start of the year when I went to Chicago for my visa. Things like to not go according to plan for me. This can be inconvenient, like having to postpone my Ireland trip three months or sitting on the freezing cold floor in Union Station for hours because my train was delayed because of ice (both of these examples were caused by winter weather … maybe I should avoid that). Sometimes delays can be fun; my extended stay in Edinburgh let me make a bunch of friends with the other people staying in my hostel.

These situations led me to my biggest travel tip that I will be sharing continually until forever because it’s so valid: Pack your patience. This can be hard sometimes, like when I was in Edinburgh freaking out about getting back to Nantes in time for class and my mom was an ocean away telling me to chill out (a bad joke considering the weather at the time, I know). But packing your patience is so essential. It helps you find a solution to your problem faster because you aren’t freaking out. It also makes a more pleasant experience for you and those around you because you’re calm and rolling with the punches. Plus, you never know, these crazy situations might bring about good things like personal growth (I’ll get off my soapbox in a second). Being put in situations that were very stressful made me a better critical thinker, and more patient and understanding because everyone around me was facing the same difficulties and having to find a way out. So now that you’ve read this, the number one thing on your packing list, study abroad or not, should always be your patience.

Stay strong

As for strength, I knew this experience was going to be rough on my mom, partially because she told me a lot that it would be and partially because it was going to be difficult in general.

I didn’t expect to be overwhelmed my first day in France trying to weigh kiwi in the supermarket on a scale in a foreign language, but I was and I got through it. I know having me in Europe and not being able to help as much is stressful for my mom, especially since I’m the first one out of the nest. But we’re doing good! Less than a month left! (She’s been counting down since Christmas!) Communication and detailed preparation I think helped ease this a little for us, and it probably will help you too if your child is hoping to study abroad.

I’m not saying it’s the easiest thing it the world (that’s baseball), but it will be worth it. Your child will grow and learn and you will too.

Katie Capozello, BGSU Analytics major. She is the daughter of Nicole Capozello, Beaumont Parenting Program Staff.

What I learned from my daughter’s study abroad experience

mom and daughter close up

I was asked to write an article about what my husband and I did to prepare our daughter for her semester abroad. I tried to write that article; I really did. The problem was that we really didn’t do that much (unless you count the 20 years we spent raising her to be an independent, resourceful, head strong, and intelligent woman). Because she is those things, and because we knew it was a good test of her ability to succeed in a study abroad experience, we didn’t do much of the planning and prep for her semester in France. Instead, we placed that responsibility on her.

If she was going to travel to a foreign country and spend four months (116 days to be exact, but who’s counting?) there without current classmates, family or friends for back-up, we knew she had to be able to plan and organize it herself. That’s not to say she didn’t have support (including a 3 a.m. text only six weeks before she was supposed to leave that started with “I think I screwed up.” She did, but only a little. And she fixed it). But the bulk of the responsibility for the trip was hers. So, while I did little to plan her semester in Europe, there are many things I learned from it.

Trust, but verify

The responsibility for planning, organizing and preparing for a semester abroad was my daughter’s. That doesn’t mean I never checked in. Remember that she was still an adolescent human (she was 19 when she left). She was organized and driven, but she still didn’t have a parent’s life experience (or priorities or concerns). So while she made all of her housing arrangements, we asked questions regarding safety and security. As she made the banking plans, we reminded her of ATM and exchange fees. She prioritized travel opportunities and classes, while we asked her to think about situational awareness and emergency options.

Furthermore, I also learned that following up with her was key. “Have you checked back with the Study Abroad office about which classes will transfer?” “Have you looked at the train schedule to get to Chicago to visit the Consulate for your Visa?” “Have you finalized your budget?” “Did you check with your landlady in France to ensure the deposit wire has been received?” This was key because while the answer was almost always “Yes,” the occasions when it was “Oh shoot, not yet” were the saves she needed made in an exciting, stressful and completely brand-new experience.

I love technology

I’m not a technology geek nor am I anyone’s definition of an early adopter, but I learned that I love technology. Specifically, I love FaceTime and text (and iMessage). Truly the only things that keep me sane with her an ocean away is her response to my “Good Morning” text, the almost weekly FaceTime calls (though I am given to understand that the FaceTime calls with her boyfriend are more frequent), and the pictures of her beautiful face by the London Olympic Rings, the Eiffel Tower, and Edinburgh Castle.

If your child is planning a study abroad experience, the first thing to do (or have your child do) is contact your cell phone provider. Find out what is included in your plan with respect to international services. And find out the cost of what’s not included. That last part is just as important as the first part. Because while my daughter assured me that “she never actually talks on the phone” so the cost of calls was unimportant next to text and data, neither of us considered the job interview calls that would be required by an unexpected internship opportunity. We were fortunate in that our cell plan was incredibly inclusive. If yours is not, remember that there are other options including calling cards and VoIP services like Skype.

Expect the unexpected

OK, well that’s just silly. You can’t expect the unexpected. What you can do is expect that there will be things that come up that you couldn’t possibly have planned for. For example, our daughter got stranded on a week-long holiday to the UK by a freak winter storm. We couldn’t have planned for it. Even the weather people in Europe didn’t see it coming until it hit.

So know that there will be things that happen that are out of everyone’s control. Be there as a support when it happens. Encourage your child to have an Emergency Fund built into his or her budget (my kid did that one on her own — business major that she is). Try to keep calm on your end, which will help him keep calm on his. And remember: You let your child go on the trip because you were confident in her ability to handle the experience; she can handle this too.

That’s not to say that you are no longer needed. While my daughter arranged lodging and food while stranded, negotiated refunds for cancelled transportation and excursions, and booked the three trains and the 27-hour bus ride, complete with a middle of the night Channel crossing, that got her home from the “Beast from the East” storm, she still needed me to counsel her on laundry procedure. Stay flexible, stay available, and you’ll both overcome the sudden obstacles.

We’re both stronger than I knew

And a thought from that previous section brings me to my last lesson. “They can handle this too.” Boy has she ever handled it. She dared things that I’m not sure I’d dare on my own now, let alone when I was barely 20 years old. She handled unexpected circumstances and emergencies with a grace and aplomb that I could learn from. She went alone to a country she had never been to, where most people speak a language she does not, and she made friends, mastered classes, finessed her budget, managed homesickness, and filled her passport. She fed her wanderlust, while still maintaining her safety and her studies.

I wouldn’t have let her go if I didn’t think she had the maturity and resourcefulness to handle it, but she is even more amazing that I realized. And while I would have told everyone I knew that I would spend 116 days paralyzed with fear, I found that I enjoyed watching her fly.

– Nicole Capozello, Parenting Program staff


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