Parenting is one of the most important, yet challenging, responsibilities in life. As a parent, staying up-to-date with the latest news and tips can help you make more informed decisions for your child’s health, safety, development, and happiness.
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This ultimate guide provides an extensive overview of the top parenting news, tips, and research from child development experts. Read on to learn about:
- Key factors impacting children in 2023
- Notable parenting trends
- Child safety updates
- Kids physical, mental, social-emotional health
- Sleep guidelines by age
- Educational and developmental milestones
- Technology and media recommendations
- Budget-friendly activities, toys and essentials
- FAQs on common parenting questions
Key Factors Impacting Children in 2023
Several key factors are having a major influence on children in 2023. Being aware of these can help you understand your child’s needs and make the best choices for them during this formative period.
Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020 continues to impact children in 2023. Periodic surges and new variants lead to disruptions in childcare, school closures, social isolation, and anxiety. Ensuring safety protocols and supporting mental health are key.
Baby Formula Shortage
A nationwide baby formula shortage that started in 2022 is stretching into 2023 due to supply chain issues and a major recall. Stocking up when possible and knowing safe supplement options are vital for parents of infants.
Rising Screen Use
Screen use skyrocketed among children of all ages during the pandemic.WithObjects a push towards online schooling and entertainment. Setting age-appropriate limits and balancing device use with other activities is now essential.
Economy & Cost Of Living
Rising inflation, recession worries, housing costs, and food/gas prices are putting financial strain on families. Finding support, budget-friendly options, and teaching money skills early on are especially useful right now.
Social Justice Movements
Youth are strongly impacted by major social justice events like #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and LGBTQ+ rights movements. Discussing these issues openly while instilling values like inclusivity, empathy, and respect is important.
Notable Parenting Trends
Parenting styles and approaches are constantly evolving with new research and societal changes. Keeping up with the latest top trends can help you decide what resonates best with your family.
This parenting style emphasizes giving kids more independence with less parental supervision. It focuses on teaching kids life skills and responsibility from a young age.
Slow parenting is a pushback against overscheduling kids and rushing through childhood. The goal is to let kids set their own pace for play, growth and discovery without unnecessary time pressures.
Mindful parenting aims to keep both parents and children present in the moment. This means limiting distractions and paying close attention to needs and emotions without judgement.
With a societal shift towards more openness about gender identity, some parents are taking a gender-creative approach. This means allowing kids to explore outside typical gender norms.
Peaceful parenting strictly avoids any form of physical or harsh verbal discipline. It focuses on cooperation, understanding emotions, positive reinforcement and protecting the parent-child bond.
Child Safety Updates
Since the world continues to change, so do many recommendations around child safety. Stay up-to-date on the latest evidence-based safety best practices.
New car seat guidelines in 2023 recommend:
- Rear-facing until at least age 2 (previously 1)
- Forward-facing with harness system until at least age 4
- Booster seats until 4’9″ tall (typically age 8-12)
Baby Gear + Nursery
Updated safety standards for items like cribs, high chairs, swings and carriers help reduce injury risks. When buying secondhand baby gear, first check a product’s manufacture date to ensure safety.
Recent research shows swim classes alone may give parents a false sense of security about kids’ water safety skills. Actively supervising children near water and learning CPR are critically important.
Food Allergy Management
New guidelines help schools and caregivers better prevent and manage severe food allergies. Planning for emergencies, allergen avoidance and recognizing symptoms are key.
Mental Health Support
Youth mental health struggles are on the rise. Many experts now recommend incorporating social-emotional learning at schools along with making counseling more accessible.
Kids Physical Health
Supporting kids’ growing bodies with proper nutrition, activity and check-ups sets them up for better health over the long run.
- Focus on whole foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, dairy
- Limit sugar, salt, saturated fat, processed foods
- Keep trying new healthy foods even if initially rejected
- Involve kids in preparing meals
The recommended amount of physical activity is:
- Toddlers/Preschool: 3 hours a day
- Children/Teens: 1 hour a day
Aim to limit extended sedentary time.
SLEEP GUIDELINES BY AGE:
|Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day
|Infants (4-12 months)
|12-16 hours (including naps)
|Toddlers (1-2 years)
|11-14 hours (including naps)
|Preschoolers (3-5 years)
|10-13 hours (including naps)
|School-age (6-12 years)
|Teens (13-18 years)
Lack of sleep impacts growth, immunity, mood, focus and behavior. Set an age-appropriate bedtime and pre-bed routine.
Check Ups + Vaccines
- Regular well child check-ups spot emerging issues
- Vaccines protect against dangerous illnesses and save lives
- Flu shot each fall/winter helps prevent high risk complications
Seeking timely medical care when sick and modeling healthy habits are also key.
Kids Mental + Social-Emotional Health
Along with physical health, a child’s mental, emotional and social health plays a huge role in their overall development.
Signs of Struggle
Watch for changes in mood, behavior or personality that last weeks or keep getting worse. These may indicate a mental health condition like:
- Behavioral disorders
Seeking professional support early on makes a big difference. Reassure kids that struggles are common and very treatable.
Resilience protects kids from long term harm when facing setbacks. Ways to strengthen it include:
- Offering comfort and listening without judgement
- Celebrating effort and progress
- Helping reframe challenges positively
- Teaching coping strategies like breathing exercises
- Expanding support networks
Positive self-esteem stems from self-acceptance and believing in one’s worth. Boost kids’ confidence by:
- Giving specific praise
- Displaying their artwork and writing
- Focusing on strengths
- Expressing your enjoyment spending time together
- Pointing out examples of perseverance during setbacks
Educational + Developmental Milestones
Child development follows a natural progression, with abilities getting established within typical time periods. While every child learns at their own pace, keeping track of general milestones can help spot potential issues early.
|Lift head briefly; grasp finger
|Hold head steady unsupported; smile responsively
|Sit with support; roll front to back
|Sit independently; crawl forward on belly
|Pull to stand; walk holding on; finger feed self
|Walk independently; kick ball forward
|Jump with two feet; throw ball overhand; scribble lines
|Pedal tricycle; catch bounced ball; copy circles
|Hop on one foot; catch small balls; copy square shapes
|Skip using alternating feet; do somersault; copy first name
Speech + Language Milestones
|Say first words like “dada” or “mama”
|Point to body parts when named; use 5-20 words
|Combine two words like “more milk”; name objects; follow two step instructions
|Speak in complete sentences of 3-4 words; give first + last name when asked
|Tell stories with full sentences; know rhyming words; name some colors + letters
|Speak clearly in adult-like sentences most of the time; count to 20; name majority of letters/colors
If certain milestones are severely delayed despite attempts to assist progress, discussing early intervention with your pediatrician may help identify underlying issues.
Benefits of Play
Play time is never wasted time in a child’s development. All types of play build important physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills.
Develops Fine + Gross Motor Skills
Climbing, running, throwing balls, playground games, building with blocks, coloring and puzzles all help strengthen growing muscles while practicing coordination.
Boosts Brain Growth
Child-driven play sparks neural connections in the brain related to creativity, spatial reasoning, emotion regulation, problem solving and interpersonal skills.
Teaches Life Lessons
Taking turns, cooperating in groups, processing emotions through role playing and making up rules foster vital social competence and resilience.
Reduces Stress + Anxiety
The joy and sense of control kids get from following their own curiosity relieves tension, anxiety and perfectionistic tendencies.
Set aside plenty of regular play time without overly structuring activities. Provide varied toys for all developmental stages that spark imagination.
JOINING PLAY ACTIVITIES WITHOUT CONTROLLING THEM HELPS MODEL ENGAGEMENT AND BUILD CONNECTION.
Age-Appropriate Media Use + Technology
In the digital age, completely avoiding screens is not realistic or necessarily helpful for child development. However, setting reasonable limits and balancing device use with offline activities remains important.
Media Time Recommendations By Age
|Infants under 18 months
|No screen use outside video chatting
|Toddlers 18-24 months
|Limit to high quality programming if any; watch together and discuss
|Preschoolers 2-5 years
|1 hour a day of high quality children’s programs
|Elementary school kids 6-12 years
|Consistent limits for quality programming and digital activities
|Teens 13-18 years
|Continued reasonable limits focusing on balance with sleep, exercise, academics and social connection
Promoting Healthy Use
- Prioritize creative play, social interaction, reading and hobbies
- Avoid screens for 1 hour before bedtime
- Keep devices out of bedrooms after bedtime
- Set a no-screen example yourself when with your kids
- Learn about apps and set privacy controls before allowing use
- Monitor messaging and social media access based on maturity level
Proactive education about protecting personal information, avoiding predators, detecting misinformation and reporting concerns sets kids up for safer online use.
Budget-Friendly Activity Ideas
Raising kids is expensive enough without spending a fortune on constant entertainment and supplies. Luckily, simple activities allow cherished bonding time without breaking the bank.
Fun at Home
- Read books together
- Bake cookies or prepare other easy recipes
- Play board games, cards, charades or Twister
- Build blanket and pillow forts for play or movie nights
- Display kids’ artwork on the fridge or a gallery wall
- Have regular family game nights
- Do arts and crafts like painting, play dough sculptures or beading
- Put on music and have dance parties
Local Outdoor Adventures
- Go on nature scavenger hunts
- Explore parks, beaches, hiking trails
- Pack a picnic lunch
- Bike or skate ride
- Play games like hopscotch, jump rope, frisbee
- Have regular backyard campouts in tents
Many fun kid-friendly places offer free or cheap admission days/hours including:
- Botanical gardens
- Mini golf courses
- Local sporting events
- Library story times and activity days
Seek out coupons, memberships and family packages to lower these costs when possible.
Top Toy Recommendations By Age
While kids need supervision and not every toy is right for each family, here are top-rated favorites that encourage learning through play at a range of ages and development levels.
Baby + Toddler Toys (0-2 years)
Sensory toys for grasping, chewing and making sounds spark mental stimulation and motor skills.
|Key Skills Developed
|Rattles + Teethers
|Grasping, chewing, sound association
|Problem solving, motor skills
|Visual tracking, language
|Balls + push toys
|Sitting, standing, walking
Preschooler Toys (3-5 years)
Toys for pretend play, following directions and mastering physical feats build linguistic, social and coordination abilities.
|Key Skills Developed
|Dress up clothes + props
|Role play, language, empathy
|Magnetic building tiles
|Hand-eye coordination, STEM concepts
|Simple puzzles + shape sorters
|Problem solving, fine motor, shape recognition
|Pedal ride on toys
School-Age Toys (6-12 years)
Games and building sets with more complexity foster critical thinking, focus, specific interests and friend interactions.
|Key Skills Developed
|Creativity, fine motor skills
|Building block sets
|Spatial reasoning, math, engineering
|Strategy, social skills, math
|Athleticism, coordination, fitness
Check labels verifying toys meet current safety standards for materials and manufacturing. Supervise use of small or risky pieces based on your child’s maturity level.
Essential Gear + Supply Checklist By Age
While kids need plenty of nurturing over stuff, certain items provide basic care, safety and comfort at each stage. Review this checklist for the key essentials to have on hand.
Baby Gear Must-Haves (0-2 years)
- Crib + waterproof mattress
- Car seat + stroller frame
- Baby carrier or wrap
- High chair with 5 point harness + footrest
- Bouncer seat
- Baby monitor if separate rooms
- Bathtub with infant support
- Changing area with safety straps
- Baby gate(s) for stairs
Toddler Supply Favorites (2-5 years)
- Convertible car seat (rear + forward facing)
- Sport stroller with safety wrist strap
- Training potty + potties for on-the-go
- Utensils, plates, cups for independent feeding
- Clever food catchers and floor mats
- Step stools for bathroom + kitchen
- Baby gate(s) for stairs and hazards
- Night light + toddler clock
School-age kids benefit from items supporting independence with self-care, play and home safety. These may include:
- Alarm clock
- Reusable water bottle
- Rain boots + weather-appropriate outerwear
- Helmets for biking + other sports
- Desk + chair
- Responsibility checklist or chore chart
- Night light
Double check all secondhand gear for safety, expiration, and recalls before using. Shop sales and buy bigger sizes in advance when possible. Consider passing infant items along to friends and family with younger children.
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Top Parenting FAQs
Check out answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about parenting below.
How can I get baby to sleep longer stretches at night?
Consistent bedtime routines, adequate daytime nutrition and appropriate wake windows by age help establish healthy sleep cycles. Sleep training may also assist some babies 6+ months old without medical or feeding issues after discussing options with your pediatrician.
What discipline methods work best?
Positive reinforcement helps kids associate good behavior with rewards like praise or sticker charts. Non-physical consequences like brief privilege loss or time outs avoid damage from physical punishment. Staying calm, being consistent, understanding root causes of behavior and setting reasonable limits are key.
How do I get picky toddlers to eat healthier foods?
Offer a variety of healthy options, model enjoying them yourself, try repeatedly even after initial rejection, involve kids in meal prep, cut produce artistically into fun shapes, offer dips, praise all attempts and don’t force eating.
Is screen time always bad for young kids?
Quality programming in moderation helps learning for over 2 year olds. No screen use is best under 18 months other than occasional video chatting. Limiting digital media is crucial to allow more time for hands-on play and interaction which build key developmental skills.
How can I better handle temper tantrums?
Stay calm and acknowledge feelings. Set limits on unacceptable behavior firmly yet gently without giving in. Offer alternate options to satisfy needs like snacks or breaks when reasonable. Distracting with toys or leaving stressful situations often help. Sometimes simply empathizing while the storm passes works wonders.