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About James Dunsford

Here are my most recent posts

Why you don’t need a new digital camera or camcorder

Everybody knows those dads who are obsessed with the latest gadgets. Their new camcorders and digital cameras have all the bells and whistles, whether or not they're actually useful (is night vision ever really necessary?). Their commitment to having the latest upgrade might make you feel a little self-conscious about your seemingly bulky video camera – but don't let it.

While you may feel pressured to have the latest in terms of technology, the truth is that the fanciest gadgets in the world are useless if you're too wrapped up in the buttons, touch-screens and water-proof lenses to enjoy the occasion you're aiming to commemorate. Take pride in the fact that you're more immersed in the moment than your latest toy when spending time with your kids. And unless you're friends with Annie Leibovitz, nobody is going to be able to tell the difference between the photos taken with your basic digital camera over the photographs snapped by your neighbor's far-more expensive model.

However, that's not to say you should take your documentation duties lightly. Snapping photos and taking video is as much a part of fatherhood as changing diapers and playing catch. Your kid's first steps all the way up to when she walks across the stage for graduation should be captured. And after all, it's moments are captured, not what they are captured on, that really matter. 

You may be surprised by what’s keeping baby up at night

Experts have long suspected there's a connection between strong marriages and well-adjusted children, but a new study suggests that parents who regularly fight may be causing sleep problems for their infants, which can have negative developmental effects further down the road.

The research was conducted by Anne Mannering, and she found that couples who were contemplating divorce or showed other signs of instability, their young children may have trouble falling, and staying asleep. The study, which was published in the journal Child Development, focused on 350 families starting when their children were nine months old.

"The quality of the parents' relationship can influence the quality of the parent-child relationship and vice versa," Mannering told MyHealthNewsDaily. "In addition, other research suggests that stress may negatively impact sleep, and we know that infancy is an important period for the development of sleep patterns."

Although further studies are needed to determine the root causes of sleep problems in babies, the research does highlight the importance of rest for young children. According to to the Centers for Disease Control, children between 3 and 11 months old need 14 to 15 hours of sleep, while children between 1 and 3 years old need 12 to 14 hours.

Kids may be biggest danger to themselves in car seat

Results of a new study may have parents thinking twice when they strap their young children into car seats. Researchers have found that children as young as 12 months may be able to find their way out of their harness, making them more prone to serious injury.

The study, which was conducted by scientists at Yale's School of Medicine, sheds light on some interesting tidbits, including that almost all children under the age of 3 are capable of wiggling free of restraints. Additionally, it found that boys were more likely than girls to escape, Reuters reports.

"Young children might acquire the motor skills to unbuckle from restraints before developing the cognitive ability to understand the necessity of automotive restraints," co-author of the study Dr. Lilia Reyes said.

Making sure that your child stays in his seat can be difficult, especially while you're driving. Make a few adjustments to ensure that your little one stays in place. Keeping toys in the car is a good start, as your son or daughter will likely be preoccupied with the item, rather than finagling a way out of the restraint. Additionally, provide an incentive for him to stay buckled, such as a stop at his favorite playground on the way home.  

Dealing with the terrible twos

Most dads heard about it, but nothing can prepare you for the real thing – the so-called terrible twos. It's that time when your child is starting to resemble and act like a functioning human being, who has likes and dislikes, and he's just beginning to test your limits. It can be one of the most difficult parts of fatherhood but if you hold your ground and follow a few tried-and-true steps you'll be able to make it through.

1. Maintain your composure. It might be hard to stay calm while your son or daughter is throwing a tantrum, but you can't reasonably expect him to quiet down if you're freaking out yourself. Maintain eye contact, take a few seconds to breathe and address the situation.

2. Teach lessons with your punishments. Taking something away when your son or daughter misbehaves – dessert, a new toy or a favorite TV show – is a start, but if you don't teach your child a life lesson through your chosen punishment, the punitive actions won't have a long-term benefit. By teaching your child what he did wrong rather than simply just scolding them, you'll limit the chances of them being disobedient further down the road. If he throws a tantrum over eating his broccoli, take away sugar snacks for a day to stress the importance of balanced nutrition, for example.

3. Child-proof your house. Along with misbehavior, the terrible twos brings curiosity. Chances are your son or daughter is going to be picking up everything, so if you want to make sure that your limited edition Spider-Man comic book says in near-mint condition, find a safe spot for it to reside over the next few years. 

Dads: Be weary of overheating this summer

From sunburn to bee stings, the summer presents a number of well-known health risks to children. However, one danger that many parents may overlook is the potential for kids to overheat if they're left in the backseat of the car. Whether due to absent-mindedness or simple oversight, Parenting magazine reports that 450 children have died as a result of hyeprthermia since 1998.

While one might label moms and dads who leave their children in the backseat as negligent, nothing could be further from the truth. Experts say that such a momentary lapse in judgment can happen to anybody.

"Given the right scenario, I would say this can happen to anyone," memory specialist David Diamond told the publication. "It has nothing to do with how much parents love their kids. It is, to me, a tragic way of learning how the brain works."

There are a number of steps you can take to help avoid such a tragic situation. According to the magazine, one of the most effective ways to prevent the occurrence is to leave a specific reminder. For instance, placing a stuffed animal in the car seat when not in use and then moving it to the passenger seat will remove any chance of forgetting. Additionally, try to make a habit out of opening the back door every time you park – just in case.