Go West Sponsors


Moms Supporting Moms


Cutest Kids in the World


Go West Young Mom wants to feature the Cutest Kid in Your World.  Click HERE for details.

Entries in ask the expert (14)


Ask the Expert: Taking Better Photos With Your iPhone

Naperville-based photographer Karthika Gupta shares with us why she loves her iPhone and some tips for how you can take better pictures with your own. 

I remember being so excited about buying my first cell phone. It was soon after I started working at my first job about 15 years ago. I was traveling for work and on one trip, landed at New York way past midnight due to flight delays. I had no way to get ahold of my husband to tell him I was OK. Needless to say, the moment I got back to Chicago, we went and bought a cell phone. It was beautiful, black and HUGE. But it represented freedom!

Of course phones today are much more than devices you use for calls. They provide entertainment and shopping assistance. They can help you keep track of your finances, stay connected with social media and find a new address, too. But mostly importantly, phones have cameras! This recent image from a wedding I photographed says it all: Can you see the image within the image within the image?

Being a professional photographer, I love my DSLR and my professional lens that I use for my work. But for day-to-day life, I don’t want to lug 20 pounds of equipment around everywhere I go. Besides, sometimes I just don’t want the attention. And if your kids are anything like mine, the moment they see the camera, its “silly face” mode.

Click to read more ...


Ask the Expert: Getting Started Early With Good Oral Hygiene

When my preschooler got her first cavity, I was dismayed. But I knew I was to blame -- she is a stubborn kid, and often I let her brush her own teeth, and we certainly never flossed. I just didn't realize the implications. So I asked our dentist Dr. Melissa Jentz-Cote of Geneva Family Dental (also a Go West sponsor) to write a column about why it's so important to take care of your kid's teeth as soon as they appear. - Tara

Another school year is starting and dental exams are mandatory for kindergarten, second, and sixth graders. 

Photo by JMaz Photo on Flickr.It is such an exciting time for both parents and children starting kindergarten, but unfortunately we find many cavities at what is sometimes a child’s first dental exam ever.  In some fearful children this can lead to dental phobias that can carry into adulthood. 

Everyone wants the child to have a healthy dental check up at every dental visit. This is definitely possible, but the hard work must start at home.  Many parents do not take oral hygiene with their young children seriously. 

Starting with the first tooth that erupts into the mouth, parents should be diligently brushing their babies’ teeth twice a day. In some children this can be as early as three months old! 

Starting early gets the child used to brushing and can turn into good habits as an older child and into an adult. Many parents do not know that formula and breast milk contain sugars that promote tooth decay. That is why a baby should never be put to bed with a bottle. This milk sits on the teeth and causes cavities at a very young age. 

Sometimes these teeth become so decayed that the baby teeth are not able to be saved, and the child must undergo sedation to have multiple tooth extractions.

We hear all the time from parents, “Who cares? They are only baby teeth.”  But there are many reasons why the baby teeth are important. 

Click to read more ...


Ask the Expert: A Pediatric Nurse on the Importance of Booking School Physicals

Our latest in the "Ask the Expert" series comes from registered nurse Lora Cartmell.

I used to be a school nurse, and August was a crazy time for us in the health offices of elementary, middle and high schools. "Did you get your school physical?" "Did you get your sports physical?" -- those were the questions I asked every parent, guardian, grandparent and yes, sometimes even the family dog. 

Photo by chickenlump on Flickr."How many months is a physical good for?” "Do they need a physical every year?" "What shots do they need?" "Can you take them home and raise them for me?" were the many questions that came back to me.

A great tool for you to keep up and be "in the know" for the current school year buzz on school and sports physicals is to hop on your local school district website and check the Health Office page or the Nurse page. Believe me, they would MUCH rather you look on the website than for you to be the lucky 100th caller to their office to ask the same thing as the previous 99. (You could get a very grumpy school nurse; not that I was EVER one.) If you can believe it, most all school districts even have the forms online, so you can print it out and get it filled out before your visit to the doctor (Hint, hint.)

Because my kids went through the Geneva school district, I thought I'd share with you what the wonderful school nurses there put together so you can get an idea of what to look for. 

Click to read more ...


Ask the Expert: How to Enhance Your Child's Language Development

I'm a speech-language pathologist (SLP). That's my official title anyway. People often call me "speech therapist" or "speech teacher." I'm not a huge fan of the official or unofficial terms to be honest. First of all, saying speech-language pathologist is such a mouthful that people usually give me a deer-in-headlights look after I've finally finished saying the whole thing. I'd rather be called a "communication specialist." I mean, "Pathologist?" Really??!! Sounds like I'm trying to make the deceased speak. 

Photo from iStockphoto.The reason I'm bringing this up is because parents often ask me about their child's "speech," meaning that they believe that speech solely consists of how sounds and words are pronounced. But speech is a lot more than that. It's not just about articulation. It's about total communication, i.e. language structure, vocabulary, pragmatics, intonation, and more. In fact, by improving your child's overall communication skills, articulation may be improved indirectly since the child is actually verbalizing more often and thus, able to practice different articulation patterns more often. 

So, when parents ask me what kinds of products (or, nowadays, apps) can improve their child's "speech," I tend to shudder. Before I had children, I made tons of flashcards, games, etc. for parents to use at home. Now that I have two wonderful children, the fact that we're all just trying to make it through the day with as few tantrums, melt-downs, and messes as possible has hit me square in the face. I have found that parents tend to want "stuff" in order to prove they are doing something. I fall into this trap all of the time.  “Oh,” I think, “my boy will love to color if I just buy him these really cool crayons.” (Yeah, he could care less.)  There is nothing wrong with trying some games at home, but children tend to be put off by the fact that Mom or Dad is now trying to push them into doing something that is really tough for them. Both parties may get frustrated or the presentation of material could be inauthentic. 

Click to read more ...


Ask the Expert: What to Expect at an Elementary Parent-Teacher Conference

My sister Bridget is not only an awesome sister, she's a wonderful teacher. For those readers who will be attending their first parent-teacher conference this month, I asked Bridget to type up some advice. Because I'm her older sister, she had to do what I asked. -- Tara

Parent-Teacher Conferences can be scary for parents and teachers. As a first grade teacher for five years, and a kindergarten teacher for five years before that, I can honestly say that I am nervous every year meeting with my students’ parents. What I never took into consideration before I had my own children was that the parent on the other side of the table was just as nervous as I was! 

Photo by istockphoto.Before conferences, think if you have any specific concerns that need to be addressed. Some subjects that you might want to bring up are:  Homework, social skills and what you can do at home to support the learning that is taking place at school. The teacher will most likely appreciate your concern and the fact that you care! 

Keep in mind during the conference that school isn’t the same as it was when we went to elementary school.  Personally, I went to half-day kindergarten with a snack and rest time. Now, most children in my area go to a full day of kindergarten with no rest time. They leave kindergarten reading books. First grade is what second grade used to be and so on. The curriculum at most schools is quite aggressive and fast paced. Keep this in mind or you will get overwhelmed! 

Subjects that I address at conferences are whether or not a student is at, below, or above grade level in reading and math; behavior; speech or language concerns; and whether or not they are getting along with other classmates.

Click to read more ...