Your Toddler

Parents: Read to Your Young Children!

2:00 to read

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that pediatric providers advise parents of young children to read aloud and talk about pictures and words in age-appropriate books to their kids.  The AAP says that these activities can help strengthen a child’s language skills and literacy while promoting parent-child relationships.

Pediatricians have long encouraged reading to children, but the guidelines are the first official policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics telling doctors to talk to parents about daily reading to their children, from the first year of life until kindergarten.

Reading with young children “stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime," the AAP guidelines said.

Studies have shown a wide economic divide when it comes to parents reading to their children. Only one in three children living in poverty have parents that read to them consistently.  Children who aren’t read to often have “a significant learning disadvantage” by the time they get to school age, the AAP added.

Even wealthier families do not always make reading a ritual, with 60 percent of those with incomes 400 percent of the poverty threshold saying they read to their children from birth to age five, according to a 2011-2012 survey.

Some pediatricians worry that technology – from television to smartphones- may be taking the place of reading to little ones.

The AAP has previously said babies under age two should be as screen-free as possible, and that the best kind of learning takes place through unstructured, interactive play with humans and toys.

Even babies can benefit from being read stories, said the AAP.  “We can stimulate greater brain development in these months and years," said Peter Riche, a fellow of the AAP and Chief of Pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York.

"I do see earlier word recognition, earlier phrases and sentence formation, and singing—I always recognize that in those who are exposed to daily reading."

Many families do not have the money for books so the AAP said it "supports federal and state funding for children's books to be provided at pediatric health supervision visits for children at high risk."

Another important benefit of parents reading to their young children is the blooming of a child’s self-confidence and independence.

Child development experts say that when parents read to their children not only do kids feel more secure but words and pictures also ignite creativity and imagination; two valuable components of a well-rounded life experience.

Sources: Kerry Sheridan,

Your Toddler

Sleep Loss & ADHD

2.00 to read

Preschoolers who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be hyperactive and inattentive in kindergarten, exhibiting ADHD-like symptoms.As an adult, you already know how difficult it is to focus on even the simplest task when you haven’t had enough sleep. The same holds true for young adults, children and even kindergartners. According to a new study, preschoolers who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be hyperactive and inattentive in kindergarten, exhibiting ADHD-like symptoms.

The study involved about 6,860 children with analyses controlled for gender, ethnicity and family income. "Children who were reported to sleep less in preschool were rated by their parents as more hyperactive and less attentive compared to their peers at kindergarten," said lead author Erika Gaylor, PhD, senior researcher for SRI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute in Menlo Park, Calif. "These findings suggest that some children who are not getting adequate sleep may be at risk for developing behavioral problems manifested by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and problems sitting still and paying attention." According to the authors, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not generally diagnosed until the school-age years, but the onset of developmentally inappropriate inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity is often much younger. Sleep problems, particularly difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, are frequently reported in children and adolescents with ADHD. Total nighttime sleep duration was calculated using parent-reported bedtimes and wake times, which were obtained via interview at both time points. Parents also rated their children's behavior on brief measures of attention/task persistence and hyperactivity/impulsivity. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is especially important for children because it directly impacts mental and physical development. Preschoolers typically need 11-13 hours of sleep each night and most do not nap after five years of age. As with toddlers, difficulty falling asleep and waking up during the night are common. Some tips to help preschoolers sleep better are: - Maintain a regular and consistent sleep schedule. - Have a relaxing bedtime routine that ends in the room where the child sleeps. - Your child should sleep in the same sleeping environment every night, preferably in a room that is cool, quiet and dark – and without a TV. Since the preschool age group is developing active imaginations, they commonly experience nighttime fears and nightmares. They also may sleepwalk, and experience sleep terrors. A little extra attention from a comforting parent or caregiver can help ease some these fears. Sleeping is the primary activity of the brain during early development. An important component to a good night’s sleep is Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) or "quiet" sleep. During the deep states of NREM sleep, blood supply to the muscles is increased, energy is restored, tissue growth and repair occur, and important hormones are released for growth and development. Once again, another study points out how important sleep is to being able to function and think well – no matter what your age! The study’s findings were presented at the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC in Minneapolis.

Your Toddler

Fortified Juice Boost Kids’ Omega-3 Levels

Parents looking for alternatives to fish for boosting healthy omega-3 fats in children might want to use fortified juice. A new study found that orange juice fortified with the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was able to raise blood levels of DHA in 31 four- to 12-year olds who drank the juice for six weeks.

The findings indicate that souped-up juice is one effective way to deliver the fatty acid, the researchers report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. What's still unclear, they say, is whether there are health benefits to doing so. DHA is one of the essential fatty acids, meaning the human body does not synthesize it and it must be consumed through food. DHA is abundant in the brain and retina, and is believed to play an important role in early brain and eye development. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids. But as many parents know, with the exception of breaded fish sticks, which are not made from omega-3-rich fatty fish, children tend to shy away from eating fish. The lead researcher of the study, Keli M. Hawthorne from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston says it is important to find kid-friendly alternatives. The study was funded by the Coca-Cola Company, which provided DHA-enriched orange juice for the study. "Fortifying juice with DHA is a realistic approach to helping children increase the amount of DHA in their diet," said Hawthorne. Hawthorne said parents who are concerned that their children are not getting enough DHA could try juice or other foods enriched with fatty acid. "Although we are still not certain what the direct health benefits are in children," she said, "it is clear that most children do not meet the recommended guidelines for fish intake that would provide DHA."

Your Toddler

Safety 1st Recalls Décor Wood Highchairs Due to Falls


Dorel Juvenile Group, of Columbus, Ind., is recalling about 35,000 Safety 1st Wood Décor highchairs because a child can remove the highchair’s tray, posing a fall hazard.

Safety 1st has received 68 reports of children removing the trays and 11 reports of injuries such as lacerations, chipped teeth and bruises.

The highchairs were sold at Babies R US and Toys R Us retail stores nationwide and online at,, and and other online retailers from May 2013 through May 2015 for about $120.

This recall includes Safety 1st Wood Décor highchairs in three models: HC144BZF (Casablanca), HC229CZF (Gentle Lace) and HC229CYG (Black Lace). The model numbers are printed under the highchair seat. These A-frame black wood highchairs have a removable fabric, black and white print seat pad with a blue or pink border on the top and bottom of the seat pad. The highchairs have a white plastic, detachable tray with a cone-shaped center divider that fits between a child’s legs. “Safety 1st” is printed on the front center of the tray.

Consumers should immediately stop using these recalled highchairs and contact the firm to receive instructions on receiving a new tray with labels.   

Consumers can contact Safety 1st toll-free at (877) 717-7823 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, email at or online at and click on “Safety Notices” at the top of the page for more information.



Your Toddler

Got Dip? Pass the Veggies!

2.00 to read

Time and time again headlines declare that vegetables are absolutely necessary to a healthy lifestyle. As parents, we get it. But what if your little one doesn’t like broccoli, green beans, squash, cucumbers, carrots, beets -ok, I’ll pass on that one too- corn, cauliflower, spinach or tomatoes? What if every time you attempt to smuggle a vegetable into your child’s meal world war three breaks out?

Well...there may be hope. Try a little dip (and tenderness). According to a small but optimistic study, kids that don’t normally like veggies messing up their perfectly good meal, will reevaluate that outlook and give vegetables a taste if they are presented with a bit of flavored dip.

The fact that the dip used during the study was low in fat, calories and sodium didn’t seem to matter.

The study was conducted at the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Pennsylvania State University.

Thirty-four preschoolers were asked to do a taste test of vegetables with and without the low-fat dip.

Not surprisingly, the kids liked the veggies better when they were served with dip. When the dip was flavored, kids liked the vegetables even more compared to plain dip or no dip at all.

What I find amazing is that thirty one percent of the little tykes liked the vegetables as is – nothing added. When the researchers added the dip though, a whopping sixty-four percent were thumbs up on the vegetables. There were of course, those children who wouldn’t budge even while others were smiling, dipping and exclaiming how tasty cauliflower can actually be.  Six percent said no thanks to the dip and the vegetables while eighteen percent said absolutely no to the vegetables with no dip.

To see just how far kids were willing to go with the veggie and dip combo researchers did another study. This time they offered 27 preschoolers’ celery or squash – both notorious for being leaders in a preschooler’s yuck category. The kids basically picked at the unadorned squash or chopped celery. I suspect, knowing preschoolers, they spit it out - but there's nothing in the study about that. 

When the flavored dip was added to the mix, the little ones ate a little more – about a quarter cup of the chopped celery and about 15 grams of squash. Once again, the dip won although it didn't make a huge difference. 

Some people might say that if you were able to get preschoolers to eat chopped celery or squash at all, the test was a huge success.

Vegetables have a tough time competing with french-fries and fast foods particularly if they are rarely served. Sometimes you just have to get creative.  

"It is a good idea to try to pair less preferred foods, like vegetables, particularly those that your child doesn't like so much, with something to give it a little more flavor," said Marlene Schwartz, of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, who was not involved in the study.

Experts note that the amount of the vegetables a preschooler eats is not as important, at this stage, as whether or not they are willing to try new foods and flavors and be open to liking them.

"If you can get preschoolers to see themselves as people who try a bunch of different vegetables and try them in different ways and like vegetables, then you can really reinforce that way of seeing themselves and that's going to help you in the long run," she said.

On the other hand, Schwartz said, if a child comes to identify himself as someone who doesn't like vegetables, "then you're really fighting an uphill battle."

Amen to that.

There are a couple of other veggie introduction tricks that have been somewhat successful. Pizza is usually a hit with kids (and adults) so many parents will add vegetables as a topping. You have a lot more control over the sodium and fat content and you can get your child involved by asking them which veggies they would like to put on the pizza. Then let them place the vegetables on the top of the pizza.

Letting children be participants in growing vegetable gardens seems to also get them excited about picking and eating what they have grown.

Some parents put vegetables in a blender and then add the smooth concoction to assorted foods they know their kids like, such as the infamous mac and cheese.  Personally, I like vegetables to look like vegetables and for children to know that they are eating vegetables. It just seems more honest.

I like dip. So, perhaps I’ll give it a try and see if my little one will keep the broccoli in his mouth this time. 

Source: Kerry Grens,

Your Toddler

Brain Boosting Activities

The No. 1 brain booster for preschoolers is one-on-one time with parents. Even though this is a time to learn independence, the parent-child attachment is still there at this age.Could your child become the next Einstein of Physics, or Elinor Ostrom, another Nobel Laureate in economics?  As parents, we’d all like to think so.  One way to help your child develop his or her natural creativity is by engaging them in brain boosting activities.

Up until age 2, babies’ and toddler’s brains are growing by leaps and bounds every day. They develop language and motor skills faster than they ever will.  But between 3 to 5 years, that growth slows. Instead, the brain is making countless connections within its different regions. Preschoolers focus more on absorbing the world around them. Their minds are developing problem-solving skills and using language to negotiate. They’re also learning how to coordinate their bodies to do things like aim and kick a ball. “Kids should be out there exploring and getting ready for their next important job: going to school,” says developmental pediatrician Michele Macias, MD, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and chairwoman of the AAP's section on developmental and behavioral pediatrics. The No. 1 brain booster for preschoolers is one-on-one time with parents. Even though this is a time to learn independence, the parent-child attachment is still there at this age. Some activities that are not only fun but challenging to a child’s brain are: Reading together. Books that tell a story and ones that teach counting, ABC’s, sorting and matching, and similar core concepts are perfect for developing language, vocabulary and learning skills. Pretend Play Preschool-aged children naturally have great imaginations. Though they often start pretend play at younger ages, their imagination life really starts to take hold from age 3-5. Besides being fun, imaginative play lets kids experiment with role-playing. “Much like reading, make-believe lets kids practice things they might not actually be able to experience in real life,” says child psychologist, Richard Gallagher, at New York University’s Child Study Center. Games and Puzzles From Candy Land to “Duck, Duck, Goose”, games with rules help improve social intelligence. Kids practice patience in taking turns, and learn to accept the frustration of not winning. Remembering rules, also gives those memory muscles a workout. Physical games help sharpen the brain’s motor coordination. Learn another language Research shows that younger kids can pick up multiple languages much faster than when they get older. Learning a second tongue early on also gives a double punch of stimulation to the areas of the brain responsible for storing, sequencing, and saying words, Gallagher says. A second language also helps with developing verbal and spatial abilities, and promotes better vocabulary and reading skills. An added perk: Kids get a greater sense of cultural diversity. Whatever activities you choose, make sure it’s fun for your child. Go easy on the pressure. And above all, just let your kid enjoy the sheer pleasure of being a kid.

Your Toddler

Car Seats Save Young Lives

Putting your infant or young child in an age-appropriate car safety seat significantly reduces the odds that they will die if they are in a motor vehicle accident a new study says. The study, published in the February 2009 issue of American Journal of Public Health, was done by research epidemiologists at the Traffic Safety Center in the department of environmental sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. The study shows that the odds of a your-baby dying in a car crash dropped by three-quarters if they were in a safety restraint seat. The mortality risk reduction for older children was at least 60 percent if placed in a safety seat.

"The findings from this study indicate that child restraints greatly reduce the risk of death among children three years and younger involved in severe traffic collisions," wrote the study authors. "The higher effectiveness of safety seats among infants is likely due to their overall fragility," added the authors. Car accidents are the leading cause of unintentional injury and death for children older than one year. More than 500 children younger than three died as a result of motor vehicle collisions in 2005, according to statistics quoted in the study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Your Toddler

Potty Training Questions Continue

1.30 to read

Can Potty Training Too Early Cause Problems Later?

For some parents, there’s an odd sense of pride when they can boast of potty training their child before he or she turns 2. While their pre-toddler might get the hang of going to the potty early, they are more likely to have daytime wetting problems later, according to a new study.

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina found that children who start toilet training before age 2 have a three times higher risk of daytime wetting or urinary urgency.

"Parents who train their children early to meet preschool deadlines, to save landfills from diapers or because they think toddlers are easier to train should know there can be serious repercussions," says lead author Steve Hodges, M.D., an associate professor of pediatric urology at Wake Forest Baptist.

The study involved 112 children ages 3 to 10. About half were seen in the urology department for daytime wetting or urinary urgency/frequency. Participants were compared to a group seen in a general pediatric clinic and pediatric emergency room that had no history of dysfunctional voiding.

A questionnaire was used to gather information on the age toilet training was initiated and the presence of daytime voiding dysfunction. Patients were grouped into three categories of potty training: early (before age 2), normal (between 2 and 3) and late (after age 3) training. There were 38 early, 64 normal and 10 late trainers.

Sixty percent of the early trainers had daytime wetting. They had a 3.37 times increased risk of daytime wetness as compared to the normal group.

Why would early potty training cause daytime wetting? The researchers believe early trainers are more prone to subsequent voiding dysfunction because they are more apt to "hold" their stool or urine. "When children hold stool, it backs up in the rectum," Hodges explained. "The enlarged rectum presses against the bladder, reducing its capacity and causing the nerves feeding the bladder to go haywire."

Constipation seemed to be a common factor with three times more complaints from early trainers than normal trainers. "Almost all of the children who had wetting also had constipation," Hodges noted.

Younger children also are more apt to delay peeing, behavior that can lead to bladder contractions and reduced bladder capacity. "Research has demonstrated that bladder growth continues in children up to the point of toilet training," said Hodges. "Uninhibited voiding in diapers is likely beneficial to bladder development. In my practice, it's often the children who trained earliest and most easily who end up with the most severe voiding problems."

The study also found that among the 10 children who trained after age 3, seven had daytime wetting problems, and these same seven also were constipated. The three late trainers who did not have wetting problems were not constipated.

"This does not mean late potty training causes dysfunctional voiding," Hodges explained. "It means that when kids train late, it's very likely because they are already constipated, which makes toilet training extremely difficult. Parents whose 3- or 4-year-olds have trouble training are often blamed for 'waiting too long,' but our data suggest waiting isn't the problem — instead it's likely constipation."

Many experts agree that letting the child show signs of readiness for toilet training is a better indicator of when to start training, instead of going by age.

"There is nothing magic about the age of two," said Hodges. "If parents opt to train early or late and are meticulous about making sure children void on a regular schedule and monitor them for signs of constipation, I suspect the incidence of voiding dysfunction would decrease."

Before children can use the toilet successfully on their own, they must be able to control their bladder and bowel muscles. This typically begins between 22 and 30 months of age.

Some signs of this control are:

·      Having bowel movements around the same time each day

·      Not having bowel movements at night

·      Having a dry diaper after a nap or for at least 2 hours at a time.

Children must also be able to climb, talk, remove clothing, and have mastered other basic motor skills before they can use the toilet by themselves.

The report was presented online in Research and Reports in Urology.





Can potty training too early cause problems later in your child’s life? Read what a new study says in Hot Topics. 

Your Toddler

Twitter Question from @MandieD79

Mandie asked:  Can prolonged use of antibiotics cause IBS in toddlers and make the lose their appetite?

Dr. Sue says prolonged antibiotic use may cause a change in “normal” GI tract (gut) bacteria.  That change may then cause some GI distress, sometimes change in stools, nausea and decreased appetite.  Not really IBS.  Wonder why they are on prolonged course of antibiotics?  Have you tried using a probiotic like Florastor to help get back normal GI flora?  It's available for kids. Thanks for the tweet!


Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.



Some kids are playing sports before they are potty trained? Yes! This is crazy!