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Your Toddler

Naps Help Preschoolers With Language Skills

2:00

Naptime for a toddler or preschooler is a welcomed respite for many parents and caretakers, but it may also provide an important benefit when it comes to a child’s ability to understand words and their meanings, according to a new study.

Researchers assessed 39 youngsters who were all 3 years old and found those who napped after learning new verbs had a better understanding of the words 24 hours later.

"There's a lot of evidence that different phases of sleep contribute to memory consolidation, and one of the really important phases is slow-wave sleep, which is one of the deepest forms of sleep," said study co-author Rebecca Gomez. She is principal investigator of the University of Arizona's Child Cognition Lab.

"What's really important about this phase is that essentially what the brain is doing is replaying memories during sleep, so those brain rhythms that occur during slow-wave sleep ... are actually reactivating those patterns -- those memories -- and replaying them and strengthening them," Gomez said in a university news release.

What if your child doesn’t have the opportunity to catch a few winks during the day? Researchers noted that parents shouldn’t worry about it. The most important thing is that children get the proper amount of overall sleep. Preschoolers should get 10 to 12 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.

"We know that when children don't get enough sleep it can have long-term consequences," including poor performance on mental skill tests, Gomez said.

If you know that your child isn’t getting enough sleep at night, then naps become more significant.

"It's important to create opportunities for children to nap -- to have a regular time in their schedule that they could do that," Gomez said.

In the study, the investigators chose to test the children on how well they learned and understood verbs rather than nouns because action words are typically more difficult to grasp than names, such as "Mommy" or "doggie," which are often the first words kids learn.

In general, naps provide a variety of benefits for toddlers and preschoolers. They help children from becoming overtired, which not only takes a toll on their moods but may also make it harder for them to fall asleep at night.

Crucial physical and mental development is going on during this growth stage and naps help children with much-needed down time for rejuvenation.

For toddlers and preschoolers, sticking to a naptime schedule can be challenging. Though many do still love their nap, others don't want to miss out on a minute of the action and will fight sleep even as their eyes are closing. In this case, don't let naptime become a battle — you can't force your child to sleep, but you can insist on some quiet time. Let your child read books or play quietly in his or her room. Parents are often surprised by how quickly quiet time can lead to sleep time — but even if it doesn't, at least your child is getting some much-needed rest. If your child has given up daytime naps, consider adjusting to an earlier bedtime.

The study findings were published in the journal, Child Development.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/child-development-news-124/naps-may-sharpen-a-preschooler-s-language-skills-719550.html

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/naps.html#

Your Toddler

Making Time Outs Work for You and Your Child

2:00

It’s not going out on a limb to say that at eventually, mom or dad will resort to the “time out” rule when their little one is behaving badly. And that’s a good thing. 

Time-outs can be very effective in helping children learn how to change their behavior as long as they are not overused and handled correctly.

What is a time-out? Basically, a time-out is when a child is separated from others for behavior that is unacceptable such as throwing a full-out tantrum, continuingly refusing to obey a command, or biting, hitting or kicking someone. 

When used correctly, a time out can teach a child how to modify his or her behavior in a more acceptable way. However, problems can arise when parents don’t know how or when to use time outs effectively.

Time outs should be used as positive and consistent discipline, not as a form of punishment. Time outs separate a child from positive feedback when they are intentionally acting up. It gives them the space and time to settle down and associate the behavior with the consequence.

A time out should consist of a designated place in the home where the child is safe and can be seen. The place should be quiet and away from the activity that caused or included the behavior. Many parents have a stool, chair or step on standby for time outs. The area needs to be boring and not have “reward” objects such as TVs, toys, or computers present.

How long should time outs last? Many follow conventional wisdom that when a child demonstrates unacceptable behavior, he or she should be separated from the activity for a number of minutes equal to his or her age.

Time outs should be used to help a child calm down and think about the behavior that got them there.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says it's okay to give children as young as 1 a time-out – but it's best only as a last resort. Until he's a little older, your child may not have the self-control and reasoning skills to make a traditional time-out effective. Instead, think of a time-out as the "quiet time" your toddler needs to calm down and get his or her emotions under control. It’s also a time when parents can get their own emotions under control as well.

If you’re child is capable of understanding that certain behaviors are not going to be tolerated, and yet they are right in the middle of acting out one of those behaviors, that’s when a time out should be implemented.

You want your child to associate the behavior with the consequence. Calmly tell your child in no more than 10 words why they are in time out. As soon as he or she calms down, reward them with positive attention.

Children whine, cry and sulk – those are not reasons to put them in time out. Time outs are for intentional behavior such as biting or continuing to break rules.

What's helpful about a time-out is that it can defuse and redirect an escalating situation in an unemotional way. It lets you teach your child without setting a negative example, the way yelling or hitting does.

Parents tend to over explain a situation to a child, that’s why it’s important to keep the wording simple and direct. Over-talking the problem also tends to make the parent more agitated when the behavior doesn’t change. Being calm when putting your child in time out not only de-escalates the situation but also helps your child relax and think about their behavior. If you’re screaming and jerking your child to the time out area, they are more likely to be frightened and / or defiant than contemplative.

When the time-out is over, give your child a hug. A sign of affection demonstrates that he or she is still worthy of your love even though the behavior is unacceptable.

What if your child won’t stay in the time out zone? Toddlers are going to give you a challenge- that’s their nature. Power struggles can easily get out of hand. Until your toddler can appreciate the need to follow rules, limit the use of time-outs. Otherwise he or she won't understand why she's being corrected, and you may get frustrated and abandon the strategy prematurely.

You might actually consider “practicing” time outs with your child. Say your little one is revved up and on the edge of losing it- this might be a good time to grab a favorite book and sit down together. This is more like a “time-in” that associates positive attention to calming down before the behavior gets out of control.

When your child can follow simple directions and has a slightly longer attention span, they’re ready for a more traditional time-out. Between ages 2 and 3, you'll probably notice that he or she is better able to understand cause and effect.

But don't spring the tactic on them in a burst of frustration – a time-out works best if it's explained ahead of time. Use simple terms: "When you get too wild or act in a way that Mommy and Daddy don't think is a good idea, I will call, 'Time-out.' That means you will sit in this chair for a little while until you can calm yourself down."

Some parents find it useful to act this out or to use a doll or teddy bear to demonstrate taking a time-out.

Time outs are not miracle cures for unacceptable childhood behaviors. They are one tool parents can use to help educate their children about cause and effect. Parenting is a balancing act between positive reinforcement and consistent discipline.

When a child is very young, redirecting their attention to something more appropriate or fun may be the best approach. The key is to always keep your expectations realistic.

Sources: Paula Spencer, http://www.babycenter.com/0_time-outs-how-to-make-them-work-12-to-24-mo_12252.bc?page=1

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20150320/Time-outs-can-train-children-to-behave-better.aspx

Your Toddler

Anchor It!

1:45

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has launched “Anchor It”, a national public education campaign, to help make people aware of the dangers that free-standing furniture and TVs present, particularly to children.

The annual number of children injured or killed from furniture and TV tip-overs is astounding.

According to CPSC data, unstable and unsecured TVs and large pieces of furniture kill a child every two weeks, on average, in tip-over incidents that are easily preventable.  CPSC also reported that 38,000 Americans go to emergency rooms each year with injuries related to tip-overs of top-heavy furniture or televisions placed on furniture, instead of a TV stand.  Two-thirds of those injuries involved children younger than 5.  Additionally, between 2000 and 2013, 84 percent of the 430 deaths reported to CPSC involved children younger than 10.

A January 2015 CPSC report found that a television tipping over from an average size dresser falls with thousands of pounds of force. 

The impact of a falling TV is like being caught between two NFL linemen colliding at full-speed—10 times. 

“Every 24 minutes in the U.S. a child goes to the emergency room because of a tip-over incident involving furniture or a TV,” said CPSC Commissioners Marietta Robinson and Joseph Mohorovic. “We must take action now. CPSC’s new ‘Anchor It!’ campaign is a call to action for parents and caregivers to ‘get on top of it, before they do.’ If we can prevent one more death, it will be worth it.”

Cards and posters are being distributed parents and caregivers of toddlers at daycare centers and preschools. A list of safety steps parents and caregivers can take are printed on the handouts. They are:

·      Buy and install low-cost anchoring devices to prevent TVs, dressers, bookcases or other furniture from tipping.

·      Avoid leaving items, such as remote controls and toys, in places where kids might be tempted to climb up to reach for them.

·      Store heavier items on lower shelves or in lower drawers.

·      Place TVs on a sturdy, low base and push them as far back as possible, particularly if anchoring is not possible.

·      If purchasing a new TV, consider recycling older ones not currently used. If moving the older TV to another room, be sure it is anchored properly to the wall.

The “Anchor It” campaign’s website (www.Anchorit.gov) shows you how to anchor furniture and television sets properly, with easy to follow instructions. Keep your little one safe and Anchor It!

 

Your Toddler

Is Your Child a Biter?

2.00 to read

At some time or another your sweet child is going to bite or wallop someone, most likely another kid. And yes, it's embarrassing to have to pull your child off another or to apologize to grandma because her grandchild just took a chunk out of her arm. 

Know that you’re not alone - all kids bite and /or hit. The key to stopping aggression in children is teaching them that there are alternative ways to handle frustration and biting is not acceptable behavior.

Not all biting stems from anger. The younger the child, the less chance that biting is an aggressive behavior. It can also be a simple case of exploration. Young children bite for many reasons, from painful gums because they are teething to seeing what kind of reaction they get. Children between the ages of one and three typically go through a biting phase they eventually outgrow.

While biting may be a normal phase kids go through, it’s something you want to discourage.

Let’s look at some of the reasons kids bite.

  • They're in pain. When babies bite, typically it's because they're teething. They're just doing it to relieve the pain of their swollen, tender gums.
  • They're exploring their world. Very young children use their mouths to explore, just as they use their hands. Just about everything infants or toddlers pick up eventually winds up in their mouths. Kids this age aren't yet able to prevent themselves from biting the object of their interest.
  • They're looking for a reaction. Part of exploration is curiosity. Toddlers experiment to see what kind of reaction their actions will provoke. They'll bite down on a friend or sibling to hear the surprised exclamation, not realizing how painful the experience is for that person.
  • They're craving attention. In older kids, biting is just one of several bad behaviors used to get attention. When a child feels ignored, discipline is at least one way of getting noticed -- even if the attention is negative rather than positive.
  • They're frustrated. Biting, like hitting, is a way for some children to assert themselves when they're still too young to express feelings effectively through words. To your child, biting is a way to get back a favorite toy, tell you that he or she is unhappy, or let another child know that he or she wants to be left alone.

So, how do you prevent or teach your child that they can’t go through life biting others?

You start with consistent prevention and move on to discipline if they are older.

  • If your baby is teething, make sure to always have a cool teething ring or washcloth on hand so he or she will be less likely to sink teeth into someone's arm.
  • Avoid situations in which your child can get irritable enough to bite. Make sure that all of your child's needs -- including eating and naptime -- are taken care of before you go out to play. Bring along a snack to soothe your child if he or she gets cranky from being hungry.
  • As soon as your child is old enough, encourage your child to use words such as “I'm angry with you" or "That's my toy" instead of biting. Other ways to express frustration or anger include hugging (not hitting) a stuffed animal or punching a pillow. Sometimes redirection is helpful; shortening activities or giving your child a break can help prevent the rising frustration that can lead to biting and other bad behaviors.
  • Give your child enough of your time throughout the day (for example, by reading or playing together), so he or she doesn't bite just to get attention. Extra attention is especially important when your child is going through a major life change, such as a move or welcoming a baby sibling. If your child is prone to biting, keep an eye on any playmates and step in when an altercation appears to be brewing.

You’ve done all that is possible to prevent another biting situation, and low and behold your child is biting another. What do you do then?

When your child bites, firmly let your child know that this behavior is not acceptable by saying, "No. We don't bite!" Explain that biting hurts the other person. Then remove your child from the situation and give the child time to calm down. It’s important that you remain calm.

Seeing your child bite another is naturally going to create an unpleasant reaction in you. As soon as you witness a biting episode, your body tenses, your heart races, and even if you don't actually scream, you really want to. The angrier you are, the tenser the situation becomes. You are much more likely to strike your child when you let your anger get the best of you. Take a deep breath, assess the situation and intervene calmly. Remove your child, let him or her calm down and explain (yes, once again) that biting is not going to be tolerated. If your child is old enough to understand time-out, this is a good time to use it. If not, remove the child from the temptation. Playtime is over.

One way some parents handle biting is to bite their own child to show them how painful it can be. Doing what you are telling your child not to do sends a mixed message. It’s similar to hitting your child and then saying “don’t hit others.” Most likely your child will experience how painful it is because another child will bite them someday.

The point is not so much that biting is painful, the action itself is unkind, unproductive and wrong.

When biting becomes a habit or continues past the age 4 or 5, it may stem from a more serious emotional problem. This is the time to ask for help from your pediatrician, family doctor or a child psychologist.

If your child is bitten, wash the area with soap and water. If the bite is bleeding and the wound appears to be deep, call your child’s doctor. The bite may need medical treatment, which could include antibiotics or a tetanus shot or both.

Biting is a horrible habit to get into and a difficult one to stop. Start teaching your child early that momma and daddy are not putting up with it and that there are better ways to explore the world and handle frustration.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/stop-children-from-biting

Your Toddler

Thumb Sucking

2.00 to read

I admit it – I was a thumb sucker for way too long. My thumb and mouth didn’t part company until I was in first grade. The fear of getting caught during a sleepover at a friend’s house was enough for me to finally call it quits.

It’s normal for babies and toddlers to suck their thumbs. Babies are born with the urge to suck as part of their survival. They also use it as a way to soothe themselves when they feel hungry, afraid, restless, sleepy or bored. Toddlers carry on that natural instinct as they find their way in the world.

By the time children are around four-years-old they’ve typically stopped sucking their thumb and found replacements for self-soothing. Occasionally, children (like myself) will continue to suck their thumb out of habit.

Some experts say that if a child is still sucking their thumb by the age of six, they may be doing so because of emotional distress such as anxiety.

Thumb sucking isn’t a problem under the age of four, but if a child continues- with great intensity- after five or six years old, they could be setting themselves up for dental or speech problems.

Prolonged thumb sucking may cause their teeth to become improperly aligned (malocclusion) or push their teeth outward. If the thumb sucking stops, the teeth most likely will align correctly, but the longer the sucking continues the more likely orthodontic treatment will be needed.

Extended thumb sucking may also cause speech issues such as lisping, inability to say Ts and Ds, and pushing the tongue out when talking. A speech therapist may be needed to help correct these problems.

How do you help your child stop sucking their thumb? It takes a lot of patience.

One place to begin is to pay attention to what triggers the thumb sucking. Does your little one start when they are bored, sleepy, or unsure about something? Redirecting can help. Busy hands help keep thumbs from going into the mouth. Give your child a large stuffed animal to wrap their arms around or have them help hold the book when you are reading to them. Offer a squeezable rubber ball or finger puppets to grasp when they are watching TV.  The key is to offer an alternative at the times you notice they are the most likely to want to suck their thumb.

Ask your child to not suck their thumb in public and gently remind them when you see them doing it. Let them suck their thumb at home, but start the process of being self-aware in public. Kids often unconsciously slip their thumb into their mouth. A reminder helps them notice what they are doing.

You can also start talking to your child about why it’s time to give some thought to stopping. In age-appropriate language explain how thumb sucking is okay for younger children, but as children get older they learn how to stop. Ask them questions like “Do you see (insert name of an older child or adult here) sucking his or her thumb?” They’ll think about it more and start to decide whether they want to continue. It’s a process that takes time.

Punishing or shaming your child is absolutely the wrong method to address thumb sucking. This approach not only doesn’t work, but also lowers a child self-value and can create an even stronger desire to thumb suck. It’s like quitting anything you’re doing that may not be good for you in the long run- the worse someone tries to make you feel about it- the more you want to do it (think overeating, smoking, drinking.)

You can also talk to your pediatrician or family doctor for his or her suggestions on how to help your child. For older children, behavioral therapy may be beneficial.

There are products that are nasty tasting that can be swabbed on your child’s thumb, but some experts think that approach is cruel and more like a punishment than a humane way to help a child outgrow a natural inclination.

Most kids will simply quit sucking their thumb when they are good and ready. Helping your child reach that point may require patience and creativity, but in time his or her thumb will cease to be a constant comfort companion.

Sources: http://children.webmd.com/tc/thumb-sucking-topic-overview

Your Toddler

Thumb Sucking and Nail Biting Linked to Fewer Allergies

1:30

An interesting new study out of New Zealand suggests that young children who suck their thumbs or bite their nails may be at a lower risk for developing allergies.

The study included data from 1000 children born in New Zealand in 1972 or 1973, and spanned three decades.

While the results of the study suggests these habits may lower children’s risks of developing allergies, researchers noted that they are not recommending that kids take up these habits, only that the habits may play a role protecting them against allergies into adulthood.

 "Many parents discourage these habits, and we do not have enough evidence to [advise they] change this," said Dr. Robert Hancox, an associate professor of respiratory epidemiology at the University of Otago in New Zealand. "We certainly don't recommend encouraging nail-biting or thumb-sucking, but perhaps if a child has one of these habits and [it] is difficult [for them] to stop, there is some consolation in the knowledge that it might reduce their risk of allergies.”

The researchers asked the parents of the children participating in the study about their kids’ thumb-sucking habits and nail-biting habits four times: when the kids were 5, 7, 9 and 11 years old. Researchers also tested the children for allergies using a skin-prick test when they were 13, and then followed up with the kids again when they were 32.

It turned out that 38 percent of the children who had sucked their thumbs or bit their nails had at least one allergy, whereas among kids who did not have these habits, 49 percent had at least one allergy.

Moreover, the link between these childhood habits and a lower risk of allergies was still present among the study participants when they were 32 years old. The link persisted even when the researchers took into account potentially confounding factors that may also affect a person's risk of allergies, such as whether their parents had allergies, whether they owned pets, whether they were breast-fed as infants and whether their parents smoked.

By the time the children were 13 years old, researchers found that the ones who both sucked their thumbs and bit their nails were even less likely to have allergies compared with children who had just one of the two habits. However, by the time they were 32, this association was no longer found.

The study was published in the July edition of the journal Pediatrics.

The results of this study are inline with another study published in 2013, which found that children whose mothers sucked their kids’ pacifiers clean had a lower risk of developing allergies.

"Although the mechanism and age of exposure [to pathogens] are different, both studies suggest that the immune response and risk of allergies may be influenced by exposure to oral bacteria or other microbes," the researchers wrote in the new study.

The new findings also lend support the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which holds that environments that have too little dirt and germs may make children more susceptible to certain conditions, including allergies. It seems that "exposure to microbial organisms influences our immune system and makes us less likely to develop allergies," Hancox told Live Science.

Kids that suck their thumbs or bite their nails, receive mixed reactions from adults. Most adults will encourage kids to stop biting their nails, while it’s probably 50/50 on the thumb sucking. Either way, it appears that oral bacteria may play a role in lowering the risks of developing allergies in kids.

Story source: Agata Blaszczak-Boxe, http://www.livescience.com/55340-children-thumb-sucking-nail-biting-allergy-risk.html

 

Your Toddler

Noisy Homes May Influence Toddler’s Vocabulary

1:00

Have you ever had a hard time understanding someone speak in a noisy restaurant? Imagine if you were trying to learn a new language. That’s just what toddlers are trying to do, learn a language. According to a new study, toddlers learn new words quicker when their environment has less background noise.

"Modern homes are filled with noisy distractions such as TV, radio and people talking that could affect how children learn words at early ages," said study leader Brianna McMillan.

"Our study suggests that adults should be aware of the amount of background speech in the environment when they're interacting with young children," said McMillan, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Researchers from the university assessed the ability of 106 children, aged 22 to 30 months, to learn new words. They found they were more successful when their surroundings were quiet than when there was background noise.

However, researchers noted that providing the children with additional language cues helped them overcome the detrimental effects of a noisy location.

"Hearing new words in fluent speech without a lot of background noise before trying to learn what objects the new words corresponded to, may help very young children master new vocabulary," said study co-author Jenny Saffran, a professor of psychology.

Sometimes, you simply can’t avoid a noisy environment- especially if there are other children around. Saffron says there is a way to overcome that.

“… When the environment is noisy, drawing young children's attention to the sounds of the new word may help them compensate," she added.

Story source: Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/child-development-news-124/noisy-homes-slow-toddler-s-vocabulary-713013.html

 

 

Your Toddler

Nightmares & Night Terrors

Just about every parent has been awakened by their child at night because of a nightmare or night terror. They are very common occurrences in toddlers and pre-schoolers and something that most children outgrow by the time they head off to school. “Nightmares are just bad, scary dreams and they occur during REM sleep at the end of the night,” says pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard. She says with nightmares a child will wake up frightened and will usually have vivid memories of the dream. A child will be able to tell a parent about the dream and may have trouble going back to sleep because of it.

“Night terrors are totally different,” Dr. Hubbard says. “Night terrors scare the parents and they are not scaring the child, which is hard to understand.” Night terrors occur earlier in the night, normally during the first few hours of sleep. During a night terror, the child is not awake and when they do wake up they have no memory of it occurring. “ It can go on for a few minutes and then they go back to sleep or wake up and look around and go back to sleep. They have no fear, no anxiety, they just go right back to sleep. You on the other hand are trying to figure out what happened to your child. You can not comfort a child during a night terror, which is so terrifying as a parent, you can’t do anything,” she says. Nightmares and night terrors are sometimes triggered by sleep deprivation. Dr. Hubbard says one way to help prevent them from happening is to keep your child on a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.

Your Toddler

Safety 1st Recalls Décor Wood Highchairs Due to Falls

1:30

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 www.Amazon.com, www.BabiesRUs.com, www.ToysRUs.com and www.Walmart.com 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 decorwoodhighchair@djgusa.com or online at www.safety1st.com and click on “Safety Notices” at the top of the page for more information.

Source: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2016/Safety-1st-Recalls-Decor-Wood-Highchair/

 

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What can you do if your child stinks?

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