Your Toddler

Thumb Sucking

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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

High Chair Injuries on the Rise

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High chairs were designed to offer older babies and younger toddlers a safer place to eat at the table. They’re usually higher from the ground than a regular chair, so a parent or caregiver (or sibling) can spoon feed the baby comfortably. If there’s an infant in the family, more than likely there’s a high chair in the house.

They’re great when used properly, but when children aren’t secured correctly, accidents can and do happen. In fact, a new safety study reveals that high chair injuries increased 22 percent between 2003 and 2009.

Emergency rooms staffs are treating an average of almost 9,500 high chair related injuries every year – that equates to one injured infant per hour.

"We know that these injuries can and do happen, but we did not expect to see the kind of increase that we saw," said study co-author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

"Most of the injuries we're talking about, over 90 percent, involve falls with young toddlers whose center of gravity is high, near their chest, rather than near the waist as it is with adults," Smith said. "So when they fall they topple, which means that 85 percent of the injuries we see are to the head and face."

Because the fall is from a seat that's higher than the traditional chair and typically onto a hard kitchen floor, "the potential for a serious injury is real," he added. "This is something we really need to look at more, so we can better understand why this seems to be happening more frequently."

Researchers analyzed data collected by the U.S. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The data concerned all high chair, booster seat, and normal chair-related injuries that occurred between 2003 and 2010 and involved children 3 years old and younger.

The researchers found that high chair/booster chair injuries rose from 8,926 in 2003 to 10,930 by 2010.

How are children getting injured? About two-thirds of the children had been either standing or climbing in the chair just before the fall, the study authors noted.

Either chair restraints aren’t working as they should or parents are not using them properly.

"In recent years, there have been millions of high chairs recalled because they do not meet current safety standards. Most of these chairs are reasonably safe when restraint instructions are followed, but even so, there were 3.5 million high chairs recalled during our study period alone," said Smith. However, even highly educated and informed parents aren't always fully aware of a recall when it happens, he noted.

Still, Smith believes that a 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act will lead to a notable drop in recalls in coming years because it calls for independent third-party testing of children's products before they're put on the market.

The most common diagnosis from a high chair fall is a concussion or internal head injury. This type of head trauma accounted for 37 percent of high chair injuries, and its frequency imbed by nearly 90 percent during the eight years studied.

Nearly 6 in 10 children experienced an injury to their head or neck after a high chair fall, while almost 3 in 10 experienced a facial injury, the study found.

When the researchers looked at falls from traditional chairs, children’s injuries were typically broken bones, cuts and bruises.

While the tray may look like it can block a child from climbing or standing, it’s not a restraint. Children need to be buckled in.

Supervision plays a key role in keeping your little one safe when in a high chair. Many falls happen when a parent or caregiver leaves the room or is not facing the baby.  "Even if a chair does meet current safety standards and the restraint is used properly, there's never 100 percent on this . . . Parents will always need to be vigilant." said Smith.

Some high chairs have wheels, so make sure that if yours does- they are locked when the baby is in the chair.

Also, never place the high chair next to a wall or counter where your baby or toddler can push against it, causing the chair to become unstable.

High chairs are convenient and can be very safe when used properly. Make sure your child is restrained properly and that you can see your baby whenever you move away from the chair.

The study was published online Dec. 9 in Clinical Pediatrics.

Source: Alan Mozes, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20131209/rise-in-us-high-chair-injuries-stuns-experts

Your Toddler

Toddler Snoring May Indicate Behavioral Problems

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Everyone snores at one time or another, even babies. Most of the time we have an occasional snort... maybe three or four. Children may snore because they have a stuffy nose, a cold, allergies or enlarged tonsils, but persistent snoring could indicate more.  

According to a new study focused on two and three year olds, persistent snorers are more likely to have behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, attention issues and depression.

Researchers studied 249 mother-child pairs and found the children who snored at both age 2 and age 3 were nearly 3.5 times more likely to have signs of behavioral issues when compared with those who did not snore at these ages, or who only snored during one of those years. Mothers were asked to report how often their child “snored loudly.”

The children were divided into 3 categories:

Non-snorers – those who snored less than once a week.

Transient-snorers – those who snored more than 2 times a week at age 2 or 3, but not both.

Persistent-snorers - those who snored more than 2 times a week at ages 2 and 3.

All the children were assessed for behavioral problems based on the Behavior Assessment System for Children, an extensively validated behavior questionnaire.

Among the children who snored at both ages, 35% showed signs of behavioral problems. Only 10% percent of non-snorers and 12% of transient snorers showed behavioral problems.

The findings show the importance of getting good sleep, the researchers said.

"We know that if you take away naps for preschoolers, and then give them challenging tasks, they're grumpier," said lead study author Dean Beebe, director of the neuropsychology program at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

From a neurological standpoint, lack of proper sleep inhibits the development of pathways between neurons in the brain, Beebe said. "We're talking about a brain that is constantly remodeling through early childhood, with connections being strengthened and weakened," he said. Fixing the underlying cause of snoring can help to reverse these effects, but because parents don't realize the problems with snoring, it often goes untreated.

Experts have also noted that many parents think that snoring is a sign of a deep restful sleep when in fact, it's often just the opposite. 

Dr. Sangeeta Chakravorty, director of the pediatric sleep evaluation center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, wasn't surprised by the findings. "Snoring impacts sleep, and sleep loss impacts behaviors," she explained.

But, she noted that the study wasn't able to determine whether the behavior problems were just because the children were tired, or if their snoring was significant enough to cause a chronic lack of oxygen, because the study only included information from the children's mothers. There were no objective data, such as oxygen levels throughout the night.

Chakravorty added that snoring in this age group is actually common. She said enlargement of the adenoids was the biggest cause of snoring, followed by enlarged tonsils. Nasal allergies can also cause snoring, as can abnormalities in the facial structure or the structure of the airway. And obesity can cause snoring in children like it does in adults.

Researchers also found that persistent children snorers were more likely to have been exposed to environmental tobacco smoke, and come from lower socioeconomic households.

Both experts recommended bringing up any persistent snoring with your child's pediatrician. "If you hear your child snoring more than three to four times a week in the absence of an upper respiratory infection [cold], and it lasts more than a month, seek help from the pediatrician," Chakravorty said.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Sources: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48648962/ns/health-childrens_health/#.UCqmK46f_zJ

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http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/08/13/snoring-toddlers-may-have-more-behavior-problems

Your Toddler

Massive Stroller Recall Due to Laceration, Amputations

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About 4.7 million Graco and Century-branded strollers are being recalled after the maker received reports of 10 full or partial fingertip amputations.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said eleven models of strollers have a folding hinge on the side that “can pinch a child’s finger, posing a laceration or amputation hazard.”

Caregivers are being advised to show "extreme care when unfolding the stroller to be certain that the hinges are firmly locked before placing a child in the stroller," the CPSC said.

"Caregivers are advised to immediately remove the child from a stroller that begins to fold to keep their fingers from the side hinge area," the agency said.

Atlanta-based Graco Children's Products received six reports of fingertip amputation, four reports of partial-fingertip amputation and one finger laceration, the product safety agency said.

The firm manufactured the strollers in China and will be providing a free repair kit beginning in December.

Graco said its recall is voluntary.

"Over the past 60 years, safety has been and will continue to be the priority at Graco," the firm said on it’s website. "As part of our continuous effort to provide quality and safe products, Graco identified that select stroller models, including some of our LiteRider models that were sold before the updated hinge was available, have folding hinges that could in rare circumstances have the potential to pinch a child's finger, posing a laceration or amputation hazard."

The recalled models are Aspen, Breeze, Capri, Cirrus, Glider, Kite, LiteRider, Sierra, Solara, Sterling and TravelMate model strollers and travel systems.

The models bear a manufacture date from August 1, 2000, to September 25, 2014, and were sold at Target, Toys R Us, Walmart and other retail stores nationwide and online. The prices were $40 to $70 for the strollers and $140 to $170 for the travel systems.

Consumers can contact Graco Children’s Products at (800) 345-4109 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.gracobaby.com and click on the “Help Center” at the top and Recall and Safety Notifications for more information.  

The CPSC website has a complete list of the stroller model names and numbers along with pictures of each of the recalled strollers. Model numbers and the date of manufacture are printed on the white label located at the bottom of the stroller leg just above the rear wheel.

Sources: https://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/Graco-Recalls-11-Models-of-Strollers/#remedy

Michael Martinez, http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/20/us/stroller-recall/index.html

Graco Stroller Recall

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.

Sources: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-10/wfbm-ptb100714.php

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/tc/toilet-training-topic-overview

 

 

 

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

Your Toddler

Babies: Two Languages are Better Than One

1.45 to read

We all know how difficult it can be to learn a second language, as you get older.  Even by the time you’re a teenager, it takes a lot more concentration and practice than it does for a younger child.

A new study shows that babies and toddlers that are bilingual may have an academic advantage over their monolingual peers when they get older. Being exposed to a second language in infancy not only helps a children learn a second language quicker, but may also help them with future studies.

How do scientists know this? By observing babies and how fast they become bored with familiar objects and then become intrigued by something new. Previous studies have shown that the rate at which an infant becomes bored with a familiar image and how fast they latch onto something more unique is a predictor of better pre-school developmental results.

For example, past studies have shown that babies who looked at the familiar image and then rapidly became bored demonstrated higher performance in various domains of cognition and language later on in life.

In the new study, scientists wanted to see if bilingual babies might have an advantage over monolingual babies in this regard.

Infants were shown a colored image of either a bear or a wolf. For half of the group, the bear was made to become the "familiar" image while the wolf was the "novel" one. The reverse was true for the other half of the group. In the end, the scientists found that bilingual babies became bored of familiar images far more quickly than single-language babies.

"One of the biggest challenges in infant research is data collection," said Leher Singh, lead author of the new study, in a news release. "Visual habituation works wonderfully because it only takes a few minutes and capitalizes on what babies do so naturally, which is to rapidly become interested in something new and then rapidly move on to something else. Even though it is quite a simple task, visual habituation is one of the few tasks in infancy that has been shown to predict later cognitive development."

Just learning and speaking one language is a marvel of brain ingenuity. Learning two languages is a cognitive developing workout.  It trains the brain to think differently and to associate more than one word with the same image or thought.

In this case, the researchers found that bilingual babies may just have increased cognitive performance due to being exposed to two languages.

"As adults, learning a second language can be painstaking and laborious," said Singh. "We sometimes project that difficulty onto our young babies, imagining a state of enormous confusion as two languages jostle for space in their little heads. However, a large number of studies have shown us that babies are uniquely well positioned to take on the challenges of bilingual acquisition and in fact, may benefit from this journey."

The findings were published in the journal Child Development.

Source: Catherine Griffin,  http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/16963/20140903/being-exposed-two-languages-increase-cognitive-benefits-babies.htm

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Your Toddler

Brain Growth Outpaces Physical Growth in Kids

1:30 to read

Ever wonder why the human body matures much slower than other mammals? Me neither. Even though this isn’t anything I’ve ever even thought about, the reason is fascinating.

According to a new study, young children grow much more slowly than other mammals because their developing brains require so much energy to prepare for challenges they will face later in life.

Researchers analyzed data from PET and MRI brain scans and found that the human brain uses enormous amounts of energy during the first few years of life, which means physical growth has to take a back seat during that time.

The brain’s energy use peaks at about age 4 causing the body’s growth to slow down. At about this age the brain is burning on all four cylinders at a rate equaling two-thirds of what the entire body uses at rest.

"Our findings suggest that our bodies can't afford to grow faster during the toddler and childhood years because a huge quantity of resources is required to fuel the developing human brain," first author Christopher Kuzawa, a professor of anthropology at Northwestern University, said in a university news release.

"As humans we have so much to learn, and that learning requires a complex and energy-hungry brain," he added.

That could explains why it’s difficult to tell a young child’s age simply by looking at them. 

"After a certain age it becomes difficult to guess a toddler or young child's age by their size," Kuzawa said. "Instead you have to listen to their speech and watch their behavior. Our study suggests that this is no accident. Body growth grinds nearly to a halt at the ages when brain development is happening at a lightning pace, because the brain is sapping up the available resources."

Earlier clinical thought on the topic suggested that the brain’s demand for energy was highest at birth, when the brain size is more relative to the body.

The study's finding that the brain's energy needs peak at age 4 "has to do with the fact that synapses, connections in the brain, max out at this age, when we learn so many of the things we need to know to be successful humans," Kuzawa said.

Other studies have looked at the functions of the 3 to 4 years-old age group and brain development. Experts say that this is the first stage of enlightenment. It’s during this time that preschoolers begin to use problem-solving skills during activities. They are interested in learning about their bodies and other living things. They begin to understand the order of events during the day and start figuring out how to take things apart and put them back together again.

It’s a pretty amazing time for brain development and identity processing. Good nutrition and exercise at this critical time can also help the brain maximize its potential, along with a nurturing environment.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/misc-kid-s-health-news-435/when-it-comes-to-childhood-growth-the-brain-comes-first-691088.html

http://www.kidcentraltn.com/article/brain-development-preschool-3-5-years

Your Toddler

Too Many Children Spend Little Time Outdoors

New research from Australia suggests that many children spend too little time outdoors and too much time in front of the TV.

If you think your child is slowly turning in to a couch potato, you may not be alone. New research from Australia suggests that many children spend too little time outdoors and too much time in front of the TV and a lack of suitable outdoor spaces may be partly to blame. The study looked at nearly 1,400 10- to 12-year-olds and found that 37 percent typically spent a half-hour or less being active outside. Few were outdoors for two hours or more on a typical day.

Researchers found that many children devoted at least two hours per day to the TV or computer screen, with 49 percent of boys and 36 percent of girls doing so. The researchers did find, however, that certain children were more likely to play outdoors for more than a half-hour at a time, namely those whose parents allowed them to walk around their neighborhood on their own. The finding suggests that when parents think their neighborhood is safe, children are more likely to get outdoor exercise, according to Dr. Li Ming Wen and colleagues at Sydney South West Area Health Service and the University of Sydney. Dr. Wen told Reuters Health that if more neighborhoods were safe, clean, walkable and offered public areas where children could play, that might allay parents' concerns and help kids be regularly active. Wen suggested that, when possible, parents not drive their children to school but allow them to walk. Having them walk with their friends, the researcher noted, may help ease parents' safety worries.

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, http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-06-doctors-urge-parents-babies.html

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