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

Small Children and Rx Poisoning

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Most small children who are poisoned by an adult’s prescription medication do not get it from a secured cabinet but rather from a purse, countertop, sofa cushion, floor or other easy-to-see place in the house.

The medications that are dangerous enough to send a child to the emergency room usually belong to a mother or grandparent according to a report released by the non-profit group Safe Kids Worldwide, based in Washington D.C.

Kids "are getting medications from Mom's purse and Grandma's pillbox," says Rennie Ferguson, a researcher for Safe Kids.

Ferguson examined 2,315 emergency department records on children 4 years old and under that were compiled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in 2011.

67,000 children visited emergency departments in 2011 after accidental exposure to one or more medications.

The report notes that such cases have grown by 30% in the last decade amid a growing number of prescription and non-prescription medicines in the home. While ER cases dropped slightly between 2010-2011, the difference was not statistcally significant.

Where are children finding unsecured medicines? When examining the cases, the researchers noted that when a source was recorded:

-       27% came from the floor or had been otherwise misplaced.

-       20% came from a purse, bag or wallet.

-       20% had been left out on counters, dressers, tables or nightstands.

-       15% came from a pillbox or bag of pills.

-       6% came from a cabinet or drawer.

-       12% came from other places.

The medications belonged to adults in 86% of cases, the report adds. Moms (31%) and grandparents (38%) were the most common sources.

Because small children tend to put anything and everything in their mouths, an accidental poisoning can happen quickly while someone is distracted or out of the room.

The new data suggests that small children infrequently get into medications that are properly stored.

Many times people think they will forget to take their meds if they do not see them. If you have small children in the house, or ones that visit, store the medicines in a secure cabinet and set your watch or cell phone alarm to remind you to take them.

Make sure you do not leave medicines in a coat pocket or purse where children can find them. Also, you should speak up and ask that medications be stored away when your children visit the homes of grandparents, other relatives or friends. If you feel awkward in bringing up the subject, you can always mention that your child is at a very curious stage where they get into everything. It’s absolutely true – small children are curious about everything and they seldom understand which things are dangerous and which ones are not. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.

If you think a child has taken a medication that is not meant for them, the best thing to do is to call the National Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222.  The line is open 24 hours a day.

If your child is exhibiting acute signs of being poisoned call 911 first.

Symptoms of poisoning may include:

-       Seizure

-       Stop breathing

-       Change in cognitive abilities

-       Nausea

-       Vomiting

-       Drowsiness

-       Stomach pain

Check to see if you can find any loose pills or bottles around the child so you can determine what he or she has taken.

Prescribed medications can be necessary and effective for a host of illnesses or conditions. Many households have at least one prescription medicine in the home at all times. But there are many things parents and other caregivers can do to minimize risks, says Kate Carr, Safe Kids president and CEO. The first is to store medications out of sight and out of reach — "up and away" in the catchphrase of an ongoing medication safety campaign led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Up and away, easy to remember - easy to do.

Sources: Kim Painter, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/20/children-medication-poisoning/1998237

 

Your Toddler

Tips For Raising A Toddler

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Need help with your toddler? Here’s an easy guide with nine tips containing common mistakes and helpful remedies.

1. Be Consistent. Toddlers do best when they know what to expect, whether it's what time they bathe or go to bed or what consequences they'll face for misbehaving. The more consistent and predictable things are, the more resilient and agreeable a toddler is likely to be. Fix it: As much as you can, keep regular routines for your child. Consistency can be a challenge when parents (or other caregivers) don't see eye to eye. Not sure how best to react if your child dumps food on the floor or ignores bedtime? Sit down with your partner ahead of time to decide on an appropriate response -- and stick with it. "You don't want to send mixed messages," says Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, the author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents' Top 101 Questions about Babies and Toddlers and a pediatrician in private practice in Los Angeles. "You really want to be consistent." 2. Focus on Family Time It's delightful to spend time with the whole family. But some parents go overboard on family time. "Kids cherish time alone time with one parent," says Thomas Phelan, PhD, a clinical psychologist in suburban Chicago and the author of several parenting books, including 1-2-3 Magic. "One-on-one time is fun for parents too, because there's no sibling rivalry to contend with." Fix it: What's a good way to spend one-on-one time with a toddler? Phelan recommends simply getting down on the floor together and playing. 3. Offering Too Much Help Some parents jump in to help a toddler who is having trouble doing something. Before you do, consider the possibility that by helping your child complete a puzzle or put on a shirt, you may be sending the message that he/she can't do it alone -- in other words, that the child is incompetent. "Parents who offer too much help may be sabotaging their young children's ability to become self-reliant," says Betsy Brown Braun, the Los-Angeles-based author of You're Not the Boss of Me. Fix it: "We need to teach children to tolerate struggle," Braun says. Of course, there's nothing wrong with offering praise and encouragement. "Be a cheerleader," Brown says. "Say, 'You can do this!'" 4. Talking Too Much Talking with toddlers is usually a terrific idea. But not when it's time to rein in errant behavior. Imagine a mom has just said "no" to her 2-year-old's request for a cookie. The child fusses. Mom explains that it's suppertime. The child grabs a cookie anyway. Mom takes it away, and tries again to explain herself to her now tearful child. Back and forth it goes, with mounting frustration on both sides. "Talking can lead to what I call the talk-persuade-argue-yell-hit pattern," Phelan says. "Toddlers are not adults in a little body. They're not logical, and they just can't assimilate what you are saying to them." Fix it: What's the smart way to lay down the law? Once you tell your toddler to do something, Phelan says, don't talk about it or make eye contact. If the child disobeys, give a brief verbal warning or count to three. If the child refuses to toe the line, give a time-out or another immediate consequence. No explaining! 5. Avoid Only Kiddie Food Does your toddler seem to eat nothing but chicken fingers and fries? Are goldfish crackers the only fish he or she eats? As some parents realize too late, toddlers fed a steady diet of nutritionally iffy kid's foods may resist eating anything else. Fix it: Encourage your child to try "grown-up" fare. "A good percentage of kids are willing to try a new food if they see mommy and daddy enjoying it," Altmann says. "If they push back, keep putting it on their plate. Some kids need to try things a dozen or more times before they take to it." Her advice:  As long as there's something your child can eat on the plate, don't worry. Do not allow yourself to become your child's short-order cook. 6. Getting Rid of the Crib Cribs do more than keep little ones safe. They promote good sleep habits. A toddler moved too soon into a "real" bed may have trouble staying in bed or falling asleep, and so may end up climbing into bed with mommy and daddy. "Some moms wear themselves out because they have to lie down with their child every night," Altmann says. "They don't realize they're the ones who set the pattern." Fix it: When is it time to get rid of the crib? When your child asks for a bed or starts climbing out of the crib. For most kids, that comes between the ages of 2 and 3. 7. Potty Training Some parents cajole their children into using the toilet when they think it's time -- and issue harsh reprimands when things go awry. That can lead to a power struggle. Fix it: "Children learn to use the toilet when they're ready," Altmann says. "The process shouldn't be rushed." But you can set the stage. Show your toddler the toilet. Explain its use. If you feel comfortable doing so, let your child watch you use the toilet -- and offer praise if he or she gives it a whirl. 8. Too Much TV Time Toddlers who watch lots of TV often have more trouble learning later on. And studies suggest that kids under the age of 2 can't really take in what's being displayed on TV and computer screens. Fix it: Keep your toddler busy with reading and other, more creative pursuits. Have conversations-and encourage talking as well as listening. "The longer you can hold off exposing your child to TV, the better," Altmann says. 9. Trying to Stop a Tantrum Some parents worry that an out-of-control child makes them seem like ineffectual parents. But all toddlers have tantrums. When they do, it's pointless to try to talk them out of it -- even if the drama is unfolding in front of company or in a public place. "When we are in public and dealing with a child, we feel judged," Braun says. "We feel like there is a neon sign over our heads saying we are incompetent parents." Fix it: Braun says parents must remember that the child matters more than the opinions of other people -- especially strangers.

Your Toddler

Parents Ignore New Car Seat Recomendations

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I have been surprised at the number of parents I have seen lately, who are either unaware or choose to ignore the changes in car seat recommendations for children under the age of two.I have been surprised at the number of parents I have seen, who are either unaware or choose to ignore the changes in car seat recommendations for children under the age of two.

I try to discuss car seat safety at each check-up appointment, and have always been especially mindful of doing this at the one-year check up. A new policy (April 2011) by colleagues at the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends what I have been discussing for a while now: children up to age two should remain in rear-facing safety seats. The new policy is supported by research that shows children younger than 2 are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing. So how did we get here? Original recommendations (established in 2009), I had followed with my own patients. I discussed turning the car seat to a forward facing position if the child had reached 12 months and 20 pounds. Then in April, an article was published (Inj Prev. 2007;13:398-402), which was the first U.S. data to substantiate the benefits of toddlers riding rear facing until they are two years of age. This study showed that children under the age of two are 75 percent less likely to die or experience a serious injury when they are riding in a rear-facing. That is a fairly compelling statistic to keep that car seat rear-facing for another year! Studies have shown that rear-facing seats are more likely to support the back, neck, head and pelvis because the force of a crash is distributed evenly over the entire body. Toddlers between the ages of 12 and 23 months who ride rear facing are more than five times safer than toddlers in that same age group who ride forward-facing in a car seat. There has also been concern that rear-facing toddlers whose feet reach the back of the seat are more likely to suffer injuries to the lower extremities in a car accident. But a commentary written by Dr. Marilyn Bull in Pediatrics (2008;121:619-620) dispelled the myth with documentation that lower extremity injuries were rare with rear-facing seats. So, it has now been over two years since this data was published and recommended, and parents continue to say, “I just turned the seat around any way” or “I didn’t know.” I did go look at car-seats the other day and I noted that the labeling on the boxes had all been changed to recommend rear facing until two years or until a toddler reaches the maximum height and weight recommendations for the model. I take this to mean that some “small” toddlers could even rear face longer as they do in some European countries. For safety sake, rather than convenience, keep that car seat in the rear facing position. I wonder if they will begin putting DVD players and cup holders facing toward these toddlers, as that seemed to be a concern of many parents. Maybe this will make it “okay” to listen to music or talk while in the car rather than watching TV, at least until a child is older!! If you need references on car seats go to http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov or http://www.seatcheck.org Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!

Your Toddler

Recall: Kid’s Sunglasses Due to Heavy Lead Content

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Kid’s sunglasses; they’re cute, practical and occasionally end up in the mouths of little ones that are teething or just playing around. That’s not necessarily a bad thing unless the sunglasses are coated in lead.

That’s the reason that FGX International is recalling about 250,000 sunglasses marketed to and sold for children. The surface paint on the sunglasses contains excessive levels of lead, which is prohibited under federal law and dangerous for children’s health.

This recall includes 20 styles of Disney, Marvel and Sears/Kmart brand children’s sunglasses. They come in a variety of colors and with printed images of characters on the frames.

The following recalled style numbers are located inside the sunglasses’ left temple arm:

Style#

Brand 

S00014SVS999

Marvel Spider-Man

S00014SVSBLU

Marvel Spider-Man

S00014SVSRED

Marvel Spider-Man

S00021LKC999

SK2 Sears /Kmart Private Label 

S00021SVS999                                     

Marvel Spider-Man 

S01551SDB999

Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 

S02964SJN440

Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates          

S02964SJN999

Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates          

S03683SDC999

Disney Cars 

S04611SDC001          

Disney Cars 

S04611SDC080          

Disney Cars 

S04611SDC400         

Disney Cars 

S04611SDC999

Disney Cars 

S07786SMS500

Disney Doc McStuffins 

S07786SMS650

Disney Doc McStuffins 

S07786SMS999

Disney Doc McStuffins 

S07840SDC999          

Disney Cars 

S07841SDC001         

Disney Cars 

S07841SDC440          

Disney Cars 

S07841SDC999          

Disney Cars

The sunglasses were sold at Bon Ton, CVS, K-mart, Rite-Aid, Walgreens and other retail stores nationwide from December 2013 to March 2014 for between $7 and $13.

When the body is exposed to lead — by being inhaled, swallowed, or in a small number of cases, absorbed through the skin — it can act as a poison. Exposure to high lead levels in a short period of time is called acute toxicity. Exposure to small amounts of lead over a long period of time is called chronic toxicity.

Lead poisoning can lead to a variety of health problems in kids, including:

  • Decreased bone and muscle growth
  • Poor muscle coordination
  • Damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and/or hearing
  • Speech and language problems
  • Developmental delay
  • Seizures and unconsciousness (in cases of extremely high lead levels)

If you’ve purchased or been given a pair of these sunglasses, they should immediately be removed from your child’s possession. You can return them to FGX International for a free replacement or refund, including free shipping and handling.

Consumers can contact FGX International toll-free at (877) 277- 0104 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.fgxi.com and click on “Recall” for more information.

Sources: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2014/FGX-International-Recalls-Childrens-Sunglasses/#remedy

http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/home/lead_poisoning.html#

Kid's Sunglasses recall

Your Toddler

Shopping Cart Injuries: 66 Children Hurt Every Day

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A new study reveals that shopping carts and children can be a dangerous combination. I’m not surprised at the amount of injuries researchers from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio found. The study notes that, in the United States alone, 66 children a day are hurt because of falls and spills from being in a shopping cart. That’s one child injured badly enough every 22 minutes to go to the emergency room, or more than 24, 000 children a year. According to a new analysis of data from 1990 to 2011 by Dr. Gary Smith, director of Nationwide’s Center for Injury Research and Policy, the annual number of concussions, linked to shopping carts in children less than 15 years old, has risen nearly 90 percent since voluntary shopping cart safety standards took effect in 2004 “This is a setup for a major injury,” Smith said. “The major group we are concerned about are children under 5.” His study is published in the January issue of the journal Clinical Pediatrics. Newborns and children under 4 years old account for nearly 85 percent of the injuries. More than 70 percent of the harm was caused by falls out of shopping carts, followed by running into a cart or carts tipping over. It only takes a moment for a parent to look away for a shopping cart accident to happen, Smith said. A wiggly baby in an infant seat or a toddler reaching for a bright box of cereal can easily cause a fall that results in serious injury. Children’s center of gravity is high, their heads are heavy and they don’t have enough arm strength to break a fall, Smith explained. In many other countries, shopping cart stability standards help prevent accidents, but the U.S. lacks those standards, Smith says. The reason a high a number of falls and spills doesn’t surprise me is because I see how easily it can happen every time I shop for groceries. For example: During a recent trip for groceries I saw a baby in a carrier that was placed (but not buckled) in the upper seating area of a shopping cart. A rambunctious child of around 5 years old was pushing the cart into a display loaded with cold and cough syrup medicines. In a pleasant but firm voice, I told him to stop. The mother was at the other end of the aisle looking at products. Most of the potential disasters I see involve a toddler that is not securely buckled and is trying to either stand up in or get out of the cart. Parents are either distracted or have left the child “just for a second” to unload their cart or grab another item. If your store provides carts that are low to the ground, like the toy cars, those are a safer option when taking your child with you shopping. If your store doesn’t, ask the manager to start providing those types of carts. If you must use a standard shopping cart, make sure that your child is secured and that you never leave his or her side. It only takes a second for a child to lose their balance or a baby carrier to fall to the ground. It's a long fall and a very unforgiving surface they'll land on. Source: JoNel Aleccia, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/shopping-cart-danger-66-kids-hurt-day-stud...

Your Toddler

Parents: Read to Your Young Children!

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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

Your Toddler

Button Batteries Can Be Fatal for Kids

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Just about every home has them. They are button batteries that run everything from cameras, weight scales, calculators, remote controls, and flashlights. They are just the right size for your little one to swallow or put up their nose. If ingested, these small batteries can cause serious injury to a child such as chocking, burns and even death.

An estimated 40,400 kids under 13 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for battery-related injuries from 1997 to 2010, according to an analysis just out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The findings appear in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Three-quarters of injuries happened in kids 4 and under.

Most of the children were treated and released but 10% needed hospitalization and 14 battery-related deaths were also reported. 58% of the injuries were related to button batteries when the battery type was known.

In a May 2010 study, reported in the journal Pediatrics, researchers noted that there was an increase in emergency room visits related to button batteries from 1990 to 2009. The 20-year study revealed that there were about 66,000 battery-related emergency room visits.  Small battery related injuries nearly doubled in that time period in children under the age of 18.

Battery consumption symptoms involve vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, respiratory distress and dysphagia or difficulty swallowing. This makes it especially hard to diagnose what the problem is, especially if the caregiver didn't see the child consume the battery.

What makes the small items so dangerous, however, is that they can cause serious burns due to a buildup of the chemical hydroxide in just two hours, according to WebMD. They can also leak a corrosive chemical called alkaline electrolyte. Researchers identified the 3-volt lithium, coin-size batteries that are less than or equal to 20 mm as the most common culprit.

“Because delays in diagnosis and treatment can lead to serious complications and death,” the report’s authors wrote, “children suspected of having ingested a battery should get prompt medical attention. It is also important to recognize that children might be reluctant or unable to say that they ingested a battery or gave one to a sibling.”

The report said some safety standards are in place, but more could be done. In 2008 federal safety standards for toys included making batteries unreachable by putting them, for instance, in screwed-in compartments.

Not only are children swallowing button batteries but there has also been an increase in senior adults swallowing them. Some of these older adults have mistaken the batteries, sometimes used in hearing aids, for pills.

The United Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) offers a list of button battery precautions parents can take.

  • Discard button batteries carefully.
  • Do not allow children to play with button batteries, and keep button batteries out of your child's reach.
  • Caution hearing aid users to keep hearing aids and batteries out of the reach of children.
  • Never put button batteries in your mouth for any reason as they are easily swallowed accidentally.
  • Always check medications before ingesting them. Adults have swallowed button batteries mistaken for pills or tablets.
  • Keep remotes and other electronics out of your child's reach if the battery compartments do not have a screw to secure them. Use tape to help secure the battery compartment.
  • If a button battery is ingested, immediately seek medical attention.

There is a National Battery Ingestion Hotline available at (202) 625-333, or you can call your poison center at (800) 222-1222.

These batteries are small and easy to overlook. Make sure that you treat them like any other product that you wouldn’t want your child playing with.

Sources: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11181.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57504252-10391704/most-fatal-child-battery-swallowing-accidents-due-to-tiny-batteries/?tag=cbsnewsMainColumnArea

http://news.yahoo.com/small-deadly-swallowing-button-batteries-fatal-kids-182031780.html?_esi=1

 

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