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

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

Toddlers Lack of Sleep Tied to Behavior Problems

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Sleep is vital to survival and while we may appear to be doing nothing, our brains are very active. Sleep deprivation can make us grumpy and unable to make good decisions or concentrate. Not only do adults need sufficient amounts of sleep- so do children.

 A new study looks at the affects not enough sleep can have on toddlers and found that those little ones that slept less than 10 hours a night or woke up frequently were more inclined to have emotional and behavioral problems at age five.

Researchers were surprised that the “risks were so strong and consistent” said lead author Borge Sivertsen of Uni Research Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Bergen.

“While only an experimental study can determine causality, our study does suggest that there is an increased risk of developing such problems, also after accounting for a range of other possible factors,” Sivertsen told Reuters Health by email.

The results were from a long-term study of 32,662 pairs of mothers and children in Norway. The mothers filled out questionnaires when they were 17 weeks pregnant, when the child was 18 months old and again when the child was five years old.

Mothers rated 99 child behaviors on a scale from “not true” to “very true” and reported how long the child slept in a 24-hour period and how often he or she woke up during the night.

At 18 months, almost 60 percent of toddlers were sleeping for 13 to 14 hours per night and about two percent were sleeping for less than ten hours per night. About 3 percent of toddlers woke three or more times per night. Most kids woke a few times per week or less.

Toddlers who slept less than 13 hours per night often had emotional or behavioral problems at the same age, the authors write in JAMA Pediatrics.

They also had a higher risk of internalizing problems such as being emotionally mercurial, anxious and depressed.

While the study doesn’t prove causation, it does lend a lot of credibility to there being a link between too little sleep in toddlers and later emotional and social problems.

“Although it is difficult to tease out causality from observational studies, this longitudinal study does suggest that inadequate sleep in early childhood increases the risks for later emotional and behavioral problems,” said Michelle M. Garrison of Seattle Children’s Research Institute in Washington, who wrote an editorial about the research.

Not all of these children will necessarily develop mental health problems later in life. Other factors also play important roles like the child’s temperament and his or her parent’s emotional health.

If your child seems to have difficulty sleeping well or getting to sleep, talk with your pediatrician about tips to help your little one get the rest he or she needs. 

Source: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/13/us-toddlers-sleep-behavior-idUSKBN0N41U920150413

 

Your Toddler

What’s In Infants and Toddler’s Prepackaged Food?

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As a parent, you may have assumed that pre-packaged food for infants and toddlers surely must be healthy; I mean really, what kind of a company would knowingly put these innocents at risk for long-term health issues? If that has indeed been your assumption, then you may be surprised to learn the results of a new study using a comprehensive analysis of foods sold for infants and toddlers by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, if you’ve ever read the confusing Nutritional Facts list on such products, you may not be surprised at all.

The health culprits contained in children’s food products are sugar and sodium. A little is fine, too much is a health disaster waiting to happen in the form of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The harsh reality is that some of these products have more sodium and sugar in them than adult food products.

We’re not talking about natural sugars and sodium contained in food, but added sugar and salt to make the foods “taste better”.

The CDC’s study showed that about one-third of prepared dinners made for toddlers contained at least one kind of added sugar as well as 97% of breakfast pastries and cereal bars. Researchers found that 88% juices and other drinks marketed for infants and toddlers contained added sugars.

On the sodium spectrum, 72% of toddler dinners were found to be way over the recommended limit, with an average of 2,295 milligrams of sodium per meal. The Institute of Medicine recommends that toddlers consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.

Some foods marketed to infants and toddlers had more sodium than comparable adult foods. Among 34 types of savory snacks for infants and toddlers – a category that includes crackers, some types of rice cakes and mini-hot dogs sold in jars – the average concentration of sodium was 486 mg per 100 grams of food. In comparison, salted potato chips intended for adults have about 450 mg of sodium per 100 grams, the researchers noted in their study, which was published by the journal Pediatrics.

When you take a hard look at what children are eating these days, and the lack of recommended physical activity, it’s no surprise that 23% of American kids between the ages of 2 and 5 (yes, that young) are either overweight or obese. With the added sodium in their diets, obese children are at an increased risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease (the No.1 cause of death in the U.S.), and other health problems. These health issues are starting to show up in teenagers, where once they didn’t develop till much later in life.

The CDC researchers set out to better understand the amount of sodium and sugar in prepared foods designed for infants and toddlers. They scoured a commercial database that includes nutrition information on more than 200,000 prepared foods. They also walked the aisles of Wal-Marts, Targets, Costcos and supermarkets in the Atlanta area to find additional products for their analysis. Altogether, they included 1,074 food items for infants and toddlers in their sample.

The good news is that not all of their findings negative. For instance, among 657 infant vegetables, fruits, dry cereals, dinners and ready-to-serve items that combined mixed grains with fruit, all but two were considered low in sodium. In addition, more than 80% of the 582 fruit, vegetable, soup and dinner items for infants had no added sugars.

However, food content began to change after kids turned 1 and moved on to toddler foods. Cereal bars, fruit and dry fruit snacks for this age group were still low in sodium, but most contained at least one type of added sugar. The most common additive listed was “fruit juice concentrate”, a somewhat creative name for squeezing out most of a fruit’s water and fiber so that only the fruit sugar is left.

The authors of the study expressed concern that starting children on high sodium and sugar foods when they are little could set them up for a lifetime of poor eating habits.

So what can you do as a parent? Become a label investigator before purchasing pre-packaged food for your child (or yourself for that matter).

When reading the Nutrition Facts label on a food, check for four things:

·      How many servings are contained in the product. Oftentimes a product – even a small one- contains more than one serving.

·      The sodium content per serving

·      The sugar content per serving

·      The list of ingredients.  Added sugars may have names such as high fructose syrup, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, honey and maple syrup. Added sodium may be listed as monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrite, and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)

Look at where these items fall in the list of ingredients.  Ingredients are listed in order of the quantity they contribute to the overall food. When you see any ingredient listed first or at the top of the list, there’s a lot of it in the food.

For this study, the data on sodium and sugar came from the Nutrition Facts labels that appear on food packages. These aren’t necessarily accurate because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows the figures on the label to be off by as much as 20%, the researchers noted. 

Source: Karen Kaplan,  http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-sn-infant-toddler-foods-salt-sugar-20150202-story.html

Your Toddler

Treating and Preventing Burns

Burns are one of the most painful injuries a child can suffer. Knowing how to recognize the degree of a burn, and the proper treatment, can make a huge difference in how well the burn will heal.

Burns are divided into four different levels. 1st degree burns are minor and heal quickly. Symptoms are redness, tenderness, and soreness (like most sunburns). 2nd degree burns are serious injuries. First aid and medical treatment should be given as soon as possible. Symptoms are blistering (like a severe sunburn), pain, and swelling. 3rd degree burns (also called full-thickness burns) are severe injuries. Medical treatment is needed right away. Symptoms are white, brown, or charred tissue often surrounded by blistered areas. There may be little or no pain at first. 4th degree burns are severe injuries that involve skin, muscle, and bone. These often occur with electrical burns and may be more severe than they appear. They may cause serious complications and should be treated by a doctor right away. Call your pediatrician if your child suffers anything more than a minor burn. ALL electrical burns and any burn on the hand, foot, face, genitals, or over a joint worse than 1st degree should receive medical attention right away. There are many different causes of serious burns in children, including sunburn, hot-water scalds, and those due to fire, electrical contact, or chemicals. All of these can cause permanent injury and scarring to the skin. Chemicals that cause burns also may be absorbed through the skin and cause other symptoms. Call the Poison Help Line (1–800–222–1222) or your pediatrician after washing off all the chemicals. Treatment Your immediate treatment of a burn should include the following. - As quickly as possible, soak the burn in cool water. Don’t hesitate to run cool water over the burn long enough to cool the area and relieve the pain immediately after the injury. Do not use ice on a burn. It may delay healing. Also, do not rub a burn; it can increase blistering. - Cool any smoldering clothing immediately by soaking with water, then remove any clothing from the burned area unless it is stuck firmly to the skin. In that case, cut away as much clothing as possible. - If the injured area is not oozing, cover the burn with a sterile gauze pad or a clean, dry cloth. - If the burn is oozing, cover it lightly with sterile gauze if available and immediately seek medical attention. If sterile gauze is not available, cover burns with a clean sheet or towel. - Do not put butter, grease, or powder on a burn. All of these so-called home remedies actually can make the injury worse. When treating a burn at home, watch for any increase in redness or swelling or the development of a bad odor or discharge. These can be signs of infection, which will require medical attention. Prevention Most burns that are not fatal are not related to fires. Most often, these are scalds from hot liquids—for example, when a child turns over a cooking pot upon himself, or turns the knobs on a bathtub faucet so that hot water flows on him. Children also sometimes suffer burns by touching a hot iron, a coil on an electric stove, a curling iron, hot barbecue charcoal, or fireworks. - Install smoke detectors in hallways outside bedrooms, the kitchen, living room, and near the furnace, with at least one on every floor of the house. Test them every month to be sure they work. It is best to use alarms that have long-life batteries, but if these are not available, change batteries at least annually on a specific date that you’ll remember (such as January 1 of each year). - Practice home fire drills. Make sure every family member and others who care for your children in your home know how to leave any area of the home safely in case of a fire.. - Have several working fire extinguishers readily available. Place fire extinguishers around the home where the risk of fire is greatest, such as in the kitchen, furnace room, and near the fireplace. - Teach your children to crawl to the exits if there’s smoke in the room. (They will avoid inhaling the smoke by staying below it.) - Purchase a safety ladder if your home has a second story, and teach your children how to use it. If you live in a high-rise building, teach your children the locations of all exits and make sure they understand never to use the elevator in a fire. (It can become trapped between floors or open on a floor where the fire is burning.) Agree on a family meeting point outside the house or apartment so you can make certain everyone has gotten out of the burning area. - Teach your children to stop, drop, and roll on the ground if their clothing catches fire. - Avoid smoking indoors. - Do not leave food cooking on the stove unattended. - Lock up flammable liquids in the home. It is best to store them outside the home, out of children’s reach, and away from heat or ignition sources. - Lower the temperature of your water heater to below 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 degrees Celsius) to prevent hot water scalds and burns. - Don’t plug appliances or other electrical equipment into extension cords if they place too much “amperage” or load on the cord, thus creating a potentially unsafe situation. - Keep matches and lighters away from children, locked and out of reach. - Avoid all fireworks, even those meant for consumer use.

Your Toddler

Study: Preschool Kids Do Better As Adults

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Can preschool help your child be better prepared as an adult? New results from a 25 year study says absolutely. Have you been struggling with whether to send your child to preschool next year? Maybe a new publicly funded study can help with your decision.

According to results from a Chicago based study with children from low-income families, preschool had surprising long-term benefits. Researchers followed more than 1,000 children for up to 25 years. They tracked nearly 900 children into adulthood. What they discovered was that low-income kids who attended preschool ended up with better jobs, less drug abuse and fewer arrests than children who didn’t attend preschool. Arthur Reynolds began studying more than 1,500 Chicago kids back in 1986, and he’s kept up with most of them ever since. About two-thirds of those children went through the Child-Parent Center Education Program – the rest through traditional pre-kindergarten programs, which start later and are less intensive. The two groups had similar backgrounds, largely poor and African American. Now those kids are turning 28, and Reynolds, a University of Minnesota professor of child development, says people who had rigorous preschool are still enjoying advantages after 25 years. “There’s an initial effect on school readiness,” said Reynolds, a professor of child development at the University of Minnesota. “That kind of sets off sort of a chain reaction that leads to the changes that we see in adulthood at the end of the twenties.” The ongoing publicly funded program focuses on language development, scholastic skills and building self-confidence. It involves one or two years of half-day preschool, and up to four additional years of educational and family services in grade school. The findings were published in the online version of the journal Science. Previous studies have also found that attendance at high quality preschools produced similar results. Though many preschool kids also received extra services in grade school, including intensive reading instruction, the researchers found the most enduring effects, particularly for non-academic success, were due to one or two years of preschool. The authors theorize that those intensive early childhood experiences built intellectual - skills, social adjustment and motivation that helped children better navigate their high-risk environments. The challenges facing the low-income children were daunting, and the final results were, as adults, the average income for those attending preschool was $12,000 less than the average income. Also almost half of them had been arrested. But even though the statistics sound grim, they were not as dismal as for the kids who did not attend preschool. Preschool gave the children who attended a leg-up in the world. Experts not involved in the study still called the results impressive. "To still show really any advantage for such a long period of time is remarkable and noteworthy," said Kyle Snow, director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children's applied research center. The study's lead researcher, Arthur Reynolds of the University of Minnesota, said the differences between the groups are meaningful and translate to big savings to society for kids who attended preschool. The average cost per child for 18 months of preschool in 2011 is $9,000, but Reynolds' cost-benefit analysis suggests that leads to at least $90,000 in benefits per child in terms of increased earnings, tax revenue, less criminal behavior, reduced mental health costs and other measures.  "No other social program for children and youth has been shown to have that level of return on investment," he said. Some of the study’s results were: —80 percent of the preschool group finished high school versus 75 percent of the others. —Nearly 15 percent of the preschool group attended a four-year college, versus 11 percent of the others. —28 percent of the preschool group had skilled jobs requiring post-high school training versus 21 percent of the others. —Average annual adult income for the preschool group was about $11,600 versus $10,800 for the group that did not attend preschool. The low average incomes include zero earnings for those in prison and close to that for adults who were still in college or studying elsewhere. —14 percent of the preschool group had abused drugs in adulthood versus 19 percent of the other. —48 percent of the preschool group had been arrested in adulthood and 15 percent had been incarcerated, versus 54 percent of the others arrested and 21 percent incarcerated. Preschool offered many of the children a solid base for further education, and an opportunity to start the first grade better prepared.

Your Toddler

Are Little Girl's Toys Too Sexy?

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Peter Pan may never have grown up, but Tinker Bell and her fairy friends definitely have. The Disney Fairies boast hourglass figures, coy glances and barely-there mini dresses. In short, these girls aren’t your mama’s pixies.Notice anything new about the dolls and ponies that your daughter picks up at the toy store these days? Once you get a good look at them, do you think they may be a little too hot-to-trot? You're not alone.

An article on this week’s MSNBC’s website, offers a look into the world of children’s sexed-up play things. Peter Pan may never have grown up, but Tinker Bell and her fairy friends definitely have. The Disney Fairies boast hourglass figures, coy glances and barely-there mini dresses. In short, these girls aren’t your mama’s pixies. Even trolls have come of age. Those formerly stout, pug-nosed kewpies, have reemerged in a new slim, thigh-baring line called Trollz. Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake have become tweens and shed their baby fat.  And et tu Holly Hobbie? She’s traded her prairie dresses for a saucy wardrobe and lightened locks. In recent years, Disney, Mattel and other major companies have revisited a host of iconic dolls and turned them into freshly tarted-up — or at least more grown-up —toys. New lines, like the Monster High Dolls and hot-to-trot Struts horses (yes, horses),  came out of the gate tramping it up and they're making some parents — and psychologists, uncomfortable. “They send the message to kids that you can’t just be you,” says Lori Mayfield, a 30-year-old mother of four from Draper, Utah. “It seems like toy makers are setting up our kids.” While she likes the Disney fairies because they “have a good friendship and there’s always a lesson to be learned,” she says that even she and her husband, Chad, were startled by their saucy style. The actually found themselves recently debating which fairy is the hottest. (Consensus: Silvermist.)  Mayfield, who runs the blog, Twinfinity from her home, says she and her husband strive to teach the kids that beauty comes from within, but frets that her 6-year-old daughter is already asking to wear makeup and worrying whether her coat makes her look fat. Dale Atkins, a psychologist says she's upset about what the revved-up dolls are teaching girls about their own appearance.  “When we have these ridiculous models —sexualized children, and horses with long eyelashes that are flirtatious and all of that — it sets up this ideal of beauty and body image that kids have to pay attention to because they can’t not pay attention to it. And they feel less good as they’re trying to develop a good sense about their own bodies," she says. "The sexualized aspect just makes them feel like they're only good if they are objectified. ... And it's all so subtle, for a child anyway. We parents and adults look at this and say, 'Oh my gosh, this is so blatant, but in fact it's subtle because kids are playing with these things and then they look in the mirror." But representatives at Mattel, the makers of the wildly popular Monster High Dolls, say its controversial line of toy dolls, featuring the teen offspring of monsters, aims to show kids it's OK to be different. “Monster High is all about celebrating your imperfections and accepting the imperfections of others," says Margaux Vega, spokeswoman for Mattel.  She acknowledges that the dolls, which sport fishnet stockings, heavy makeup and ultrashort skirts, appeal mostly to 5- to 7-year-olds. But they also have online personas and webisodes aimed at older kids that tell each doll's back-story. "Clawdeen Wolf is the teenage daughter of a werewolf. In the webisodes, she has to shave and wax and pluck between classes," Vega says. "Girls of a certain age know about the embarrassment of unwanted hair in unwanted places.” 'Why does she look like a boy?' It's gotten so that some kids, even young tots, expect that dolls will look like they've already been through puberty.  When Joy Oglesby showed her daughter, Lauren Welmaker, a picture of the old version of Tinker Bell in a library book, the 4-year-old, who has all the new Disney fairies, wondered: "Why does she look like a boy?" Oglesby, 34, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has seen Struts horses, which have long eyelashes and wear high heels on their hooves, and says her daughter would love one. "The mane is silky and she would be attracted to the eyes, and the accessories that come with it. It looks very girly, I'm not sure why she gravitates to this kind of toy, but I'm not worried about it yet." But the effect of titillating toys creeps in slowly, says Peggy Orenstein, the author of the bestseller “Cinderella Ate my Daughter.” “Girls don’t naturally want to be sexy — they want to be girls,” says Orenstein. “That is natural. [But] when they continue to see images of toys that are supposed to be age appropriate emulating sexiness, then that un-natural aspiration, becomes natural.”  Orenstein says toy manufacturers began following the marketing strategy “Kids Getting Older Younger” when they realized that toys marketed towards kids between the ages of 8 and 12 were attracting kids who were in the 3-year-old to 8-year-old age range because they wanted to emulate their older brothers and sisters. But Donna Tobin, director of global brand strategy and marketing for Hasbro, says the company actually has gone the opposite direction with makeovers for its toy My Little Pony, aimed at girls ages 3 to 6. "We want our girls to stay little longer!" she says. "Look at My Little Pony. She’s cute. She’s pretty. She’s pink. She may have a different look, but she has always stood for friendship. We’re not about ipstick or shaving." As younger kids gravitate to older toys earlier, their big sisters and brothers often have already closed up their toy boxes and moved on to other things. At ages 6 and 8, sisters Amanda and Sophia Oliva of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., aren't interested in playing princess anymore, says their mom, Lauri. When they play dress up, they pretend to be models. And their newest obsession is with teen music sensation Taylor Swift. “Now, everything in our house is about Taylor Swift," says Lauri Oliva, 46. Sophia tries to emulate her. She'll sing and dance Taylor Swift karaoke songs in the mirror.” For Sophia's birthday, all she wanted was tickets to a Swift concert. "Kids are 8 going on 15 these days,” she says. What is old is new again Some kids' toys aren't necessarily being marketed to kids, but rather to their parents, says Reyne Rice, trend specialist for the Toy Industry Association. She says updating the look of a toy is a way manufacturers can appeal to the new generation of consumers while still tapping into the nostalgic interest and collector dollars of the older generation.  “A lot of these toy manufacturers realized the interest in brands that have been around for generations and realized there was still interest in the brands — from both the children as young as 3, as well as their parents,” says Rice. But Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist, suggests parents actually seek out their old favorites instead of embracing some of the "refreshed" versions. “You have to use your judgment,” she says — and maybe hit up eBay or garage sales for the classic versions. “If you have a choice, I’d take the old Strawberry Shortcake.” Saltz says these sexed-up toys and childhood icons go in the same category as violent video games and PG-13 movies: Parents need to take a close look, evaluate them for themselves, and decide whether they’re appropriate. Melissa Walker, 41, of Southlake, Texas, walks the line of finding suitable toys for her daughters Gabrielle, 6, and Adeline,4, while letting them indulge their interests. Gabrielle loves the Disney fairies and says her favorite is Rosetta, "because she's pink and that's my favorite color. And because I like flowers and she makes flowers." (Rosetta is the red-headed fairy with a "garden talent.") Walker doesn't mind the Disney fairy makeover because of the overall message they send. "They control everything. They are in charge of seasons, of things working. They are good role models," says Walker. But she draws the line at sexy doll clothes. On a recent shopping trip to Costco, Walker saw a big bin of Barbie clothes, but despite her daughters' love for the doll, her cart remained empty. "There was not one outfit that wasn't a 'hoochie' dress. I guess it was the 'Barbie Goes Wild' collection. We didn't buy anything. There's no reason for that," adding that she's happy to buy Barbie outfits where she looks like a doctor or a princess or a soccer player. Walker has a strict "no exposed belly buttons" rule in her house, and figures her kids' dolls should follow it, too. "We don't want to plant that too soon," she says. "We'll have that fight soon enough."

Your Toddler

Making Time Outs Work for You and Your Child

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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

Pain Patch, Serious Threat to Young Children

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For people who suffer with severe chronic pain, a slow released Fentanyl skin patch offers a respite from agony. However, the powerful pain reliever can be deadly for young children who accidently get a hold of a discarded or unopened patch.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a Drug Safety Communication to warn parents, caregivers and health care workers about the dangers of accidental exposure to and improper storage and disposal of fentanyl patches.

In 2012, a toddler in Deerfield, Massachusetts accidently ingested a fentanyl patch after visiting a family member in a nursing home. The child’s great-grandmother was on fentanyl patches for pain. The boy’s parents believe the patch was improperly discarded and either stuck to a Halloween candy bucket or his toy truck while he was playing on the floor. The child ingested the patch 2 or 3 days after the visit and died from an overdose. An autopsy found the patch in the boy’s throat.

The FDA is aware of 32 cases of children who were accidentally exposed to fentanyl since 1997, most of them involving children younger than age 2. There have been 12 deaths and 12 cases requiring hospitalization.

"These types of events are tragic; you never want this to happen. We are looking for ways that we can help prevent this from happening in the future," Dr. Douglas Throckmorton, deputy director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release. "This reinforces the need to talk to patients and their families to make sure that these patches are stored, used and disposed of carefully."

The fentanyl patches contain a powerful opioid narcotic and are sometimes given to patients who are suffering from cancer and for other debilitating pain causing conditions that have not responded to non-fentanyl pain relievers. The brand name is Duragesic.

A fentanyl overdose -- caused when a child either puts a patch in his or her mouth or applies it to the skin -- can cause death by slowing breathing and increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the blood, the FDA said.

Other overdose symptoms for fentanyl may include:

-       Extreme weakness or dizziness

-       Pinpoint pupils

-       Cold and clammy skin

-       Weak pulse

-       Fainting

The FDA said Monday that it approved changes to the Duragesic patch so the name of the drug and its strength will be printed on the patch in long-lasting ink in a clearly visible color. The agency added that it has asked manufacturers of the generic versions to make the same changes. The previous ink color varied by strength and was not always easy to see.

If you have Duragesic patches in your home make sure that they are properly discarded and that young children are not able to reach them. Older children, such as adolescents should not have access to them as well. A combination of alcohol and fentanyl can quickly become deadly.

Fentanyl is the strongest legal narcotic available. The U.S. government classifies it as a Schedule II Controlled Substance and highly addictive.

Source: http://children.webmd.com/news/20130923/pain-patches-children?printing=true

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