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

Recall: Kid’s Sunglasses Due to Heavy Lead Content

2.00 to read

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

Protecting Children From Furniture Tip-Overs

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Children are curious little beings. What begins as an adventure can instantly turn into a tragedy, especially where toddlers and young children are concerned.

A totally preventable injury that happens more times than you might think is when a child climbs on or pulls over a television, dresser, bookcase or large computer monitor. 

Between 2009 and 2011, nearly 300 kids ranging from 1 month to 8 years old died of their injuries after an object or piece of furniture fell on them according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Forty children are taken to the emergency room daily in the U.S. with injuries due to a heavy piece of furniture falling on them. Nearly half of these incidents are caused by televisions. And one child is killed every two weeks from being crushed under a television set, according to the CPSC.

Young children have no concept of the weight or danger of a piece of furniture or television set, so parents have to be the ones on the look-out for them.

"Every parent or guardian of a young child should look around their homes and imagine what could tip over, fall off walls and injure a child. Imagining it is better than it becoming a reality," said Dr. Alex Rosenau, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, in a news release.

Some parents simply don’t realize these heavy objects can be major hazards in their homes. Parents can help prevent these injuries by anchoring televisions and heavy furniture like dressers and bookcases firmly to walls.

The most critical injuries involve children being hit on the head from a falling object or furniture.

While many of the newer television sets are lighter than the older models, they are typically larger and can easily tip-over. The weight of 40 to 50 inch flat screen TVs can run anywhere from 17 to 40 pounds without a stand. A direct hit of even 17 pounds on a child’s head can cause a serious injury.

Here is a list of steps parents can take to prevent tip-over injuries.

• All dressers, bookcases, entertainment units, TV stands and TVs need to be securely anchored, usually into a wall stud. You can secure heavy furniture, TVs and appliances to a wall stud with braces, brackets, anchors or wall straps.  It's also a good idea to replace any top-heavy furniture that can't be secured. This is particularly important for furniture with shelves, drawers and doors.

• Televisions should be placed on low, sturdy furniture appropriate for the size of the TV.

• Do not place televisions on top of furniture that is not designed for such use -- such as on dressers -- as they can tip over more easily.

• Push the TV as far back as possible from the front of its stand. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions to anchor it.

• Remove items such as toys and remote controls from the top of televisions and furniture. These items may tempt children to climb the furniture or TV, which may cause a tip-over.

* Make sure that all computer monitors are also safely secured so they can't tip over.

* Large wall art or sculptures that could fall and hurt a child should be secured or removed.

* Appliances, such as refrigerators, ovens and microwaves, should also be firmly in place.

* Mounted TVs should be well out of reach of young children.

• Make sure that electrical cords are out of a child’s reach.

Children are curious little beings that need looking after. If you have one of these mounts, you can contact the company for a free repair kit.

A few simple fixes can help protect your little one from a possibly deadly or life-changing accident.

Sources: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Documents/Protecting_Kids_Furniture_TV_Tip-Overs.pdf

Mary Elizabeth Dallas, http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2014/07/30/tip-over-furniture-can-kill-kids

Your Toddler

Detergent Pods and Children’s Eye Injuries

1:45

While there has been a concerted effort to make sure that parents who use liquid detergent pods keep them away from their small child, kids are still finding them and being injured.

Liquid detergent pods can look like candy to small children. They are often small and colorful pods that easily break open, especially if they get wet. Small children are very likely to put them in their mouths once they get ahold of one.

Eye doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical treated 10 young children who had eye injuries in 2012 and 2013 as a result of encounters with a ruptured detergent pod. The injuries included conjunctivitis and corneal damage; fortunately they all recovered within a week, with no long-range problems.

The hospital has also reported seeing children with breathing problems as well as other injuries caused by the pods according to Dr. Michael Gray, the lead author of the a new study, which was published in the October Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

"It's a risk for injury to the eye, and like any chemical they need to be put in a place where kids do not have access to it," Gray told NPR’s Shots. "Be sure to treat it like any other poisonous chemical."

In 2012, these new forms of laundry detergent became available and quickly popular. I use the dishwasher pods, which have a similar look but are even smaller.

Once the pods were on the market, poison control centers began receiving calls about young children who had ingested some of the detergent and were vomiting, had difficulty breathing and were lethargic.

Today, the problems continue, according to Dr. Michael Beuhler, a medical toxicologist and medical director of the Carolinas Poison Center. In 2012, North Carolina answered 220 calls to its poison hotline about detergent pod poisonings. That number rose to 262 in 2013, and is at 321 for 2014 as of October. Nationwide, nearly 6,300 injuries were reported in 2012. Numbers for 2013 aren't yet available.

The injuries seem worse than with regular liquid detergents, Beuhler says, perhaps because of surfactants or other chemicals in the pods' formulation. "It's probably not the pH," he says. "[In the] ones we've seen the pH is not that far off from physiologic, yet they have these bad injuries."

Some manufactures have tried to improve the packaging and make them more difficult for children to open, but continue to stress that parents make sure the pods are stored where children cannot reach them.

Beuhler says that many of the calls they get are related to when the pods are loose – not in the container- or are in the washing machine, before the wash has begun.

"Soap can hurt you," Beuhler told Shots. "There's not an understanding that these are dangerous for children to get their hands on."

Parents of small children need to remain vigilant about keeping any detergent pods they have out of the reach of young children. These pods should be stored in higher locations and treated like any other product that can cause poisoning.

Source: Nancy Shute, http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/10/07/354310056/detergent-pods-can-cause-eye-injuries-in-children

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

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, Toddlers and Discipline

2.00 to read

In a previous article we looked at the results of a study on whether spanking your child creates more disobedience instead of controlling bad behavior.  According to the research in this particular study, spanking is not an effective form of discipline; in fact, it’s not discipline at all. It only creates more problems down the road.

So, what are some better alternatives to getting your child to behave? 

The first step is to understand what discipline is and how it works. Discipline is not punishment.

Punishment, defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: suffering, pain or loss that serves as retribution or a severe, rough or disastrous treatment.

That’s not the goal of loving parents who are trying to stop a child’s unacceptable behavior.

Discipline, on the other hand, is about teaching. It helps a child learn what is expected and to gradually learn how to control their behavior.  Children learn best when they feel safe and secure and their “good behavior” is encouraged.  The key is to have a good relationship with your child as well as clear and realistic expectations.

There is no one discipline tool that fits all, but there are some guidelines for different age groups. As children mature, techniques need to change to fit your child’s mental and physical growth.

Ages 0-1 years of age (Infants):

Infants should never be disciplined. They are not capable of understanding the meaning of words or able to remember what you’ve asked of them. You’d think that this would be obvious, and to most parents or caregivers it is. But there are some people who don’t get it and not only try to discipline their baby, but get angry when the infant doesn’t do what they want.  Babies are not little adults who have an agenda. They are merely babies and depend entirely on their parents or caregivers for survival.

Loving touches and gentle words are just as important as food and clothing to these little ones.  They need to learn that their world is a safe and nurturing place and that they can trust those around them.  A baby never does anything to deliberately annoy someone. They simply aren’t capable of that kind of manipulation.

Ages 1-3 (Toddlers)

These are the ages when children first sample the world around them through mobility and touch. They are curious, excited and easily frustrated. They learn through touching and moving and oftentimes creating a mess. They get frustrated because they don’t have the skills to accomplish everything they want.  The word “no” can become a part of their limited vocabulary.

Discipline at this age is about setting a few simple boundaries and helping them learn new skills with patience and praise.

Avoid battles, particularly with eating and toilet training. It’s not a war between you and your toddler. Making a mess is normal. This age group demands a lot of attention and patience. Re-directing and praise works better than a constant stream of you saying “no, no, no.” The word no loses its power when repeated constantly.

Toddler-proof your home: The best way to help a toddler stay out of a dangerous situation, or not grab something you don’t want them to have, is to toddler-proof your home. Cover electrical outlets with plastic snap-ons. Move breakable objects to a higher place in the house. Make sure coffee tables don’t have sharp corners.  Secure your TV to the wall and make sure that bookcases are secured. Anything they climb on or pull over needs to be anchored. Make sure that drawers and cabinets cannot be accessed. Put in place kid-safe products designed to block access to these areas.

Toddlerhood is a challenging time, no doubt about it.  They have little self-control and are not rational thinkers. They want to be independent and discover things for themselves but don’t have the communication skills and forethought needed to do so safely so it’s up to you, the parent, to help keep them safe.

Routines, order and consistency: Routines, order and consistency are very important to helping this age feel that the world around them is a safe place. This means regular nap times, meal times and bed times as well as free time to play and explore.  

Since they are just beginning to experience a little independence, toddlers need to know what you expect of them. Terms have to be simple; consequences quick. If your child bites or hits or grabs the cat by the tail, you respond quickly with the appropriate words. “ Do not bite”, “Do not hit,”  “ Do not pull the kitty’s tail”.  Say it every time it happens, and redirect your child to an activity that you can praise. Be consistent in the idea that there are certain actions that are not acceptable and others that are not only acceptable, but also more interesting.

Avoid stressful situations. You’ve spent enough time with your child to know that there are situations that often trigger bad behavior. The most common ones are hunger, sleepiness, and quick changes of venue. Avoid these potential meltdown scenarios with a little advance planning. An example would be that you wouldn’t take your toddler to the grocery store when you know they haven’t had a nap or are hungry. You can pretty well predict how that is going to go.

If you’re taking your child out, keep excursions short unless it’s to the park or playground. Even those trips should have a time limit that you know works well.

Restaurants can be tricky with a toddler. There is a lot of stimulation and not a lot of room for exploring. Find “family friendly” locations and try not to go during the busiest times. If a meltdown occurs, take your child outside, explain the situation in a calm voice and redirect their attention again until he or she calms down. 

Validate their emotions: Let your child know you understand their frustration. Validate their emotions. “I know you don’t like the car-seat, but we have to use it when you ride in the car.” It’s not coddling, it’s validating their feelings but also setting boundaries. When we ride in the car- you’ll be in the car seat. I understand you don’t like it.

You can also bring something your child likes to hold – a stuffed animal, blanket or toy. You can offer a healthy snack or give them a choice between the two, so they feel like they have a measure of control in their life. It’s a learning experience every day for parents as well as toddlers.

Time-outs? A lot has been made of “time-outs.” Time-outs are helpful when used as a discipline tool, but typically they don’t work well for toddlers. They are too young to really understand what it is you’re asking of them and it can be too confusing.  Distraction and redirecting tend to work better for this age.

Praise good behavior: You can correct bad behavior, but don’t forget to praise good behavior.  When a little one only hears what they are doing wrong, they don’t get a sense of the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.  Sometimes re-phrasing in a more positive tone helps. “The puppy likes to be petted, not have her tail pulled. Let’s pet the puppy like this. Look- see the puppy likes that – you’re such a good puppy petter!”

Stay calm: Toddlers can push your buttons.  It’s important to stay calm and to know when you’re getting too upset to parent well.  Losing control can quickly escalate into yelling, hitting and doing or saying something you regret. If your child is home and having a tantrum or repeating the same behavior over and over, give yourself some time to cool down.

When they are in a safe environment like the home, ignoring the tantrum may work best. Sometimes, you just have to let them exhaust themselves while screaming, lying on the floor and flailing about. It’s part of learning that they won’t always get what they want.

Once they settle down, hug them and let them know that you love them and then find something better to do. 

Toddlers will test your patience, your sanity and your self-control. They’ll also make you find creative ways to teach them. Each child is different and requires an approach tailored to their personality and maturity.

And yes, sometimes you reach a point where the battle is more damaging than giving in. Be flexible and give in, but redirect the behavior towards something that you want them to learn or do.

“Alright, mommy is going to give you this piece of candy, and then you’re going to help me put away your building blocks. That’s the way we’re going to make this moment work for both of us. Sound good?”

Toddlers and babies are precious little beings that can make your heart burst with joy and love. Yes, they can be demanding, but they are so worth the extra effort.

In later posts we’ll look at discipline techniques for older children.

Sources: Stephanie Watson, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/7-secrets-of-toddler-discipline

http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=114&np=122&id=2429

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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