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

Babies, Toddlers and Discipline

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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

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

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

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

Ikea Recalls GUNGGUNG Children’s Swings

1.30 to read

Ikea is recalling its Gunggung fabric swing because the suspension fittings can break causing a child to fall from the swing, posing a risk of serious injury.

There have been four reports worldwide including one in Germany, two in Austria and one in Canada of the suspension fittings breaking in use. In one incident a child fell and sustained a fractured leg. So far there have been no incidents reported in the U.S.

The recall involves about 2,000 swings in the U.S. and around 300 in Canada.

This recall involves IKEA GUNGGUNG Swing. GUNGGUNG is intended for indoor and outdoor use by children ages 3-7.

It is made of green polyester fabric and hangs from a plastic suspension fitting attached to steel hooks. The full length of the suspension strap, including the sling seat, is 17 feet and the width of the seat is 0.8 feet.

A permanent label is attached to one of the suspension straps, showing age recommendation (3-7), IKEA logo, Design and Quality IKEA of Sweden, GUNGGUNG article number 302.439.74, supplier number 17915 and Made in Vietnam.

The swings were sold exclusively at Ikea stores and online at www.ikea-usa.com from June 2014 to August 2014 for $20.

Consumers should immediately take down the swing to prevent use by children and return it to any IKEA store for a full refund. Proof of purchase is not required to receive a full refund for the return.

For refund information, you can contact KEA toll-free at (888) 966-4532 anytime or online at www.ikea-usa.com and click on the recall link at the top of the page for more information.

Source: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2014/IKEA-Recalls-Childrens-Swing/

Ikea GUNGGUNG Swing recall

Your Toddler

Got Dip? Pass the Veggies!

2.00 to read

Time and time again headlines declare that vegetables are absolutely necessary to a healthy lifestyle. As parents, we get it. But what if your little one doesn’t like broccoli, green beans, squash, cucumbers, carrots, beets -ok, I’ll pass on that one too- corn, cauliflower, spinach or tomatoes? What if every time you attempt to smuggle a vegetable into your child’s meal world war three breaks out?

Well...there may be hope. Try a little dip (and tenderness). According to a small but optimistic study, kids that don’t normally like veggies messing up their perfectly good meal, will reevaluate that outlook and give vegetables a taste if they are presented with a bit of flavored dip.

The fact that the dip used during the study was low in fat, calories and sodium didn’t seem to matter.

The study was conducted at the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Pennsylvania State University.

Thirty-four preschoolers were asked to do a taste test of vegetables with and without the low-fat dip.

Not surprisingly, the kids liked the veggies better when they were served with dip. When the dip was flavored, kids liked the vegetables even more compared to plain dip or no dip at all.

What I find amazing is that thirty one percent of the little tykes liked the vegetables as is – nothing added. When the researchers added the dip though, a whopping sixty-four percent were thumbs up on the vegetables. There were of course, those children who wouldn’t budge even while others were smiling, dipping and exclaiming how tasty cauliflower can actually be.  Six percent said no thanks to the dip and the vegetables while eighteen percent said absolutely no to the vegetables with no dip.

To see just how far kids were willing to go with the veggie and dip combo researchers did another study. This time they offered 27 preschoolers’ celery or squash – both notorious for being leaders in a preschooler’s yuck category. The kids basically picked at the unadorned squash or chopped celery. I suspect, knowing preschoolers, they spit it out - but there's nothing in the study about that. 

When the flavored dip was added to the mix, the little ones ate a little more – about a quarter cup of the chopped celery and about 15 grams of squash. Once again, the dip won although it didn't make a huge difference. 

Some people might say that if you were able to get preschoolers to eat chopped celery or squash at all, the test was a huge success.

Vegetables have a tough time competing with french-fries and fast foods particularly if they are rarely served. Sometimes you just have to get creative.  

"It is a good idea to try to pair less preferred foods, like vegetables, particularly those that your child doesn't like so much, with something to give it a little more flavor," said Marlene Schwartz, of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, who was not involved in the study.

Experts note that the amount of the vegetables a preschooler eats is not as important, at this stage, as whether or not they are willing to try new foods and flavors and be open to liking them.

"If you can get preschoolers to see themselves as people who try a bunch of different vegetables and try them in different ways and like vegetables, then you can really reinforce that way of seeing themselves and that's going to help you in the long run," she said.

On the other hand, Schwartz said, if a child comes to identify himself as someone who doesn't like vegetables, "then you're really fighting an uphill battle."

Amen to that.

There are a couple of other veggie introduction tricks that have been somewhat successful. Pizza is usually a hit with kids (and adults) so many parents will add vegetables as a topping. You have a lot more control over the sodium and fat content and you can get your child involved by asking them which veggies they would like to put on the pizza. Then let them place the vegetables on the top of the pizza.

Letting children be participants in growing vegetable gardens seems to also get them excited about picking and eating what they have grown.

Some parents put vegetables in a blender and then add the smooth concoction to assorted foods they know their kids like, such as the infamous mac and cheese.  Personally, I like vegetables to look like vegetables and for children to know that they are eating vegetables. It just seems more honest.

I like dip. So, perhaps I’ll give it a try and see if my little one will keep the broccoli in his mouth this time. 

Source: Kerry Grens, http://news.yahoo.com/adding-dip-veggies-gets-kids-eat-more-174841524.html

Your Toddler

“You’re a Do-Do Head.” Toddler Name-Calling

2.00 to read

Sooner or later your sweet little toddler will blurt out a string of words that sounds a lot like an insult. You might hear something like  “You’re a do-do head.” or the ever popular “You’re stupid.”  It may stop you in your tracks and make you wonder… “Did I hear that right?” 

Toddler rage can get pretty intense and if you’re a toddler you’re not really capable of saying exactly what’s got your big girl or boy panties in a wad. As a parent, you might have to restrain yourself from giggling the first time or two insults are hurled, but after awhile you’re really going to want to put a stop to it. First of all – it’s annoying when the cuteness wears off- and secondly, you don’t want your child insulting everyone whenever they get the urge, and finally they need to learn how to control their impulses.

Sometimes parents, caregivers or babysitters get right down on a toddlers level and the fight begins. No one wins in this situation.

So how do you put a stop to your preschooler’s name-calling and its first cousin “potty mouth?” Well, there are several approaches you can try. Since every kid is different, some of these tips will help some and not others. But don’t give up and don’t lose your cool (too often.)

  1. Take the fun out of name-calling. Let’s face it; name-calling for a toddler is a blast. They get a quick response and it can be very amusing watching mom or dad blow up right in front of them. Oftentimes they get giggles from their parents, or equal rage. For a toddler that’s a lot of exciting attention. Instead, calmly respond. “I don’t like that word, please don’t use it.”  It’s simple and to the point. Continue doing whatever you were doing before your child decided to let you know you weren’t behaving the way they wanted you to.
  2. Help your child find the language they need to explain what they are feeling. Angry insults usually come from frustration, and ha-ha insults from getting positive re-enforcement in the way of laughter and making a big deal of whatever is said.  To a toddler, cracking mom and pop up on a regular basis is a hoot till mom and pop get tired of it. Take the time to look at the situation that was going on right before the outburst. Was there something he or she wanted? Was he or she hungry, tired, thirsty, bored? Express what you think they were really wanting to say, such as: “You really wanted more cookies; they taste yummy. You're mad that mommy isn't letting you have them.” See if they respond that you have acknowledged their true complaint. Work with them a little while to help them find the right words.
  3. Give the anger a release valve. Offer your toddler a pillow to hit on or allow them to stamp their feet…. for a limited amount of time. Anger is normal – we all have times when we get angry. Expecting a child to not get angry or express it is not reasonable. Help them learn how to express anger appropriately and move on.
  4. Acknowledge your child’s need for independence. That’s a tough one because they aren’t really independent. But they are beginning to understand that they can have some say in their life choices. Help your youngster feel more empowered by allowing her to choose which shoes to wear, or what she has for snack time. When children are constantly being told what to do, they are more likely to try to exert some sense of power with behaviors like name-calling.
  5. Don’t reward name-calling. I think that says it pretty clearly. If you want to entertain a power struggle with a toddler, you’ll probably come out on top in the long run, but feel worse about your behavior than theirs. A better approach is to not reward name-calling by either over-reacting or giving in to demands. If he or she doesn’t get what they want after a name-calling session, they’ll eventually learn that name-calling doesn’t work.
  6. “Ouch.”  Some parents find it effective to use this simple phrase to let their children know that they have crossed the line. It sends a brief message in a neutral way that can have a real impact because it is delivered without a lot of words that a child might otherwise tune out.
  7. Where did you learn to act like that? Kids are great mimics. They learn by watching and listening. If you name-call when you’re angry, or someone they spend a lot of time around is a name-caller, you can see where they might pick it up. I’ve always thought if you want to see a reflection of yourself – watch how your toddler behaves.
  8. And finally, the hardest method of dealing with name-calling – don’t laugh. OK, now stop right there… not one more giggle. See? It’s hard. Once the laugh train is going full steam, it’s difficult for the conductor to stop it. Do your best to maintain a poker face even when the name-calling is silly. There are lots of more positive things to laugh with your child about.

Most children try name-calling when they feel hurt or out-of-control. If you find yourself at the beginning of the name-calling phase, control your own behavior and offer your child a way to help express what is going on with them. It’s one of those childhood expressive periods that needs some direct guidance and management before it becomes a pattern of bad behavior.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/25/parent-coach-name-calling_n_1791306.html

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