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Your Toddler

Hitting & Biting

A normal part of develop with a young child is for them to experiment with hitting and biting. Child neuropsychologist Dr. Kristy Hagar says it’s normal and the hitting and biting comes out as a front-line reaction during the course of normal play. Dr. Hagar says it is important for parents to intervene every time they see their child hit or bite. “First thing is not to hit or bite back to teach them a ‘lesson’. It sends the wrong message.” Dr. Hagar recommends telling the child “no” in a firm voice and then do a consequence, like a time-out to reinforce the message.

“It’s a parents role, and teachers role too, to make sure the message is given back that it’s not an appropriate behavior,” Dr. Hagar says. But there is good news for parents worried that their child may turn in to a life-long hitter or biter. The behavior normally stops by age three, when a child’s language skills start to develop more.

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

12 Tips to Make a Home Safer for the Grandkids

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Grandparents and grandkids are two-way blessings. Grandchildren benefit from having a close relationship with their grandparents. They have an extra pair of eyes to watch over them and a lot of hugging and spoiling.

Grandparents get the joy of being around their grandchildren, watching them grow and develop and yes- spoiling them.

Many younger families depend on grandparents to supplement with childcare. Some grandparents are the preferred choice for day care. And of course, sometimes it’s just a family visit.

Not all grandparents think about making their home safer for the grandkids because they aren’t always around them. They may not be aware of what to look for or what to do to make their home safer for little ones. It may have been a long time since a grandparent has had to think about having a child in the house. A lot more information is quickly available regarding child safety than in years past.

The American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) recently published an article with tips for making a home safe for grandchildren. Reading it reminded me of when my child was little and the visits our family used to have with my husband’s parents and mine. I never thought about having a list of suggestions to help them safeguard their home for our child. Most of the time there wasn’t a problem, but occasionally there were big safety issues that they just hadn’t thought about.

If you’ve been thinking about how to talk with yours or your spouse’s parents about making their home more kid-proof – here’s some excellent tips from “ Grandparent Central”, AARP:

1. Keep meds out of reach. About 38 percent of child-poisoning cases involve grandparents' medications, so clear all drugs from countertops, tables and drawers. Put a childproof lock on the medicine cabinet. Make sure your purse is not within reach of your grandchild.

2. Get rid of crib-clutter. Not long ago, cribs were filled with such things as stuffed toys, little pillows, bumper pads and blankets. Nowadays, more people are aware that these items can present a suffocation hazard and are best left out of the crib

3. Baby should sleep on back. Make sure that baby is sleeping on his or her back and not face down or on their side in the crib.

4. Lock up detergent pods. These colorful packets of liquid laundry or dishwasher soap look like candy. They can pose "a serious poisoning risk to young children," says a study in the journal Pediatrics. If you use these products, make sure they are locked in a cabinet and cannot be accessed by curious little hands.

5. Make furniture tip-proof. Flat-screen TVs and modern furniture are particularly prone to tipping if little ones try to pull themselves up. Attach anti-tip brackets or straps to safely secure these items. And don't forget outlet covers, drawer locks, stairway gates, and edge and corner guards for furniture.

6. Walkers and wheelchairs. These items may look like toys to a young child. Make sure they are either out of sight or that someone keeps an eye on the child if they seem a little too intrigued by them.

7. Keep guns under lock and key. One of the most important tips! If you're among the 1 in 3 Americans with a gun, always keep it unloaded in a locked cabinet, with the ammunition stored separately.

8. Be present when your grandchild is with your pet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 77,000 children under age 10 are treated each year in emergency rooms for dog bites.

9. Guard pools and drains.  Always keep your cell phone with you when your grandchild is in the pool in case you need to call 911. If you've got a backyard pool or hot tub, you likely know to prevent access with a childproof gate. But you may not be aware of the danger of drains: Suction forces can be powerful enough to trap small children underwater.

10. Watch all water. Since toddlers' heads are heavy in proportion to bodies, they can easily be pulled down. That's why even an inch of standing water is dangerous. Put a childproof lock on the toilet and drain bathwater immediately.

11. Stove safety. When kids are around, use back burners and always keep handles of pots and pans turned in.

12. Beware of choking hazards. 5 of the most overlooked choking hazards for young children are mini-batteries, jewelry, refrigerator magnets, pen caps and loose change. Five items you may not typically think about.

These 12 tips are obviously good for every family household but may be particularly helpful when someone is not used to having children at their house for extended periods of time.

Grandparents and grandchildren often share a special bond that can grow even more secure and stronger when the home safe during their visit.

Story source: Bulletin staff, http://www.aarp.org/home-family/your-home/info-2016/home-safety-tips-grandkids.html

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

Thumb Sucking

2.00 to read

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

Ikea Recalls 29 Million Chests and Dressers After More Children Die

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with IKEA North America, of Conshohocken, Pa., is announcing the recall of all chests and dressers that do not comply with the performance requirements of the U.S. voluntary industry standard (ASTM F2057-14).  The recalled children’s chests and dressers are taller than 23.5 inches and adult chests and dressers are taller than 29.5 inches.  The 29 million units of recalled chests and dressers include: MALM 3-drawer, 4-drawer, 5-drawer and three 6-drawer models and other children’s and adult chests and dressers.  The recalled chests and dressers are unstable if they are not properly anchored to the wall, posing a serious tip-over and entrapment hazard that can result in death or serious injuries to children.

 On July 22, 2015, CPSC and IKEA announced a repair program for the chests and dressers that included a free wall-anchoring repair kit for the MALM chests and dressers and other IKEA chests and dressers. Two tragic fatalities involving MALM chests and dressers occurred prior to the announcement of the repair program:

·      In February 2014, a 2-year-old boy from West Chester, Pa. died after a 6-drawer MALM chest tipped over and fatally pinned him against his bed.

·      In June 2014, a 23-month-old boy from Snohomish, Wash. died after he became trapped beneath a 3-drawer MALM chest that tipped over. 

Subsequent to the July 2015 announcement, CPSC and IKEA learned of additional tip-over incidents, including a February 2016 incident in which a 22-month-old boy from Apple Valley, Minn. died when a MALM 6-drawer chest fell on top of him. 

 None of the chests or dressers in the above-listed incidents had been anchored to the wall.  In addition to the three deaths, IKEA received reports of 41 tip-over incidents involving the MALM chests and dressers, resulting in 17 injuries to children between the ages of 19 months and 10 years old.

 The MALM chests and dressers are constructed of particleboard or fiberboard and are white, birch (veneer), medium brown, black-brown, white stained oak (veneer), oak (veneer), pink, turquoise, grey, grey-turquoise, lilac, green, brown stained ash (veneer), and black.  A 5-digit supplier number, 4-digit date stamp, IKEA logo, country of origin and “MALM” are printed on the underside of the top panel or inside the side panel. 

 Since 1996, IKEA chests and dressers have been labeled to identify IKEA, the model name and the manufacturing date.

 The recalled MALM chests were sold from 2002 through June 2016 for between $70 and $200. 

 Recalled MALM Chest and Drawers:

·      MALM 3 – Sold 10/2002 to 6/2016

·      MALM 4 – Sold 6/2002 to 6/2016

·      MALM 5 -  Sold 10/2002 to 4/2006

·      MALM 6-  Sold 6/2002 to 6/2016

·      MALM 6 LONG – Sold 11/2002 to 6/2016

·      MALM 6 – Sold 4/2006 to 6/2016

IKEA also received 41 reports of tip-overs involving chests and dressers other than MALMs, resulting in the deaths of three children and 19 injuries to children:

·      In July 1989, a 20-month-old girl from Mt. Vernon, Va. died after  an unanchored GUTE 4-drawer chest tipped over and pinned her against the footboard of a youth bed.

·      In March 2002, a 2½-year-old boy from Cranford, N.J. died after an unanchored RAKKE 5-drawer chest tipped over and fatally pinned him to the floor.

·      In October 2007, a 3-year-old girl from Chula Vista, Calif. died after a KURS 3-drawer chest tipped over and fatally pinned her to the floor.  It is unknown as to whether the dresser was anchored or not.

Other recalled Chest and Drawers:

Most of the non-MALM chests and dressers included in this recall are listed on the IKEA website at www.IKEA-USA.com/recallchestsanddressers.

 Since 1996, IKEA chests and dressers have been labeled to identify IKEA, the model name and the manufacturing date.

 CPSC and IKEA are urging consumers to inspect their recalled IKEA chests and dressers to ensure that they are properly anchored to the wall.  Chests and dressers should be properly anchored to the wall whether or not they meet the ASTM standard.  Consumers should move any unanchored chests and dressers into storage or other areas where they cannot be accessed by children until the chests and dressers are properly anchored to the wall or removed from the home.

To receive a refund or free wall-anchoring kit for IKEA chests and dressers listed above, visit an IKEA retail store, go to www.IKEA-USA.com/recallchestsanddressers , or call 866-856-4532 anytime.

A child dies every two weeks and a child is injured every 24 minutes in the U.S. from furniture or TVs tipping over, according to CPSC data.

Remedy

Consumers should immediately stop using any recalled chest and dresser that is not properly anchored to the wall and place it into an area that children cannot access.  Contact IKEA for a choice between two options: refund or a free wall-anchoring repair kit.

Consumers are entitled to a full refund for chests and dressers manufactured between January 2002 and June 2016. Consumers with chests and dressers manufactured prior to January 2002 will be eligible for a partial store credit. 

Consumers can order a free wall-anchoring repair kit. Consumers can install the kit themselves or IKEA will provide a one-time, free in-home installation service, upon request. Consumers can reorder the kits throughout the life of their chest and dresser.

Story Source: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2016/IKEA-Recalls-29-Million-MALM-and-Other-Models-of-Chests-and-Dressers/

 

 

Your Toddler

Seven Tips For Toddler Discipline

2.15 to read

Toddler-hood is a particularly vexing time for parents because this is the age at which children start to become more independent and discover themselves as individuals. Yet they still have a limited ability to communicate and reason. "They understand that their actions matter -- they can make things happen," says Claire Lerner, LCSW-C, child development specialist and director of parenting resources for the organization Zero to Three. "This leads them to want to make their imprint on the world and assert themselves in a way they didn't when they were a baby. The problem is they have very little self-control and they're not rational thinkers. It's a very challenging combination." So how do you deal with a child who screams every time you try to give him or her a bath, and whose vocabulary seems to consist of just one word -- "no"? Here are a few simple toddler discipline strategies to help make life easier for both you and your child. Toddler Discipline Secret No. 1: Be Consistent Order and routine give young children a safe haven from what they view as an overwhelming and unpredictable world, says Lerner. "When there's some predictability and routine, it makes children feel much more safe and secure, and they tend to be much more behaved and calm because they know what to expect." Try to keep to the same schedule every day. That means having consistent nap times, mealtimes, and bedtimes, as well as times when your toddler is free to just run around and have fun. When you do have to make a change, it helps to warn your child in advance. Telling your child, "Aunt Jean is going to watch you tonight while Mommy and Daddy go out for a little bit" will prepare her for a slightly different routine, and will hopefully prevent a scene at bedtime. Consistency is also important when it comes to discipline. When you say "no hitting" the first time your child smacks another child on the playground, you also need to say "no hitting" the second, third, and fourth times your child does it. Toddler Discipline Secret No. 2: Avoid Stressful Situations By the time children reach the toddler stage, you've spent enough time with them to know their triggers. The most common ones are hunger, sleepiness, and quick changes of venue. With a little advance planning, you can avoid these potential meltdown scenarios and keep things relatively calm. "You have to anticipate, which means you don't go to the grocery store when your child needs a nap," says Lisa Asta, MD, a pediatrician in Walnut Creek, Calif., and associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. Try to make sure your child is home at naptimes, bedtimes, and mealtimes. If you are out, always keep food on hand in case of a sudden hunger attack. Keep excursions short (that means finding another restaurant if the one you've chosen has an hour-long wait, or doing your grocery shopping at times when the lines are shortest). Finally, plan ahead so you don't have to rush (particularly when you need to get your child to preschool and yourself to work in the mornings). You can ease transitions by involving your child in the process. That can be as simple as setting an egg timer for five minutes, and saying that when it rings it's time to take a bath or get dressed, or giving your child a choice of whether to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt to school. Toddler Discipline Secret No. 3: Think Like a Toddler Toddlers aren't mini-adults. They have trouble understanding many of the things we take for granted, like how to follow directions and behave appropriately. Seeing the scenario from a toddler's perspective can help prevent a tantrum. "You might say, 'I know, Derek, you don't like getting into the car seat ... but it's what we have to do,'" Lerner explains. "So you're not coddling, but you're validating their feelings. You have to set the limit, but you do it in a way that respects the child and you use it as an opportunity to help them learn to cope with life's frustrations and rules and regulations." Giving choices also shows that you respect your toddler and recognize the child's feelings. Asking your child if he or she wants to bring a favorite book in the car, or take along a snack, can make the child feel as though he or she has some control over the situation while you remain in charge, Lerner says. Toddler Discipline Secret No. 4: Practice the Art of Distraction Make your toddler's short attention span work for you. When your child throws the ball against the dining room wall for the 10th time after you've said to stop, it's pretty easy to redirect your child to a more productive activity, like trading the ball for a favorite book or moving the game outside. "Parents need to create an environment that is most conducive to good toddler behavior," advises Rex Forehand, PhD, the Heinz and Rowena Ansbacher Professor of Psychology at the University of Vermont and author of Parenting the Strong-Willed Child. "If they're into something they're not supposed to do, the idea is not to punish them but to get another activity going or pick them up and put them in another room." Toddler Discipline Secret No. 5: Give Your Child a Break Time-outs are one of the foundations of child discipline, but they may not be the best approach for the toddler stage. The negative implication of being sent away can teach kids that they're bad, rather than promote good behavior. If you do give your child a time-out, limit it to just a minute or two at this age. Instead of calling it a time-out, which can be confusing to children under 3, refer to it as something more positive. Lerner suggests creating a "cozy corner," a safe place, free from distractions and stimulation, where your child can just chill out for a few minutes until he or she can get back in control. That time away can help you regroup, as well. Correct bad behaviors, but also take the time to praise good behaviors. "If you don't tell your child when they're doing the right thing, sometimes they'll do the wrong thing just to get attention," Asta says. When you tell your toddler he or she has done something good, there's a good chance your child will want to do it again. Toddler Discipline Secret No. 6: Stay Calm When you're standing in the middle of the mall, looking down at your child who's screaming on the floor, and trying to ignore the stares of the shoppers around you, it's easy for your blood pressure to reach the boiling point. It's hard to stay calm, but losing control will quickly escalate an already stressful situation. Give yourself some time to cool off, advises Forehand. "Otherwise, you're venting your own anger. In the end that's going to make you as a parent feel worse and guilty, and it's not going to do your child any good." "I call it the "Stepford Wife" approach," Lerner says. As your child screams, say, 'I know, I know,' but stay completely calm as you pick him up. Don't show any emotion. Sometimes the best tactic is to ignore the behavior entirely. "You just literally act like they're not doing what they're doing. You ignore the behavior you want to stop," Lerner says. When your child realizes that his screaming fit is not going to get him a second lollipop or your attention, eventually he'll get tired of yelling. Your child may drive you so close to the breaking point that you're tempted to spank him, but most experts warn against the practice. "When we spank, kids learn that physical punishment is acceptable. And so we are modeling exactly what we don't want our kids to do," says Forehand. At the toddler stage, redirection and brief breaks are far more effective discipline tactics, Forehand says. Toddler Discipline Secret No. 7: Know When to Give In Certain things in a toddler's life are nonnegotiable. She has to eat, brush her teeth, and ride in a car seat. She also has to take baths once in a while. Hitting and biting are never OK. But many other issues aren't worth the headache of an argument. Pick your battles. "You have to decide whether it's worth fighting about, and about half the time it's not worth fighting about," Asta says. That means it's OK to let your son wear his superhero costume to the grocery store, or read The Giving Tree 10 times in a row. Once he gets what he wants, you can gradually get him to shift in another direction -- like wearing another outfit or picking out a different book to read. Finally, know that it's OK to feel stressed out by your toddler sometimes. "Realize that none of us as parents is perfect -- we do the best we can. There are going to be days that we're better at this than other days," Forehand says. "But if we parent consistently and have consistent rules, then we're going to see more good days than bad days."

Your Toddler

FDA Targets Unapproved Eardrops

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For years, physicians may have been unknowingly prescribing unapproved eardrops used to treat ear pain and swelling, to parents for their children’s ear aches. The drugs have not been evaluated for safety, quality and effectiveness says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The agency notified the drugs' makers to stop marketing the drops following a few reports of local allergic reactions of the ear, eye, face, neck and mouth. The drops can also cause itching, stinging, burning and irritation of the ear, according to an FDA news release.

"If we don't know whether these drugs have any benefits, we should not accept any possible risk of side effects," said the FDA's Dr. Charles Lee in the news release.

The FDA did not release the names of the companies or the medications involved, but did note, "unapproved prescription otic [ear] drug products containing the following ingredients are covered by this action:

·      Benzocaine;

·      Benzocaine and Antipyrine;

·      Benzocaine, Antipyrine, and Zinc acetate;

·      Benzocaine, Chloroxylenol and Hydrocortisone;

·      Chloroxylenol and Pramoxine;

·      Chloroxylenol, Pramoxine, and Hydrocortisone.

“Taking enforcement actions against these unapproved products will protect patients from unnecessary risks,” said Cynthia Schnedar, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “There are many FDA-approved prescription products to treat ear infections, so we expect little or no impact on patients from the removal of these unapproved and potentially unsafe products.”

The labels on these products do not disclose that they lack FDA approval, and health care professionals may not be aware of their unapproved status.  The FDA’s action does not affect FDA-approved prescription otic products, or legally marketed otic products sold over-the-counter.

Unapproved prescription otic drug products are frequently given to young children suffering from ear infections and other conditions that cause ear pain and swelling. Patients taking unapproved drugs may be at greater risk because there is no proven safety or effectiveness information. These products may be contaminated or manufactured incorrectly, which could result in patients receiving the wrong dose, even when administered according to the labeled directions for use, the agency said.

The FDA recommends that you check with your doctor if you think your child may have been prescribed one of these products or has exhibited side effects. You can ask for an alternative medication that has been FDA approved.

Sources: Margaret Farley Steele, http://consumer.healthday.com/general-health-information-16/doctor-news-206/unapproved-ear-drops-targeted-by-fda-700970.html

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm453348.htm

Your Toddler

Thumb Sucking and Nail Biting Linked to Fewer Allergies

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An interesting new study out of New Zealand suggests that young children who suck their thumbs or bite their nails may be at a lower risk for developing allergies.

The study included data from 1000 children born in New Zealand in 1972 or 1973, and spanned three decades.

While the results of the study suggests these habits may lower children’s risks of developing allergies, researchers noted that they are not recommending that kids take up these habits, only that the habits may play a role protecting them against allergies into adulthood.

 "Many parents discourage these habits, and we do not have enough evidence to [advise they] change this," said Dr. Robert Hancox, an associate professor of respiratory epidemiology at the University of Otago in New Zealand. "We certainly don't recommend encouraging nail-biting or thumb-sucking, but perhaps if a child has one of these habits and [it] is difficult [for them] to stop, there is some consolation in the knowledge that it might reduce their risk of allergies.”

The researchers asked the parents of the children participating in the study about their kids’ thumb-sucking habits and nail-biting habits four times: when the kids were 5, 7, 9 and 11 years old. Researchers also tested the children for allergies using a skin-prick test when they were 13, and then followed up with the kids again when they were 32.

It turned out that 38 percent of the children who had sucked their thumbs or bit their nails had at least one allergy, whereas among kids who did not have these habits, 49 percent had at least one allergy.

Moreover, the link between these childhood habits and a lower risk of allergies was still present among the study participants when they were 32 years old. The link persisted even when the researchers took into account potentially confounding factors that may also affect a person's risk of allergies, such as whether their parents had allergies, whether they owned pets, whether they were breast-fed as infants and whether their parents smoked.

By the time the children were 13 years old, researchers found that the ones who both sucked their thumbs and bit their nails were even less likely to have allergies compared with children who had just one of the two habits. However, by the time they were 32, this association was no longer found.

The study was published in the July edition of the journal Pediatrics.

The results of this study are inline with another study published in 2013, which found that children whose mothers sucked their kids’ pacifiers clean had a lower risk of developing allergies.

"Although the mechanism and age of exposure [to pathogens] are different, both studies suggest that the immune response and risk of allergies may be influenced by exposure to oral bacteria or other microbes," the researchers wrote in the new study.

The new findings also lend support the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which holds that environments that have too little dirt and germs may make children more susceptible to certain conditions, including allergies. It seems that "exposure to microbial organisms influences our immune system and makes us less likely to develop allergies," Hancox told Live Science.

Kids that suck their thumbs or bite their nails, receive mixed reactions from adults. Most adults will encourage kids to stop biting their nails, while it’s probably 50/50 on the thumb sucking. Either way, it appears that oral bacteria may play a role in lowering the risks of developing allergies in kids.

Story source: Agata Blaszczak-Boxe, http://www.livescience.com/55340-children-thumb-sucking-nail-biting-allergy-risk.html

 

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