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

Recall: Step2® Whisper Ride Touring Wagons™

1.45 to read

They’re popular, colorful, fun and possibly dangerous. The Step2® Whisper Ride Touring Wagons™, sold exclusively at Toys R Us, are being recalled due to a fall hazard.

The removable blue seat backs can detach and allow the child in the wagon to fall out.

This recall involves Step2® Whisper Ride Touring Wagons. The two-seat plastic wagon is 25-inches wide by 41.25-inches long by 20-inches high with blue seats, a tan wagon base and a red canopy.  The Step2 logo appears on the canopy and on the side of the wagon base.

Incidents/Injuries

Step2 has received 29 reports of the seat back detaching, 28 of which resulted in children falling out of the wagon.  Fourteen of these resulted in bumped heads and nine resulted in bruises, scratches or lacerations.  

Remedy

Consumers should immediately stop using the wagon and inspect it to determine if the seat belt is attached to the removable blue seat back.  If so, the wagon is included in this recall. Consumers with the recalled wagons should contact Step2 to obtain a free repair kit.  

Sold exclusively at

Toys R Us stores nationwide and online at ToysRUs.com from February 2013 to August 2013 for about $130.

Manufacturer

The Step2® Company, LLC of Streetsboro, Ohio

Manufactured in

USA

Contact Step2 toll-free at (866) 860-1887 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at www.step2.com and click on “Product Recall” for more information.

Resource: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2014/Step2-Recalls-Ride-On-Wagon-Toys

Step2 touring wagon recall

Step2 touring wagon recall

 

Your Toddler

Potty Training Questions Continue

1.30 to read

Can Potty Training Too Early Cause Problems Later?

For some parents, there’s an odd sense of pride when they can boast of potty training their child before he or she turns 2. While their pre-toddler might get the hang of going to the potty early, they are more likely to have daytime wetting problems later, according to a new study.

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina found that children who start toilet training before age 2 have a three times higher risk of daytime wetting or urinary urgency.

"Parents who train their children early to meet preschool deadlines, to save landfills from diapers or because they think toddlers are easier to train should know there can be serious repercussions," says lead author Steve Hodges, M.D., an associate professor of pediatric urology at Wake Forest Baptist.

The study involved 112 children ages 3 to 10. About half were seen in the urology department for daytime wetting or urinary urgency/frequency. Participants were compared to a group seen in a general pediatric clinic and pediatric emergency room that had no history of dysfunctional voiding.

A questionnaire was used to gather information on the age toilet training was initiated and the presence of daytime voiding dysfunction. Patients were grouped into three categories of potty training: early (before age 2), normal (between 2 and 3) and late (after age 3) training. There were 38 early, 64 normal and 10 late trainers.

Sixty percent of the early trainers had daytime wetting. They had a 3.37 times increased risk of daytime wetness as compared to the normal group.

Why would early potty training cause daytime wetting? The researchers believe early trainers are more prone to subsequent voiding dysfunction because they are more apt to "hold" their stool or urine. "When children hold stool, it backs up in the rectum," Hodges explained. "The enlarged rectum presses against the bladder, reducing its capacity and causing the nerves feeding the bladder to go haywire."

Constipation seemed to be a common factor with three times more complaints from early trainers than normal trainers. "Almost all of the children who had wetting also had constipation," Hodges noted.

Younger children also are more apt to delay peeing, behavior that can lead to bladder contractions and reduced bladder capacity. "Research has demonstrated that bladder growth continues in children up to the point of toilet training," said Hodges. "Uninhibited voiding in diapers is likely beneficial to bladder development. In my practice, it's often the children who trained earliest and most easily who end up with the most severe voiding problems."

The study also found that among the 10 children who trained after age 3, seven had daytime wetting problems, and these same seven also were constipated. The three late trainers who did not have wetting problems were not constipated.

"This does not mean late potty training causes dysfunctional voiding," Hodges explained. "It means that when kids train late, it's very likely because they are already constipated, which makes toilet training extremely difficult. Parents whose 3- or 4-year-olds have trouble training are often blamed for 'waiting too long,' but our data suggest waiting isn't the problem — instead it's likely constipation."

Many experts agree that letting the child show signs of readiness for toilet training is a better indicator of when to start training, instead of going by age.

"There is nothing magic about the age of two," said Hodges. "If parents opt to train early or late and are meticulous about making sure children void on a regular schedule and monitor them for signs of constipation, I suspect the incidence of voiding dysfunction would decrease."

Before children can use the toilet successfully on their own, they must be able to control their bladder and bowel muscles. This typically begins between 22 and 30 months of age.

Some signs of this control are:

·      Having bowel movements around the same time each day

·      Not having bowel movements at night

·      Having a dry diaper after a nap or for at least 2 hours at a time.

Children must also be able to climb, talk, remove clothing, and have mastered other basic motor skills before they can use the toilet by themselves.

The report was presented online in Research and Reports in Urology.

Sources: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-10/wfbm-ptb100714.php

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/tc/toilet-training-topic-overview

 

 

 

Can potty training too early cause problems later in your child’s life? Read what a new study says in Hot Topics. 

Your Toddler

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

Arsenic In Fruit Juice

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There’s been a lot of media coverage about the pros and cons of giving children fruit juice to drink. Now a new study conducted by Consumer Reports says that 10 percent of juices tested by the magazine had arsenic levels higher than allowed in water by the Food and Drug Administration.

Brands including Apple & Eve, Great Value, Mott's, Walgreens and Welch's had at least one sample that exceeded the 10 parts per billion threshold, it said. Other juices with low arsenic levels include: America's Choice Apple; Tropicana 100% Apple; and Red Jacket Orchards 100% Apple.

One of the big concerns is that so many children drink fruit juice daily. Arsenic can accumulate in children’s bodies over time, and raise their risk for cancer, and other serious illnesses.

The 88 samples came from 28 apple and three grape juice brand products that were purchased by Consumer Reports. They included ready-to-drink bottles, juice boxes and cans of concentrate from different lot numbers at stores around New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The Juice Products Association responded to the report by saying that comparing juice to water was not appropriate.

The FDA has different guidelines for juice than it does water. While the guideline for water is 10 ppb of inorganic arsenic, juices are allowed higher levels at 23 ppb.

"Fruit juice producers are confident the juice being sold today is safe," said Gail Charnley, a toxicologist for the juice association.

“They showed that the juice samples they tested met the Food and Drug Administration’s limit on arsenic in juice,” Charnley said. “The toxicologists and the food safety experts at the FDA set that limit in a precautionary public health based kind of way. And the food industry is committed to meeting those limits.”

The FDA is willing to look at it’s fruit juice standards and possibly make some adjustments.

"We welcome the research that Consumer Reports has undertaken and look forward to reviewing the data that formed the basis for their story and their recommendations,” the agency noted. “We continue to find the vast majority of apple juice tested to contain low levels of arsenic, including the most recent samples from China. For this reason, FDA is confident in the overall safety of apple juice consumed in this country. By the same token, a small percentage of samples contain elevated levels of arsenic. In response, FDA has expanded our surveillance activities and is collecting additional data”

Consumer Reports also found about one-fourth of all juice samples had lead levels at or above the federal limit for bottled water, it said.

The advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, Consumer Union, said in the report these findings should be enough to prompt the federal government to establish arsenic limits for juice.

The FDA has conducted recent tests on fruit juice after Dr. Mehmet OZ talked about high levels of arsenic, in children’s fruit juice, on his television show. The FDA said its results showed very low level of total arsenic in the samples it tested.

One of the issues the FDA had with Oz’s study was its failure to separate out measurements of inorganic and organic arsenic. Studies have linked inorganic arsenic to a variety of cancers. But many consider organic arsenics – especially the types commonly found in seafood - to be safe.

As far as Consumer Reports is concerned, that’s not a proper way to evaluate arsenic in drinks and food.

“Questions have been raised about the human health effects of other types of organic arsenic in foods, including juices,” the magazine noted. “Use of organic arsenic in agricultural products has caused concern. For instance, the EPA in 2006 took steps to stop the use of herbicides containing organic arsenic because of their potential to turn into inorganic arsenic in the soil and contaminate drinking water.”

Beyond this, there’s evidence that organic arsenic converts into the inorganic form when chickens consume feeds that contain the compound, Consumer Reports researchers noted.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)  has also weighed in on giving kids fruit juice to drink.  Their website notes that drinking too much juice can contribute to obesity, the development of cavities (dental caries), diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems, such as excessive gas, bloating and abdominal pain.

The AAP suggests that:

  • When you give your child juice, it should be 100% pasteurized fruit juice and not fruit drinks.
  • Infants under 6 months of age should not be given juice, although many Pediatricians do recommend small amounts of juice for children that are constipated.
  • Infants between 6 and 12 months can drink up to 4 to 6 ounces of juice a day, but should do it only in a cup, not a bottle.
  • Younger children aged 1 to 6 years should have only 4 to 6 ounces of juice a day.
  • Older children should be limited to 8 to 12 ounces of juice a day.
  • Instead of juice, children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits.

The arsenic study will be featured in the January, 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine and is available online.

 

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Sources: 

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/45491242/ns/today-today_health/#.Tt6znZgzJnY

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/30/us-arsenic-juice-idUSTRE7AT231...

Your Toddler

Kid’s “Hypoallergenic” Products May Cause Allergic Reactions

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When a child has eczema, doctors often recommend that parents purchase hypoallergenic ointments, creams or lotions to ease the suffering from dry, inflamed skin.

However, according to a new study, many products labeled as hypoallergenic contain ingredients that can cause allergic reactions.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the “hypoallergenic” label, said Carsten Hamann, a medical student at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California and the lead researcher on the study.

“Kids who have eczema or atopic dermatitis use more lotions and creams and ointments, etc. Ostensibly, their caregivers who purchase these products to use on the kids' skin, give preference to products using these meaningless marketing terms,” Hamann told Reuters Health in an email.

Hamann and his colleagues tested products that might be used by kids with eczema, which affects 17.8 million people in the U.S., according to the National Eczema Association. Patients have patches of red, itchy skin, often on the arms, legs, cheeks, and behind the ears.

Doctors often advise people with eczema to apply moisturizer to the affected areas.  People with eczema tend to have a higher risk of so-called “contact allergies.” That is, they may have allergic reactions to substances that come in contact with their skin, including fragrances, preservatives, and other kinds of chemicals.

Researchers tested 187 cosmetic products found in 6 different stores in California, to see if they contained any of the 80 most common known allergens.  All of the products were specifically marketed as being safe for use by children and labeled as “hypoallergenic”, “ dermatologist recommended/ tested”, “fragrance-free,” or “Paraben free.” Most people assume that these types of products are actually designed to help people who have sensitive skin.

But, researchers found that 89 percent of the products contained at least one allergen, 63 percent contained two or more, and 11 percent contained five or more. The average number of allergens per product was 2.4, the researchers reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Preservatives and fragrances accounted for 58 percent and 29 percent of the allergens, respectively. These ingredients often irritate a skin condition.

Ten percent of the products contained methylisothizolinone, a preservative that is about to be banned in the European Union because it can cause severe skin irritation, according to the researchers.

“It would be very difficult for even the most caring, intelligent and well-read parent to know the names of 80-plus allergens and their synonyms, let alone compare that list of allergens to a 15-plus long ingredient list on the back of a pediatric product,” Hamann said.

Dr. Michael Arden-Jones, a skin disease specialist at the University of Southampton in the U.K., said that defining something as an allergen can be complicated.

“Almost any chemical compound could be implicated as an allergen, so it is almost impossible for a cream to be truly non-allergic,” he told Reuters Health. “Thus, as there is no true ‘hypoallergenic’ cream, there is no agreed meaning of ‘hypoallergenic.’”

Skin experts say that ointments are generally the safest products for kids who have eczema. Creams and lotions contain water and therefore must contain preservatives, making them more likely to contain allergens. Prescription moisturizers are typically reliable. Products with artificial coloring or fragrances or do not have the ingredients listed on the box should be avoided.

The National Eczema Association reviews products and offers the “NEA Seal of Acceptance” for those that do not include known irritants. Depending on the product, the NEA Seal of Acceptance™ Review Panel considers testing data on sensitivity, safety, and toxicity, as well as the ingredients, content, and formulation data. There is a tab on the website dedicated to information on child eczema in infants to older children. Their website is: http://nationaleczema.org.

Sources: Madeline Kennedy, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/21/us-eczema-products-safety-idUSKCN0J529L20141121

http://nationaleczema.org.

Your Toddler

Mother’s Low Vitamin D Linked to Child’s Cavities

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Want to make sure your baby has strong teeth and few cavities as he or she matures? A new study says that moms-to-be should who receive a sufficient amount of vitamin D during pregnancy, are providing their infant with a better chance of fewer cavities when their teeth come in. Previous studies have shown a link between low vitamin D in mothers can lead to defects in the enamel of their toddler’s teeth. Enamel starts developing while the baby is in the womb. Dr. Robert J. Schroth from University of Manitoba's dental school in Winnipeg, Canada, and his team wondered whether low vitamin D levels in mothers during pregnancy would also translate into higher cavity rates for their toddlers. They measured vitamin D levels in the second or early third trimester in 207 pregnant women and then examined the teeth of 135 of their children when they were an average of 16 months old. The mothers were from predominately poor, urban neighborhoods. Most of the women’s vitamin D levels were in the normal range, but about a third had below normal levels. Depending on the definition of cavities the researchers used, 23 to 36 percent of the toddlers had cavities. Prenatal vitamin D levels were significantly lower in women whose toddlers later had cavities than in women whose toddlers did not have cavities, according to findings published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers noted a direct relationship between low vitamin D levels in mothers and a higher number of cavities in their toddlers. "Prevention efforts should begin during pregnancy by bolstering maternal nutrition, either through improved dietary intake or supplementation with vitamin D" they said. While some experts recommend that women take vitamin D supplements during pregnancy, not everyone agrees. Dr. Philippe P. Hujoel from the University of Washington School of Dentistry in Seattle disagrees that all pregnant women need vitamin D supplements. "In place of supplementation, I would recommend maintaining proper vitamin D levels during pregnancy the natural way - enjoy the sun, choose foods such as wild salmon, ahi tuna, mushrooms and eggs. Additionally, reducing carbohydrate intake will reduce the body's need for vitamin D," he told Reuters Health in an email. "Avoid sugar. It is a necessary fuel for dental cavities and it burns up vitamin D," Hujoel added. Natural vitamin D is found in small amounts in foods such as herring, mackerel, sardines and tuna. It’s also available in certain drinks such as vitamin D fortified milks and juices. More and more foods are fortified with vitamin De such as eggs and cereal. But most vitamin D – 80% to 90% of what the body gets – is obtained through exposure to sunlight. Source: Will Boggs MD, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/21/us-low-vitamin-toddlers-idUSBR...

Your Toddler

Toddler Dies From Liquid Nicotine Poisoning

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The Fort Plain, New york police called the death a “tragic accident” after investigating the case of a 1-year-old who was rushed to the hospital after being found unresponsive in his home. The toddler died from ingesting liquid nicotine, also known as e-liquid, the key ingredient in e-cigarettes.

A lot of smokers, including teenagers, are switching from regular cigarettes to e-cigarettes and are now getting their nicotine fix by inhaling a vapor.  However, e-cigs are expensive and in an effort to cut costs, many will purchase vials of liquid nicotine to refill their e-cigarette; sort of like buying a carton of cigarettes instead of a couple of packs a day.

Liquid nicotine contains high levels of concentrated nicotine. It doesn’t take but a little bit to make someone very sick. The powerful stimulant can be accidently ingested or absorbed through the skin.  Even a teaspoonful of e-liquid can kill a child. Lesser amounts can cause seizures and other dangerous symptoms.

Like cigarettes, liquid nicotine should always be kept out of the reach of children and pets. Many of the vials come in bright colors with flavors such as bubblegum, strawberry, vanilla and chocolate - kids will be tempted to taste it. E-liquids are not regulated and do not have childproof caps. If carelessly left where a child or pet can find it, the results can quickly turn deadly.

Health officials are concerned that more fatal accidents could happen if steps aren’t taken to protect children.

"One teaspoon of liquid nicotine could be lethal to a child, and smaller amounts can cause severe illness, often requiring trips to the emergency department," the American Association of Poison Control centers in a statement, ABC News reported. "Despite the dangers these products pose to children, there are currently no standards set in place that require child-proof packaging."

In recent years, there's been a sharp rise in the number of liquid nicotine-related calls to U.S. poison control centers. Signs of consumption of liquid nicotine can include vomiting, increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, convulsions and, in extreme cases, loss of the ability to breathe or death.

The police in this case, said they weren’t sure that the e-liquid that killed the toddler was associated with an e-cigarette and so far, no charges have been filed in the death of the child. It was just a tragic accident.

Recent studies point out that electronic cigarette use is on the rise with high-school students. Some teens say they are using them to help stop smoking, while others are giving them a try for the first time- even though they don’t smoke. Researchers noted in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey, that even middle-school student use rose from 2.7% to 3% in 2013.

How do kids purchase liquid nicotine? It’s readily available on the Internet. All you do is fill in a birth date and you’re in. You can buy a gallon of the stuff if you have the money. You can also purchase little bottles to fill from your bulk buy. It’s that simple.

While adults may be more likely to keep their liquid nicotine vials put away, teens don’t often think of the consequences of leaving theirs on the floor, on a desk, on the bed, in a purse on the sofa, in a backpack on the kitchen table – wherever they usually drop their stuff - for a small child to find. 

In New York, the toddler’s death has prompted a call for changes in how liquid nicotine is packaged; requiring childproof caps and someone must be least 18 years old to purchase it at a store.

This is not a pro or con e-cigarette use article. It’s a warning for anyone that uses liquid nicotine to be very aware of where you leave your vial. This may have been the first reported case of a toddler dying from nicotine poisoning; let’s all do our part to make it the last.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20141215/toddler-dies-liquid-nicotine

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

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