Your Toddler

Daytime Nap Has Benefits Beyond Rest for Kids

A new small study shows that for children aged four and five, taking a nap during the daytime may help reduce hyperactivity, anxiety and depression.Any parent can testify that a child's naptime is also beneficial for the caregiver. Now a new small study shows that for children aged four and five, taking a nap during the daytime may help reduce hyperactivity, anxiety and depression. The study of 62 children categorized them as either napping (77 percent) or non-napping (23 percent). Researchers found that those who didn't take daytime naps had higher levels of anxiety, hyperactivity and depression.

The data was based on the parents' or caregivers' reporting of the child's typical weekday and weekend bedtime/wake time and napping patterns. Family demographics and behavioral assessments of the children were also included in the analysis. Researchers found that children who took naps did so an average 3.4 days a week. "There is a lot of individual variability in [the age] when children are ready to give up naps. I would encourage parents to include a quiet 'rest' time in their daily schedule that would allow children to nap if necessary," said lead author Brian Crosby, a postdoctoral fellow of psychology at Pennsylvania State University. In his research, Crosby also noted an optimal age for children to stop napping hasn't yet been determined.

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Your Toddler

Keep Kids Safe from Accidental Poisoning

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Findings by SafeKids Worldwide reveal that each day there are about 165 U.S. children treated in an emergency room after getting into household medications. That’s an astounding statistic because all of these visits were preventable.

Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations with a mission of preventing unintentional childhood injury, a leading cause of death and disability for children ages 14 and under.

SafeKids Worldwide released the report and unveiled a new initiative called “Safe Storage, Safe Dosing, Safe Kids." The campaign calls on caregivers, medical personnel, pharmacists, drug makers and government groups to work to reduce accidental poisonings of children from medications.

“This is a brand new initiative for Safe Kids, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of poison control centers and National Poisoning Prevention week,” says Safe Kids Worldwide president/CEO Kate Carr.

The report contains data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). While the numbers of childhood poisoning deaths have decreased by half from 1979 to 2006, the percentage of those deaths from prescription and over-the-counter medicines has nearly doubled, jumping from 36% to 64%.

What’s causing this increase? There are several factors including more available and improperly stored medications in homes. Also, the report points to rising numbers of households with multiple generations - which increases child access to medications. Other reasons cited by the report include improperly coordinated medication dosing because of multiple caregivers, and unsupervised young children who love to put things in their mouths.

“Kids in homes are curious, “ explains Carr, “and kids are always going to be curious, so if you have medication, make sure it’s stored up and away.”

Pills may also look like candy to very young children. The data revealed that 95% of the children taken to emergency rooms for accidental poisoning had been left unsupervised. 5 % were because a caregiver gave an incorrect dose of medicine.

Safe Kids' new initiative to fight medication-related poisonings and deaths calls for changes among caregivers, the pharmaceutical industry, the health care community, and both federal and state governments.

Some safety tips offered by SafeKids Worldwide are:

- Always store medicines and vitamins in a locked location, out of the reach and sight of children

.- Always put medicines and vitamins away after every use.  Never leave them on the counter between doses. Don’t be tempted to “keep them handy” in a purse, backpack, or briefcase, or in an unlocked cabinet or a drawer within a child’s reach.  

- Buy child-resistant packages when available and securely close them every time.

 - Remind babysitters, houseguests, and visitors to keep purses and bags that contain medicine up and away when they visit your home.

- Never leave any medicines out or on a counter.

- Program the poison control center number ‒ 1-800-222-1222 ‒ into your home and cell phones so you have it when you need it. 

The report stresses that federal and local governments have “a critical role to play in medication safety,” including effective regulation of the pharmaceutical industry, supporting funding for poison control centers, providing leadership in public health education programs, and providing medication disposal program.

Carr explains that “while accidents do happen, many of them are preventable, and it’s important to identify risks and teach parents and caregivers what they can do to prevent an unnecessary accident.”

It only takes a few precious moments for a child to put something in his or her mouth that could have deadly consequences. The plan urges parents, grandparents, childcare providers and other caregivers to become familiar with safe storage practices, and Safe Kids cites the CDC’s new “Up and Away and Out of Sight” educational program which reminds caregivers to store medications out of sight and out of reach of children.

Sources:

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/20/skyrocketing-child-deaths-by-meds-poisoning

http://www.upandaway.org/

Your Toddler

CPR Can Save Young Lives, Too

A new study out challenges the widespread belief that cardiac resuscitation is not effective in young people. The study reports that the rescue measure is worth the effort in children and teens who suffer cardiac arrest. Researchers found that children and adolescents who had a non-traumatic, out-of-hospital cardiac arrest had higher survival rates than adults and infants. However, infants younger than one-year-old had lower survival rates than adults.

"Previously, if you talked to most emergency medicine doctors and emergency medicine technicians, they would say that children almost never survive a cardiac arrest," Dr. Dianne L. Atkins, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine and Children's Hospital in Iowa City and lead author of the study, said in an American Heart Association news release. "What we showed is that children and teenagers, in fact, do better than adults." The study appears in the March 9, 2009 online issue of Circulation. The researchers recommended that additional therapies and resuscitation methods do need to be developed for infants, children and adolescents to improve their survival rates. "We put a lot of effort into developing better therapies and better ways to resuscitate adults," Atkins said. "We also need to put that same effort into children because they actually do have a slightly higher survival."

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Your Toddler

Toddler’s Tantrums May Be Linked To Angry Parents

1:30 to read

The old adage “Do as I say, not as I do” takes on a certain significance when you look at the results of a new study published in the journal Development and Psychopathology.

Researchers found that toddlers are more likely to become easily agitated and act out if their parents are quick to anger and overreact.

The study looked at the behaviors of adopted children aged 9, 18 and 27 months of age, and their adoptive parents in 361 families and 10 states. They also analyzed genetic data from the children and their birth parents.

The study revealed that the children of adoptive parents, who had a tendency to overreact and were quick to anger when toddlers made mistakes or tested their parents with age-appropriate limits, had more temper tantrums than normal for their age.

Children who had the greatest increases in these types of negative emotions as they grew from infants to toddlers (from 9 months to 27 months of age) also had the highest levels of problem behaviors at 24 months. This suggests that negative emotions may have their own development process that impacts children's later behaviors, according to lead author Shannon Lipscomb, an assistant professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University, and her colleagues.

Genetics also seem to play a role in the children’s behaviors. Children who inherited a genetic risk for emotional negativity from their birth mothers, but were raised in a low-stress and less reactive family, also displayed a higher level of tantrums.

According to the researchers, these findings help improve an understanding of the complex link between genetics and home environment

"Parents' ability to regulate themselves and to remain firm, confident and not overreact is a key way they can help their children to modify their behavior," Lipscomb said in a university news release. "You set the example as a parent in your own emotions and reactions."

To help your child learn self-control you must model good self-control. Show that good emotional control and problem solving are the ways to deal with a difficult situation.

Toddlers are easily frustrated by what they are able to do and what they want to do.  Tantrums are a normal part of development and are equally common in boys and girls. Toddlers generally understand more than they can express. Imagine not being able to communicate your needs to someone — a frustrating experience that may precipitate a tantrum. As language skills improve, tantrums tend to decrease.

Toddlers also want a sense of independence and control over their lives. When they discover that they can't do something or have everything they want, the stage is set for a tantrum (much like some adults!)

Kidshealth.com offers these tips for tips for parents of toddlers who want to avoid tantrums.

Give your child enough attention – Children crave attention, even negative attention. Try to establish a habit of catching your child being good, which means rewarding your little one with attention for positive behavior. Even just commenting on what they're doing whenever toddlers aren't having a tantrum can help increase those positive behaviors.

Give your toddler control over little things- Offer minor choices such as "Do you want orange juice or apple juice?" or "Do you want to brush your teeth before or after taking a bath?" This way, you aren't asking "Do you want to brush your teeth now?" — which inevitably will be answered "no."

Keep off-limits objects out of sight and out of reach- Although this is not always possible in an environment outside the home, removing temptation when possible can help prevent frustration and provide a safer outcome.

Use distractions - Take advantage of your little one's short attention span by offering a replacement for the coveted object or begin a new activity to replace the frustrating or forbidden one. Or simply change the environment. Take your toddler outside or inside or move to a different room.

Choose your battles carefully- Is your toddler’s request outrageous? Maybe it isn't. Accommodate when you can, or offer an alternative that is similar.

 Know your toddler’s limits - If you know your toddler is tired, it's not the best time to go grocery shopping or try to squeeze in another errand.

Try to understand what's going on. Tantrums should be handled differently depending on the cause. Try to understand where your child is coming from. For example, if your little one has just had a great disappointment, you may need to provide comfort.

It's a different situation when the tantrum follows a child being refused something. Toddlers have fairly simple reasoning skills, so you aren't likely to get far with explanations. Ignoring the outburst is one way to handle it — if the tantrum poses no threat to your child or others. Continue your activities, paying no attention to your child but remaining within sight. Don't leave your little one alone, though.

Kids who are in danger of hurting themselves or others during a tantrum should be taken to a quiet, safe place to calm down. This also applies to tantrums in public places.

Sources: http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=661980  http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/tantrums.html

Your Toddler

Toddler’s “Body Clock” May Be Causing Sleep Problems

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Does your toddler have a difficult time getting to sleep most nights? It could be that his or her body clock isn’t in sync with bedtime. The body has a natural sleep and wake cycle called a circadian rhythm. It’s like a master biological clock that lets us know when to be alert and when to sleep. When our body clock gets out of sync with our real time sleep and alertness needs, we have trouble falling asleep or staying awake when we need to.

But how does that clock work in preschoolers, who need more sleep than older kids or adults? A first-of-its-kind study tracked 14 healthy youngsters for six days to begin finding out.

The children, ages 2½ to 3, wore activity monitors on their wrists to detect when they slept and the parents kept diaries of their children’s bedtime routines.

Then on the last afternoon, researchers visited each home, dimming lights and covering windows. Then every 30 minutes for six hours leading up to the child’s appointed bedtime, they also coaxed each tot to chew on some dental cotton to provide a sample of saliva.

The saliva was used to test for the hormone, melatonin. Melatonin helps control our sleep and wake cycles. It’s made by the pineal gland in the brain. Light affects how much melatonin the body produces.  During the evening hours melatonin levels start to increase causing you to get sleepy.

‘‘Just like nutrition and exercise, sleep is critical for good health,’’ said sleep scientist Monique LeBourgeois of the University of Colorado, Boulder, who is leading the research.

For preschoolers, the new study found that on average, the melatonin surge occurred around 7:40 p.m. The children tended to be tucked in around 8:10 p.m., and most were asleep 30 minutes later, LeBourgeois reported in the journal Mind, Brain and Education.

When melatonin rose earlier in the evening, tots who hit the sack around 8 fell asleep a bit faster. But when the melatonin surge was closer to bedtime, the youngsters were more likely to fuss or make curtain calls after lights-out.

Two children in the study actually were tucked in before their rise in melatonin ever occurred, and it took them up to an hour past bedtime to fall asleep, she said.

Other factors can also have an impact on children’s ability to fall asleep such as loud noises, stress or anxiety or disrupted home routines.

The National Institutes of Health says preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours of sleep each day; some typically comes from an afternoon nap.

About 25 percent of young children experience some type of sleep difficulty, including trouble settling down at bedtime, LeBourgeois said. Harried parents aside, there’s concern that early-in-life bedtime frustration might lead to more persistent sleep trouble.

‘‘Listen to your child’s physiology,’’ she advised.  She offers these steps to help your child fall asleep faster.

- Too much light in the evening delays the melatonin surge and subsequent sleepiness.  While there’s no data in young children yet, LeBourgeois says dimming the lights about an hour before bedtime makes sense.

—Avoid electronics near bedtime, because they generate a specific type of light that triggers wakefulness. LeBourgeois was horrified to hear that one parent offer a sleepless youngster an iPad to play with as long as the child stayed in the bedroom.

—And make sure blackout shades aren’t keeping your children from getting enough morning sunlight, she said. Light in the morning also is key to keeping the biological sleep clock on schedule. If your child’s bedroom needs blackout shades to make it dark enough at night, go in early and open the shades before your child needs to wake up.

More studies are planned to help track sleep patterns in toddlers. There’s no exact “sweet spot” that’s been found to guide parents on when to put their little one to bed…yet.

But, by watching your toddlers physical behavior as the evening progresses and offering a quite and calm environment with less light, you should be able to see what works best.

Source: Lauran Neergaard, http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/2013/12/30/body-clock-may-blame-when-tots-fight-sleep/bz3TahyhXz10qHuIPXtpCK/story.html

Your Toddler

When Tots Point A Lot, Words Will Follow

Scientists say that in addition to talking to your toddler, pointing, waving bye-bye and other natural gestures can boost a budding vocabulary. Researchers from the University of Chicago found those tots who could convey more meaning with gestures at age 14 months went on to have a richer vocabulary as they prepared to start kindergarten. The researchers also say whether a family is poor or middle class also plays a role.

Researchers wondered if gesturing also played a role in a serious problem: Children from low-income families start school with smaller vocabularies than their better-off classmates. Kindergarten vocabulary is a predicter of how well youngsters ultimately fare in school. One big key to a child's vocabulary is how their parents talked to them from your-babyhood on. Previous research has shown that higher-income, better-educated parents tend to talk and read more to small children, and to use more varied vocabulary and complex syntax. To test their theory, researchers visited the home of 50 Chicago-area families of varying socioeconomic status who had 14-month-olds. They videotaped for 90 minutes to count both parents' and childrens' words and gestures. They also counted whether children made gestures with specific meaning. Researchers found a income gap with gesturing even in toddlerhood, when children speak fewer words. The researchers then returned to test vocabulary comprehension at age four. The poorer children scored worse, by about 24 points. Researchers blamed mostly socioeconomic status and parents' speech, but said gesturing contributed too. The study is published in the journal Science.

Your Toddler

Parents: Read to Your Young Children!

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that pediatric providers advise parents of young children to read aloud and talk about pictures and words in age-appropriate books to their kids.  The AAP says that these activities can help strengthen a child’s language skills and literacy while promoting parent-child relationships.

Pediatricians have long encouraged reading to children, but the guidelines are the first official policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics telling doctors to talk to parents about daily reading to their children, from the first year of life until kindergarten.

Reading with young children “stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime," the AAP guidelines said.

Studies have shown a wide economic divide when it comes to parents reading to their children. Only one in three children living in poverty have parents that read to them consistently.  Children who aren’t read to often have “a significant learning disadvantage” by the time they get to school age, the AAP added.

Even wealthier families do not always make reading a ritual, with 60 percent of those with incomes 400 percent of the poverty threshold saying they read to their children from birth to age five, according to a 2011-2012 survey.

Some pediatricians worry that technology – from television to smartphones- may be taking the place of reading to little ones.

The AAP has previously said babies under age two should be as screen-free as possible, and that the best kind of learning takes place through unstructured, interactive play with humans and toys.

Even babies can benefit from being read stories, said the AAP.  “We can stimulate greater brain development in these months and years," said Peter Riche, a fellow of the AAP and Chief of Pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York.

"I do see earlier word recognition, earlier phrases and sentence formation, and singing—I always recognize that in those who are exposed to daily reading."

Many families do not have the money for books so the AAP said it "supports federal and state funding for children's books to be provided at pediatric health supervision visits for children at high risk."

Another important benefit of parents reading to their young children is the blooming of a child’s self-confidence and independence.

Child development experts say that when parents read to their children not only do kids feel more secure but words and pictures also ignite creativity and imagination; two valuable components of a well-rounded life experience.

Sources: Kerry Sheridan, http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-06-doctors-urge-parents-babies.html

Your Toddler

Sleep Loss & ADHD

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Preschoolers who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be hyperactive and inattentive in kindergarten, exhibiting ADHD-like symptoms.As an adult, you already know how difficult it is to focus on even the simplest task when you haven’t had enough sleep. The same holds true for young adults, children and even kindergartners. According to a new study, preschoolers who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be hyperactive and inattentive in kindergarten, exhibiting ADHD-like symptoms.

The study involved about 6,860 children with analyses controlled for gender, ethnicity and family income. "Children who were reported to sleep less in preschool were rated by their parents as more hyperactive and less attentive compared to their peers at kindergarten," said lead author Erika Gaylor, PhD, senior researcher for SRI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute in Menlo Park, Calif. "These findings suggest that some children who are not getting adequate sleep may be at risk for developing behavioral problems manifested by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and problems sitting still and paying attention." According to the authors, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not generally diagnosed until the school-age years, but the onset of developmentally inappropriate inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity is often much younger. Sleep problems, particularly difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, are frequently reported in children and adolescents with ADHD. Total nighttime sleep duration was calculated using parent-reported bedtimes and wake times, which were obtained via interview at both time points. Parents also rated their children's behavior on brief measures of attention/task persistence and hyperactivity/impulsivity. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is especially important for children because it directly impacts mental and physical development. Preschoolers typically need 11-13 hours of sleep each night and most do not nap after five years of age. As with toddlers, difficulty falling asleep and waking up during the night are common. Some tips to help preschoolers sleep better are: - Maintain a regular and consistent sleep schedule. - Have a relaxing bedtime routine that ends in the room where the child sleeps. - Your child should sleep in the same sleeping environment every night, preferably in a room that is cool, quiet and dark – and without a TV. Since the preschool age group is developing active imaginations, they commonly experience nighttime fears and nightmares. They also may sleepwalk, and experience sleep terrors. A little extra attention from a comforting parent or caregiver can help ease some these fears. Sleeping is the primary activity of the brain during early development. An important component to a good night’s sleep is Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) or "quiet" sleep. During the deep states of NREM sleep, blood supply to the muscles is increased, energy is restored, tissue growth and repair occur, and important hormones are released for growth and development. Once again, another study points out how important sleep is to being able to function and think well – no matter what your age! The study’s findings were presented at the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC in Minneapolis.

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Your Toddler

Car Seats Save Young Lives

Putting your infant or young child in an age-appropriate car safety seat significantly reduces the odds that they will die if they are in a motor vehicle accident a new study says. The study, published in the February 2009 issue of American Journal of Public Health, was done by research epidemiologists at the Traffic Safety Center in the department of environmental sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. The study shows that the odds of a your-baby dying in a car crash dropped by three-quarters if they were in a safety restraint seat. The mortality risk reduction for older children was at least 60 percent if placed in a safety seat.

"The findings from this study indicate that child restraints greatly reduce the risk of death among children three years and younger involved in severe traffic collisions," wrote the study authors. "The higher effectiveness of safety seats among infants is likely due to their overall fragility," added the authors. Car accidents are the leading cause of unintentional injury and death for children older than one year. More than 500 children younger than three died as a result of motor vehicle collisions in 2005, according to statistics quoted in the study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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