Your Toddler

Kids In Home-Based Day Care Lack Physical Activity

Children who attend a home-based child-care program may hit the set nutrition standards but they get a failing grade when it comes to physical activity a new study shows.

Children who attend a home-based child-care program may hit the set nutrition standards but they get a failing grade when it comes to physical activity a recent study shows.A researcher at Oregon State University surveyed about 300 home-based child-care providers who looked after children ages two to five. Though 78 percent offered more than an hour a day of active play, 41 percent said children sat for extended periods during the day, and two-thirds said the TV was on most of the day, the study found. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children aged 2 to 5 shouldn't watch more than two hours of TV a day. Researcher Stewart Trost, an expert on obesity issues, said that another finding, that 63 percent of child-care providers restricted active play or exercise as a form of punishment, was alarming. "All the research shows that restricting physical activity makes children more, not less, likely to misbehave. So, it's not even an effective means of punishment," Trost said in the study which is published in the December 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Another startling finding, he said, was that less than half of the child-care providers had received any training in physical activity. But the providers did "pretty well" in promoting healthy eating habits, the study found. Very few said they served fried foods or high-fat foods at meals or sweets or chips as snacks. Bottom line?  Make sure you set the guidelines for what your child eats and how much physical activity they get.  It will set them off on the right wellness foot.
Your Toddler

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

2.00 to read

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

PBDE Tied to Hyperactivity, Lower IQ

2.00 to read

If you have a couch, easy chair, foam pillow (including those used for breastfeeding), mattress, mattress pad, futon, car seat, carpet padding or any other product made with PBDEs before 2005 in your house, you could be exposing your child to chemicals that may possibly lower his or her intelligence and / or lead to hyperactivity.

PBDEs are polybrominated diphenyl ethers used for decades as fire retardants in common products such as carpeting, baby strollers and electronics.

In a recent study, PBDEs have been associated with hyperactivity and lower intelligence in children. PBDEs were mostly withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2004, but remain present in many consumer products bought before then.

"In animal studies, PBDEs can disrupt thyroid hormone and cause hyperactivity and learning problems. Our study adds to several other human studies to highlight the need to reduce exposure to PBDEs in pregnant women," study author Dr. Aimin Chen, an assistant professor in the department of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, said in an American Academy of Pediatrics news release.

For their study, researchers examined the PBDE levels in blood samples from 309 pregnant women and followed up with intelligence and behavior tests on the women’s children each year until they were 5 years old.

Researchers found that PBDE exposure in the womb was associated with hyperactivity at ages 2 to 5, and with lower intelligence at age 5. A tenfold increase in PBDE exposure during pregnancy was related to about a four-point IQ deficit in 5-year-old children.

The results of the research did not prove a cause and effect relationship with hyperactivity and lower intelligence scores in the children, but did show a possible association.

Many households contain items that were purchased before the PBDE ban in 2004. Oftentimes these products are handed down from one family member to another (especially children’s products), or can be picked up at a garage sale.

"Because PBDEs exist in the home and office environment as they are contained in old furniture, carpet pads, foams and electronics, the study raises further concern about their toxicity in developing children," Chen concluded.

In a study published in 2008 by the Environmental Working Group, young children were found to have 3 times the blood levels of fire-retardant chemicals as their mothers.

What can you do to reduce your family’s exposure to PBDEs?

1. Inspect foam items. Replace anything with a ripped cover or foam that is misshapen and breaking down. If you cannot replace these items try to keep the covers intact. Beware of older items like car seats and mattress pads where the foam is not completely encased in a protective fabric.

2. Use a vacuum fitted with a HEPA filter. These vacuums are more efficient at trapping small particles and will likely remove more contaminants and other allergens from your home. HEPA-filter air cleaners may also reduce particle-bound contaminants in your house.

3. Do not reupholster foam furniture. Even those items without PBDEs might contain poorly studied fire retardants with potentially harmful effects.

4. Be careful when removing old carpet. The padding may contain PBDEs. Keep your work area isolated from the rest of your home. Clean up with a HEPA-filter vacuum and mop to pick up as many of the small particles as possible.

5. When purchasing new products ask the manufacturers what type of fire retardants they use. Avoid products with brominated fire retardants, and opt for less flammable fabrics and materials, like leather, wool and cotton. Be aware that "natural" or latex foam and natural cotton are flammable and require a fire retardant method that may contain toxic fire retardants.

The study is to be presented Monday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Until it is peer-reviewed in a medical journal it should be considered a preliminary finding.

As a nation of consumers we are exposed to chemicals, many of which we’ve never heard of, in products we use daily. Most of us are not scientists, just people trying to find the right products that are safe for our families. More information on product safety can be found at www.ewg.org and www.epa.gov.

Sources: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2013/05/06/flame-retardant-chemicals-could-be-toxic-to-kids

http://www.ewg.org/pbdefree

Your Toddler

Brain Growth Outpaces Physical Growth in Kids

1:30 to read

Ever wonder why the human body matures much slower than other mammals? Me neither. Even though this isn’t anything I’ve ever even thought about, the reason is fascinating.

According to a new study, young children grow much more slowly than other mammals because their developing brains require so much energy to prepare for challenges they will face later in life.

Researchers analyzed data from PET and MRI brain scans and found that the human brain uses enormous amounts of energy during the first few years of life, which means physical growth has to take a back seat during that time.

The brain’s energy use peaks at about age 4 causing the body’s growth to slow down. At about this age the brain is burning on all four cylinders at a rate equaling two-thirds of what the entire body uses at rest.

"Our findings suggest that our bodies can't afford to grow faster during the toddler and childhood years because a huge quantity of resources is required to fuel the developing human brain," first author Christopher Kuzawa, a professor of anthropology at Northwestern University, said in a university news release.

"As humans we have so much to learn, and that learning requires a complex and energy-hungry brain," he added.

That could explains why it’s difficult to tell a young child’s age simply by looking at them. 

"After a certain age it becomes difficult to guess a toddler or young child's age by their size," Kuzawa said. "Instead you have to listen to their speech and watch their behavior. Our study suggests that this is no accident. Body growth grinds nearly to a halt at the ages when brain development is happening at a lightning pace, because the brain is sapping up the available resources."

Earlier clinical thought on the topic suggested that the brain’s demand for energy was highest at birth, when the brain size is more relative to the body.

The study's finding that the brain's energy needs peak at age 4 "has to do with the fact that synapses, connections in the brain, max out at this age, when we learn so many of the things we need to know to be successful humans," Kuzawa said.

Other studies have looked at the functions of the 3 to 4 years-old age group and brain development. Experts say that this is the first stage of enlightenment. It’s during this time that preschoolers begin to use problem-solving skills during activities. They are interested in learning about their bodies and other living things. They begin to understand the order of events during the day and start figuring out how to take things apart and put them back together again.

It’s a pretty amazing time for brain development and identity processing. Good nutrition and exercise at this critical time can also help the brain maximize its potential, along with a nurturing environment.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/misc-kid-s-health-news-435/when-it-comes-to-childhood-growth-the-brain-comes-first-691088.html

http://www.kidcentraltn.com/article/brain-development-preschool-3-5-years

Your Toddler

Massive Stroller Recall Due to Laceration, Amputations

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About 4.7 million Graco and Century-branded strollers are being recalled after the maker received reports of 10 full or partial fingertip amputations.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said eleven models of strollers have a folding hinge on the side that “can pinch a child’s finger, posing a laceration or amputation hazard.”

Caregivers are being advised to show "extreme care when unfolding the stroller to be certain that the hinges are firmly locked before placing a child in the stroller," the CPSC said.

"Caregivers are advised to immediately remove the child from a stroller that begins to fold to keep their fingers from the side hinge area," the agency said.

Atlanta-based Graco Children's Products received six reports of fingertip amputation, four reports of partial-fingertip amputation and one finger laceration, the product safety agency said.

The firm manufactured the strollers in China and will be providing a free repair kit beginning in December.

Graco said its recall is voluntary.

"Over the past 60 years, safety has been and will continue to be the priority at Graco," the firm said on it’s website. "As part of our continuous effort to provide quality and safe products, Graco identified that select stroller models, including some of our LiteRider models that were sold before the updated hinge was available, have folding hinges that could in rare circumstances have the potential to pinch a child's finger, posing a laceration or amputation hazard."

The recalled models are Aspen, Breeze, Capri, Cirrus, Glider, Kite, LiteRider, Sierra, Solara, Sterling and TravelMate model strollers and travel systems.

The models bear a manufacture date from August 1, 2000, to September 25, 2014, and were sold at Target, Toys R Us, Walmart and other retail stores nationwide and online. The prices were $40 to $70 for the strollers and $140 to $170 for the travel systems.

Consumers can contact Graco Children’s Products at (800) 345-4109 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.gracobaby.com and click on the “Help Center” at the top and Recall and Safety Notifications for more information.  

The CPSC website has a complete list of the stroller model names and numbers along with pictures of each of the recalled strollers. Model numbers and the date of manufacture are printed on the white label located at the bottom of the stroller leg just above the rear wheel.

Sources: https://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/Graco-Recalls-11-Models-of-Strollers/#remedy

Michael Martinez, http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/20/us/stroller-recall/index.html

Graco Stroller Recall

Your Toddler

Button Batteries Can Be Fatal for Kids

2.00 to read

Just about every home has them. They are button batteries that run everything from cameras, weight scales, calculators, remote controls, and flashlights. They are just the right size for your little one to swallow or put up their nose. If ingested, these small batteries can cause serious injury to a child such as chocking, burns and even death.

An estimated 40,400 kids under 13 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for battery-related injuries from 1997 to 2010, according to an analysis just out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The findings appear in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Three-quarters of injuries happened in kids 4 and under.

Most of the children were treated and released but 10% needed hospitalization and 14 battery-related deaths were also reported. 58% of the injuries were related to button batteries when the battery type was known.

In a May 2010 study, reported in the journal Pediatrics, researchers noted that there was an increase in emergency room visits related to button batteries from 1990 to 2009. The 20-year study revealed that there were about 66,000 battery-related emergency room visits.  Small battery related injuries nearly doubled in that time period in children under the age of 18.

Battery consumption symptoms involve vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, respiratory distress and dysphagia or difficulty swallowing. This makes it especially hard to diagnose what the problem is, especially if the caregiver didn't see the child consume the battery.

What makes the small items so dangerous, however, is that they can cause serious burns due to a buildup of the chemical hydroxide in just two hours, according to WebMD. They can also leak a corrosive chemical called alkaline electrolyte. Researchers identified the 3-volt lithium, coin-size batteries that are less than or equal to 20 mm as the most common culprit.

“Because delays in diagnosis and treatment can lead to serious complications and death,” the report’s authors wrote, “children suspected of having ingested a battery should get prompt medical attention. It is also important to recognize that children might be reluctant or unable to say that they ingested a battery or gave one to a sibling.”

The report said some safety standards are in place, but more could be done. In 2008 federal safety standards for toys included making batteries unreachable by putting them, for instance, in screwed-in compartments.

Not only are children swallowing button batteries but there has also been an increase in senior adults swallowing them. Some of these older adults have mistaken the batteries, sometimes used in hearing aids, for pills.

The United Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) offers a list of button battery precautions parents can take.

  • Discard button batteries carefully.
  • Do not allow children to play with button batteries, and keep button batteries out of your child's reach.
  • Caution hearing aid users to keep hearing aids and batteries out of the reach of children.
  • Never put button batteries in your mouth for any reason as they are easily swallowed accidentally.
  • Always check medications before ingesting them. Adults have swallowed button batteries mistaken for pills or tablets.
  • Keep remotes and other electronics out of your child's reach if the battery compartments do not have a screw to secure them. Use tape to help secure the battery compartment.
  • If a button battery is ingested, immediately seek medical attention.

There is a National Battery Ingestion Hotline available at (202) 625-333, or you can call your poison center at (800) 222-1222.

These batteries are small and easy to overlook. Make sure that you treat them like any other product that you wouldn’t want your child playing with.

Sources: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11181.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57504252-10391704/most-fatal-child-battery-swallowing-accidents-due-to-tiny-batteries/?tag=cbsnewsMainColumnArea

http://news.yahoo.com/small-deadly-swallowing-button-batteries-fatal-kids-182031780.html?_esi=1

 

Your Toddler

Sleep Loss & ADHD

2.00 to read

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

Fortified Juice Boost Kids’ Omega-3 Levels

Parents looking for alternatives to fish for boosting healthy omega-3 fats in children might want to use fortified juice. A new study found that orange juice fortified with the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was able to raise blood levels of DHA in 31 four- to 12-year olds who drank the juice for six weeks.

The findings indicate that souped-up juice is one effective way to deliver the fatty acid, the researchers report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. What's still unclear, they say, is whether there are health benefits to doing so. DHA is one of the essential fatty acids, meaning the human body does not synthesize it and it must be consumed through food. DHA is abundant in the brain and retina, and is believed to play an important role in early brain and eye development. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids. But as many parents know, with the exception of breaded fish sticks, which are not made from omega-3-rich fatty fish, children tend to shy away from eating fish. The lead researcher of the study, Keli M. Hawthorne from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston says it is important to find kid-friendly alternatives. The study was funded by the Coca-Cola Company, which provided DHA-enriched orange juice for the study. "Fortifying juice with DHA is a realistic approach to helping children increase the amount of DHA in their diet," said Hawthorne. Hawthorne said parents who are concerned that their children are not getting enough DHA could try juice or other foods enriched with fatty acid. "Although we are still not certain what the direct health benefits are in children," she said, "it is clear that most children do not meet the recommended guidelines for fish intake that would provide DHA."

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Your Toddler

Messy Eaters May Be Better Learners!

1.45 to read

Does your toddler like to toss, smear and play with his or her food?  Those typical baby actions could indicate that your little one is not only making a mess, but absorbing knowledge as well. According to a new research, the messier a child gets while eating the more they are learning.

In a study from the University of Iowa, researchers examined how well 16-month-old children learned the names of nonsolid foods and other objects while they are in a high chair as opposed to how they learned sitting at a table.  Nonsolid objects are more difficult to comprehend because they don’t have a consistent shape.

 "This study shows the cascading influence that the context of everyday activities – such as mealtimes – has on children's exploration, attention, and word learning," the study says. "When young children messily eat and explore food at each meal, they are learning both about individual foods and also about nonsolid substances more generally."

The researchers, led by Larissa Samuelson, an associate professor of psychology at the university, gave the children different nonsolid substances such as applesauce, pudding, juice and soup. They then made up names for the foods like “dax” or “kiv.”

When the researchers put the same objects out in different sizes or shapes and asked the children to identify them, the ones who more enthusiastically explored the materials by poking, throwing and picking them up, were more likely to correctly identify them.

Additionally, the children seated in a highchair were more likely to correctly identify objects than those seated at a table.

Why does a high chair versus a table make any difference?

"It turns out that being in a high chair makes it more likely you'll get messy, because kids know they can get messy there," Samuelson said in a statement.

The environment a child is in turns out to play a pivotal role in how they learn. Just as a high chair may provide babies and toddlers more familiarity and stimulus for learning about nonsolid objects, a desk may work better for learning math and a stool for painting art.

Children who have trouble directing their attention may need the contextual support of a certain environment to help them do so appropriately, the researchers contend.

"Children may be doing more than just making a mess in the moment: they are forever changing their attentional biases and the way they learn over development," the study says.

"It may look like your child is playing in the high chair, throwing things on the ground, and they may be doing that, but they are getting information out of (those actions)," Samuelson said in the statement. "And, it turns out, they can use that information later. That's what the high chair did. Playing with these foods there actually helped these children in the lab, and they learned the names better."

So the next time your little one throws his or her food in your face, or smears it in their hair- remember, it’s just a learning process.

The study was published in the journal Developmental Science.

Source: Allie Bidwell, http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/12/02/study-playing-with-food-can-help-your-kids-learn?s_cid=rss:study-playing-with-food-can-help-your-kids-learn

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