Sippy cups serve a purpose….temporarily! Introduce a cup at 6 months of age, and the sippy cup should be transitioned to a lidless cup by age 3.
There have been so many new baby product developments over the years…some very good, some not so much. The sippy cup is one that has really changed over the last 20 years or so. I can remember when the only choice for a sippy cup was the bright-colored Tupperware cups with lids! Now you can go into Target, Wal-mart, Bye Bye Baby, or most any other store and search aisles and aisles of different sippy cups. Ones with soft nipples, ones with hard spouts, ones that have handles, ones that have straws, character cups, valveless cups, disposable cups……you get what I am saying. It would take most of us an afternoon and a small fortune to try to find the “best” cup for a child.
Sippy cups should be introduced to your baby when your baby starts solid foods. With a solid food meal, your baby should try a few sips of tap water. Much of the water will dribble down your child’s chin at first, but drinking from a cup is just like any other developmental task, it takes practice. Sippy cups were meant to be transitional cups. That means temporary! Every day I see children aged 3, 4 and sometimes as old as 5 with sippy cups! Drinking from a lidless cup is a developmental milestone that is important! Children should be able to drink from a lidless cup with very few spills by age 3. Here are a few tips on picking the best sippy cup, and why transitioning from it to a lidless cup is so important!
1. Pick a sippy cup that has a hard spout that is NOT like a bottle. Your child should be learning how to drink from a cup, not learning how to drink from a cup that looks and acts like a bottle! Start using the sippy cup when your baby starts solid foods. Start with water, and eventually put breast milk or formula in the cup, so your child learns that milk can come from something other than the breast or bottle. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies are no longer drinking from a bottle by about a year.
2. Pick a sippy cup that does not have a valve, or that has a valve you can remove. Once again, your child is learning a new skill…sucking is old hat! Your child needs to learn how to drink and control the flow of a liquid without sucking.
3. Do not allow your child to drink juice or milk from a sippy cup all day long. Your child will continually coat his or her teeth and promote decay, and will drink too many calories! Water during the day, milk with meals, juice ( no more than about 4-6 ounces maximum a day) only occasionally. The sippy cup will quickly become a comfort item like a pacifier or a bottle if your child carries it around all day.
4. Encourage lidless cups at meals by a year. Children who continue to suck on a sippy cup could end up with speech difficulties. Sucking for too long can cause the mouth and oral muscles to develop poorly resulting in speech problems.
5. Transition to a straw cup. The introduction of a straw cup protects your child’s teeth when drinking fluids with a high sugar content. The sucking motion on a straw also is different from the sucking motion on a sippy cup. The tongue is placed differently when using a straw cup which prevents the poor muscle development in the mouth that comes with prolonged sucking on a bottle, sippy cup, pacifier, or thumb.
6. Give up that sippy cup by age 3. Children are developmentally ready for a lidless cup by age 3 if they have been given the opportunity to learn how to use it! A good place to practice is in the bathtub…no worries if there are spills there!
So parents, let go of that sippy cup! Allow your child to learn how to drink with a lidless cup. Their teeth and their speech will thank you. Relax, there will be a few spills, but there is no reason to cry over spilled milk!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
Should your baby have rice cereal as his first solid food?
Introducing solid foods is an exciting milestone for most parents. Traditionally that first meal usually was an iron fortified white rice cereal. That no longer may be the best choice for your baby! White rice cereal has very little nutritional value, except for the iron that it has been fortified with. There is actually a campaign movement to stop the manufacture of white rice cereal for babies! We know that children start to form definite likes and dislikes after exposure to food. Processed grains like white rice is not the type of food that we want our children to develop a taste for! Childhood obesity is a real problem, so we must introduce foods from moment one that are nutritious and not empty calories. There are so many other great choices for your baby’s first meal. Iron is an important nutrient, and babies’ iron stores do start to decrease around the 6 month mark. With that in mind, parents may want to choose some foods that are higher in iron for their baby. If you are worried about your baby’s iron level that can always be easily tested by a simple blood test by your baby’s doctor. However, healthy term babies usually are not high risk for low iron. So what options do you have for that first meal? You still may choose a rice cereal that is iron fortified, but I would use a brown rice option. There are many different brown rice baby foods available. Oatmeal is also a better choice than a white rice cereal. Other great first foods would even include pureed meats. Yes, meat! Meat is a great source of protein, zinc, and iron. Not usually the first food that parents think of when starting solids! Other options would include bananas, sweet potatoes, or even a good fat like mashed avocado. There is no research that supports introducing food in any particular order is better for your child. As parents, you just want to expose your child to many tastes and foods that are nutritiously dense….not just empty calories. If we want our children to embrace whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean proteins, then that is what we should be introducing from the first spoonful our babies receive. So….in my opinion, white rice cereal would not be the best choice…and spending your dollars on baby blueberry cobbler (yes it is out there) is not the best way to introduce the wonderful taste of blueberries! Introduce your baby to the foods that you hope will become staples in his diet. Enjoy this new milestone! Remember, feeding your baby should be fun and nutritious!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
Our daughter, Kaitlyn, the picture of toddler pickiness!
Why is it that we parents worry so much about how much our child is eating? I can remember thinking that how well Kaitlyn ate that day, determined how well I had parented. Not true! Children under the age of one usually nurse or formula feed well, and are eager for the introduction of solid foods. But seemingly over night, our toddlers start to have an opinion about what we feed them! I can remember being very frustrated because I was providing her with this wonderfully healthy meal, and often all she wanted was bananas! To make it more confusing, the next day she may have thrown all those bananas off her tray! My darling daughter was a typical toddler, and with toddlers, meals are often a challenge. Why?
1.Toddlers have slowed down in growth.
The first year of life a child grows very quickly, between birth and a year most children triple their birth weight! A toddler grows much more slowly and seems less hungry.
2. Eating interrupts a toddler’s activity.
Toddlers are busy…any parent can tell you that. Sitting for any length of time just isn’t on the toddler’s agenda!
3. You can’t force a toddler to eat.
A parent’s job is to present a toddler with a wide taste pallet of healthy foods every day. It is up to the child to eat them! The more you force, the more most toddlers turn up their noses. A healthy child offered healthy food will NOT starve themself!
4. Toddlers usually eat one good meal a day.
Often toddlers will eat a good breakfast, an OK lunch and pick at dinner. Toddlers only need about 40 calories an inch. (Now don’t get that calculator out for your child!) Most will only need about 1000 to 1200 calories a day. By dinner, many toddlers have eaten their required calories for the day!
5. Toddlers like to binge on one food.
Food jags are common in toddlers. One day you can’t fill them up on green beans, and then two days later it is bananas. Some days a toddler may eat only fruit, the next day they may fill up on protein. What a toddler eats over a week is a better picture of their diet intake.
So what is a parent to do….
- Offer food frequently! Toddlers need 3 meals and at least 2 snacks offered each day. Toddlers behave better when they are eating frequently. Their tummies are small and temper tantrums increase when blood sugars are low. Try planning snacks from at least 2 food groups 2 to 3 times a day.
- Dip it! Toddlers like to dip everything. It is fun, and it is messy…two essentials for toddler eating! Humus, yogurt, cottage cheese, guacamole, melted cheese, salsa, peanut butter and even ranch dressing are some essential dips for toddlers.
- Hide it! Hide the broccoli under cheese sauce, shred the vegies and mix them in humus or cream cheese and spread on a tortilla and cut into pin wheels, puree vegies and add them to pasta sauce, lasagna, meatloaf. Make “orange ” pancakes with sweet potato puree or carrot puree and a dash of cinnamon. Get sneaky! When you hide vegetables, make sure you include some on your child’s plate so they learn what a balanced diet looks like.
- Be creative! Kids like fun. Make faces on sandwiches, use cookie cutters and cut shapes in pancakes and bread, make shish-ka-bobs with fruit and pretzel sticks, make party bananas with sprinkles, serve fruit and yogurt in an ice cream cone, try smoothies….
- Remember the toddler serving size! A serving size is a tablespoon per year. One serving of vegetables for a 2-year-old is two tablespoons!
- Don’t let your toddler “drink” his calories. A toddler should only have 16 to a maximum of 20 ounces of milk a day. That is much less than the 28 to 32 ounces most were drinking before becoming toddlers! If your child drinks too much cow’s milk, he will not eat solid food calories! Too much milk provides too little iron and other needed nutrients! Juice should be limited to only 4 to 6 ounces a day, better to have the whole fruit than just the juice!
- Let your child “help” prepare food. A child that watches a parent make dinner and “helps” will often be more likely to eat! Let your child have a few choices, control is important for toddlers.
- Let your child be messy. Toddlers explore food with their mouths, taste buds, and hands. They smash food, throw food, spread food, “paint” with food and generally need a bath after most meals. You must allow your toddler to feed himself. You must introduce spoons and forks, and be patient with the fact that it takes time and messes to learn how to use them!
- Don’t battle…try a “No thank you bite”. Toddlers have opinions, and sometimes they are very strong! The more battle there is in a meal, the more likely you will lose! Offer healthy foods and a variety of foods. If your toddler refuses to try something, introduce a “no thank you bite”. One bite and then he can refuse more. You might even ask your child to “kiss” the food, not even take a bite. This may provide just a small enough taste to convince your child to take a bite! Remember, it takes 15 to 20 introductions to a food before your child will develop a definite like or dislike!
Here are a couple good sites for toddler recipes. Some of my favorites are by Annabel Karmel! Relax…don’t make your mealtime a battle!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
New study questions the use of white noise for infant sleep……is it helpful or dangerous??
How to help infant sleep patterns is a common question I get almost daily. Exhausted Moms want to know how they can help their infant sleep better and longer resulting in them getting some precious sleep time too! I have always recommended Dr. Harvey Karp’s method of the 5 S’s, suck, shhhh sound, side lying, swaddle, and sway. This method has worked for many a frazzled Mom. Just this week, the journal of Pediatrics published a study regarding white noise machines and the possible risk to infant hearing. I can hear Moms yelling all over the country….WHAT?!? I have found a system that works and now it might be dangerous to my child’s hearing??!!
I must be truthful….long before Dr. Harvey Karp and The Happiest Baby on the Block was popular, I used a blow dryer running next to my rocking chair to calm my terribly fussy baby #2. I am sure that white noise was above the recommended level! (maybe that explained her selective hearing when she was growing up???)
Before we all panic and give up our white noise machines…..let’s remember that this is one study. It does bear our notice and perhaps some rethinking of how we are using white noise makers for our children, but it does not warrant throwing out a system that works. Remember, sleep is a health issue too! Children who do not sleep well are at risk for many health problems not to mention households with children who don’t sleep are full of stress.
So in my opinion what should we take away from this study…..
First, keep your baby’s white noise machine on a low volume level. Dr. Harvey Karp states that the white noise should be no louder than the sound of a soft shower running. Second, move the machine away from your child’s bed. We should try to keep the noise machine across the room (200 cm) away from your child’s head. I must say that I have worried about infants who I see coming in with a smart phone next to their head in a car seat and a white noise app running. I think more important that the duration of the sound it is more important to be concerned about these two things, keeping the noise low and away from the child’s ears. Dr. Harvey Karp does say that the best white noise sound to encourage sleep is low and rumbling, not high-pitched and loud.
As with most things in life, few things are either all good or all bad. Healthy sleep is essential, good sleep habits are valuable, and happy families tend to be well rested families. So however we can promote good sleep and effective safe sleep habits is essential.
amilies, so however we can promote good sleep and sleep habits safely is essential.
Providing your child routine checkups with a healthcare provider you know and trust is so important in your child’s healthy development!
I am looking at my “to do list” today and once again I realize how busy I am. Families are just spread thin! The idea of adding one more appointment to your list may just seem a bit impossible. One appointment that needs to stay on that “to do list” is your child’s well child checkups. In this world of convenience, many parents have started to rely on the many drop-in clinics for their child’s medical care. After all, the hours are convenient, no appointment is needed, and it is often in the same store where you pick up diapers! As much as busy families need convenience, children and parents also need health care that is comprehensive and provided by someone who knows you and your child. Well child care cannot be done well when you are being seen for an ear infection, cough or other illness. A well child visit is a time to talk about your child’s development, behavior questions, eating, sleeping, discipline or any other question you may have. It is through these conversations with your child’s healthcare provider that you form a real trusting relationship and a team approach to your child’s health. This simply doesn’t happen when your child’s healthcare is pieced together by visits to walk-in clinics where providers can’t form relationships with you or your child.
What is the best way to form a trusting relationship with your child’s healthcare provider? There are several suggestions for parents….
- Be sure you “click” with your child’s healthcare provider! Finding someone who relates well with you is so very important. If you don’t feel you can call with questions, have the time to discuss your child’s needs, or you are simply uncomfortable, then your healthcare provider may not be a good fit for you!
- Have a list when you go to the appointment. Write down several questions that you have so you don’t forget them! Any issue with your child’s health or development can be covered!
- Talk to other care givers of your child. Do they have any questions or concerns?
- Remember, your child’s healthcare provider is the expert with regards to healthcare, but you are the expert with regards to your child. You know your child best!
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended a standard well child checkup routine. These routine visits will be frequent in the first 3 years of life…
- 3 to 5 days
- 1 month
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
- 12 months
- 15 months
- 18 months
- 24 months
- 30 months
- 3 years
- 4 years
- And once every year thereafter for an annual health supervision visit that includes a physical exam as well as a developmental, behavioral, and learning assessment.
These visits will not only provide assessment of your child’s physical health and growth and development but also their emotional and behavioral growth and development will be assessed. Routine screenings and immunizations will be provided to maintain your child’s health as well as discussions about safety and other tips about what to expect in the next few months.
On February 24, 2014 the new recommendations for Preventive Pediatric Health Care were published. These recommendations called “Bright Futures” are guidelines for well child checkups for pediatric providers. Under the Affordable Care Act all of these recommendations on the Bright Futures schedule should be covered with no cost sharing. The new changes include:
- A specific screening tool to assess adolescents for alcohol and drug use.
- Screening for depression at ages 11 through 21 years has been added, along with suggested screening tools.
- Cholesterol screening between ages 9 and 11 years.
- A risk assessment for hematocrit or hemoglobin (iron testing) at ages 15 and 30 months was added.
- Screening for HIV was added between age 16 and 18 years.
- Adolescents should no longer be routinely screened for cervical dysplasia until age 21.
- Newborns should be screened for critical congenital heart disease using pulse oximetry before leaving the hospital.
All the recommendations for preventive pediatric health care can be found here.
Your child’s healthcare provider should be an integral part of your “team” in raising a healthy happy child. Having a true relationship with your child’s healthcare provider that is comfortable is so important. Don’t piece your child’s healthcare together, find a provider who you trust and truly “click with” because you and your child will be spending lots of time with him or her over the next 18 years. I can say that as my children have grown up and left the wonderful pediatrician who followed them through their childhood, I had a true bit of sadness. We were a team! His waiting room and fish aquarium had been a comfortable place for us. He definitely saw me at my best, and also when I was tired, worried and anxious and needed encouragement. His calm approach was perfect for me, don’t be afraid to find the provider who best fits your needs and then build that relationship…it is good for you and most importantly for providing a healthy start in life for your child.
Here is a list for “tools of the Trade” for literacy! What items do you have in your home to promote the love of reading?
I admit it, I am a list maker. I love to make a list and cross off things I accomplish. There are days that I write something on my list that I have already completed…just so I can cross it off! So because I love lists, I put together a simple list of tools for literacy. These are items that every home with children should have to encourage a love of reading and writing. So, get your pens out and start crossing off the items you have….or make a list of things you need to foster your child’s growth in literacy.
1. Books in several places of your home that are accessible to your children.
2. More than one rhyme book.
3. Several picture books.
4. A book of nursery rhymes.
5. Chalkboard or white board.
5. Unlined paper.
6. Crayons, markers, pencils, and sidewalk chalk.
7. Magnetic letters.
8. Alphabet books.
9. Children’s Bookmarks.
10. Classic chapter books to read to your child.
11. Reading area in your home.
12. Supplies for your child to make their own book.
13. Children’s poetry books.
14. Sorting toys.
15. Puppets for your child to act out a story.
16. Books about colors.
17. Books about animals.
18. Books about how things work.
19. Books about nature and the earth.
20. Silly books.
21. Stationary for your child to write a letter.
22. Books about the seasons.
23. Music with rhythm.
24. Letter games.
25. Children’s magazines.
26. A library card for your child.
27. Books about feelings.
28. Books about childhood events like new siblings, potty training, going to school etc.
29. Alphabet blocks.
30. Shaving cream to draw letters in.
31. Finger paints.
32. Play dough and letter cookie cutters.
33. Letter matching games.
34. Pop up and flap books.
35. Touch and feel books.
What else??? Post your suggestions of “tools of the trade” for literacy!
Reading opens up the world for your child…..
Bath time is over, p.j.s are on, your little one is on your lap and you snuggle your nose into their sweet smelling cheek. The craziness of the day begins to melt away. You open the familiar book and your toddler snuggles into your lap. What a precious ritual, and not only precious but so incredibly valuable. With that moment, you may have just helped your child get into Harvard…well at least become a good reader.
What is the best way to encourage your child to become a reader? What can you do now to prepare your child for school…and even college? It is very simple….read, read, and read some more. There is no better way to encourage a child to love reading, help them succeed in school, and improve language skills than to read to them. I think I can still recite The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Some of my most treasured moments were spent with my children on my lap, reading a story. Moments is the key word. When we are reading to young children, the reading is often in very short bursts. Reading a total of 20 to 30 minutes a day is recommended but that may be divided into several short periods. Having a “reading routine” before naps or at bedtime is a great way to incorporate “cuddle time” with your child and the benefits of reading. You might even try “reading your child awake”. Some children wake from a nap a little grumpy, reading to them until they are fully awake makes it easier on you and them! Here are some tips to keep your young child interested in reading.
- Toddlers have an opinion! Give them a choice of what stories they want. Often you might read the same books over and over. Toddlers love repetition. Soon your child will be able to “read” the book to you!
- Allow your toddler to handle the books. Books should be well-loved. Keep baskets of books out so your child can go to them whenever they are interested. A basket next to their potty is a great way to keep them entertained while potty training!
- Read with drama. Be silly. Change your voice. Use puppets or hand motions. Children love interaction.
- Talk about the pictures. It isn’t important to read all the words on a page! Don’t be surprised if your child realizes that you have left parts out of a familiar story though! They will catch you! This shows that they are learning!
- Ask open-ended questions. Let your child tell you the story!
- Never force reading. Many toddlers do not have the attention span to finish a book. Read a few pages and leave the book open. You may find your toddler will come back to it later. Let your child play while you read. Read an active story together that they participate in too.
- Take trips to your local library often. Allow your child to become comfortable in the library. Participate in Story Times offered at the library. These are free and great resources for parents and children!
- Set a good example. Turn off the TV and let your child see that you love reading too. Check out a book from the library for you too!
Did you know there are weight limits for the use of LATCH?
Have you heard that starting Tuesday February 25, 2014 federal regulators will issue a rule that requires child car seat manufacturers to place labels on the seats warning parents to not use the seats and the in car anchors called LATCH once their child and their car seat weighs 65 pounds combined? There have been rumblings about this for over a year. In 2002 the National Highway Traffic Safety administration (NHTSA) required most passenger vehicles to have special anchors for attaching a car seat directly to the vehicle rather than using a seat belt. This system is call the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH). This requirement made it much easier to install car seats securely. However parents did not realize that their vehicle had weight limits for the LATCH system. In fact a study in Safe Kids Worldwide showed 46% of forward facing car seats with harnesses are secured incorrectly with the LATCH system. This study is a great read to help explain what is best practice for your child’s age, weight, and the car seat you have. Now, to help parents understand the guidelines, the NHTSA will require all car seats to have a warning label to indicate the maximum child weight for the use of the LATCH system, so the combined weight of the car seat and child is not over the 65 lbs. limit.
So, starting now….do not use the LATCH system if your child and your child’s car seat weigh 65 pounds or more total. The LATCH system receives the most stress in an accident. Seat belts are made to restrain heavier adults, so they are a good alternative to LATCH when the combined weight is over that 65 lbs. limit. The tether use is often required by your car seat manufacturer. So it is safer to continue to use it for children who are over the weight limit. The risk of NOT using the tether OUTWEIGHS the risk of the tether not holding in an accident. Most experts recommend using the tether no matter how much a child weighs. After testing car seats, the editor of ConsumerReports.org states “The likelihood of a top tether-anchor failing when anchoring a higher-weight child is unlikely and has not been seen in real-world crashes. And if an anchor were to fail, it would still have provided some benefit in reducing forward movement and absorbing energy from the crash as it deformed.” It seems that a tether that fails is better than none at all in protecting a child from head injury.
Clearly car seat installation is confusing to most of us! I know I am confused! If you have questions, call your car seat manufacturer to see what their recommendations are for the seat you currently have. As of now, use the seat belt instead of the lower anchors of the LATCH system to install your forward facing car seat when your child and the seat have a combined weight of 65 pounds or more. Use the tether if recommended by the car seat manufacturer because studies show that it does provide protection against head injury, and finally my recommendation is have a car seat technician install your car seat the first time. This will help ensure that your child’s seat is installed safely and properly…and in our case would save an argument between my husband and me! I have learned that not wallpapering together and not installing car seats together just might be the reason we have been married as long as we have!