Category Archives: child development

Starting Solids

When to start solids is a common parenting question. The simple answer is, between four to six months of age. However, it’s really not that simple.

Each child is different and has cues that let parents know when they are ready to try solids. The first cue parents should look for is interest in foods. Does the child watch other people eat? Reach out to try and pick up a handful off someone’s plate? These things indicate interest.

Other cues are things like posture, tongue thrust, leaning forward and opening mouth. The child should be sitting up for food to go down the esophagus correctly. Tongue thrust should be gone. When the spoon comes near the mouth, if the tongue thrusts out and pushed the spoon away, this is an indication that the child is not ready.

A child who is interested in food, will lean forward toward the spoon as it approaches. Turning the head away or leaning away from it indicates the child is not ready. Opening the mouth in anticipation of the food is another good indicator that the child is ready.

Try finger foods that the child can feed to him or herself. This lets the child control what and how much goes in. Introduce foods one at a time so that if there is an allergic reaction to anything, it’s easy to tell what caused it.

Good first foods to offer are any of the baby cereals. Some baby’s tolerate the oatmeal better than the rice, though rice is traditionally offered first. Rice, Oatmeal or Barely are all good choices. Vegetables and fruits next. Baby jar food is fine, but some babies prefer regular table food mashed or blended. Homemade baby food can be made in a blender by adding breast milk, water or formula to vegetables or fruits and blending them. Meats should be introduced last.

Introducing solids before a baby is ready can cause tummy aches and constipation.

Parental Competition

How do you handle the “my child is smarter than yours” parental competition that crops up on playgrounds and in mothers groups across the country?

There is an amazing amount of competition among parents and many people see their children as extensions, or reflections, of themselves, therefore, they need their child to succeed to feel successful themselves. The problem with this is that it has nothing to do with the child’s needs and everything to do with the parent’s. For a parent struggling in a new role worried about doing right by their child, the pressure can be tremendous. It is crucial to realize that everyone develops in their own time but all arrive at the desired destination. When tests were done on early readers (age four) versus late readers (age eight) at age twelve, there was no difference in reading skills. So then why all the panic? Every child develops at their own pace. Children are not all cut from the same cookie cutter.

Want some good advice? Don’t play the game. When someone says that their child walked at six months, potty trained at eight months and was reading war and peace at age three, just smile and say, “Wow, he sounds really smart” or, “wow, that’s early”. Focus your comment on the child they are talking about and don’t volunteer anything about your own. If asked, use noncommittal responses such as, “We’re working on it”, “He’s focused on walking right now, we’ll get to it later” or “She isn’t that interested in the potty yet so we’re taking it slow”.

Certainly look into it if you feel that your child has a genuine delay. However, don’t let other parents or grandparents who are competitive undermine your confidence in yourself or your child. Just remember that you are giving your child the greatest developmental tool life has to offer: Your love and support, because children learn best when they feel safe and secure.

If you are interested in a developmental assessment for your child who is under three, please contact your local Early Childhood Intervention program.

Infant and Toddler Feeding Issues

Problems can sometimes arise when feeding infants and toddlers. Knowing what’s typical and what isn’t can help parents know when to consult with a doctor or dietician.

Understanding that it is typical, for instance, for two year olds to go on food jags or to sometimes be picky or light eaters, helps keep parents from undue panic.

Most children do not eat a balanced diet at any given meal. Instead, as long as the parents are offering a wide variety of healthy foods, children’s diet will be balanced over the course of a week. This may look like eating only grapes at one meal, nothing but chicken nuggets at another and only their favorite cereal for two days. At the end of the week though, that child has eaten from each food group.

If a child seems to have frequent constipation, diarrhea or vomiting, there may be an allergy or intolerance to one or more foods.

Waiting too late to introduce solids can also lead to a child who is resistant to having anything other milk go into his or her mouth. Typically, solids should be introduced around six months but not later than seven to ten.

Every child is different, some signs that your child is ready for solids are the ability to sit up, loss of tongue thrust which pushes food out of the mouth, and an interest in what you are eating.

Some children have sensory integration issues and need help learning to tolerate the different smells, tastes and textures that go along with eating.

While the child’s pediatrician is always a good resource, parents should be aware that Registered Dieticians are also available and have had much more extensive training on food and nutrition than doctors are given. They are an excellent but under used resource.

 

 

Military Service Affects Attachment Process

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Military life involves sacrifice. Physical sacrifice of course, the giving up of creature comforts is obvious when soldiers are out in the field. But there are also sacrifices made of their family life.

Even before birth a baby is bonding and attaching to primary caregivers. At about the third month of life inside the womb, an infant develops their sense of sound. About midway through a pregnancy, parents can feel their child’s reaction to noises. Even before birth, a baby will startle (jump) at a loud noise. A baby may calm and sleep in response to mellow music.

By the time a baby is born, he or she shows a distinct preference to familiar voices. Try having mom or dad talk on side of the baby and a nurse or other unfamiliar person on the other. The baby will turn toward the familiar voice. This is all part of the bonding and attachment process.

When dad is deployed during pregnancy and the early weeks or months of a baby’s life, he misses out on some of these bonding opportunities. Families can keep dad present by playing videos or voice recordings of his voice to the baby so that his voice remains a familiar one.

With older children when mom or dad is away, pictures of the absent parent can be laminated for the child to carry with them at all times. Frequent phone calls, emails, and with today’s technology, even video conferencing help keep that parent’s presences alive for the child. Teachers, family members and caregivers should speak of the absent parent frequently and answer the child’s questions appropriately.

Pictures, cards, letters, email and phone calls will help keep the parent and child connected to each other and help ease the separation and make reunion go easier and more smoothly.

There are meet up groups for military spouses, fiancés and significant others. Meeting with others who are going through the same issues can be beneficial to many people.

For civilians wishing to help out, there is also a Deployed Soldiers Family Foundation Charity to help soldiers and their families by providing things such as wellness weekends, financial help for times of crisis and help with Christmas for military families in need.

Circumcision Rates Fall to 33 Percent

ImageAccording to the CDC rates of circumcision performed on newborn males in the U.S. declined sharply from 56 percent in 2006 to just 33 percent in 2009. The decision to circumcise a newborn so that he will fit in with peers in the locker room is no longer valid.

Circumcision in the U.S. has been a controversial and hot button topic for years. Circumcision rates in 1970 were almost 90 percent. The credit for this incredible decline might be due to the ever increasing number of parents who are educating themselves about this unnecessary cosmetic procedure before making a choice.

No national health organization in the world recommends circumcision for healthy male infants, not the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the American Medical Association. Nearly all European males are intact, with no epidemic of penile health problems, thus discrediting the American held belief that circumcision is healthy.

Another myth is that circumcision removes just a little flap of skin. The truth is that roughly 15 square inches of tissue is removed, amounting to anywhere from one-third to one-half of the skin covering a normal penis. Removed with this tissue are 240 feet of nerves and up to 20,000 nerve endings.

Activists spreading the word about circumcision call themselves intactivists. Their argument is that an intact penis is the default and natural condition. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. Risks and side effects can include hemorrhage and even death. The foreskin that is removed actually has a function. In fact, it has many functions. Read about them here.

Another argument against routine newborn circumcision is consent. An infant can’t give it. It’s his body; he should make the decision when he’s older. Some circumcised men have even opted for foreskin restoration.

Many organizations have come out against routine infant circumcision. Just a few of which are: Doctors Opposing Circumcision, Mothers Against Circumcision and even Jews Against Circumcision.

More information can be found at cicumcision.org, cirp.org and nocirc.org.

Added on 1/2/14: As it seems I have stirred up a bit of a controversy, are circumcision rates actually falling? I have added a follow up to this post here and are there any benefits to it? Here’s the answer to that. 

Is Your Child Tongue Tied?

Ankloglossia, commonly known as tongue tied, is when the frenulum (the little piece of skin that connects your tongue to the bottom of your mouth) is too short. While it’s not wildly common, it’s not an uncommon childhood occurrence either. Ankloglossia is usually caught in the first few years of life.

Clipping it is called a frenulectomy and is very quick, outpatient procedure performed by an ENT. This procedure would only need to be done if the frenulum is short enough to be causing problems.

If it’s really short it can interfere not only with speech but with eating (because the tongue is used to move food around in the mouth). Another professional to consult on the subject would be a speech therapist; a speech therapist can tell if the tongue tie is affecting the ability to speak. The tongue moves around quite a bit in order to speak. Think about how to produce the “L” sound if the tongue can’t reach the roof of the mouth.

If parents suspect their child has a short frenulum, then the sooner they get to an ENT, the better. The longer it takes to address this issue, the more therapy the child will need because he or she is learning wrong ways of articulating.

A simple test to have the child stick his or her tongue out and attempt to move it up and down and from side to side as far as it will go.

The Early Childhood Intervention program of LifePath Systems provides free developmental assessments to children between birth and age 3 in Collin County. Be sure to let them know the issue when referring so that they can send out the appropriate professionals.

Here is a video sample of a tongue protrustion test, get your child to stick his tongue out and move it up, down and to each side. If verbal instructions don’t suffice, try putting some powdered candy on the outside of the mouth and have him lick it off.