Join the Conversation! NorthShore’s New Online Community—The Parent ‘Hood

Monday, January 05, 2015 12:24 PM comments (0)

pedsLife can be hectic, especially the life of a parent, which is why we hope to provide our community members with a place to find the answers they need. NorthShore’s new community is an online destination for parents to share their experiences and support each other, as well as connect with our team of medical experts, from obstetricians to pediatricians. Carl Buccellato, MD, OB/GYN at NorthShore, and an active expert member of the community, says, “I hope my experience both as a physician and a parent will be a resource for expecting parents” of the Parent ‘Hood.

The community will cover a variety of topics, from pregnancy issues like gestational diabetes and nutrition to parenting topics like how best to address your toddler’s tantrums and childhood vaccinations. You can join the conversation now!

On-going conversations:
Toddler Tantrums 
Itchy and Pregnant
Post-Partum Hair Loss

Sign up and start your own conversation:
Click "New Post"

Read articles on health topics relevant to parents in our community:
Blogs and Online Medical Chats

Watch videos from NorthShore physicians and NorthShore patients stories:
Featured Videos

What topics would you like to see in The Parent 'Hood?

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Managing the Meltdown: How to Handle Tantrums in Children

Monday, December 29, 2014 12:02 PM comments (0)

tantrumsEvery parent has been there at one point or another—at the mercy of his or her child’s tantrum in the checkout line at the grocery store, in a crowded restaurant or at home.  In a matter of minutes, your child goes from quiet and well-behaved to completely inconsolable. 

The good news is that temper tantrums are entirely normal, especially in toddlers. For toddlers, tantrums are often brought on by a young child’s inability to understand and cope with his/her emotions, emotions related to hunger, tiredness or feeling overwhelmed and over-stimulated. 

While it’s not possible to prevent every single emotional meltdown, there are ways to manage them. Leslie Deitch Noble, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, discusses some of the best techniques for approaching tantrums:

Don’t overschedule. Try not to overexert your child by packing too much into the daily schedule. This is not to say that every day needs to be the same, but when possible try not to push your child to the limits with errand running. A hungry or tired child is much more likely to act out. If you know you have a long day ahead, let your child know in advance so he or she will be better prepared for the change of pace.

Be consistent with your approach. Try your best to manage your child’s behavior during every tantrum. Encourage communication during a tantrum. Say, “Use your words” or ask clear questions to better understand what might be causing your child’s frustration. Lastly, do not give in. Letting your child have his or her way during a tantrum won’t help break the cycle, even if it ends the immediate tantrum. Ideally, you don’t want to give your child any attention—positive or negative—while he or she is having a tantrum. So, as long as you are not in public and your child is not going to hurt him or herself, the best approach is to completely ignore your child until the tantrum stops.

Distract. Distract. Distract. If you can, try to divert your child’s attention away from what may have prompted the tantrum in the first place. Be sure that you recognize that he or she maybe be upset by a situation, but then offer different options or new activities. For example, if your child has a tantrum over wanting a new toy or treat at the store, you can suggest that you find the “new” toy she got most recently when you go home. A similar approach can be tried with treats. If necessary, try to avoid going down aisles at stores that might prompt meltdowns.

Celebrate (and embrace) the good times. Let your children know when they are behaving well and encourage this type of behavior. Tell them how happy it makes you when they listen and follow the rules. Along with acknowledging good behavior (and even rewarding it), be sure your children know how much you love and care for them. Much of what triggers tantrums is children wanting to express their emotions and wanting attention.

Have questions about tantrums? Get answers from other parents and our team of experts in our new online community The Parent 'Hood. Find out more here: The Parent 'Hood

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From Crib to Bed: Ensuring a Smooth Transition

Friday, December 12, 2014 3:04 PM comments (0)

cribThere is no magic age for when it’s best to transition your toddler from a crib to the “big-kid” bed. Much of the timing depends on your child’s readiness as well the need to free up the crib for a new little brother or sister. In most cases, toddlers transition to a bed between the ages of 18 months to 3 years.

Whether you are mid-transition or only in the planning stages, Susan Roth, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, offers helpful tips to make the change a smoother one:

  • Maintain consistency with a bedtime routine. A big-kid bed shouldn’t mean a new bedtime hour or a different routine. Keep the bed the only significant change. Also, try to put your child’s new bed in the same place as the crib.
  • Make it fun! Get your child involved with this “big girl”/“big boy” step. For instance, let him or her choose new sheets for the bed. If you will be purchasing a new bed, let your child help out with this decision as well.
  • Start with naps. Make the new bed the naptime bed to start. If your child can’t manage to stay in his or her bed for the duration of an afternoon nap, it might be too early to make the transition. 
  • Keep safety in mind. Depending on the type of bed that you select, be sure that you are providing a safe sleeping environment for your toddler. If you transition straight to a twin bed, it may be best to place the mattress on the floor for a while. If this isn’t an option, consider installing guard rails so your child does not roll out of bed. Padding the floor with blankets and/or pillows can also help reduce the chance of injury.

    This is also a good time to rethink and revisit your overall household childproofing. Now that your child may get out of bed and walk around at night consider removing or safety-proofing other household hazards. If needed, consider installing a gate in your child’s doorway so he or she cannot exit the bedroom. This may be especially important in homes with an accessible staircase.
  • Be supportive, yet firm. Your toddler may not adjust to this new bed immediately. The newfound freedom may lead to him or her getting up more frequently or even trying to get out of bed. Try to stay calm and reinforce that it’s time for sleeping. 
  • Reward positive behavior. Don’t expect this transition to be without its hiccups. Be sure to positively reinforce a job well done throughout this transition period.

Have questions about transitioning your toddler from a crib to a bed? Join NorthShore's new online community, The Parent 'Hood, to ask and answer questions as well as connect with our team of medical experts. Check it out here

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Childhood Asthma: Risk, Triggers and Symptoms

Friday, October 10, 2014 10:58 AM comments (0)

asthmaAsthma is one of the most common chronic disorders in children, and, for unknown reasons, is on the rise.  Asthma is a reversible lung disease that inflames and narrows airways, causing chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. While there is no cure for asthma, with modern knowledge and proper treatment, you and your child can take an active role in managing this disease. If diagnosed, your child can live an active life and sleep through the night without ever experiencing asthma symptoms.

Leslie Noble, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, discusses risk factors for and signs of pediatric asthma:

What are the risk factors for developing childhood asthma?

  • Family history. If there is a family history of allergies, eczema or asthma, there is an increased risk for developing asthma in childhood. 
  • Personal history of allergies. This includes both food allergies and seasonal/environmental allergies
  • Personal history of eczema.
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke. Whether during pregnancy or after birth, exposure to cigarette smoke or any tobacco product can significantly increase risk. 
  • Higher exposure to pollution. Children living in urban settings have increased exposure to air pollution, which can increase their risk. 
  • Respiratory infections and sinus issues. Children with frequent respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, chronic runny/stuffy noses and other sinus issues have been shown to have a higher risk for childhood asthma. 
  • Being male. Boys have a higher incidence of pediatric asthma than girls. 
  • Possibly low birth weight. 

What are common triggers that can cause a child with asthma to have “flare-ups” or asthma “attacks”?

  • Exposure to substances that the child is allergic to. The most common of which are: mold, pollen, dust mites, animal dander and cockroaches.
  • Respiratory infections. Examples of such respiratory infections are: viral infections of the nose and throat (i.e., “colds”), pneumonia, sinus infections.
  • Irritants in the air that the child breathes. Depending on the child’s particular sensitivities, these can include: tobacco and other smoke, air pollution, cold/dry air, perfumes, fumes from cleaning products.
  • Exercise.
  • Stress.

How can you tell if your child has asthma? Symptoms are not the same for every child and symptoms may even vary from one attack to another in the same child, so diagnosis can be difficult. Here are common symptoms to watch out for and discuss with your child’s pediatrician:

  • Frequent coughing spells that occur most commonly at night or early in the morning.
  • Coughing that occurs during physical activity, play or laughter.
  • Less energy during play, feelings of weakness or tiredness.
  • Rapid breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing.
  • Chest pain, chest congestion and tightness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Breathing issues that may prevent play.

If your child has prolonged experience with any of these symptoms, take them to their doctor immediately for evaluation. 

Have questions about pediatric asthma or any other pediatric concern? Join NorthShore's new online community, The Parent 'Hood, to connect with other new and expecting parents, as well as our expert physicians. Find support, ask questions and share your stories. Click The Parent 'Hood to start now! 

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Ready to Hit the Books: Healthy Kids Make Happy, Successful Students [Infographic]

Tuesday, September 02, 2014 11:40 AM comments (0)

The kids are back in school and already busy with homework, classes and practice. Don't let hectic schedules put your children’s health in detention. Parents can do plenty to help their children stay healthy and succeed in school—from ensuring they get adequate sleep and regular exercise to serving up balanced meals and more. After all, children’s health has been shown to be directly linked to success in school. 

Our latest infographic explores the connection between children’s health and academic performance with health information and tips from the experts at NorthShore University HealthSystem. Click on the image below to see the full infographic. 

 

Join NorthShore's new online community, The Parent 'Hood, to connect with other new and expecting parents, as well as our expert physicians. Find support, ask questions and share your stories. Click The Parent 'Hood to start now! 

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Four Simple Ways to Make the Playground a Safer Place

Monday, June 30, 2014 10:48 AM comments (0)

playground safetyGetting outside and staying active during the summer is incredibly important for kids. Playgrounds are a great place for kids to combine making friends with some much needed exercise. Unfortunately, they are also one of the most common places for injury. Each year approximately 200,000 kids under the age of 14 will visit the emergency department because of an injury that occurred on a playground. And about 80% of these injuries will occur from a fall. 

However, the benefits of the playground far outweigh the drawbacks, especially if parents take a few extra precautions before heading to the park. David Roberts, MD, Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon at the NorthShore Orthopaedic Institute, shares some easy ways to make the playground safer for kids this summer and all year round: 

Supervise, supervise! Go to the park as a family. While there, you can make sure everyone is being safe by supervising play and have a little fun too! Getting outside and staying active is just as important for parents.

Slides are for kids only. Well-meaning parents might think it’s safer to go down the slide with toddlers on your lap; unfortunately, this is a common source of fractures in young children. When little ones go down the slide alone, they only have their own body weight to contend with. If they go down the slide with a parent and catch their foot on the side, the full force of the parent’s weight is behind them now too. So one at a time down the slide! 

Dress appropriately. This doesn’t just mean dressing appropriately for the weather. Avoid drawstrings and loose clothing that could catch on playground equipment and cause falls or other injuries. And always make sure shoes laces are tied. 

Make sure playgrounds are safe and age-appropriate. Not all playgrounds are created equal. Many modern playgrounds are designed to have lower height equipment and softer surfaces beneath, like mulch or rubber padding, which absorb the impact of falls. Try to keep outdoor playtime to these safer spaces. Also look for playgrounds that have separate equipment for older and younger children.  

Does your family spend time at the playground in the summer?

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The Tough Stuff: When Eating and Sleeping Don’t Come Easily for Your Child

Thursday, December 05, 2013 1:55 PM comments (0)

veggie haterAre your kids getting the sleep they need each night? Is your picky eater turning down fruits and vegetables at every meal? Are bedtimes and mealtimes a daily struggle in your home? This is the “tough stuff.”

Lindsay Uzunlar, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, answers these tough questions, sharing bedtime and mealtime solutions and tips to ensure every member of the family—large and small—is getting the sleep and nutrition they need to thrive.  

When should your child start to regularly sleep through the night? When should you be worried that they aren’t sleeping through the night or are waking up too frequently? 
Your child is biologically able to sleep through the night around 3-4 months, so with your help they should be able to sleep through the night by six months—meaning sleeping between 6-7 hours without waking up. If your baby is still waking up frequently at nine months, talk with your pediatrician about some possible sleep-training strategies. Consider talking to your pediatrician about sleep-training techniques earlier than six months, or even during pregnancy. 

How do you set bedtimes? How much sleep do children need?
A lot of babies need help learning when and how to sleep so this is where you can make a big difference. Observe when your child seems become naturally sleepy or when he starts to be fussier. When that time comes, put him to bed drowsy but not sleeping. 

The key to remember is that you are in charge of bedtime, from infancy until they leave your house.  Setting bedtimes is really important and can vary depending on age. Children will naturally start to go to bed later as they need less sleep. A newborn needs up to 15-17 hours of sleep; a six-month-old needs 13-14 hours; 9-24 months need about 12 hours; school age between 9-10 hours and adolescents 8-9 hours.

How long is it normal for a child to wet the bed? Is a family history of bedwetting a contributing factor? What can you do to stop it? 
It is still normal to have nighttime wetting up to the age of six, especially if there is a family history. There are different techniques that you can try. The simplest is just having scheduled wake-up times. With this technique, you set your own alarm and wake him up to take him to the bathroom. In a perfect world, you could wake him up before you go to bed (assuming you go to bed later than him) and then not worry about it for the rest of the night.

How do you wean an infant of needing a pacifier to remain asleep at night?
As you may have realized, children use pacifiers as a self-soothing object. So the key to helping them transition to good sleeping without is to replace the pacifier with something else. For instance, this is a great time for a teddy bear or blanket. Put them to sleep with both the pacifier and the new object so that they can learn to associate both with self-soothing. Then you can take away the pacifier and ideally he or she won't notice its absence too much. You can work on having the pacifier gone over the next 2-3 months. I would recommend that you take all pacifiers away at once, that way when he wants it, you can 100% truthfully say that they are "all gone."

What do you do if your child refuses meat? How do you ensure he or she gets enough protein? 
Vegetarianism is fine for kids but it is understandable to worry about protein intake. There are other sources of protein besides peanut butter and meat. Some other good sources are: eggs, milk, soy products and whole grain cereals. Try to make sure your child gets a combination of these at each meal. 

How do you handle a picky eater who won’t eat anything other than his or her favorite and probably unhealthy foods?
It takes kids about 10-15 tries of a food before they will like it. So making sure that they take a “no thank you” bite will help give them exposure to the new foods. You can also try introducing new tastes of food mixed with their favorites such as peas with macaroni and cheese. Your child should be eating the same dinner that everyone else is eating. If they don’t want it, then accept their opinion and let them know that this is the only thing that will be prepared tonight. He or she will be more likely to eat what has been prepared if they know that they don’t have other options. The key to helping instill change is consistency. So it is important that anyone who consistently cares for your child be on the same page about introducing new foods. 

What are some strategies to help children learn to explore more food types if they have texture sensitivities?
For texture sensitivities, it’s a good idea to attempt “try and try again." It can take kids awhile to get used to new things, tastes and textures, so just encourage a single bite each meal and if he or she takes it, consider that a success! If you find that this is taking longer than you think it should, speak with your pediatrician.

Are dairy and gluten considered safe for children? Are they a necessary part of a child’s diet?
Dairy-free and gluten-free diets are very popular right now; however, they are only necessary for a select number of people and otherwise are part of a healthy diet. Children who experience gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, stomach cramping, vomiting or bloating after eating one or both of these may have a sensitivity. In that case, it is a good idea to see your pediatrician about safely removing these from the diet. If they don't experience these symptoms, they are fine and your children can continue eating food with dairy and gluten without issue.

When should babies start drinking animal milk? Do you have recommendations on cow vs. goat?
To help with brain growth, babies should remain on breast milk or formula until 12 months old. After that, trying cow's milk is best as it has a more complete set of nutrients. Goat's milk is an option if you feel your child may not be tolerating the cow's milk,but in that case, he should be taking a multivitamin with it.

 

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Simple Parenting Tips for a Happy, Healthy Family

Friday, August 02, 2013 12:00 PM comments (0)

parentingParenting may be one of the most rewarding jobs but it can also be the most demanding and difficult. Parents have a big impact on their growing children, influencing their attitudes, behaviors and habits. As parents, you are your child's first teacher.

While there isn’t a user manual on how to be a parent, there are things you can do to help. Susan Roth, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, outlines some ideas and rules parents can consider incorporating:

  • Set a good example. You are your child’s biggest fan, and in many cases he or she will watch your every move. Make smart choices when it comes to exercise and nutrition. Manage your stress, anger and emotions as best as you can.
  • Be consistent with discipline. Treat bad behavior the same way every time. It’s important that both parents are on the same page and approach discipline as a team. 
  • Make the most of your shared time. Schedules get busy and it may be difficult to find time together as a family. Set aside part of each day for family activities that don’t include technology—cell phones, computers, television, etc. If this shared time can involve active play, you’ll be staying fit as a family and encouraging healthy lifestyle habits.
  • Encourage conversation and keep lines of communication open. If your schedule allows, try to eat at least one meal a day as a family. This is the perfect opportunity to have open discussions about your child’s day-to-day activities and any potential issues. If you can’t eat as a family, find time each day to check in with your child to see how everything is going.
  • Set a bedtime schedule. No matter his or her age, having an established bedtime and routine is very important. Children of all ages need a good night’s rest to be able to perform their best at school.
  • Volunteer at school. Volunteer at your child’s school, chaperone after-school activities or help organize activities after practice. This is an easy and natural way to get to know your child’s friends, teachers and the other parents. 

What tips or recommendations have helped you most as a parent?

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Staying in Shape: Exercise and Sports Safety for Kids and Young Athletes

Friday, July 12, 2013 1:59 PM comments (0)

Frequent exercise is an important part of keeping your kids happy, healthy and fit. Starting a fitness routine early can be a great way to teach your children how to live healthier lives for years to come. Whether your child is an athlete or just starting out, preventing injury is the key to keeping fitness safe and fun. 

Adam Bennett, Family and Sports Medicine at NorthShore, shares some of his suggestions for getting your kids interested in fitness and keeping exercise novices and young athletes safe and injury free.

kidsfitnessWhat are some good ways to motivate children to exercise if they are not naturally athletic or have not expressed an interest in participating in team sports?
Getting kids to exercise is often a tough challenge. Having your child choose a sport, no matter how obscure, may help encourage them to stay active—anything from fencing to yoga to bowling is worth a try. Other parents have had success by allowing their inactive kids to earn TV or video game time by spending time exercising. That said, most kids like doing what their friends are doing, so consider finding out if their friends play sports and encourage them to participate. Lastly, children learn by example. If you exercise, your child just might want to join you.

If a child has been fairly inactive, how should exercise be introduced to avoid injury?
It’s best to error on the side of a gradual transition. Kids of all shapes and sizes who have not exercised regularly are at risk for overuse injuries if they rush into activity too quickly. Exercising every other day is a great way to give your muscles, tendons and bones enough time to recover and prevent injury. Altering the type of activity might also be helpful, with perhaps one day of swimming followed by a game of basketball or a bike ride the next. 

How much water should children drink during exercise in the summer? Is water better than electrolyte replacement fluid?
Avoiding dehydration in the summer is very important. If your child is an athlete who will be at outdoor practice regularly during the summer, one easy way to avoid it is to weigh your child before and after exercise, especially during two-a-days. Athletes need to make sure they are drinking enough water to recover their pre-activity weight. If they haven’t, they might be dehydrated. Athletes should also be told to watch the color of their urine. A light yellow or clearer means they aren’t dehydrated. 

Water is fine for exercise lasting 20 minutes or less, but supplementation with water, electrolytes and sugar is essential for optimal performance and recovery when exercising for longer than 20 minutes, especially if the exercise involves intense exertion.

Are two-a-day practices safe for kids?
It’s not an ideal schedule to avoid overuse injuries and dehydration. If there is no pain or sign of injury, it’s a safe schedule, especially if children and coaches are vigilant about preventing dehydration. Most coaches are knowledgeable about proper conditioning and training programs and choose a program that gets their players fit without causing harm.

What can you do to prevent injury in young athletes?
Soreness that resolves itself after a day or two is common; however, pain that seems to be getting worse with each practice may be a sign of an overuse injury. Any swelling of joints, catching or locking of joints might also indicate a more serious injury. To prevent injury, a day of rest between workouts is wise. If the young athlete is a runner, mixing things up and trying some biking or swimming to cross train will give joints a break. 

If a young athlete is already suffering from some overuse injuries, like tendonitis, how can he or she prevent more serious injury? Can training continue? 
Overuse injuries can be a real problem in children who play multiple sports during the same season. During a sports season, dedicated days off from activity will help avoid further injury. In the summer or during off-season, regular exercise that is similar to the sport played may help avoid overuse injuries once their season starts up again. If injuries persist, physical therapy may be required.

Is a marathon safe for a younger runner?
If he or she is comfortable running long distances and distances are gradually increased during a supervised running program; there is no pain during training and there are days off to recover, it’s likely safe for a younger runner to participate in a marathon. Keep in mind, however, that a marathon is an intense endeavor which puts the body through unnatural stress. As such, a 10k or even a half marathon may a good alternative for younger runners before undertaking a marathon. 

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The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom and Baby

Friday, July 05, 2013 1:00 PM comments (0)

breastfeedingIn return for sweet smiles and abundant cuteness, babies ask only for love, affection, the right to be awake when you want to sleep and nourishment. What form that nourishment takes is up to you.

New mothers who are unable to breastfeed should not feel guilty because formula is an effective way to feed your baby and ensure he or she receives proper nutrition.  But, the health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby are many and exclusive breastfeeding for the first few months of a baby’s life is recommended. New moms should take note that many of the same benefits of breastfeeding can be achieved through a combination of breastfeeding and supplementing with formula.  

Ann Borders, MD, and Emmet Hirsch, MD, obsectrics/gynecology at NorthShore, share some of the valuable health benefits of breastfeeding:

  • Breast milk is nutritious and easy to digest. It’s the perfect combination of vitamins, fat and protein. It’s easy for a baby’s sensitive digestive system to break down, reducing constipation and gas.
  • Breast milk is an infection and disease fighter. It provides antibodies that help combat infection. Breastfed babies have fewer ear and respiratory infections. Breastfed babies have less risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Babies breastfed for at least six months are less likely to become obese as children and adults. It’s believed that breastfeeding is linked to lower rates of asthma, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer later in life. 
  • Breastfeeding is a bonding experience. It is extremely important for a mother and child to establish a secure bond in the first months of a child’s life. The physical closeness and contact of breastfeeding is an important opportunity for bonding. 
  • Breastfeeding saves money. Formula comes with a heavy price tag. Breastfeeding can save thousands of dollars a year. Add to that sum the potential long-term costs of healthcare for issues breastfeeding might help prevent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that families that follow breastfeeding guidelines save $1,200 - $1,500 in formula costs alone in the first year.
  • Breastfeeding burns calories. A woman who breastfeeds burns approximately 500 extra calories per day, making it easier to shift those extra pounds from pregnancy. That’s the equivalent of jogging for one hour. It also helps her uterus return to the size it was before pregnancy.
  • Breastfeeding is healthy for mom too. Breastfeeding lowers a woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and breast and ovarian cancers. Breastfeeding has been linked to lower risk of postpartum depression. Some studies show that it could also lower her risk for osteoporosis. 

Did you breastfeed? What were the advantages/disadvantages for you? For more advice on breastfeeding from Ann Borders, MD, click here

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