Kid-Friendly Home Remedies for the Common Cold

Monday, December 23, 2013 9:00 AM comments (0)

common cold

It’s cold and flu season. There’s no way around it. If it hasn’t happened already, it won’t be long before the common cold and the flu start making the rounds at your child’s school. And kids in school are particularly susceptible because regular hand-washing probably isn’t at the top of their to-do lists. 

Parents, it’s the perfect time to prepare for the sick days ahead. Susan Roth, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares some effective home remedies for parents with little ones stuck at home with a bad cold.

What home remedies have worked for you?

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.

 

From Home to the Classroom: Preparing Your Child for Preschool

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 1:49 PM comments (0)

preschoolSummer vacation is coming to a close, which means it’s time to start thinking about the approaching school year, especially if your little one is about to embark on preschool. The transition from home life to a classroom environment is an exciting time but it requires preparation for you and your child to be physically and emotionally ready.

Sharon Robinson, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, provides her recommendations and tips on how to ensure that your child will be ready for this brand new adventure:

  • Make an appointment with your pediatrician. Your child’s preschool will provide a list of vaccinations and health checks that are required and recommended before the first day of school.
  • Schedule an eye and hearing test. Most preschools will do an initial hearing and vision screening during the year. If there are abnormalities, schedule an appointment with you doctor for further evaluation.
  • Share your child’s special health needs with the school. Before the first day, make sure to notify the school of any medications, allergies or health concerns pertaining to your child. Make sure this information is shared with the school nurse.
  • Prepare an emergency card. This is also a good time to start helping your child memorize his or her home address and phone number.
  • Start talking about the change now. Preschool brings amazing experiences for your child but also new challenges. Children respond well to structure and routine, and preschools are designed to cater to these needs. Start talking about the expectations now—respecting peers and teachers, sharing, being good listeners. In addition, having a predictable daily routine, from set meal times to consistent bed times, will help to make the transition a smooth one.

What steps have you taken to prepare your child for preschool? 

The Importance of Regular Pediatric Doctor Visits

Tuesday, January 08, 2013 8:31 AM comments (0)

Pediatric-AppointmentsDoes it seem like you make a lot of trips to see your pediatrician? Regardless of the reason—the sniffles, a high fever, an infection or something else—it is a good idea to make regular visits to the doctor. These appointments, along with any “back-to-school” check-ups, are not only important to your child’s well being, but also can help physicians identify health risks and preventive measures.

Alison Galanopoulos, MD, NorthShore-affiliated Pediatrician, identifies some of the common health concerns that a pediatrician can often identify during regular visits:

  • Behavioral Issues. Some behavioral issues may be hard for a parent to pinpoint. Something as simple as snoring, for example, can sometimes signal serious problems, such as sleep apnea, bedwetting and even ADHD.
  • Growth and Development. Your pediatrician can monitor patterns to help determine your child’s growth and development. He or she should also be able to ask the right questions during appointments to help identify any problems.
  • Obesity. Preventive health is key. With the rise of childhood obesity, having regular appointments that can track your child’s weight and height are essential to help determine a potential weight problem. Your pediatrician can work with you to establish healthy eating habits and promote exercise from a young age.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies. Many children have been found to be deficient in Vitamin D, which can lead to future health problems. The best way to combat this is to have your child (depending on age) eat 2-3 servings of calcium a day.
  • Vaccinations. There are many required immunizations, and it can be overwhelming for a parent to keep track of what is needed. You can work with your pediatrician to confirm your child is up to date.

How frequently do you take your child/children to the pediatrician?

Guide to Buying and Giving Age-Appropriate Toys

Thursday, December 06, 2012 5:37 PM comments (0)

Now is the time when our shopping lists for holiday giving may include items for children of varying ages. While walking through the aisles, you’ll see plenty of new toys along with many of the tried-and-true classics (like building blocks and dolls). With all the options out there, how do you know which toys are best suited for what ages?

The most colorful or cute toy on the shelf doesn’t always make it the best choice. It’s worthwhile to recognize that children of varying ages have achieved different development milestones.  Just as you wouldn’t give an infant a LEGO® set, you also wouldn’t buy a four year old a teething rattle.

Kenneth Fox, MD, a pediatrician at NorthShore, gives the following recommendations when shopping for age-appropriate toys:

  • Safety first. Choose sturdy toys with washable surfaces. Watch out for small parts, sharp points or edges. Make sure attached pieces (eyes, buttons, etc.) cannot be torn or bitten off to create choking hazards. Avoid toys made of or decorated with toxic substances or chemicals (paints, dyes, glazes or other embellishments). As much as possible, try to understand where toys or other gifts are made and avoid untrustworthy sources even if they appear to be bargains. Make certain batteries are not accessible to curious and nimble little hands and mouths. Battery- or electric-powered toys should be  labeled “UL approved.” For more detailed information on specific toys consult Consumer Protection Safety Commission website (www.CPSC.gov).
  • Read the packaging information. Most toys include a recommended age on the packaging. These labels, based on a typical child’s abilities and skills at a particular age, should serve as guidelines. But remember, every child is different and develops at his own pace. Ask yourself the basic question: “Is this toy right for this particular child, given his particular developmental stage?”
  • Resist buying toys that a child can “grow into”. Age guidelines on toys exist for a reason. As nice as it may be to stock up on new toys for the growing child, it’s often hard to keep these toys out of reach until they are age appropriate.
  • Choose usefulness over fad, “must-have” toys. Every year there are countless new toy trends and gimmicks. It often is best to stick to options that have been around long enough to be dependable and tested. The best, most fun toys often have an unstructured aspect. They invite and engage the child’s imagination and creativity.
  • Kids learn a lot both by receiving and by giving. Basic capacities for empathy emerge in childhood through experiences with gift exchange and through symbolic play. Kids learn to be generous givers and gracious receivers of gifts through practice, guided by caring adults. From choosing, wrapping and presenting gifts to others, a capacity for empathy is nurtured, supported and reinforced. Also, modeling how to show one’s appreciation is a great gift in itself. “Thank you” goes a long way, even in today’s world of rampant consumerism.
  • Set limits on gifts and keep things simple. How often have you noticed that young children are often more entertained by gift wrapping and packages—like big empty boxes—for creative play? Art supplies are often the most treasured, enduring and useful gifts.
  • As much as possible, try to connect a gift with an experience. For example, handmade or homemade gifts or cards in which the child participates creatively make for heartfelt and memorable experiences. A book about or memento of a particular activity, thing or place that a child can then have direct experience with in a hands-on way, makes for a wonderful, cherished gift.

Play is essential to a child’s physical, cognitive, social and moral development. Toys, books and experiences that enrich creative play make wonderful gifts for the season and support healthy child development all year long.

Can you remember a time when one of your children received a toy not well suited for his or her age? What did you do?

Fruit Juice – A Healthy Substitute for Your Kids or Not?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 11:17 AM comments (0)

Many juices are advertised as being nutritious, and kids love juice, so parents happily provide it, believing it is a healthy choice. However, juice does not provide the same nutrition as a piece of whole fruit, and has been linked to obesity and tooth decay.  Juice should be given in moderation and should not be thought of as a substitute for healthier choices like whole fruit, milk or water.

If you choose to give your child juice, Sara Wiemer, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, offers the following suggestions for maximizing its nutritional value:

  • Read labels carefully. Many juices are high in calories and sugar, and low in nutritional value – no better than a can of soda!  Avoid juice from concentrate and juice with a lot of additives.
  • Opt for a serving of fruit instead of juice whenever possible. If this isn’t possible, try to select a 100% fruit juice with pulp. While 100% fruit juice does provide some of the vitamins and nutrients present in the fruit itself, it often lacks fiber and other nutrients,  and can have unhealthy additives.
  • Use a cup, not a bottle, when giving juice to small children and restrict its use to meal or snack times. If a child is “nursing” a bottle of juice over a long period of time, or falls asleep with it in the mouth, the sugars sit on the teeth and will lead to tooth decay.
  • Juice is filling and decreases your child’s appetite for more nutritional foods – be sure to offer healthier choices first.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following servings of juice:

  • Under six months – Not recommended
  • Ages one to six years– No more than 4 to 6 ounces are recommended per day
  • Ages seven to eighteen years – Limit juice to 8 to 12 ounces per day

 

Back to School – Get your Exam, Shots and Screening Scheduled Early

Thursday, August 16, 2012 7:22 AM comments (0)

ImmunizationsSummer vacation is here! While it may seem early, it’s often best to get your child’s required physical and immunizations scheduled and completed before it gets too close to class being back in session. This way your kids can have all appropriate screening and their vaccines updated so they are kept safe from illness and don’t infect others.

Kenneth Fox, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, gives parents some tips on preparing for back-to-school shots: (Please note this is just a sample list of vaccines needed. Please refer to your office guidelines for shots).

  • Children should have the primary series of all the following vaccines by 0-12 months of age:
    o Diphtheria , tetanus and pertussis (Whooping cough)
    o Polio
    o Haemophilus influenzae Type B
    o Prevnar 13 (Pneumococcal)
    o Measles, mumps and rubella
    o Hepatitis (A and B)
    o Varicella (Chickenpox)
    o Rotavirus (oral)

Booster doses of several of these occur between 12 and 18 months and then again between ages 4 -6 years. Influenza vaccines are yearly beginning at 6 months of age.

  • Children age 10 years old should have booster doses of Tetanus and pertussis vaccine (Tdap).
  • Meningitis vaccine (Menactra) is at age 11. 
  • Human papillomavirus vaccine for girls and boys  (3 doses) can begin as early as age 9 and should be completed before child becomes sexually active. 

Most kids don’t like being pricked by needles or look forward to getting shots. Dr. Fox gives some advice on how to ease the pain of getting shots:

  • Be honest, direct, clear and calm.
  • Give some notice. Don’t give it too early; one day is fine for most kids.
  • Bribery is often effective. Offer your child special treats for easy cooperation, promise Band-Aids and fun for after the visit.
  • Explain that vaccines are not optional and are necessary to keep us healthy. 
  • “Blow the pain away.”  Have your child blow gently at the site of vaccine.

When do you usually schedule your child’s back-to-school appointments? Do you have any tips to help with shots?

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For more information, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health, Immunization Program website.

 

 

Summer Safety – Stay Healthy this Season

Monday, June 18, 2012 10:24 AM comments (0)

Summer-SafetySummer is a great time to be outdoors and to take advantage of the weather. With the temperature changes and increased sunshine, come some summer safety concerns.

Julie Holland, MD, a pediatrician at NorthShore, shares a few quick tips on how you can ensure your family stays safe this summer:

  • Wear sunscreen. Apply sunscreen generously before going outdoors and reapply it frequently while outside.  Use a sunscreen that has both UV-A and UV-B protection, and an SPF 30 or more.  Children under 6 months should stay out of the sun.
  • Stay hydrated. It is important to drink enough fluid to avoid dehydration and heat stroke. Be sure to drink plenty of water before going outdoors and drink fluids while outdoors, especially if you are exercising.   As a general rule, water is the best fluid to drink.
  • Know your plants. Nothing ruins summer fun like the itchy and uncomfortable rash of poison ivy!  As a general rule of thumb, avoid eating berries or fruits you may find in the woods and be sure to avoid plants, such as poison ivy and oak. These plants typically have three leaves (“leaves of three, let them be”) and may have a red tint to them in the spring.
  • Avoid insect bites and stings.  Mosquitoes, bees and ticks are best avoided as well. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk.  Long-sleeved tops and long pants protect skin from mosquito and tick bites. Repellents containing DEET are also effective at reducing bites and mosquito netting can be purchased to protect infants outside.  Bee stings can be reduced by limiting use of perfume, avoiding bright colors and floral patterns, and keeping food (especially sweets and fruits) covered.
  • Wear a helmet. Summer is a great time to be more active, which may include biking, skateboarding, rollerblading, etc. Be sure to protect your head during these activities and wear a helmet. Remember that Moms and Dads need helmets as well as kids!

What do you do to keep your family safe and healthy during the summer? What are some of your favorite family activities?

Childhood Autism – Know the Signs

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 8:36 AM comments (0)

AutismMore and more children are being diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders —a range of neurobiological disorders that are best managed when they are diagnosed early. It is estimated that one in 110 children is affected by autism and that boys are four times more likely than girls to have the condition.

Some signs of autism can be detected in very early childhood. It is important for parents and other caretakers to be aware of concerning signs and behavioral patterns so that children can be evaluated as soon as possible.

Sara Wiemer, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, identifies some of the signs of autistic spectrum disorders in children:

  • Delayed speech and language skills
  • Lack of normal nonverbal skills like making eye contact with others, using facial expressions and gestures like pointing
  • Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings and expressing their own feelings
  • Repeating words or phrases
  • Strict adherence to routines - getting very upset about minor changes
  • Having obsessive interests
  • Unusual body movements, such as flapping hands, rocking or spinning
  • Lack of make-believe play or imitating other people when playing
  • Inability to form relationships with peers

Have you noticed any of these signs of autism in your child? Don’t hesitate to bring your concerns to your child’s pediatrician.

Protecting Young People from HPV Infection

Thursday, January 26, 2012 8:56 AM comments (1)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus simply spread by skin-to-skin contact. There are many different types of HPV (nearly 200). However, 40 of these types can infect the genital areas, mouth or throat of men and women during sexual contact.HPV

Over 80% of sexually active women and more than 50% of sexually active men will have acquired genital HPV infection at some point during their life. This makes genital HPV the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). However, most people who become infected remain unaware of it and infect their partners before they clear it on their own.

Some HPV types result in genital warts; other types are associated with cervical, vaginal, oral, anal and penile cancers. Fortunately, parents and patients can take important steps to help reduce HPV infection risks.

Kenneth Fox, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, offers tips on reducing HPV infection risks:

  • Communicate: Talk to your children and teens about safe sex and STIs. Let them know that their risks can be reduced by abstinence (including oral sex), by delaying sexual initiation, by limiting the number of sex partners and by using latex condoms during sexual contact.
  • Vaccinate: HPV vaccine helps prevent the most common types of sexually acquired HPV. The vaccine is available for males and females ages 9-26. Three doses of the vaccine are recommended, and the greatest protection is achieved if all doses are completed before sexual initiation and exposure to HPV. Notably, 75% of new HPV infections occur between ages 15-24 years, and over half of these new infections occur within the first 3 years after sexual initiation.

Have you spoken with your child or his/her primary care physician about this vaccine?

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