For exhausted new parents, it can be a relief when your infant finally settles down to sleep for the night
(or even just a couple of hours) but there can be fear as well. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) can happen even when all the right safety measures are practiced. The exact cause of SIDS is unknown. SIDS is most common in infants less than
six months of age but can occur between one month and one year.
While nothing can prevent every case, there are ways to significantly reduce the risk of SIDS. William MacKendrick, MD, Neonatologist at NorthShore, shares safe sleeping recommendations every parent should practice:
Have your own questions about safe sleeping or another parenting topic? Join the conversation in our new online community:
The Parent 'Hood.
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.
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!
Get them when they’re young! Exercise is important for every single member of the family, even the small ones. Physically
active kids are more likely to grow up into physically active adults, which could ultimately reduce their risk for heart disease, obesity and many other health issues. In addition to the long-term and obvious physical benefits, children that are physically
active have better concentration at school, higher self esteem, improved ability to handle stress and greater social acceptance than those who are not active.
Help your kids make a lifetime commitment to health and fitness by making that commitment as a family. Show your kids the way it’s done and you could set them on a path for a healthier future.
Ideally, all children over the age of two should be physically active for at least one hour per day. For toddlers and preschoolers, much of that will be unstructured play, but it’s important, nonetheless. If a child or family is not currently active at
all and one hour per day seems intimidating or unrealistic, it’s perfectly fine to set smaller goals (i.e., 15-20 minutes per day) and build from there.
Leslie Deitch Noble, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares some ideas for family fitness that will get everyone moving and, most
importantly, having fun:
Hiking. A moderately difficult hike can burn approximately 400 calories per hour. If you don’t happen to be near a hike-friendly area, simply go for a brisk walk as a family. It’s a great safe way for the family to catch up, explore the
outdoors and get fit together.
Ice-Skating. Cold weather doesn’t mean the entire family should hibernate. There are many calorie-burning activities that embrace the season and feel more like fun than exercise, including ice-skating, which can burn over 400 calories per
hour. Make sure everyone stays safe by keeping ice-skating confined to skating rinks and not lakes or ponds.
Yoga. The family that does yoga together reduces stress levels together. There is a yoga type for every age and every fitness level. When introducing beginners and children to yoga, help prevent injury by using a certified yoga instructor.
Biking. When roads aren’t icy or snowy, break out the helmets and hit the road. Make sure everyone is up-to-date on safety and the rules of the road before heading out. Biking is a great way to explore as a family, and, it could potentially
awaken a lifetime passion for fitness for your kids.
Dancing. Nothing could be simpler or more fun than turning on some tunes and dancing as a family. If a fitness craze like Zumba can work magic for adults, a little dancing could do wonders for kids too. Dance games for the Wii, Xbox or other
gaming consoles are also a great way to get the family dancing at home during the cold months. Parents and kids, alike, love a little bit of friendly competition when everyone is laughing and grooving together.
How do you stay fit as a family?
Are 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.
Parenting 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:
What tips or recommendations have helped you most as a parent?
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.
What 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.
In 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:
Did you breastfeed? What were the advantages/disadvantages for you? For more advice on breastfeeding from Ann Borders, MD, click
Spending time by the water is a great way to cool off during the hottest months of the year but it can be a dangerous place,
too, especially for small children. There are a number of measures parents can take to ensure time by the pool or on the beach is always safe and lots of fun.
Joseph Terrizzi, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares his tips and precautions to ensure the entire family stays safe all summer long:
What do you do to keep to promote water safety at home by the pool?
Increasingly more women are waiting until later in life to start families. And while there are many benefits to postponing
motherhood, there are some health risks that increase as a woman ages.
What are the risks? Starting in their mid-30s, women face an increased risk for miscarriage, fetal chromosomal abnormalities, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, placental abruption, preeclampsia, early labor and are more likely to require a cesarean.
It’s important to remember that these are risks all women, no matter their age, face during pregnancy. While every woman’s pregnancy is unique, older moms-to-be often face some unique challenges. Knowing what challenges might arise and how to reduce your
risk increases the likelihood you’ll enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy.
Scott MacGregor, DO, Maternal-Fetal Medicine at NorthShore, shares his tips for staying healthy throughout your pregnancy:
Are you waiting until later to start your family? When did you have your first child?
Mother's Day might have passed but every day can be a celebration of moms, moms-to-be and the many adventures of motherhood. For expectant mothers, the experts at NorthShore University HealthSystem have created a checklist for the stages of pregnancy, week
by week. Every mommy-to-be can learn how to take care of herself during each and every stage of pregnancy and track her baby’s developments along the way.
Click on the infographic
to learn more about the stages of pregnancy and how a mommy-to-be can prepare for baby.