Willows Pediatrics Blog - We Know Kids
We Know Kids
The Willows Pediatrics Blog

Category: Toddler Care

Building an Early Literacy Toolkit

A favorite memory for many parents is reading aloud to their young children. But more than just a family routine or ritual, early and shared reading promotes early brain development and builds emotional bonds between parents and children during the critical early childhood years. Reading out loud, right from birth, is the foundation of your child’s literacy and a springboard for their future reading skills.

The Academy of Pediatrics has developed an Early Literacy Toolkit with ideas and suggestions that parents can adopt to support their child’s literacy. There is a toolkit for each critical age range in early childhood, infants up to 11 months, one year olds and two year olds. The advice in each toolkit takes advantage of the developmental stages at each age, so that parents can not only have fun, but do the most age appropriate activities to prepare their child for a life long love of reading and learning. Read More

Sleep Teaching Can’t Be One-Size-Fits-All

“Many parents who come to me share the fact that, well before they end up in my office, they have read a pile of sleep advice books without getting results,” says a local sleep consultant in Westport, CT.  “As a result, they often worry there is no real solution for the problems they face with their child’s sleep.”

However, the specialist adds, “The good news is, with the several hundred families I’ve worked with, this has never been the case. The problem isn’t with their child – it’s with the source they’re using for help with getting a child to sleep.” Read More

Conventional Produce Said To Be Nutritionally Equal To Organic Versions

Willows Pediatric Blog - Organic ProduceWillows Pediatrics. We advocate a diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, dairy and whole grains. And while we know that some parents purchase organic fruits, vegetables and meats for their families, we recently learned that organic food is not a nutritionally essential part of a child’s diet.

A new AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) clinical report found that while there are certain benefits to consuming organic products—most significantly the absence of pesticides—these foods are not more nutritious than regular produce. This is the first time the AAP has spoken on this issue.

Here’s what the report concluded:

While organic foods have the same vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, lipids and other nutrients as conventional foods, they also have lower pesticide levels, which may be significant for children. Organically raised animals are also less likely to be contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria because organic farming rules prohibit the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics.

Regarding the impact of pesticides on children, the AAP said it was unable to make a definitive statement:

“At this point, we simply do not have the scientific evidence to know whether the difference in pesticide levels will impact a person’s health over a lifetime, though we do know that children–especially young children whose brains are developing–are uniquely vulnerable to chemical exposures,” said Joel Forman, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Council on Environmental Health and one of the lead authors of the AAP clinical report.

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The Mouths Of Babes: Willows Pediatrics Talks About Pediatric Dental Health

A baby’s first tooth is something that most parents will always remember! From the way it changes that cute smile to the teething issues it causes, the eruption of a tooth is a pretty big deal. Yet, with all of the other things parents and caregivers must do to care for a baby or toddler, those tiny teeth are often neglected … sometimes with painful results. Today Willows Pediatrics wants to remind you to brush your child’s teeth.

Believe it or not, dentists across the nation report that they are seeing more preschoolers at all income levels with 6 to 10 cavities or more! And recently the Centers for Disease Control found that the number of preschoolers requiring extensive dental work has increased for the first time in forty years. Several factors may be at work here.

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Computerized Vision Testing At Willows Pediatrics Can Make A Big Difference

Willows Pediatrics offers non-invasive computerized vision testing for children starting between six and nine months of age and up to the age of four. The test, Enfant Computerized Vision Testing, can diagnose eye and vision problems in pre-verbal children and allows for early treatment of issues ranging from “lazy eye” (amblyopia) to more serious eye diseases.

Recently, Dr. Jeffrey Owens performed the test on a six-month baby girl. The results indicated a possible problem, so she was referred to a specialist and eventually to an ophthalmic oncologist at Yale University. She was diagnosed bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare and serious form of cancer. The good news is that the disease has a high survival rate if treated early.

A video about this case is available for you to view at this link: http://youtu.be/Rx-n2CkGo1g.  We hope you will take a few moments to watch it.  As you can see, the patient, her parents and all the physicians at Willows Pediatrics are thrilled with the outcome.

Willows Pediatrics Shares Advice On How To Halt Tantrums

Yes, it’s true: children have tantrums. Virtually every parent will, at some point, have to deal with a very unhappy child who shouts, throw things, or crumples to the floor in tears. The doctors at Willows Pediatrics can offer advice on how to help avoid and control tantrums, and reward good behavior. We are happy to answer questions during your child’s physical exams, or for a more in depth assessment we can schedule a behavioral consultation with you to discuss any concerns you might have about your child and his or her behavior.

Tantrums can range from whining and crying to screaming, kicking, hitting, and breath holding. They are most common during the second year of life when toddlers can understand more language than they can express. A toddler’s frustration at being unable to communicate can be a leading cause of tantrums. Other reasons a child might have a tantrum include being tired or hungry, or seeking attention. Read More

Willows Pediatrics And FDA Do Not Recommend Cough And Cold Medicines For Children Under Two Years Of Age

CareBack in 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that over-the-counter (OTC) cough and coldmedication should not be used in infants and children under the age of two, and Willows Pediatrics agrees. The FDA found that these products could cause serious and potentially life-threatening side effects in young children including convulsions, rapid heart rates, decreased levels of consciousness and death. This recommendation led to a voluntary recall of these types of products marketed to children under two. Read More

Willows Talks About The Family Bed & Co-Sleeping

Willows Talks About The Family Bed & Co-Sleeping

Many families spend their days together. Others stay together at night too! The “family bed,” or co-sleeping is a common practice in many societies, and there are advocates for it here in the U.S. too. However, there are child safety concerns related to having adults and children share a bed. So, is it an acceptable practice?

A recent blog posted on CT Now (and written by former local mom Sarah Cody), asked the same question. She’d heard about the possible benefits of co-sleeping—better nursing and enhanced emotional security—but worried about the dangers to newborns and infants, including injury and suffocation.

She turned to Willows Pediatric Group physician Dr. Jeff Owens for his take on the issue. Dr. Owens rightly pointed out that ‘”The American Academy of Pediatrics still doesn’t recommend it.” He also noted that the dangers stem from two major concerns: soft bedding and impaired judgment. A baby should never sleep on a futon, couch or waterbed, and a parent should not drink, smoke or use drugs with the infant nearby.  Moreover, twenty-four hour bonding can challenge a couple’s need for a healthy physical relationship and leave a mother drained and exhausted.

However, Dr. Owens did allow for some wiggle room. “If it’s a stark, firm [bed] and the baby is on his back, the baby is probably safe.” Dr. Owens believes we should also respect different cultures, some of which believe “the family bed” is the answer to peaceful nights and strong attachments.

In other words, “do what works for your family as long as it’s a safe situation.”

Willows Pediatrics Offers The M-CHAT: A Tool For Early Autism Detection

Recently Time magazine featured a brief article about early detection of autism. The column correctly noted that because autism’s behavioral symptoms don’t become obvious until about age 3, pediatricians have been challenged to find ways to pick up indicators of the condition at an earlier age.

“But,” as the article stated, “researchers say it may be possible to detect subtle warnings of the developmental disorder as early as 12 months—and all it takes is a simple 24-item questionnaire that parents can complete in the pediatrician’s waiting room.”

Good news for patients at Willows Pediatric Group: we routinely offer the M-CHAT, a screening test like the one referred to above, to children at their 15-month checkup. M-CHAT, which stands for Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, is widely recognized and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The M-CHAT does not provide a diagnosis, but it can indicate if a child is at risk and should receive further evaluation.

In terms of insurance coverage, we submit this service to your insurance company, but as is with all services provided in this office, we do not know or guarantee that your insurance company will pay for the service. At Willows we strive to provide the best care to your child without regard to reimbursement. If you have any questions about reimbursement please feel free to call us and we will help to guide you through the insurance maze.

At Willows, we are always available to discuss your child’s health and any behavioral issues that may be of concern. Child development is an integral part of child health and we are here to answer any questions you have about your child’s speech and language or social skills. If you have any questions about M-CHAT or other child development issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Iron: How Much is Enough for Your Infant or Toddler?

How much iron should my baby have?

Photo via Wikimedia.com

In November 2010, the AAP issued new age-based recommendations for iron intake in infants and toddlers. Because iron deficiency can have irreversible long-term effects on children’s cognitive and behavioral development, the AAP Committee on Nutrition stated that, “It is critical to children’s health that we improve their iron intake status starting in infancy.”

Babies born healthy at full term are born with sufficient iron stores for the first 4 months of life. Therefore, full-term babies do not need iron supplements prior to four months of age. However, if the infant is breast-fed, the AAP now recommends a 1-mg/kg daily dose of oral iron starting at four months, and continuing until an infant begins eating solid iron-rich foods – typically around six months of age. (Formula-fed infants will receive sufficient iron in their formula and do not need a supplement between four and six months of age.)

There is one caveat: Preterm infants do require iron during the first four months. If they are bottle-fed, the iron-fortified formula will provide the proper amount for these infants. However, according to the AAP, preterm infants who are breast-fed should take a 2-mg/kg daily dose of iron starting at one month of age.

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