It is the time of year when I start my daily reminders to parents (I sometimes can be annoying, I guess)… but it is time…time for that flu shot! Put your excuses away, everyone 6 months and older should receive a flu shot, no ifs, ands, or buts! It seems that there are always a lot of questions about the flu shot, and lots of excuses too! Here are answers to the most common questions I have heard…
- When should I receive it?
The time is now…it takes about 2 to 3 weeks for your body to build up antibodies for influenza. Flu season can begin as early as October, but usually peaks in January and February and can last into May. There have been some early influenza cases this fall!
- Why should everyone get the flu vaccine?
The flu is a miserable illness. Many people don’t realize how sick they can be if they get true influenza. Healthy adults who are infected with the flu are often unable to work, have a difficult time caring for families, and most importantly can spread the flu to others. Those adults over 65 are at most risk for flu related deaths. Depending on the year and the flu strain, sometimes the flu will affect children more seriously. Babies under 6 months of age need to have a “cocoon” of protection around them since they are too young to receive the vaccine. That means anyone who has close contact with an infant should be immunized against the flu…parents, grandparents, siblings, and daycare providers. Pregnant women are also more at risk for complications from the flu. The Flu vaccine is safe during pregnancy, and it protects your unborn child and your baby after birth! When healthy adults are vaccinated, they are protecting themselves, the elderly, the chronically ill, and babies! So take one for the team!! If you can keep yourself and your family from getting sick, then the flu shot is an easy decision!
- Why do we need a flu vaccine every year?
Flu viruses change…and then flu vaccines change too. Studies are conducted to try to predict what flu viruses will be most prevalent each year. The vaccine is different this year from last year. Even if you had influenza last year, your immunity will fade over time. The flu vaccine serves as a boost to our immune system to help prevent the flu and it hopefully protect us from the “flu strain of the year”. Sometimes the flu vaccine is less effective than other years, but even in those years, a flu vaccine will result in a less severe case of influenza if you do become ill.
- Can I get the flu from the flu vaccine?
No! The flu vaccine is an inactivated virus…you CANNOT get the flu from the vaccine. Most side effects are very mild. There may be some soreness at the injection site, very few children even have fever.
- Last year I got the vaccine, and our whole house still came down with vomiting and diarrhea!
The flu vaccine will not protect against other viruses other than influenza. The influenza virus is a respiratory flu, not the stomach flu! Influenza can result in pneumonia, severe ear infections, wheezing, high fevers, dehydration and just feeling miserable!
- Who receives two doses?
All children between 6 months and 8 years who have never had a flu vaccine will need 2 doses at least 4 weeks apart. If your baby turns 6 months old during the flu season, he or she should receive the vaccine! If your child is older than 8 or had 2 doses in prior years, then he will only need 1 dose of the flu vaccine.
- My child is allergic to eggs, so we can’t have the vaccine.
Research shows that even children and adults who have egg allergies can receive the flu vaccine without a problem. The American Academy of Pediatrics stated this year in their recommendations for the 2017-2018 flu vaccine “All children with an egg allergy of any severity can receive influenza vaccine without any additional precautions beyond those recommended for any vaccine.”
September 2017 From the American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement
- What happened to the flu mist?
Just like last year, your only option is the flu shot. Unfortunately, the nasal mist was not as effective as the shot. So, the small “poke” is a must again this year. Be honest with your children that this small “ouch” will protect them from becoming very sick. Infants will calm very quickly after the vaccine with sucking and cuddling. Older children can be taught to take deep abdominal breaths and blow out a “candle” to try to relax or sing their A B C’s or count to 10. The small “ouch” will be over before they know it and a celebratory “high 5” and a treat (ice cream cones were always my kids’ favorite) will make that “ouch” memory fade.
I will be on my soap box about flu vaccines for a while because they are so important to so many people. Get the vaccine for the health of yourself and your family AND get it for those babies who aren’t old enough to receive the vaccine and the elderly whose immune system doesn’t always respond fully to the vaccine, and the chronically ill who may not be able to receive the vaccine…protect them too. So it is time…get that flu vaccine for everyone that you love, it is important!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
Time for that nap! Don’t miss the window for naps….toddlers need naps to sleep well at night! Establish good sleep routines for naps and night-time!
It was 8:30, I was tired, and my 2-year-old seemed to be gearing up for the evening. My patience was short and soon everyone ended up melting down. Not a very pleasant way to end the day! I hated when an evening in our home ended in a melt down! I always felt like such a terrible Mom, but evenings like that made me re-group and remember that naps, early bedtimes and calming routines were the cornerstone to good sleep for everyone. Besides, when the kids were in bed early, I always had time to take a breather, visit with Brad and reward myself with a bowl of ice cream for making it through another day!
Often children are sleeping pretty well as they enter the toddler years, and then it seems that overnight, bedtime becomes a battle. So many parents will tell me that their toddler “must not require much sleep” because they can’t get them to sleep in the evening. Soon the pattern becomes a toddler who is up until late, a parent that has no down time, and a household that is stressful every evening. The fact is, toddlers need about 13 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. Without that sleep, tantrums increase, whining becomes the norm, and a toddler’s day is not filled with discovery and play but frustration and tears. These are some reasons families with toddlers often develop “bedtime blues”.
- If a toddler is not sleeping enough—they are harder to get to sleep consistently. How hectic are your days? If he is over scheduled or over stimulated you might want to slow it down for sleep’s sake. When a child is constantly on the go, it is hard to settle down for sleep. We need positive associations with sleep, not negative ones brought on by tantrums, yelling and harshness prior to bedtime.
- Separation anxiety is a true toddler fear, often this separation anxiety is the start of sleep problems during the toddler years.
- Toddlers are exploring control and testing. Your child will test to see if bed time is negotiable! Sometimes a tired parent will give in pretty easily setting the precedent for the following nights.
- Toddlers don’t want to miss anything! They realize that life goes on when they are napping or sleeping.
- Most parents underestimate their child’s need for sleep. Toddlers need between 13 and 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. An increase in tantrums, whining, crying, even misdiagnosis of hyperactivity can come from a child who is chronically sleep deprived. Toddlers are wired “early to bed, early to rise” !
- Sleep is a health issue. Parents need to control this health issue just like you do routine health care. You wouldn’t let a child eat whatever they want for dinner, and you shouldn’t let a child decide his or her own bedtime. Sleep is a basic need like food or clothing, and you are the parent!
- There is no research that shows that letting a toddler fuss it out to sleep causes any psychological damage. A child who is consistently loved and cared for during the day will thrive, even if there are several nights of “crying it out” to go to sleep.
So what is a parent to do?
1. Watch your toddler’s behavior and do not let them become overly tired. Remember that an overly tired toddler has a difficult time going to sleep and staying to sleep. Usually, a toddler should not be up longer than a 5 hour stretch. If your toddler rises at 7:30 in the morning, he or she will be ready for a nap about 12:30. There should be about 5 hours between the nap wake time and bedtime. So a toddler that sleeps from 12:30 to 2:00 or 2:30 is ready for bed by about 7:30 in the evening.
2. Create a reasonable bedtime routine. The routine should be calming and repeatable each evening. Don’t let this routine take on a life of its own! Thirty minutes of bedtime preparation is all that is needed. A routine that is predictable will help your toddler calm down and know that bedtime is near. This routine should include calming the house about an hour before bed by dimming the lights and turning off the TV. Establish a routine that both you and your child enjoys. This routine might include taking a bath, brushing teeth, cuddling and reading a story, singing a song, saying prayers, talking about the day and planning tomorrow, providing a “lovey”, and giving another snuggle before leaving the room.
3. After the routine, your child may call or cry for you. Be strong and consistent. You can peek in and tell your child that it is night-time and time to sleep, but do not go back and rock and comfort to sleep. Your child will learn to fall asleep on his or her own. This is a learned skill, and an important one! Give your child suggestions. “You don’t have to sleep, just read your books or snuggle with your bear.” Leave a night-light on if necessary.
4. Establishing a sleep routine usually takes about three to four nights of consistency. Parents need to be on the same page and tackle this as a team! Do not confuse your child with two different approaches to sleep. Make a plan, and stick to it. Remember that sleep is a health issue, you are being a good parent!
If you establish good sleep habits with your toddler, your daytime hours will be much more fun! It is amazing how the “terrible twos” may just become terrific if you have a child that is not overly tired.
More to come….how to handle specific night-time challenges!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
A spoiled child grows into an adult who feels entitled…how do you strike the balance between wants and needs as a parent?
It is so difficult to see your child upset, disappointed, or wanting something that you don’t feel is necessary or maybe can’t afford. There were many days when I questioned whether we should break down and buy an item that one of our kids “just HAD to have”, fold and give that cookie before dinner to keep the peace, or rescue a child from the consequence of a behavior because their tears broke my heart. There were days that I did…but I know that the lessons the kids learned when I did NOT were much more valuable.
When you bring home your precious baby, that first year there is very little difference between your child’s wants and needs. Everything your child wants IS a need. Your sweet baby communicates those needs loudly and clearly resulting in you feeding, holding, rocking, changing, and responding. As a parent, your quick response to those needs lets your child learn that he is loved and safe. Very important lessons!
Fast forward to a 3-year-old laying on the floor at the grocery store check-out line screaming for a package of M & Ms at 9:00 am. Does he need them? No, but he sure wants them! Is the behavior annoying, do you want to make it go away quickly? Yes, but purchasing the candy may not be the best lesson for your child!
What exactly is spoiling?
As parents we must teach our children how to navigate the world even when there is frustration or disappointment. Think no M&Ms at 9:00 am, not getting your attention when you are speaking with another adult, having to save money to buy those designer jeans, and dealing with sitting the bench during a basketball game. Our children must learn that when disappointment in life happens, when they must wait for something they want, or the world doesn’t revolve around their desires, that life doesn’t crash down around them and that they are still loved. Your child must learn that in life you must work hard, be patient, and “play nicely” to be happy and successful. Being loved does not mean there are no bumps in the road, being loved means you are taught how to navigate them.
Spoiling means your child will learn that they are entitled to things. This entitlement replaces the idea of hard work and patience to get or achieve things. Children who are spoiled often do not learn the difference between wants and needs. Spoiling is never due to giving your child the things he or she needs, the opposite is true. When your child has what they need, good behavior patterns can follow. Children need loving physical contact, soothing when upset, structure, routine, positive words, food, clothing, shelter, medical care, toys, …basics…these basics bring an emotionally solid foundation and feeling of security. How do you prevent the “spoiled brat” that none of us want to raise? How do you strike the balance as a parent? Of course there are times we will give our children things they simply want; there is nothing better than seeing the excitement of getting something that is special! Of course we are going to fold and stop the “madness” in the grocery store and give in to the M&Ms occasionally. Of course we will respond to the whining….but how do we strike the balance??
- Don’t buy things your child wants constantly. Gifts are important parts of childhood…the holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions are wonderful, exciting times for your child. Receiving a gift every time you walk through Target and see the latest toy is not the best parenting choice. This results in a child who no longer appreciates but expects.
- Delay gratification. Help your child develop patience. It is fine to tell your child “I will help in a minute when I finish this.” “That new Barbie is very nice, let’s write it down on your birthday wish list.” This will help your child learn that his world will not collapse when he does not get what he wants NOW. Delayed gratification teaches the difference between wants and needs and that others have needs too.
- Develop strong values and morals as a family, give together. Raising an unspoiled child is not just about saying “no” to things, it is about developing a value based home. A home that has kindness, generosity, gratitude, hard work, and feelings as its core. Teach what it feels like to make someone else happy. Point out when your child is kind. Start talking about gratitude. Share what you are thankful for each day. A great time is during family dinners or right before bed. Ask your child to share 3 things each day he is thankful for….you share too! Share as a family, donate used toys your child no longer needs, participate as a family in donations to charities…be sure your child is included! This is a great way to teach your child about the joy of giving and appreciation for what he has. There is happiness in appreciation; there is misery in concentrating on what you don’t have.
- Watch how much screen time your child has. Advertising knows how to send the message to your child on what he “needs”! Children who learn to self entertain and play outside are less needy!
- Spoiling is not just too many things, it is an attitude too. Don’t give into temper tantrums, this teaches that those actions result in “getting what I want”. Have consistent consequences for unacceptable behavior; try not to fold because it is easier. Parenting is hard work!
- Let natural consequences of life happen for your child…bumps in the road happen, learning to handle that is essential.
- Give your child praise, but praise for specific behaviors or accomplishments. Constant blanket praising results in a child who feels the world owes him this. Let your child learn that positive actions feel good INTERNALLY!
- Give your child chores and responsibilities. In the real world, we are all responsible for something. This fosters a good work ethic and self confidence too. Studies show that children who have routine chores at home are happier, more responsible, and learn the value of taking care of possessions!
- Remember, giving your child things does not replace your child’s need for your time. So many of us are busy! Many parents feel some guilt regarding the hours they spend away from their children! What your children crave is your time, not your gifts. Taking time to talk to your children, read stories, and play games is better than any purchased gift. The feeling of contentment from the latest video game is fleeting, the feeling of love from your time is not.
- Live the values you teach. Your child learns what he sees. Does your child see you buying the newest and the best? Do you show your child that you often sacrifice and delay gratification? Talk to your child about what you want, but demonstrate that you might not need it!
Fostering an environment that doesn’t result in a child who feels entitled is not always easy. There will be times when your child may be unhappy, angry, or even throw a fit, but it is only for a brief time. Giving in affects behavior for the long-term. I am not telling you to make your child’s life difficult. There are certainly times that we will and should indulge our child. But remember, a spoiled child learns that behavior, that spoiled behavior it is a result of parenting. You cannot love your child too much…but sometimes loving your child means your child will not get everything he wants. 🙂
There is nothing harder as a parent than seeing your child disappointed about something he or she wants but can’t have, but nothing makes you prouder as a parent than seeing your child handle the ups and downs of life with grace, respect and a “can do” attitude.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
Talking to your child and using lots of animated facial expressions are important for your child’s language development!
Believe me, hearing the sweet voice of your child say “Ma Ma” or “Da Da” is one of those moments you always remember. Later, I can remember thinking….”Maybe I should change my name, I am tired of hearing “MO-OMMMM!” Suddenly it was a two syllable word that rocked the house! Now, I love hearing “Mom” when I get that phone call or one of the kids bursts through the door for a visit! The fact is, language development in your child is exciting and fun, and early development is important. Studies show us that the number of words your child hears is proportionate to the size of his or her vocabulary that is developed. This is through direct spoken words to your child, through conversation or reading, not words heard from the TV or radio, or conversations around your child. Some experts tell us that a parent should be saying 30,000 words per day to their child. Wow, that is a lot of talking! Now I tell you this as a fun fact, not to have you tally mark each word you say to your child! I don’t want to add another task to your day, or worry to your list! The 30,000 per day number does send the message home though that talk is important, and as parents we have to work at talking and reading to our children! In this age of TV, computers, I-Pods and I-Pads, and smart phones; sometimes the spoken word and art of conversation is lost. As a parent we need to bring that art of truly talking with our children back!
What can we do to foster language development in our children?
- Talk to your child! When your infant is looking at you or an object…talk to your child! When your child coos, coo back…this is the start of the art of conversing. Describe what your baby is seeing. Talk about what you are doing during the day. Read stories and talk about the pictures in board books. Studies show that children that hear 30,000 words a day from birth to age 3 have better language skills at 3 but also have an academic edge still in 3rd grade…no matter the socioeconomic level! TALK A LOT TO YOUR CHILD! It can be the great equalizer for academic success!
- Repeat. This helps a child link sound and the meaning of words. By the time a child is about 1, they have most of the sounds that put words together, they just don’t have the words! Repetition helps a child put those sounds into words.
- Always respond to any sound your child makes. When your baby coos, talk back. When your child squeals with a favorite toy, talk about how much your child likes that special toy. When your child babbles and reaches for an item, say what the item is before you give it to your child.
- Play taking turn games. This teaches conversation! Blow on your baby’s tummy and wait for his response. Repeat it again. Play peek-a-boo and other games that encourage taking turns in conversation…cause and effect.
- Eye contact. Your child needs to see your face when you are talking. This helps your child see how the words are formed by watching your mouth. Your smiles, facial expressions and encouragement gives your child positive reinforcement for their attempts in communicating.
- “Motherese” is good! The high-pitched sing-song voice most moms use to talk to their baby is good! Babies like the pitch of this type of talk and the slow pace helps them understand better. Teach Dad how to do it! It tends to come more naturally to Moms.
- Give your child the opportunity to talk. Don’t anticipate every need, allow your child to point and make attempts to ask for what he or she wants.
- Narrate your day. Talk to your baby as you change a diaper, give a bath, cook a meal. Describe what you are doing and what your child is doing.
- Expand your child’s communication. When your child says “dog”, you can say “Yes that is a dog! It is a brown dog!”
- Read. Reading is a great opportunity to engage with your child. Your child will learn more words and will develop a love of books. Hearing the same book over and over helps to make language connections in your child’s brain.
- Go on field trips! Take your child to the grocery, the post office, on hikes…talk about what you see! Watch your child, and see what he or she is interested in or excited about. Talk about that rock or stick he or she picks up!
- Use music. Music encourages your child to pronounce words and practice putting sentences together. Songs also help children remember things…I still can’t put things in alphabetical order without singing my A B C’s! 🙂
- Play language games. Point and name games like “Where is your nose?” “This is Mommy’s toes, where are your toes?” Helps your child become
- aware of himself and make language connections, plus it is fun!
- Don’t worry but refer early. There is a wide range of normal with speech development. Don’t obsess and worry over your child’s development of speech. Every day work on providing the opportunities to allow your child’s speech to develop. If you have questions or concerns, the earlier you refer for evaluation, the easier most speech delays can be handled.
Language Milestones from The American Speech – Language – Hearing Association
- Baby will startle to sound
- Quiets or smiles when you speak to him
- Recognizes your voice
- Smiles at you
- Babbles and uses sounds with p, b and m
- Makes excitement sounds and unhappy sounds
- Makes gurgling sounds
- Likes music
7 Months – 1 Year
- Likes “peek-a-boo”, “patty cake”, “soo big!”
- Uses “speech” not crying to sometimes get your attention.
- Uses gestures like pointing, putting arms up, waving.
- Recognizes words that you say like “cup” and other common words.
- Starts to follow 1 step directions.
- About the first birthday will have about 2 or 3 words like ball, ma ma, da da, dog.
1 Year – 2 Year
- Points to pictures in a book when named.
- Knows animal sounds.
- Points to a few body parts when asked.
- Can say a two word question or sentence by age 2.
- Vocabulary expanding every month.
2 Year – 3 Year
- Follows two step directions.
- Has a word for almost everything.
- Is understood most of the time by those with him often.
- Speaks in 2 to 3 word sentences.
- Starting to understand concepts like big and little, up and down, in and on.
When do you refer?
- A baby who doesn’t respond to sound or who doesn’t make vocal sound.
- A child who does not point, or wave “bye bye” at 12 months.
- A child at 18 months that uses gestures over words to communicate.
- A child at age 2 or older that only imitates speech and does not speak spontaneously.
- A child at age 2 who can’t follow simple 1 or 2 step directions.
- A child at age 2 who parents are unable to understand at least 1/2 of the child’s speech, or a 3 year old child that a parent cannot understand 3/4 of the child’s speech.
- A 4 year old child who is not understandable by others.
- Don’t sit and worry….refer early. Most speech referrals are made between 15 months and 2 years of age.
Remember, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are like little language sponges. Talk, talk, talk, and turn that TV off! Your child will soon be yelling “MO-OMMMMM!”….be careful what you wish for!! 🙂
This cute little smile cost us several thousand dollars later to straighten it out….but worth it!
There is nothing cuter than a toothless grin of a baby. Next the cute little pearly whites that erupt create a darling smile, then there is a toothless grin again as the tooth fairy starts to make visits to your home, and then soon your child will have two big front teeth that look way too big for their mouth. As your child grows, their dental needs change too. Why is dental health so important for children? Dental decay is the most common chronic childhood illness. There are at least 4 million preschoolers that have had at least one cavity. Forty to fifty percent of children will have cavities before the age of five. 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental health problems. The American diet is high in sugar, and we are using more and more non-fluoridated bottled water for drinking. This all adds up to an increase in dental cavities, and a decrease in dental health of our children. Children with cavities in their primary or “baby” teeth have more problems with poor weight gain, iron deficiency, speech problems and poor dental health as adults. Taking care of our children’s teeth is part of good health care!
I. When do baby teeth form and erupt?
- The primary teeth or baby teeth begin to form before your baby is born at about the 14th 19th week of pregnancy. The crown, or the white part of the tooth that is seen, continues to develop until several weeks to several months after your child is born.
- Total of 20 baby teeth, 10 on top and 10 on the bottom by about age 3.
- The first tooth to appear usually is the lower central incisors (the bottom two teeth) around 6 months of age. Don’t panic if your baby’s first tooth isn’t the lower two teeth…some babies teeth to the beat of their own drummer!
- Teething can be painful for infants. Babies explore their world with their mouths, and during teething this can be uncomfortable. There can be redness, swelling in the gums, drooling, increase in finger sucking, and the need to bite and chew on any object. Some babies will pull at ears or rub their jaw line, teething pain is often referred to the ear area.
- Sometimes parents will see a “blister” where the tooth is about to erupt, this is normal.
- Many babies like a clean teething ring, frozen wash cloth, frozen fruit in a mesh feeder, frozen bagel or mom’s fingers to rub the gums.
- You can give acetaminophen, or ibuprofen (after 6 months of age) to help with the pain. Ibuprofen is a bit more effective for inflammation of the gums, but wait until your baby is at least 6 months to use this!
- Do NOT place oral numbing ointments on your baby’s gums. This can cause a decrease in the gag reflex and could be dangerous.
- Teething pain usually occurs for 3 to 4 days prior to the tooth breaking through the gum. Pain should decrease once the tooth breaks through the gum line. There may still be some discomfort for a few days after. It is not a month-long process unless your baby is cutting multiple teeth one after the other.
- Teething does NOT cause a fever, vomiting, diarrhea or cold symptoms. If your baby has any of these symptoms with teething, he or she is probably ill too.
- Teething can cause an increase in drooling which can lead to a rash or irritation around the mouth and on a baby’s chest. Keep the area dry by changing shirts frequently, using absorbent bibs, and “water proofing” the skin with ointments.
II. When is the first dental visit?
- The first dental visit should be at about age one or 6 months after the first tooth. It is important to have your child’s first teeth examined. Dental problems can begin early. Children with healthy teeth can eat better, develop better speech, and dental cavities can cause a permanent state of infection in your child.
- Usually the first visit is just a visual exam—usually on mom of dad’s lap. Going to the dentist is just like a well child exam at your child’s doctor. We want to be sure we support healthy teeth, not just see the dentist when there is a problem!
III. How do you care for the first teeth?
- Wipe your baby’s first teeth using a wash cloth or gauze or a soft bristled baby toothbrush. Ideally, your baby’s teeth should be wiped or brushed twice a day. Once in the morning and once before bed. The earlier your child becomes accustomed to wiping or brushing their teeth, the easier it will be.
- You can use a small smear (about the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste on your child’s tooth or teeth until age 3 and then a pea size amount after age 3. Fluoride is important! It helps strengthen your child’s teeth and prevent decay.
- You should help your child brush teeth until at least age 6. Children are not coordinated enough to brush teeth well before that. Sometimes this will be a battle, but it is worth the battle. We want to form good dental hygiene habits early! Do what you have to do to get teeth brushed.
- Have your child sit on your lap facing out, or you sit on the floor and lean your child back into your lap to brush.
- Let your child brush after you brush. Use circular motions on the teeth and brush along the gum line.
- Use stickers, games, songs, whatever it takes to get the tooth brushing done. If your child cries, brush quickly…but at least the mouth will be open!
- Never put your baby to bed with a bottle of formula or breast milk. This will result in decay in your baby’s first teeth!
- Never put juice or any other sugared drink in a bottle.
- Do not allow your child to walk around with a sippy cup of juice or milk all day long. This will leave a continual coating of sugars on your child’s teeth.
- You can begin to floss your child’s teeth when they start to touch. Again, this is a good habit to start young!
- As your child begins to eat table food, try to avoid high sugar snacks. Sticky snacks are the worst. Fruit snacks, dried fruit like raisins and any other sticky food must be brushed out of your child’s teeth.
IV. When do I worry about thumb sucking, finger sucking and pacifiers?
- It is perfectly normal for infants and young children to need to suck. Sucking decreases stress in young children and makes for a happier child!
- It should be discouraged starting at about age 18 months. Parents should limit pacifier use to bedtime and nap time.
- All thumb sucking and pacifier use should be discouraged after age 3.
- Most children stop on their own, but some need help. Most will then quit with encouragement from the dentist and parents. Do not use negative reinforcement like hot sauce on a thumb, taping fingers, or putting mittens on your child.
- Prolonged sucking can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problem. The fingers, thumb and pacifier all affect the teeth the same way.
VI. My child grinds his teeth, is this bad?
- Teeth grinding happens in many toddlers. The toddler’s molars are very smooth, and children will often grind.
- Most children outgrow the habit by about age 6.
- If teeth grinding continues after permanent teeth arrive, then speak with your child’s dentist.
VII. What should I do if my child injures his mouth and teeth?
- Be sure and ask your dentist when he or she would like to be contacted for a tooth injury.
- If a child knocks out a permanent tooth, keep it moist or drop it into cup of milk and call the dentist immediately or head to the ER.
- If a child is hit in the mouth–always call the dentist for an exam even if there is no obvious damage.
- If a child chips a tooth–call the dentist even if there is no sensitivity.
- Your child should use a mouth guard for sporting activities!
Start good dental habits early…find your child a dental office home where both you and your child are comfortable. Dental care should not be scary but just a part of good health. Take care of your child’s smile, it is one of the most beautiful things a parent sees!