Recently, I turned Leo over and read the fine print on the many warning labels that he came with. You know, the ones that say “do not remove unless you plan to keep this child for good.” One of those labels, which I’d never really read carefully, informed me that it is possible for this child to have painful double ear infections three times in a row, and to act out, fall apart, get in trouble repeatedly, hit other children, and generally behave like a complete terror before mentioning that his ears hurt.
Every fall and winter, children (and adults) are exposed to dozens of different viruses, each with unique characteristics. A few of these bugs cause mouth lesions that look like canker sores; they can be accompanied by little blisters on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and even the buttocks—in other words, hand, foot and mouth disease. The mouth sores are the most problematic; because they hurt so much, a child may not want to eat or drink, which can lead to dehydration.
For years, experts believed the reason boys choose stereotypically male toys (think cars and construction equipment) while girls reach for traditionally feminine playthings (like dolls and anything pink) was that parents, peers and the media sent subtle, but clear, messages about which items each was expected to pick. But a new study suggests toy preferences may be rooted in biology far more than previously thought.
If you’re like most parents, you’re looking forward to your baby’s first words almost as much as you looked forward to his birth. Pay attention: An infant’s first communication starts much earlier than you may think—between the age of 2 months and 4 months.
1. SPITTING UP:
Experts say spitting up, also known as acid reflux, is perfectly normal after your baby feeds or when he burps, coughs or cries. “Spitting up occurs in more than half of all infants up to 1 year of age,” says Richard So, M.D., a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital in Ohio. “Babies mainly spit up due to immaturity of the valve between the esophagus and stomach.”
These activities require little to no preparation or materials; but don't let their simplicity fool you! They build on one another, promote developmental skills, provide a solid foundation for learning and, at the same time, promote lasting parent-child relationships.
When an infant needs a routine-but-painful medical procedure, such as a vaccination or blood draw, nobody’s happy. “It troubles parents, it stresses health care providers, and the adults transmit their anxiety to the baby,” says Neil Schechter, M.D., director of the Pain Relief Program at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford. Happily, some simple techniques can reduce stress and tension for everyone without the need for medications.
Before you know it, your stationary infant will be crawling so fast you’ll barely be able to keep up with her. If you have a yard, you’ll want her to enjoy the sights, sounds, textures and fresh air that the great outdoors has to offer. Here’s how to protect her from potential dangers there:
Insect repellents containing DEET are most effective against ticks (transmitters of Lyme disease) and mosquitoes (carriers of West Nile virus), and they’re safe for babies 2 months and older, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Use a product with 10 percent to 30 percent DEET, and wash it off once inside. Another option: Cutter insect repellent. It contains picaridin, an odorless and nontoxic chemical that has been proven nearly as effective as DEET.
The charts your pediatrician uses to monitor your baby’s growth are based on an average of formula-fed and breastfed babies of different ethnicities across the country. While those percentiles might sound intimidating, what they mean is actually simple: If your baby is in the 40th percentile for length, 40 percent of other American babies his age are the same length or shorter, and 60 percent are longer. Ditto for his weight.
By the time your child is 5, more than 30 percent of her classmates will have tooth decay, which can be well advanced even by age 3. “Early preventive care is the key to keeping your baby cavity-free,” says Elizabeth A. Shick, D.D.S., M.P.H., assistant professor of pediatric dentistry at the University of Colorado, Denver School of Dental Medicine.
Your baby screams and clings to you, wild-eyed, as if your leaving means instant peril. And in his mind, it does. “A baby doesn’t have the conceptual ability to trust that we’ll always return, so he protects our disappearance as if it’s a life-threatening event,” explains child psychologist Laura Markham, Ph.D. “His DNA programs him as if he’s living in the Stone Age; he doesn’t know he’s perfectly safe at day care. To him, when you walk out the door, he could be eaten by tigers.”
Sure. Stay out of restaurants for the next year or so! Let’s face it: When you’ve got a toddler in tow, you’re going to find very few restaurants that are able to serve quickly enough to suit your family. Even though you might be craving a meal out, taking a young child with you will very likely not make for a relaxing or enjoyable time. A toddler’s reason for living is to find fun.