Archive for the ‘Infant/Toddler Behavior’ Category

EPA ignores the toxic threat in our drinking water

Well, isn’t this great… there is rocket fuel contaminating our drinking water, or at least in the ground water, drinking water and/or soil in 43 states.

The article states:
“Independent testing of milk nationwide has shown near universal perchlorate contamination, often at concentrations well above safe limits. In 2004 and 2008 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published studies revealing contamination of most of the nation’s food supply….

Small children and the unborn are the most vulnerable to perchlorate, which impairs endocrine function by interfering with iodine uptake by the thyroid gland. Perchlorate crosses the placenta and shows up in breast milk, leaving infants and fetuses with even higher blood concentrations than their mothers. In even the most minute concentrations perchlorate can cause enough thyroid inhibition to impair proper neurologic and brain development in children.

Fantastic, right? There’s more. The CDC found significant effects on health at doses 5 times BELOW what the EPA considers “safe.” A 1 year old can consume more than the safe level, just from consuming food, not counting any water or milk he may drink that is also contaminated.

Another excerpt:
“One out of every six children nationwide has a learning disability or behavioral disorder severe enough to require therapy. Numerous environmental contaminants could be contributing to this alarming trend: mercury, radioactivity, generic air pollution and chemicals like bisphenol A, dioxins, PCBs and certainly perchlorate.”

Of course, like the BPA issue, it appears nothing is being done on this issue because of money and industry pressure. I love that economics is more important than human health and well-being, especially when children are most at risk; all the while learning disabilities and behavior disorders are at staggering numbers (as in affecting 1 in 6 children). Something is clearly wrong here.

And sadly, there is not much we can do. Even if we grow our own food or purchase organic, the rocket fuel may still exisit in the water these plants and animals received and the water and milk we drink.

This is one of those cases where we just need to write letters — to the EPA, to our senators, congressmen, etc. until someone will listen.

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Get Your Toddler to Cooperate

OK, I am not promising miracles, but this has worked out great for us and has greatly reduced fights and tantrums when it comes to bath, bedtime, etc.

Toddlers, most certainly mine, are very much into a routine. This is a great start, however, when my daughter is having a great time building blocks or coloring, she’s just really not a fan of giving that up to go take her bath without warning. Enter a tantrum.

I had read somewhere that toddlers like to know what is going on – no surprises. Their routine and knowing what is going on provides a sense of security and familiarity. This is why your toddler will read the same book several times a day, everyday. It certainly made sense, so I started this 5, 3, 1 deal where I let her know exactly what is going to happen in 5, 3 and 1 minute. Then at the end I count to 5 and go do it.

Here is how it would work at bath time:

1. I say “Ellery, in 5 minutes we are going to put the blocks away and take a bath.” Make sure you say EXACTLY what is going to happen in 5 minutes, so just saying “You got 5 more minutes,” does not mean anything to your toddler.
2. At the 3 minute mark, same thing “Ellery, in 3 minutes we are going to put the blocks away and take a bath.”
3. Same deal at the 1 minute mark.
4. Then at the end of that minute, I say “Ellery, I am going to count to 5 then we are going to put the blocks away and take a bath.”
5. Then do exactly what you said you were going to do. It may take a couple times, but now I find Ellery will sometimes go to bed or head for the bath when I give her the 5 minute warning!!

The other beauty is your toddler can’t tell time, so if I don’t have 5 minutes, I still use this 5, 3, 1 method, only give her the warning every minute or 30 seconds, depending on how much time I have. This way, what I say is consistent even if the timing may not be and a toddler understands words more than time.

My husband also came up with a supplemental 1, 2 rule. Sometimes she may want to have yogurt before she gets dressed or wants to watch Elmo before brushing her teeth, so he will say “Brush teeth 1, Elmo 2” to let her know the order of things. And she does seem to be responding to this as well, even if she does not like the answer.

When your toddler is a little older, a timer may work well. “When the timer goes off, we are putting the crayons away and taking a bath.” I know several parents who use this successfully with their roughly 3 and older crowd. Ellery is 22 months and a little young for the timer.

For things like getting dressed, well, this one has been a challenge for us since she prefers to be naked. We have naked time after her bath so she can get it out of her system. However, getting dressed for school in the morning has been a challenge. Some suggestions I had were get her dressed before anything else while she is still sleepy; get her dressed before eating, TV or anything else; and teach her to dress herself (which resulted in clothes being thrown across the room with a loud, protesting “NO!”). What did work was to pick her current favorite character, Olivia from the same named book, and ask if she wants to wear a sweater and pants like Olivia. It has totally worked and she now asks to dress like Olivia in the mornings.

I read some of “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” by Dr. Harvey Karp. I did not really find it helpful and Ellery did not like it when I talked to her in the way he suggested. I was already doing his fast-food rule where you repeat back to your toddler what she is saying to you. I find this helps stop the tears because your toddler realizes you understand what she is saying. I then say in short simple words why we could not go outside when it is raining, for example.
She cries “Jacket, jacket.”
And I say, “You want jacket?”
Tears stop “Yes.”
“You want to go outside?” (Or say “You want go?” and point outside)
“Yes.”
“No, it’s wet. No jacket, no outside, it’s raining,” and would show her the rain out the window. At first I would let her feel the rain on her hand so she could make the connection. Usually she is still upset, but that’s when I excitedly offer a distraction like play-dough or finger paint.

Speaking of distractions, they are not so easily used on a toddler since they have a long-term memory. It is not so “out of sight, out of mind” anymore. But if it is a distraction she loves, like anything art-related, she will usually accept it. And sometimes she does not let me forget she still remembers she wanted to go outside because she may point to the door and say “wet.” I will reassure her with “That’s right baby, we can’t go outside because it is wet.” And she happily continues to do her art. It does not have to be art – use whatever favorite activity your toddler may have.

This is what has worked for us, and hope it can help others too! You may also be interested in seeing how I got my toddler to brush her teeth.

Now if we can only get her to sit still when we are out to eat. She does great for a little while, but especially if there are other kids, she wants to run off and play. She is very active and does not sit still for long.

Get Your Toddler to Brush Her Teeth

Like many parents, getting our daughter to brush twice a day was a struggle at our house. Sometimes she would want to brush her teeth, but many other times she would exercise her independence and kick, yell “NO!” and fling her toothbrush across the room. I got frustrated for about 5 minutes and then decided to get a better plan. This is what I did. Hopefully it will help some other parents end the dental hygiene battle.

1. Buy several interesting tooth brushes and let your toddler decide which one she wants to use. Pick out different colors and those that sport your child’s favorite character. Toddlers like choices because they get to have a little control of the situation. So now instead of flinging the toothbrush (how she used to have control) she picks one of 5 different toothbrushes (how she how has control). So the question is not whether or not we are brushing our teeth, but what toothbrush are we going to use.

a. Toothbrushes come in all shapes and sizes, so make sure you pick an age appropriate toothbrush. Most have an age range on them.

b. Toothbrushes I selected: I found one with Elmo on it – Elmo rules in our house. I also found a green one with a train, a pink one with ladybugs and one that looks like my electric toothbrush: the Gentle Vibrations toothbrush by Summer Infant. She also has a plain white and yellow one that came with her infant grooming kit.

2. Find a fluoride-free, training toothpaste. We like Jason’s Natural Earth’s Best Organic Toothpaste. It is strawberry and banana flavor. You can find it at stores like Whole Foods. Do not use regular toothpaste until your child learns not to swallow it.

3. Make brushing teeth part of your morning and bedtime routine, just like reading a book.

4. Let your toddler brush the teeth of her favorite stuffed animal or doll.

5. Brush your teeth with your toddler and let her help you.

6. Make it fun. Stand her in front of the mirror and ask her to roar like a lion, brush a few teeth while she is roaring. Make other faces with her, of course picking faces that will allow you access to her teeth. My daughter has a toothbrush with a train on it, so we will say “Choo-choo!” and the train will chug along to brush her teeth.

7. Let your toddler brush them herself. Sometimes a little independence is all it takes. My daughter does very well and follows instructions – brush your bottom ones, now the top. You can also let her mirror you so she is brushing the same teeth you are in a mirror image.

8. Most importantly offer praise! Even if the toothbrush is only in her mouth 5 seconds before protesting, simply say “yeah! All done. You did a great job!” Put the toothbrush away and then try again the next time. Don’t fight her, but offering praise and not pushing will soon help your toddler realize brushing her teeth are really not a big deal. Continue to offer praise even when tooth brushing is well established – we just offer a simple “good job.” This will keep her confidence up. The best defense is a good offense. Bad behavior is discouraged by praising good behavior because toddlers like pleasing their parents.

9. Don’t stress about it. Infants and toddlers are like dogs in that they somehow have a 6th sense and know if you are tense or uncomfortable about something. I can say this is a very accurate statement for our daughter.

10. You may also choose to keep a chart or offer small rewards, like stickers, for when she does a good job.

This is what we did and it worked so well, that she sometimes uses two toothbrushes and will not let them go. She has fallen asleep with them, taken them to school, and has even tried to brush the dog’s teeth (don’t worry, I intervened). Of course, she still protests sometimes, she is a toddler after all, but now we mostly enjoy our tooth brushing time.

If you have your own tricks, please feel free to share them!

Good luck!

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