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Family Matters: Ear Infections


Ear InfectionsOne of my good friend’s baby has had a rotten go of it.

She’s congested. She coughs a lot. Her little nose is stopped up, and she constantly tugs at her ears. She’s had ear infection after ear infection in her short little life.

My friend finally opted to have tubes put in her ears, at the recommendation of the pediatrician. Ear tubes are plastic and shaped like a hollow spool. Doctors suggest tubes for children who have repeat ear infections or when fluid stays behind the eardrum. The tubes drain the fluid and hopefully, the child will not only have fewer or no ear infections but also fewer upper respiratory problems.

Tubes allow air to enter the middle ear and flow back out into the ear canal. They clear fluid from the middle ear and restore hearing while preventing the future buildup of fluid. They also release the feeling of pressure and pain for your little one.

She took her baby in early one morning. The procedure usually is on an outpatient basis under light general anesthesia. She went home about two hours later. That’s been two months ago, and she hasn’t had an ear infection or bad cold since.

 TIP 0-6 months: Use wax or custom ear plugs to keep baby’s ears dry after tubes. It’s also not a bad idea to use them while they swim, as well, to keep the ears dry. 



Family Matters: First Words


TalkingBetween 8-12 months, your child should say his first word.

“Dada” is a very common one, and while dads are of the utmost important, the “d” consonant blend is very easy to say. So, don’t despair, moms. It’s just the path of least resistance at this point.

My boys had to do things their own way.

My older son’s first word was “light” and my younger son’s was “bird.” Now, the older one talked later, much later, than average, but I have no idea where “bird” came from with the younger one.
During this time, they’ll probably add another word to their vocabulary, babble and make noises all the time.

If your child isn’t talking, don’t worry, but if he’s not much into babbling, just ask your doctor for a quick check-up.

TIP 7-12 months:  Around 12 months, baby can scribble with a crayon. Give him a washable version and some paper, and let him go to town!



Family Matters: Brushing Baby’s Teeth


Brushing TeethFirst, baby’s gums need to be brushed then the teeth.

By the time they’re one year old, you should be brushing twice a day with a soft toothbrush.

Decay in baby teeth can be painful and cause infections.

When brushing, teach your toddler how to spit out the fluoride toothpaste (they’ll probably enjoy approved spitting), but don’t rinse after brushing. That actually removes the fluoride.

Don’t give your toddler a bottle or sippy cup in bed. If they have to have something, stick to plain water.

Don’t introduce sugary drinks. It’s easier never to start than to wean them from sugar-filled drinks.

Visit a dentist at 1 year old. The dentist can advise you on the best practices for your little one.

TIP 13-36 months: Use a fingertip toothbrush, a soft rubber form that fits over mom or dad’s finger, to get the best brush for your young toddler.



Family Matters: Crying Baby


CryingMy friend, Kristina, had a baby in the late fall, and that sweet little bundle of joy never stops crying.

Ok, that’s a huge exaggeration, but from what I’ve experienced with my two kids, her baby cries more than normal. She’s taken her to the doctor to rule out colic, pain or any other kind of sickness. So, while it’s frustrating, even maddening at times, the fact of life is that babies cry. Sometimes, they cry a lot.

Crying is almost an infant’s only way of communicating. They can’t tell you they’re hungry or cold or wet or dirty, so they squawk about it.

Excessive crying can be caused by boredom or loneliness, colic, discomfort or irritation, gas, hunger or thirst, illness, infection, medications, normal muscle jerks that disrupt sleep or pain.
Once you’ve ruled out pain, changed the diaper, fed them and gave them something to drink, the best cure could just be cuddling. Simple enough, right? We hope so! If your infant’s crying seems out of hand, consult your doctor. They can do a thorough examination.

TIP 0-6 months: Are you cold? If you’re cold, baby is cold. Baby doesn’t need TONS of extra layers, so dress baby like you dress and add an extra blanket if needed.



Family Matters: Learning


BabyBetween 7 and 12 months, your little one is learning cause and effect. If he drops something, he knows it’s gone, and he knows you’ll likely pick it up.

You can reinforce this learning and motor skills with a simple and fun game. Belly laughs are guaranteed.

Blow up a balloon but don’t tie it. Give it to your baby and show him how to let it fly. Then, watch it zoom around the room. If you are playing outside, adding a little water before you blow up the balloon makes this game even more fun. Don’t forget baby will immediately try to put it in his mouth, so supervise closely!

 TIP 7-12 months: Put an ice cube (or several) on the tray to baby’s high chair or on a baking sheet in front of him. Let him feel how cold and wet it is. Let him push it around and play with it as it melts.



Family Matters: “Why”


BabyWhy ask “why”? If you have a two year old, you know there doesn’t have to be a reason. “Why” is a normal part of the developmental repertoire for a toddler. Yes, it can be maddening, but it’s a crucial stage for your little one. 

When your toddler asks “why,” sometimes he wants an explanation, and sometimes he doesn’t know how to express himself any other way. Sometimes it’s totally random. Always answer his questions, even when it’s been asked 97 other times. You could try answering “why?” with a question of your own, turning it back to him to develop critical thinking skills. When he asks why he should put the ball away, ask him, “Why do you think you should put the ball away?”

TIP 13-36 months: Bring a stroller when you go to shopping centers, parks, malls or on trips, but let your toddler walk a little too, holding their hand of course. They enjoy the independence.



Family Matters: Vision


BabySome things really are black and white, like baby’s vision at this stage of life. Babies can start to see colors around eight weeks, but they’re very much attracted to objects with sharp color contrast. You might not want to paint your baby’s room in black and white, but certain accessories are perfect to stimulate baby’s vision and attract his attention.

Try a black and white mobile to hang above the crib, or one with reflective surfaces to draw his attention. Remember that newborns can only see blurry shapes because they are very nearsighted. At birth, a newborn’s vision is between 20/200 and 20/400. Your baby’s best vision is about 8 to 12 inches away, so don’t hang the mobile too far away but not too close that he could get tangled in it either.

A black and white blanket for tummy time, printed with different objects or shapes, is another good choice. This gets baby up close and personal with the contrast.

TIP 0-6 months: Dress baby in natural fibers like 100 percent cotton and in light colors as dark dyes may cause a skin reaction.



Family Matters: Christmas Gift Ideas


FamilyMatters_Baby13-36Months_228x173What are the best gifts for toddlers? We all know it’s the boxes and wrapping paper that the gifts come in!

Besides those, which can keep your toddler occupied for hours, toddlers love anything that promotes running, grabbing, touching, exploring, hopping, smelling, problem-solving, talking, pedaling, tasting, thinking, climbing and listening, for starters.

Try a set of wooden stacking blocks or a shape sorter. They love play tents and tunnels, tricycles, push toys and percussion sets (sorry, Mom and Dad). Little ones love anything that lights up or plays music.

Puzzles and stuffed toys are always a big hit, too! Did we mention books? Books, books and more books! Board books are a parent’s – and a toddler’s – best friend. Some varieties have different textures and windows that your little one can use fine motor skills to open up.

Tip 13-36 months: If you do want to make your wrapping useful, wrap toddler’s gift in a soft fleece blanket they can use to cuddle with later!



Family Matters: Keep Your Baby Moisturized


FamilyMatters_Baby7-12Months_228x173With the cold weather here, it’s easy for baby’s skin to get dried out.

From about six months on, it’s generally safe to use most moisturizing products on baby’s skin (stick to lotions specifically made for babies, though).

To keep his skin baby soft, remember to keep him hydrated. After six or seven months, it’s safe to introduce small amounts of water into his diet. Make sure he drinks up.

Use sunscreen developed for babies if you’re spending a lot of time out in harsh light.

Don’t overdo baths in the winter months as warm water and soap dry out a baby’s skin. Don’t let him soak too long in the tub. Pat, don’t rub him dry, when you take him out of the bath and use a mild baby lotion after bath to help seal in moisture.

Tip 7-13 months: If baby’s skin is really dry, try a cool mist humidifier in his room at night.



Family Matters: It’s Getting Cold Outside


FamilyMatters_Baby0-6Months_228x173

The colder months are upon us now, but that doesn’t mean your infant can’t – or shouldn’t – go outside. It’s really OK for babies to be exposed to the cold as long as you use some common sense. After all, you catch cold from a virus, not the temperature outside.

Be sure to keep a hat on baby, especially if it’s a newborn or small infant. Most of the body’s heat is lost through the head.

Dress your baby as you’d dress; don’t feel the need to pile on layers upon layers. If you’re cold, he’s probably cold. If he’s flushed, he’s probably too warm.

Resist the urge to put baby to sleep with blankets; that can increase the risk of SIDS. Instead, use a fitted flannel sheet on his bed and dress him in a fleece bunting sleep sack or a sleeper with built-in feet.

Tip 0-6 months: Warm baby’s crib with a hot water bottle or heating pad before you put baby to sleep, but be sure to remove it before you snuggle him in!



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