Baby-Led Weaning is a New Way of Feeding Your Baby – Learn More About it

Every parent remembers when they first introduced their baby to solid foods. This momentous occasion of spoon-feeding them pureed food is considered a major milestone for babies and their parents.

Today however, more and more parents are opting to skip the applesauce and mashed sweet potatoes and instead are adopting a new feeding technique called “baby-led weaning” ( or BLW)  for their babies. This alternative approach to feeding, first introduced in the UK a decade ago, involves introducing solid chunks of foods much earlier on by placing them on the baby’s high chair and letting them grasp the food and feed themselves directly. As the name implies, feeding time is led by the baby as they determine the pace and the amount of food they consume; basically, baby-led weaning puts the baby in charge.

While children all develop at different paces, advocates of baby-led weaning agree that this method of eating shouldn’t be introduced until the baby is ready. Cues to begin BLW include making sure that your baby can sit up straight unassisted, have good neck strength and be able move food to the back of their mouth with up and down jaw movements. Most babies develop these skills by the sixth month, but some babies may not fully develop them until they are nine months old.

Proponents of BLW believe that it holds many benefits, including enhancing baby’s hand-eye coordination and other fine motor skills, including using their thumb and index finger to grasp their food. They also feel that it will produce healthier eaters than spoon-fed babies because BLW eaters get to choose how much they eat as opposed to traditional feeding methods, which sometimes results in force feeding.  Other advantages that BLW supporters claim to be true is that it creates a more enjoyable feeding experience for babies and less stress on their parents.

Detractors of baby-led weaning feeders point out that these babies are generally underweight as compared to spoon-fed babies because they simply do not ingest that much when they are first introduced to this way of eating due to difficulties grabbing food.  BLW babies also tend to be iron-deficient because they aren’t consuming the iron-fortified cereals that spoon–fed babies typically eat. Lastly, a big concern for many parents is the increased choking hazards associated with BLW, and while the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t have opinion of BLW, they do state that babies are ready for solid food once they are ready to sit up on their own and bring their hand to their mouth.

If you are considering baby led weaning for your child, here are a few tips:

  • Continue breast feeding and / or formula feeding as this will continue to be your baby’s biggest source of nutrition until they are 12 months old.
  • Begin BLW feedings with softer foods, such as ripe fruits, cooked egg yolks, and shredded meats, poultry and fish.
  • Avoid foods that can pose as choking hazards, such as nuts, grapes, popcorn, or foods cut into coin shapes, like hot dogs.
  • Do not leave your child unattended during BLW feeding times. Continue to supervise and socialize with them while they eat and to have them eat when the rest of the family does.
  • Don’t panic if your baby gags as it is a safe a natural reflex. Instead of overreacting, prepare for a choking event by familiarizing yourself with the infant-specific Heimlich maneuver.
  • Introduce new foods one at a time to pinpoint potential food allergies. A recommended length of time is three to four days between foods.
  • The goal of BLW is to let your baby explore eating at their own pace. This may include the smashing, smearing, or dropping of food, so prepare for a mess.

Before you decide to adopt BLW to your child, it is a good idea to discuss with your child’s pediatrician as it may not be a good idea for all babies, especially those babies with known developmental delays or neurological issues.

To make an appointment with a pediatrician at Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder that affects a child’s socialization and communication skills.

Boys are three to four times more likely to have AS than girls. Children diagnosed with the disorder are often considered to be on the “high functioning” end of the autism spectrum.   High functioning is the term used to refer to children on the spectrum who can read, speak, write or manage other life skills with very little assistance.

The causes of Asperger’s are unknown; however, experts are investigating possible factors such as genetics and abnormalities in the brain.

Signs and symptoms of Asperger’s typically appear first during early childhood and vary in severity, they may include:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Showing few emotions
  • Showing little or no empathy for others
  • Not understanding or missing social cues such as body language
  • Repeating the same movements or topic of conversation
  • Difficulty with having conversations
  • Frequently speaking to oneself
  • Possessing a remarkable ability in paying attention to detail
  • Displaying hypersensitivities to light, sounds and tastes
  • Having difficulty with change

Speak to your pediatrician if you notice these signs and symptoms in your child. Your doctor may refer you to a mental or developmental health professional that specializes in autism spectrum disorders.  This specialist will conduct a complete assessment and create a treatment plan that is best suited for your child’s needs.

To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

All About Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

 

Summer gives us a break from the flu and many other viruses prevalent during the winter months, but there is one contagious virus that your child is at risk of contracting during the summer.

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common illness in the summer months, predominantly found in infants and children under the age of 10, but one that can also affect teens and adults. It is caused by a family of viruses known as the Coxsackie virus. There are multiple types of Coxsackie virus, but the A16 strain causes HFMD.

HFMD can produce a wide variety of symptoms, including mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, head and muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, and poor appetite. The fever usually lasts anywhere from 24 hours to 2-3 days. One or two days after the fever begins, small red spots begin to appear in the mouth, throat, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. These spots develop into blisters and eventually into painful ulcers, which resolve within a few days without any scarring.

These blisters give the illness its name, but it should not be confused with the similarly named foot (or hoof) and mouth disease, which is found in cattle.

HFMD is spread between children either hand to hand or through tiny air droplets that are released when they sneeze, cough, or blow their nose.  The illness can also be spread when a person is exposed to an infected child’s stool or the fluid from their blisters.

HFMD is contagious and tends to spread most easily in settings where many young children are together, such as day care centers.  In tropical parts of the world, HFMD is present throughout the year, but in cooler climates, such as New York, outbreaks take place only in the summer or fall. Some people incorrectly believe that the illness is spread in swimming pools, but a properly chlorinated pool should kill the virus.

Proper hand washing is considered the best protection against the virus, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food. The virus can live on contaminated surfaces for several days. Therefore, parents should clean shared toys and all surfaces potentially contaminated with disinfectant cleaners to protect against the spread of HFMD.

There are lab tests to confirm HFMD, but doctors usually can diagnose the virus based on a physical examination. There is no specific treatment for HFMD. Doctors often recommend over-the-counter pain and fever reducing medications to make your child feel more comfortable. Salt water rinses might also provide relief.

If you think your child has hand, foot and mouth disease, you should see a pediatrician or call Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670-5486 to make an appointment.

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Is Your Child Addicted to Video Games?

It’s often difficult for parents to know how much time their children spend online. Often children play video games, view videos and browse social networking sites. Spending too much time online can lead to the deterioration of your child’s school work and can cause problems with their relationships with family and friends.

Studies have shown that children ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day consuming media for fun, including TV, music, video games and other content.  About two-thirds of 8 to 18 year olds had no rules on the amount of time spent watching TB, playing video games or using a computer.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit their child’s screen time for entertainment to less than two hours per day and children under 2 have no TV or internet exposure.

Research shows that academic failure correlates with addictive video game play, and to a higher incidence of attention problems. Conversely, academic achievers spend less time online.  Research has also revealed that child and adolescent video game addiction correlates with functional impairment, emotional problems, poor conduct, hyperactivity and peer problems, as well as with depression and social phobia. In addition, several studies have proven a relationship between excessive video game play and obesity and poor diet among children in grades 4 through 6.

Parents should discuss with their children their expectations for responsible online usage and set limits on how much time can be spent online.  Dr. Gonzalez suggests the following rules for internet use:

  • Regularly determine how much time your kids are online every day.
  • Don’t put a computer or game console in your child’s bedroom—rather put them in the living room.
  • Avoid online activity before bedtime.
  • Charge children’s cell or smart phone or other handheld devices overnight in your bedroom.
  • Be a role model. Set an example with your own internet usage.
  • Use an alarm clock or timer to limit your child’s time online.
  • Provide alternatives to online activity and video games: sports, reading, play dates, time with pets, etc.
  • Set a rule: no handheld devices at the table during meals.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for your child with a Flushing Hospital Medical Center Child Psychiatrist, please call 718-670-5562

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Flushing Hospital Offers Virtual Experience for Pediatric Patients

Being admitted to a hospital or having to undergo a procedure can be a very stressful and even scary experience for many patients and their families, and that is especially true when that patient is a child.

In an effort to reduce the stress of our pediatric patients and offer a calming distraction for them, Flushing Hospital Medical Center is now offering children an escape from the hospital environment with the help of the Samsung Applied Virtual Reality headset. This state-of-the-art, interactive tool was purchased by Flushing Hospital thanks to a grant from the Child’s Play Foundation.

This fully mobile, virtual reality technology allows Flushing Hospital’s smallest patients to leave the confinement of their treatment area by taking them on a variety of exciting journeys. Pediatric patients can now relax on a sandy beach or tranquil ocean or they can visit any number of scenic destinations across the country and around the globe, including Los Angeles, Yellowstone National Park, London, Tibet, Iceland or Machu Picchu. The VR software is constantly being updated, offering patients an ever-expanding assortment of places to go to.

The headset is easy to operate and is being used to further assist Flushing Hospital’s Child Life Specialist while they care for patients. This technology offers an entertaining distraction to children when they are receiving important, yet typically anxiety-inducing treatments, such as blood draws, IV insertions, spinal taps, dressing changes and blood transfusions.

The virtual reality headset is utilized by most patients as it requires very little movement by the patient and it has proven to be very effective in helping children cope with stress associated with a clinical environment.

Patients as young as three years old have used the Samsung headsets and thus far, it has received an overwhelmingly positive response from both our patients and their parents. Both providers and family members have expressed that this technology has resulted in increased cooperation and enhanced comfort for our pediatric patients.

Flushing Hospital’s Pediatric Department is very grateful for this generous gift made possible by the Child’s Play Foundation and the staff is equally thrilled to have another tool to help them provide a positive atmosphere for our pediatric patients.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Moderating Kids’ Sugar Consumption During the Holidays

Eating holiday treats such as sugar cookies, cakes or pies is one of the reasons children look forward to this time of year. In the spirit of generosity and good cheer, we may allow them to indulge more than usual. However, it is important to remember these types of foods are laden with large amounts of sugar and we should continue to moderate the amounts that children consume.

The American Heart Association recommends, “Preschoolers with a daily caloric intake of 1,200 to 1,400 calories shouldn’t consume any more than 170 calories, or about 4 teaspoons, of added sugar a day. Children ages 4-8 with a daily caloric intake of 1,600 calories should consume no more than 130 calories, or about 3 teaspoons a day.  As your child grows into his pre-teen and teen years, and his caloric range increases to 1,800 to 2,000 a day, the maximum amount of added sugar included in his daily diet should be 5 to 8 teaspoons.”

Many holiday desserts contain more than the daily recommended amounts of sugar in each serving.  For instance, there can be as much as three teaspoons of sugar in a medium slice of carrot cake (1/12 of 16 oz. cake).

Too much sugar can negatively affect children’s health. Excessive amounts have been shown to weaken their immune systems, promote tooth decay and increase the risk of obesity which further leads to more complicated health conditions such as diabetes.

There are several steps you can take to moderate your child’s sugar consumption, here are a few:

  • Allow treats only on special occasions
  • Read labels
  • Swap sugary snacks for healthier options
  • When baking, opt for recipes that include sugar substitutes or reduced amounts of sugar
  • Inform friends and family members that you are limiting your child’s sugar consumption to ensure they respect your wishes
  • Educate your children on how having too much sugar can be harmful to their health

Although moderating sugar consumption may come with challenges; however, parents are strongly urged to be persistent in their efforts. Speak with your pediatrician about ways you can curb sugar cravings and establish a healthy diet for your child.

To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-670-5486.

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Understanding Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a language-based, learning disability that affects approximately 15% of the population living in the United States.  It is the most common learning disability in the country.

People who are dyslexic find it difficult to read because they are unable to properly identify speech sounds and learn how they relate to letters and words.  They often have difficulty with writing, math and comprehension as well.

Dyslexia is a lifelong disability that cannot be cured. However, an individual can overcome its many challenges when early intervention and specialized education approaches are applied.

The exact cause of dyslexia is unknown; however, the condition tends to run in families.  In addition to genetics, there are other factors attributed to dyslexia; they include:

  • Premature birth or a low birth weight
  • Exposure to substances such as nicotine, alcohol or illegal drugs during pregnancy

Symptoms and signs of dyslexia vary with each individual. They may experience the following:

  • Difficulty forming words correctly –they may reverse the sound in words or confuse words that sound alike
  • Late speech
  • Difficulty remembering or naming  colors , letters and numbers
  • Reading well below average
  • Difficulty playing rhyming games or learning rhyming songs
  • Problems with math or spelling
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Disinterest in books
  • Difficulty remembering details
  • Trouble understanding puns and idioms
  • Difficulty telling right from left
  • Difficulty understanding the concept of time

A significant number of children with dyslexia go undiagnosed because symptoms are not recognized. Many children who are undiagnosed, struggle in school and grow up to be adults who are unaware that they have dyslexia; therefore, it is very important for parents to note warning signs and seek assistance from a specialist.  In most cases, a diagnosis of dyslexia is determined by a licensed educational psychologist after completing a series of evaluations.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How Do You Know if Your Child has a Growth Disorder?

When is a lack of growth a cause for concern? All children grow at different rates. The same boy that is the smallest in his class in elementary school might be the tallest at his high school graduation. In most cases lack of height can be attributed to genetic factors or in other instances it could just be that the child is a “late bloomer.”

After years of collecting statistics on childhood development experts have developed a standard growth chart. Pediatricians use this chart as a guideline to monitor the growth of their patients against other children of the same age during a child’s annual well visit.  Children are ranked by percentile (from 1 to 100). If a child is ranked either below the 3rd or above the 97th, a doctor will usually want to investigate potential reasons as to why.

While in most cases there is no need for concern, for some children, a lack of growth could be caused by a growth disorder. The most common reason for a growth disorder is related to the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain. One of the main functions of this gland is to release growth hormones to your body. When the pituitary gland doesn’t make enough growth hormone,  it causes a condition known hypopituitarism, which can slow down a  child’s rate of growth. Special tests can determine if a child isn’t producing enough growth hormone. If not, daily injections of growth hormone can often help them grow at a more conventional rate.

Another gland that produces hormones important for growth is the thyroid. Your thyroid makes a hormone called thyroxine. If it makes too little, the condition is called hypothyroidism. Having too little thyroxine cause a child to grow more slowly. Doctors can do a simple blood test for hypothyroidism. If it’s needed, pills can be prescribed to compensate for the lack of this hormone.

Thankfully, many growth disorders can be successfully treated today. The best advice is to make sure your child sees their pediatrician for their annual visit so any issue can be immediately identified. If you do not have a pediatrician, you can make an appointment to see one in Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center.

For more information, or to make an appointment, please call 718-670-3007.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

National School Backpack Awareness Day

Backpacks are essential back-to- school items for kids.  They come in different colors, sizes and shapes and most importantly they help children to carry their belongings.  Backpacks are preferred by many in comparison to shoulder bags because when worn correctly, they evenly distribute weight across the body.  However, if worn incorrectly they can cause back pain or injuries and eventually lead to poor posture.

To prevent problems associated with improper backpack use, parents should first purchase a backpack that has the following features:

  • Lightweight
  • Wide and padded straps
  • Multiple compartments
  • Padded back
  • Waist belt
  • Correct size (A backpack should never be wider or longer than your child’s torso).

Practicing these safety tips will further reduce the chance of back pain or injuries caused by backpacks:

  • When packing, heavier items should be placed to the back and center of the backpack. Lighter items should be in front. Sharp objects such as scissors or pencils should be kept away from your child’s back.  Utilizing different compartments can help in distributing weight.
  • Do not over pack. Doctors recommend that children should not carry backpacks that weigh more than 10-15% of their body weight.
  • Ensure that children use both straps. Using a single strap can cause muscle strain.
  • Adjust the straps so that the backpack fits closely to your child’s back and sits two inches above the waist. This ensures comfort and proper weight distribution.
  • Encourage children to use their lockers or desks throughout the day to drop off heavy books.

The Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America recommends that parents should always look for warning signs that indicate backpacks may be too heavy. If your child struggles to put on and take off the backpack, they are complaining of numbness or tingling or if there are red strap marks on their shoulders -It may be time for you to lighten their load.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How to prevent head lice

It is back to school season for millions of children across the United States. Undoubtedly at this time of year, there will be several who come home with more than new books. They may also come home with symptoms of a head lice infestation.

Head lice are very tiny, wingless insects that live on the heads, eyelashes and eyebrows of people. They feed on their host’s blood.

The symptoms of a head lice infestation include itching of the scalp, sores that come from scratching the scalp, and sometimes difficulty sleeping caused by the irritation of the scalp.

Since lice do not have the ability to fly, they are transferred from person to person who is in close contact with someone who is already infected. Although uncommon, they can also be transferred by coming in contact with a comb or a brush, a hat, or a shared pillow.

Ways to prevent the transfer of head lice include avoiding:

  • Head-to-head contact with other children
  • Sharing personal items that people typically place on their heads
  • Sharing towels or pillows
  • Storing items that go on the head in close proximity to the items of a person with lice
  • Keeping long hair braided or in a ponytail

Anyone can get head lice. It is not a reflection of cleanliness or socio-economic status. If a school alerts parents that someone has been reported to have them, a good first step would be to check your child and everyone else in the home. Checking for head lice involves very careful inspection of the hair and the scalp. Usually this is done while the hair is wet and a very fine comb is used. Proper lighting is also important. If you are uncertain about how to check for head lice there are professionals in most towns who can provide this service. Some schools will also have staff members who will examine each student at the beginning of the school year as a precaution.

Once it has been confirmed that head lice are present, there are several medications that are available over-the-counter to treat it. Some of these products will contain natural products such as rosemary, lemongrass, tea tree, citronella, and eucalyptus. It is important to follow the directions carefully so that the treatment will be successful. It is important to be vigilant after being treated so as to avoid being infested again.

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.