My Child Has a Toothache, Help!

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 12:09 pm

It’s very difficult when your child is in any pain and toothaches can happen in your little ones. Let’s start by addressing what could be the cause of their toothache: their diet. If your children eat excessive candy or drink a lot of soft drinks, they may experience decay or cavities. The bacteria that live in your child’s mouth breaks sugar down into acid which then causes erosion of their teeth. Ask your child to point out where the pain is. Other causes could include mouth ulcers or swollen gums a cold sore which can affect inner mouth areas. Look inside your child’s mouth for swelling or red spots. If you see anything suspicious call your dentist and get an appointment immediately. Using home remedies could help temporarily but don’t let that deter you from making an appointment because without fixing the source, the ache will come back.

You can apply a warm damp cloth to the affected area from the outside. Try giving some Children’s Tylenol to your child and make sure they are not touching it or playing with the area. Don’t delay treatment as your child needs immediate and necessary dental care.

We suggest several things to help make your child’s first visit a pleasant one:

  • When your child has a dental appointment, make it part of a trip where they get to do something fun afterwards.
  • Don’t let your dentist wear a mask when introducing him/herself to your child.
  • Taking a favorite toy may help distract your child from fear or stress
  • Children pick up on their parents fears so if you are fearful of the dentist, don’t let your child know that.
  • Don’t use threats as a way to make your child go to the dentist because they will then see it as a punishment instead of a help.
  • Rewarding your child for being good at the dentist is always encouraging.

Most of all try not to let a toothache be the first reason your child sees a dentist. We always recommend starting young and introducing your child to good oral hygiene at a young age to develop healthy habits. As said before, the condition of your child’s baby teeth can affect that of the permanent teeth so start those good habits young!

Code Adam…Because You Don’t Have Eyes in the Back of Your Head

Last updated on March 20th, 2018 at 02:10 am

Sometimes, as a parent, you have to give yourself a break. Even mothers have to heed the call of nature. But with a headstrong and mischievous three-year old in tow, a parental potty break in a public building can become an exercise in surprisingly emotional fear and guilt.

I mean, we are supposed to be able to keep our children safe. We aren’t supposed to lose them! But what can any reasonable parent do wedged in a tight bathroom cubicle with a toddler and sitting in a very compromising position when the wiggle worm decides it would be the height of fun to crawl out under the stall door and run out of the bathroom? I can still feel the brush of his jeans across my fingers as I just failed to grab hold….

Thankfully, with Code Adam, a nation-wide program administered by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), my anxiety in our local children’s museum was contained by a very orderly and confident process. Code Adam, created and named in memory of 6-year old Adam Walsh who went missing while shopping with his mother and was later found murdered, is a simple but powerful search process focused on marshaling employees of public buildings, such as stores, libraries and museums, in a systematic search for lost children in the crucial moments immediately following their disappearance.

 My Code Adam Experience:

  • As soon as I could make myself decent and get out of the bathroom I approached nearby museum staff who were manning the entrance to the exhibit space we had just visited, and learned that my wayward son had not decided to return to the water or sand tables
  • The staff then asked me very specific questions to compile a detailed description of my child – including his clothing and shoe color/style (I remember he was wearing those shoes with a light that flashes when he walked)
  • A “Code Adam” page including this description was then given within the venue and designated staff immediately began a systematic search
  • All potential exits other than the front doors were either closed or closely monitored and a member of the security staff escorted me to the front entrance to ensure my son, Elliott, did not leave the premises. I spent what felt like a wretched eternity desperately scanning the sea of kids, choking back tears, and constantly affirming to my security pal that I’d never lost my kid before…honest!

If my son wasn’t found within 10minutes, the next step would have been for security to call law enforcement. If he had been found in the company of someone other than a parent or legal guardian, the procedure would call for reasonable attempts to delay their departure until the arrival of police, without putting anyone in danger.

Thankfully, I was reunited with my wiggle worm within that timeframe, a staff member having found him obliviously and happily playing on a computer screen in another area of the museum. When he was back within arms’ reach I didn’t know what I wanted to do to him (or what would be considered the politically correct behavior)…wrap him in my arms and say “Thank God”…or berate him for running off from Mommy? So I fudged and did a little of both!

Making Use of the Code Adam Program

Code Adam originated in Walmart stores in 1994 but is now one of the largest child-safety programs in the U.S., used in around a hundred thousand establishments around the country and, since the Code Adam Act was made law in 2003, in all federal public facilities (click here for list of participants). Use of the program in a venue is proclaimed by a Code Adam decal at the building entrances. Thanks to NCMEC and its sponsors, the program is free to participants, who can apply online for a Code Adam kit, including:

  • A training video for employees
  • A break-room poster explaining the program steps
  • Two decals to put on entrances announcing participation in Code Adam

So what can parents and safety advocates do?

  • Check building entrances for the Code Adam decal. Know whether Code Adam is used in that venue before you and your children enter.
  • Know the Code Adam procedures. I’d like to say my story above is the only example of our use of Code Adam in the past eight years, but my son has triggered 2 other experiences in large retail stores. In one of these venues, the staff I located did not know the Code Adam process. Thankfully I did…and suggested they call security and institute a Code Adam page….missing child quickly found. Lesson: Don’t rely on the quality of any given store’s staff training.
  • Make sure caregivers know. Even if you are very familiar with Code Adam and its procedures, what about babysitters or grandparents? How often are they out with your children in a public venue? Be sure that they also know about Code Adam and how to ensure it is appropriately implemented.
  • Suggest Code Adam to local venues. If a local store or establishment with a focus on families or children does not display the Code Adam decal, consider finding the manager and suggest that they participate. They can find everything they need at (search “code adam”).  Additional information can be obtained by calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or emailing

Potty Training: Ready and Willing

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Had enough of potty training advice lately? It seems no matter where you turn these days, you’re faced with 5 easy steps to potty train your child, your child can be potty trained in 3 days, or potty training made easy. There are several different styles and methods to choose from. It’s like going shopping, except less fun and it can get messy.

So, why you ask, am I contributing to the potty training advice overload? Well, let’s just consider this not so much advice, as simply my point of view that may or may not help you in your potty training endeavors.

I like to keep things simple. So much of parenting these days can be laborious and challenging, why not simplify if you can? My approach to potty training is pretty straight forward: wait until your child is ready and keep it low key. I don’t mean to sound trite here or to oversimplify. I truly believe that waiting until your child shows signs that he is both physically and emotionally ready to use the toilet independently, will save both you and your child much frustration.

How will I know when my child is ready?

  • He likes to mimic you
  • He shows interest in and can dress and undress himself
  • He tells you when he has to go pee or poop
  • He stays dry for long periods of time
  • He has shown interest in using the toilet
  • He takes pride in his independence

These are just a few of the readiness signs your child may exhibit. Remember that your child’s temperament plays a big role. My son needed more of a nudge, while my daughter practically potty trained herself. The common thread was that I started at a time when they both seemed amenable to the idea of using the potty. This happened at around age 3 and a half for my son and before the age of 3 for my daughter.

Now that you and your child are ready to give this a try, here are my tips on how to keep it low key:

  • Take frequent potty breaks
  • Encourage but don’t punish
  • Let him run around sans diaper and expect some dribbles here and there
  • Realize that success does not happen overnight
  • If needed, create a reward chart
  • Dress him in clothes that are easy to pull up and down
  • Don’t be afraid to abandon ship and try again later if the frustration starts to build
  • Realize that going poop in the potty can take longer to master and that’s okay. Let him have that pull up for poop time.

In my experience, the key to potty training success is patience and following your child’s lead. Try not to get boxed in by thinking your child has to be potty trained by a certain age. As with other childhood milestones, there is no magic age number. There are only ranges.

This low key approach may or may not be your parenting style. That is for you to determine. As with most parenting issues we face, only you know what will work best for you and your child. Just remember to keep the big picture in sight: your child will not always be donning those diapers. Soon enough, the days of diaper changes and sippy cups will only remain as bittersweet memories of his childhood.

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Pediatric safety

Are Germ-killing Products Harming Your Child’s Health?

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Germ-killing toothpastes, antibacterial soaps, sanitizing deodorants, bacteria-banishing home cleaners. With all of these products on the market, you’d think everything in hand’s reach is likely to make your family sick. But are all germ-killing products really protecting us in the long run? To find out, we interviewed Jessica Snyder Sachs, author of Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World. Here, Sachs gives us the lowdown on which products are worth it … and which aren’t.

Germ-killer Overkill

After making a career out of interviewing scientists and researchers about germs, Sachs is quick to advise that most germ-killing products on the market — including nasal sanitizing gels, toothbrush sanitizers and handheld UV-light germ zappers — aren’t necessary and may be harmful. Sure, they kill germs. But the bigger question is: Do we want them to?

Some germs are harmless, and exposure actually strengthens our immune systems. “When we lump all germs together and try to wipe them out of our lives, we end up with an increase in autoimmune diseases, allergies, asthma and other disorders,” says Sachs. “We’ve gone about trying to over-sanitize our lives, when it’s really just a tiny percentage of germs that cause disease.”

Sachs suggests that nasal sprays meant to wipe out all the bacteria in our noses, good and bad, is “freeing up the ‘parking spaces,’ so to speak, for potentially dangerous bacteria to take up residence. We need to remember that our bodies are full of good bacteria that help keep out the bad ones,” she says.

It’s not just our bodies that may be suffering from sanitation overkill; germ-killing products may also compromise humans’ ability to fight disease-causing germs in the long run. Sachs suggests checking the label of antibacterial soaps for triclosan, a chemical shown to work like an antibiotic, which she says is usually listed as an active ingredient. According to Sachs, triclosan is ubiquitous in our environment now. “It ends up getting flushed down drains and is found in sewage plants, rivers and lakes,” she says. “There is concern that the widespread use of these antibacterial products is going to fuel drug resistance — a huge problem today — without giving any real benefit.”

So is there a place for germ-killing products in our lives?

Beneficial Germ-killers

Most experts agree that a few products do promote overall health by reducing the transmission of disease and infection. “Studies have shown that good old-fashioned soap and water, as well as alcohol gels for sanitizing hands, reduce the incidence of picking up an infectious disease,” says Sachs. “The way most of us catch an infectious illness is through our hands: We inoculate ourselves when we touch our eyes and our noses with germ-covered hands. You can interrupt that transmission cycle just by using ordinary soap and water to wash your hands regularly.” Here are the germ-killing products you should have on hand:

Sanitizing Gels

When you’re in a place where you don’t have access to soap and water — like when you’re navigating a busy subway — alcohol hand-sanitizing gels are an ideal (and healthy) solution.

Germ-free Humidifiers

These are also generally regarded as a safe bet, and most experts suggest they’re a worthy health investment. “Humidifiers can become breeding grounds for mold and mildew, which are types of fungus that can trigger allergic reactions and asthma. That’s why you want to be careful that your humidifier is clean and has a HEPA filter that will remove mold and mildew.”

Kitchen Cleaners

Another place where antibacterial products may have a place is in the kitchen, says Sachs. “We’ve been using antibiotics in our livestock for years, and consequently a lot of our meat and eggs are contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria.” If you handle raw eggs or meat, you may want to use an antibacterial kitchen cleanser to kill the germs left behind on kitchen surfaces. Sachs suggests vinegar may be a better bet: It’s acidic enough to kill bacteria naturally — without reinforcing the cycle that’s contributing to creating drug-resistant bacteria.

The most important point to keep in mind, says Sachs, is that while we should reduce exposure to infection-causing germs, the vast majority of germs aren’t harmful. “We have to get away from the idea that all germs are bad,” she says.

So don’t go overboard ridding your house of germs and bacteria. Know that it’s okay for kids to play in the dirt. And the next time the neighbor’s dog licks your child’s face, let it go. Just be sure to keep washing those hands.