Video: Parents Talk about Their Children with Diabetes

Last updated on July 6th, 2016 at 04:31 pm

Parents describe how they deal with having a diabetic child, including daily routines such as insulin injections, and how children can live life to the fullest.


Editor’s Note: Video Highlights

  • measuring glucose level blood test from diabetes child babyParents talk about the challenges of their child’s diabetes diagnosis
  • Others describe how they must learn to care for their children like medical professionals
  • A particular concern is when the children go off to school – it can be hard to accept someone else taking control over their diabetes
    • This requires a close, integrated approach between the family and school
  • Some of the children also talk about managing their diabetes while at school
  • Parents also describe the disruption that diabetes management represents for their kids’ lives
    • But these steps are absolutely required to keep them alive
  • Another worry covered is when children grow into teenagers – and that new habits and concerns could get in the way of good diabetes control
  • A diabetes physician talks about how the real challenge of diabetes for both parents and the child is maintaining motivation to manage this chronic condition well over decades
  • Parents also emphasize that you will make mistakes and shouldn’t beat yourself up about it – you’re only human and you will get the hang of it all
  • Managing your child’s diabetes can be challenging and stressful, but it does become more normal over time – and your family will be able to focus on other things in life
  • Finally, parents emphasize that a child with diabetes can live a normal life to a full extent

For more information on babies and rashes, click on this link from NHS Choices.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 06-20-2016 to 06-26-2016

Last updated on July 6th, 2016 at 04:31 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: A disturbing look inside the world of online sextortion

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Sorry Kids: Flu Shots Work Better Than Nose Spray –

Helping a Child Who’s Afraid of Dogs Through Their Fear

Last updated on July 1st, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Timid boy is holding of the mother on the garden.About two months ago, we discussed the ‘overly confident’ child around strange dogs….. We discussed teaching them the appropriate ways to approach, and the right questions to ask before petting any dog they did not know. Now I want to discuss the flip side of that….. The shy, quiet, or fearful child. I would like to teach you some skills to help your child through this for two reasons…. The first, no one wants to see their child afraid of something….especially if it is something you might happen to love! The second reason is because, contrary to what might be popular belief, a child who is afraid of dogs is just as much at risk as the child who runs up to a dog they do not know and throws their arms around it.

How is my child at risk just because they are afraid?  Here are some typical behaviors that a fearful child will tend to display that can easily provoke,  stimulate or arouse a reaction from a dog.

  • First – when a child gets fearful, often their initial reaction is to scream and run away. Why is this so bad? There are two reasons:
    • First ….the dog may think they are playing, and give chase, which makes the child scream more, and run faster which usually ends in the child tripping and falling and getting hurt while they are trying to get away, or the dog jumping on them in their excitement, which can result in them accidentally scratching the child, or again causing them to fall and possibly get hurt, (you tend to see this more with puppies).
    • The second reason is not usually as innocent, and can be just as, if not much more dangerous, (you usually see it in older dogs). Have you ever seen the animal shows on television, where they show an animal hunting its ‘prey’? Now I don’t want you to think that I am equating your little loved one with prey, but your child screaming and running away can easily turn on the “pursuit” instinct in a dog that already has a high natural prey drive, like a hunting dog. And your child getting pounced on and pinned will not be something easily forgotten.
  • The next one on the list…. Hiding. Children who are afraid of something will typically look for a quick place to hide…. Which for most smaller children will be a low-to-the-ground hidey hole that they think will keep them safe like under a bed, a table, behind a couch….…. Like playing hide and seek. They think if the dog can’t see them, they won’t find them, therefore they are safe. But children usually do not understand that the dog is relying much more on their nose and ears to find the child than their eyes. Then the dog sticks its (more often than not… curious) nose into their hidey-hole, and we are back to the scream-run-chase scenario.
  • Trying to push the dog away or throwing something at the dog to make it move away can lead to a dog feeling threatened… especially if you do not know the full background of the dog, and if there were any abuse issues… like a dog who came from a rescue group or shelter. A dog perceiving any action as a threat can become a potential threat to your child. Most dogs when threatened go into fight or flight mode. While a dog that “runs off” (flight) will probably not reassure your child that dogs are “safe” to be around, a dog that enters “fight” mode and starts growling may be particularly terrifying, even if they never come any closer.
  • Offering the dog a treat as a friendship gesture, then getting afraid of the teeth when the dog opens their mouth to take it, and pulling their hand away quickly….with the treat still in their hand! This is a typical tactic many parents and well-meaning dog owners will try, “Here…. Give the doggy a treat so he will know you are his friend!”. The problem with this is that we are not thinking like the fearful child at this moment. What is the scariest part of the dog to the child? The mouth which contains the teeth!! So you hand the child something and instruct them to go directly to the most dangerous part of the dog, and ask it to open its mouth to receive the treat…. Thereby showing the child all of those big teeth!!

    “Grandma!! What big teeth you have!!” said Little Red Riding Hood…
    …and the wolf responds, “The better to eat you with my dear!!”

    Crazy right?? The other problem with this scenario is when they pull their hand away with the treat still in it, more often than not the dog will try to jump up to get the treat from them.

So let’s use the Little Red Riding Hood analogy as a segue into the next part of this; What causes some of these fears?

There are many reasons a child might be afraid of dogs. The reasons can range from a simple thing like lack of exposure to them, to the more common one…. one of their parents is afraid.

And then there are things that the kids hear, like the old story of Little Red Riding Hood as I wrote above, or even being in the room when the news is on where they may hear of a ‘child being attacked (or mauled) by yet another dog!’

I have also heard parents say things randomly to their kids that I must admit, shock me…. Because they do not realize the impact the words can have on a young impressionable child. For example, not too long ago, when I was in a pet store, they had an adoption event going on. Mom obviously did not want to stop and play with the pups there at that moment, but the child did. So to make the child leave the pups alone, she said, “If you go near that dog…. It will bite you!” To me, that is the equivalent of telling a young child, “If you act up, the police are going to arrest you” and then wondering why the child grows up with a fear and dislike for police officers! So I caution you to choose your words wisely around kids…. They often take things quite literally and at face value.

So if you have a fearful child, how can you help them to overcome this? There are many things you can do to help your fearful child overcome a fear of dogs.  Arrange a “meet and greet” with a neighbor’s or a friend’s dog – one where you know the owner (is attentive) and the dog (is relatively calm).

  • I do not recommend your child’s first experience to be with a puppy or a giant breed dog. As adults, when we think of puppies, we think of harmless playful babies that our kids will enjoy. But for the fearful child, this is not ideal for a few reasons. For one, they are very unpredictable and usually full of much more energy than an older dog. They also tend to jump up on you a lot causing some accidental scratches on young tender skin. happy family with labrador retriever dog in parkAnd their rapid quick movements may frighten your already fearful child more than help them. Also, don’t forget they are teething, and will nip at or on anything to relieve the pain… which usually ends up being fingers.  Of course a giant or large breed dog may be intimidating to a small child just because of their size alone. For these reasons, I recommend their first encounter with a dog be with a quiet middle sized breed of dog who has had some training and manners. One that will be calm and gentle with your little one.
  • Talk to your child before the meet and greet. Make sure they understand some simple rules such as no screaming or running around the dog. If they change their mind about the meet and greet at any time, or become afraid or uncomfortable, let them know it is never too late to stop it, and that all they have to do is calmly tell you they want to stop, and you will hold their hand and calmly walk away with them.
  • Make sure when the initial ‘meet and greets’ are done between your child and dog, that the dog is on a leash. Even the most well behaved, calm, older dog can spook or react incorrectly to something, so to protect your child, remember…. Leash equals control!
  • If lack of exposure is the reason for their fear, remember to start off slowly. Don’t push them too far or too fast when they are not ready…. Again, you do not want to make the fear worse.
  • If one parent has any fear at all of dogs, I recommend that they not be present during the initial meet and greet. Our kids look to us for cues quite frequently when they are not sure how to react to something, if they see you afraid, they might become afraid too.
  • When you bring your child up to the dog, do not walk up to its face. Remember… the face contains the mouth which contains the teeth. However, the tail and back of the dog carry no threat to your child. So have the dog’s owner put their dog in a DOWN/STAY position, and have them sit next to the dog distracting him, while you accompany your child around the back. Make sure the owner knows it is okay for the dog to look, and not to hold the dogs head. This is an unnatural thing for the dog and may make them want to pull away from being restrained, scaring your child with their sudden movement in the process. Now, let your child gently stroke the dogs tail. You can ask them some age appropriate questions, like for a young child, “Is the tail soft? What color is the tail?” Or for an older child, check in with them, “Is this okay? Are you feeling comfortable?” etc. If they are comfortable, you can encourage them to gently move their hand up to stroke the back, then the neck, etc. Do not bring them around to the face of the dog unless you are sure they are comfortable with all of the other things.
  • The last thing you can do is make sure the dog knows how to gently take treats, and then place a treat in the palm of your hand, fingers spread out wide, and let them see the dog ‘lick’ the treat from your hand.  Then ask if they want to try it. If they do, assist them with it by holding their hand in yours. What this will ensure is that they don’t pull their hand away with the treat, making the dog jump up to get it back. If they say they don’t want to, praise all the work they have done that day and tell them how proud you were that they were so brave, and try again soon.

Remember this is something they will get comfortable with over time…so take the time to practice with them, gradually introducing them to different dogs. Keep in mind, you always want to check with the owner how the dog is doing “on that particular day” before you start or resume practicing.   Even the sweetest, gentlest dog can have an “off” day…(read more about recognizing dog’s body language here) and the point of this is for your child to be comfortable, so remember to check in periodically with them during the process. Better to walk away feeling great and with a sense of accomplishment, then to stay and feel disappointed.

How Important is Crawling for Baby Development?

Last updated on March 7th, 2018 at 07:49 pm

This post was sparked by a recent basement storeroom clear out with my now 14-year old son….but more on that later…

issues with skipping crawlingAll new parents probably worry about their baby’s development. Will he develop normally? Will she hit the milestones on time? And there are a lot of milestones to keep track of, as shown on the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website – covering areas such as social/emotional development, communication and cognition/thinking. But the area our son seemed to have an issue with was in movement and physical development….he wouldn’t crawl.

According to developmental guidelines (for example and WebMD), by nine months your baby should be getting into a sitting position on his own, pulling to stand, and crawling to get around and explore his surroundings. Our son, Elliott, definitely did the first two, but he wouldn’t crawl. Instead he perfected the art of rolling. Everywhere. And very quickly!

By rolling I mean rolling onto his side and then his stomach, and then his other side, and his back….and the whole thing over and over again. And he was very good at it. Each time he set out on one of these rolling journeys, he could only go in one of two directions – whichever ways his sides were facing. So he quickly learned to get to all corners of the main floor of our house by rolling in one direction for a bit and then turning and changing direction – with just a bit of a shift in his orientation so that he wasn’t going back where he came from. In this way he whizzed about the house in a rolling zigzag pattern – pretty handily getting from point A to B.

Hey Mom....look at me go!

Hey Mom….look at me go!

At first this was really cute and quite a marvel. And given that he could move about quite well, we really didn’t have anything to be worried about, right? Well, it wasn’t entirely clear. Since this was more than 10 years ago – at the very early stages of internet search engines – we couldn’t easily access the huge range of information we can all get today. And some of the baby books and articles at the time suggested there could be issues with babies skipping crawling, including for hand-eye coordination and social development. Even today, a few articles on the web talk about issues with not crawling – like potential delays in building upper body strength – but the majority say crawling isn’t needed. One article even pointed out that crawling isn’t listed on the Denver Developmental Screening Test, widely used by pediatricians to assess normal infant development.

Just to be on the safe side, we tried a number of tactics to promote crawling, including little pushes on his bottom and demonstrating crawling techniques ourselves (that was a hoot!). We also took him regularly to Gymboree classes from an early age, so he saw lots of other babies crawling around – but nothing worked. Until one day someone (a class leader? another mom?) suggested trying one of the collapsible-tunnel-photo-200many collapsible fabric tunnels in the class. My mom was with me that day and she put Elliott in front of the entrance to the tunnel while I encouraged him forward from the other end. But nope….he just rolled away. After trial and error, we figured out that we had to place him a ways inside the tunnel so he couldn’t back out – and need to steady the tunnel on the sides so he couldn’t make the whole thing roll. So there he was…stuck in the middle…and was he ever MAD! He made all sorts of angry grunting and mewling sounds and eventually started crying. But he finally began to reach his arms out in front of him and began “army-style” crawling on his belly!! I was so ecstatic I bought a collapsible tunnel on the spot for more practice at home.

And so it worked. After more time in the tunnel, he learned how to crawl and began using this skill instead to go exploring around the house. But in the end, I don’t think it really mattered whether he rolled or crawled. Even before the “tunnel therapy” he was already on to later milestones like standing and taking steps while holding onto low furniture. And he never had any issues with upper body strength or fine motor skills, despite a very brief crawling stage.

The biggest problem came more than a decade later when I found the flattened fabric tunnel in that basement storeroom. I thought it was such a cute story that I shared it with now-teenage Elliott, who insisted on opening it up for a better look. But instead of thinking it was sweet, he got rather annoyed  and accused us of “torturing” his baby self! Moral of the story…whatever you do in the best interests of your child – save the stories until they have kids of their own and “get” how tough parenting decisions can be.

Why Teens are Always Tired…and What You Can Do

Last updated on June 29th, 2016 at 11:31 am

Trouble getting up on school days, dozing off in class, marathon lie-ins at weekends … You’d be forgiven for thinking teenagers sleep their lives away.

why-teens-are-always-tiredIn fact, the opposite is true. Sleep experts say teens today are sleeping less than they ever have. This is a worry, as there’s a link between sleep deprivation and accidents, obesity and cardiovascular disorders.

Physiological changes, social pressures and external factors such as TVs and other stimulating gadgets in the bedroom contribute to late nights and mood swings.

Lack of sleep also affects teenagers’ education, as it can leave them too tired to concentrate in class and perform to their best ability in exams.

Teen Sleep Thieves

Our sleep patterns are dictated by light and hormones. When light dims in the evening, we produce a chemical called melatonin, which gives the body clock its cue, telling us it’s time to sleep.

“The problem is that society has changed,” says Dr Paul Gringras, consultant paediatrician and director of the Evelina Paediatric Sleep Disorder Service at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

“Artificial light has disrupted our sleep patterns. Bright room lighting, TVs, games consoles and PCs can all emit enough light to stop the natural production of melatonin.”

Other distractions include mobile phones and instant messaging, which teens may use well into the night.

These all worsen the usual changes taking place in the body during adolescence, which means teenagers fall asleep later in the evening.

“That wouldn’t be a problem if there was no need to get up early in the morning for school,” says Dr Gringras.

“The early-morning wake-ups mean they’re not getting the average eight to nine hours of sleep. The result is a tired and cranky teenager.”

Several school districts in the US have introduced later start times for pupils in an effort to improve their performance, although results have been mixed.

How the Body Clock Affects Sleep

“Catching up on sleep at weekends isn’t ideal. Late nights and long lie-ins further disrupt the body clock,” says Dr Gringras.

In severe cases, an individual’s body clock can be so different to everyone else’s that they can’t fall asleep until late at night. This condition is called delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). It’s similar to the feeling of jet lag and is a disorder of the body’s timing system.

Treatment for DSPS includes bright light therapy – such as exposure to a bright light for about half an hour every morning – and chronotherapy, which involves restoring the individual’s natural sleep phase.

“Sometimes we give a small dose of melatonin in the evening, about an hour or so before bedtime,” says Dr Gringras. “Over the long term, this helps to reset the body clock.”

“However tired they feel, they should avoid lie-ins at the weekend. They should get exposure to outdoor light,” he says.

Getting Help for Sleep Problems

A range of services for sleep problems can be accessed through the NHS. Your GP (*pediatrician or family doctor) can tell you more about this.

Dr Gringras says: “Your doctor will also be able to give you basic advice on addressing sleep issues and, where appropriate, recommend a sleep clinic.”

Find your local NHS sleep medicine services.

See Sleeping tips for teenagers for more advice.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 06-13-2016 to 06-19-2016

Last updated on July 1st, 2016 at 12:26 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: One Thing Snapchat Desperately Needs To Copy From Facebook & Twitter – Suicide prevention tools  

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 25 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
2011-2017 BMW X3 and X4’s  recalled due to child safety concerns