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by on October 24, 2021
Best Toys for Childhood Development The best toys for childhood development are toys that your child will enjoy and play with. That somewhat begs the question about “best” but the sad truth is that if your child does not enjoy a plaything, he or she will not derive any benefit from it. With that said, there are some universal aspects of toys for various ages and stages of development, as well as some precautions. Rattles Tried, true and tested by the ages a toy that is light weight and that can be shaken to make a noise is often a favorite of babies who are just beginning to grasp objects. The key with rattles, however, is to make certain that they are not going to break and spill out pieces that are small enough to go into a baby’s mouth. By the same token, natural wood finish is often a good choice, both for its durability and for its lack of toxic paint or similar substances. Teething Rings An old Ozarkian custom held that if dried mole’s foot was placed on a necklace around a baby’s neck, the little one would have an easier time with teething. One suspects that the leathery item served as a teething device. More modern solutions include plastic toys with a soft rubbery surface, providing a soothing surface for a baby to chomp down on to sooth sensitive gums. Mayo Clinic advises against freezing teething rings, as the frozen substances can bruise baby’s gums. By the same token, teething rings with liquids are also discouraged because erupting teeth can break the surface, and the liquid can pose a choking hazard. Instead, refrigerate a regular teething ring so that it is cool but not cold.   Chunky Board Books Babies love the sound of parental voices. Start reading to them early – it won’t matter whether they understand the content of what you are reading or not, the sound of your voice is what really counts. You will be amazed, however, how quickly your little one will begin observing the bright pictures. Chunky board books and cloth books are created to withstand the abuse given them by little hands that are just learning to manipulate objects. Cuddly Toys Avoid putting large, fuzzy toys in a young child’s crib as they have been connected with SIDS. However, as your child grows a little older, and doll or other toy made of smooth cotton is less likely to become a problem. Studies done with infant monkeys indicate that cuddling is a need for babies of all sorts, and while your little one will probably prefer cuddling with you, cloth toys can help a child that is having separation anxiety or that is being introduced to childcare away from home can sometimes derive comfort from a companion that is stuffed with fiberfill. All parts of soft toys should be attached securely and the eyes and mouth should be embroidered on. Avoid buttons or googly eyes that can be bitten off and become a choking hazard. Manipulation Boards or Toys A set of devices that can be pulled, pushed, slid or otherwise manipulated by small hands. They become something that your child can control, a way to make things happen. When an item is moved, there is usually a noise or a observable result. This is feedback to your curious baby, allowing him or her to control a little part of the world. They are also a great place to introduce the mechanics of buttoning, zipping, turning knobs or moving hooks. Bells, whistles, and honks delight babies who are tuned in to sound. Stacking Toys Almost as soon as your child can sit up, he or she will be fascinated by stacking things up and knocking them over. A set of stacking blocks, which can be soft fabric cubes if you wish, that can be stacked up and knocked over can provide a few minutes to several hours of fun. Things with Wheels Wheels are the most fascinating things – justmake sure that they are too large to become a choking hazard. If they are attached to a seat that will allow the child to sit on it and propel it by pushing with feet, so much the better. Modern children see cars, trucks, and trains nearly every day. By providing them with smaller representations, they are able to enact what they see around them. A Music Player or Musical Mobile Music can be soothing and gentle, giving your baby something to think about and focus on at nap time. If you select a mobile that plays music, make sure that it is suspended high enough above the crib that your little one cannot pull it down on him or herself. Walkers Walkers have gotten mixed reviews. They should be used with supervision, because even the wide-based newer models tend to tip over sometimes. Extreme caution should be used if your home has more than one level as a baby on wheels can be quite a speedy little creature once he or she gets the hang of how a walker works. Pediatricians have expressed concerns about walkers. Not only do they allow a baby to be far more mobile at an early age than might be a good idea, they have also expressed a concern that extensive use of walkers actually delays development. If you do get a walker, it is advised thatyou get one of the newer ones that are too wide to fit through a standard door, and to keep a closed door between your little one and stairs, toilet bowls, and swimming pools. Also be aware of other hazards, such as heaters, irons, electrical outlets and anything that has a cord. Wet, Messy and Edible Fun You can make a lot of fun things for your baby at home. Once your little one is old enough to eat soft food and to sit unassisted in a high chair, pudding paint is an amazing source of entertainment. The stuff squishes, has a smooth, finger-friendly texture, and can be swirled around on a high chair tray with ease. If some of it goes into the mouth, oh, well! No worries about Baby eating something toxic when the fun stuff is made from 100% edible ingredients. Edible playdough is another fun amusement for toddlers, and even for preschool children.There are several varieties of “edible playdough” but for the sake of brevity, these will be limited to playdough that tastes good and can be eaten at the end of playtime. Peanut butter playdough is great – just be sure no one using it has a peanut allergy. Oatmeal Playdough – not too flavorful if it is plain, but also no nasty salt or baking soda taste if you take a bite. Mostly Hypoallergenic Playdough – no nuts, dairy or wheat in this mix. It is essentially frosting, however, so it is sticky and high calorie. Almost Marzipan Almond Butter Playdough – cut back on the calories and enjoy the flavor and nutrition of tree nuts with this recipe. Nature’s Best Jungle Gym Babies first and possibly best toys are hands – mom’s and dad’s hands, grandparents hands, sibling hands and even their own fingers and toes. When youngsters begin to be more mobile, climbing over older family members provides affection, muscle challenges, memory games and much more. You can spend a lot of money on toys, but human interaction is the very best developmental toy possible for human babies.
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by on October 4, 2021
In early autumn it has become common to walk through your department store, especially if it contains a pharmacy, and see signs advertising flu shots. Regarding the immunizations for your baby, please visit your pediatrician, and you will be given a schedule of vaccinations recommended for your child. Pick up almost any popular magazine about health, and you might see an article about how immunizations are responsible for causing this, that, or the other condition. You want the best for your baby, and the choices you make could have long-term consequences, especially those concerning health. To get those shots or not…that is the question. A Little Background on Immunization It all began with a country doctor who overheard a milkmaid say, “I’ll never have smallpox because I’ve had cowpox. No ugly pockmarked face for me.” Dr. Edward Jenner, a recognized physician and scientist, tested the veracity of her statement, and the smallpox vaccine was born. Thanks to that insight, a little-known folk artist in the late 1900s was able to sing almost truthfully, “Old king plague is dead, the smallpox plague is dead.” No new cases of smallpox have been reported since 1977, but a few laboratories have maintained samples of the smallpox virus.   Next Louis Pasteur, who developed the concept of germs, developed a vaccine for rabies, formerly a dire disease from which no one, human or beast, successfully recovered. This was followed up by Emile Roux developing the diphtheria vaccine. Diphtheria is a serious disease associated with lack of sanitation. It can cause obstruction of the respiratory system and subsequent death. Cholera and typhoid vaccines were also developed, two more diseases often spread through poor sanitation. For centuries there were illnesses considered to be common childhood diseases, measles, chickenpox, whooping cough and mumps. For many youngsters, contracting these diseases simply meant a week or two in bed followed by recovering and subsequent immunity. But not all were so lucky, and even those who made a textbook recovery will tell you that none of these diseases were any fun at all. A woman who is old enough to have had all of these except mumps commented, “I was twelve when I got measles. My head hurt, I was nauseous, I was hot and cold all over and I itched unbearably. It was a relief when I finally broke out. Chickenpox I had with my children, the oldest brought it home from school. We got off lightly but having had chickenpox leaves you open to the possibility of hives later in life. I think the worst, however, was whooping cough. I was seven when I caught it, and it lasted all winter long. There are medicines for it now, but not back then. The name comes from the distinctive sound made from the coughing that goes with the disease, a deep, raw “whoop” that feels as if your lungs would tear right out of your body. You whoop until you throw up. Too much heat, you whoop. Too much cold, you whoop. I learned to read silently because talking, even in a whisper, would start the fatal tickle in the back of my throat.” Sound like fun? No so much, I think.   Those flu shots? Well, let’s take a look at those. In 1918 the “Spanish flu” was responsible for at least 50 million deaths worldwide, and about 675,000 deaths in the United States. It is estimated that at least 1/3 of the world’s population was infected. The young were the hardest hit. It wasn’t smallpox, but it certainly took its toll. Are Immunizations 100% effective? Sadly, they are not. People who are exposed to those infamous “childhood” diseases, to unsanitary living conditions, or to unclean water can still get sick. The vaccines do mitigate the effects, and better understanding of the diseases and their causes make providing relief easier. Tuberculosis is one of the diseases that has not responded well to vaccines. HIV, the precursor to AIDS, has no vaccine, although efforts have been made to develop one. Modern medicine can do a lot of things that could not be done in the past, but it doesn’t have the answer for everything.   Are There Side Effects from Immunizations? The sobering answer is that there can be side effects. As a general rule, these are limited to a little bit of soreness at the injection site, and maybe a little fever or malaise for a day or two after receiving it. Different kinds of immunizations can have different effects. With very rare exceptions, the reaction to the vaccine is far milder than even the mildest form of the disease. However, because there is always the chance that an individual might have an unusual reaction, recipients are always cautioned to call the doctor or health official if they are feeling ill afterward. Can Vaccines Cause Autism? No. This question has been thoroughly researched and completely debunked. Without going into it deeply, it was based on some very questionable “facts”. Researchers were unable to find any connection between getting vaccines and developing autism. Should Your Baby Have the Accepted Course of Immunizations? The writers and publishers of this article are not medically qualified to answer that question. But our feeling is that yes, you should take the advice of your doctor, and follow his or her recommendations for immunizations. If you’ve ever coughed until it felt as if your lungs were turning inside out, if you’ve ever mittened the hands of an unhappy baby who is covered with chicken pox scabs, if you’ve walked the floor with a feverish toddler and wondered whether it is emergency room time or if you and your baby can wait until the doctor’s office opens in the morning, then you will want those immunizations. They aren’t perfect, but they could give your baby that necessary edge for good health. Immunizations Are a Part of Your Well-Baby Regimen Unless you or members of your family are prone to some unusual condition, immunizations should be part of your well-baby doctor visits. Your pediatrician will advise you as to any reactions that might require bringing your baby back for another visit. In today’s world where babies are often in daycare situations from infancy, vaccines help boost your little one’s immunity to the germs that kids seem to love to share. What did you think of our blog?
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by on September 29, 2021
In the early 1970’s, one of the first foods pediatricians would recommend for infants was rice cereal – usually Gerber’s rice cereal. Gerber’s rice cereal, for those of you who have not been introduced to the intricacies of baby food, is a dry flake that look very much like bran flour but are not. The translucent flakes can be mixed with cereal or breast milk and either placed in a bottle with an enlarged nipple hole or spoon fed with a little spoon cushioned with a plastic wrap. The rice cereal was and is vitamin fortified, including a healthy dose of iron. Prior to the 1920’s, solid food was rarely introduced before age one year. The Driving Force Behind Rice Cereal The idea of feeding solids at an earlier age was introduced by Helen Marion McPherson Mackay, a British pediatrician. Dr. Mackay was famous for a few other firsts, as well. She was a graduate of the Royal Free Hospital’s medical college and was the first female physician at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She was also one of the first women to be admitted to the Royal College of Physicians.   She was one of the first physicians to notice that between birth and age 2 months, babies seemed to decline in iron stores in their blood. After researching the problem, she recommended iron supplements for nursing mothers and an earlier feeding of solids to compensate for the loss of iron in very young infants. Of course, the recommendation caught the attention of commercial interests, and by 1931, a commercial baby food called Pablum was marketed by the Mead Johnson Company. The stuff could be made into a thin, watery gruel that could easily be fed to infants. Eventually, the company was bought out by H.J. Heinz.   Why Rice? The original Pablum was a mixture of farina (a wheat cereal), yellow corn meal, bone meal, dried brewer’s yeast, and alfalfa leaf. The mixture was fortified with iron. Eventually, wheat was outed as a potential trigger for several kinds of allergic reactions, and it was thought that by waiting until a child was older that these reactions could be avoided. This turned out not to be true. Allergies are one of those things that tend to be a permanent companion. Rice, unlike wheat, was found not to trigger allergies. Gerber, an American baby food company established in 1927, produces a line of “single grain cereals” including rice cereal. Gerber strained foods have been feeding more than three generations of Americans, so what is the current problem with rice cereal? Here is a useful video showing how to prepare Rice Cereal for babies. The Current Problem with Rice Cereal The problem with rice cereal in this twenty-first century is the rice. Or more precisely, where and how rice is grown. Rice, in the United States, is cultivated in California, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Mississippi. Many of the fields where rice is grown was also used to grow cotton and tobacco, crops that have had arsenic used as insecticides. Over time, the arsenic from the insecticides settled into the soil. Rice is grown in standing water and does an excellent job of wicking up inorganic arsenic, which is the harmful form of it, out of the soil. While this is good news in the long run for the environment, it is bad news for rice growers who would like to be able to sell their product. Can the Rice Grown on These Fields be Eaten? Fortunately, yes, the rice can be eaten. The arsenic content can be combatted by washing the rice and by cooking it in extra amounts of water and straining off the extra water. Some nutrients are lost this way, but the arsenic content is thus greatly reduced. But that brings us back to rice cereal. Since the dried flakes in Gerber cereals are intended to be mixed with a liquid and then consumed, it would be difficult or impossible to wash the cereal flakes. Fortunately, the Gerber company is aware of the problem and is taking steps to ensure that their baby cereals are safe. Here is a quotation from the company: “You carefully consider every bite your baby eats, and so do we. That’s why we monitor and test our rice ingredients and cereals for safety. We test for levels of substances like arsenic, which can occur naturally in soil and water and enter into crops, such as rice, as they grow. In 2017, all of our test results found arsenic levels for rice used in our infant rice cereals were below the proposed FDA guidance level of 100 ppb.”
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