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Tips for parents dealing with toddler’s diarrhea

Toddlerhood is a time when children are going through a lot of changes.  Children enter pre-school, toilet-training begins, diets change, and sometimes stooling patterns become different as well.  The latter issue often leads to parental worry.   One of the most common changes that parents of toddlers bring up during visits with me is that their toddler’s stools seem very loose or watery (“diarrhea”).  More often than not, the diagnosis ends up being “toddler’s diarrhea”, a harmless type of diarrhea that generally starts after a child is weaned.  (Other names for this condition include “functional diarrhea of childhood” or “chronic non-specific diarrhea of childhood”.)

Toddler’s diarrhea occurs due to a relative immaturity of the intestinal tract of young children.  Relatively speaking, sugars and some fluid get poorly absorbed.  The stools often contain undigested food particles (carrots and corn being the most commonly noticed).  The key differentiating factor that sets toddler’s diarrhea apart from other causes of diarrhea at this age is that except for loose stools, there are no other symptoms.  There is no malabsorption of nutrients, so children with toddler’s diarrhea have normal growth and weight gain.  Otherwise, they are perfectly healthy.  There won’t be anything abnormal found during their physical exam.  Tests are not generally needed, because those, too, will be normal.

Even though toddler’s diarrhea resolves on its own, I often tell families to follow the “4 Fs” as a guide to treatment:

Visiting Your Hospitalized Child

When your child is hospitalized, it’s understandable that family and friends will want to visit. This is often a help to both the patient and the parent at the bedside. To maximize the benefit of this support, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Visiting hours: Check with your nurse for the visiting hours and let your nurse know when you are able to visit. If there are extenuating circumstances for your family’s situation (e.g., a parent works night or swing shift and can only visit before or after), let the nursing staff know.

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Seattle rain? You can still play inside!

In the last few years, I’ve taken note of various national campaigns encouraging improved health and wellness in children. Some aim to inspire at least an hour of play daily. Others focus on movement in conjunction with eating nutritious food to help fight childhood obesity. All of these campaigns share a common important message: regular physical activity improves a child’s overall health.

With the winter months upon us, my patients and families are concerned how to maintain activity levels when it’s cold, rainy, and gets dark outside too early. Even in the warmest months, there may be reasons a child might be inside more than out – including safety concerns. Fortunately, there are many fun ways children CAN stay active indoors when playgrounds are cold, ball fields are icy, yards are soggy, or the sun goes down too early.

Here are some ways kids can play inside while also working on strength, balance, flexibility, or coordination:

Circumcision: Yes or No?

On December 2, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a draft of its proposed recommendation that doctors should counsel all males (including parents of all male children) on the benefits and risks of circumcision.  This comes after a policy statement was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2012, stating that the benefits of infant circumcision outweigh the risks. 

The federal regulation has sparked a national debate, which I thought would be a good time to remind families about the pros and cons of the procedure.  

What to do if your child swallows something

With the holiday season fast approaching, the environments around us are about to change. Glitter, lights, tinsel, ornaments, decorations, new toys and many other exciting trimmings are bound to be a part of daily life for a while. It’s no doubt that kiddos will be curious about all of this new shiny stuff!

Many kids will likely explore these things with their mouths. Exploring the world by mouth is a normal part of development for babies, but what should you do if your baby or child swallows an object? The answer: stay calm and think! There are some situations in which your child will require the help of a doctor, however many situations can be managed from home. Many items are small enough to pass through the digestive tract and out in a bowel movement, and in this instance your child will likely have no symptoms.

Here are the red flags to look for if your child swallows a foreign object. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, seek medical help.

New recommendations for children’s screen time and media usage

Screen time is a hot topic for parents, especially in our tech-savvy part of the world. In 2001 the American Academy of Pediatrics addressed the subject of screen time and recommended no more than 2 hours of screen time per day and none for children under 2 years of age . The world has changed considerably since 2001 and screens are more prevalent than ever. Recent surveys suggest that the average child in the US actually spends about 5 hours per day in front of a screen. Recent data (2013) suggest that the average 8 year old spends up to 8 hours per day in front of a screen. Some teens spend up to 11 hours per day in front of a screen. This is not a surprise since 75% of teens have their own phones and most teens text. The average teen sends 3,364 texts per month.

The changing world of media has prompted new recommendations with the hope of fostering a healthy approach to media. New ...

How to deal with temper tantrums in toddlers

We’ve all been there during that screaming fit in the grocery store because your 2 year old just HAS to have that particular treat off the shelf, and when we say no….it (a temper tantrum) all begins.

Why do toddlers tantrum?

A tantrum is the expression of a young child's frustration with the challenges of the moment and their inability to manage that frustration in any other constructive way. This is part of the normal development of children. For some toddlers, tantrums happen when they can’t figure out a particular task; for others they just can’t find the words to express his or her thoughts or feelings. Whatever the challenge, frustration with the situation might trigger anger — resulting in a temper tantrum. Since tantrums are an expression of powerlessness, toddlers who feel some control over their lives may have many fewer tantrums. Remember, if your child is thirsty, hungry or tired, his or her threshold for frustration is likely to be lower — and a tantrum is more likely.

Can I prevent tantrums?
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