Friday, January 28, 2011

Health Care and Toddlers

Toddlers are tricky — they've grown enough to have their own ideas and wants, but their bodies and emotions haven't kept pace, according to Children age 12 to 24 months usually fall into this category as they begin to walk, or "toddle", until they are more fully developed children. Often, this stage is referred to as the "terrible twos." Development of their mental and physical skills for parents can be a huge challenge in the early months of the toddler stage.

Children in general require a lot of attention, but particularly in this age bracket as everything is new, exciting, and totally unlimited to the toddler's capability and interest to explore. Parents must be vigilant, and the process to raise toddlers is not easy. But, since that has been the way of life for thousands of years, just about any normal Mom and Dad can handle it. Lots of good info can be found at

The toddler stage is very important in a child's life. It is the time between infancy and childhood when a child learns and grows in many ways. Everything that happens to the toddler is meaningful. With each stage or skill the child masters, a new stage begins. This growth is unique to each child. Children have their own time-table. During the toddler stage, most children learn to walk, talk, solve problems, relate to others, and more. One major task for the toddler is to learn to be independent. That is why toddlers want to do things for themselves, have their own ideas about how things should happen, and use "no" many times each day.

The toddler stage is characterized by much growth and change, mood swings, and some negativity. Toddlers are long on will and short on skill, according to the National Network for Child Care (NNCC). This is why they are often frustrated and "misbehave." Toddlers, bursting with energy and ideas, need to explore their environment and begin defining themselves as separate people. They want to be independent and yet they are still very dependent. One of the family day care provider's greatest challenges is to balance toddlers' need for in-dependence with their need for discipline. Toddlers are very concerned with their own needs and ideas. This is why you cannot expect them to share.

Toddlers sometimes get frustrated because they do not have the language skills to express themselves. Often, according to the NNCC, they have difficulty separating themselves from their parents and other people who are important to them. Adults who work with toddlers often find it helpful to appreciate toddlers' need to do things their way. Usually between two and one half and three years of age, children begin to take an interest in being toilet trained, and by age three they are ready to be known as preschoolers.

By this age, most children are toilet trained, have developed verbal skills, are continuing to be more independent, and are taking an active interest in the world around them. The toddler stage can be a difficult for adults, especially new parents, and toddlers. An understanding of this stage of development can make it more fun for everyone. Some of the characteristics of toddlers for three main areas are: physical (body), social (getting along with others) and emotional (feelings), and intellectual (thinking and language) development. Remember that all toddlers are different and reach the various stages at different times.

According to child expert, Heidi Murkoff, every day of your toddler's life brings new experiences — from the wonderful (introducing crayons to your tot) to the joyful (buying that first pair of shoes) to the sometimes puzzling (where did that imaginary friend come from?). Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions that help out with various toddler issues: .

And, according to, getting your increasingly independent child to potty-train, behave in public, and actually like vegetables is no small feat. Toddlerhood brings as many frustrations (is that crayon on the wall?), as it does joys ("Look Mom! I did it all by yourself!"), so you'll need a helping hand along the way.

There is a wide range of "normal" growth. Between the ages of 2 and 5, the average child grows about 2½ inches taller each year, and also gains 4 to 5 pounds each year, according to the USDA. You and your preschooler's doctor are partners in maintaining your child's health. Your preschooler's growth over time is an important sign of good health and nutrition.

Visit your doctor regularly. As part of the visit, the doctor will weigh and measure your child. He or she can then plot your child's information on a growth chart. Over time, the curve of the growth chart will show your child's growth pattern and whether height and weight growth are increasing at the same rate. Your doctor will monitor the growth chart to be sure your child continues to follow the same "curve" over time and the growth pattern does not unexpectedly change. And more info can be found at this website: .

According to Meghan Lambert, a Research Coordinator with Public Health Foundation, she has authored a 33,000 word guide that covers preschool child nutrition, snack foods for preschoolers, food safety tips, as well as a healthy balanced diet, various food groups, physical activity, nutritional needs during pregnancy and breast feeding, nutrition for the preschool children and more. You can find the article here:

Healthy Diet & Lifestyle, Food Groups, Nutrition Before & During Pregnancy, Child Nutrition, Physical Activity , and a section covering preschool child nutrition: .

Also, it's no wonder that small children sometimes become frightened when visiting the doctor's office, according to After all, there are plenty of adults out there who are anxious about visiting the doctor, too. Here are 10 ways to calm your child’s fear of the doctor:

1. Take your child to your appointments: Once your child realizes that even big people have to go to the doctor, she won't feel so singled out. Plus, she'll get to see what to expect from a visit and may consequently feel better next time she has to pay a visit to her own doctor's office.

2. Accentuate the positive: Your child can sense when you're nervous and anxious, so try to be relaxed and confident. If you remain calm and collected, chances are greater that he will, too. Keep a positive tone when you are talking about the doctor's office and act excited about his visit.

3. Educate your child: Look for books and DVDs about doctors and pediatric checkups. This way your child can identify with other children that go through the same feelings. Don't get too technical, simply explain that every child has to go to the doctor and point out that the doctor is a nice person who keeps kids healthy and safe.

4. Talk about it: Casually discuss the doctor, the doctor's office, and the nurses. Comment on how nice the staff is, how they have such great books and toys in the waiting room, and how they give out stickers, a lollipop, or a surprise after a visit.

5. Be honest: Be truthful about what is happening. Tell your child that something might hurt a little. "The doctor is going to give you a shot now and you will feel a pinch, but afterwards it will feel better."

6. Keep it together: Don't get upset or impatient with your child. Remember that your child is frightened and uncertain. Tell her that it's OK to cry, but that it is important to sit still for the doctor, or the exam will take even longer.
7. Plan a post-visit outing: Give your child something to look forward to after the visit. Plan a trip to the playground, an outing to the ice cream parlor, or a visit with one of your child's friends as a fun follow-up to a trip to the pediatrician.

8. Make your child comfortable: Bring along a comfort item such as a favorite blanket or stuffed animal. Let your child, if she's old enough, choose what she'll wear on her doctor's visit. Even suggest bringing something that she can show to or share with her doctor (her favorite book, a flower from your garden, and so on).

9. Play doctor: Role playing can do wonders for an anxious toddler. Buy a toy doctor's kit and encourage your child to practice playing doctor on his stuffed animals or you. Knowing how things work will help your child feel more comfortable during the exam.

10. Talk to your pediatrician: Discuss your child's fears and how to alleviate them with your pediatrician. A good pediatrician should be understanding of your situation (that's her job—to treat and work with children!). If your doctor doesn't show the level of concern that you would expect or is not sensitive to your child's needs at the next visit, it may be time to think about changing physicians.

Toddlers are exciting, and these children are at a special age to learn and grow. Spend time as a parent or care giver to interact with them, love them, and provide the nurturing care they need. It may be tough to meet all the demands you have in life when toddlers are on the scene, but the days spent with this age group is fun. You also will have many teachable moments. Cherish those times and the children in your care, for they are precious.
Until next time.

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