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The Children's Wellness Blog

How to Choose the Right Pacifier for Your Baby

February 23, 2017

How to Choose the Right Pacifier for Your BabyBabies have a natural, innate need to suckle. Though the bottle or a mother’s breast can sometimes meet this need, this desire can often persist long after mealtime is finished. That’s where a trusty pacifier can come in. Before introducing your baby to a pacifier, keep in mind that parents should wait until breastfeeding is firmly established to bring a pacifier into the mix.

A pacifier can provide a number of benefits for babies and parents alike. Offering infants a pacifier at nap time and bedtime can help calm them and ease them into sleep more easily.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, giving your baby a pacifier during naps and bed time can lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by more than half. Additionally, a pacifier can help a baby self-soothe and make them feel secure even without a parent in the room.

We recommend keeping the following tips in mind when choosing a pacifier for your baby:

  • Try a few different nipple shapes to see which one your baby prefers.
  • We recommend picking a 1-piece model instead of a 2-piece model that can break apart and create a choking hazard.
  • The outer shield should be at least 1.5 inches across so your baby cannot put the entire pacifier into his or her mouth.
  • The shield should be made of solid plastic with air holes for breathing.
  • Try to find a pacifier that is dishwasher-safe for cleaning. If not, boil it to sanitize.
  • If you do boil it, make sure to squeeze the water out of the nipple with clean hands to prevent potential burns to your baby’s mouth.
  • Pacifiers don’t last forever. Be aware of the expiration date for your baby’s pacifier if there is one. Inspect the pacifier from time to time to check whether the rubber has changed color or has become torn. If so, it’s time for a new one.
  • Keep extra pacifiers on-hand in case of your baby’s pacifier falls apart, gets lost or becomes too dirty to use when your baby needs it.

We hope this was helpful. The right pacifier can help calm and soothe your baby, and a calmer baby usually means calmer parents too. For more tips on baby care or general information about the health and well-being of your child, please contact Children’s Wellness Center today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more news and updates.

Introducing your Baby to Solid Foods

February 14, 2017

Introducing your Baby to Solid FoodsIntroducing your baby to solid foods can seem like a daunting task. For starters how do you even know when a child is ready? Making the jump to solid foods is an important step in making sure your baby is getting the nutrition they need for healthy growth and development. For those parents seeking assistance, our pediatricians and physician’s assistants have provided a few telltale signs to look out for and tips to help you and your baby make the adjustment to solid foods.

First, is your baby old enough? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies stick to breast feeding or infant formula until they are 6 months of age (though some babies are not able to get all their caloric needs from breast milk or formula and may be ready sooner). Babies should be able to sit in a high chair or feeding seat and be able to keep their head up before trying solid foods. If a baby opens his or her mouth or reaches for your food while you eat, they may be ready. The ability to move food from a spoon into his or her throat without pushing it out of his mouth is a good indicator as well. It’s important to remember that if your baby has never tried anything thicker than breast milk or formula before, this will certainly take some getting used to. If you try but your baby does not seem ready, don’t force it. Wait a week or so and try again.

Pick a feeding time when your baby is happy and not too hungry or tired. You can try to ease the transition by giving your baby very small amounts of solid food in-between small portions of breast milk or formula. Start with just one food first. This will help the baby adjust and give you time to keep an eye out for potential allergic reactions. We recommend introducing no more than 1 new food every 3 days. If your baby experiences diarrhea, rashes, or vomiting after trying a new food, consult one of the pediatricians of physician’s assistants at Children’s Wellness Center. Remember to try not to get too flustered, this is a gradual process.

As for which food your baby should try first, that’s really up to you. Simple types of pureed fruits and vegetables as well as infant cereals can usually be started between 4-6 months, though discuss with your Children’s Wellness Center pediatrician at your child’s 4-month checkup to get the best guidelines for your baby. Many babies are not ready to try solid foods until 6 months of age, so don’t feel rushed to start and enjoy the process as your infant is experiencing all these new tastes. Fruits, vegetables and single-grain baby cereals are a common choice for a baby’s first solid food. Make sure to confirm that the cereal you choose is made specifically for babies and fortified with iron. Infant cereals should only be made up with either breast milk or formula.

At your child’s 6-month checkup, you and your child’s healthcare provider can discuss introducing more allergenic foods (peanuts, nuts, eggs, fish, or shellfish) and finger foods. Baby foods made with meat and other proteins like beans can be safely introduced when your infant is around 6-9 months old.

It is important for your baby to get used to the process of eating, so create a routine and stick to it. Instilling behaviors like sitting up while eating, resting between bites and stopping when full early on can help develop good eating habits for children as they grow. If you still have questions, please contact Children’s Wellness Center today. We are always happy to guide our patients. You can also visit our website patient portal under “Patient Info” for more helpful info and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more news and updates.

Dear CWC: Healthy Snacks for Kids

February 6, 2017

Dear CWC Healthy Snacks for KidsHere at Children’s Wellness Center (CWC), we receive plenty of questions from parents about nutrition for kids. As parents ourselves, we understand how important it is to try to provide nutritious food for our kids, not only to help them grow up fit and strong, but to teach them healthy eating habits that they will carry with them as they grow older. That’s why we’re always happy to take time to answer some of the more common questions we receive about how to provide healthy snacks for young children.

Though we typically think of meals as the time to provide our children with the vital nutrients they need, snack time can be a great opportunity to supplement your kids with bonus nutrients between meals and give them the fuel they need to power through the day. So with that said, here are some common questions we receive about how to provide healthy snacks for kids:

Dear CWC: How can I increase my child’s interest in fruits and vegetables as snacks?

A.) Snack time offers ample opportunity to increase your kid’s access and intake of nutrient-rich fruits and veggies. Though some kids may not be receptive to vegetables as a snack, try to get creative. Try pairing fruits and veggies with other foods they enjoy like combining fruits and cheese or adding lean peanut butter and raisins to some celery to create fun and healthy snacks for kids. We recommend pairing fruits and vegetables with proteins (apples with peanut butter, carrots with hummus, etc.).

Dear CWC: What are some good snack options to help my kids get the Vitamin D they need?

A.) As we’ve mentioned before, Vitamin D is among the most important nutrients for growing kids. Snack time offers plenty of opportunity to help your kids load up on the Vitamin D they require. We recommend Vitamin D fortified dairy products like milk, and yogurt. A hard-boiled egg can be the perfect little snack to provide a Vitamin D boost, as can a bit of canned tuna.

Dear CWC: Can you recommend healthy alternatives to sugary drinks?

A.) Kids love sugary drinks like fruit juice and soda due to the sweet taste, but they can lead to poor nutrition, obesity and tooth decay in kids. Remember, every 12-ounce soda, juice, Gatorade®, or chocolate milk contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and up to 200 calories. Drinking just one of these drinks per day can increase a child’s risk of obesity by 60%. We strongly suggest that parents substitute juice out for milk or water during snack time. A small serving of nutrient-rich coconut water or 100% juice can also be OK for kids. You can also consider low-sugar smoothies for added fruits and vegetables.

When it comes to the health and wellness of your kids, we appreciate any and all questions. After all, as parents there is a lot to know. That’s why our healthcare providers host Children’s Wellness Center Meet & Greet events each month. Our Meet & Greets are a great way to better get to know who we are, what we do, and how our practice can help provide your family with quality healthcare you can depend on. For more information, please contact Children’s Wellness Center today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more tips and updates.

Tooth Brushing Tips for Young Kids

January 25, 2017

Tooth Brushing Tips for Young KidsBrushing their teeth may not seem like any kids idea of fun, but it is certainly vital. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently reported that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease for children in the US. Although this may seem like a concern for your child’s dentist, parents commonly work more closely with their child’s pediatrician before their kids ever see a dentist.

Kids with tooth decay are far more likely to experience cavities as adults. That’s why it is extra important for parents to reinforce good habits and emphasize the importance of regular brushing for kids at a young age. Many parents wonder, “When should kids begin brushing their teeth?” Typically kids can start brushing with assistance from a parent around age 2 or 3, however, they may not be ready to brush solo until about age 6. A general rule of thumb says kids are ready to brush without assistance once they are able to tie their own shoes.

The healthcare providers at Children’s Wellness Center have put together the following tips that should be of assistance once your child is ready to begin brushing:

  • Find a toothbrush with soft bristles designed specifically for an infant’s or child’s teeth.
  • To simplify things, break the brushing process into small steps that your child can understand and practice.
  • You can also place a hand over your child’s hand to guide the toothbrush as your child brushes to display proper form.
  • Let kids pick a kind of toothpaste they like, as long as it contains fluoride.
  • The parent should always place the toothpaste on the toothbrush for the child to ensure kids use the appropriate amount: a rice kernel amount for kids under 3, a pea-sized amount for kids over 3, and a normal amount for kids who are able to properly swish and spit (usually around age 5 or 6)
  • Start your brushing routine before it’s too close to bedtime to avoid potential crankiness.
  • An incentive like a sticker can help motivate younger kids to get excited for brushing.
  • In order to reach the recommended 2 minutes for brushing, use a short song or timer as a game.

Tooth decay for kids is no laughing matter, but thankfully it is preventable. The earlier you start practicing good oral hygiene with your children, the better off they will be in the long run. If you have any questions about tooth brushing or oral health care for young children, please reach out to the healthcare providers at Children’s Wellness Center. You can contact Children’s Wellness Center today at (404) 303-1314. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more tips and updates.