Watch Less, Play More: Setting limitations on screen time

How did anyone ever parent before smartphones? We all know the scenario: a family is sitting at a restaurant eating dinner and a young child gets restless. A parent hands over a phone or a tablet to keep them occupied while they finish their meal and have a nice conversation. This seems innocent enough, but we are learning that when we hand over screens or place a child in front of the TV, we are doing it at the expense of their language and socio-emotional development as well as physical exercise.

Time that a child spends staring at a digital device, or screen time, is time they are not interacting with other people. Learning to bond and interact with others is crucial for children starting at a very early age. Now, I’m not saying that parents need to engage in deep conversations or read books every time they interact with their child. Simple conversations with a young child, even narrating your activities helps. Screen time is a strictly passive activity. Kids are rarely, if ever interacting with a screen in a meaningful way. However, even the most basic of activities, such as building and knocking down towers of blocks, doing puzzles together or scribbling with crayons on a piece of scrap paper (or a napkin) help teach kids cause and effect, and foster human interaction. These are invaluable for stimulating language development and creating a healthy emotional foundation.

A child that has more than the recommended exposure to screens at a young age is more likely to lead a more screen-filled, sedentary lifestyle as a teenager and beyond. This often goes hand in hand with mindless, unhealthy eating. Kids playing video games all day aren’t usually reaching for apples and carrots. People with active lifestyles that include regular exercise and exposure to the outdoors tend to be more physically and mentally healthy in the long run. My recommendation to parents is to turn of the television and put handheld devices away. This is true for both kids and adults. It’s hard to ignore a TV that’s on or a phone that’s blinking with a notification. Parenting without screens is certainly more challenging, especially in the early years, but it’s definitely worth the investment in the long-run. Teaching your child to entertain him/herself without the aid of screens will benefit them throughout their childhood.

So, what are the age-based recommended limitations on screen time? Below are the recommendations from The American Academy of Pediatrics. Remember though that at ALL ages, less is more, especially in preschool/early elementary-aged kids.

Under 2 years of age: No screen time

Ages 2-5: Limit to one hour of screen time per day

Ages 5 and up*: Consistent limitations on screen time, ensuring children have healthy physical activity and sleep schedules as well as personal relationships and interactions.(*Notice this says “and up”. Screen time limitations are for everyone, not just children. It’s important for adults to limit the amount of time they spend plugged-in, not only for their own well-being, but to set a great example for children).You can start by being aware of just how much time your family is spending in front of a screen. Jot down the number of minutes per day on a piece of paper on your refrigerator, or try this tool from the American Academy of Pediatrics, to create a customized family media plan: Family Media Plan

It’s easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

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Food Fight: Is your toddler a picky eater?

Food Fight: Is your toddler a picky eater?

It happens to parents of toddlers all the time: you prepare your child’s favorite meal, and place it lovingly in front of them only to watch them hurl the plate to the floor. They loved this meal yesterday, how could they refuse it today? Simply put: toddlers tend to be picky eaters. For parents, this can generate a lot of anxiety about the well being of their child. I’m sharing the advice I give moms and dads in my practice to help avoid a daily food fight around the kitchen table.

Don’t sweat it.

Toddlers are developing their food preferences. What they like today they may dislike tomorrow and vice versa. For a week straight, they may request (or demand) only one or two of their preferred menu items. That’s normal. And exasperating. Try to be patient, and avoid getting frustrated. Otherwise, mealtime will turn into a power struggle between you and your toddler, and no one wins. Try to include one or two of your toddler’s preferred menu items for each meal, and offer foods to your child more than once. Today may be the day they decide to love something new!

Think big picture.

Ensuring your toddler gets the nutrition they need is one of the biggest concerns when dealing with a picky eater. Consider your child’s food intake throughout the week, not just day to day or meal to meal. They may gobble up a huge breakfast and then nibble here and there for lunch. They may eat great some days and next to nothing on others. Generally, if your child is consistently growing, they are most likely getting enough calories and protein. If they’re easily moving their bowels on a daily basis, there’s enough fiber in their diet. A hungry toddler will consume more at mealtime, so make it easier on yourself by avoiding snacks and lots of liquids prior to a sit-down meal.

Work together in the kitchen.

Including toddlers in the meal planning and preparation may give them more incentive to try something new, and give them an outlet for their desire to control which foods they are eating. Invite your toddler to help you choose healthy items at the grocery store, pick new recipes or ask them to choose the side dishes for your next meal. Toddlers are eager to help, so allowing them to safely assist in the kitchen with stirring, scooping, sifting, counting and adding ingredients can grow their interest in mealtime. You may even want to surprise them with their own apron and chef’s hat!

Don’t give up!

Very few toddlers eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. When they exclaim “all done!” at the end of their meal, you’ll often find the serving of veggies exactly as you placed it on their plate – untouched. Again, that’s normal. Continue to offer them healthy choices at each meal, and set an example by making healthy choices yourself. Eventually, they will be open to trying new things, and may even come to enjoy those vegetables!

If you are feeling concerned about your child’s diet, make an appointment with your pediatric provider. They can help navigate this stage of life to ensure your little one is getting the nutrition they need to grow and develop. It’s easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your pediatric provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

It’s easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your pediatric provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

Make An Appointment

Your Baby’s Best Shot: FAQs About Vaccines

Your Baby's Best Shot

 

Parents today have no shortage of information and input on raising a child. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially for new parents. We want to ensure our children have all that they need to grow and develop normally, but sorting through the mountains of recommendations can be daunting, to say the least. For parents of newborns, a frequent topic of discussion during well visits centers around vaccines. Which vaccines does your child need and when should they receive them? Let’s breakdown the most frequently asked questions around vaccines for our littlest patients.

There are a lot of vaccines out there, does my child need all of them?

Just because a vaccine exists, doesn’t mean it is recommended for your child. Your doctor will discuss with you the routine vaccination schedule, which is based on current recommendations from the American Council on Immunization Practices. This schedule applies for all children living in the U.S. Additional recommended vaccines based on travel, disease outbreaks, or other unique circumstances, can be discussed with your doctor on an individualized basis.

Watch for these common differentiators between a cough caused by a virus and one caused by asthma.

Why does my baby get so many vaccines before they are two?

Vaccines are given based on a thoughtfully developed schedule to ensure children are protected when they are most vulnerable or likely to be exposed to an illness. Pertussis (whooping cough), for instance, can be life threating to an infant, so three doses of the vaccine are given in the first year of life. For illnesses that may not impact a child until adolescence, the vaccine is delivered at a later time.

Is it safe to give my baby several vaccines at one time?

Safety is of the utmost concern when giving a young child vaccines. That’s where the Centers for Disease Control’s Recommended Vaccine Schedule comes in. Extensive study and analysis have demonstrated conclusively that there is no risk or harm in giving multiple vaccines at once. Specifically, the Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule in the U.S. has been carefully examined and has been proven to be safe and effective.

Does my child need vaccines?

Definitely. In addition to protecting our own children from serious, life-threatening illnesses, we all need to be mindful of the risks we pose to others to when we don’t vaccinate. We’re constantly interacting with others in public (for example at school, playgroups, parks) and there are many people that are not able to receive vaccines. These individuals include infants or those with compromised immune systems from chemotherapy or other conditions, are at mich greater risk of severe illness or death when exposed to some of these diseases. When you have your child vaccinated, you are helping to eliminate the risk of a harmful disease resurfacing. This not only protects your child, but also helps to protect others who are vulnerable to the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.

How do I know which vaccines my child will receive for the first two years of their life and beyond?

Your baby’s provider can discuss the vaccine schedule which is right for your child. Talk with your pediatric provider about which vaccines your child needs, and when he or she should receive them.

  

It’s easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your pediatric provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

 

Make An Appointment