Your Toddler

Chickenpox Lollipops?

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Would you give your child a lollipop that was infected with the chickenpox virus?  Most parents would say no way, but some want to throw a “pox party” to make sure their child gets sick.

You may have heard about them. They are called pox parties, and here’s how they work.   You have, or know someone who has, a child who is sick with chickenpox. A party is held so that the sick child can play with other children who are not sick. They play together, and share drinking cups or lollipops, food or wash cloths so that the well children are exposed to the virus in hopes that they will also get sick.

Why would a parent deliberately expose their child to chickenpox?

Many of these parents believe that getting the virus naturally will offer a longer lasting immunity than the vaccination and booster shots required by schools. They also say that smallpox is a “weak” virus that is not dangerous.

Dr. Louis Cooper, a spokesman for the Infectious Disease Society of America and a professor emeritus of pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, told ABC News "I deeply regret that parents who are trying to do the right thing just don't get it. The fact is that they're right; chickenpox for most children is a mild illness. But when you see children who have the misfortune of one of the complications that are possible, you never forget it."

"The child does not need to be immune-deficient or malnourished to have these complications," said Cooper, who recommends that all parents vaccinate their children against the virus. "It can be an ordinary healthy child, it's Russian roulette."

The chickenpox vaccine, varicella, was first approved for use in the United States in 1995 and is now required in every state before a child can enter day care or school. Exceptions, including proof that the child has contracted the virus on his or her own, as well as parents who refrain from getting their children vaccinated because of religious reasons, vary from state to state.

“Find a Pox Party” sites have turned up on Facebook and other social media outlets across the country. People have been selling contaminated candy, diapers, and blankets to parents, sometimes shipping these items through the mail.

A Nashville TV station reported on a local woman who charged $50 a pop to ship suckers smothered in saliva by her sick kids.

Spurred by that story, Nashville federal prosecutor Jerry Martin warned parents not to try it. “It’s illegal and unsafe,” Martin told the Associated Press.

Pediatricians are taking a strong stand against pox parties. They warn that children exposed to such practices have a higher risk of developing encephalitis and group A Strep.

Pox parties are not new; they’ve been around for a long time. Before the advent of vaccines smallpox parties and other types of controlled inoculation did reduce death rates due to, for example smallpox, considerably. These practices all but vanished when the smallpox vaccine was introduced.

Vaccinations have been under scrutiny since a 1998 study-now proven to be false- linked autism with childhood vaccinations. Some parents still refuse to get their children vaccinated, believing the study had merit.

Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician specializing in infectious disease at the department of pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said that many parents who are against vaccinating their children argue that getting the virus naturally is more beneficial to the child's overall health.

"The thinking many parents have is that the natural infection is more likely to induce higher levels of antibodies and longer-lasting immunity than vaccines," Offit said. "That's generally true but the problem is if you make that choice you are also taking the risk of a natural infection, which can mean hospitalization and sometimes death."

Not everyone agrees on the pros and cons of pox parties, but most medical experts say that parents should choose the vaccine.

Curtis Allen is a spokesperson for the Center for Disease Control. He notes that chickenpox is uncomfortable for kids, and suggests that parents who are looking for natural immunity should talk to their pediatricians about the decision not to vaccinate.

"There are a couple of things to know about chickenpox," he said. "First of all, the vaccine is very safe. Secondly, varicella, or chickenpox, is not necessarily a benign disease. Most children ... do fine with it. However, there are some children who become very sick."

Your Toddler

High Chair Injuries on the Rise

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High chairs were designed to offer older babies and younger toddlers a safer place to eat at the table. They’re usually higher from the ground than a regular chair, so a parent or caregiver (or sibling) can spoon feed the baby comfortably. If there’s an infant in the family, more than likely there’s a high chair in the house.

They’re great when used properly, but when children aren’t secured correctly, accidents can and do happen. In fact, a new safety study reveals that high chair injuries increased 22 percent between 2003 and 2009.

Emergency rooms staffs are treating an average of almost 9,500 high chair related injuries every year – that equates to one injured infant per hour.

"We know that these injuries can and do happen, but we did not expect to see the kind of increase that we saw," said study co-author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

"Most of the injuries we're talking about, over 90 percent, involve falls with young toddlers whose center of gravity is high, near their chest, rather than near the waist as it is with adults," Smith said. "So when they fall they topple, which means that 85 percent of the injuries we see are to the head and face."

Because the fall is from a seat that's higher than the traditional chair and typically onto a hard kitchen floor, "the potential for a serious injury is real," he added. "This is something we really need to look at more, so we can better understand why this seems to be happening more frequently."

Researchers analyzed data collected by the U.S. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The data concerned all high chair, booster seat, and normal chair-related injuries that occurred between 2003 and 2010 and involved children 3 years old and younger.

The researchers found that high chair/booster chair injuries rose from 8,926 in 2003 to 10,930 by 2010.

How are children getting injured? About two-thirds of the children had been either standing or climbing in the chair just before the fall, the study authors noted.

Either chair restraints aren’t working as they should or parents are not using them properly.

"In recent years, there have been millions of high chairs recalled because they do not meet current safety standards. Most of these chairs are reasonably safe when restraint instructions are followed, but even so, there were 3.5 million high chairs recalled during our study period alone," said Smith. However, even highly educated and informed parents aren't always fully aware of a recall when it happens, he noted.

Still, Smith believes that a 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act will lead to a notable drop in recalls in coming years because it calls for independent third-party testing of children's products before they're put on the market.

The most common diagnosis from a high chair fall is a concussion or internal head injury. This type of head trauma accounted for 37 percent of high chair injuries, and its frequency imbed by nearly 90 percent during the eight years studied.

Nearly 6 in 10 children experienced an injury to their head or neck after a high chair fall, while almost 3 in 10 experienced a facial injury, the study found.

When the researchers looked at falls from traditional chairs, children’s injuries were typically broken bones, cuts and bruises.

While the tray may look like it can block a child from climbing or standing, it’s not a restraint. Children need to be buckled in.

Supervision plays a key role in keeping your little one safe when in a high chair. Many falls happen when a parent or caregiver leaves the room or is not facing the baby.  "Even if a chair does meet current safety standards and the restraint is used properly, there's never 100 percent on this . . . Parents will always need to be vigilant." said Smith.

Some high chairs have wheels, so make sure that if yours does- they are locked when the baby is in the chair.

Also, never place the high chair next to a wall or counter where your baby or toddler can push against it, causing the chair to become unstable.

High chairs are convenient and can be very safe when used properly. Make sure your child is restrained properly and that you can see your baby whenever you move away from the chair.

The study was published online Dec. 9 in Clinical Pediatrics.

Source: Alan Mozes, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20131209/rise-in-us-high-chair-injuries-stuns-experts

Your Toddler

Massive Stroller Recall Due to Laceration, Amputations

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About 4.7 million Graco and Century-branded strollers are being recalled after the maker received reports of 10 full or partial fingertip amputations.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said eleven models of strollers have a folding hinge on the side that “can pinch a child’s finger, posing a laceration or amputation hazard.”

Caregivers are being advised to show "extreme care when unfolding the stroller to be certain that the hinges are firmly locked before placing a child in the stroller," the CPSC said.

"Caregivers are advised to immediately remove the child from a stroller that begins to fold to keep their fingers from the side hinge area," the agency said.

Atlanta-based Graco Children's Products received six reports of fingertip amputation, four reports of partial-fingertip amputation and one finger laceration, the product safety agency said.

The firm manufactured the strollers in China and will be providing a free repair kit beginning in December.

Graco said its recall is voluntary.

"Over the past 60 years, safety has been and will continue to be the priority at Graco," the firm said on it’s website. "As part of our continuous effort to provide quality and safe products, Graco identified that select stroller models, including some of our LiteRider models that were sold before the updated hinge was available, have folding hinges that could in rare circumstances have the potential to pinch a child's finger, posing a laceration or amputation hazard."

The recalled models are Aspen, Breeze, Capri, Cirrus, Glider, Kite, LiteRider, Sierra, Solara, Sterling and TravelMate model strollers and travel systems.

The models bear a manufacture date from August 1, 2000, to September 25, 2014, and were sold at Target, Toys R Us, Walmart and other retail stores nationwide and online. The prices were $40 to $70 for the strollers and $140 to $170 for the travel systems.

Consumers can contact Graco Children’s Products at (800) 345-4109 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.gracobaby.com and click on the “Help Center” at the top and Recall and Safety Notifications for more information.  

The CPSC website has a complete list of the stroller model names and numbers along with pictures of each of the recalled strollers. Model numbers and the date of manufacture are printed on the white label located at the bottom of the stroller leg just above the rear wheel.

Sources: https://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/Graco-Recalls-11-Models-of-Strollers/#remedy

Michael Martinez, http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/20/us/stroller-recall/index.html

Graco Stroller Recall

Your Toddler

Liquid Nicotine Poisonings up 300 percent!

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Most people are familiar with e-cigarettes. New e-cigarette stores are popping up almost every day. City councils around the country are debating the pros and cons of setting age limits to buy them and banning them in places where smoking cigarettes is already forbidden.

There’s another e-cigarettes related story that’s is much more alarming that is beginning to surface - the potentially deadly liquids that are often bought and used to refill the e-cigarette vaporizer.

These “e-liquids,” the key ingredients in e-cigarettes, are powerful neurotoxins. Tiny amounts, whether ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause vomiting and seizures and even be lethal. A teaspoon of even highly diluted e-liquid can kill a small child.

According to an article in The New York Times, e-liquids are being mixed on factory floors and in the back rooms of shops.

Toxicologists warn that e-liquids pose a significant risk to public health, particularly to children, who may be drawn to their bright colors and fragrant flavorings like cherry, chocolate and bubble gum.

Many users, unaware of the toxicity of the ingredients, are casually leaving replacement bottles around the house where children are finding and ingesting them.

“It’s not a matter of if a child will be seriously poisoned or killed,” said Lee Cantrell, director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System and a professor of pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s a matter of when.”

Nationwide, the number of poison cases linked to e-liquids jumped to 1,351 in 2013, a 300 percent increase from 2012, and the number is on pace to double this year, according to information from the National Poison Data System. Of the cases in 2013, 365 were referred to hospitals - triple the previous year’s number.

As two examples, of the 74 e-cigarette and nicotine poisoning cases called into Minnesota poison control in 2013, 29 involved children age 2 and under. In Oklahoma, all but two of the 25 cases in the first two months of this year, involved children age 4 and under. That age group is considered typical.

The e-liquids are much more dangerous than tobacco because liquid is absorbed quickly into the skin, even in diluted concentrations. Initially, many of the e-cigarette brands were disposable devices that looked like regular cigarettes. However, many of the newer e-cigarette vaporizers are larger and can be refilled with liquid that is generally nicotine, flavorings and solvents.

Unlike nicotine gums and patches, e-cigarettes and their ingredients are not regulated. The FDA has said it plans to regulate e-cigarettes but has not disclosed how it will approach the issue.

Chip Paul, chief executive officer of Palm Beach Vapors, a company that operates 13 e-cigarette franchises, estimates that there will be sales of one to two millions liters of liquid used to refill e-cigarettes.

If you look online, you can buy e-liquids anywhere from a liter to 55 gallon containers with 10 percent nicotine concentration.

Mr. Paul said he was worried that some manufacturers outside the United States — China is a major center of e-cigarette production — were not always delivering the concentrations and purity of nicotine they promise. Some retailers, Mr. Paul said, “are selling liquid and they don’t have a clue what is in it.”

The nicotine levels in e-liquids can vary. Most range between 1.8 percent and 2.4 percent, concentrations that can cause sickness, but rarely death, in children. But higher concentrations, like 10 percent or even 7.2 percent, are widely available on the Internet.

A lethal dose at such levels would take “less than a tablespoon,” according to Dr. Cantrell, from the poison control system in California. “Not just a kid. One tablespoon could kill an adult,” he said.

Many people believe that e-cigarettes are a new and valuable tool in the battle to quit smoking. The science isn’t there yet to say whether they actually help or just replace conventional cigarette addiction. But one thing is for sure, if you have e-cigarettes and in particular, e-liquid refill containers in the home, they should be kept out of a child’s eyesight and reach.

Source: Matt Richtel, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/24/business/selling-a-poison-by-the-barrel-liquid-nicotine-for-e-cigarettes.html?_r=1

Your Toddler

Thumb Sucking

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I admit it – I was a thumb sucker for way too long. My thumb and mouth didn’t part company until I was in first grade. The fear of getting caught during a sleepover at a friend’s house was enough for me to finally call it quits.

It’s normal for babies and toddlers to suck their thumbs. Babies are born with the urge to suck as part of their survival. They also use it as a way to soothe themselves when they feel hungry, afraid, restless, sleepy or bored. Toddlers carry on that natural instinct as they find their way in the world.

By the time children are around four-years-old they’ve typically stopped sucking their thumb and found replacements for self-soothing. Occasionally, children (like myself) will continue to suck their thumb out of habit.

Some experts say that if a child is still sucking their thumb by the age of six, they may be doing so because of emotional distress such as anxiety.

Thumb sucking isn’t a problem under the age of four, but if a child continues- with great intensity- after five or six years old, they could be setting themselves up for dental or speech problems.

Prolonged thumb sucking may cause their teeth to become improperly aligned (malocclusion) or push their teeth outward. If the thumb sucking stops, the teeth most likely will align correctly, but the longer the sucking continues the more likely orthodontic treatment will be needed.

Extended thumb sucking may also cause speech issues such as lisping, inability to say Ts and Ds, and pushing the tongue out when talking. A speech therapist may be needed to help correct these problems.

How do you help your child stop sucking their thumb? It takes a lot of patience.

One place to begin is to pay attention to what triggers the thumb sucking. Does your little one start when they are bored, sleepy, or unsure about something? Redirecting can help. Busy hands help keep thumbs from going into the mouth. Give your child a large stuffed animal to wrap their arms around or have them help hold the book when you are reading to them. Offer a squeezable rubber ball or finger puppets to grasp when they are watching TV.  The key is to offer an alternative at the times you notice they are the most likely to want to suck their thumb.

Ask your child to not suck their thumb in public and gently remind them when you see them doing it. Let them suck their thumb at home, but start the process of being self-aware in public. Kids often unconsciously slip their thumb into their mouth. A reminder helps them notice what they are doing.

You can also start talking to your child about why it’s time to give some thought to stopping. In age-appropriate language explain how thumb sucking is okay for younger children, but as children get older they learn how to stop. Ask them questions like “Do you see (insert name of an older child or adult here) sucking his or her thumb?” They’ll think about it more and start to decide whether they want to continue. It’s a process that takes time.

Punishing or shaming your child is absolutely the wrong method to address thumb sucking. This approach not only doesn’t work, but also lowers a child self-value and can create an even stronger desire to thumb suck. It’s like quitting anything you’re doing that may not be good for you in the long run- the worse someone tries to make you feel about it- the more you want to do it (think overeating, smoking, drinking.)

You can also talk to your pediatrician or family doctor for his or her suggestions on how to help your child. For older children, behavioral therapy may be beneficial.

There are products that are nasty tasting that can be swabbed on your child’s thumb, but some experts think that approach is cruel and more like a punishment than a humane way to help a child outgrow a natural inclination.

Most kids will simply quit sucking their thumb when they are good and ready. Helping your child reach that point may require patience and creativity, but in time his or her thumb will cease to be a constant comfort companion.

Sources: http://children.webmd.com/tc/thumb-sucking-topic-overview

Your Toddler

Expanding Gel Balls Dangerous If Swallowed

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Toddlers and babies love to put things in their mouth. They don’t know when something is unsanitary or dangerous, they just like to suck and chew on things. But that natural inclination can cause big problems when they swallow something that is unsafe for consumption.

One little girl in Houston,Texas did just that.

She found a cute little gel ball, put it in her mouth then unfortunately swallowed it. It was a Water Balz.

The problem is that once a Water Balz is submerged in water, or if it ends up in the stomach, it can expand to 400 times its original size.

The 8-month-old child was brought to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston with stomach pain. Her parent’s suspected that she had eaten one of her sister’s Water Balz and became alarmed when they read the toy’s label.

Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, a pediatric surgeon at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, told Reuters Health "It goes in small and grows on the inside and may not come out."

X-Rays taken at the hospital showed that the baby’s small intestine was swollen, as if something was causing a blockage, but the X-Rays couldn’t reveal what was causing it. The baby’s belly continued getting bigger and bigger and her symptoms didn’t go away.

"The blockage allows fluid and gas to accumulate, it is just like you step on a hose," said Olutoye, whose report appeared Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Finally, doctors decided surgery was necessary to remove the obstruction. They cut her intestine open and drew from it a bright-green Water Balz nearly an inch and a half across.

Luckily, the baby recovered and is now doing fine.

The colorful balls are small (about the size of a marble) and are an easy temptation for toddlers and even pets. While most parents wouldn’t buy this product for their baby, they might buy it – or one similar - for their older child. That’s often how a toddler finds one to play with.

This type of product is becoming more and more common. It is made from a super-absorbent polymer that is used, not only in children’s playthings, but also in pottery and gardening products because of its ability to absorb water.

Pets can also suffer from bowel obstruction, which can be fatal, if they eat one.

DuneCraft Inc. manufactures and markets the Water Balz product. CEO, Grant Cleveland, said he was sorry to learn about the incident with the baby, but noted that the label carries a warning and is recommended for kids over the age of 4.

"An eight-month-old has no business being near that product," he told Reuters Health. "Trying to turn it in to a public risk is absurd."

There are other similar products on the market that pretty much do the same thing. They all promote that the little gel balls will expand when water is added.

“This report should serve to raise awareness of the hazards of accidental ingestion of these products, which pose a public health concern,” Dr. Olutoye and his colleagues wrote. “We speculate that this problem may increase in incidence as a cursory look at department stores suggests that the use of superabsorbent polymer technology is becoming more prevalent in toys, gardening equipment and other household products.”

The photo below, from a New York Times article, shows the difference in size once water is added to the Water Balz.

If you’ve got Water Balz in your home, or a product that performs like it, make sure that your little one is not able to get a hold of them. Keep an eye on your pets too, just in case they think you’ve bought them a new chew toy.

 

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/gel-balls-threat-toddlers-doctors-154518994.html

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/expanding-ball-toy-poses-hazard...NY Times Water Balz         Water Balz

Your Toddler

Recall: Step2® Whisper Ride Touring Wagons™

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They’re popular, colorful, fun and possibly dangerous. The Step2® Whisper Ride Touring Wagons™, sold exclusively at Toys R Us, are being recalled due to a fall hazard.

The removable blue seat backs can detach and allow the child in the wagon to fall out.

This recall involves Step2® Whisper Ride Touring Wagons. The two-seat plastic wagon is 25-inches wide by 41.25-inches long by 20-inches high with blue seats, a tan wagon base and a red canopy.  The Step2 logo appears on the canopy and on the side of the wagon base.

Incidents/Injuries

Step2 has received 29 reports of the seat back detaching, 28 of which resulted in children falling out of the wagon.  Fourteen of these resulted in bumped heads and nine resulted in bruises, scratches or lacerations.  

Remedy

Consumers should immediately stop using the wagon and inspect it to determine if the seat belt is attached to the removable blue seat back.  If so, the wagon is included in this recall. Consumers with the recalled wagons should contact Step2 to obtain a free repair kit.  

Sold exclusively at

Toys R Us stores nationwide and online at ToysRUs.com from February 2013 to August 2013 for about $130.

Manufacturer

The Step2® Company, LLC of Streetsboro, Ohio

Manufactured in

USA

Contact Step2 toll-free at (866) 860-1887 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at www.step2.com and click on “Product Recall” for more information.

Resource: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2014/Step2-Recalls-Ride-On-Wagon-Toys

Step2 touring wagon recall

Step2 touring wagon recall

 

Your Toddler

Are Little Girl's Toys Too Sexy?

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Peter Pan may never have grown up, but Tinker Bell and her fairy friends definitely have. The Disney Fairies boast hourglass figures, coy glances and barely-there mini dresses. In short, these girls aren’t your mama’s pixies.Notice anything new about the dolls and ponies that your daughter picks up at the toy store these days? Once you get a good look at them, do you think they may be a little too hot-to-trot? You're not alone.

An article on this week’s MSNBC’s website, offers a look into the world of children’s sexed-up play things. Peter Pan may never have grown up, but Tinker Bell and her fairy friends definitely have. The Disney Fairies boast hourglass figures, coy glances and barely-there mini dresses. In short, these girls aren’t your mama’s pixies. Even trolls have come of age. Those formerly stout, pug-nosed kewpies, have reemerged in a new slim, thigh-baring line called Trollz. Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake have become tweens and shed their baby fat.  And et tu Holly Hobbie? She’s traded her prairie dresses for a saucy wardrobe and lightened locks. In recent years, Disney, Mattel and other major companies have revisited a host of iconic dolls and turned them into freshly tarted-up — or at least more grown-up —toys. New lines, like the Monster High Dolls and hot-to-trot Struts horses (yes, horses),  came out of the gate tramping it up and they're making some parents — and psychologists, uncomfortable. “They send the message to kids that you can’t just be you,” says Lori Mayfield, a 30-year-old mother of four from Draper, Utah. “It seems like toy makers are setting up our kids.” While she likes the Disney fairies because they “have a good friendship and there’s always a lesson to be learned,” she says that even she and her husband, Chad, were startled by their saucy style. The actually found themselves recently debating which fairy is the hottest. (Consensus: Silvermist.)  Mayfield, who runs the blog, Twinfinity from her home, says she and her husband strive to teach the kids that beauty comes from within, but frets that her 6-year-old daughter is already asking to wear makeup and worrying whether her coat makes her look fat. Dale Atkins, a psychologist says she's upset about what the revved-up dolls are teaching girls about their own appearance.  “When we have these ridiculous models —sexualized children, and horses with long eyelashes that are flirtatious and all of that — it sets up this ideal of beauty and body image that kids have to pay attention to because they can’t not pay attention to it. And they feel less good as they’re trying to develop a good sense about their own bodies," she says. "The sexualized aspect just makes them feel like they're only good if they are objectified. ... And it's all so subtle, for a child anyway. We parents and adults look at this and say, 'Oh my gosh, this is so blatant, but in fact it's subtle because kids are playing with these things and then they look in the mirror." But representatives at Mattel, the makers of the wildly popular Monster High Dolls, say its controversial line of toy dolls, featuring the teen offspring of monsters, aims to show kids it's OK to be different. “Monster High is all about celebrating your imperfections and accepting the imperfections of others," says Margaux Vega, spokeswoman for Mattel.  She acknowledges that the dolls, which sport fishnet stockings, heavy makeup and ultrashort skirts, appeal mostly to 5- to 7-year-olds. But they also have online personas and webisodes aimed at older kids that tell each doll's back-story. "Clawdeen Wolf is the teenage daughter of a werewolf. In the webisodes, she has to shave and wax and pluck between classes," Vega says. "Girls of a certain age know about the embarrassment of unwanted hair in unwanted places.” 'Why does she look like a boy?' It's gotten so that some kids, even young tots, expect that dolls will look like they've already been through puberty.  When Joy Oglesby showed her daughter, Lauren Welmaker, a picture of the old version of Tinker Bell in a library book, the 4-year-old, who has all the new Disney fairies, wondered: "Why does she look like a boy?" Oglesby, 34, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has seen Struts horses, which have long eyelashes and wear high heels on their hooves, and says her daughter would love one. "The mane is silky and she would be attracted to the eyes, and the accessories that come with it. It looks very girly, I'm not sure why she gravitates to this kind of toy, but I'm not worried about it yet." But the effect of titillating toys creeps in slowly, says Peggy Orenstein, the author of the bestseller “Cinderella Ate my Daughter.” “Girls don’t naturally want to be sexy — they want to be girls,” says Orenstein. “That is natural. [But] when they continue to see images of toys that are supposed to be age appropriate emulating sexiness, then that un-natural aspiration, becomes natural.”  Orenstein says toy manufacturers began following the marketing strategy “Kids Getting Older Younger” when they realized that toys marketed towards kids between the ages of 8 and 12 were attracting kids who were in the 3-year-old to 8-year-old age range because they wanted to emulate their older brothers and sisters. But Donna Tobin, director of global brand strategy and marketing for Hasbro, says the company actually has gone the opposite direction with makeovers for its toy My Little Pony, aimed at girls ages 3 to 6. "We want our girls to stay little longer!" she says. "Look at My Little Pony. She’s cute. She’s pretty. She’s pink. She may have a different look, but she has always stood for friendship. We’re not about ipstick or shaving." As younger kids gravitate to older toys earlier, their big sisters and brothers often have already closed up their toy boxes and moved on to other things. At ages 6 and 8, sisters Amanda and Sophia Oliva of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., aren't interested in playing princess anymore, says their mom, Lauri. When they play dress up, they pretend to be models. And their newest obsession is with teen music sensation Taylor Swift. “Now, everything in our house is about Taylor Swift," says Lauri Oliva, 46. Sophia tries to emulate her. She'll sing and dance Taylor Swift karaoke songs in the mirror.” For Sophia's birthday, all she wanted was tickets to a Swift concert. "Kids are 8 going on 15 these days,” she says. What is old is new again Some kids' toys aren't necessarily being marketed to kids, but rather to their parents, says Reyne Rice, trend specialist for the Toy Industry Association. She says updating the look of a toy is a way manufacturers can appeal to the new generation of consumers while still tapping into the nostalgic interest and collector dollars of the older generation.  “A lot of these toy manufacturers realized the interest in brands that have been around for generations and realized there was still interest in the brands — from both the children as young as 3, as well as their parents,” says Rice. But Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist, suggests parents actually seek out their old favorites instead of embracing some of the "refreshed" versions. “You have to use your judgment,” she says — and maybe hit up eBay or garage sales for the classic versions. “If you have a choice, I’d take the old Strawberry Shortcake.” Saltz says these sexed-up toys and childhood icons go in the same category as violent video games and PG-13 movies: Parents need to take a close look, evaluate them for themselves, and decide whether they’re appropriate. Melissa Walker, 41, of Southlake, Texas, walks the line of finding suitable toys for her daughters Gabrielle, 6, and Adeline,4, while letting them indulge their interests. Gabrielle loves the Disney fairies and says her favorite is Rosetta, "because she's pink and that's my favorite color. And because I like flowers and she makes flowers." (Rosetta is the red-headed fairy with a "garden talent.") Walker doesn't mind the Disney fairy makeover because of the overall message they send. "They control everything. They are in charge of seasons, of things working. They are good role models," says Walker. But she draws the line at sexy doll clothes. On a recent shopping trip to Costco, Walker saw a big bin of Barbie clothes, but despite her daughters' love for the doll, her cart remained empty. "There was not one outfit that wasn't a 'hoochie' dress. I guess it was the 'Barbie Goes Wild' collection. We didn't buy anything. There's no reason for that," adding that she's happy to buy Barbie outfits where she looks like a doctor or a princess or a soccer player. Walker has a strict "no exposed belly buttons" rule in her house, and figures her kids' dolls should follow it, too. "We don't want to plant that too soon," she says. "We'll have that fight soon enough."

Your Toddler

Making Time Outs Work for You and Your Child

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It’s not going out on a limb to say that at eventually, mom or dad will resort to the “time out” rule when their little one is behaving badly. And that’s a good thing. 

Time-outs can be very effective in helping children learn how to change their behavior as long as they are not overused and handled correctly.

What is a time-out? Basically, a time-out is when a child is separated from others for behavior that is unacceptable such as throwing a full-out tantrum, continuingly refusing to obey a command, or biting, hitting or kicking someone. 

When used correctly, a time out can teach a child how to modify his or her behavior in a more acceptable way. However, problems can arise when parents don’t know how or when to use time outs effectively.

Time outs should be used as positive and consistent discipline, not as a form of punishment. Time outs separate a child from positive feedback when they are intentionally acting up. It gives them the space and time to settle down and associate the behavior with the consequence.

A time out should consist of a designated place in the home where the child is safe and can be seen. The place should be quiet and away from the activity that caused or included the behavior. Many parents have a stool, chair or step on standby for time outs. The area needs to be boring and not have “reward” objects such as TVs, toys, or computers present.

How long should time outs last? Many follow conventional wisdom that when a child demonstrates unacceptable behavior, he or she should be separated from the activity for a number of minutes equal to his or her age.

Time outs should be used to help a child calm down and think about the behavior that got them there.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says it's okay to give children as young as 1 a time-out – but it's best only as a last resort. Until he's a little older, your child may not have the self-control and reasoning skills to make a traditional time-out effective. Instead, think of a time-out as the "quiet time" your toddler needs to calm down and get his or her emotions under control. It’s also a time when parents can get their own emotions under control as well.

If you’re child is capable of understanding that certain behaviors are not going to be tolerated, and yet they are right in the middle of acting out one of those behaviors, that’s when a time out should be implemented.

You want your child to associate the behavior with the consequence. Calmly tell your child in no more than 10 words why they are in time out. As soon as he or she calms down, reward them with positive attention.

Children whine, cry and sulk – those are not reasons to put them in time out. Time outs are for intentional behavior such as biting or continuing to break rules.

What's helpful about a time-out is that it can defuse and redirect an escalating situation in an unemotional way. It lets you teach your child without setting a negative example, the way yelling or hitting does.

Parents tend to over explain a situation to a child, that’s why it’s important to keep the wording simple and direct. Over-talking the problem also tends to make the parent more agitated when the behavior doesn’t change. Being calm when putting your child in time out not only de-escalates the situation but also helps your child relax and think about their behavior. If you’re screaming and jerking your child to the time out area, they are more likely to be frightened and / or defiant than contemplative.

When the time-out is over, give your child a hug. A sign of affection demonstrates that he or she is still worthy of your love even though the behavior is unacceptable.

What if your child won’t stay in the time out zone? Toddlers are going to give you a challenge- that’s their nature. Power struggles can easily get out of hand. Until your toddler can appreciate the need to follow rules, limit the use of time-outs. Otherwise he or she won't understand why she's being corrected, and you may get frustrated and abandon the strategy prematurely.

You might actually consider “practicing” time outs with your child. Say your little one is revved up and on the edge of losing it- this might be a good time to grab a favorite book and sit down together. This is more like a “time-in” that associates positive attention to calming down before the behavior gets out of control.

When your child can follow simple directions and has a slightly longer attention span, they’re ready for a more traditional time-out. Between ages 2 and 3, you'll probably notice that he or she is better able to understand cause and effect.

But don't spring the tactic on them in a burst of frustration – a time-out works best if it's explained ahead of time. Use simple terms: "When you get too wild or act in a way that Mommy and Daddy don't think is a good idea, I will call, 'Time-out.' That means you will sit in this chair for a little while until you can calm yourself down."

Some parents find it useful to act this out or to use a doll or teddy bear to demonstrate taking a time-out.

Time outs are not miracle cures for unacceptable childhood behaviors. They are one tool parents can use to help educate their children about cause and effect. Parenting is a balancing act between positive reinforcement and consistent discipline.

When a child is very young, redirecting their attention to something more appropriate or fun may be the best approach. The key is to always keep your expectations realistic.

Sources: Paula Spencer, http://www.babycenter.com/0_time-outs-how-to-make-them-work-12-to-24-mo_12252.bc?page=1

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20150320/Time-outs-can-train-children-to-behave-better.aspx

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