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Daily Dose

Read To Your Kids

1:30 to read

I know that there seems to be a “national” day for almost everything these days…we just celebrated National Dog Day! (who doesn’t love a dog…but not all families want, have space or  extra income to care for a dog). But there is one thing all parents can do and celebrate very day regardless of socioeconomic background, ethnicity, or geographic location…they can read to their child in the first 5 years of life (and maybe even longer!) 

Try reading to your child 15 minutes a day. The benefits are endless!  Seems like an easy enough “to do” and something that all parents can start from the time their baby is an infant. Newborns need to hear their parents voices and  language early on as a baby’s brain grows exponentially and will actually double in size in the first year of life alone.

A recent study conducted by You.Gov for the Read Aloud Campaign found that only about 46% of parents read aloud with their child every day and only 34% do so for the recommended 15 minutes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also recommended that all children, beginning at birth, are read to every day. In another survey while six in 10 ( 62%) of parents admit to receiving advice to read aloud to their child only 8% actually followed through.  When asked why they have not read to their child parents site “I can’t find the time in the day”, while over half of the parents surveyed say “their child watches TV or uses a tablet at home rather than being read to”. Some parents say, “their child won’t sit still” to be read aloud to.  But if you realized the head start you are giving your child….could you find the time?

Scientists know that a baby’s and toddler’s brain is making huge connections among the 100 billion neurons they are born with.  By the age 3 there will be about 1,000 trillion connections between those neurons.  These are also the critical years in the development of a child’s language skills.   A child will quadruple the number of words they know between the ages of 1 and 2 years.  Yes, they will mimic everything….even words you wished they had not heard so be careful.

Reading aloud is one of the single most important things a parent or caregiver can do to help a child prepare for learning.  Children who have been exposed to books while listening and reading daily with a parent get a head start in language and literacy skills.  Unfortunately,  more than one in three children begin kindergarten without the necessary skills of listening and learning.  Some are at such a disadvantage that they may not be able to “catch up”.

So, I find myself giving books as baby gifts more and more these days - as who doesn’t have a favorite book or two that make timeless gifts (that may even be passed on to the next generation).  Nursery rhymes, Good Night Moon, Pat the Bunny are a few of my favorites as well as all books by Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle. 

So make it a new habit whether your child is 1 day, 1 month, 1 year or older….read aloud 15 minutes a day and before you know it your child will be reading to you!!!

Daily Dose

Back to School

1:30 to read

Schools around the country have opened their doors and some will be starting soon. This is the first week of school for most students in my area and parents have been busy in the last few days attending “back to school” and “meet the teacher” nights in preparation for a new school yea

So…every school has different rules, expectations and strategies for helping their students evolve into their “best” selves and as you get older the “rules” often change in hopes of making students more independent and responsible. I other words, getting ready for the “real world ‘ one day.

Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock, Arkansas has recently been highlighted in the news and on social media for the sign that is posted on the entrance to the school. It reads “If you are dropping off your son’s forgotten lunch, books, homework, equipment etc, please TURN AROUND and exit the building”  Your son will learn to problem solve in your absence.”  The school posted the same message on their Facebook page as well.

According to the principal of the school, this has been a Catholic High rule for quite some time…it was also a rule at the high school my boys attended.  While some feel that this is unjust and that the students should be allowed to “phone home” if they have forgotten something, the school’s explanation is really fairly simple…allowing your child to have some “soft failures” and to learn both problem solving skills and responsibility will ultimately mold them into functioning members of society as they reach adulthood.  Sounds reasonable to me.

I know that as my boys went from elementary school, on to middle school and then high school their father and I had greater expectations that they needed to be responsible for getting their “stuff” to school.  We started off the school year with a game of sorts where you were given 3 “hall passes” for the year. I guess this started from something at school where they were given a hall pass to go to the bathroom or the office, and some teachers would hand out homework passes that allowed you to “skip” an assignment. So, each child ( this probably started in about 3rd or 4th grade) had 3 passes/year  where they could call and have us “rescue” them if they forgot something. Once you used up your “hall passes” you had to suffer the consequences of no lunch or turning in an assignment late.  Interestingly, each child was a bit different….one would use them up pretty quickly, another would “hoard” them for late in the year.  One wanted to know if they could be accrued? 

By the time they reached high school it was not a SHOCK when they were told the school rule that they could not call their parents.  It seems they figured out how to borrow money for lunch, or share with a friend, how to borrow a tie or jacket for an assembly and that turning in assignments a day late usually meant 10 points off. Not only did it help them become more organized and responsible, it also made me a working Mom “feel less guilt” that I really was not available to rescue them sometimes, even if I wanted to.  Do you think you would appreciate waiting in your pediatrician’s office (any longer than you may already) while they tried to run a homework assignment to school??  

You might try starting off the school year with a few hall passes and see if it works for your family!  

Daily Dose


1:30 to read

When I am seeing toddlers for their check ups, the topic of behavior is usually at the top of both the parent’s and my list for discussion.  Once a child is walking and beginning to talk, all sorts of new behaviors seem to occur! 

Parents ask, “how do I stop my child from hitting or biting?”  “What about misbehaving and not listening?”  The toddler years are challenging for behavior as a child is gaining independence, and testing as well.  Toddler and teens have some of the same attributes and it is important to begin behavior modification during the toddler years. 

Time out is the most commonly used behavior modification and not only will parents use this method at home, but preschool and day care teachers begin using this technique as well. This is the age that children begin to understand rules and consequences. 

So how do you “do” time out and when?  I usually start using time out when a child is between 15 -18 months of age. While I try to ignore and distract tantrums, I use time out for biting, hitting and those age appropriate yet inappropriate behaviors. 

I pick a chair in the house (we had a small set of table and chairs which seemed perfect) and every parent needs a kitchen timer to use for time out.   It is important to get at your child’s level when disciplining them as well. Tell them why they are going to time out and then have them sit in the chair for 1 minute per year of age.  (Trust me a minute sometimes feels like forever!)  

Here is the trick, if your child will not just sit in the chair (and many won’t), go behind them and hold them in the chair as if you were a human rope.  In most cases the child will be crying and trying to get up out of the chair, but you calmly hold them in the chair from behind. No eye contact!  Once the timer goes off, you let go of them, go back around so that you make eye contact again, get down to their level, and explain once again that they had to sit in the chair because they (fill in the blank).  

Time out takes time and patience.  If you are consistent about using time out for misbehaving, your child will learn to sit in the chair.  For some it may only take 1 time and others are more head-strong and it may take months of “human rope” before they decide to sit alone. 

Don’t give up!!!  This is a very important lesson for children to learn and you will use time out many times, not only in that little chair, but in other venues as your child gets older.    

Daily Dose

Father's Day


With Father’s Day approaching, I always have frequent thoughts of my own father. He has been deceased for quite some time and I am saddened (especially at this time of year) that he did not get to see his grandsons become young adults. He would have been so proud of them and in many ways they are like him. 

One of the many exceptional attributes that my dad possessed was the ability to FIX ANYTHING!  I grew up not knowing about the Maytag Man, the plumber or the electrician as my dad fixed the washer, the electrical socket or the garbage disposal.  Of course, like most homes, there was always a running list of things to be fixed. 

Because my dad was often gone for long periods of time (he worked for the government in intelligence) my mother would say we would “have to wait for your father to return” to fix whatever it was, and when dad returned he would get right to work. If he didn’t know how to fix something he somehow figured it out and that was before you could “GOOGLE IT”!  I remember him painting the house, building our downstairs rec room and taking apart an early computer just to see how it worked. 

Being able to “fix” things must somehow be a genetic link as I now see this trait in several of my own children (you know who you are). When I was a newlywed I was shocked to learn that not all men had this gene.  When something broke in the house I would automatically tell my husband and he would lovingly attempt to “fix it”. But, what I quickly learned was that while my husband has many wonderful traits he did not inherit the “fix it gene”. Many a repair man has been called to our home to “fix” the problem created by my loving husband who attempted home repairs. 

But several of my boys loved to watch their grandfather fix things and take things apart. As they got older, they would come to the rescue to help around our house with the laundry list of issues and repairs.  

Many of the issues these days revolve around technology and they all inherited their grandfather’s technology “fix it gene” as well. Unfortunately, they are not in the next room any more to call upon when I have no idea why my computer is frozen or when I cannot even turn on my iPod to play music in all of the rooms of the house. 

So as we approach this Father’s Day I am thankful for all of the lessons learned from my own father, and for his “fix it gene”.  But, with all of the boys out of the house, I now have a handyman on speed dial. 

Happy Father’s Day!

Daily Dose

Don't Give-In To Picky Eating

I am trying to clean up my desk and I have been looking through stacks of pediatric articles that I felt were really interesting.

An article by Dr. Barbara Howard entitled “Three Magic Words Offer Food for Thought” made a wonderful point regarding family meals and eating habits. She states that one of the best questions to ask a child during a “well-child” visit only requires three words, but offers so much insight into a family’s interactions. What are the magic words? “How are your meals?” I know you know how much I believe in, and promote, families eating together. There has been a lot of data substantiating the many positive side effects that stem from family meals. You can look at some of the studies by going to The Promoting Family Meals Project, Not only does eating together as a family help improve food choices which may help prevent obesity, it also leads to children who have improved vocabulary and language skills, social skills and manners. Family meals have also been shown to lessen the chance of risk taking behaviors in adolescents. There has also been an association with fewer eating disorders among adolescents who have regular family meals. So, when I ask children about their meals, I also get parental feedback. The biggest complaint is that their children are “picky eaters”. Many children and parents will say that they don’t eat together as a family as everyone eats something different. I don’t think being a “short order cook” is a job requirement of any parent. Social worker Ally Slater, delineates parent’s responsibilities with regard to food as “what, when and where” while leaving children, “how much and whether”. I love that!! Parents control the grocery cart, meal and snack choices and food offerings on the plate. It is nice to always offer at least one food that most family members like. Once that food is offered and we are gathered together to eat, parents need to back off. Is that easier said than done? Maybe in the beginning, but over time it actually simplifies family life. I think it is really fairly easy if you “buy into” the idea of family meals and know that children will make better and wider food choices if given that opportunity. It may take up to 100 times, and many months for your child to try different foods, but eventually you will be pleased that you have a child who is a healthy eater, and who also enjoys a wide variety of foods. Trust me, your children when raised this way, really turn out to be great eaters as adolescents and young adults.  I think my boys are less “picky” than I am! (No sushi for me). Make family meal time a priority. Your children will respect the rules, learn table manners, and enjoy dinnertime conversation, while eventually developing a more mature palate. It just takes time. That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow. Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!

Daily Dose

Your Child's Blink Rate

1:15 to read

Here goes another one of my “you wouldn’t believe this“ moments from my office. A young mother had a list of questions out during her daughter’s 9 month check up. This was her first child, so of course there were lots of questions about feeding, crawling, childproofing the house, and socialization. But, at the end of her list was her “biggest” concern - “ her child did not blink enough?”. 

I must say, I have never given blinking much thought.  And watching your baby’s eyes and counting how often they blink.....really?   But, after reassuring her that I thought her precious baby, with those big blue eyes looking at me, seemed to be perfectly content blinking how ever often she did... I did a little research.

The average person blinks about 15-20 times a minute (I did not see any data specifically referencing infants) or 1,200 times/hour, or 26,000 times/day!  And to think that we don’t even realize we are doing this!  According to some research, blinking is a time for our brain to rest....and go “off line” for a second. If this is a time for brain rest...I am going to try and blink more often.

While stress and anxiety may cause an increase in the “blink rate”, intense concentration may cause a reduction in blinking. Maybe this little 9 month old is on to something...she is concentrating so hard on all of those developmental milestones like crawling and pulling to a stand that she has reduced her “blink rate”. Or maybe she will be a great poker player one day as she can keep those eyes on the cards and the other players and never blink!

You learn something new every day :)

Daily Dose

Salmonella Scare

1:30 to read

I have been watching the news about the ongoing salmonella outbreak. Unfortunately, there have now been two reported deaths, and over 300 people have been infected. This outbreak has been linked to American cucumbers imported from Mexico. Over 50% of those infected have been children younger than 18 years.

Salmonella infections are a bacterial infection, and cause fever, diarrhea (it may be bloody) and abdominal cramping.   In most cases you develop signs and symptoms 12-72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. For most people the infection is self limited and the diarrhea resolves after 4-7 “uncomfortable days”.

While contaminated foods are the biggest cause of salmonella infections, children may be exposed from sources other than food. This includes pet turtles, baby chicks, ducks and hamsters. Having your child wash their hands with soap after handling these pets, even if the animal has no symptoms, is an important way to prevent an infection. 

In some cases, especially in a young child, the diarrhea may be so severe as to cause dehydration which requires hospitalization and IV re-hydration. The signs of dehydration are dry mucous membranes (mouth, eyes), increased thirst, decreased urine output and lethargy.  

Dehydration is often more difficult to diagnose in a baby as they obviously cannot tell you how they are feeling. Look for a dry mouth and tongue and when you put your finger in your baby’s mouth it should always be moist.  If your baby is drooling that is a good sign that they are not dehydrated.  They should not have sunken eyes or a sunken fontanelle (soft spot), but these are late signs of dehydration. Wet diapers are also a good sign that your baby is getting enough fluids, but with the new diapers which are “super absorbent” it is sometimes difficult to tell if your child has a wet diaper or not. For an older child you can look at the color of their urine….it should always be clear to light yellow, and never amber or cola colored which means you are dehydrated.

In order to maintain hydration in the face of prolonged diarrhea it is important to drink a lot of fluids including an oral electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte. Many children (and adults) will not drink Pedialyte and then I would recommend gatorade over other “sugary” juices or carbonated drinks as you need to replenish the salt and electrolytes that are being lost in the stools.  It is important to offer frequent small amounts of fluid. Parents often worry if their child is not eating,  but fluids are the most important way to maintain hydration. You can also try popsicles of Pedialtye pops as a way of getting fluids into your child.

If you have prolonged symptoms or are worried about dehydration call your doctor’s office. In the meantime, I guess I won’t be having cucumbers from Mexico in my salads! This is when I wish I had a green thumb and a garden!

Your Child

Recall: Children’s Cough Syrup


Parents are being urged to check their medicine cabinets as two batches of generic children's cough syrup are removed from pharmacy shelves across the country. They have been recalled due to overdose risk.

The voluntary recall was initiated after it was discovered the dosage cups included in the box had incorrect markings, leading to fears that children may be given too much medication, according to a statement from the manufacturer.

The products in question are:

·      Children's guaifenesin grape liquid (100mg/5 mL)

·      Children's guaifenesin DM cherry liquid (100mg guaifenesin and 5mg dextromethorphan HBr/ 5 ml) sold in 4 oz. bottles

Each includes a small plastic cup.                  

The over-the-counter cough syrups are sold generically nationwide, under different brand names:


·      H.E.B

·      CVS


·      Sunmark

•       Rite-Aid

•       Topcare

•       Kroger

•       GoodSense

•       Dollar General

•       Care One

•       CVS

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it is aware of the voluntary recall and urged consumers who bought the batches listed above "to discard the dosing device and product."

While there have been no reported overdoses related to the medication, the Perrigo Company said side effects of an overdose can include "hyperexcitability, rapid eye movements, changes in muscle reflexes, ataxia, dystonia, hallucinations, stupor and coma," adding that other effects have included "nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, irregular heartbeat, seizures, respiratory depression and death."

Source: Amy La Porte,

Your Baby

Alert! 180,000 Baby Pacifiers Recalled Due to Choking Hazard


Munchkin is recalling their Lightweight Pacifiers and Clips. The clip cover can detach from the pacifier’s clip, posing a choking hazard for young children.

his recall involves Munchkin’s Latch lightweight pacifiers and clips sold as a set. The pacifiers were sold in five styles: designer, rattle and heartbeat clips with 0m+ natural shape pacifiers, and designer and rattle clips with 6m+ orthodontic pacifiers. The designer pacifiers and clips 0m+ and 6m+ are in three color patterns: blue and white strips, orange and with white polka dots and pink with white polka dots. The rattle pacifiers and clips 0m+ and 6m+ are green with beads in the pacifier cover to make a rattle sound and have a polka dot strap. The heartbeat pacifiers and clips have a red, heart-shaped pacifier cover and red and white polka dots on the strap.

About 180,000 of the pacifier and clip sets have been sold. They were available from Babies R Us, Target, Wal-Mart and other mass merchandisers, juvenile product, baby boutique and discount stores nationwide and online at, and other website from March 2014 through March 2016 for between $11 and $15.

The firm has received 10 reports (5 in the U.S. and 5 in Canada) of the clip cover detaching from the pacifier clip. No injuries have been reported. 

Consumers should immediately take the clip away from young children and contact Munchkin for a free replacement Lightweight Pacifier pack with two pacifiers or a full refund.

There is a toll-free consumer hotline available for more information at 877-242-3134 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or online at, click on Help at the bottom of the page and then Recalls for more information.

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Keeping it fun for kids with food allergies during Halloween.

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