Archives for September 2010

Is My Kid Walking Funny?!

His toes turn in. His toes turn out. He’s limping. He’s falling all the time. What is normal for beginner-walkers and toddlers and what is cause for concern? Aunt Betty is sure he needs to see an orthopedic specialist, but Grandma says he’ll grow out of it! Here’s the 101 on baby walking patterns.

Dr. Sears (The Baby Book) explains the normal developmental timetable for little feet and legs:

  • Birth – 3 years: Bowlegged
  • Beginning to walk: Toeing out, ballerina style
  • 18 months – 2-3 years: Toeing in
  • After 3 years: walking with feet straight
  • 3 years – teenager: knock-kneed

In the first 2 years of life, most babies walk with their toes facing inward. This is due to normal bowing of the legs due to their fetal position in the womb. Also, babies are naturally flat-footed (the arch begins to develop around age 3), so they compensate by turning feet inward to better distribute their weight.  So if your toddler can run without tripping (most of the time!) then you shouldn’t be concerned about turned-in feet. It will self-correct.

Visit your doctor in any of the following cases:

  • Your child is tripping over his feet more and more.
  • Excessive toe walking. Most toddlers walk like this for a short time, but if it persists, have your doctor examine his calf muscles and Achilles tendons for tightness.
  • Limping should always be taken seriously and be examined thoroughly.
  • Refusing to walk. Do a home exam to see if your child has any noticeable bruises, swelling, redness, or tenderness. Check for splinters and pieces of glass. Note whether he experienced any recent falls, injuries, unexplained fevers, viruses, or emotionally traumatic events. Then talk to your doctor and let him examine your child, too.

Get The Baby Book— An encyclopedic guide to the first two years of your baby’s life, from America’s foremost baby and childcare experts! Or visit Dr. Sears online at askDrSears.com

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Checklist: Getting Ready to Get Pregnant

If you want to get pregnant, there are a number of things you must do before you start trying. Item number one: Go skydiving. Because there’s no way they’ll let you jump out of that plane once you’ve got a baby on board!  Do you think I’m kidding? Well, skydiving is not my thing, personally, but really any high-action activity you want to do or trip you’ve been meaning to take should be considered before you become pregnant. Whether it’s scuba diving, mountain climbing, or riding all the roller coasters at Six Flags, do it now!

But aside from that, here are some important things you’ve got to tackle in order to be mentally, physically, and emotionally ready to get pregnant.

image: Saida Online Magazine

Consider genetic testing: Some genetic diseases affect certain ethnic groups, such as Tay-Sachs in the Ashkenazi Jewish community, and sickle cell disease, among African-Americans.  If a disease runs in your family, you may want to get tested to, for your own peace of mind.

Face up to the Scale: Aim for a healthy weight, as being underweight can affect ovulation, and being overweight contributes to problems like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Take a look at your diet: The healthier your body, the better chances you give your baby to start life healthy, too. Cut back on white flour, sugar, and processed food. Add more lean meats, low-fat dairy products, fruits, veges, and whole grains.  Yummy home-made soups and smoothies are great ways to sneak in good nutrition!

Exercise: If you already have an exercise routine, don’t slack off during pregnancy! And if not, well it’s never too late to start, but talk to your doctor about easing into it.  Some benefits of a good workout (or even a nice walk around the neighborhood) include preparing your body for childbirth, higher energy levels, better sleep, stress reduction, and reduction of pregnancy-related discomfort. Plus, if you stay fit during pregnancy, you will regain your figure quicker after the birth.

Take Folic Acid: This all-important B vitamin helps lower the risk of birth defects like spina bifida. These defects form very early in baby’s development, before many women even realize they’re pregnant, so ask your doctor about taking a supplement as soon as you think about wanting to get pregnant.

Talk to your doctor about your medications: Some are best to stop taking during pregnancy, while some are OK– or necessary– to continue with.  You should not make this judgement on your own!

Visit the dentist: Good oral hygiene is one of those things we encourage during pregnancy.  Getting a bacterial infection can lead to premature birth and preeclampsia. Plus, better not to get x-rayed while you’re pregnant.

Cut back on Caffeine: A little bit is OK but too much is no good for a growing baby. The caffeine also affects fertility, so cutting back may increase your chances of conceiving.

Cork up that bottle, and throw the cigarettes in the trash where they belong. A healthy baby needs a healthy environment to grow in!  He should follow your lead and not just for moral support:  Excessive drinking and smoking can lower sperm count, too.

Paint the nursery: And the dining room, pantry, and bedroom too, if you want! But don’t do it while you’re pregnant or have a newborn in the house.  Toxins such as pesticides, oven cleaners, paint, and paint stripper contain chemicals that have been linked to birth defects.

Hand over the kitty litter sifter: Sure, it might just be a good excuse to get out of an unpleasant job. But it is true that litter boxes contain parasites that can make you sick (it’s called toxoplasmosis). So let hubby do the job, or wear gloves and wash up carefully when you’re done.

Work that budget: Finances shouldn’t have to stand in the way of having a family!  Sit down with a financial planner if you  need to, and figure out how you can put some money away for prenatal care and raising your baby.  Also find out about your company’s maternity leave policies,  your health insurance’s prenatal care and childbirth policies, and look into life and disability insurance.

Be emotionally prepared: Women who have given a great deal of thought to what pregnancy and parenting entail are better adjusted later on, compared with those who did not consider the demands their new role will place upon their lives. As a couple you need to think about how a pregnancy and new baby will  impact your family, work, and psyche.

The “Stuffing Baby at Bedtime” Syndrome

I bet there’s no parent out there who hasn’t heard the advice to “stuff” your baby with cereal or baby food before bedtime to help him sleep better (by which they mean, not wake up as much during the night.)  But not only does this filler fallacy not work, it may actually create early problems in appetite control, leading to later-on obesity.

Between the ages of six to nine months, babies can begin to taste “real” food, such as mashed banana and rice cereal. But up to a year of age, all the nutrients a baby needs are obtained through breast milk or formula. For a baby that’s nursing, there’s no reason to rush into solid food, which will only be taking the place of more nutritious breast milk.

Despite this fact, there are those who think that solids will fill your baby’s tummy better because they are more, well, solid than milk.  It would be logical to think that baby will wake less often to nurse if his tummy feels fuller. Nevertheless, controlled studies show that infants who are fed solids before bedtime do not sleep through the night any sooner than infants who do not get this extra meal.

Instead of focusing on ways to get your baby to sleep through the night (which, by the way, is defined by five hours of uninterrupted sleep–not eight or ten!) it would help to understand your infant’s sleep patterns, and why frequent night waking is actually beneficial to your baby’s health!  All babies reach the milestone of “sleeping through the night,”  but it is something that will happen when baby is ready.

Source: The Baby Book. See also Dr. Sears online

feature image: WebMD: Common Baby Feeding Problems

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