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Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, and Honoring Life

Welcome to the Blog page of the American College of Pediatricians.  Each issue of the Blog is intended to assist parents, encourage children, and enrich the family.  Read our most recent issue below, and scroll to the bottom of this page to read earlier issues.

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Developmental Delays – What You Should Know

We are constantly hearing more about developmental delays in our society. Whether this is because more awareness is being brought to the topic or because there are more cases of individuals with developmental delays, you should know what exactly a developmental delay is and what potential signs are.

Before reading further, acknowledge that all children are different and develop at their own pace. Keep in mind that sometimes drawing attention to a newly developed behavior can make it worse. When the pace of a child’s development or their behavior becomes outside of the norm, it may be a good idea to seek a second opinion from your pediatrician or other trusted health professional.

The term “developmental delay” serves as an umbrella for many different conditions. Types of developmental delays along with potential signs are as follows:

Speech, Language, and Hearing

Into the first few months of a child’s life, you should begin to see their personality blossom through expression by making noises or by reacting to the noises that surround them.

  • By 4 months, your child should display a response to loud noises, be babbling, and begin attempting to mimic sounds. Read this article for more information about babbling.
  • By 7 months, your child should display a response to sounds around them in daily life.
  • By 1 year, your child should begin to say their first word. Of course, these are single words like “mama” or “dada.”
  • By 2 years, your child should have a vocabulary of at least 15 words and begin saying two-word phrases.

 Vision

Being able to see faces and objects is important to a child’s development. If signs of vision delays are present, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible so that a child can establish a foundation for learning through seeing shapes and letters, for example.

  • By 3 months, your child should notice hands, follow objects with their eyes, be able to move both of their eyes in all directions, and should not be crossing their eyes frequently.
  • By 6 months, you should not frequently see one or both of your child’s eyes turning in (or out), they should have recurring eye drainage. They should be following objects that are both close and far away (6 feet) with both of their eyes.

Movement

Delays in movement are known as motor skill delays and include both fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills refer to small movements such as using a pencil, pressing buttons on toys, or picking up blocks. Gross motor skills refer to movements on a larger scale such as rolling over, sitting, or walking.

  • By around 4 months, a child should be reaching for and grasping objects, bringing objects to their mouth, supporting their own head, start beginning to roll over, and should press into their feet when placed in a standing-up position on a hard surface.
  • By 7 months, your child should be putting objects into their mouth, be able to roll over in both directions, and sit up independently.
  • By 1 year, a child should be able to crawl and stand with support.
  • By 2 years, children are typically able to walk and should be walking in a heel-to-toe order.

Emotional/social

Establishing a secure attachment with their caregiver is a crucial component to a child’s development. If any of the following signs are not present, contact your doctor.

  • By 3 months, your child should smile at others and acknowledge new faces without displaying emotions of fear.
  • By 7 months, your child should desire closeness with caregivers and show affection. It is a warning sign if they’re unable to be soothed during the night, if they do not smile or laugh, and if they are not responsive to a game of “peek-a-boo.”
  • By 1 year, children should exchange gestures with others such as smiling and waving.

Cognitive

Cognitive delays can often surface through play with a child and are often associated with other developmental delays; for example, a child who does not press a button on a toy could be evaluated for both cognitive and motor delays.

  • By 1 year, a child should look for an item that he/she knows is hidden and should point to pictures and objects.
  • By 2 years, a child should understand basic functions of simple objects like cups and utensils and should understand simple directions.

To Conclude

During the early years of their life, when children are unable to advocate for themselves, their circumstances are chosen for them. Be aware of typical patterns of development and seek help if warning signs are present so that children have every opportunity to grow healthily into their next stage.

Helping Your Child Make Friends

Our brains are hard-wired to develop social relationships, and infants as young as 4 – 6 weeks demonstrate social skills with their smiling and cooing. Research consistently demonstrates the importance of our social relationships, including friendships, in our overall health.

However, the social skills necessary to develop friendships must be learned and reinforced in childhood to assure lifelong skills. This is even more important in today’s environment, filled with social media in which friends are more virtual than real. Below we’ve provided some practical information for parents on helping children develop and maintain healthy friendships.

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Approaching the New Year: Handling change

This time of year brings about a great deal of change, even if it is as simple as change in routine. Children are home for Winter break and are setting back into normalcy following the holiday season. If there was a loss in the family over the last year, the holidays are a time when their absence is emphasized. On the other hand, the holidays are also a time when children are around many family members. This could be something they are not accustomed to. It is important to know that these familial situations impact children, too. Then, soon enough, they will be preparing to return to school, changing their pace once again. Parents should know how these shifts affect a child as their response to this change can be represented by challenging behaviors. As we dismiss the holiday season and merge into the new year, consider the following topics dealing with children and handling change.

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The Holidays: A Time to Nourish Healthy Eating Habits

Food brings people together, creates an atmosphere of comfort as the smells of a favorite meal waft through the air, and supports family traditions as recipes are handed down year after year. While the holidays are often a time to indulge, they can provide parents with a unique opportunity to teach their children healthy eating habits. Here are some helpful tips to remember as we enter a season of holidays and celebration:

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Guidelines and Concerns about Adolescent Social Media Use

Only two decades ago, it would have been unheard of for a thirteen-year-old to have their own cell-phone. Now over 2/3 of today’s teenagers use phones to text their friends daily! Social media use is nearly universal for today’s teenagers in the United States, with Facebook being the most commonly used social media website. All these new connections available to teens pose important questions for parents. Thankfully, social media websites can provide teenagers with many positive benefits. However, research shows that there are many concerns for parents to be aware of when their child begins using social media accounts and gets their first cellphone.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that professionals be aware of the following issues and facts when working with adolescents and young adults, regarding social media use:

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Protecting Your Kids from Pornography

This fall as I walked around Walmart, I noticed some fun changes. In addition to all things pumpkin spice (which is probably the best part of fall if you ask me), I saw football cupcakes, game day snacks, and more. Football season is here, and people are stoked and ready to go!

Professional football has become a big part of American culture. And as of 2016, the NFL generated about $13 billion (1). That’s a lot of money.

But there’s another part of our culture that has become even bigger. And unfortunately, it doesn’t bring game day snacks or cheering fans.

As of 2015, the pornography industry worldwide made an estimated $97 billion dollars (2), over 7 times what the NFL makes in a year. Not only is it raking in a lot of money, but in the United States, about 107 million people view pornography at least monthly (3).

Unfortunately, this culture of pornography is seeping down to our kids. One study found that the average age of first exposure for boys is somewhere between ages 11 and 13 (4). It’s become not so much a question of if our kids will be exposed, but when.

With pornography becoming a bigger and bigger part of our society today, what damage is it causing? And how can we protect our kids from those damages?

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How to Keep Your Kids Safe #ChildSafetyandProtectionMonth

When you’re a parent of young kids, life suddenly becomes more dangerous. The stairs, electric outlets, the stove, and more are all disasters waiting to happen!

In the Walt Disney film Lilo & Stitch (1), Nani struggles to keep her little sister Lilo safe from the many hazards of life. In this clip (2) she sheepishly tries to explain herself to the social worker:



Thankfully, Lilo turns out okay in spite of being left home alone with pots boiling over on the stove. But if we aren’t careful and don’t provide appropriate supervision, our kids can really get hurt.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Injuries are the leading cause of death in children ages 19 and younger. But most child injuries can be prevented” (3). This November in honor of Child Safety and Protection Month, take some time to learn how you can help your children stay safe, whether at home or on the go.

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3 Reasons Why You Should Read With Your Kids

I still remember fondly the days when my dad read the Harry Potter series to me and my siblings. His silly voices made the fantastic world seem all the more magical! As I grew older, my mom would sometimes read her book club books aloud to me, and we’d discuss the stories and ideas. Those times reading with my parents are probably some of my favorite childhood memories.

Perhaps you also have fond memories of being read to. Or maybe you now enjoy being on the other end, reading aloud to your own children!

Reading books with your kids can be fun, but it’s much more than just a good idea. In fact, “reading aloud to . . . children is crucial” (1). But what is it that makes reading with your children so very important? In honor of National Family Literacy Month this November, here are just a few of the research-based reasons why you should read with your kids.

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4 Ways to Scare Away Cavities This Halloween

When I was just three years old, I discovered the joy of Halloween. After tentatively approaching a couple of doors with my parents, I suddenly realized what was happening: people were giving me candy!

I soon began to run with my little toddler legs, gasping out, “Huwwy! Huwwy!” I was not going to let these free treats pass me by, and my parents were not going to slow me down.

Halloween can be a lot of fun for kids as they get to dress up, go to parties, and eat treats. Unfortunately, that abundance of Halloween candy can cause problems — especially for your children’s teeth.  

At Halloween or any time of the year, it’s important to help your kids develop good dental hygiene habits so they can keep those cavities away. In honor of National Dental Hygiene Month, we want to share the Daily 4 of dental hygiene to help you and your kids have healthy teeth.

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The Great Outdoors

Childhood memories of climbing trees, squelching through mud, and carrying out fantastical role-playing games with neighborhood children are memories that many adults treasure from their youth. These adults may not realize that, for a large portion of today’s children, these experiences are nearing extinction.  Many parents are aware of the national lack of active play outdoors, which some have come to call “Nature Deficit Disorder”. There exists an increasing trend of sedentary lifestyles in America. Along with this, parents today often feel unsafe in their neighborhoods and hesitate to let children play outside. In addition, availability of outdoor play areas near children’s homes is decreasing while daily hours spent watching TV, and video games are as plentiful as ever.

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