Teach Your Kids How to Win (and Lose) Like an Olympian

learn-to-skate-429537_1920Starting next week, viewers around the world will turn their attention to Pyeongchang, South Korea, for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. If your children are watching the Games, they may aspire to compete themselves one day. If they haven’t already shown interest, your kids may suddenly want to try their hand at bobsledding, skiing, or skating.

There is a lot of conflicting data about competitive activities for children, but for the most part experts agree: it’s not about the competition itself, but about the values placed upon it.

Let your children try a variety of activities. Today’s kids have many specialty and school teams available, but focusing on a single activity too soon can lead to burn out and injuries. Even if they start out loving basketball, have them try baseball or dance or swimming, too. Young bodies shouldn’t repeat the same intense movements over and over; they should move in a variety of ways while they grow.

Don’t protect your kids from failure. The value of losing is a concept many of us struggle with even as adults, so start now helping your kids become comfortable with it. We’ve learned that children afraid of losing will quickly cease trying to challenge themselves. Instead they’ll “stick with what they know,” and only aim for goals they know they can achieve. Growth happens when children aren’t afraid to try something challenging just because they might fail.

Teach your children to value effort, responsibility, kindness, and discipline, rather than “talent” or “skill.” When a player on the other team scores, remind your child to celebrate his effort. When a member of the relay team lags behind, have your child thank her for never giving up.

You might ask, how do I do that? How do I acknowledge my child’s efforts without focusing on the win? What if my kid loses or gets embarrassed? We enroll our kids in activities so they’ll have fun, be active, and socialize, but if we aren’t careful, kids often end up playing to please their parents. Instead of celebrating their own tenacity and drive, kids begin to expect our celebration of them—and to be devastated when they don’t get it.

There are two types of praise that you can give your children. The first is called person-centered praise and includes phrases such as “you’re so smart!” or “you’re a good kid!” This type of praise places emphasis on traits that are assumed to be inherent and concrete—you are either smart, or you are not. You are a good athlete, or you are not. It does not leave room for skill-building, second-place trophies, or a failed exam.

These trait-based compliments become internalized by our kids, especially at a young age. Any result that doesn’t support the internalized narrative—say, a lost race—leaves kids questioning their inherent worthiness. (Am I a terrible athlete because I didn’t win?) This damages their sense of self-worth and creates a heightened sense of vulnerability. In short, kids who receive mostly person-centered praise are terrified of failure because failing might mean they really aren’t [smart/talented/an athlete/an artist]. So stop telling your kids how great they are!

Wait, what? Yep! Science tells us to stop with all of the “person praise” and switch to what we call process praise. It takes some time to develop this skill, but the results are invaluable. To do it:
1. Praise the strategy (e.g., “You found a creative solution to that problem even when you felt frustrated.”)
2. Praise with specificity (e.g., “I noticed you were very careful when you carried your friend’s bag to the car.”)
3. Praise the effort (e.g., “I can tell you’ve been practicing your leaps and turns!”)

With process praise, neither the trait (goodness, talent, intelligence, etc.) nor the outcome (a winning game or the aesthetics of the painting) are mentioned. With process praise kids learn that a terrible game doesn’t mean “I’m a bad athlete,” it means, “I tried really hard but I didn’t practice last week – how can I try differently?”

Remember, most of your children won’t ever compete at the highest level of sport, and even if they do, they won’t be able to do it forever. The values you instill in them now will long outlast their ability to play.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Hayley Adkisson, LCSW, is the senior social worker for the Divisions of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Rheumatology, Nephrology, and Infectious Disease at the Fink Children’s Ambulatory Care Center, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone. She also serves as a clinical social worker for NYU Langone’s Adolescent Gender Clinic and NYU Langone’s Pediatric Celiac Disease and Gluten-Related Disorders Program. Ms. Adkisson specializes in adolescent medicine, chronic illness, survivorship of sexual trauma, and mood disorders.

Baby Bonding Basics: How New Dads Can Jumpstart Their Baby Bond

baby-dadIt’s not unusual for new fathers to feel nervous that they aren’t bonding with their baby. Moms generally have biology on their side for the process of bonding and feeling attached to their newborns—first, they’ve had nine months of pregnancy to begin that process as they share one body. Then through birth, skin to skin contact, breastfeeding, and the sensitive dance of learning to respond to baby’s cues, mom and baby nurture that bond outside the womb. Dads may also have different messages from society or their own experiences that make their early involvement feel less important or less skilled than new moms, and this frame of mind is kind of self-fulfilling.

If a dad is having a hard time feeling the love for a tiny stranger, there are a couple of things that are likely to help. The first is, don’t beat yourself up about it and remember there isn’t just one way to be a great dad; bonds will form and grow and strain many times over the course of your child’s development. Be patient.

The second is, get to know your baby and put in the time you would to grow any new relationship. Here are some helpful tips on how to do that:

•Spend skin to skin time, what is referred to as “kangaroo care,” with your infant. There are numerous positive benefits to your infant’s health and biological regulation, and the tender moments with that little one on your chest will make sweet memories for you too.
•Start having those heart to hearts with the baby, even when he can’t talk back. Talking to infants stimulates their language development; the more infants hear and connect to the world around them, the better off their vocabulary, social skills, and cognitive development will be. Do this with face to face chats, and narrative play by plays as you go about your day with baby.
•Be proactive in asking your partner how you can divide up baby care responsibilities. There is a lot of attention right now on mothers feeling the weight of “mental load” in the family. New parents can try to avoid some of this uneven burden by working out a system for communicating needs and day to day responsibilities. Give yourself room to make your own approach to feeding or playing instead of feeling (or getting the message) that you have to do it just like mom.
•Do something you enjoy and find a way to incorporate your baby. For many dads, quality time can be taking a walk with baby in the carrier and telling him or her about your favorite spots. Maybe you can introduce baby to your love of cooking, or music. Sharing experiences and finding alone time to bond are helpful even when infants cannot yet respond as interactively.
•If it can be done in your family, take on some of the feedings to give your partner a break and let you in on the close contact as your baby eats. If not, try sitting with your partner during some feedings and provide moral support, a neck rub, or extra set of hands.

Bonding sets the stage for a secure attachment, one that is warm and responsive. For both moms and dads (and caregivers in any arrangement), a secure attachment that is formed in the first year or two of development helps promote a worldview for the infant that people can be trusted, the world is a place to explore and enjoy, gives them more confidence, and a host of benefits for social and cognitive development.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Lauren Knickerbocker, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health. Dr. Knickerbocker specializes in treating selective mutism and anxiety in young children, ADHD and difficulties with organization and time management, disruptive behaviors, and parent management training. She is also the co-director of Early Childhood Service at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center, a part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital.

Holiday Help for Picky Kids

snacksPicky eating can be a huge stressor for parents and children alike throughout the year, but it may be particularly pronounced during the holiday season, especially when you’re around relatives who are overly zealous in their advice giving.

Here are 5 tips to get you through the next holiday party with minimal meltdown:

Model healthy eating. While you may not be able to control exactly what your kids are willing to eat, be open to trying new foods yourself! Remarking on your feelings as you scoop an unfamiliar vegetable dish onto your plate, then commenting on the different flavors, can help to reinforce your child’s openness to trying something new, without overtly targeting his or her behavior.

Tell stories. The holiday season is always a time for reflection, and food stories should be no exception. Kids love hearing about their parents’ and relatives’ childhood. Thinking back on stories of your own picky eating – with subsequent discovery of how delicious that food actually tastes – will help to encourage children to create their own narrative. Fun stories about cooking disasters or competitions in the past can also bring a light-hearted mood to food and mealtimes.

Maintain your routine. Parents will often prepare a separate meal for their picky eaters before attending a holiday meal to avoid the food struggle. This may be useful, but it can also backfire and throw your child off their usual eating schedule, leading them to be hungrier later at the party, loading up on the dessert table, and sugar crashing later in the evening. Encourage your child to survey the food options and seek out 1 or 2 items that he or she would be willing to eat. Gently remind them that this is dinner time, and if they don’t eat now they may feel hungry before bed. Even if your child only picks crackers and bread, these are healthier (and reinforce socially healthy behavior of eating with the group!) than skipping dinner and choosing 4 cookies with a slice of cake when the desserts roll out.

Avoid using dessert as a reward. Urging your child to take three bites of broccoli so that they can “earn” dessert sets the foundation for an unhealthy relationship with food. Offer a few choices to your child, particularly foods that they have accepted in the past, and then move on. Remember Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility – as the parent you are responsible for the “what” and “when,” children are responsible for “how much” and “whether” or not they will eat. Dessert may not always be an appropriate option to offer, and that’s okay too!

Mealtimes should not be a battlefield. Ultimately bargaining, cajoling and feeling frustrated with your child’s picky eating may take away from the spirit of the season. Remind your child (and yourself!) that family traditions and holiday parties are more about conversation and connecting with friends and relatives. Food and family meals are a vehicle to facilitate coming together, but shouldn’t overshadow holiday celebrations.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Bridget Murphy, MS, RDN, CDE, CDN is a registered dietitian and clinical nutritionist at the Child Study Center, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

Tis the Season to Be Healthy: A Guide to Keeping Your Child Safe & Healthy This Holiday Season

cookies-xmasWith the holiday season upon us, here are some important tips to think about for a safe and healthy holiday season.

Check with your pediatrician to make sure your child has received his or her flu shot for the 2017-2018 season.

Keep in mind age appropriate gifts and toys. Games and toys with small parts or batteries should not be gifted to children under three since they are choking hazards.  You may even want to consider the ages of siblings in the house, since there is a good chance that a new crawler or walker could easily get ahold of an older siblings’ new toy.

Decorate safely. If you have a live tree, place it away from fireplaces and heaters, and keep a fire extinguisher close by. Live trees are highly flammable, so don’t forget to keep it hydrated as well.  If you do buy an artificial tree, make sure it’s labeled “fire resistant.” Fire-resistant trees are less susceptible to catching fire.  Also, if you have little ones at home, it is important to place all glass ornaments out of reach and secure the tree so it will not topple over if pulled on. Lastly, turn off all lights when you go to bed and before leaving the house to avoid a short that could start an electrical fire.

Celebrate safely. Keep candles on a sturdy base to prevent tipping. Never leave a lit candle unattended.

Continue a healthy sleep schedule. Kids often have slightly altered sleep schedules during the holidays due to vacation and other factors. It is best to continue a sleep schedule as close to their typical routine as possible so that they get an adequate amount of sleep each night.  This will ensure an easy transition back to school when vacation is over.

Keep an eye on the number of holiday treats. It is very easy to get carried away with the number of holiday goodies that kids consume during the next couple weeks.  While some indulging is to be expected, it is important that they still strive for a healthy and balanced diet each day.  Encourage a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day prior to indulging in an extra piece of chocolate or two!

Get up and move around!  Of course it’s cold out, and we’re all so busy, which can make it a little trickier to fit in our daily exercise at this time of the year.  Now’s the time to get creative with exercise! Have a holiday music dance party, bundle up and get outside for a walk in the snow, or just play a game of Simon Says! Even 30 minutes a day has been proven to improve your cardiovascular health.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Lauren Kupersmith, MD, is a clinical instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone and a pediatrician at NYU Langone Huntington Medical Group.

Stranger = Danger…Except for Santa Claus!

santa-blogKids love Santa! He brings them toys, and has great songs and stories that they want to hear over and over. Children often enthusiastically agree to visit Santa to tell him about their Christmas lists. But parents are then confronted with the dilemma of taking said kids to visit Santa only to have the same enthusiasm replaced with tears. There is no shortage of images on the web of children dressed in their holiday best, howling on Santa’s lap with outstretched arms toward a parent who has abandoned them just out of frame. I also remember being wary of a man entering our house unnoticed as a child, even if he was bringing presents. Here are a few tips for parents who want to help their children enjoy this holiday tradition and maybe even ace that holiday photo.

First, recognize that stranger anxiety is a healthy and expected developmental phase for young children. Toddlers and preschoolers are most likely to fear a visit to Santa. As familiar as the character of Santa becomes for young children through stories, images, and songs it still feels jarring to go up to a large man with a face-covering beard, in a loud red costume, and sit on his lap to have a heart to heart. Try to give your child more control in the situation. You can do this by letting them bring a lovey, decide whether they will speak or not, watch older siblings or friends go first, or letting them walk up to Santa and decide if they want to sit or stand.

Second, let your child know what to expect in advance and give them an out at any time. You can even do this by acting it out with your child during play at home. If your child does not feel overwhelmed by the novelty of the situation, he or she is more likely to handle the experience with less fear. The additional control and trust that is established if your child knows he or she can opt out of the Santa meet and greet at any time will also promote bravery and comfort.

Third, approach the event with your own anxiety in check. If you are worried about how your child will react, if it will go well, or if your child will be polite, that worry will register to your child and make them feel there is something to worry about. For example, if you follow the advice above and give your child an out, mention it but do not repeat it with pressured speech every time the line advances forward. After the 5th repetition of “we don’t have to do this if you aren’t ready,” your child will imagine terrible things they SHOULD opt out of at the front of the line and take your cue. Be relaxed, supportive, upbeat and open to hearing what your child is feeling. If you can take the pressure off your child will be more likely to enjoy him or herself.

Finally, don’t sweat it if your child gets upset when the moment arrives. Usually the fear of Santa disappears as children enter elementary school age with no lasting scars of Christmas’ past. And it’s nothing that can’t be soothed with a hug from you and perhaps a hot chocolate on the way home.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Lauren Knickerbocker, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health. Dr. Knickerbocker specializes in treating selective mutism and anxiety in young children, ADHD and difficulties with organization and time management, disruptive behaviors, and parent management training. She is also the co-director of Early Childhood Service at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center, a part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital.

Benefits of Gifted and Talented Programs

As a NYC parent we have all heard about the Gifted and Talented Programs. The more information we gather the more overwhelming it can be to begin the admissions process for your child. But what are some of the most attractive aspects of the G&T programs? In many cases, the amount of work it takes to get into one of these programs can make parents question if the effort is worth the value. After all, there is technically no official Gifted and Talented curriculum.

Gifted education helps provide options for advanced students and helps students meet their social needs. If you have a gifted child often, a gifted program can help them stay engaged in school. Often times a gifted child in a regular class can face the risk of becoming bored or have trouble engaging socially. After talking to families about their experiences in G&T programs, our education specialists at Bright Kids have found that there are three main incentives for parents to covet Gifted and Talented schools. Firstly, the nature of how the curriculum is presented and administered to the students is a big draw. This aspect coinciding with the peer groups students will encounter in the classroom and the level of rigor in which they are confronted with, are the leading factors in a parent’s desire to for their student to attend and continue to attend a Gifted and Talented school.

Curriculum
What makes the G&T program curriculum unique? Well, there are two different types of New York City Gifted and Talented programs — Citywide and District. As I mentioned, there is no special Gifted and Talented Curriculum in NYC. This is important to keep in mind, because it often means that the quality can vary from program to program. The key facts to remember are that Citywide programs take the standard New York Department of Education curriculum and accelerate it one year. This means that a student entering Kindergarten would begin with the standard first grade curriculum. District programs simply have “enriched” curriculum. This means that the quality of the teachers becomes very important as they are required to account for different learning speeds and styles within the standardized grade-appropriate curriculum. The benefit of this flexible classroom is that if one student is a very advanced reader, but another is not, they will both receive different assignments to accommodate for their varying levels. It also means that most of the students in the class will move at a faster pace than an average classroom. Because of this, students will progress through content much faster and get to more than the standard classroom.

Peer Groups
Another key component of Gifted and Talented programs is the peer group of each classroom. In a general education classroom, student learning levels are often a wide mix. This can cause classrooms to have a slower pace than a gifted education classroom. In some instances, student behavior becomes an issue.

In many instances, gifted children can be prone to tune out learning if they are not challenged or engaged. This increases the risk of social problems or acting out at school. By placing these students in a setting surrounded by other gifted students, they are encouraged to achieve a higher level of success academically. Furthermore, children in G&T programs don’t typically feel the need to hide their giftedness to fit in. Students in such programs often have more confidence and self esteem and have an easier time making friends and socializing. These peer groups create a fair and equal learning environment for students. This helps foster your child’s unique learning abilities to achieve their potential at school, while also helping other students reach their potential.

The process of applying to New York City Gifted and Talented schools can be daunting, but they offer so many educational and social benefits. Bright Kids is here to help you and your family find and gain a seat at the right G&T program for you and your child. Our unique and customizable approach creates a curriculum that is specific to your child’s learning needs. Eliminate added stress and let us help your child.

Learn more at a Bright Kids G&T Open House. RSVP Today.

 

How ‘Slow Parenting’ Can Help Your Family

slowAs a parent, I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard, “Cherish these moments, children grow up way too quickly.” It’s true. I feel like it was just yesterday that my soon-to-be two-year-old was barely crawling. Yesterday he climbed a full set of stairs alone. I’m sure many of you reading this post can relate.

Today, many families are on a schedule from morning until bedtime, trying to get our children out the door, scrambling to meet job demands, ferrying our kids from one extracurricular activity to the next, grabbing dinner on the run, and squeezing in extra study or practice time. We thoughtfully program many aspects of our children’s lives in hope of giving them every opportunity we think can give them a leg up.

It’s no wonder many of us feel the end of the day comes way too soon and like life is just rushing by. Sound familiar? If so, it may be time to try a “slow parenting” approach to family life. Slow parenting embraces the idea of consciously pausing this constant motion and taking time to relish the special moments that might otherwise pass us by when we overschedule ourselves and our kids.

For example, I recently realized that I was trying to get my curious four-and-a-half-year-old from one activity to the next too fast. As we were heading out for ballet class one day, she said, “Mom, look at this bug on the floor! It’s so interesting. It’s crawling and falling over!” Normally, I would have rushed her out the door, but, with slow parenting in mind, I decided to stop and see what she was talking about, even if it made us late. We sat on the ground for 10 minutes examining this bug together. My daughter had a lot to say about it as she imagined different scenarios. This time together created a memory more special than watching her through a little glass window while she practiced ballet. We still talk about it, and a scrapbook now holds a picture I took of her with the bug.

Slowing down creates space for relaxation and quiet time, something children’s developing brains need to make sense of the world and integrate new information they learn every day. It also gives parents a chance to be mindful of and appreciate some of our kids’ more subtle developmental milestones like problem-solving and conversational skills. And, it gives us new snapshots of time that would have otherwise been ignored and swallowed up by more pressing demands.

Here are some ideas to help you get started with slow parenting:

1. Limit your children’s recreational activities like ballet or soccer to one activity per season, rather than two or three.
2. Make an effort to have sit-down dinners or even cook together on certain days of the week.
3. Prepare for the next day together the night before. This will allow some practice around choices in the evening (e.g., “Which outfit would you like [choice A or choice B]?” or “What would you like as a snack in your lunchbox?”) and more “together time” in the morning, when you can read to your kids, sing a song together on the ride or walk to school, or talk about the day ahead.
4. Rather than cramming weekends with birthday parties and other scheduled activities, spend a plan-free weekend at home and see what happens. We sometimes forget that there is so much to do together in our own living rooms: play family games, read books, or just chat.
5. Instead of rushing from one activity to the next, pause and say, “We are going to skip karate today and take some time to go for a walk,” or, “We’re just going to sit together and play a game.”
6. In the evening, talk with your kids about how their day went. If a book was introduced at school, read it together at home. If a special event occurred in the news, bring it up and see what their thoughts are.
7. Sit outside at night and talk about the different sounds you hear. Quieting down can give rise to important topics that would not naturally come up during an over-scheduled day.
8. Talk to your kids about your own childhood when the pace of life was slower. Share challenges you faced, fun experiences you had, and how you spent your time. Then suggest some simple, “old-fashioned” outdoor playtime: jump rope, toss a ball, play hopscotch.
9. Dial down the technology: turn off the TV, put phones away during dinner, simply be together and talk. Today’s kids are often whizzes at digital devices, but may be uncomfortable socially because they have little practice with back-and-forth conversation.
10. Pause and pay attention while your children are engaged in a project. For instance, if they are drawing, see how they are making sense of that activity and just appreciate who they are at the present moment.
11. Take time to give a hug and receive one. Just breathe your children in.

Slow parenting allows time to connect with our kids in a different, more positive way, and gives us a chance to quiet ourselves and feel less stressed. Today is a great day to start making the most of your time by doing less—together.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Daniela Montalto, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center, a part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital. She is the Clinical Director of the Child Study Center’s Institute for Learning and Academic Achievement.

Could Your Child’s Tummy Troubles Be Celiac Disease?

gluten-freeMy child came to the doctor’s office for constipation and was diagnosed with celiac disease, is this common?

This is a question we get a lot at the Pediatric Celiac Disease & Gluten-Related Disorders Program at NYU Langone Health. Constipation is one of the leading complaints that bring patients to our office, and it is often seen as a presenting symptom for celiac disease in children. Interestingly, a study looking specifically at children with celiac disease in Western NY highlighted that constipation was the second most common presenting complaint at the doctor’s office, following abdominal pain. Luckily for us, constipation usually improves as the inflammation in the small intestines begins to resolve. This is accomplished by being on a strict gluten-free diet.

While the gluten-free diet is absolutely essential for a child with celiac disease, it is highly recommended that patients and their parents work closely with a knowledgeable dietician to ensure that children meet their daily fiber recommendations. This is because fiber is very important for managing and preventing constipation. Although your child has removed a majority of whole grains from their diet, there are many other sources of dietary fiber that we can include such as those found in fruits and vegetables. There is also a variety of fiber supplements that can be used if you feel that making more changes to your child’s diet will not be successful.

Lastly, don’t forget to remind your children to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day! Liquids are very important to keep your child hydrated and to enhance the motility of their intestines. Liquids should be in the form of water and not sugary drinks such as sodas or juice. I always recommend sending your child with a water bottle to school and encouraging them to finish it prior to lunch and then refilling it again for the afternoon.

If you find that your child’s constipation is not resolving with strict adherence to the gluten-free diet please speak to your provider. They will be able to help tailor a specialized plan to manage your child’s symptoms.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Leora Hauptman, MS, RN, CPNP is a nurse practitioner in the Pediatric Celiac Disease & Gluten-Related Disorders Program, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone. Mrs. Hauptman has many years of experience working with children with gastrointestinal disorders and developmental disabilities.

Trick or (Sugar-Free) Treat? The Importance of Limiting Your Child’s Sugar Intake This Halloween

trick-or-treatMany families view Halloween as the biggest “cheat day” of the year, where they can binge on all the candy the kids collect from around the neighborhood. While trick-or-treating and snacking on the candy they collect is fun and exciting for your children, it’s important to remember that a massive influx of candy and sugary treats can often derail the hard work spent on limiting sugar intake the rest of the year. While a small amount of sugar may prove harmless for many kids, the difficulty in managing the sheer quantity the candy in one night is a challenge, and having a plan in place before Halloween night is key in managing expectations for both parents and kids.

-Think about whether you want to limit sugar or avoid it all together this Halloween. Consider that sugar intake increases your child’s risk for cavities, excessive weight gain, and of course belly aches.
-Want to limit sugar but stumped on what to replace it with? The pumpkin—a multipurpose tool on Halloween—is a great, healthy food choice. In addition to painting the outside, you can make use of the pumpkin flesh (or canned pumpkin puree) and seeds to cook with.
—Try sprinkling coconut oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg on pumpkin seeds, and baking in the oven on 400°F until warm and toasty (around 10 minutes).
—Use pumpkin puree to paint scary faces on apple slices and crackers. You might also try using raisins, dried fruit pieces, and peanut butter dollops to create some spooky faces and ghostly shapes.
-Finding a new and improved version of old school trick-or-treating may help with limiting the sugar rush as well. Maybe trick-or-treating this year is a backyard activity with your kids and their friends, or perhaps a costume competition with a few neighbors. Having the kids involved in the planning ramps up excitement and gives them ownership over creating this new tradition.
-Another way to go sugarless this Halloween is to focus on other sources of “treats” and rewards unrelated to food. Offer your kiddo the chance to trade candy in for movie tickets, favorite school supplies, flavored lip glosses or temporary tattoos.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Ayelet Goldhaber, MS, RD is a registered dietician in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

Does Your Baby Have Healthy Hips? (Part 2)

hips

Last week, we began a two-part series that aims to educate parents about hip dysplasia, a common disorder that, if not addressed in early infancy, can lead to serious problems later in life. Our first post discussed what hip dysplasia is and the importance of early detection. This week’s will focus on treatment and prevention.

As a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, I spent 10 years of my career in Mexico City, where my practice was dedicated to hip dysplasia. I operated on about 250 kids a year, very successfully, but if the dysplasia had been detected in time, they wouldn’t have needed surgery in the first place.

Hip dysplasia is an under-diagnosed condition that, if left untreated, can lead to pain, degenerative arthritis, and the need for hip replacement early in adulthood. It occurs due to abnormal growth of the hip joint, resulting in a mismatch in the way the head, or “ball,” of the thighbone fits into the socket of the pelvic bone.

Many people with hip dysplasia are born with it, but it can also develop in babies that are frequently positioned with the legs extended and thighs pressed together, which increases pressure on the hips. Early detection—within the first few months of life—gives kids the best chance for effective and simple treatment.

Treatment for Hip Dysplasia
When looking for an orthopedic specialist to treat hip dysplasia, parents should seek someone who has specific pediatric orthopedic training in addition to orthopedic surgery training. A well-trained pediatric orthopedic surgeon should be able to diagnose and easily treat early-stage hip dysplasia.

Orthotic treatment. In babies younger than four months, treatment generally consists of a simple orthotic called a Pavlik Harness, or a similar device, which is worn for up to four months. The harness consists of two shoulder straps; a belt, which goes around the chest; and two boots that are strapped to the legs. The child can move freely within this soft brace, which positions the hip so components of its joint can develop normally. Parents may feel overwhelmed at first, but once they’ve learned how to use it, they find it very simple to employ. It takes less than a minute to put on, and you can change a diaper while the baby is wearing it.

Surgical treatment. If hip dysplasia is detected after four to six months, treatment becomes more complicated and may include either minimally invasive or open surgery to put the ball of the hip back into its socket. Following surgery, some children require a body cast to hold the hip in the corrected position while the joint heals. Surgical methods are effective, but do not produce good results as consistently as orthotic treatment applied to younger babies.

Tips for Healthy Hips
Hip dysplasia that develops before birth cannot be avoided, but hip-healthy practices can encourage normal joint development and prevent hip dysplasia in babies who were not born with it.
­– Avoid swaddling with the thighs together, a position that is harmful for the hips. They should be in the abducted position (with the legs open) and allowed to move freely.
– If you use a baby carrier, make sure it permits the hips to be wide open, and avoid any that tend to push the legs together and restrict movement. Any kind of baby carrier that allows free motion of the hips is generally considered healthy.
– Visit the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI) website (hipdysplasia.org), a valuable resource for parents to learn more about hip dysplasia, proper swaddling, and specific products that IHDI deems hip-healthy.

The Bottom Line
If your child does develop hip dysplasia, treating it early with non-surgical methods is ideal. Still, if it’s not caught in time for orthotics, surgery to correct the problem as a young child is better than no treatment at all. In Mexico City, I operated on a girl whose hip dysplasia had been missed until her grandmother noticed a slight limp when she began to walk. We fixed her hip and she has done very well. I recently received a video from the family of her tenth birthday party, and she was running and playing and jumping. She’s a thriving and healthy girl with a near-normal hip that likely will never need to be replaced.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Pablo G. Castañeda, MD, is the Division Chief of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.