The Truth About Baby-Friendly Hospitals

baby

 

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative was launched by the World Health Organization and UNICEF in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer high-quality, evidence-based care for infant feeding and bonding between mother and baby.  Some of the parents we see at NYU Langone Medical Center have misunderstandings about what being “baby friendly” really means for moms and babies. Let’s look at some of these misconceptions and get to the truth about Baby-Friendly practices:

1. “Baby-Friendly hospitals force moms to breastfeed.” Not at all! The aim of the Baby-Friendly Initiative is to provide women with the best information that they need to make their own choices about how to feed their babies. In fact, Baby-Friendly designated hospitals have committed to providing better information about formula feeding and safe formula preparation to women who choose to formula feed.

2. “Baby-Friendly hospitals have no nursery.” While Baby-Friendly hospitals encourage babies sleeping in the same room with mom, most do provide an area for babies who temporarily require observation. NYU Langone provides a newborn observation area for this purpose. Rooming in is encouraged because research shows that mothers sleep better when their babies are rooming in with them. Rooming in has the added benefit of helping new moms learn their babies feeding cues, while the babies are comforted by being close to their mothers—they cry less and are easier to calm.

3. “Baby-Friendly hospitals don’t have formula.” They do! The difference is that, in Baby-Friendly hospitals, care is taken to provide formula only to those babies whose mothers have chosen to formula feed, and to those for whom it is deemed medically necessary by the baby’s provider. This strategy helps to stop the “casual” use of formula, which may undermine breast feeding for nursing babies.

4. “Baby-Friendly hospitals don’t give babies pacifiers.” This is mostly true, since the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages pacifier use in breastfeeding babies until at least 4 weeks of age.

Breastfeeding and bottle-feeding moms both benefit from choosing a Baby-Friendly hospital, where each can be sure that that her plan for optimal feeding and bonding is fully supported.  In an environment where staff receives consistent training in the best practices, all moms can be empowered.

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

Elizabeth Moore, BSN, RN, is the coordinator for Parent Education and Community Outreach in NYU Langone’s Parent Education Program. As a doula and childbirth educator, she has worked as a maternal-child health nurse and educator for over 20 years.

 

Tips for a Healthy Diet for Kids with Type 1 Diabetes

diabetes2

 

Parents and children alike worry that with a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes their diet will forever change. In reality, kids can continue to eat a regular diet with an emphasis on healthy food choices and variety. Along with these healthy choices, a regular diet can also include desserts and other treats in moderation. The only foods that we ask kids with diabetes to avoid are liquid carbohydrates, such as fruit juice and regular soda.

A healthy diet includes:

Vegetables. Encourage your kid to eat vegetables with every meal. They also make for great snacks. Try to eat as many colors from the rainbow as you can. Always have a variety and different colors to make sure your child is getting a mix of nutrients. You can never eat too many vegetables—except potatoes and french fries, which count as a starch.

Fruits. Keep a variety of fruits in your home. Fruits are a delicious and nutritious snack option. Like vegetables, kids should eat fruits of all colors. Choose whole fruits and avoid juice unless your child has a low blood sugar.

Healthy proteins. Pick lean proteins such as poultry, fish and eggs. Encourage your kids to increase their intake of plant-based proteins – beans, nuts, seeds and tofu. Avoid processed meats like sandwich meats, hot dogs, and bacon, and try to limit intake of red meat to only a couple of times per month.

Whole grains. Try to pick whole grains more often than refined grains like white bread and rice. Some great whole grain options include quinoa, farro, buckwheat, whole grain bread, brown rice and chickpea pasta.

Healthy oils. Healthy fats are an important part of a well-rounded diet. Use plant-based oils such as olive oil, avocado oil and sunflower oil when cooking and for salad dressings.

Water. Water is the best way to stay hydrated. Get your children in the habit of drinking water early in life. Kids should drink water with every meal and snack.

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

Vanessa Wissing, RD, CDE, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Robert I. Grossman, MD, and Elisabeth J. Cohen, MD, Pediatric Diabetes Center at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York at NYU Langone. She provides education and guidance to help children and their families better manage diabetes and overall health. 

A New Approach to Tackling Your Kid’s Disorganization

disorg

It’s halfway into the school year, and for many parents of chronically disorganized kids, it’s a time of mounting frustration. Your child may have started the year strong, with a brand new planner and a great system of color-coded folders, only to slowly fall back into a pattern of missed assignments, coats left in lockers, and last-minute scrambles on long-term assignments. He may have even gotten back on the wagon a few times, clearing out his bag, and starting with a fresh system, only to stumble again. And when mid-year report cards come home with grades that show a lot less than you know your child to be capable of, things can start to feel hopeless. There is hope, though—oftentimes, it just requires a shift in how we look at organizational skills problems. Below are five tips to help you do just that.

1. Resist the blame game. Oftentimes kids who are disorganized are labeled as lazy or lacking in work ethic. But research at NYU Langone over the past decade tells us that organizational skills deficits are real deficits, in the same vein as a math or reading disorder. And just like with a math or reading disorder, kids with organizational deficits need extra support. Framing the problem as a character flaw is demotivating. Instead, frame it as a challenge you and your child can overcome together.

2. Take it one step at a time. Getting organized requires a lot of sub-skills—writing down assignments, keeping paper organized, managing homework time, and planning for long-term assignments, to name a few. Asking your child to make changes in all of these areas at once is setting her up for failure. Make a list of all the specific skills your child needs to work on. Choose one skill to start with (such as filling out her planner every day), and don’t move on to the next skill until she has it mastered.

3. Step it down. For kids who struggle with organizational skills, the best organizational tools are usually the ones that involve the least number of steps to use. If filing a paper means punching that paper with a three-hole punch, pulling out a binder, opening the rings, putting the paper in, and closing the rings, that paper isn’t as likely to get filed. A better solution might be an accordion file, which allows your child to just drop the paper right in. Work with your child to find organizational systems that use the least number of steps possible.

4. Make long-term rewards short-term rewards. Many kids who struggle with organization have a learning style that favors short-terms rewards (like getting out of class quickly) over long-term rewards (like knowing all the details of your assignment, so you get a good grade at the end of the semester). You can boost organization by providing short-term rewards for use of organizational skills. Give your child a small daily prize for things like coming home with all his books, having his planner filled out completely, and having all papers filed correctly.

5. Know when to ask for help. If your child has persistent organizational problems and your efforts to help her have failed, it may be time to consider a psychological evaluation. Several psychological issues, including ADHD, can lead to problems with organization. The good news is there are empirically validated treatments to help. At the NYU Langone Child Study Center, we offer Organizational Skills Training, a program developed and researched by our doctors, at our Manhattan, Westchester, New Jersey, and Long Island locations.

Most importantly, don’t lose hope! Just because it is more difficult for some kids to develop organizational skills, doesn’t mean that they can’t do it. Providing some extra support and maintaining a can-do attitude goes a long way towards setting your child on the path to organizational success.

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

Jennifer L. Rosenblatt, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, and sees patients through the Child Study Center’s home- and school-based service in Westchester County, New York. 

Take a Sick Day or Stick It Out? Knowing When Your Child Should Stay Home Sick

faver

With winter germs flying around and busy family schedules, it can be difficult to know when your child is too sick to go to school or be around other kids. Here are some tips to help you make the call:

Determine what is “too sick” for school: In general, if your child has a fever, severe respiratory symptoms, vomiting or diarrhea, “pink eye,” or is just not feeling well enough to participate in normal activities, it’s usually a good idea for him or her to stay home to rest and recover. If you have any questions or concerns about whether your child is well enough to be around other people, you should always ask your child’s doctor.

Know what’s contagious and what’s not: There are some common illnesses or conditions that children may get that aren’t contagious, such as eczema, asthma, allergies, etc. As for those illnesses, like cold and flu, that are contagious, a good rule of thumb is that most common viral upper respiratory illnesses are generally most contagious in the few days prior to and the few days after onset of symptoms. If you are not sure if your child’s specific illness is contagious, ask your pediatrician.

Go on the defensive: One of the best things that you can do to help protect your child’s health is to teach your child to practice good hand hygiene with frequent and thorough hand washing. Additionally, children 6 months and older are also recommended to receive the flu vaccine to help protect them against influenza. If your infant is too young to receive the flu vaccine, you can help protect them by getting the flu vaccine yourself and encouraging anyone who will be in close contact with your child to also get vaccinated.

When in doubt, trust your instincts (and your pediatrician). The question of whether or not to keep your child home from school or another activity can sometimes be a tricky one to answer. The most important things to keep in mind are to trust your parental instincts and always ask your pediatrician if you are ever in doubt. Additionally, many daycares, preschools, and grade schools have set guidelines about when your child should stay home. For example, schools usually require that a child be free of fever for at least 24 hours (without receiving fever-reducing medications) before returning to school. Check in with your child’s school for more details.

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

Madhavi Kapoor, MD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center and a pediatrician at NYU Langone’s Trinity Center.

Tips to Keep Your Children Safe and Warm This Winter

winter

The winter season is a fun time of year for children of all ages, and keeping your child safe and warm is a priority. Here are some helpful tips to meet that challenge:

1) Layer Up!
The key to staying warm while outdoors in the winter is to wear layers. Dress your child in several thin layers and remember warm, waterproof boots, gloves or mittens, scarves, and hats. A good general rule of thumb for infants and children is to dress them in one more layer than what you would wear as an adult in the same weather conditions. Avoid bulky layers such as thick coats or blankets when your infant or toddler is in a car seat—it can make the harness too loose and reduce its effectiveness.

Avoid using blankets or other loose bedding in cribs for infants under the age of 1 year due to the increased risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Instead, put your infant to sleep in a warm one-piece sleeper or wearable blanket.

Keep in mind that hypothermia and frostbite can occur quicker in children than adults. Shivering and slurred speech may be signs of hypothermia. Pale or gray skin color and numbness or burning pain to the extremities may be signs of frostbite. If you suspect hypothermia or frostbite, bring your child indoors, remove cold and wet clothing, dry the skin, and cover your child in warm, dry blankets or clothing. If you are concerned about frostbite, soak any affected body parts in warm water prior to drying your child off and covering up with dry blankets or clothing. In addition to taking those initial steps, call your child’s doctor.

2) Stay safe while playing winter sports.
Winter sports are a great way to stay active and healthy during the winter season. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind while enjoying these activities.

In general:
-Make sure children are supervised when playing outdoors.
-Have younger children take frequent breaks while playing to come indoors, drink warm beverages, and to warm up before going outside again.

Ice Skating:
-Allow children to skate on approved surfaces only. Make sure ice skates fit comfortably with good ankle support to help prevent injuries.
-Consider having your child wear protective gear such as a helmet and knee pads, especially when he or she is still learning how to skate.

Sledding:
-Do not allow your child to sled near motor vehicles or open roadways.
-Head injuries may be prevented by avoiding sledding head-first and by wearing a helmet. Avoid sledding on slopes with obstacles such as trees or fences.

Skiing and Snowboarding:
-Children should be taught to ski or snowboard by a qualified instructor. All skiers and snowboarders should wear helmets and other appropriate protective gear that fits correctly.
-Only allow children to ski or snowboard on slopes that are appropriate for their maturity level and skill level.

3) Trying to avoid the winter cold and flu season? Practice good hand hygiene!
Cold weather itself does not cause illness, but viruses that cause the common cold or flu tend to be more easily spread during this time of year, especially when people are spending more time together indoors in close quarters. Help keep your family healthy by washing hands frequently. Another way to help prevent the spread of germs is to teach your child to cough or sneeze into the crease of their elbow. If you or your child is sick, one of the best things you can do to help prevent the spread of illness is to stay home and rest!

Children 6 months and older are also recommended to receive the flu vaccine to help protect them against influenza. If your infant is too young to receive the flu vaccine, you can help protect them by getting the flu vaccine yourself and encouraging anyone who will be in close contact with your child to also get vaccinated.

4) Skin care: moisturizer and sunscreen!
Along with the frequent hand washing and cold weather comes dry, chapped skin. One of the best ways to treat dry skin at home is to use an unscented moisturizer at least one to two times daily. Use lip balm to help prevent chapped lips.

It is often overlooked, but sun exposure can still cause sunburn even in the winter. Beginning at the age of 6 months and older, you can protect your child’s skin by applying sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher to exposed areas of skin.

For more information, check out the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) “Winter Safety Tips” online or ask your child’s physician. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and safe winter season!

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

Madhavi Kapoor, MD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center and a pediatrician at NYU Langone’s Trinity Center.

Helping Your Children Make Resolutions That Stick

resolutions

We all know the story: make a New Year’s resolution in January, and by mid-March you’ll be asking yourself, “What happened to that diet?” Now that it’s December, children in classrooms around the country are hearing about New Year’s resolutions. Your child might be thinking about what she wants hers to be for 2017. Unfortunately for students excited to make resolutions, research bears out the common wisdom that setting a large goal is unlikely to result in any meaningful change. That’s because our desire to change only accounts for a percentage of our ability to follow through with it. So if research shows that grand, sweeping goals do not make effective resolutions, then why set our kids up for failure? Rather than give up on resolutions altogether, follow these four steps to help your children devise plans that create real results!

1. First, find out what your child thinks a good resolution would be. If he’s like most people, he’ll probably pick something that sounds wonderful and is hard to quantify, like, “Be a better friend.” Allow your child to imagine how he’ll feel if he pursues this resolution. This step is all about your child identifying the goal and feeling motivated to achieve it.

2. Next, ask her what that resolution would look like. In other words, if she told a story or drew a picture about her resolution, what would it be? A resolution to help out more around the house might be a picture of a child putting her dinner plate in the dishwasher. This step is all about identifying the behavior behind the resolution.

3. After that, brainstorm with your child to find out when that behavior should happen. Being nicer to a younger sibling might happen during homework time or on a Saturday morning before parents are awake. The key here is for your child to identify a specific situation when the behavior should occur. It is clear and concrete; not “someday” or “all the time.”

4. Finally, have your child create an “If-Then” statement for using the new behavior. “If-Then” statements combine the situation with the desired behavioral response. Psychologists call this an “implementation intention.” A teenager who wants to procrastinate less might create the statement, “If I feel like procrastinating during homework time, then I will set the timer on my phone to at least work for two minutes before taking a break.”

And that’s it! Follow these steps for effective goal setting and behavior change, and give your kids the chance to make their resolutions a reality.

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

Christina Di Bartolo, LMSW, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the program supervisor for the Institute for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and Behavior Disorder Centers at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center

Holiday Hothead? Tips for Preventing and Managing Your Child’s Holiday Behavior Problems

holiday-upset

It can be the most wonderful time of the year! It can also be a stressful time for parents who worry about how their child will behave at events with family and friends. The hustle and bustle of the season, changes to daily routines, parties, and gifts can contribute to parent-child conflict and meltdowns. The following tips will help you prevent problems and keep the season festive for all.

Anticipate potential problems
Different aspects of the season will be challenging for different children. Take a few minutes to think what parts may be hard for your child. For instance, will your child have trouble playing nicely with the children of relatives and family friends? Do you worry that your child may have tantrums or show disrespect if disappointed about a gift, or test the limits and try to get away with more than what is allowed at home? Problems during holiday travel are also common.

Set up for success
—Playing nicely with others: If your child tends to have trouble playing with others during less structured times, consider planning activities for an event you are hosting, such as cookie decorating, holiday coloring projects, holiday movies, and other games. Try to limit less-structured times if possible. If you are visiting instead of hosting, see if you can bring some activities for all of the children or ones your child can do independently such as stories, paper snowflakes, and coloring books.
—Avoiding meltdowns over gifts: Talk to your child in advance about the reason behind gift giving and the need to be polite to everyone who gives them a gift. Let them know it’s okay to be disappointed, but they still need to show respect. Get them involved in the giving process by picking out gifts for family and friends or donating toys for children less fortunate. Role play situations that may come up, like getting a hand knit sweater instead of that new video game they’ve been wanting.
—Travel tips: If your plans include a lot of travel, consider scheduling it during your child’s nap or at night so they can sleep. You can also bring snacks and toys, sing holiday songs, play games like 20 Questions, and consider using electronics, especially if you have a long flight or drive.
—Testing limits: Decide if it’s realistic and appropriate to use any punishment strategies. Knowing in advance if you will take away privileges or use a timeout will help you avoid making threats that only serve to frustrate you and your child when you cannot follow through.
—Scheduling: For any child who struggles to manage their behavior and emotions, longer days and events will test their resources to keep it together. Consider shortening visits and even saying no to some invites if the day is going to be too action-packed. It’s better to have shorter, more pleasant get-togethers than one that ends in an epic meltdown. If shortening a visit is not an option, see if there is a quieter place in the home for your child to take a couple breaks.
—Have a “worst case scenario” plan: This could be pulling your child aside for a break, having them stay with you if they are having trouble getting along with other children, or even leaving early if you are visiting. Make sure that you are comfortable following through with anything on the plan. Knowing the specific plan will help you feel most prepared.

Review expectations ahead of time
Based on the anticipated problems, let your child know exactly what you expect during holiday visits. Avoid vague expectations such as “Behave” and instead state clearly what behavior you want to see, like “Listen to me,” or “Share toys with other children.” Try to use positive language. Tell your child, “Say thank you for gifts even if it’s not what you were hoping for,” instead of “Don’t be rude.” Choose your battles carefully to focus on the most important goals–which can mean letting go of some limits you normally place. For example, it may not be critical to limit your child to one treat, especially if other children will likely have more and it will be hard for you to fully monitor while spending time with relatives.

During get-togethers
Instead of waiting for the end of a party, try giving frequent spontaneous feedback when you see your child following set expectations to build positive momentum. Make statements such as, “I’m so proud of you for playing nicely,” or “You did a great job being polite to thank grandma for the mittens and hat.” If you start noticing problems, stay as calm as possible (which will help your child stay calm) and use your “worst case scenario” plan. You may feel like other friends and relatives are judging your parenting. Try to remember that every parent has dealt with outbursts and problematic behavior at one point or another; some may just have trouble remembering or feel like they have to share their behavior management tip at an inopportune time.

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

Stephanie Wagner, Ph.D., is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center. She specializes in behavioral treatments for sleep as well as providing psychosocial interventions, including parent training, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and school consultation to parents and teachers of children with ADHD and disruptive behavior disorders. She is also the co-director of Early Childhood Service at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center.

Motivating Children by Developing a Growth Mindset

kumon-growth

By: The Kumon Team

“Motivation is the most important factor in determining whether you succeed in the long run. What I mean by motivation is not only the desire to achieve, but also the love of learning, the love of challenge, and the ability to thrive on obstacles. These are the greatest gifts we can give our students.” – Carol Dweck

Parents often ask how they can help their child become more motivated to learn, especially material that is above grade level. Stanford University Professor of Psychology, Carol Dweck demonstrates that communication to children about their effort, successes, and setbacks often shapes a child’s mindset and motivation.

Here is how it works:

–The author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck postulates that people have either a “fixed mindset” or “growth mindset” that influences our perspective and communication.
–When we believe that success is based on innate ability, we are said to have a fixed theory of intelligence, otherwise known as a fixed mindset.
–When we believe that success is based on hard work, learning, and perseverance, we are said to have a growth theory of intelligence, also called growth mindset.

Parents and Instructors are most effective when they praise effort and results equally. Praising effort means recognizing errors as learning opportunities that lead to improvement and success. The brain is a muscle that becomes stronger through hard work and learning from our mistakes. We can motivate children to develop a growth mindset and achieve their goals through communication about effort, learning, and persistence.

“I’ve got to have a growth mindset, man. That’s what it’s about, me still trying to improve even at 30 and (after) 12 years in the league.” – LeBron James

Interested in Kumon’s programs? Check out all available NYC programs and locations here!

Starting Holiday Traditions with your Little Ones

 

cookies

It’s that time of year again! Young children are already full of holiday cheer and excitement at the prospect of presents, treats, and more family time. Making new holiday traditions with your toddler (or bringing them into your existing traditions) is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen family bonds and promote their healthy development. Here are few toddler-centered milestones to consider when making your own family traditions for this holiday season.

Independence: To foster the independence that toddlers crave, try giving them a job that makes them feel central to the ritual and they can continue to do every year as they grow. For example, letting them light the candles (with supervision!) on a menorah, advent wreath, angel chimes, or centerpiece before a family meal can make them feel proud to be trusted with such a grown up responsibility. Toddlers just want to feel included and to be able imitate what they see you doing. Another fun tradition could be to bake special cookies together and make your toddler the “Chief Decorator” or “Sprinkles Fairy” to give them their special role. For families considering the long term goals of independence, gifting each child a new ornament every year to eventually move with them to their own homes as adults is a thoughtful and heartfelt tradition.

Empathy building: Toddlers are also the perfect age to learn more about empathy and civic mindedness. They will learn and embody these characteristics best by watching you model these values, and participating in the experience of giving back. Take them to buy a present and bring it to a local charity or event for children who do not have resources. Sing Christmas carols or spend time with the elderly at a local nursing home. Make meals for the homeless. Any volunteer opportunities that are family friendly will benefit the cause you are helping as well as your child’s sense of belonging to a community that values each other.

Family Bonding: Match your family vibe to a tradition that creates warm family connections. Are you a favorite movie with a big blanket and snacks family? A creative family that can make up songs or decorate ornaments together? A family who embodies “the more the merrier” mantra who can host a festive holiday get together? I know many families who create traditions that incorporate games and reading aloud during the lead-up to holidays. One family unwraps a new board game each Christmas Eve and they play all together in their pajamas while they snack on sweets. Another family asks each member to write a letter to the other members to express their love and gratitude for that person or something that happened that year (the two year old dictates hers). The letters end up in their stockings to be read aloud Christmas morning. What a wonderful lesson that would be for little ones learning about gratitude and love for others!

Making Good Memories: Whatever you decide to do to mark the holidays in your home, think about making a family tradition that will feel special and exciting to your little ones. It could be as simple as breaking routine at bedtime to stay up for a special treat or a family sleepover. You want a tradition to stand the test of time as your child grows up and ideally is something everyone looks forward to when the holidays roll around. (This may be a tall order for some adolescents who eye roll their way through family time). Make your traditions and rituals a multi-sensory experience that will make good memories filled with warmth, scents, sounds, tastes, and vibrancy. Fond memories of family holidays are treasured far longer than most gifts we receive. After all, it’s not just about getting matching family pajamas; it’s what you do together while you’re wearing them.

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

Lauren Knickerbocker, Ph.D., is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center. 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.

American Girl’s Diabetes Care Kit Helps Kids with Diabetes Play, Learn, and Teach Others

diabetesThis year, American Girl made headlines with the introduction of a diabetes care kit for dolls. As a pediatric endocrinologist specializing in the care of diabetes in children, I love this idea. The kit has a glucose meter, glucose tablets, a medic alert bracelet (a pretty one), and an insulin pump, as well as other equipment that my patients have to carry with them at all times. It is a wonderful tool for medical play and for helping to prepare children for the use of an insulin pump.

As a mother, I love the idea even more. American Girl has offered to customize dolls to look like their owners for a long time. This was very exciting news in my house when my daughter was younger. The fact that this is a popular idea tells us something about the psychology of play and the relationship a child can have with a doll. Having American Girl offer accessories that can help dolls look even more like their owners is a wonderful gift to give a child. It allows them to have their doll experience the things that they themselves experience.

Technology is improving the management of diabetes, but it often makes diabetes more visible: an insulin pump clipped to your pants, a continuous glucose monitor on your arm. Many of these things may make children feel different or alone. Being able to customize your doll to share in your experiences is therapeutic.

It may also help children to explain diabetes to their friends. Many people have misconceptions about type 1 diabetes (which is the most common type of diabetes in children). One is that people who get diabetes get it because they ate poorly or did not exercise enough. This is not true. Type 1 diabetes is caused by a number of factors; approximately half of the risk is genetic and the other half is environmental. It isn’t clear what environmental triggers are responsible for the increase in the incidence of type 1 diabetes.

Another misconception is that people with type 1 diabetes can never eat treats like cake or ice cream. This simply isn’t true. We encourage people with diabetes to have a healthy balanced diet but most insulin regimens allow them to adjust their insulin doses depending on what they are eating. Children with diabetes can have treats occasionally, just like children without diabetes.

The Robert I. Grossman, MD, and Elisabeth J. Cohen, MD, Pediatric Diabetes Center at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York at NYU Langone recognizes the special needs of children with diabetes and we offer a multi-disciplinary approach to help families manage this complex condition. We have not only pediatric endocrinologists who specialize in diabetes care but also certified diabetes educators, nurses, dieticians, a clinical social worker, and a child life specialist. Soon we will also have American Girl Diabetes Kits.

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

Mary Pat Gallagher, MD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the Director of the Robert I. Grossman, MD, and Elisabeth J. Cohen, MD, Pediatric Diabetes Center at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York at NYU Langone.