Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘children’

Cold Medicine? Cough Medicine? … No, Thank You

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, March 14, 2011

You’ve been up half the night with your toddler, who came home from day care with the latest flu bug and can’t sleep due to a nasty cough and stuffy nose. You head to your medicine cabinet, which is stocked with all sorts of over-the-counter cough and cold remedies. But which one do you choose? Actually, the answer is none.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a public health advisory recommending that over-the-counter cough and cold products not be given to infants and children under 2 years of age because of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects that can occur. In the advisory, the FDA said it “strongly supports the actions taken by many pharmaceutical manufacturers to voluntarily withdraw cough and cold medicines being sold for use with this age group.”

Where do you turn when your infant or toddler has the sniffles or a cough? A recent study suggests that a natural alternative commonly found in your kitchen could provide children – and parents – with much-needed relief. The study, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, found that parents rated honey most favorably for symptomatic relief of their child’s nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty because of a cough due to an upper respiratory tract infection.

One hundred five children ages 2 to 18 years old with upper respiratory tract infections were given either a single dose of buckwheat honey, honey-flavored dextromethorphan (a common ingredient in many over-the-counter cold medications) or no treatment at all 30 minutes prior to bedtime. A dose of honey consistently scored the best while no treatment scored the worst. However, it is important to note that children under one year of age should not be given honey.

If you decide to give an over-the-counter cough or cold medicine to children over the age of 2, the FDA recommends parents follow these guidelines. (By the way, the FDA is debating whether to extend its public health advisory to include children up to age 6.)

  • Check the “active ingredients” section of the drug facts label to help you understand what active ingredients are in the medicine and what symptoms each ingredient is intended to treat.
  • Be careful not to give your child more than one over-the-counter medicine, as they each may have high concentrations of more than one active ingredient, essentially giving your child an overdose of that ingredient. For example, children should not take more than one medicine containing an antihistamine.
  • Carefully follow the directions on the “drug facts” portion of the label.
  • Only use the measuring spoon or cup that comes with the medicine or those made specially for measuring drugs.
  • Choose over-the-counter cough and cold medicines with childproof safety caps and store them out of the reach of children.
  • Understand that using over-the-counter cough and cold medicine is only intended to treat your child’s symptoms.
  • Do not use these products to sedate your child or make them sleepier.
  • Call a physician, pharmacist or other health care professional if you have any questions.

But remember, according to the study, a dose of honey just might prove more effective, and you probably won’t have to do much convincing to get your child to swallow it. It’s not a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, but a spoonful of honey just might be the next best thing when dealing with your child’s cough.

– Dr. Gray

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Posted in General Health, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Nutrition For Your Toddler

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hi, guys!!! Vacation and a ton of things on my plate and presto!… it’s been a month and a half since I’ve posted. Anyway, I apologize for the delay and let’s get this going again.

Congratulations, you are a new parent! Your beautiful baby is depending on you for many things, and you have to make important choices about what to feed them, including how and when to help them transition to whole foods. The following tips focus on the crucial time period from 6 months to 4 years old, and will help take some of the guesswork out of providing your toddler with necessary nutrition while keeping meals interesting, nutritious and varied.

It’s important to remember that even though extensive research and countless studies have been done in the area of nutrition for children, not every child is alike. For this reason, you should always consult your child’s pediatrician prior to making any changes to your child’s diet or their nutritional intake. It’s always a good idea to avoid any foods or specific substances which you know may cause an allergic reaction in your baby.

When dealing with a picky eater, give your toddler choices. You are in control and you can give them the choice of several nutritious, attractive foods. You might want to try keeping the portions small – too much food at one time may overwhelm the child.

  1. Offer a nibble tray. You might try letting your toddler graze through an array of foods offered in an ice cube tray, a muffin tin or a compartmentalized dish. With bite-size portions of interesting foods in each section, your 2-year-old will enjoy this creative smorgasbord.
  2. Let your toddler get involved with meal preparation. Toddlers like spreading (or more precisely, smearing) toppings on their food. Let them top their own food.
  3. Let your toddler drink their meal. If your youngster would rather drink than eat, try making a smoothie. Milk and fruit, combined with supplements such as juice, wheat germ, yogurt or peanut butter, can be the basis of healthy meals. Caution: Avoid drinks with raw eggs, as you may risk salmonella poisoning.
  4. Find creative ways to disguise veggies. Slip grated veggies into favorite foods such as rice, cottage cheese, muffins and even macaroni and cheese.
  5. Don’t be a slave to the clock. If your youngster insists on eating chicken in the morning and cereal in the evening, let them! The distinction between breakfast, lunch and dinner may have little meaning to the child, and this schedule is likely better than not eating at all.

Respect your child’s developmental stages. Typically, between their 2nd and 3rd birthdays, your child may become set in their ways about everything, including food. If the cheese must be cut into cubes rather than grated for them to eat it, go with it. It might be better to do it the child’s way, because they may not be acting stubborn – they could just have a mindset about the order of things in their world. This phase too will likely pass.

Posted in General Health, Nutrition | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Common Mistakes Parents Make When Feeding Children

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Here’s a look at six common mistakes parents make when feeding their children.

Sending Children Out of the Kitchen

It is understandable that parents don’t want children close to hot stoves, boiling water and sharp knives. But studies suggest that involving children in meal preparation is an important first step in getting them to try new foods.

Pressuring Them to Take a Bite

Demanding that a child eat at least one bite of everything seems reasonable, but it’s likely to backfire. Studies show that children react negatively when parents pressure them to eat foods, even if the pressure offers a reward.

Keeping “Good Stuff” Out of Reach

Parents worry that children will binge on treats, so they often put them out of sight or on a high shelf. But a large body of research shows that if a parent restricts a food, children just want it more.

Dieting in Front of Your Children

Kids are tuned into their parents’ eating preferences and are far more likely to try foods if they see their mother or father eating them. Parents who are trying to lose weight should be aware of how their dieting habits can influence a child’s perceptions about food and healthful eating.

Serving Boring Vegetables

Calorie-counting parents often serve plain steamed vegetables, so it’s no wonder children are reluctant to eat them. Nutritionists say parents shouldn’t be afraid to dress up the vegetables.

Giving Up Too Soon

Eating preferences often change. Parents should keep preparing a variety of healthful foods and putting them on the table, even if a child refuses to take a bite. In young children, it may take 10 or more attempts over several months to introduce a food.

(This was excerpted from an article of Mercola’s that I read a couple years ago)

Posted in Nutrition | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

10 Ways to Teach Your Children the Value of a Healthy Lifestyle

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, August 17, 2009

  1. Practice what you preach. It’s considerably easier to convince your children to adopt healthy habits if you’re doing the same.
  2. Involve the whole family. Establishing a regular pattern of exercising as a family accomplishes two important things: It keeps everyone in shape and serves as important bonding time.
  3. Limit screen time. Too much time watching television or playing video/computer games can lead to excessive snacking and a sedentary lifestyle.
  4. Make it fun. Let your children discover which specific healthy activities they truly enjoy. If they don’t like it, they won’t stick with it.
  5. Focus on the positives. Celebrate your children’s successes and help them develop a healthy self-image. Low self-esteem can lead to poor eating, exercise and lifestyle habits.
  6. Set goals and limits. If goals are excessively restrictive or vague, children are less likely to rise to the challenge. Establish clear nutrition and exercise goals (dessert two times a week; a half-hour walk five times a week, etc.).
  7. Reward wisely. Rather than rewarding children with desserts or sugary snacks (a common tactic), find healthy ways to show a job well done.
  8. Turn them into chefs. Get your children involved in planning and preparing meals; then sit down at the dinner table together and enjoy the healthy meal you’ve created together.
  9. Knowledge is power. Teach children the value of reading food labels and being aware of the healthy (and not so healthy) ingredients in the foods they eat.
  10. Don’t pass the buck. You’re the parent – that means it’s up to you to teach your children about good health. School and health care providers can only do so much.

Posted in General Health, Stretches & Exercises | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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