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Is toothpaste with fluoride a good choice for my child?

Through contact with the teeth, fluoride is absorbed into the tooth enamel and makes the enamel harder. As a result, the teeth are less susceptible to damage by acids, and this prevents cavities. However, fluoride does not only enter the tooth enamel. Whether it is applied or consumed, some fluoride enters the rest of the body as well.

There are four ways in which fluoride enters the bodies of children. 1) It is added to drinking water; 2) it is consumed when toothpaste is swallowed (research has shown that four to six year-old children still swallow approximately 30% of the toothpaste used); 3) it is applied at the dentist’s office directly to the teeth; and 4) in some cases, it is administered orally in the form of fluoride tablets. Through any means of exposure, because of their smaller body size, children will typically receive a higher dose of fluoride per unit of body mass as adults.

When we expose children to fluoride, a portion of the fluoride enters their bones. This contributes to higher fluoride levels in the bone at a younger age than would have been the case without artificial exposure to fluoride. It is interesting to note that breast milk contains very little fluoride. Even if a nursing mother is given fluoride tables, the levels of fluoride in the breast milk remain very low.

Hence, to my mind, there is reason to question whether a child’s body is capable of processing and disposing of excess fluoride in a healthy way. From the standpoint of certain healing traditions (such as that of anthroposophical medicine), the exposure of children to excess fluoride may have developmental and psychological influences which we do not yet fully understand.

However, some influences are clear and factual. If people are overexposed to fluoride, for example, they can develop white spots and/or brown blemishes on the enamel of the teeth, as well as grooves in the enamel. Among adults, excessive levels of fluoride can lead to joint stiffness and pain, as well as to increased risk of fractures.

Tips:

- Only use fluorinated toothpaste at such time as the child is capable of thoroughly rinsing and spitting out the toothpaste after brushing.

- Consider using a fluoride-free toothpaste, especially if there is already fluoride in the drinking water.

- If you use fluorinated toothpaste, use just a tiny bit on the toothbrush.

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What to do when your toddler has a weak stool

Young children ages 1-4 years often have a weak stool or even diarrhea. A healthy toddler can have weak stool even when all else is well. This problem tends to occur more fsrequently during the summer. Often this problem is very easy to solve.

Potential causes of a weak stool among young children include:

-          The first and most frequent cause is too much fruit juice, especially clear apple juice (In the clear juice enzymes have made the polysaccharides into monosaccharides. This in combination with the high levels of fructose and sorbitol in all apple juice can lead to malabsorption). In a normal diet, a maximum of 1 cup of unfiltered apple juice per day is usually okay—and to be encouraged when the child does not have a weak stool is such juice is quite nutritious.

-          Too little fat in the child’s diet. Up to 2 cups of whole milk products (milk, yoghurt, etc.) is part of a healthy diet for children ages 4 and under. Children under 4 can also benefit from moderate consumption of butter and oils.

-          Insufficient fiber in the child’s diet. Increase the use of wholegrain products.

-          A cause that is less well known is wheat flour. Wheat is the grain that contains the highest level of gluten. Gluten is hard to digest and can also lead to a weak stool. Try substituting products heavy in wheat (such as bread) with spelt. Spelt is an ancient grain that contains far less gluten than wheat. You can find spelt products at most alternative—and some mainstream—grocery stores.

-          Sometimes the weak stool can be cause by a lactose intolerance. However, when this is the cause of a weak stool, there are most often other complaints as well. If so, try goat milk products.

-          Legs and feet not being dressed warmly enough (especially walking barefoot in the summer).

If none of these causes seems to be present or if the changes recommended do not resolve the weak, please see your physician promptly.

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Preventing overstimulation with peat oil

In my practice and in schools, I have visited I see many children who suffer from overstimulation: an overload of sensory impressions in the course of a day. I have seen kindergartners who come home from school tired; kindergartners who have stomach pain, who have headaches, and even some who are unwilling to go to school. Among babies, I see that they are having a problem “digesting” what they saw and heard in daycare, at family parties and reunions, and in grocery stores. These babies tend to cry a lot after a busy day.

For such children, silk can be helpful, but it is often not enough. In this case, I recommend peat oil. I estimate that about 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 children benefit from using this oil. How do you know if your child might benefit from peat oil? Talk with the child’s teacher! Does your child always look up when someone comes in the classroom? Is he clearly disturbed when he is drawing or playing and the other children are noisy? Then your child may well benefit from peat oil—and if not, the oil can do no harm.

With small children, it is important to only put peat oil on the arms and legs and never on the chest. Peat oil creates a helpful “buffer” between an overstimulated child and her environment. Therefore, if you put it on the child’s chest, the oil may actually have the undesirable effect of preventing the child from being open to and interacting positively with the world around her. I once heard someone say, “When I put the oil on my arms and legs, other people can’t suck the energy out of me”.

The best moment to apply the oil often is in the morning before dressing the child. You can put a small amount (a quarter-size droptlet) in the palm of your hand and rub it thinly over the entire surface of the legs and arms. You may be surprised at how effective it is at helping children create a healthy balance with an environment by which they previously felt overstimulated. I have prescribed this oil may times and parents have reported remarkably positive results.

The official name of peat oil is solum ulogunosum or solum aesculus body oil. It can be found in many natural stores. Online, it can be ordered among other places at http://shop.urielpharmacy.com/solum-aesculus-body-oil-p676.aspx. (Please note: Uriel Pharmacy has no financial or other relationship with FloweringChild.com.)

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My 14-month child old doesn’t obey!

“My 14-month old doesn’t obey. What can I do about it?”

I have the following suggestions:

1. Avoid the word “don’t”. Just remove it temporarily from your vocabularly. Instead, tell a child what she needs to do. For example, do NOT say, “Don’t throw your food on the floor.” Instead, try “Keep your food on the table.” If you give the child a normal (rather than sippy) cup, do NOT say, “Don’t spill your milk.” Instead, try “Hold your cup carefully.” Children at the age of 14-months create a picture based on what is said to them. When you use the word “don’t”, your sentence inevitably describes the behavior that is NOT desired. The 14-month old, however, forms of picture of that undesired behavior nonetheless. And he is not yet able to imagine alternatives and this can also create a feeling of uncertainly and anxiety. So keep your language positive: describe the behavior you want, not the behavior you don’t want!

2. Be clear with your words and do not ask questions if you want him to do something. For example, you can say “Peter, come to the sink to wash your hands.” If he doesn’t obey, you can go to him and take his hand gently and simply help him to do what you want him to do. If the child is busy playing with something, create a transition between his play and the action you want him to take. For example, you can discuss the beautiful tower he made, instruct him to put the very last block on the tower and then come with you to wash his hands. (This is also a useful strategy for preventing tantrums once the child turns two.)

3. Up to about 14 months, children require a very simple approach. For instance, if the child is engaging in activities that are not allowed (such as digging in the plant dirt, ripping pages in a book, or turning the television on and off), simply pick up the child and move her to a place in which play is allowed. Do not argue with the child with the idea that she understands your reasoned statements about plant dirt, ripping pages, and turning on the television being forbidden. Use direct action at these ages to enforce these boundaries and everyone will be happier.

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Silk protects against eczema

Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) is a very common disease. In the United States, scientific studies show that at least 7% percent of children have been diagnosed with eczema. In fact, because it is not always diagnosed, eczema may be far more widespread, and most sources agree that the condition has been on the rise in developed countries for some time.

Silk is a very soft material. It is like a second skin. When you or your child has eczema, silk has a demonstrated effect on the healing process. The following two studies from reputable scientific journals documented the positive impact of silk on atopic dermatitis:

British Journal of Dermatology, 2004, Vol. 150, p. 127-131.

This study examined 46 children with eczema. 31 wore silk and 15 wore cotton for one week. Within one week, 83% of the children who wore silk had shown improvement, whereas none of the children wearing cotton had shown any improvement. Parents also reported a reduction in itching and scratching among the children who wore silk.

Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 2007, p. 1-4, DOI/Google: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2006.00511.x

This study examined 22 children with eczema. One arm was covered with silk and the other with cotton. For 12 weeks in a row, the study documented a reduction of the eczema on the arm with the silk without a comparable reduction on the arm with cotton.

Not all children will experience a reduction in the symptoms of eczema when they wear silk. However, for the children with eczema who do experience relief due to silk, itching and inflammation can be reduced significantly.

It is not known exactly how silk helps to mitigate the symptoms of eczema. However, part of the answer may lay in the fact that the silk threads are very long and smooth and therefore soothing to the skin. (Compared to silk, cotton has very short and rough threads and is relatively abrasive for the skin.) Also, silk helps to regulate skin temperature and absorbs humidity quite effectively. Finally, the cool feeling produced by wearing silk also may reduce itching.

The beauty is that silk does not have any side effects like the corticosteroids most often prescribed as a treatment for atopic dematitis.

As with the silk tested in the abovementioned two studies, the pure silk sold by FloweringChild.com is knitted and Sericin-free. Further, it is organic and follows the rules of the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard).

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Early and extensive crying

In my article on Developing Good Sleeping Patterns for Young Babies, I cover the most common causes of colick and crying in babies. In this blog entry, I want to focus on that very small percentage of babies who cry even in the first two weeks of life, and who continue to cry for three or more hours per day thereafter. Though crying can of course have many causes, this particular type of early and extensive crying can be caused by imbalances in the neck or skull as a result of the trauma of the birthing process. Therefore, when mothers report this type of abnormal crying and I can identify no other plausible cause, I refer mothers to a licensed Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) with experience in manual (or cranial) osteopathic treatment of babies. The osteopath will examine the child and, if appropriate, treat the child with very soft, subtle manual techniques. I have seen a number of babies who have been helped dramatically and within a short period of time by these soft and subtle adjustments. I encourage you to look into this method for yourself or loved ones if the causes of early and extensive crying are not apparent.

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Baby’s first solid foods

“I waited with the solids until my daughter was 7 months. Every time I try the food she spits it out. What do I need to do now?”

Many parents start their babies on solids at as early as four months. Some wait a bit longer, which is okay. However, according to the World Health Organizations, by six months, babies need fruit and vegetables from the point of view of nutrition. Babies learn how to eat from a spoon most easily at an average age of 5 months (your baby’s ideal moment for learning to eat with a spoon could be earlier or later). It is normal that babies spit out solid foods during the first couple of days. When you start with solids the spoon needs to be small and flat, given after the baby opens her mouth. The baby will learn most effectively how to eat with a spoon if you take the spoon out of the baby’s mouth horizontally (not raising the spoon up as you remove it in order to wipe off the spoon on the baby’s upper lip). All food needs to be at body temperature! The best is to use fresh, organic and local food. Start with sweet fruit like apple, pear, melon, a little banana, oranges, blueberries and raspberries. The best is to give it every day around the same time, because it is important to get into a predictable rhythm. If it goes well, you can offer fruit once a day and vegetables once a day (with a maximum of two tablespoons per serving of each). It is ideal if you give the vegetables in the morning right after the first nap and the fruit in the afternoon after waking up from the second nap. By giving the food just after the baby has slept, the baby will be more alert and able to learn this new skill. As a first vegetable, you can give sweet carrots. If the baby’s stool remains normal, and your baby is used to the taste, you can mix the sweet carrots with cauliflower, broccoli, peas, green beans or zucchini. (Tip: to prepare natural fruit and vegetable meals for your baby, boil or parboil fruit or vegetables and then puree.)

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Parenting can be a joy

Dear Reader,

Flowering Child is a site designed to help you experience parenting as a joy. Parenting can be a tough job; it can be overwhelming. I know. I have three children myself, now ages 8, 5, and 2. And I see hundreds of mothers and children (and a few fathers too!) in my practice as a well-babycare physician.

However, it never ceases to amaze me that just a few strategies make the difference for most parents between a family life that seems under control and one that seems unmanageable. The key strategies are different for every family, since every family has different challenges. However, it’s often some combination of strategies relating to how to get children to bed, how to help them eat right (e.g. healthy food; hypoallergenic food), how to clothe children in ways that help them feel warm and protected, as well as things like self-care for mothers, boundary setting, and the use of oils and homeopathic medications.

Right now, Flowering Child sells natural organic wool and silk undergarments for children. Yet our mission is far more broad: we hope to support parents in their essential job, and we also hope to be a resource for others (such as friends and grandparents) who want to support parents with young children. I’m going to write this blog as frequently as I can with insights gleaned from my daily practice with mothers and children, and my husband, who has a PhD from Maastricht University and a Master’s degree (both in public health) from UC Berkeley, will chime in once in awhile with something for the dads in our lives.

Please stay tuned. And don’t miss the longer articles I have written and will continue to write at my articles and blog page.

Best regards,

Ester Delhoofen, MD

Founder and President
FloweringChild.com

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