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Photography by William Andrea
How do I get my older children to sleep in their own beds? Children older than 6 years should not be sleeping in their parents’ beds. To begin, have your child fall asleep in his or her bed. The ultimate goal is to have kids sleep through the night there, but don’t be discouraged if they wake and return to your side. Be firm every night in returning your child to his or her own room. Having older children sleep in their own beds fosters a sense of independence and teaches them self-soothing techniques. Above all, be patient.
I’ve seen reports that multivitamins are of little benefit to most people, with the possible exceptions of vitamin D, calcium, and B vitamins. What data is there on vitamin use in children? Should my kids take a daily multivitamin? Multivitamin use is not necessary for healthy children who are growing normally and have a well-balanced diet, though it is not contraindicated. Parents should be aware of possible interactions between some medications and multivitamins, and they should be careful not to give children doses of vitamins or mineral supplements that are greater than the recommended daily allowance.
We’d like to move on from breast-feeding. How do I wean my toddler from nursing? Breast-feeding is comforting to a toddler, so the key is to wean gradually. Many mothers begin the weaning process by setting routine times in the home to nurse, so that the child no longer breast-feeds on demand. These routine times can then be gradually decreased.
I hate giving my kids drugs. What are the best natural remedies for colds and the flu? At the moment, there is no conclusive evidence to indicate that zinc, echinacea, garlic, or vitamin C are beneficial in preventing or treating colds. Some remedies that might help: chicken noodle soup; plenty of fluids, such as water, juice, milk, and breast milk; and saline nose drops. For sore throats in older children, warm lemon water mixed with honey can help (but only give honey to children age 1 or older, as it is a potential source of spores that cause botulism in infants). A saltwater gargle (a quarter to a half teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water) can also work well for older children. Hand-washing, hand sanitizers, and the use of disinfectants are the best practices for reducing transmission of the
common cold and flu.
Flu shot or no flu shot? I’m not sure. What do you think? Yes! Along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, I recommend that children 6 months of age and older should receive a flu shot. Although children with chronic medical problems are at higher risk of complications from the flu, healthy children are also at risk. During the 2012–13 influenza season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were 158 laboratory-confirmed pediatric deaths due
My son had a severe case of HSP. What residual effects of the disease should we be aware of? Henoch-Schönlein purpura is an uncommon disease that classically presents with a characteristic rash, joint swelling and pain, abdominal pain, and kidney disease. The symptoms are usually mild but sometimes can be severe. Progressive kidney disease and high blood pressure can sometimes be a concern, but are seen less commonly in children than in adults.
About the Doctor: Dr. Janet Ruzycki is chief of the Department of Pediatrics at St. Luke’s Hospital. She received her medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine and did her residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.