AAP Advises Keeping Your Child in Rear-Facing Car Seat until Age 2


The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a new statement advising parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they exceed the height or weight limit for their seat’s rear-facing capacity.

Right now, the law in most states is that children MUST be rear-facing until age 1 and/or 20 pounds.

CNN reports, "A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention found that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing. Another study found riding rear-facing to be five times safer than forward-facing."

While this may come as a shock to some parents, the AAP has been encouraging parents to keep car seats rear-facing since 2002.

This video from Seattle Children’s Hospital explains some of the reasoning and also shows how to install a car seat.


Infant Car Seat Safety from Seattle Children’s on Vimeo.

How do you feel about this new push from the AAP? Will it change when you go front-facing or will you switch your child back to rear-facing?

National TV Turnoff Week

Being the editor of a parenting magazine comes with lots of advantages. One of those advantages is that I am able to keep up with the latest news in child development, which I hope helps me become a better, more-educated parent. But being aware of this news also comes with disadvantages … like episodes of mommy guilt when I don’t follow some of the guidelines set by experts like The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

For example, The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that parents not expose their children to TV until 2 years old. (Children older than 2 should be limited to 1 to 2 hours of total screen time a day.) Before I had Jack, this sounded completely doable. But I must confess … TV has become a routine part of Jack’s day … a small part … but a routine part nonetheless. We have discovered that letting Jack watch an age-appropriate DVD before nap time and bedtime makes it easier to change a super-wiggly toddler’s diaper and clothes and helps his body wind down a bit before trying to sleep. It’s a bit selfish on our part, but it simplifies life and works for our family. I do feel guilty when I read about the AAP’s recommendations. That’s why I’m committing to stick to the guidelines once Jack turns 2 and limit his screen time.

130_camping.jpgDoes your family spend too much time in front of a screen? Did you know that this week is National TV Turnoff Week? It is the perfect opportunity to turn off the TV, computer, and video games and spend some quality time together as a family. Go for a walk or a bike ride together. Go camping in your own backyard or in a local state park. Play in the yard until it gets dark outside. Play board games together. There are so many great things families can do together besides watching TV.

 Looking for strategies for taming screen time? Don’t miss Rebecca Isbell’s Growth Spurts article "Taming Screen Time" in our April 2010 issue. And for simple ideas for using household items to create hours of imaginative play (without a screen), check out G.G. Mathis’ article "The Value of a Box."

National Poison Prevention Week


Each year, approximately 2.4 million people — more than half under age 6 — swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some important tips to prevent and to treat exposures to poison.

To poison proof your home:
Most poisonings occur when parents or caregivers are home but not paying attention. The most dangerous potential poisons are medicines, cleaning products, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, furniture polish, gasoline, kerosene, and lamp oil. Be especially vigilant when there is a change in routine. Holidays, visits to and from grandparents’ homes, and other special events may bring greater risk of poisoning if the usual safeguards are defeated or not in place.

  • Store medicine, cleaners, paints/varnishes, and pesticides in their original packaging in locked cabinets or containers, out of sight and reach of children.
  • Install a safety latch — that locks when you close the door — on child-accessible cabinets containing harmful products.
  • Purchase and keep all medicines in containers with safety caps. Discard unused medication.
  • Never refer to medicine as “candy” or another appealing name.
  • Check the label each time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage.
  • Never place poisonous products in food or drink containers.
  • Keep coal, wood, or kerosene stoves in safe working order.
  • Maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

If your child is unconscious, not breathing, or having convulsions or seizures due to poison contact or ingestion, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If your child has come in contact with poison, and has mild or no symptoms, call your poison control center at 1(800) 222-1222.

Different types and methods of poisoning require different, immediate treatment:

  • Swallowed poison – Remove the item from the child, and have the child spit out any remaining substance. Do not make your child vomit. Do not use syrup of ipecac.
  • Skin poison — Remove the child’s clothes and rinse the skin with lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Eye poison — Flush the child’s eye by holding the eyelid open and pouring a steady stream of room temperature water into the inner corner.
  • Poisonous fumes – Take the child outside or into fresh air immediately. If the child has stopped breathing, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and do not stop until the child breathes on his or her own or until someone can take over.

Excerpted with permission of the American Academy of Pediatrics, February 2010.

Early Arrival

In the December 2009 issue of ParentLife, we chose to cover a topic that is very close to my heart. In our monthly column "On the Way" (for expectant parents), we provided information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about bringing home a premature infant. I can tell you all about this from firsthand experience!

105_NICUJack.jpgDue to pregnancy complications, my little boy (Jack) was born one month early. Because he was early, his lungs were not as strong as they needed to be, and while I’m not sure he was ever in a life-threatening situation, he needed help getting the oxygen he needed. He spent a week in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where the amazing nurses took fabulous care of him until he was strong enough to come home!

The day we brought him home was very exciting and very scary. For a week, nurses had been there to help us take care of him and oversee that we were doing things correctly. In fact, the night before we brought him home, the hospital allowed us to "room in" with him. They have a special room right next to the NICU where parents are allowed to stay overnight on a test run before sending a baby home. We were responsible for his care all night, but it was comforting knowing that a nurse was only steps away at all times if we needed her! Suddenly, we were home with this tiny life. It’s scary enough bringing home a full-term, healthy baby. But add to that a month of prematurity and breathing issues and it was downright scary. It took us some time to relax and trust that Jack was doing fine and breathing on his own without any trouble.

While the first few weeks with Jack were scary for us, we are very blessed that everything turned out fine and there have been no long-term problems. Not every family, can say that. Many families have babies that spend much more time in the NICU and have long-term complications to worry about. That is why the ParentLife team felt it was important to provide expectant parents with information related to this topic. We want to provide encouragement and support to families, especially those going through a difficult time.

How have your family helped support parents going through a difficut time like this? Or have you been in this kind of situation? Where did you find encouragement and support? What advice would you have for those wanting to help? How can ParentLife provide more support?

More Holiday Safety Tips

As you gather together with family and friends to celebrate this holiday season, be sure to keep the following safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics in mind.


Toy Safety

  • Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills, and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.       
  • Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully.
  • To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give young children (under age 10) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
  • Children under age 3 can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age 3 cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Children can have serious stomach and intestinal problems — including death — after swallowing button batteries and magnets. Keep them away from young children and call your health care provider immediately if your child swallows one.
  • Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
  • Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.

Food Safety

  • Bacteria are often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry, and thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits.
  • Be sure to keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child’s exploring hands.
  • Wash your hands frequently, and make sure your children do the same.
  • Never put a spoon used to taste food back into food without washing it.
  • Always keep raw foods and cooked foods separately, and use separate utensils when preparing them.
  • Always thaw meat in the refrigerator, never on the countertop.
  • Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.

Happy Visiting

  • Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
  • Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots.
  • Keep a list with all of the important phone numbers you or a babysitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your pediatrician, and the national Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222).
  • Traveling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child’s stress levels. Trying to stick to your child’s usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.


  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
  • Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

2009 – American Academy of Pediatrics

Holiday Safety Tips

Thanksgiving is just over a week away and many families are already putting up their Christmas decorations! The holidays are an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday season, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)


  • 93_Christmas-tree.jpgWhen purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant."
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators, or portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.


  • Check all tree lights — even if you have just purchased them — before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets, or loose connections.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.  To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.


  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to prevent them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
  • Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.
  • Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons, and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if near flame.


2009 – American Academy of Pediatrics

Stay tuned to the blog for even more safety tips from the AAP next week!

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

All Dressed Up

  • 89_halloween.jpgPlan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement, or contact with flame.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs, and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.

Carve a Niche

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers.  Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Votive candles are safest for candle-lit pumpkins.
  • Candle-lit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

Home Safe Home

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes, and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

On the Trick-or-Treat Trail

  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:
    1. Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    2. Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
    3. Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
    4. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
    5. Never cut across yards or use alleys.
    6. Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
    7. Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
  • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

Healthy Halloween

  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped, or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

© 10/09 American Academy of Pediatrics

For even more safety tips, to send these tips to a friend, or to download them in Spanish, visit http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/octhalloween.cfm.

From Bottle to Cup

I can honestly say that my little boy, Jack, has been an easy baby so far. He may be busy all the time and in constant motion, but he is fairly laidback when it comes to changes in routine and environment. He made the move to baby food without any complaint. He gave up his pacifier completely on his own around 9 months. The swtich from formula to milk was a breeze. And now baby food is history and he is eating table food. That’s why I assumed that moving him from a bottle to a sippy cup would be a piece of cake.

Well … I was terribly wrong. We tried for one weekend to offer him milk in a sippy cup to see how it went. Each time, he got excited when he would see his milk but he took one drink and pushed it away. He had no desire to drink his milk in anything but a bottle. More concerned with the amount of milk he was getting then the cup, I caved each time after about 10 minutes of trying and moved the milk to a bottle.

Many of my friends told me they made the switch cold turkey. If their babies didn’t take milk from the cup, they just didn’t get their milk. It worked really well for them, and they made the transition within days. But I’m just not sure I’m ready for that yet. I’m not sure I can be that strong!

I am encouraged that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends making the switch to a cup by 18 months. That means that we have a little over 4 months to make the transition. We have at least made the switch to bottles with soft, sippy-cup style spouts. It’s at least a step in the right direction.

So I’m curious … how did you transition your child from a bottle to a sippy cup? What worked? What didn’t work? Are their other transitions that you struggled with … such as moving from a crib to a toddler bed? Share your tips with us and other ParentLife readers by leaving a comment!

Is Your Child Quirky?

In the June 2009 issue of ParentLife, Jennifer Holt’s article "A Quirky Kid" encourages parents to maintain a balanced perspective about their children’s quirky behaviors. Are you concerned that your child’s quirks may mean something more? If so, talk to your pediatrician about having your child’s development evaluated.

What can you expect from an evaluation?
When a school professional or pediatrician recommends your child be tested, here are a few tips.


  • Expect that the process will take time, involving multiple assessment tools and many steps.
  • Write down your questions ahead of time. Bring a notebook and pen to jot down notes when professionals are sharing evaluation results. They will prepare reports in written form that are often written in educational or medical jargon. Be sure to ask for clarification in terms that are easy to understand.
  • Do not be overwhelmed by the number of professionals involved in the assessment process. They all want what is best for your child, and they are tapping every resource they have to find some answers.
  • Approach diagnoses with a healthy sense of skepticism. You know your child best, so if something is not making sense to you, get a second opinion!
  • Evaluation should lead to a plan of action. If your child receives a label, it should come with a set of recommended interventions for both home and school settings. If no diagnosis is reached, the multidisciplinary team should still have some suggested steps for you to take next.

If you would like more information, be sure to check out the following Web sites.

Has your child been evaluated for developmental delays? Do you have any encouragement to offer parents who may be going through this right now?

Art Contest for Kids


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) invites children to enter a national art contest with a chance to win a trip to Washington, DC. The contest is open to boys and girls in three groups, grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12, and the theme is "Protecting Children from Tobacco Smoke.”

Group winners and their parents will be invited to a presentation ceremony at the 2009 AAP National Conference & Exhibition in Washington, DC, on Saturday, October 17. Each first-place winner will receive $500 and up to $1,000 for travel expenses. The three second-place winners will each receive $250. The winners’ schools will be awarded matching amounts. Winners will have their artwork featured on the AAP Web site and promotional materials.  

“There are still far too many young people who smoke and many pick up this deadly habit while they are at school,” warns AAP President David Tayloe, Jr, MD, FAAP. “This is an opportunity for children to exercise their creative side to alert other children – and parents — to the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke.”
This year’s contest is an initiative of the AAP’s Julius B. Richmond Center, supported by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute, and dedicated to the elimination of children’s exposure to tobacco and secondhand smoke.

To enter, children should submit an original piece of artwork to: National Art Contest, American Academy of Pediatrics, 141, Northwest Point Boulevard, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007. Rules, official entry forms and consent forms must accompany all entries and are available online. Entries must be postmarked by July 31, 2009. Winning entries will be selected by a panel of judges including pediatricians, and announced in the summer.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

Are you and your kids excited that summer is almost here? What are you planning to do this summer?