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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Injuries from pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups?


Just last month I saw an article about a child who was nearly scalped by his sippy cup during a car accident. The article was about the dangers of projectile objects in the car.  (For the full article, see the link.)

Now an article is released in Pediatrics on the numbers of injuries associated with bottles, pacifiers, and sippy cups during the past nearly 20 years.  The authors studied ER visits after children under 3 years of age were injured by one of these items designed for infants through preschoolers.  They did not include children who went to their own doctor or whose injuries were more minor and did not require medical attention, but the numbers were much higher than expected.  Nearly 200 young children a month visit an ER for injuries due to one of these items.  Lacerations were the most common injuries, especially to the mouth.  Injuries occurred mostly from falling, not product malfunctions.  They were most common in the 1-2 year age group, when kids are starting to walk around (and run!)

Take home message: use these items wisely.
Pacifiers are a great soothing tool to help infants and young children fall to sleep.  Limit them to sleep.  When kids are up playing, they don't need them.   This has been my advice for years due to the fact that keeping the paci in the bed also decreases risk of infections and aides in getting rid of it at an earlier age.  Now I have another reason!
Bottles are an essential source of nutrition for most infants.  Feeding time is also a comfort time.  Infants should be held for all feedings initially, then older infants can be seated if they are not still held. They do not need to walk around with a bottle in their mouth ever!  Eating on the go is unhealthy for us all.  We should sit at the table and eat.  (This might also decrease choking, as kids running around with food in their mouth are more likely to choke than those seated at a table.)  Toddlers should learn this habit young as well.  Once they are a year of age they should transition away from a bottle. 
Sippy cups also do not need to be carried around throughout the day. I often see kids with drinks other than water being carried around much of the day.  They simply don't need to do this: it is bad for their teeth and it increases overall calorie intake, contributing to obesity. Toddlers and older children can be offered drinks with meals, while seated at the table.  If thirsty between meals, have them sit and relax with their drink.  That is a good habit for us all, but our on-the-go society easily helps us forget the basics. 
Our kids teach us many things about life.  Maybe we can learn from them with these simple rules.  We can all sit to enjoy our meals and snacks and stop eating on the run!  We'll be healthier in many ways!