Mommy Mayday

Helpful advice from moms to moms, with added insight from a doc.

I am nervous about my 18 month old’s speech. I have an older daughter who had more advanced speech at that age. Should I listen to my doctor and wait it out or take my younger daughter to a speech pathologist now?
—Speechless in Manalapan, New Jersey


Dear Speechless:
I would wait it out. Around 20 months, you will see a big difference in your child’s speech. At 2 years, a child’s vocabulary explodes! On another note, if you don’t feel totally comfortable with your pediatrician, maybe you should consider changing doctors.

Hang in there. You have years of listening to your child bark orders at you— right around the corner. Enjoy the silence.
—Heather Iocolano, mother of Jack, Bayside, New York

Dear Speechless:
Always go with your gut. If you feel your daughter needs to see a speech pathologist, then make the appointment. Your doctor spends maybe ten minutes with your child, but you are with her all day, every day, so you know best.
—Gina Balsan, mother of Jacqueline Grace, Oceanside, New York

What the Doctor Says:
Speech is an important indicator in the development of our brain. Just like any computer, the brain needs a language to function. Without a language, storage of information becomes difficult.

Depending upon how much of a delay there is in the language development of your child, you should be concerned. By 18 months, your child should be able to use six meaningful words and follow a one-step command, such as “Get the ball.” There is then a rapid increase in the development of language. And by 2 years of age, your child should have a 50-word vocabulary, be able to use two-word phrases, be able to use negatives and possessives, and be able to point to body parts. If you are concerned, discuss this with your physician and ask for an early intervention referral. The earlier speech delays are addressed, the faster the resolution of the problem.
—Dr. Steven Emmett, pediatrician, Brooklyn, New York

My 2-year-old son loves sweets. I try to make him eat healthy, but he refuses to eat unless he is given junk food. Because I don’t want him to go the whole day without eating, he often wins food battles. How can I get my son to eat better?
—Sweet Tooth in Manhattan

Dear Sweet Tooth:
You could try to incorporate healthy sweets into meals and snacks. My son loves yogurt with a little bit of honey. A favorite healthy breakfast that sates a sweet tooth is whole wheat waffles with bite size pieces of banana in the syrup.
—Heather Iocolano

Dear Sweet Tooth:
Kids love their junk! To help with his sweet tooth craving, try giving your son chocolate-flavored or vanilla-flavored soy milk, or even something like Ovaltine, which is sweet and has nutrients. In addition, you can make food fun. For example, on pancakes with syrup, place sliced bananas for eyes and use Reddi-wip for a smile. Or you can take a classic meal like peanut butter and jelly and roll it in a whole wheat wrap. Vegetables and dip are also fun. You can add a few chips to the mix, too. And if your son is a fan of pasta or mac and cheese, throw in a few peas. Also, involve your son in cooking. Make a pizza together. When it’s ready, make a big deal about how great the pizza looks. Then eat it! Tacos are also entertaining to make and eat. Good luck!
—Mimma Modica-Kane, mother of Nicolina, Ozone Park, New York

Dear Sweet Tooth:
I have often heard that it may take up to a dozen times before a child likes a new food. While you may give in with sweets, don’t give up on the good stuff just yet!
—Gina Balsan

What the Doctor Says:
We all love sweets; it’s in our genetics. Unfortunately, the early introduction of sweets into a child’s diet, particularly juice, programs him to demand more. The issue here is one of control rather than eating well. No child will eat a balanced meal every day. But over time, if offered a varied selection, the foods consumed will be balanced. Your job is not to make your child eat healthy. It’s to offer a wide variety of foods, without the junk foods, and wait. No 2-year-old child will starve himself to death. However, children tend to graze and therefore need varied choices.
—Dr. Steven Emmett

I am having a hard time potty training my 2½ year old. Any suggestions?
—Pooped Out in Tarrytown, New York

Dear Pooped Out:
Listen, you carried the baby for nine months, went through labor and delivery, and cared for the little one for 2.5 years. Tell Daddy it’s his turn; let him figure it out!
—Heather Iocolano

Dear Pooped Out:
My daughter was potty trained at 25 months old. At the beginning of her training, I asked other moms for their thoughts on the issue and read related books. I tried a lot of different things! Here’s what I did that I think really helped. But remember, all children are different and they’ll go when they’re ready.

In the beginning of my daughter’s training, I made “going to the potty” a part of her bedtime routine, which also included a great DVD, Elmo’s Potty Time. After dinner, I would put on the DVD for my daughter. Once it was over, it was bath time. As we headed to the bathroom, I would say things like “How cool is that— Elmo makes peepee in the potty?!” or “Let’s try to make peepee in the potty like Elmo.” I would place my daughter on the potty, and we’d either sing a song together or I’d read a book. In the event we heard a tinkle, I’d let her finish and then we’d have a victory dance! I did this for a few weeks and, eventually, she wanted to use the potty at other times during the day. It was mainly her decision, and it seemed to work for us. I also made a potty chart, and my daughter received stickers to place on it every time she went on the potty.
—Mimma Modica-Kane

Dear Pooped Out:
If you are having a hard time, then stop and wait until your child is ready to go potty. There is nothing more draining than forcing a kid to potty train when he or she is not ready. And by forcing the issue you may actually prolong the success of it.
—Gina Balsan

What the Doctor Says:
Wait. I do not know how far you have gone in attempting to train the child. I will assume that your child knows what you would like and what the potty looks like. My preference for the potty is the one that sits on the floor rather than one that sits on the commode. It seems to me that we adults would not feel comfortable sitting on a commode six feet off of the floor and five feet wide— why should a child feel comfortable so high up?

Most children train themselves if given the opportunity. Assuming your child can communicate with you when he has to go, and he is demanding to be changed when soiled, he is ready to potty train. If he can go all day with a soiled diaper, then your child is not ready and, by attempting to potty train, a battle for control will result. However, if your child is requesting to be changed, your response should be: “Wait five minutes; I am busy. Next time, tell me before you go and we can use the potty.” This creates the association of using the potty to avoid becoming uncomfortable and should result in a rapid training.
—Dr. Steven Emmett