Archive for category: Infants

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexpected, and unexplained death of a baby under one year of age. SIDS is one of the leading causes of infant death in healthy infants between the age of one month and one year in Canada. SIDS can happen in any family. Why babies die from SIDS is not completely understood, but there are things you can do to help reduce the risk of SIDS and make your baby safer.

SIDS is one of the leading causes of infant death in Canada.

SIDS is different from accidental death due to strangulation or suffocation. This can occur when a baby gets trapped between objects (e.g., mattress and the wall) or against a person’s body. Accidental death could also result from the presence of items in the bed (e.g., pillows, stuffed toys), the baby lying face down, or the parent or another child rolling onto the baby, thereby limiting the baby’s breathing.



Safe Sleeping

Wherever your baby sleeps, you can reduce the risk of death by making sure your baby sleeps safely each and every time. Make sure you talk about the following safe sleeping practices with everyone who cares for your baby.

Canadian guidelines recommend the following strategies to help reduce the incidence of SIDS:


  • Always put your baby to sleep on their back.
  • Make sure your baby’s mattress is firm and flat.
  • Take out any bumper pads, quilts, toys, pillows, or any other item in the sleep environment.
  • Keep the room temperature comfortable; not too hot.
  • Avoid over-bundling and covering the face and head of your baby.
  • Dress your baby in appropriate clothes for the room temperature (not too hot or cold).
  • Make sure no one smokes around your baby.
  • Sitting devices such as car seats, strollers, swings, and infant carriers should not be used for routine sleep.
  • Breastfeed your baby if you can.
  • Immunize your baby.
  • Use separate sleep surfaces if you have multiples (e.g., twins).

Alternative Safe Sleep Surfaces

To reduce the risk of SIDS, it is best to put your baby to sleep on their back in a crib, cradle, or bassinet after feeding.

If using an alternative sleep surface, ensure it is firm, flat, and placed on the floor. Examples may include a basket, a box or carton, a washtub, or a drawer on the floor. Keep the surface dry, pest-free, and away from pets. Ensure that nothing can fall on the baby, and that the surface will not be tripped on. The sleep surface needs minimal padding – a light blanket wrapped around and taped to the bottom of a sturdy piece of cardboard can be used as a mattress.

Washtub

Washtub

Drawer

Drawer

Basket

Basket

Box or Carton

Box or Carton

*These alternative sleep surfaces should be placed on the floor.

Bedsharing/Co-sleeping

Bedsharing is a type of sleeping arrangement where an infant shares a sleeping surface, such as a bed, with an adult or another child. The term co-sleeping, on the other hand, may include both sleeping on a shared surface or sleeping in close proximity (room sharing).


The safest place for your baby to sleep for the first 6 months is on their own sleep surface in your room.


Deciding where your baby sleeps is important. Canadian guidelines recommend that the safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib in your room for the first six months. This sleeping arrangement can reduce the risk of SIDS. Bedsharing, on the other hand, increases the risk of SIDS, and certain parental risk factors further increase this risk (e.g., smoking, alcohol consumption).



Bedsharing and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding for any duration reduces the risk for SIDS, and exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months offers greater protection against SIDS. It is normal for babies to feed often during the night, and as a result, some parents may find themselves bedsharing.

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS IF BEDSHARING:

Sharing a bed with your baby can be risky. The safest place for your baby to sleep for the first 6 months is on their own safe sleep surface in your room. Some families may prefer to bedshare for cultural or personal reasons, and some families might end up bedsharing even if they did not plan to. If for any reason you are likely to bedshare, here are some important things to consider.


  • Place baby on their back to sleep.
  • Choose a mattress that is firm and flat (for example, not a waterbed or air mattress).
  • Baby should be placed on the outer most part of mattress instead of between adults.
  • The bed/mattress should be placed away from walls or other furniture to reduce the risk of injury or the baby becoming trapped.
  • There should be no soft bedding, pillows, blankets, or duvets around baby.
  • Make sure covers do not overheat the baby or cover baby’s head (use lightweight sheets).
  • Baby should be able to move freely. Swaddling can restrict baby’s movements and put them at increased risk of SIDS.
  • Tell your partner when baby is in bed with you. Both adults need to be aware that baby is in the bed and be comfortable with this decision.
  • Older children and pets should not be in the bed.
  • If the adults sharing the bed have long hair, they should tie it back so that it does not get tangled around the baby’s neck.
  • Never leave baby alone in an adult bed. Adult beds are not designed to keep babies safe.

You should NOT bedshare with your baby in any of the following circumstances:


  • Baby is younger than 4 months old
  • Baby was born prematurely or with low birth weight
  • You or any other person in the bed is a smoker (even if smoking is not done in bed)
  • The mother of the baby smoked during pregnancy
  • You are excessively tired or have consumed alcohol, taken medicines, or illicit drugs. These factors can affect how alert you are and make it harder for you to wake up.
  • You are not the baby’s parent or primary caregiver
  • You are sleeping on a soft surface such as a waterbed, old mattress, couch, sofa, or armchair
  • There are soft materials like pillows or blankets on the bed

Remember, the safest place for your baby to sleep for the first 6 months is on their own sleep surface in your room.

Newborn Hearing

Newborn Hearing

Hearing loss is one of the most common disorders in early childhood, In Canada, hearing loss affects between 2 to 3 infants for every 1000 births. About half of those affected have no obvious risk factors.

The early years of a child’s life are vital to the development of lifelong language and literacy skills. Undetected hearing loss from birth has the ability to have lasting effects on brain development.

The long term impact of undiagnosed early hearing loss may include lower academic achievement, underemployment, poor social adaptation and psychological distress, and are directly related to the amount of hearing loss and length of delay of diagnosis and intervention.

Parents are encouraged to observe the responses of their children to sounds during the early years. The signs of hearing loss can be difficult to detect, as young children are very good at adapting to what they have. However, the earlier a hearing loss is detected and an intervention is put in place, the better. For further information on what are signs of a hearing problem see the links below. If you have concerns about your child’s hearing, speak to your doctor and request a referral for a hearing test.

External Links

Risk in Play

Risk in Play

Unstructured, outdoor play is essential for healthy child development. This play often involves some element of risk (i.e., challenge or uncertainty in the environment). A risk is not the same thing as a hazard.


Cara Zukewich, Child Injury Prevention Program Coordinator at the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute, talks about risky play with Dr. Mariana Brussoni, Investigator at the BC Children’s Hospital and Academic Scientist at the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit. Dr. Brussoni discusses the importance of outdoor risky play for children, what risky play looks like, and ideas for parents on how to support risky play.


Cara Zukewich, Child Injury Prevention Program Coordinator at the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute, talks about risky play with Angela Hanscom, Pediatric Occupational Therapist and TimberNook Founder. Angela discusses the importance of outdoor risky play for healthy child development and why it is vital to provide more movement and outdoor play experiences for children.

What is the difference between risk and hazard?


A risk is the challenge or uncertainty in the environment that the child can recognize and learn to manage by setting her own limits and building her skills. An example of risk during play is a child climbing one branch higher on the tree.

A hazard is a danger in the environment that could seriously injure a child and is beyond the child’s ability to recognize. An example of a hazard is a tree branch that is rotted.


During play, children should be managing the risk or challenges while caregivers are responsible for managing the hazards. Children can be involved in identifying the hazards as this can be an important learning opportunity for them. For example, an adult and child can work together to identify trees that are safe for climbing, with the adult asking directed questions (e.g., do you see any rotten or broken branches?).


Children are naturally curious and need play that comes with challenges. Children do not easily recognize and avoid hazards and need guidance to avoid serious injury. In an effort to prevent injuries, play is often controlled by caregivers and children have been restricted in the ways they play. Play should be child-led and parent-supported. It is important to keep children as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible. This is done by giving them time, space, and freedom.

Time


  • Make sure children have a balance between scheduled activities and free time for play.
  • Include movement and physical activity in daily routines, such as walking or cycling to school or to the park.
  • Get involved in community-wide outdoor activities.

Space


  • Identify and remove any hazards.
  • Teach children basic safety precautions for playing outdoors, including how to be safe pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Be a role model for physical activity.
  • Provide children with appropriate supervision for their stage of development.

Freedom


  • Provide opportunities for children to experience risks based on their skill level.
  • Allow children to decide what activity to do and to learn their own limits.

Let them PLAY!

For more information on child development, visit Child Development.


What is Risky Play?


Risky play is thrilling, exciting play that includes the possibility of injury. This kind of play most often happens outdoors and during children’s free play.

Ellen Sandseter is a Norwegian early childhood physical activity researcher. Her research has identified eight categories of risky play: height, speed, dangerous tools, dangerous elements, rough and tumble, getting lost, impact, and vicarious play.

Note: Height, speed, danger, and other elements of risky play are all relative to the child’s size, strength, and skill. Parents know their children best and should be prepared to intervene if a child believes he is capable of playing in a manner that is likely to cause danger to himself or others.

What does this type of play look like? Below is a list of what risky play in each category might look like.



Risky play can also be thought of as adventure play. During adventure play children explore with their senses, are in control of what is right for them, and figure out what is risky for them. This builds their independence, creativity, confidence, and resiliency, and helps them problem-solve. They learn cause and effect and spatial awareness. Risky play positively impacts children’s social skills, mental health, physical activity, and cognitive development.

Risky play is NOT:


  • controlling the child’s level of risk
  • pushing them beyond their comfort level
  • abandoning your children
  • letting children do whatever they want
  • ignoring children

Adults must step in when a child is doing something that is not safe (e.g., swinging a hammer toward another child).

Taking child-determined risks during play can lead to positive outcomes for the child.

Taking child-determined risks during play can lead to positive outcomes for the child.

Example: A child climbs a steep hill. The child figures out how to navigate his way down. At the bottom, the child is beaming with pride and has reduced his fear of falling.


As a parent, are you concerned about stranger danger, bullying, and children being hurt or lost while they play? The occurrence of these events happening during play is rare. Saskatchewan children are hospitalized more often from:


  • Fall-related injuries, including playground-related falls
  • Unintentional poisoning
  • Cycling-related injuries
  • Fire and burn-related injuries
  • Motor vehicle crashes


The risk of a child being seriously injured at play is low, even less than during organized sports.

While there are playground-related injuries, the majority are not life-altering (e.g., internal bleeding, head and spinal cord injuries). It is normal for children to get minor injuries while at play. They may get bumps, bruises, scrapes, cuts, and maybe even a broken bone. These injuries, while not pleasant, heal. For more information, ways to manage parental fears, and ideas for change, visit www.outsideplay.ca



When children are playing, parents and caregivers can:


  • ask questions such as, “how are you going to get over those rocks?”, “do you feel safe?”, “how high do you want to go?”
  • talk about ways to be safe
  • eliminate the hazards where possible and talk with children about these hazards
  • identify their own fears of risk by saying something like, “I’m really scared to ski fast. I will go slow and make large turns to be in control of my body so I don’t run into a tree or others.”
  • allow children to try new things, slowly increasing the level of difficultly
  • encourage children to take on challenges based on their skill and comfort level


It is important to understand that risk does not mean danger. Parents and caregivers can use positive language to promote and encourage risky play. It is also important to talk with neighbours, family, friends, and the school community to find ways to keep children as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible. Being supportive of children engaging in risky play, being active and adventurous will help children view the world as a place of possibility rather than danger.

Risk in Play

Unstructured, outdoor play is essential for healthy child development. This play often involves some element of risk (i.e., challenge or uncertainty in the environment). A risk is not the same thing as a hazard.

What is the difference between risk and hazard?


A risk is the challenge or uncertainty in the environment that the child can recognize and learn to manage by setting her own limits and building her skills. An example of risk during play is a child climbing one branch higher on the tree.

A hazard is a danger in the environment that could seriously injure a child and is beyond the child’s ability to recognize. An example of a hazard is a tree branch that is rotted.


During play, children should be managing the risk or challenges while caregivers are responsible for managing the hazards. Children can be involved in identifying the hazards as this can be an important learning opportunity for them. For example, an adult and child can work together to identify trees that are safe for climbing, with the adult asking directed questions (e.g., do you see any rotten or broken branches?).


Children are naturally curious and need play that comes with challenges. Children do not easily recognize and avoid hazards and need guidance to avoid serious injury. In an effort to prevent injuries, play is often controlled by caregivers and children have been restricted in the ways they play. Play should be child-led and parent-supported. It is important to keep children as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible. This is done by giving them time, space, and freedom.

Time


  • Make sure children have a balance between scheduled activities and free time for play.
  • Include movement and physical activity in daily routines, such as walking or cycling to school or to the park.
  • Get involved in community-wide outdoor activities.

Space


  • Identify and remove any hazards.
  • Teach children basic safety precautions for playing outdoors, including how to be safe pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Be a role model for physical activity.
  • Provide children with appropriate supervision for their stage of development.

Freedom


  • Provide opportunities for children to experience risks based on their skill level.
  • Allow children to decide what activity to do and to learn their own limits.

Let them PLAY!

For more information on child development, visit Child Development.


What is Risky Play?


Risky play is thrilling, exciting play that includes the possibility of injury. This kind of play most often happens outdoors and during children’s free play.

Ellen Sandseter is a Norwegian early childhood physical activity researcher. Her research has identified eight categories of risky play: height, speed, dangerous tools, dangerous elements, rough and tumble, getting lost, impact, and vicarious play.

Note: Height, speed, danger, and other elements of risky play are all relative to the child’s size, strength, and skill. Parents know their children best and should be prepared to intervene if a child believes he is capable of playing in a manner that is likely to cause danger to himself or others.

What does this type of play look like? Below is a list of what risky play in each category might look like.

Risky play can also be thought of as adventure play. During adventure play children explore with their senses, are in control of what is right for them, and figure out what is risky for them. This builds their independence, creativity, confidence, and resiliency, and helps them problem-solve. They learn cause and effect and spatial awareness. Risky play positively impacts children’s social skills, mental health, physical activity, and cognitive development.

Risky play is NOT:


  • controlling the child’s level of risk
  • pushing them beyond their comfort level
  • abandoning your children
  • letting children do whatever they want
  • ignoring children

Adults must step in when a child is doing something that is not safe (e.g., swinging a hammer toward another child).

Taking child-determined risks during play can lead to positive outcomes for the child.

Taking child-determined risks during play can lead to positive outcomes for the child.

Example: A child climbs a steep hill. The child figures out how to navigate his way down. At the bottom, the child is beaming with pride and has reduced his fear of falling.


As a parent, are you concerned about stranger danger, bullying, and children being hurt or lost while they play? The occurrence of these events happening during play is rare. Saskatchewan children are hospitalized more often from:


  • Fall-related injuries, including playground-related falls
  • Unintentional poisoning
  • Cycling-related injuries
  • Fire and burn-related injuries
  • Motor vehicle crashes


The risk of a child being seriously injured at play is low, even less than during organized sports.

While there are playground-related injuries, the majority are not life-altering (e.g., internal bleeding, head and spinal cord injuries). It is normal for children to get minor injuries while at play. They may get bumps, bruises, scrapes, cuts, and maybe even a broken bone. These injuries, while not pleasant, heal. For more information, ways to manage parental fears, and ideas for change, visit www.outsideplay.ca



When children are playing, parents and caregivers can:


  • ask questions such as, “how are you going to get over those rocks?”, “do you feel safe?”, “how high do you want to go?”
  • talk about ways to be safe
  • eliminate the hazards where possible and talk with children about these hazards
  • identify their own fears of risk by saying something like, “I’m really scared to ski fast. I will go slow and make large turns to be in control of my body so I don’t run into a tree or others.”
  • allow children to try new things, slowly increasing the level of difficultly
  • encourage children to take on challenges based on their skill and comfort level


It is important to understand that risk does not mean danger. Parents and caregivers can use positive language to promote and encourage risky play. It is also important to talk with neighbours, family, friends, and the school community to find ways to keep children as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible. Being supportive of children engaging in risky play, being active and adventurous will help children view the world as a place of possibility rather than danger.

Sexual Health Development

Sexual Health Development

Sexual health development, including sexual health behaviours, knowledge and understanding, are part of the normal development of children.

A healthy early childhood forms a foundation for a strong, healthy and productive adulthood. During this period, children develop the physical, emotional and social abilities that will be used throughout their lives; both in adolescence and adulthood.

Parents’ role as primary sexual health educators of their children is important in the development of informed and confident young adults. It is also important that parents engage their children in sexual health discussions at an early age, beginning with teaching the proper terminology for body parts. Early introduction of the topic increases the confidence and comfort of both the parents and children to talk about sexual health.

The Saskatchewan Prevention Institute has developed resources for parents as well as health professionals to enhance the knowledge of parents about the sexual health of their children as they develop and grow. In particular, these resources, which are available in the form of books, posters, information cards and flip charts, contain messages for parents to help them understand and provide information to their children about their sexual development.



Download Sexual Health Development PowerPoint

Infant Health

Infant Health

New parents should educate themselves and seek out resources on appropriate care and safety techniques such as rear-facing, properly installed car seats, laying a baby on his or her back to sleep, taking time to just play with baby, and breastfeeding. It is also important to attend regular check-ups to measure the infant’s development.

Caring for a newborn requires a lot of time, energy and learning. After a baby is born, there are many ways to achieve optimal health for the infant. Infancy is a sensitive and critical time and babies need very special attention and care.

New parents should educate themselves and seek out resources on appropriate care and safety techniques such as rear-facing, properly installed car seats, laying a baby on his or her back to sleep, taking time to just play with baby, and breastfeeding. It is also important to attend regular check-ups to measure the infant’s development.

Infant mortality refers to the death of a baby prior to the first birthday. Although infant mortality rates are declining in Canada, it is still important for parents to take measures to protect against risk factors for infant death.

Immunization

Immunization

Vaccinations have been saving lives for more than two centuries and are generally considered the most successful public health intervention ever devised. The World Health Organization estimates that vaccines prevent more than two million deaths worldwide every year.

Vaccinations can help to prevent disease, both individually and amongst groups of people. Since the introduction of vaccination programs, diseases such as polio and small pox have become rare.


Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding

Certain medications, as well as alcohol and most illicit drugs, can be passed to the baby through breast milk. If a woman is taking medication, she should discuss her intake with her healthcare professional.

It is safest to not use drugs and alcohol in pregnancy and when breastfeeding.

Certain medications, as well as alcohol and most illicit drugs, can be passed to the baby through breast milk. If a woman is taking medication, she should discuss her intake with her healthcare professional.

It is safest to not use drugs and alcohol in pregnancy and when breastfeeding.

Alcohol can be passed to the baby through breast milk. The baby’s system is not mature enough to process alcohol in the same way as the mother’s. When there is alcohol in the mother’s milk, it can change how the baby breastfeeds, his sleeping patterns, and behaviour. It is healthiest for baby when the mother does not drink before breastfeeding. If she would like to use alcohol, it is recommended that she breastfeeds before drinking alcohol and waits until the alcohol has left her body before she breastfeeds again. It may take up to two hours for one standard drink to leave the mother’s system and longer if she has more drinks.



For more breastfeeding information and resources, visit:


Videos

Saskatchewan Prevention Institute