Physical, Mental, and Oral Health
At every well-baby visit, the baby is measured and weighed, and the doctor will tell you where baby stands in comparison to others her age. This information should be tracked, but it is only the surface, not the essence of physical development. It’s like knowing how big a car is but not how it performs.
It is important to know what fuels are best for growth and performance, what is the normal sequence of physical development and movement, and what can you do to help your baby and toddler become strong and active.
Here are a few resources, both online and in our own community, that can help.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following schedule of well-child visits. Visits can include physical measurements, patient history, sensory screenings, behavioral assessments, and planned procedures (immunizations, screenings and other tests) at the following suggested intervals:
- 2 to 5 days
- 1 month
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
- 12 months
- 15 months
- 18 months
- 2 years old (24 months)
- 2 ½ years old (30 months)
- 3 years
- 4 years
And once every year thereafter for an annual health supervision visit that includes a physical exam as well as a developmental, behavioral, and learning assessment. To see what you and your baby can expect and to help you prepare questions for your baby’s doctor, go to KidsHealth.org.
The American Academy of Pediatricians strongly advises breastfeeding for infants. Babies should be only breastfed for the first six months of age. After that, they can be gradually introduced to solid food but continue to get most of their nutrition from breast milk. This protects baby in many ways. Breastfed babies have fewer colds and illnesses because they are getting antibodies straight from their mother. They are less likely to become obese later in life because they learn to respond properly to hunger cues. They form a loving attachment to their mother from all the nurturing caresses during breastfeeding. There are many good websites on breastfeeding; here are our favorites:
Local Support for breastfeeding from certified lactation specialists and breastfeeding moms are:
- Mercy Health Partners – Prenatal Breastfeeding Class (231) 727-5295
- WIC – Breastfeeding Support (231) 724-1281
- Muskegon Area La Leche League (231) 777-3238
It’s safe to say that every household with a toddler has had a food fight at one time or another. Your baby won’t eat enough; your baby wants to eat every five minutes; your baby won’t eat what’s in front of him and then cries because he’s hungry! What’s a parent to do?
- First remember that a toddler’s stomach is very small, and once it’s full, he won’t want to stuff anymore in there! Let him react to his hunger cues, but be sure that the food offered is the best nutritional choice.
- Second, toddlers are growing fast and using a lot of energy – energy that needs to be replaced more often than three times a day. Toddlers are grazers: they want to eat little meals many times a day.
- Third, toddlers can be picky. They know what they like and that may be all they want to eat. You may have to offer a food up to 20 times before the toddler will eat it. Don’t worry about this too much as long as the food he does like is nutritious.
See what the experts say about feeding your toddler here:
- WIC (231) 724-1281
Supplemental nutrition program
- MSU Extension (231) 724-6361
- Muskegon’s Farmers Market
Fresh produce, Double-Up Bucks, Kids Club.
Movement and Exercise
Infants need to exercise?? Yes they do! We’re not talking about joining a baby gym but babies do need to develop strong muscles to support their very heavy heads, use their arms and shoulders to reach for you, and develop their trunks and legs to turn over and get ready for the all important crawls and walking! Babies and toddlers need exercise to build their endurance, strength, and flexibility –just like their parents!
As babies turn into toddlers they will learn to walk and run – not just to get into things but to run to you! What fun to be able to share those dancing, running and jumping moments! The added benefit is that all this movement is not only building muscles and strengthening bones, but it is sending oxygen to the head for healthy brain development. Physical development and learning go hand in hand! So get those babies out of their baby seats and on the floor for Tummy Time and baby push-ups. Get your toddlers away from the T.V. and play a game of chase or toss a ball around. The whole family will be stronger, healthier and happier!
Check out these web sites for more information and fun suggestions!
The greatest safety issues for infants and toddlers are suffocation, car accidents, drowning, and falls. There is some good news: the number of injuries and deaths caused by suffocation and car accidents have been reduced dramatically due to Safe Sleep Practices and the use of car seats. While not all accidents are preventable, it is important to accident-proof your baby’s environment as much as possible. The following sites and local connections will help you create a safe home for your babies and toddlers.
- Safe Kids West Michigan (231) 672-4910
Promotes safety for infants and children; provides car seats, bike helmets. and safety devices.
Many parents think that knowing letter sounds and counting to ten are the best signs that their child is ready for kindergarten. Preschool and kindergarten teachers tell us something different. They look at the child’s social skills and emotional growth as at least as strong an indicator of success as any letter or number knowledge. Think about it: no matter how many letters a child may know, she still has to figure out how to work in a group, solve problems, and feel good about herself. The latest brain research shows us that these social-emotional skills are significantly developed by the age of three, long before the child starts school. Use these online and local resources to see how your child is developing and how to help her along the way.
- CMH Infant Mental Health – (231) 720-3200
- Hackley Community Care Behavior Health – (231) 737-1335
- Muskegon Family Care Behavior Health – (231) 739-9315
- Systems of Care – (231) 332-3812
- Life Counseling-Mercy Health Partners – (231) 726-3582
- Servicios de Esperanza, LLC – (231) 722-7980
Oral health care for your child begins with good oral health care for you. Parents with untreated cavities can pass bacteria to their children through kissing, sharing spoons, and putting pacifiers in their own mouths. Dental visits are safe during pregnancy. Protect your baby by scheduling a dentist appointment for yourself as you know you are expecting.
Most babies will get their first tooth between ages 4 months and 7 months. As soon as your baby’s teeth start coming in, clean them regularly with a clean cloth or a soft children’s toothbrush with a small smear of toothpaste. This will get your child used to brushing!
Once your child is able to spit, they may be ready to use a fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Discuss when to use fluoride and when to bring your child in for a checkup with your dentist or doctor.
- Muskegon Family Care – (231) 739-9315
- Muskegon Oral Health Coalition
- Hackley Community Care Dental Services (231)737-8603
- Volunteer For Dental (231) 766-7129
- Teen Health Centers (must be 21 years old or younger)
- Muskegon Teen Health Center (231)733-6680
- Oakridge Teen Health Center (231) 788-7461
- For help acquiring dental insurance:
Resources, information and education for children and youth with special healthcare needs, the families who love them, and the professionals who support them.