What do I do if my baby ate dirt or sand?

You have probably noticed that any object your baby grabs, goes directly into his mouth. This is a completely normal part of a baby’s development, as in this way they explore and learn about different objects. Also, your baby is now probably highly mobile and has access to many parts of the house. Therefore, it is very important to verify that no harmful objects are at your little one’s reach.

Now, despite having your home baby-proofed, when your little one is outside in contact with dirt or sand, he’ll probably have a handful of it in his mouth before you can stop him. Although you may try to clean as much as possible from his hands and mouth, the damage is already done and it’s in his stomach. This leads to the following questions: Will it hurt my baby? And, what can I do?

Eating dirt or sand can be harmless, in fact it can help strengthen your baby’s immune system. Our immune systems are strengthened through experience. Therefore, we should not be obsessed with having our home completely germ-free. Exposures to these bacteria prevent future problems like allergies or asthma. Now, this doesn’t mean that your baby can eat dirt whenever he wants, you need to take some precautions when taking him outside. If you have pets or if animals usually walk through the area in which you are, it’s important to verify that there are no feces where your child plays. Similarly, fertilized soil may have bacteria that can cause digestive discomfort. If your baby is on the beach, make sure no seaweed or small shells are around him; if you go to a public sandbox, previously verify that the sand is free of debris, stones, and cigarette butts.

If your baby eats a little dirt, don’t worry too much about it. His immune system will probably benefit from it, and there’s no need to contact your doctor. If your baby gets a stomach ache, his body will most likely take care and dispose of the bacteria. But if your baby is vomiting or has prolonged diarrhea, it’s a good idea to contact your pediatrician.

My baby and screen time

Tablets and smartphones are great! They allow us to communicate with distant friends and relatives; they organize our day; have GPS that gets us to new places; help us make reservations, shop, read, and much more. They contain an infinite number of applications that even include an extensive catalog for children. Allowing or banning screen time for babies poses an ongoing debate that is very present in the area of early education. Should babies be exposed to screens? If so, for how long? The American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) first stance regarding technology and babies recommends no screen time the first two years of life. However, this position was first introduced 15 years ago, and today it has come to be questioned by specialists in the area of pediatrics. The AAP media committee has re-evaluated its screen time position taking into account the recent technological boom. They now agree that a total screen ban seems to be no longer viable. Therefore, a change in the AAP’s digital exposure guidelines is predicted in the coming years.

Technology changes every day and whether we like it or not, it’s part of our daily life. It has become part of our reality; our children see us use our smartphones and tablets every day, and remember they learn through imitation. For this reason, we need a new way to define and use these tools – which is what they are, tools. We need to ensure that when our children are exposed to screens, we provide them with appropriate applications and interact with them, so their experience is the most educational and social as possible.

Before they reach two years of age, our little ones experience a learning boom. Research has verified that they learn best from face-to-face interaction and understand our language even before they can talk. Therefore, talking, reading, playing with your child and allowing free movement will help him or her develop linguistic, cognitive and physical skills; as well as coordination, visual perception, and much more. Screens can’t replace these valuable learning experiences. Even though technology provides sounds, images, and voices, it can’t sustain a two-way interaction. That is, if your little one smiles, the device can’t smile back at him, but you can! As simple as it may seem, social interaction helps your kiddo tremendously and provides a wonderful opportunity for bonding. Now, thanks to all the advances in technology, there is a way to have enriching social interactions through platforms such as Skype and FaceTime. These apps allow our babies to come in contact and learn from loved ones who can not visit them in person. This type of screen use does provide two-way interactions and facilitates learning and social interactions, while other apps only provide a distraction.

Scientific studies regarding technology are complicated because technology is constantly evolving. To publish a scholarly study, it can take up to four years. By that time, the world of apps children come in contact with have already changed drastically! For this reason, it’s not clear if screen time before two years of age represents any damage or benefit for kids. What we do know is that they, like us, are increasingly exposed to screens. The problem is that most of their apps ask for passive attention. Knowing that babies learn best when active, we should look for appropriate apps, that are educational, and make the time spent with them be interactive.

How can I choose truly educational apps?

Before allowing your little one to use an app on your phone or tablet, judge its content and verify that it’s: active, entertaining, meaningful, and social.

• Active: Invites participation within and outside the app.

• Entertaining: Your child is engaged – it captures his attention.

• Meaningful: The app’s content can be related your child’s real life.

• Social: Invites there be face to face interactions (talking about the app or communicating with others via a platform).

How often should I give my baby a bath?

Until your baby is not up and moving around the whole house, a daily bath is not necessary. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends bathing your baby about 3 times a week during the first year of life, to prevent dry skin. Our little ones have very delicate skin that’s lubricated for their protection. However, around the world many cultures have the custom of daily bathing. Every parent knows how much his little one sweats or gets dirty, so it’s best to decide bathing schedules according to their instincts and their doctor’s recommendations. In some cases, pediatricians will suggest that you bathe your baby every day, especially if the weather is very humid or hot. A bath can be very relaxing for your baby and it is an excellent start to a bedtime routine.

Now, whether you decide to bathe him every day or not, you must always make sure to keep the diaper area on his body clean after each change. Likewise, you must take extra care of the neck area and all body folds; these areas sweat, and dirt and lint accumulate in them. Pass a damp cotton cloth through his folds to ensure that you have a clean and happy baby!

Bath time is a pleasant, relaxing time for your baby; its purpose is not only hygienic. The bath is a good start for routine sleep! Try to make it a quiet time without concerns, it will help your baby eventually recognize that it is almost time to go to bed. Just remember not to bathe your baby just before or after eating because on one hand, a hungry baby is less likely to cooperate; and on the other, the movement can cause reflux. Finally, a bath should be a time of relaxation and tenderness, don’t forget to give a lot of love. It is very common for your baby to cry or show resistance to water the first few times, since it is something very new. Make sure you offer support, love, and a sense of security to make the process less upsetting.