Children's Health

Combating Nature Deficit Disorder

April 2, 2011

girl in natureMarin Mommies is pleased to present a guest article by Ally Kushin, Camp Director for Coastal Camp at Headlands Institute. She discusses the increasing problem of nature deficit disorder and highlights local opportunities to connect children to the natural world. Ally has worked in the field of environmental education for the past 9 years as a naturalist, park ranger, and camp director.

In 2005 the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv popularized the term “nature deficit disorder.” In it, he refers to the trend of children spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of behavioral, social, and medical problems. Louv claims that causes for the phenomenon include parental fears, restricted access to natural areas, and the “lure of the screen,” referring to increasing electronic media consumption.

Children who spend more time in nature are known to develop increased concentration, memory, and self discipline. The latest research has established amazing connections between the amount of time spent in nature to everything from better grades to increased immunity to germs to stronger bones.

Temperament: Who is this Kid Anyway?

February 8, 2011

Marin Mommies presents another guest article by Marin marriage and family therapist Kate Brennan.

We are all born with certain temperament traits. Some of us are active while others less so. Some of us are extraverts while others prefer to stay behind the scenes. This begs the question: Is it nature or nurture? Well, it turns out it is both. How does a child with an active temperament fare in a household of quiet sensitive types? Fine, if the parents realize this and make space for the active child to express him or her self. If given the opportunity, the active child will be able to channel the extra energy into sports perhaps, while the sensitive child may discover latent artistic talents. Temperament is the force that gives shape to certain aspects of personality. For example, a sensitive child may develop aptitudes that lead to a more quiet and reflective life as an adult.

Having a working knowledge of your child’s temperament can help you in being able to choose the best approach when working with them. It can help the preschool teacher to know in advance if they have a slow-to-warm-up child who may need extra time to enter a group, and It can help the doctor to anticipate how much compliance they are going to have if they know the level of tolerance the child has in their examining room.

Must Know: How Health Care Reform Will Affect Your Family

January 11, 2011

This guest article is by Autumn Robertson, Co-Founder of Golden Gate Health Insurance, a local health insurance brokerage serving Marin, San Francisco, and the East Bay.

Health care reform is here, but how will it affect you and your family?

With all the changes taking place in the health care system these days, it can be difficult making sense of what it means for families. While businesses may not be cheering for the reforms, there are many benefits families will be able to take advantage of, such as insurance companies putting more money toward wellness benefits and preventative care. Wherever you and your family fit into the reforms, these times offer an opportunity to re-evaluate your current coverage and potentially, save money.

Although changes will take place between now and 2014, some will immediately affect your family:

Pre-Existing Health Conditions
Reforms will prohibit insurance companies from excluding children with pre-existing health conditions. This means your insurance company can’t drop you if a child gets sick or deny your family if one of your dependents is deemed “high-risk.”

Dr. Bob Sears, MD, Presents: Immune and Sinus Health for Children and Adults at Pharmaca-Novato

January 3, 2011

Pharmaca's Healthy Living Lecture Series in Novato presents the well-known pediatrician and author Dr. Bob Sears, MD, FAAP, on Tuesday, January 18 at 7 pm. The topic is: Immune and Sinus Health for Children and Adults.

You may be familiar with many of the books Dr. Sears has written or co-authored, including The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood, Father’s First Steps, The Baby Book, The Premature Baby Book and The Baby Sleep Book. Dr. Sears received his medical degree in 1995 from Georgetown University and completed his pediatric training at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles in 1998. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to meet “Dr. Bob,” as his little patients call him. This is a free event. Attendees will also receive a coupon for $10 off a $30 purchase the night of the event.

Seating is limited, so advance reservations are required by calling (415) 892-3700. Pharmaca-Novato is located at 7514 Redwood Blvd. in Novato (next to Trader Joes).

Why Should Your Child Have an Orthodontic Evaluation by Age Seven?

November 16, 2010

GenoaThis guest article is by Marin orthodontist Dr. Don Wilson.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic screening no later than age seven (or earlier if there are indications of a problem).

Why age seven? By the age of seven, most children’s first adult molars have erupted, establishing the back bite. Also, most children’s incisors have begun to erupt so that alignment problems and facial asymmetries can be detected.

Age seven is the best time for an orthodontist to evaluate your child’s bite and jaw relationships, check for functional shifts, and evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. Untreated malocclusions (bad bites) can result in a variety of problems…

  • Crowded teeth—More difficult to brush and floss properly, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease
  • Protruding teeth—More susceptible to accidental chipping
  • Crossbite—May result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear
  • Openbite—May result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments
  • Appearance—Crooked teeth, a poor facial profile, and/or speech impediment can damage your child’s self-confidence and self-esteem

Understanding Child Nightmares and Night Terrors

November 10, 2010

Sleeping boyThis guest article is by Marin infant/toddler sleep researcher and family therapist Angelique Millette.

What do you do if your little one is waking during the night from a bad dream and refuses to go back to sleep? Or what if your little one refuses to go to sleep at bedtime due to a several nights in a row of bad dreams? And what if your child has been waking inconsolable at night but you aren’t sure if you are child is waking due to a nightmare or a night terror? These are common questions parents have when responding to their little one’s nighttime sleep needs.


All children have nightmares at some point, and as long as children are dreaming they may also have nightmares. Interestingly, even infants dream, and according to one landmark study, newborns dream more than at any other time in a young person’s life. Nightmares are bad dreams and can happen at any point in a toddler or child’s life and especially so if a child has just experienced a traumatic event or situation. Several different studies have shown that children may have nightmares following surgery, tooth extraction, and motor vehicle accidents. Nightmares can also begin during periods of developmental phases such as the period between 18–21 months and again right before a child’s third and fourth birthdays. These are periods of individuation, when a child may become more sensitive or emotional as they become more independent.

Nurturing the Bond With Your Baby

October 18, 2010

Mom and new babyThis guest article is by Marin pediatric nurse practitioner, lactation consultant, and mom Annie St. John.

We all have it. It’s that inner wisdom. Our intuition. We sometimes just don’t know how to tap into it. Especially when it comes to parenting. We often feel too overwhelmed, scared, and exhausted, so we doubt that inner wisdom. Don’t doubt it. It is the key component when it comes to bonding with your baby. Your baby.

Just as we need that wisdom and intuition, we also need resources. “Resources” is defined as:

  • One’s personal attributes that sustains one in certain circumstances.
  • The ability to find avenues to overcome difficulties.
  • Assets that can be drawn on by a person in order to function effectively.

Once your baby is born, it all comes down to feeding your baby and getting to know your baby. During your daily routine of countless cycles of feeding, burping, calming, swaying, swaddling, changing, and sleeping, you, as the parent, start to gain confidence. Your confidence arises from realizing that you do have the resources (either within yourself, from your spouse or partner, or from an outside support person). From that realization you are able to nurture your relationship with your baby and build upon that bond.

Huge Fisher Price Toy Recall

October 1, 2010

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission and toy manufacturer Fisher Price are recalling more than 10,000,000 toys, including Fisher Price Trikes and Tough Trikes toddler tricycles and Healthy Care, Easy Clean, and Close to Me high chairs.

Apparently, children using these toys can injure themselves by falling onto prodruding parts, and small parts used on them are choking hazards as well. Learn more about the recall from ABC News.

Pertussis: When a Cough is NOT Just a Cough

July 5, 2010

Sick childWith the recent surge in whooping cough cases, we asked local pediatrician and frequent Marin Mommies contributor Dr. Steven Martel to answer some questions our readers had about this potentially serious illness.

The re-emergence of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, has garnered much media attention due to the recent epidemic.

Pertussis is a highly contagious, vaccine preventable disease caused by a particular bacterium. The disease spreads via respiratory droplets which result from sneezing or coughing onto surfaces. The disease usually begins with symptoms that are similar to the common cold, particularly runny nose and fever. Over the course of 7–10 days the affected person develops a spasmodic, difficult to control cough which can make it hard to breathe. The infection’s characteristic “whoop” cough is responsible for its common name. However, the “whooping” sound is uncommon in infants. The cough usually lasts for about 6 weeks.

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