Seasonal Allergies in Under-Fives - A Rough Guide

Seasonal allergies: how to recognise symptoms, causes and how to treat them.In our last post all about food allergies, we also briefly touched upon seasonal allergies in young children. Today, we take a closer look at those and explain how to recognise their symptoms, what causes them and perhaps most importantly, how to treat them. Also known as “Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis” and, in the case of pollen allergies, “Hay Fever”, seasonable allergies can be miserable for children affected. It’s therefore important to alleviate any symptoms, or at the very least find workarounds, wherever possible. Doing so will make affected children more comfortable and able to breathe more easily.

What are the Causes of Seasonal Allergies?

As the name suggests, seasonal allergies are more prevalent at certain parts of the year than others, usually being worse during spring, summer and/or autumn. They are caused by an allergic reaction to such things as tree pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen, dust mites, mould and pet dander, Seasonal allergies can be caused by an allergic reaction to pollen, dust mites, mould and pet dander.which are present in the air that the child breathes. The child’s immune system treats such allergens as invaders, defensively reacting to them by releasing the protein histamine into the bloodstream as part of its wider physiological response. It is this specific protein that triggers the unwelcome symptoms experienced by the child.

Children can be more prone to seasonal allergies if they have a family history of allergies.

What are the Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies in Children?

Itchy ear canals is one less common symptom of a seasonal allergy.The symptoms of seasonal allergy are similar, but not identical, to what we often refer to as having ‘a cold’. The most common symptoms of a seasonal allergy include nasal congestion, a clear, runny nose, an itchy nose, throat and/or roof of the mouth, sneezing and a ‘postnasal drip’ (dripping of mucus from the back of the nasal cavity directly into the throat). The latter can also cause persistent coughing, perhaps accompanied by wheezing and shortness of breath. Although similar to a cold in many respects, the symptoms of seasonal allergy are different in that they do not include a fever, any cough is usually a ‘dry’ one and nasal congestion is clear and watery rather than thick and cloudy as you might expect if the cause was a cold. Another difference is that a seasonal allergy may persist for weeks or even months, unlike a cold, which generally goes within a fortnight or so.

Sometimes seasonal allergy symptoms go on to trigger asthma for those who suffer from it. Children with eczema may also find symptoms worsening when they also have a seasonal allergy.

If a child develops shortness of breath or tightness in their chest, seek urgent medical advice in case the cause turns out to be something more serious than a seasonal allergy. It’s always best to be cautious with the health of little ones.

Children's eyes can also become red, puffy or watery during an episode of seasonal allergy.Children’s eyes can also become red, puffy or watery during an episode of seasonal allergy. They may also exhibit dark circles under their eyes and little ones may also seem more irritable, restless and generally fatigued. Another symptom often seen in children with a seasonal allergy is breathing with their mouth open — simply because their noses are so congested. Children with the disorder may also have trouble sleeping, develop headaches and even get itchy ear canals.

What is the Prevalence of Seasonal Allergies in Babies & Young Children?

Seasonal allergies can develop at any age.Although seasonal allergies can develop at any age, it’s important to stress that they are very rare among babies and infants aged up to 12 months. The earliest that seasonal allergies tend to start, if at all, is once children reach the age of 1 to 2. At that age, the seasonal allergen itself is most likely to be an indoor allergen like dust mites, mould or pet dander rather than outdoor allergens such as pollen or grass. If a child is going to develop a seasonal allergy, it’s much more likely to begin between 3 and 5, although most young children who do develop seasonal allergy may only start noticing symptoms as they get closer to the age of 10. Others may develop it as late as 20.

How Do You Treat the Symptoms of a Seasonal Allergy in Infants?

It’s important to try to relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies in babies, toddlers and children as it’s an unpleasant affliction to live with and can also lead to ear and/or sinus infections if left untreated.

Medical Treatments

GPs, paediatricians and allergists/immunologists can all help to professionally diagnose and treat seasonal allergies. Treatments prescribed by such medical professionals may include child-safe antihistamines, nasal, oral or ocular (eye) sprays and/or even allergy shots, however the latter are seldom prescribed for the very young. Children whose eyes suffer particularly badly around pollen may even be advised to wear goggles when venturing outdoors, to keep the pollen out.

How Parents/Carers Can Help at Home

There are also things that parents/carers can do to help little ones overcome the symptoms of seasonal allergies. The most powerful and obvious one is to keep little ones away from the sources of the allergens that affect them. Keeping track of pollen counts (often given along with the weather reports on TV) and keeping children indoors on days when the count is high is going to help. Keeping pollen out of the house is also key. Hence, vacuuming thoroughly with a vacuum that has a HEPA (high efficiency particulate arresting) filter, keeping windows closed, taking shoes off when coming indoors, regularly dusting, washing sheets, blankets, clothes and curtains etc. and showering/bathing children who’ve been outdoors will all help to reduce pollen, dust mites and other allergens within the household. Drying washing in a dryer, instead of drying it naturally outside, will also help to limit the amount of allergens around affected children. Children’s hair will also trap allergens, so this should also be washed regularly to remove such allergens. Some air conditioners have pollen filters that can help to reduce the number of allergens and dust in the air, as do some free-standing air purification machines.

If the problem is pet dander, pets may also need to receive regular baths or showers.If the problem is pet dander, pets may also need to receive regular baths or showers (where appropriate and safe for them to do so) to remove dander from their fur or feathers — perhaps once a week. If the child’s allergy to dander is severe, it may even mean that pets and children need to keep to their own areas around the home, and children taught not to cuddle or stroke them.

If dust mites are causing the allergic reaction in your child, consider switching pillows and blankets to synthetic materials or even use specialist fabrics and airtight covers that block the passage of dust mites in bedding. Regularly wash bedding, pillow cases and even soft toys on a hot setting and tumble dry rather than exposing them to pollens on an outdoor washing line. Carpeting and rugs can also be a host for dust mites so consider switching to another type of flooring that can be cleaned more thoroughly, e.g. laminate flooring. Specially-treated mop heads can even be sourced to clean them. Putting smaller items in the freezer for several hours each week will also kill dust mites, particularly if followed up by a hot wash and tumble dry afterwards.

Mould is also a common allergen.Mould is also a common allergen. Try to keep children away from it anyway (it’s not healthy) and, better still, eradicate it completely. Any leaks, plumbing or drainage issues should therefore be fixed, including outdoor defects if present, as they might otherwise allow the ingress of moisture to the indoors. Dehumidifiers will help to remove moisture from the air indoors, and adequate ventilation around the home will help to stop any mould taking hold (that’s if ventilation is practical, should the child also be allergic to pollen). Extractor fans in bathrooms, showers and kitchens will also help to vent moist air to the outside. Anti-mould paint, grout and sealants are available too, for problem areas like bathrooms, although bathroom and shower walls, tiling, shower curtains or screens etc. will be less likely to become habitats for mould if they’re squeegeed and dried after use. Drying damp towels and flannels in tumble driers will also help, rather than leaving them lying around. Also be mindful not to over-water houseplants, which should be kept away from affected children, and ensure any firewood is stored outdoors. Lastly, keep washing machine doors ajar when not in use and regularly clean the door seals as these can otherwise harbour mould.

We hope that this rough guide to seasonal allergies in under-fives has been useful to parents and carers of little ones.

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A Nursery Place at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Are you looking a nursery or pre-school place for your child in Edgbaston — or near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Please get in touch if you are looking for a high quality childcare place for your baby, toddler or under-five child at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Our wonderful weekday childcare service is also convenient if you live/work near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. Come and see the nursery in action and bring along your little one – we’ll be happy to show you around and to answer any questions. We’ll also be happy to clarify any free childcare options for 2-year-olds, 3 & 4-year-olds, students and more. Please choose a button below to get in touch or to get started with a place for your child:

Next Time

Next time, we’ll publish a detailed guide all about the different types of formula milk and other specialist milks for babies and infants. This will include various options for those who are allergic to cows’ milk, lactose intolerant and more.

Food Allergens for Infants - A Rough Guide

Amongst children aged up to two, the incidence of proven food allergies is only 5% and such reactions are generally mild.We previously looked at the types of food for parents to avoid giving infants and now follow up with a separate post about foods that are most likely to cause allergic reactions in the very young.

Some reactions towards food are also not true allergies, in the scientific sense. For those that are, it’s important to stress that severe allergic reactions (a.k.a. ‘Anaphylaxis’) in infants under one are rare. However such severe reactions should always be treated as a medical emergency. Even amongst children aged up to two, though, the incidence of proven food allergies is only 5% and such reactions are generally mild. Nonetheless, parents, carers and guardians of infants will naturally want to be cautious. Today’s post discusses the food types that most commonly cause allergic reactions and how they can be introduced to infants.

Severe allergic reactions (Anaphylaxis) in infants under one are rare, however such reactions should be treated as a medical emergency.

Symptoms to Look Out For

So, what are the symptoms of an allergic reaction? The NHS lists symptoms like sneezing, wheezing, coughing and a blocked or runny nose as possible signs of an allergic reaction. Itchy, red, watery eyes or a red, itchy rash are also possible signs, as are worsening symptoms of eczema or asthma.

The Most Common Food Allergens

According to the NHS, the 8 food types that are most likely to cause allergic reactions are:

Cows’ milkEggs
Gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye, oats etc.)Nuts including peanuts*
Seeds & seed derivatives*Soya
Shellfish*Fish

* We touched upon some of these ingredients in our A-Z Guide to Foods to Avoid Giving Infants but will mention the following again: seeds and nuts, including peanuts, should only be served to under-fives crushed, ground or as a ‘butter’ as they are otherwise a choking hazard; eggs should be avoided before the age of 6 months and thereafter never be served raw/lightly cooked except if they exhibit the Red Lion or “British Lion Quality” stamp; shellfish should also never be served to infants raw or lightly cooked.

Always read food labels carefully.

Eggs are one of the 8 food types that are most likely to cause allergic reactions, according to the NHS.Mustard, celery, the preservative/antioxidant sulphur dioxide, the legume lupin and molluscs are the next most common food allergens after those listed in the table above. Kiwi, the fruit, is also known to cause allergic reactions in some infants, however is apparently the only potential allergen out of those listed above that doesn’t have to be listed, by law, on the ingredients list of pre-packaged food products.

When to Start Watching Out for Allergens

The NHS recommends slowly introducing the food types above, usually from about the age of 6 months if they’re developmentally ready. This is the age when babies most commonly start the process of weaning i.e. moving – gradually – towards eating solids. Start only when the infant is well, including having a good skin condition, because eczema is a possible sign of an existing allergy. The NHS strongly recommends that you talk to a GP or health visitor before introducing new foods to infants who are already known to have an allergy diagnosis or family history of allergies, including eczema, asthma and hay fever.

Any ‘new’ food types, particularly known allergens from the list above, should be introduced to the infant only one at a time, preferably early in the day so that you have more time to monitor for any reactions. Accepted advice is to start only with a tiny initial amount and monitor for possible symptoms of an allergic reaction. When the introduction of peanuts was delayed to a later time in the child's development, the risk of developing an allergic reaction to them increased.Amounts can later be increased, bit by bit over the following days, if the infant is found to be tolerant. And, of course, a new food type can then be tried only once the previous one has ‘passed the test’. However, bear in mind that some allergic reactions are far from immediate. Known as non-IgE food allergies, their symptoms can take anywhere from 2 hours to 3 days to show. So, the message is to be very careful and methodical when it comes to introducing new foods to your infant.1

1: More detail about IgE (rapid) and non-IgE (delayed) allergy symptoms and other useful information about the introduction of potential allergens to infants can be read in a very good article by baby and child nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed.

Once introduced and shown to be tolerated by the infant, the new foods should then remain a part of the child’s usual diet and be eaten regularly. This minimises the chances of the child developing an allergy to such food types later on. Interestingly, where the introduction of peanuts and hens’ eggs has been delayed to a later time in the child’s development, the risk of developing an allergic reaction to them has actually increased. So, the risks need to be carefully balanced.

Special Mention: Milk Conundrums

The NHS recommends “exclusive breastfeeding or First Infant Formula” milk for babies during their first six monthsThe NHS recommends “exclusive breastfeeding or First Infant Formula” milk for babies during their first six months (and, indeed, breastfeeding has many benefits). Breastfeeding is not always possible though, for one reason or another, which is where the mention of First Infant Formula comes in. However, with standard First Infant Formula Milk being based on cows’ milk, and cows’ milk being one of the food types that infants are most commonly allergic or intolerant to, a healthcare professional will need to be consulted in the event of a reaction. For those found to have Cows’ Milk Allergy (‘CMA’), alternatives like Hypoallergenic Formula Milk, Lactose-Free Formula Milk or even Soya Formula Milk may be suggested by the GP/healthcare professional. However, it’s important for such milk alternatives to be given only under professional medical supervision as there are important and specific considerations around each. We’ll explain more about those in a separate post in due course, where we’ll outline the different types of milk and formula for babies and infants. Watch this space for more details soon.

Another milk-related conundrum that nursing mothers may have is whether they should avoid potential allergens themselves in case it passes to the infant through breast milk. The NHS’s advice in this regard is succinct and straight forward:

“If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you do not need to avoid foods that can trigger allergic reactions (including peanuts), unless you’re allergic to them.” (NHS)

Please note: We hope guide is a useful starting point for parents/guardians who want to learn more about safely introducing little ones to new food types. However, it is a guide only and you should do your own research. Talk to your GP, health visitor or other healthcare professional if you need professional advice or guidance in regard to your child’s diet and any allergy- or health-related issues. Always check food labels and contact the emergency services urgently if your child exhibits signs of a severe allergic reaction.

Healthy Food at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Healthy snacks are included in the fees at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston/Birmingham.Meals at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery are freshly made, using high quality, nutritious ingredients, which are prepared for us by award-winning early years caterers. Healthy snacks, meals and drinks are all included in our nursery fees, as appropriate. We cater for all dietary needs (e.g. vegan, vegetarian etc.) and, of course, are mindful — and hugely careful — about any allergies amongst the little ones. We also participate in the ‘Startwell’ programme, which encourages our children and families in the Birmingham area to eat healthy meals and to live healthy lifestyles.

Searching for the best nurseries or pre-schools in Edgbaston, Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Please get in touch if you would like to visit Leaps & Bounds or to enrol your baby, toddler or under-five child at this excellent childcare setting. We are a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham but are equally convenient for those who live or work in Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Why not bring your child along to see the nursery in action and to ask us any questions that you may have. You can also apply for a place if you’re ready to make a decision about your childcare. Please choose a button below to get started:

Next Time

Today’s article focuses on food that may cause allergic reactions in infants. We subsequently follow up with a great guide to Seasonal Allergies in Under-Fives. Instead of being caused by food, seasonal allergies are caused by such things as pollen, dust, mould and pet dander at certain times of the year. Click the green link above to learn about symptoms, causes and ways to help children affected by such allergies.

The A-Z of Foods to Avoid Giving Your Infant

The NHS recommends a significant list of foods that adults should avoid giving babies and young children.It is so important to avoid feeding a baby or toddler anything that could be detrimental to their health. So, once infants are weaning off milk and eating solids, vigilance and care is needed over every food choice. Allergens aside, the NHS recommends a significant list of foods that adults should avoid giving babies and young children. Such foods are on the ‘avoid’ list usually because they contain one or more of the following three ingredients, although there are also others to look out for, as you’ll see.

  1. Too much salt. This is bad for babies’ kidneys, which have not finished developing. It can also raise blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke and heart disease. According to the NHS, babies under 1 should have less than 1g of salt per day and this will usually be achieved through milk intake, so none should be added. Children aged between 1 and 3 should only eat a maximum of 2g of salt per day (0.8g of sodium). For 4 to 6-year-olds it can increase to 3g of salt per day (1.2g of sodium).
  2. The NHS's Food Scanner phone app is available free.Added sugar. Infants do not need this. If added, it may increase instances of tooth decay, unhealthy weight issues, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. With children typically consuming more than twice as much sugar as is recommended, it is a real issue. The NHS’s sugar calculator can help when preparing food for infants, or alternatively use their Food Scanner app to find healthier food choices (click the yellow graphic to download).
  3. Saturated fats. These can raise levels of cholesterol and increase the risk of getting heart disease.

Foods to Avoid Giving Your Infant

In alphabetical order, foods that the NHS warns parents to avoid feeding babies and infants include:

Food TypeReason To Avoid / Notes
AnchoviesContains salt.
BaconContains salt and saturated fats.
BaglesMay contain added salt.
BiscuitsThese may be high in saturated fats.
Bread productsMay contain added salt.
Breakfast cerealsLikely to contain salt and sugar.
BunsContains sugar.
CakesContains sugar and saturated fats.
Cereal barsContains sugar.
Cheeses (some)Contains salt and saturated fats. Avoid all cheeses before the age of six months. Thereafter, avoid cheeses including non-pasteurised, mould-ripened (like brie), veined cheese (like stilton) and ripened goats’ cheese — unless used in [hot] cooking to kill harmful microbes.
Chips with added saltContains salt.
Chocolate & chocolate products, spreads etc.Contains sugar, saturated fats, even salt.
CiabattaContains salt.
CrispsContains salt. They can also contain high levels of saturated fat.
CrumpetsMay contain added salt.
EggsAvoid before the age of 6 months, thereafter avoid if raw/only lightly cooked unless they exhibit the Red Lion or ‘British Lion Quality’ stamp.
Fizzy drinksAvoid if they contain added sugar.
Fruit juicesEven unsweetened juice will contain natural ‘free’ sugars.
Gravy granulesContains salt.
HamContains salt.
HoneyContains sugar and also may contain bacteria that produces toxins in babies’ intestines, potentially causing botulism. Never give honey to children under the age of 1.
Ice creamContains sugar, saturated fats
Jelly cubesChoking hazard.
Juice drinksContain sugar.
Marlin meatContains mercury.
MayonnaiseLikely to contain salt.
NectarsContains sugar.
Nuts – salted and dry-roastedContains salt. Choking hazard too, unless crushed.
OlivesContains salt. Choking hazard.
Pasta saucesLikely to contain salt.
PastriesContains sugar, saturated fats, even salt.
PicklesContains salt.
PizzaLikely to contain salt.
PrawnsContains salt.
Ready mealsContains salt.
Rice drinksAvoid before the age of 5 – contains arsenic.
SalamiContains salt.
Salt fishContains salt.
SandwichesLikely to contain salt.
SaucesLikely to contain salt.
SausagesLikely to contain salt and saturated fats.
Shark meatContains mercury.
ShelfishAvoid if raw/lightly cooked.
Smoked meat and fishContains salt.
SmoothiesContains sugar.
SoupLikely to contain salt.
Soy sauceContains salt.
Stock cubesContains salt.
SweetsContains sugar.
Swordfish meatContains mercury.
Syrups including maple, golden, agave etc.Contains sugar.
TakeawaysContains salt.
Tomato ketchupContains salt.
Vegetable juicesContains sugar.
Yeast extractContains salt.
Yoghurts (flavoured)Contains sugar.

We hope that this ready-reference is useful for parents and guardians of babies and young children. However, it is a guide only and you should do your own research, including in regard to possible allergies/allergens. Always check food labels and ensure you’re using information for infants, not adults.

Healthy Eating at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Our standard fees include healthy meals (breakfast, lunch and tea as appropriate), healthy snacks and drinks. Meals contain fresh, nutritious ingredients that are locally sourced and prepared by award-winning early years caterers. We cater for all dietary needs including vegan and vegetarian options. We also participate in the ‘Startwell’ programme, which encourages healthy food and lifestyles amongst children and families in the Birmingham area.

Looking for outstanding nurseries/pre-schools in Edgbaston, Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds is a popular nursery and pre-school located in Edgbaston, Birmingham. We offer high quality childcare to local parents/guardians, including those who live or work in Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. To learn more about how we can bring out the very best in your baby, toddler or under-five child, we invite you to bring them along for a nursery visit. Ask us any questions and have a look around. See if your child feels at home. You can also simply apply for a place or send us a message. Please choose a button below to get started:

Baby & Toddler Teeth Brushing Guide
We promised to publish a guide to brushing infant teeth in our article about fluoride for under-fives earlier this month. That time has now come, so we explain below what’s generally accepted as the best approach for brushing teeth for babies, toddlers and under-fives in the UK.

When to Start Brushing Children’s Teeth

First, though, it’s important to start brushing children’s teeth — and in the right way — as soon as your baby has any teeth showing. That’s the case even if it’s only one or two teeth initially. Getting the brushing approach right will protect your child from tooth decay and oral health problems, of course, but will also reinforce the importance of a good oral hygiene regime to the child. They learn from adults all the time so, when parents make a habit of cleaning children’s teeth at least twice a day, children are also more likely to continue to do so once they reach an age when they take over teeth brushing completely, by themselves. For the same reason, it’s a good idea to let them see you brushing your teeth too. Their totally independent brushing comes usually around the age of 7, by the way. However, they should be encouraged to actively brush teeth themselves — under close parental supervision and often with hands-on help — well before that. Let’s take it step by step:

Brushing Babies’ Teeth

Just a smear of the toothpaste is needed for babies & children up to the age of 3Babies’ teeth usually start to appear around the age of 6 months of age, although it varies. In fact, some babies are even born with one or more teeth that have already erupted, as it’s called, through their gums. Whichever age it is that they first appear, that is the age parents should start to brush their teeth.
So, how do you brush a baby’s teeth? Firstly, you need to ensure that you’re using the right toothpaste, with the right fluoride content, so ensure that you carefully read the label. For babies and children up to the age of 3, use either ‘children’s’ fluoride toothpaste that has at least 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride in it, up to a maximum of 1,500ppm if using a ‘family’ toothpaste (learn more about fluoride for children here).

Just a smear of the toothpaste is needed, up to the age of 3. You can use an infant’s toothbrush, a ‘finger brush’ or even simply a small piece of clean gauze wrapped around your finger. The easiest method is to sit your baby or toddler on your knee, facing away from you with their head resting on your chest, with their head tilted backwards a little. Taller toddlers can stand, but the same approach works. Facing a mirror is an excellent way to do it, since you can then both see how you are brushing your child’s teeth — and the child will learn from this. Use small circular movements to smear the toothpaste on all areas of their teeth and also on their gums. They should spit out any foam that’s been generated but they do not need to rinse. Indeed, not rinsing means that the fluoride will continue to protect their teeth for longer.

Once they’re used to this happening at least twice a day, you can start to encourage them to use their own hands, which you can help to guide. They will soon pick up the idea, but you’ll need to continue to closely supervise.

Brushing Teeth from 3 to 6 years of age

The same approach works fine for children once they reach the age of 3 upwards, except now they should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Clearly this will generate more foam, so it’s important for them to spit out the excess foam but, again, they do not need to rinse as not doing so will continue to protect their teeth from plaque and possible decay.

Brushing Teeth from the Age of 7

By the time they reach the age of 7, children should have picked up exactly how to brush their own teeth unaidedBy the time they reach the age of 7, children should have picked up exactly how to brush their own teeth — unaided — and should be doing so at least twice a day. They should use children’s or family toothpaste containing between 1,350 and 1,500ppm of fluoride when doing so and, again, a pea-sized amount.

Tips for Terrific Toddler Teeth!

  • One of the daily times for teeth brushing should be at the end of the day, before they go to bed. In this way, children’s teeth and gums will be protected overnight — quite a few hours of protection when you think about it.
  • Dental treatment for children is free under the NHS, so make the most of this; for example, if your child needs a check-up for possible treatment. Going to the dentist regularly for check-ups also sets a good example that they can follow. Going from an early age is more likely to put them at ease at such visits.
  • Give teeth individual attention when brushing. Ensure front, sides/edges and back are all thoroughly brushed along with the adjoining gums. If this approach is used, every tooth will get a great clean. There’s even an app for teeth cleaning, which makes it thorough, educational and fun (available on IOS and on Android).
  • A typical teeth brushing session should last no less than 2 full minutes. That way, each tooth and all gums should get ample attention.
  • Teeth brushing should always be supervised for young children. Don’t let them play, walk around or run with their brush in their mouth — it would be very dangerous for their safety.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and anything with added sugar contentAvoid added sugar in drinks and unnecessary added sugar in food as this leads to plaque build-up and eventually to decay. Moreover, the longer sugar is in the mouth, the worse it is likely to be. So, check labels, avoid added sugar, sweets, and sugary biscuits etc. except, perhaps, as occasional treats. Even with fruit juice there will be lots of natural sugar, so this can be diluted with water to reduce its concentration. 1 part fruit juice to ten parts water is a good guide. Generally speaking milk and water are, of course, the best drinks for young children. Even though natural milk contains sugars, it’s far less likely to cause tooth decay.
  • Brush teeth immediately after meals or any sweet drinks if at all possible, especially if anything sugary has been included or if fruit juice was drunk. This will stop the build-up of plaque in its tracks at an early stage and, in the case of fruit juice, also wash away the natural fruit acids (which can otherwise also harm teeth).

The Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene

Achieving a good approach to teeth brushing and oral hygiene, right from an early age, is great for children. It sets up a good habit for them to continue independently and protects their teeth and gums from decay as well as from unsightly discolouration — or worse. Regular teeth brushing also gives children fresher breath along with great-looking teeth — and that’s also great for their self-confidence. What’s more, studies show that there is a link between good oral health and general health.  People who have poor oral hygiene are statistically at greater risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, so looking after teeth and gums is incredibly important.

People who have poor oral hygiene are statistically at greater risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

About Our Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16We, at Leaps and Bounds Day Nursery, hope you find this guide useful. We offer the highest quality childcare for babies and children aged up to five in our outstanding nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Our nursery and pre-school is near Bearwood, Smethwick, Harborne and Ladywood, making it convenient for anyone living or working in those areas. We even have our own Forest School, which gives children wonderful learning experiences in nature. Do get in contact as soon as possible if you are looking for weekday childcare for your little one in the Birmingham area, as spaces are limited. We’d love to tell you more, so please call 0121 246 4922 or contact us here and we’ll be happy to answer any questions or to show you and your little one around the lovely setting.

Fluoride for Under-5s: Facts & Myths
Fluoride helps protect against tooth decayIn this article, we look at fluoride use and its importance during children’s early years in the fight against tooth decay. This includes useful facts and guidelines for parents, the recommended fluoride content in toothpaste for babies and under-fives, as well as dispelling a common myth around unproven fluoride health concerns.

Fluoride

As well as being found in commercial toothpastes, fluoride is naturally found in several foods, including fish and tea, as well as in the drinking water supply. It’s a natural mineral that hugely benefits the population by significantly reducing tooth decay. This is achieved through a reduction in the effects of acid produced by bacteria in the mouth, as well as by strengthening tooth enamel.

It’s interesting to note that children whose teeth are regularly exposed to fluoride when their young teeth are developing tend to have a reduced amount of grooving in the surface of their teeth. This allows harmful plaque to be removed much more easily, again helping to fight tooth decay.

“Research over 60 years shows that 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million of fluoride in the water supply reduces tooth decay by between 40 and 60%”

For that reason, where the natural water supply falls below this fluoride strength, additional fluoride is often added by the water companies, in order to make up the shortfall. The amount varies from place to place, though, and can be checked by contacting your local water supplier.

Fluoride in Toothpaste – How Much is Right for Your Child?

How much fluoride is right for babies and under-fives?The correct fluoride content in toothpaste usually* depends upon the age of your child.

For babies and toddlers aged under 3, use a children’s or family toothpaste containing at least 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride, but no more than 1,500ppm. Just a smear is enough for children of this young age and the little one does not need to rinse their mouth afterwards. Indeed, leaving a tiny bit of toothpaste residue in the mouth will protect their teeth for longer. Their teeth should be brushed at least twice every day from the moment the first tooth appears.

Children aged between 3 and 6 should also use toothpaste containing between 1,000ppm and 1,500ppm of fluoride, but this time they should use a pea-sized amount on their toothbrush. As with babies, the children do not need to rinse (so that the effects of the fluoride last longer) but they can, of course, spit out after brushing. Again, they should brush twice a day as a minimum.

* If a child has a higher risk of tooth decay for any reason, a dentist may recommend a higher strength toothpaste.

Brushing Should Be Supervised

Children’s teeth brushing should be closely supervised by a parent or responsible adult until they are at least 7 years old. This is to ensure that teeth are being brushed properly and thoroughly, as well as for safety reasons. Children must never associate toothbrushes with playing, and certainly must never run around with them in their mouths.

Fluoride Varnish

The NHS suggests that children aged 3 or more would benefit from a coating of fluoride varnish two or more times per year. This is something that’s available from dentists and involves a coating of varnish being applied to the teeth. The varnish contains high levels of fluoride and helps the teeth to resist decay and it also strengthens enamel. Even baby teeth can be protected by fluoride varnish. The varnish is particularly useful to anyone who is particularly at risk of developing, or is naturally prone to, tooth decay, or who suffers from a condition called dry mouth.

Does Fluoride Do Any Harm?

Learn the facts about fluorideFluoride has been of enormous benefit to millions of people around the world, significantly reducing tooth decay in rich and poor communities alike, even when present only in the water supply. According to both the Oral Health Foundation and the NHS, fluoride is absolutely safe for both children and adults. While there are some that say it can be linked to a variety of health conditions, there has been no compelling evidence to scientifically back up the claims.

One exception to that rule is the possibility of developing dental fluorosis, which is a condition caused by exposure to too much fluoride when young teeth are developing (typically below the age of 7). In mild cases, it may cause flecking or white lines on the surface of the teeth. In more severe cases, pitting and discolouration may occur. However, in the UK, the condition only rarely occurs in a way that adversely affects the appearance of teeth, not least because fluoride levels in water supplies are carefully monitored by an official body set up to do so — the Drinking Water Inspectorate (‘DWI’).

A Note About Sugar

This article is geared towards increasing parent knowledge around fluoride use and its importance during children’s early years. Before we sign off, though, it would be remiss of us not to mention that one of the best ways to avoid tooth decay is, of course, to avoid added sugar in both food and drinks. When sugar coats teeth, plaque is likely to build up and then your children are more at risk of tooth decay. It’s even worse when the sugar coating and subsequent plaque are left for longer periods. Hence, it’s important to both avoid unnecessary sugar in the first place and to brush children’s teeth regularly to remove it. We cover this and related brushing guidelines in our separate teeth brushing guide for babies, toddlers and young children, here.

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16This article was brought to you by Leaps and Bounds Day Nursery, a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, near Birmingham. We’re one of just a few nurseries near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick, so would suit parents living or working in any of those locations. We’re also one of the rare Birmingham nurseries with a Forest School, which will allow your child to benefit from everything that nature and the outdoors has to offer. We offer daytime childcare and early years education to babies and children aged up to five, Monday to Friday, for 51 weeks of the year. Healthy food, drinks and snacks are all a part of this.

For more information about about a possible nursery place for your child here at Leaps & Bounds, please call 0121 246 4922 or contact us here and we’ll be very happy to help.

How to Help your Infant Sleep
A young girl struggles to stay awakeWe all know how lack-lustre we feel when we don’t get enough high quality sleep. Following a bad night’s sleep, work can be a struggle and concentration levels can suffer as we fight to stay focused or, at times, even awake — especially come mid-afternoon!

If adults feel like that, imagine how babies, toddlers and preschoolers feel after a bad night’s sleep. Adults understand why they’re feeling fatigued and what they need to do about it. However, young children simply don’t understand why everything is such a struggle. They may throw tantrums and even become a danger to themselves when they’re too tired. With too little sleep, they often become tearful, lacking in energy, intolerant and — dare we say it — very grumpy to be around!

“I don’t know whether to take a nap … or cry about being tired.”

Toddlers and under-fives at nursery or pre-school will not learn so effectively if they have not had enough sleep. Concentration levels, memory and general cognitive function are all adversely affected when sleep has been lacking. There are even some serious health risks associated with the lack of regular sleep. These include mental health issues, possible blood pressure problems and diabetes. If poor sleep goes unchecked, the release of growth and repair hormones could also become deficient — and that is absolutely critical in the early years when children are growing and developing.

So, what can be done to improve both the quality and length of your infant’s sleep, and how much is enough?

How Much Sleep is Enough for Babies & Under-5s?

Newborn babies are asleep more than they are awakeBabies and toddlers require significantly more sleep than adults. The recommendations for sleep below are from the NHS:

  • Newborn babies will generally be asleep more than they are awake and this is normal. They can be sleeping anywhere between 16 and 18 hours per day in total, although usually wake during the night at some point(s) to be fed. During the day, sleep patterns for newborns can be erratic and made up of lots of shorter sleeps rather than one huge multi-hour one. By the time they reach approximately 3 months of age, they may begin to sleep right through the night.
  • Babies aged between 4 months and a year should be getting 12 to 16 hours of sleep per 24-hour day. This includes naps, so don’t expect them to sleep this long in one go, of course.
  • At the age of 1 to 2, toddlers should be getting between 11 and 14 hours of sleep per 24 hours, again including any daytime naps.
  • Between the ages of 3 and 5, this reduces a little to between 10 to 13 hours of sleep per 24 hours, including daytime naps, dropping to 9 to 12 hours from 6 to 12 years of age.

How Can Parents Help?

‘Sleep Hygiene’ is all about setting a suitable routine for the baby or child, and sticking to it, so that it becomes a pattern that everyone follows. With such a routine, children will naturally adjust and more easily go to sleep at the appropriate, planned times. And, once asleep, they should remain so under a good sleep hygiene regime. There are several things that can help to achieve this:

  • A comforting cuddly toy may help some under-fives sleepAvoiding caffeine in drinks, from lunchtime onwards, will help. Caffeine can be found in tea and coffee as well as in some fizzy drinks. Warm milk is better.
  • Similarly, electronic screens are a brain stimulant that should be avoided several hours before bedtime. That includes TVs, mobile phones, tablets and games consoles.
  • Avoid letting your child exercise or play vigorously close to bedtime. This too can act as a brain stimulant.
  • Meal times should also not be too close to bedtime.
  • Your child’s room should be in a quiet part of the house and not contain anything that will stimulate your child close to bedtime. The ability to have low/dimmed lights will help. TVs, mobiles and other electronic screens should not be accessible in the child’s room. It should be cosy and peaceful, perhaps with a cuddly toy or two rather than any toys that will stimulate the child’s mind. In essence, their room should be associated with sleep … not play.
  • In the run-up to bedtime, parents should encourage their little ones to wind down physically and mentally. A leisurely bath or warm shower followed by a gentle bedtime story with dimmed lights should set the mood.
  • Last but not least, parents must not allow children to dictate the rules around bedtime and sleeping routines. For example, if they creep into your bedroom or bed at night, gently settle them back into their bed, without fuss or unnecessary conversation, and repeat if necessary. They’ll soon get the message even if it takes repeated attempts. If they are scared of the dark, then a well-positioned (dim) night light may help.

“Don’t talk to me right now … I was up all night keeping my parents awake — and I’m exhausted.”

Sleep at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston

Babies and toddlers benefit from two sleeping sessions each dayThe very young at Leaps and Bounds Day Nursery benefit from two sleeping sessions each day; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. This is particularly good for babies and very young toddlers. Older preschoolers can choose whether or not to take a nap during these sessions although, of course, staff will always be aware when a child is overly tired and could benefit from some rest in a peaceful, quiet environment. We also encourage parents to let us know if they would like their child to sleep in a particular daily pattern and we’ll always do our best to accommodate their wishes and any personal preferences or needs.

Nursery Places Available in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16We currently have a few limited spaces available at our outstanding nursery in Edgbaston. It’s near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick too, so may be a good nursery choice for those living or working in those locations. We’re also a Forest School for those who are keen for their children to enjoy and learn from everything that nature and the Great Outdoors has to offer.

Telephone 0121 246 4922 for further details or book a nursery visit here and we’ll be happy to show you and your little one around.

Childhood Obesity Matters
There are many dangers posed by obesity in childhoodHere we look at the dangers of obesity in very young children, why it’s crucial to avoid it and how parents and carers can help. Some statistics will help focus the mind on why this is so important.

Childhood Obesity – the Shocking Statistics

Virtually one in every three children aged 2 to 15 is overweight or obese.

More and more children are becoming obese at younger and younger ages. Statistics show that, once obese, children are far more likely to remain so longer term.

Obesity DOUBLES the risk of dying early.

What’s more, people are more likely to suffer from depression and heart disease if they are obese.

The risk of obese adults developing Type 2 diabetes is SEVEN times greater.

That’s another shocking statistic. Here’s another:

Under-fives from low-income families are TWICE as likely to become obese. Eleven year olds are THREE times more likely to do so.

That’s why children living in deprived, low-income areas tend to experience an unfairly high level of weight issues, along with the health problems that are associated with them.

It’s clear that childhood obesity needs to be avoided if at all possible. So, what can be done?

Avoiding Childhood Obesity – How to Help Little Ones

Generally speaking, the avoidance of childhood obesity comes down to a good balance between two key things; regular exercise and a healthy diet. Parents can help children in both areas.

Regular Exercise

Regular exercise helps to maintain a healthy bodyRegular exercise is a great tool in the fight against obesity in children, as well as in adults of course. Excess calories that would otherwise be stored as fat can be burned off through exercise. Exercise, when done regularly, is more likely to speed up the metabolism, making the burning of calories more efficient (i.e. easier).

Exercise also has a number of additional, important benefits including improving general fitness, building stronger bones and muscles, reducing the risk of heart disease, depression and Type 2 diabetes as well as improving sleep quality. Perhaps surprisingly, research suggests that regular exercise and sport is also likely to improve academic performance. And, of course, active sports and group exercise opportunities are great for social interaction and bonding with peers — that’s beneficial for children of all ages.

So, the message for parents and carers of young children is to encourage them to get active. Too much sitting looking at electronic screens like tablets, phones, computers and TVs is detrimental to their health. Regular, energetic, physical games and activities are good and, of course, sport is a great way to exercise while having fun. Getting children outdoors is also a way to encourage more active play.

A Healthy Diet

Junk food and sugary food/drink should be avoidedIn tandem with regular exercise, children’s diets need to be balanced and healthy. So, they need to eat healthy foods and in the right amounts. Junk food should be avoided. Indeed, the Government’s “Plan for Action” to help fight childhood obesity aims to reduce children’s exposure to the advertising of junk food. The scheme has also included measures to cut sugar levels in food and soft drinks and even to stop unhealthy foods from being displayed near supermarket checkouts. The scheme was launched in recent years to combat the childhood obesity issues that seem to have become so prevalent in the UK in recent years. Another key aim is to reduce the strain on the NHS caused by obesity, which is significant:

The NHS spends more on the treatment of obesity and diabetes than it spends on the police, fire service and judicial system combined.

A healthy diet is crucial to avoid obesity in childhoodSo, parents and carers of children can help by carefully choosing what their children eat and drink. Junk food is to be avoided. Sugary drinks too. High-sugar foods like biscuits, cakes, ice cream, confectionery and sugary cereals should only be given as occasional treats, if at all. Portion sizes should also be right for the size and age of the child in question. In regard to food groups, 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day are much more suitable, along with some protein, dairy and some starch. The balance of the food types children eat needs to be right for them. We’ll write a separate, more detailed post about healthy eating for little ones in due course. It’ll include guidance on portion sizes, food groups and more, so watch this space.

How Leaps & Bounds Nursery Helps to Combat Childhood Obesity

Leaps & Bounds Nursery understands all of this and indeed you can read all about our healthy eating and exercise mission in our Healthy Eating & Getting Active post from last year. In a nutshell, it explains how we ensure that children accomplish just the right amount of physical activity every day, avoid sedentary activities, eat healthy food and drink and even any snacks are carefully chosen, healthy choices. Our incredible equipment, facilities and Forest School also, of course, encourage active play, much of it in the outdoors to keep children’s minds and bodies at their most healthy.

An Outstanding Nursery, Pre-School & Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16If you are looking for the very best start for your baby or child under five, look no further than Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. We are an outstanding nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick. We also have our own Birmingham Forest School so children have ample access to the Great Outdoors and everything that the natural world can offer a young child. Our weekday childcare services are on offer from Monday to Friday for babies, toddlers and children under five. Call 0121 246 4922 or book a visit or call-back here for further details.