Toddler's activity level worries his grandfather

CHILD LIFE

January 01, 1995|By BEVERLY MILLS

Q: My 15-month-old grandson fights sleep and is too hyper to sit still and eat well. My daughter is pregnant and can't get any rest with this overactive little boy. The pediatrician offers no explanation. Is this more common than I realize?

-- Bill Pierce, Conyers, Ga.

A: Typical toddlers almost never walk when they can run, sit when they can stand or stand when they can jump.

Because it is absolutely normal for toddlers to be active and have short attention spans, be very careful about pinning a hyperactive label on your child.

"You don't want to fall into that trap because other people will start looking at him that way and he'll start looking at himself that way," says Heidi Murkoff, co-author of the new book "What to Expect the Toddler Years" (Workman, $15.95).

"Most doctors and psychologists won't diagnose hyperactivity disorders until at least age 2 and probably not until age 5."

However, many parents who called Child Life say their older children who have since been diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders displayed these tendencies from the time they were toddlers.

One of the best things to do is find other toddlers the same age to compare your child with and exchange information with their parents. Find a play group or mother's morning-out program.

In many cases, the child's diet turned out to cause hyperactivity. Many parents cite problems with food allergies, excess sugar, artificial sweeteners and artificial colors.

"If she puts the child on an all-natural diet for two weeks, she may see a difference," says Jan Roberts, a reader from Concord, Ga.

Sara Barnes, from Chicago, says a friend's child turned out to be allergic to carrots. Patty Manf of St. Anthony, Minn., says milk, fruit juices and nitrates were the culprits for her children.

For information on:

* Food allergies: Write for a publications list from the Practical Allergy Research Foundation, P.O. Box 60, Buffalo, N.Y. 14223.

* The effects of dyes and other artificial ingredients: Write the Feingold Association, P.O. Box 6550, Alexandria, Va. 22306.

* Hyperactivity disorders: Request a free information package from Ch.A.D.D. (Children with Attention Deficit Disorders), Suite 308, 499 N.W. 70th Ave., Plantation, Fla. 33317.

Here are some other tips.

* When his daughter was an active toddler, Tim Sylvester of Baltimore cleared and child-proofed one room where she could run free. "She could run and not get hurt, and we didn't have to worry about chasing her around."

* Reading out loud to your child is calming and allows you to sit, says Alix Stoddard of Donners Grove, Ill.

While a reporter at the Miami Herald, Beverly Mills developed this column after the birth of her son, now 5. Ms. Mills and her husband currently live in Raleigh, N.C., and also have a 3-year-old daughter.

CAN YOU HELP?

Here's a new question from a parent who needs your help. If you have tips, or if you have questions of your own, call our toll-free hot line any time at (800) 827-1092. Or write to Child Life, 2212 The Circle, Raleigh, N.C. 27608.

Gift ideas: "I have a 12-year-old mentally handicapped nephew, and I have exhausted my resources on what to give him for gifts," says Janet Schlueter of Silver Lake, Minn. "Things are either too advanced or too juvenile. He already has tons of books and music. Does anyone have any ideas?"

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