Monthly Archives: August 2021

Tips to Decrease Added Sugars in Children’s Diets

By: Jodi Hoppensteadt MS, RDN, LDN

Why Track Added Sugar?

It’s Kids Eat Right Month this August, and below is the skinny on added sugar. It can be tough to track and understand labels and how much is added into our daily food products. The easiest method is for families to focus on foods and beverages that do not contain added sugars.

Too much sugar in a child’s diet can lead to adverse health conditions, including tooth decay, obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, type two diabetes, and high blood pressure. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children under two years of age should avoid added sugars. Children two years and older should limit their daily intake of added sugars to less than 25g (approximately six teaspoons) each day.

How to Identify Added Sugar on Food Labels

There are two ways to read a food label. One way is to check the Nutrition Facts Panel and look for the line titled: Includes XXg Added Sugars. Focus on foods that contain less than 5% of the Daily Value for added sugars.

The second way to read a label for added sugars is to read the ingredient labels. Added sugars come in many forms and go by many names, including sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, fructose, dextrose, honey, molasses, malt, turbinado, and any ingredients ending in -ose.

Tips to Reduce Added Sugars

The following suggestions are other tips on how to avoid added sugars in your child’s diet:

  • Limit foods containing added sugars for children over two years of age and avoid beverages with added sugars for children two and under.
  • In place of foods with added sugars, try offering foods with natural sugar, which is the sugar naturally found in foods such as fructose found in fruits or lactose found in milk and milk products.
  • Limit 100% fruit juice for children and it is a good practice to dilute with water. Do not give fruit juice to children under the age of one.
    • 1-3 years of age up to 4 ounces daily.
    • 4-6 years of age up to 6 ounces daily.
    • 7-14 years of age up to 8 ounces daily.
  • Read labels for added sugars in all packaged and/or processed foods and drinks, including crackers, flavored milk (chocolate or strawberry), condiments, cookies, bread/baked goods, and cereals.

Added Sugar Replacements/Substitutes Tips

Here are some food replacements/substitutes to reduce added sugars in specific foods:

  • Serve water or milk in place of soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened coffees, or teas. Try naturally flavored water at home by adding berries, lemon, lime, cucumber slices, or mint.
  • When looking for something sweet, try fresh fruits, frozen fruits, dried fruits, or canned fruits. Canned fruits should be canned in water or natural fruit juice and drained and rinsed. Read food labels for added sugars in both canned and dried fruits.
  • Many cold cereals are high in sugar. Look for low sugar cereals such as Chex (Corn or Rice), Cheerios (unflavored), or Kix (unflavored).
  • Applesauce often has added sugar but unsweetened applesauce is available.
  • Offer only 100% real juice, fresh-squeezed juice, or homemade juice with no sugar added.
  • Cookies/cupcakes/baked goods are often high in added sugars but can be homemade with less sugar by substituting part of the sugar with applesauce or reducing the amount of sugar in a recipe by ¼ to ½ of the amount.
  • Popsicles and ice cream can be replaced with 100% real fruit popsicles or dark chocolate-covered frozen bananas. Popsicles can also be made at home using fresh fruit, pureeing, and freezing in popsicle molds.
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be made with less added sugars by replacing the jam or jelly with fresh fruit such as sliced bananas, apples, or strawberries, or low sugar jelly jams are available. No sugar-added peanut butter is also available.
  • Syrup for pancakes and waffles can be replaced with fresh fruit, or frozen blueberries can be heated and pureed to make a “fresh fruit syrup”.
  • Read labels for condiments and chose lower sugar varieties or reduce the amount used.
  • Granola bars/cereal bars/yogurts look for low added sugar on the nutrition facts panel or ingredient label. There are also many recipes for breakfast cookies online that are low-sugar and easy to make.
Photo by Julia Zolotova on Pexels.com

Notes on Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners (nonnutritive sweeteners) such as Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Neotame, Saccharin, Sucralose are found in many food and beverages. The AAP recommends that the amount of artificial sweetener be listed on the nutrition facts label to better help parents and researchers understand how much children are consuming and the possible health effects. There is still a lot to learn about the impact of nonnutritive sweeteners on children’s health. Children under the age of 2 should not be consuming artificial sweeteners.

Notes on Milk and Supplemental Diets

There is no need to limit milk as it contains natural sugars, not added sugars, and provides necessary nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D. Supplemental nutritional beverages such as Pediasure, Boost, and Carnation Breakfast Essentials should not be limited when used to supplement diets to provide additional calories or nutrients or when recommended by a doctor and dietitian. Lower added sugar supplemental nutritional beverages can be purchased from companies such as Kate Farms or Else. Ask your doctor or dietitian if a lower added sugar formula is right for your child.

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Comprehensive Pediatric Nutrition Services

If you have any questions or any concerns about your child’s nutrition visit our nutrition therapy page or contact us at info@eastersealsdfvr.org. Our nutrition team is comprised of RDN’s (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) who have years of specialty experience working in pediatric nutrition and are ready to help!

Keeping Children with Disabilities Safe in a Digital World

By: Yvonne D. Anderson, LCSW, CADC, CODP II

All parents want to protect their children. And all children are vulnerable online, whether they’re using email or chatting on social media sites. When your child has a disability or developmental delay, those protective instincts switch into high gear. Identifying potential threats online is more challenging than, for instance, spotting a danger on the playground. Additionally, many children with disabilities struggle with reading social cues, managing emotions/ behavior, and making judgment calls about others. As a result, they are at a higher risk for cyberbullying and online victimization. As a parent or caregiver, you are your child’s first line of defense. Use the following guidelines to navigate the online world and keep your child safe.

Make your home network safe.

Avoidance is the best policy when it comes to sexual content, violent images, online predators, malware, and cyberbullying on the Internet.

  • Increase your security. Use updated virus protection and other safety measures, such as firewalls, to protect your computer from hackers and other cyberattacks.
  • Make it public. Keep smart phones, iPads, and computers in shared places where it’s easy for you to monitor online behavior.
  • Filter content. Install filters to block unapproved websites and images.
  • Set up parental controls. Limits can be set in multiple ways, such as through your internet or mobile service provider, directly on the device itself, and through site-specific services, including YouTube, Netflix, and Facebook.
  • Use child-friendly browsers. Some browsers are designed specifically to allow young Internet users to explore and learn without coming across offensive or dangerous content.
  • Review the browsing history regularly.
  • Disable location-tagging. A GPS-enabled smartphone or computer can reveal your child’s location through online posts and uploaded photos.
Photo by Dzenina Lukac on Pexels.com

Teach your child how to behave online.

Educating your child about appropriate online behavior is vital if you want to keep her safe no matter where she accesses the Internet.

  • Establish ground rules. Identify what is OK to do online and what activities are prohibited. When it comes to content, use the same guidelines that you employ for television viewing: if they can’t watch it on TV, they shouldn’t look it up online either.
  • Teach your child that information shared on the Internet becomes and stays public forever.
  • Review information that should not be shared. Help your child understand what types of information are unsafe to share online, such as their full name, address, phone number, school, or other images/ information that could help someone identify them. To help your child remember, post a “Do Not Share” list by the computer or on the device.
  • Explain the limits to online relationships. Emphasize that it is okay to say “No” to requests for personal information, photos, money, and joining social media networks.
  • Be smart about emails. Let your child know how dangerous it can be to open an email or attachment from someone they don’t know. Reinforce the importance of checking with you or another trusted adult if they get a message that they’re unsure about.
  • Encourage your child not to delete messages. Tell them to save anything that they’re not sure about, doesn’t feel right, or seems hurtful. Set aside time to review the messages together.
  • Explain cyberbullying, predatory behavior, and sexting. Although it may feel uncomfortable to talk about, your children can’t protect themselves from what they don’t know about. Rehearse “what to do if…” scenarios.
Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

Provide resources and support.

Children also need to know how to identify when someone else is behaving inappropriately online and what to do about it.

  • Use online tools. Websites such as InternetMatters.org or NetSmartz.org provide a wealth of resources for both parents and children. InternetMatters is a resource hub specifically designed for children with additional learning needs and their families. These sites offer tools help children learn about online dangers using role-playing, pictures, and other strategies. NetSmartz resources also include the SymbolStix safety pledge, a visual online safety contract designed with support from the National Autism Association.
  • Encourage them to trust their gut. Teach your children to be skeptical and listen to their own instincts. Use role-play to practice recognizing and responding to several different scenarios your child may encounter online.
  • Give them a lifeline. Make sure your children know that you and other trusted adults are available for them if they run across something online that makes them uncomfortable. Even if they’ve done something they shouldn’t have, it’s important for them to be able to reach out to adults they can rely on.
  • Find safe online spaces. Seek out social networks and peer support that are focused on activities and interactions that match your child’s interests and developmental level.
  • Be curious and ask questions. Find out what websites your child likes to visit. Have they ever seen something online that made them feel sad, scared, or confused? What would they do if they saw something online that made them uncomfortable?
  • Connect with your child by learning how to use the technology and social media that s/he is using. Ask them to show you how it works and specifically how they use it.
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Reach out to Easterseals’ Social Services team for more ideas about how to support your child’s social and emotional development. You can contact us at socialservices@eastersealsdfvr.org.

Common Questions About Bilingualism

By: Joanna Nasiadka, M.S., CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Therapy strengthens children’s communication and feeding skills so they can participate fully in daily activities and achieve success. Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley therapists have numerous years of experience in typical and atypical speech and language development and offer a fun and engaging environment for children to learn and develop their skills. We also have a number of therapists fluent in several language such as Polish (myself), Korean and Tagalog. There are often questions shared about raising a bilingual child and I wanted to discuss the many benefits and what to look for if you suspect a speech delay below.

Q1: Does bilingualism mean my child is equally proficient in two languages?

Being bilingual does not mean that the child has equal proficiency in both languages. It is common for children to have a dominant language. Children can also have a dominant language for specific contexts. For example, a child might speak English at school and communicate most effectively in English when the context is academics but might prefer to talk in their family’s native language while talking about a sport, religion, or while talking to their family members. The dominance of language fluctuates depending on the amount and nature of exposure. There are two types of bilingualism:

Simultaneous Bilingualism:

This type of bilingualism is the acquisition of 2 languages at the same time, typically before age 3.​ Early language milestones are met in typical time and manner in both languages.​

Sequential Bilingualism:

This type of bilingualism occurs when the second language is introduced AFTER 3 years old.

Photo by Stan Kedziorski-Carr

Q2: Will my child be confused if we use two languages at home?

Many studies on bilingualism have shown that using two languages does not confuse a child, even when they are young and learning two languages simultaneously.

Q3: What if my child has a language delay or disorder?

There is no evidence that using two languages confuses a typically developing child OR a child with a disability. Bilingualism can actually be beneficial for children who have disabilities, and it allows them to be active participants in their daily activities. It also allows them to have full social-emotional growth since it will enable them to communicate with family members and friends who have a shared language and culture.

Q4: Will bilingualism cause my child to have a language delay or academic difficulties? Will he or she be behind other kids?

Bilingualism does not cause language delay or disorders in children. It also does not exacerbate delays or disorders that are already present. If a child presents a disorder in one language, they will have the disorder in the second language as well. If the difficulties only arise in one language, this could be a sign of limited language proficiency.

Bilingual children develop language similarly to their monolingual peers. However, bilingual children may have lower proficiency in one of the languages until they catch up to fluent speakers.

  • Average time to achieve social proficiency (conversations, social interactions): 2-3 years
  • Average time to reach academic proficiency:  5-7 years
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Q5: What are some pros and cons of raising a bilingual speaker?

Q6: What is the best way to support two languages? Should I wait for my child to be proficient in one language before introducing a second one?

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

The best time for a child to learn two languages to be proficient is before 3. Younger children are more likely to develop a natural accent, more likely to become proficient and achieve higher syntax levels in the long run. Therefore, there is no need to wait for your child to learn one language before introducing a new one.

Many families have found success in speaking both languages at home. Other families prefer to speak both languages and spend time reading, writing, or doing activities in each language. A very effective way to help a child learn both languages is to have one caregiver speak one language and a second caregiver speaks the other language. This choice depends on the family dynamic and your preferences.

Q7: My child started to mix the two languages together in the same sentences. Is this normal?

Using both languages or alternating between languages in the same utterance or conversation is very common for bilingual speakers and is called code-switching. Competent bilingual speakers often code-switch for many reasons, including using a word that is not present in the other language, quoting ideas, emphasizing, excluding others from conversation, showing status, or adding authority. Code-switching can happen more in certain cultures and contexts.

Code-switching does require rules to be done appropriately:

  1. Must follow the grammatical structure of both languages
  2. The word order has to make sense
Photo by Julie Hermes

Q8: How will a speech-language pathologist evaluate and treat my bilingual child with a language disorder or delay?

A speech-language therapist can help determine a speech-language disorder from a limited language proficiency by considering the sound and language rules of both languages that your child speaks. Your therapist will administer evidence-based methods of testing that are adjusted for your child’s needs as a bilingual speaker. These tests include speech-language samples, writing samples, play-based observations and assessments, standardized measures (if appropriate and adjusted), and assessments of ability to learn new skills. If your child benefits from services, treatment will focus on improving speech and language skills while supporting both languages.

Take our Free Developmental Screening

If you are concerned about your child’s language or other development, take our free online developmental screening tool for children birth to age five. The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) will showcase your child’s developmental milestones while uncovering any potential delays. Learn more at askeasterseals.com. 

To learn more about Speech Language services at Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley, call us at 630.282.2022.