Toddlers with Diabetes: Caring for the Littlest Patients

Toddlers with diabetes are suffering from Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes or diabetes juvenile. The number of children under the age of five being diagnosed with diabetes juvenile has almost doubled in the past five years. Caring for toddlers is a challenge under the best of circumstances, and toddlers with diabetes need even more special care and attention.

Symptoms

First, if you are wondering whether your toddler has diabetes in the first place, here are some signs to look for:

•often complains of feeling thirsty
•hungry more often
•suddenly loses weight
•urinates more than usual, diapers more wet than usual
•occasional fruity smelling breath

If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, discuss with your doctor the possibility you have a toddler with diabetes.

Special challenges

You or your caregiver will have to closely monitor your child’s blood sugar throughout the day to be sure it stays within a safe range. Ideally this means 6-12 mmol just before meals.

Toddlers with diabetes also require daily insulin shots, which can be traumatic for you as well as your child! When administering both finger pricks for the blood sugar tests and the insulin shots, you should be as quick and calm as possible about the procedure. If your child is playing, go where he or she is rather than having them come to you. That helps establish the procedure as just a normal part of their day.

Of course, your child will resist these procedures, and it can be hard for parents and caregivers to remember they are doing this for the child’s health. It must be done, however, and you may have to learn to restrain the child gently. It also helps to give them a big hug and a kiss after it’s finished to make sure they understand you still love them even though this hurt a bit.

Another problem is that toddlers with diabetes can’t tell you when they are feeling the effects of low blood sugar, which is another reason for careful monitoring.
Toddlers in general can be picky eaters, and toddlers with diabetes are no different. The challenge here is in making sure that all your alternatives fit within a healthy and appropriate diabetic diet. Have as wide a selection of those foods available as possible so that when they do refuse certain foods, you can tempt them with an appropriate alternative.

Toddlers with diabetes should otherwise develop the same way, and at the same rate, as other children of their age. So as long as you take the necessary precautions to treat the diabetes, and your child seems normal in all other ways, there’s no reason why he or she shouldn’t be a perfectly healthy and happy child.

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