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How to explain Diabetes to a toddler?

Posted by on Dec. 29, 2011 at 2:34 PM
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I'm a type one diabetic, so sometimes my nearly 3 year old sees me taking my insulin and checking my blood sugar. I wanted to ask if anyone had any good advice on how to explain to him what I'm doing in the best way he would understand. 

by on Dec. 29, 2011 at 2:34 PM
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michiganmom116
by on Dec. 29, 2011 at 2:45 PM
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I grew up with a Type 1 mom.  She explained to me that her body didn't make what it needed to properly use the food she ate so the insulin was medicine to do that.  I understood that.  What was more important is that I had to understand if I couldn't wake her up then I was to use the phone to call for help.  I can still recall when I was 3 and she had low blood sugar, I had to call someone for help. 

As a type 2 mom, my kids have grown up knowing that I need to test my blood sugars and take meds/insulin as part of daily routine, and that if they can't ever wake me (or their grandma), they're to call 911.  They don't think twice about it.  They've even wanted to test their own blood sugar when they've had an owie and were bleeding.


MusherMaggie
by on Jan. 3, 2012 at 11:05 AM

I would check the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for help.  It's really geared for children with diabetes, but their materials should help you explain your own situation so your little one can understand.  Nothing like starting the education early!

Mbpeaceful12
by on Jan. 4, 2012 at 12:39 AM


Quoting michiganmom116:

I grew up with a Type 1 mom.  She explained to me that her body didn't make what it needed to properly use the food she ate so the insulin was medicine to do that.  I understood that.  What was more important is that I had to understand if I couldn't wake her up then I was to use the phone to call for help.  I can still recall when I was 3 and she had low blood sugar, I had to call someone for help. 

As a type 2 mom, my kids have grown up knowing that I need to test my blood sugars and take meds/insulin as part of daily routine, and that if they can't ever wake me (or their grandma), they're to call 911.  They don't think twice about it.  They've even wanted to test their own blood sugar when they've had an owie and were bleeding.

Since my now three-year-old has seen me test my blood sugar ever since her birth, I had to basically tell her the same thing as Michiganmom116. At one time, she wanted me to prick her finger. I did, but one time the lancet was too deep. Ever since then, she tries to stay faraway when she sees me take out the meter.

Shamrock90
by on Jan. 9, 2012 at 8:24 PM

Thank you for bringing up how you tell them to call 911 if they can't wake you. I had honestly never even thought of that. 

aliciajacinta
by on Feb. 3, 2012 at 9:57 AM
1 mom liked this

i started taking insulin and also testing my blood when my daughter was about 2 year old,more so because she is a special needs she would be seeing me do the process,well being a teacher for special need students,i did the following went into the internet and found a chart that shows your body without your skin,,just the veins and set down with her to explain just how our body's work when you eat and how your food is process.i also explained to her that if I did not test or gave my shots,i also explained that in simple terms what would happen to me.Later on i also explained thru pictures,that you can get from your doctor or internet showing the different faces of what would happen if you get low blood sugar or blood high blood sugars and what to do.Place this picture in a place that he ot she can see.You will be surprise just  how they learn.Take it slow,ask questions to see if he or she understands Good luck

CamsMommy925
by on Feb. 20, 2012 at 1:46 AM
1 mom liked this

I am a type 1 diabetic with a now 4 year old son.  Be honest and open with your 3 year old.  The more he/she sees you testing and taking your medicine the more "old hat" it will become.  I started explaining diabetes in VERY simple terms when my son was 2.  As he matured a bit more I would add more details.  He now, at age 4, knows:  that each person has a pancreas, that the pancreas makes insulin, Mommy's pancreas no longer makes insulin, insulin helps your body manage the foods that you eat, Mommy can't eat sugary foods unless she has a low sugar, when Mommy has a low sugar she needs to eat or drink something with sugar in it to help her body feel better and be able to do all of our normal activities, testing tells Mommy what her sugar is and helps her take care of herself, Mommy's pump is like a little computer to help give her medicine-insulin, that whenever Mommy eats-Mommy uses the pump to take insulin, he knows that the insulin goes in the pod & that the pod sticks to Mommy's body, and most importantly if Mommy doesn't answer him/wake up to call Grandma or 911.  

Discuss which foods are sugary and which aren't.  You can talk about the snacks that he/she eats and about what you're eating.  Over time your child will be able to tell you which foods have sugar in them.  I almost always have a "sugar tab" or glucose tab and/or cranberry juice when I have a low sugar.  He sees me test frequently and sometimes will ask me if I need a cranberry juice.  He thinks it's great to get me a juice now that he can pull open the refrigerator door by himself.  I just always make sure that a little bottle of cranberry juice is within his reach (the lower shelf on the door of the fridge).  He comes back so proud of himself for getting it. :)

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