18 answers

4 Year Old with Diabetes

My grandson has just been diagnosed with diabetes, like last night in the hospital. He had been tons of fluids, peeing it all out, didn't want to eat. Parents brought him in thinking that maybe he was coming down with the flu. That would have been easier to handle! Anyway, what can we expect from this diagnosis, how do you handle the injections, blood sticks for testing,good foods/bad foods and all the other necessary things that go along with this disorder? He has an older brother and younger brother and sister. How does diabetes fit in with them as well? Any and all suggestions would be welcome.

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So What Happened?™

I don't want to waste a moment in thanking you all for responding to my concern. I sat here crying at the outpouring of care that flew across the internet! Thanks to each of you have responded, I am going to be very busy reading books, labels and articles, as well as getting wiser in the nutrition department. Hey, this might even help me get on track as well to eating better. I am fortunate that my diet hasn't done me in! Many many thanks.

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I am a 30 yr. old mom who was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 2. Something I remember my mom doing for me was giving me a "special" toy to hold whenever I had to get an insulin shot. She kept small toys in the kitchen cupboard and I only got to hold them when I got my shot. It helped with keeping me calm. Don't worry, it will be ok. I've been living with this for 28 years and I've never had any problems.

I wanted to let you know, for the younger siblings, the parents may want to discontinue vaccinations. A number of the childhood vaccines have juvenile onset diabetes as a side effect, which this family may be genetically prone to. Just a thought...

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I just read your post today. I also have a 4 year old son with diabetes. He was diagnosed in April. At first I can honesly say that I didn't know how I was going to handle it. I suspected that he in fact had diabetes because he had the main symptoms frequent thirst and urination. I asked for labs to be ordered and a few hours later we were at Children's hospital. I can tell you that he has adjusted SOOO well and diabetes is no big deal to him or to us anymore. I never thought I would get to a point where I knew what I was doing but I feel so qualified at this point. My son knows his limits and always asks before eating. He is fine with the injections and the finger checks. He knows it has to be done and that is that, yes sometimes he doesn't want the shot but we say if you want to eat you need to get a shot.

Foods to buy that are a staple in my house are fiber one products (bars, crackers, bread) which contain lots of fiber. Kool aid jammers 10 LOVE THESE they are juices boxes with only 2 carbs! We buy the snack size pretzel and crackers or cheese and crackers.
Smuckers sugar free jelly is pretty good! Hood calorie countain chocolate milk with only 5 carbs per serving!!! Sugar free jello (already made kind) it great when he is still "hungry" but not time to eat eat. He has lots of those and cheese sticks.
When my son wants something that has a lot of carbs I tell him to wait until dinner, that way I can give a little extra insulin OR just work it into his meal plan which is more difficult to do with his snacks.
I don't keep a lot of junk in the house which helps because he isn't tempted. I pretty much let him eat what he wants as long as I count the carbs and fit it into his meal plan. I don't think he feels slighted or left out. I try to educate him on why he can't have certain foods at certain times but we also have an attitude that diabetes is no big deal just roll with the flow. Believe me it took me since April to get where I am at but in time all of you will too. Everyone said that it will all fall into place and I didn't believe it but it is true. Not sure if you will get this message today but Ray Allan from the celtics is on channel 5 tonight at 11:00 to talk about his young son with diabetes who was diagnosed this year.
Good luck with everything and if you ever have any questions don't hesitate to ask me I will even give you my email which is ____@____.com.

1 mom found this helpful

I am a 30 yr. old mom who was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 2. Something I remember my mom doing for me was giving me a "special" toy to hold whenever I had to get an insulin shot. She kept small toys in the kitchen cupboard and I only got to hold them when I got my shot. It helped with keeping me calm. Don't worry, it will be ok. I've been living with this for 28 years and I've never had any problems.

I wanted to let you know, for the younger siblings, the parents may want to discontinue vaccinations. A number of the childhood vaccines have juvenile onset diabetes as a side effect, which this family may be genetically prone to. Just a thought...

I'm sure there are differences between type 1 + 2, but many similarities too.
A couple of good books is "The Sugar Solution" (Sari Harrar) and any type of cook book with "Glycemic Index Cooking".

GI levels (Glycemic Index) play a big role in one's diet. The lower the level the better. 55 or below is considered low, 55 - 70 medium and over 70 is high. These foods should be avoided. There are many foods that change their GI count just by cooking them differently. The internet is a great source of info on this.

Fiber is number one for diabetics. When fiber is digested, it turns to a gel like state and captures the sugars inside, thus not allowing the sugar to be absorbed into the blood stream.

After I switched to a low GI diet, I have had incredible sugar counts.

Here are just a few to get you started.

Low - peaches, dried apricots
High - watermelon, soda crackers. avoid these like the plague.
pasta cooked eldente is good, over cooked is really bad.
Try to avoid white flour, white bread, Whole wheat does make a difference.

I'm sure you get the idea.
Just take it one day at a time.
I can't offer any solutions for needles as I don't use them.
But education is number one. Read as much as you can.
Planning menus ahead is always good. Having good snacks ready. Don't forget there are sugar free treats out there as well.

Be watchful of the labels.
You must look at the total carb count on a label, not just the sugar count. There are many hidden sugars not listed on the label. sugar alcohol is one, sometimes it is listed. Just don't rely on the sugar mgs alone.

I hope this is helpful to you. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

I have diabetes, and it fits well with a family. It will be hard at first for everyoe, but after getting used to the diet it will be better for everyone. Now that I am diabetic we all eat healthier, and excer. more. Show your grandson on a doll how he will have his blood drawn, etc. Have him "help" set up and clean up too. that will keep him calm. hope this helps.

Admittedly, it is a lot easier, from what I've seen, when they are diagnosed early. I am not sure how my aunt handled it with her son when he was diagnosed as he was diagnosed very young (I believe it was shortly after birth but am not 100% sure). As for what it means for the other children, it really depends on how mom wants to do it. My aunt went out and bought a diabetic cook book and made her own cakes and cookies that all the kids could enjoy. It also had a few of her favorite recipies in there that she could change one thing out for another and it be safer for her diabetic son. My mom, on the other hand, had 1 child diagnosed diabetic in adulthood and 1 diagnosed pre-diabetic in adulthood. She will make cakes and brownies but has learned a few recipies to make stuff safe for both of us. Regardless, she does try to enforce moderation of the sweets and with one of us it works far better than the other. As for how to handle it, he's 4 so has a little bit of understanding of the world around him. I would say talk to him while mom or a care taker does the blood tests for a few weeks and the injections. Mainly I would say stuff like, I know it hurts but we need to do this so you don't get sick like that again. Then slowly let him do at least part of it for himself (depending on mom's comfort level). After all, I am not sure what the school rules are on insulin in school. I know the schools used to give my mom a lot of hassles over me carrying my own epi-pen for bee allergies because she couldn't afford 2 of them (they wanted 1 left in the nurses office rather than me carrying it). Given time, he will understand that if he feels a certain way then he should go to the nurses office to at least test his blood sugar. I am pre-diabetic and have been able to tell when my blood sugar is too low or too high. She may have to pack lunches for him with a special snack just incase his blood sugar gets too low and another incase it's a bit too high. Orange juice is a great booster if it's too low though I don't recommend it if his blood sugar is normal or high as it will make it higher. I'm not sure what to do to bring it down if it's too high. I usually just give it time and make sure to be active. It is certainly something I would discuss with the doctor. That's about all I know. Though I am sure that my brother and I have a different type of diabetes than your grandson. I think it's type 2 if you get it when you're older and type 1 if you get it when you're younger but I am not 100% positive on that one. Good luck and I hope this helps.

Hi R.,
What a wonderful grandma you are for trying to help your grandson. I am sorry to hear about his diagnosis. My son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 5. He is now 9 years and wears an insulin pump. 99% of the time, most people do not even know that he has diabetes because he is a very active, typical boy who loves sports.

When my son was first diagnosed, it took us some time to get adjusted to counting the carbs for every thing he eats,constantly checking his blood sugar levels while trying to guess how his activity level will balance with the insulin and food. There are days when managing diabetes can be very frustrating but my son call still do everything any other 9 year can do as long as we plan for it.

There are a lot of wonderful sources that will help you and his parents understand what is involved in managing this disease. Some internet sites include www.childrenwithdiabetes.com; and www.jdrf.org. The JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) offers a bag of hope program that will send a volunteer to your grandson's house with a bag of goodies which includes a stuffed animal with injection sites. The volunteer lives in the area and generally has a child diagnosed around the same age. JDRF also holds parent's coffees to discuss various issues.
The Barton Center located in Oxford, Mass runs some wonderful family programs throughout the year. It also offers a caregivers weekend where you can go and learn how to care for your grandson. http://bartoncenter.org

I just realized I didn't answer your questions specifically--
How did we handle injections and blood sugar checks-They were very difficult at first. A 4 year can't understand what is happening. Injections and blood sugar check hurt. We used lots of bribes and praise. My son still hates needles but with the pump he only has to see a shot every 2 days when he changes his pump site. In time, the blood sugar pricks will hurt less as his little fingers toughen up. Again, we used lots of praise and some bribes.
Food-Everything in moderation. I would suggest you look at the childrenwithdiabetes website. Food is a huge issue at first because you have to relearn and read all the labels but in time, carb counting becomes second nature.
Siblings-They probably don't understand what is happening. Diabetes effects the whole family. Get them involved in helping with his care. My other son who does not have diabetes only gets what my son with diabetes gets when it comes to sweets, etc.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at ____@____.com


Hi R.,
I don't know where your grandson is located, but if it is at all possible, I'd recommend him to be seen at the Joslin Diabetes Clinic in Boston (or maybe a satelite office - there's one in Needham.) They are wonderful and they know their stuff! There are many new blood sugar testing devices that allow for alternate testing sites instead of sensitive finger tips. Also, there are insulin pumps that can work very well with children, although I don't know how old you have to be to get one. These pumps are programmable and deliver insulin through a tiny tube that is attached to the abdomen by a tiny catheter. (By his age at diagnosis, I'm assuming he is Type 1 - insulin dependent?) Your best bet as far as educating yourself and your family is to take advantage of all the info. an endocrinologist, diabetes nurse educator, and dietician have to offer. Although diabetes requires a lot of monitoring and changes in lifestyle, your grandson is young and with some practice, it will become a way of life for him in no time. He's fortunate to have such a concerned Grandma! Good luck!

I'm sorry to hear about your grandson's diagnosis, but I'm glad it was caught before he was even sicker!

My godson was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 4. He's now nearly six, and although his life has changed a lot, but he's generally a healthy and happy guy. His brother and sister so far don't have diabetes, but their parents keep an eye out for symptoms, just in case.

My advice would be to get as much information as possible - educate yourself so that you can support him and his parents! One of my favorite sites is the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (jdrf.org) website. There are also online support groups for parents & loved ones.

Best wishes to you & your family, and let's find a cure for this terrible disease so we can stop treating these kids like pincushions!

The November issue of P & K (Parents & Kids, a free monthly "magazine" from Gatehouse Media, the local newspaper publishers) had a cover story on a 12yo boy with diabetes.


There are a few helpful links too.

Best wishes to you and your grandson and his family! ---R.

I can't help too much with how to deal with needles and testing but hopefully I can give you some insight with nutrition. I was diabetic with both of my pregnancies and now that I'm okay, I still have to monitor and keep on a diet. The hardest thing is going to tell a year old that he cannot have a lot of the foods he wants. The main thing is to get into a nutritionist! The docs will recommend it anyways but it is the BEST tool for your family. They have books and guides to help. There is also the ADA website - www.diabetes.org/home. This has a lot of info as to how to handle nutrition and everything else connected with diabetes. It will tell you how much of everything your grandson can eat, depending on his particular meal plan. This is a great time to learn about diabetes because this is diabetes month so there is a lot of info available to create more awareness. Good luck and take care!

Tell your Grandson's parents that you'd like to be directly involved with care, and learning about how Diabetes will affect the family. Speaking as the wife of a diabetic, I went through diabetes education classes with him (refresher for him, new for me), and it was Incredibly helpful. Took me from being freaked out about possibly losing my husband, to helping me feel VERY empowered and educated, and sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we could handle this. Ask your grandson's parents to have you there when they learn how to do blood draws (simple, you'll be suprised) and injections (also simple!) - and sit in with them when they meet with a nutritionist. That's a biggie - retraining your "food prep mind" to think in healthy terms all the time. Basically, there's no such thing as a "Diabetic Diet", because the "diet" that is recommended is: Eat Healthy Foods, and Everything in Moderation. Watch out for too many carbs...my husband, as an adult, shouldn't exceed 30 carbohydrates at any meal...and Dietary Fiber in the food can take the carb count down - so if you've got bread that is 15 carbs, but has a dietary fiber count of 3, then you can count the carbs as 12. You'll get to reading labels a lot! :) Your grandson can still have cake & ice cream - as long as it's figured into his daily servings of carbs, protiens and fats - it's a lot simpler in practice than talking about it, trust me. :) Fruit is sneaky, too - lots of diabetics have to watch out for eating much of it...the sugar in fruit turns RIGHT into glucose in the bloodstream, and can be worse than candy for the blood sugar. Again, just learn from the nutritionist, and since you're already on the net, you can get some research for yourself, too! :)
Good Luck, You can do this!!


A fine nutrition science company, Reliv International, just last Saturday released news on successful clinical trials on a new product called GlucAffect, which significantly reduced blood sugar levels by an average of 30%, with absolutely zero side effects. It is completely safe for children as well as adults. This is breakthrough science in the treatment/management of diabetes, pre-diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. Medical Doctors as well as PhD Food Science Doctors worked on this together, and the most stringent standards have been applied. Reliv has done wonderful work for 20 years, has been highly rated by some of the finest publications, and has been honored for its humanitarian work feeding over 42,000 people a day for free, many of them children. I would be happy to take you, or your children, through the website in just 15 minutes to acquaint you with the company - it's a very extensive website so it might help to have someone steer you to the information that is most relevant to you. If for any reason you do not want to do that, please insist that your grandson's parents speak to their physician immediately about GlucAffect. Even if your grandson still needs insulin, the GlucAffect can help to stabilize the blood sugar levels to prevent life-threatening consequences. I'd be happy to give you more information. You can also listen to the lead scientist, Dr. Carl Hastings, anytime this week (up until midnight Central Stardard Time on Sunday 11/16), by calling 1-866-330-4922. This is a recorded call from Monday night which you can access 24/7. Hastings has been with Reliv for years, but he first gained fame as a pioneer in nutrition with the development of ProSoBee and Enfamil infant formulas. He is highly regarded in the industry and respected by his peers. I would LOVE to share more info with you if you are interested - this is a time for you and your family to accumulate as much info as you can. There is hope for diabetes!

Hi R.,

There are many resources, as you are probably already aware, for Type 1 diabetes. There is fantastic research being done and a cure is not far away. I have two non-conventional webistes for you to visit: www.simplyraw.com, and then try to find the movie "Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days", and the other website www.davidwolfe.com is more information on a "raw & living foods" way of living. One more resource to consider is http://www.reliv.com/ushome.html. This company offers several products, including some for children, and most recently released a new product called glucaffect. Again, these are not your traditional methods for treating disease. I in no way benefit from recommending them to you. It's just a different way of thinking about how current eating habits may be hurting us more than healing us. I wish you and your family the best.

Hi R.,
You've recieved a lot of good responses. I'm a teacher and had a little boy diagnosed 2 yrs ago when I was teaching preschool. He was 4 at the time.
Life changed of course and it took the family a while to get used to monitoring his blood sugar levels. Last year he was put on a pump which helped tremendously and gave him a bit more independence from having to have mom come in and test him during class time.
He is now off in Kindergarten and doing great (he came to visit my kindergarten class the other day while dropping off his sibling for preschool)
You will want to educate yourself, possibly go with your daughter/son and listen to the nutritionist's rules and advice.
Good luck to you!

Hi R.,
He will get through this! Kids are better with lifestyle change than adults are. As far as the blood testing, it is very simple. The tool that you have to test with is similiar to a pen. It just makes a very quick trigger pinch. You can barely feel it. As far as the insulin goes, I can't comment because I have never had to use it.
This will be a tough transition, but it will be beneficial to the whole family. I think that the only way to handle this is to try to eliminate sugary snacks from everybodys diets. It would be next to impossible to have a four year old accept the fact that he can not have treats but his siblings can. There are a lot of other alternatives out there now with all of the low carb diets. Definitely meet with a nutritionist (which I'm sure will be required anyway). I had gestational diabetes and I felt that it really helped to meet with one. They will be able to give really good ideas for meals and snacks. Try not to worry. Maybe you could go along for his appointments so that you could become educated as well. It may help you feel better. Hang in there! He will be fine!

First let me say I am sorry to hear that about your 4 yr old. I am 31 and have diabetes and couldn't imagine having it at 4. My daughter is 4. I have to take insulin and I let her help me out. She is my Dr. Molly. I have frankly explained wht the shots are and do, in 4 yr old speak, and she seems ok with it. She will get me my needle top (they are sealed and safe to handle) and bring them over to me she also helps me get my pills that I take and she will bring me a glass of water.If she has any questions I try to answer them the best I can. My suggestions for questions are to be honest and give him the information in a way that he can understand. He will most likely have to deal with this for the rest of his life. Mainly just keep him informed of all the things there are to do so he is not frightened. Good Luck, I wish you well.

There is a book, Diabetes for Dummies ( sorry about title, lol) But it should answer quite a few of your questions.
I have Dibetes type 2, he has childhood diabetes, type 1, more serious.
The treatments are improving all the time.
How they treat him depends on how "fragile" a diabetic he is.
You will be surprised how quickly the family can adjust to the testing and diet.
Type one needs meticulous attention...measuring, weighing, counting of foods. Mom may need bit of help at first.
BIG thing is, do not treat him any differently than a child with no health problems. Especially where he is so young.
You dont want to start a self pitying cycle , or I am special thing going on. It would make life much more difficult for him in future years.
Try to treat it in a very matter of fact manner.
Explain to the other children he has a condition that needs a lot of attention and perhaps they could help with learning how to help this little boy help himself.
There are tons of sugarless treats out there. Health food stores are a good source of "legal" foods for him.
It was confusing for me for awhile and I am sure it will be for all of you too. I have to self inject twice a day and test at least four times.
Relax Gram, you will all be just fine. Tincture of time.
Learn as much as you can ( online has excellent resources for learning) Should ease your mind some. It is a serious disease but with proper care and treatment, excercise ( very important) and foods , he should do well.
Best wishes to your family and God bless.
Grandmother Lowell
I meant to say that I use min-pins, and the doc will likely prescribe them for a small child. They are very small and I rarely feel them.

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