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The Children's Wellness Blog

Fun in the Sun – Summer Safety Tips

May 11, 2016

Fun in the Sun – Summer Safety TipsSchool will officially be out for the summer and that means our kids will have a lot of extra free time to do the things they love! As we get closer to May, many kids are already gearing up for vacations, summer camps, sports, outdoor recreational activities, having a great time with family and friends, and much more. The Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians encourage all patients and their families to have fun in the sun, but want to remind everyone of some key summer safety tips to make sure that everyone in your family stays safe this summer.

Sun Safety for Kids

Too much sun exposure can cause sunburns or worse, skin cancer. Sunburns and skin cancers can be detrimental to anyone in the family and a big reason why we are big advocates for safe sun practice, especially in the summertime when we’re spending more time outdoors under the sun’s bright rays and sweltering heat. For kids under 6 months, they’re particularly susceptible to the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays so we recommend limiting their exposure to direct sunlight and providing extra shade (like under trees, umbrellas, and beneath stroller canopies) for when you’re spending time outside.

No one is immune to sunburns/sun damage and it’s important to deck everyone in the family out with wide-brimmed hats or baseball caps that cover the face, sunglasses with 99% UV protection (they even make these to fit kids), ALWAYS use sunscreen, and when possible, wear lightweight clothing that covers exposed parts of the skin. Picking the best sunscreen for your entire family is crucial in providing that extra layer of much needed sun protection. Choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection from both UVB and UVA rays with an SPF of at least 15 (but the higher the SPF, the more UVB protection you’ll give yourself). Generously apply sunscreen according to the manufacturer’s recommendations before heading outdoors to allow it time to really get absorbed into the skin (this can range from 40 minutes to 2 hours) and reapply every two hours, or immediately after being in water.

Outdoor Safety for Kids

Outdoor fun is something many kids look forward to during their summer vacation. Whether going on a family vacation, having a sleepover at a neighbor’s house, play date in the park, or heading off to summer camp, outdoor activities are in abundance. Not every activity requires adult supervision, but it’s vital that certain safety precautions be taken to give your child extra protection when they’re playing and enjoying land and water activities. We’ve rounded up some of the top safety tips for a variety of summertime activities:

  • Bicycle, Skateboard, Skating, & Scooter Safety – there should never be a time when your child should not be wearing a helmet while they’re biking or skating, no matter how long their ride is or how close to home they’re staying (yes, even in the driveway). Falls can cause minor to severe injuries including trauma to the brain, cuts and bruises, sprains and broken bones, so making sure your child is wearing their helmet, wrist/elbow guards, and kneepads whenever possible is the best defense for their body’s protection. Protective gear should be properly fitted, snug but not overly tight, and worn by all in the family (parents can help set the example themselves by promoting helmet use at all times). Young children under eight should be supervised and older kids should always have a buddy when riding/skating. Just as important, make sure they also stay away from major traffic areas as vehicles can pose greater threats to young riders.
  • Bug Safetyinsect bites can introduce a plethora of viruses into the body, like West Nile, Chikungunya, Zika, etc. so using insect repellent gives that extra layer of defense when spending time outdoors. Avoid using hygiene products that are fragrant (mosquitos will be attracted to the scent) and playing in areas where high concentrations of mosquitos are living (like stagnant water). When choosing a bug repellent, make sure that it contains DEET (note that it’s recommended by the American Academy of Pediatricians that DEET not be used on children under 2 months), which is the active ingredient needed to prevent-insect related diseases and cover up exposed areas of the body with long clothing when outside at night.
  • Water Safety – splashing around in pools, lakes, and oceans can be a great way to beat the heat and enjoy time with friends and family, but water safety is vital as kids are at risk of drowning under certain conditions. Often, parents can get a false sense of security from floatation devices but nothing is a substitute for supervision and a bit of swimming instructions. Life vests should be mandatory whenever boating and also work extremely well in other large bodies of water. Kids should NEVER be left alone around a pool, in fact, home pools should be secure and completely fenced in so children can stay out, in the event they attempt to swim on their own. Having an adult on deck who is trained in CPR is also recommended to help act fast in the event of a water emergency – even the most experienced swimmers can harm themselves in water and therefore approach this activity with the mentality that nobody is immune.
  • Fireworks Safety – fireworks can cause severe burns, scars, blindness, and even death. Even those types of fireworks we may consider “harmless” for kids, like sparklers, can generate enough heat to burn your child or even those they happen to be nearby. They may be fun for a short period of time, but injuries resulting from fireworks or fire are not something that should be on the menu for the 4th of July celebration.

Kids are going to be kids, and accidents can happen virtually anywhere, so we don’t want you to feel you have to keep your kid indoors or covered up in bubble wrap to keep them safe. We want to make sure you’re well equipped to reduce your child’s risks of injuries like sunburns, broken bones, insect-related diseases, etc., and with a little diligence, leading by example, and prevention, you can help them to have a wonderful summer full of fun and adventures!

Breastfeeding Tips for Expecting Moms

May 9, 2016

Breastfeeding Tips for Expecting MomsCongratulations on getting ready to bring your baby into the world and becoming a new mother! Whether you’re just getting started on deciding the details of your birthing plan or in the home stretch for your delivery date, deciding whether to breastfeed or not is a personal choice that many women consider before welcoming their new arrival. The Children’s Wellness Center providers understand that breastfeeding can be a challenge, so we wanted to share some of our top breastfeeding tips for all of you expecting moms out there!

The first few weeks of your baby’s life, parents can expect their child to feed around the clock, typically every two to three hours. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) highly recommends moms breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of your child’s development but statistics by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention report that even though 79% of mothers breastfeed shortly after giving birth, only 49% reported still nursing at the six-month mark. We recommend you:

…..do your pre-baby prep work. Sure, reading tons of “what to expect when you’re expecting” articles and watching YouTube videos on all topics relating to breastfeeding can be helpful to mentally prepare expecting mothers, but nothing beats actual practice. Since this obviously can’t be done until your baby is here, network with other moms that you may know, or attend breastfeeding support groups, to get a first-hand account of what it’s like. Ask questions and get a wide-variety of experiences from different women because each mom’s breastfeeding story is different, and some women simply are simply unable to breastfeed (but don’t feel bad if you fall into this category). If you have a family member or friend who is breastfeeding and is willing to share this part of the experience with you, physically watch them nurse to see what it’s like.

…..do yourself a favor and invest in good supplies. Just as you deck out your baby’s nursery with essential items, keep in mind some of the supplies that can be helpful during the duration of your time breastfeeding. Invest in a high-quality electric breast pump and properly fitted pump flanges. Not every mother’s breasts are the same fit, so getting the right fit will help pump the right amount of milk and reduce any damage from improper pumping (it’s important to note that electric pumps have a limited number of motor-life hours before the suction starts to diminish, so we highly recommend you DO NOT buy used pumps). Nursing pillows are great ways to help with positioning your baby during breastfeeding and can also reduce stress and tension from your back/neck/shoulders. For women that experience latch concerns and are experiencing sore, dry, or cracked nipples, keeping purified lanolin handy can help soothe discomfort and increase the nipple’s moisture.

…..do try to focus on quality, not quantity. Contrary to formula measurements, babies need the same amount of milk when they’re 6 months old as they do when they’re 1 month old. It’s around the 1 month mark that your baby’s appetite is established, which can also make it extremely helpful to know the right amount of breast milk you need to pump to sufficiently supply your baby should you go back to work. As long as your baby’s pediatrician checkups indicate they are healthy and getting the nutrition they need (see our infant feeding chart for reference) as they should at their age, there’s no need to worry yourself with how much your baby is feeding versus other moms. Keep a tracking app on your phone, if available for your device, to help keep track of your baby’s feeding times and diaper counts in between doctor visits as well.

…..don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Many of us have that “I can do it” mentality and the pressures that can be added to get it “right or perfect” can cause stress on you and the baby. Keep in mind that it’s 100% okay (and strongly encouraged) to ask for help from those around you as well as professionals. When meeting with a lactation consultant, regardless if it’s in the hospital or after, have your partner attend each meeting to learn how they can help assist in positioning your baby while they attempt latching and making it as comfortable as possible for you and the baby. Breastfeeding can take a little time to get used to the sensations, but in the long-term it shouldn’t be painful. If discomfort persists while you’re latching, reach out to a lactation expert (breastfeeding resources such as the Northside Lactation Program at Northside Hospital offer breastfeeding education and lactation support for expectant mothers and their partners). If you’re concerned with your infant’s nutrition and growth, feel you’ve injured your nipples, or sense something is off – the best thing you can do is speak up.

…..don’t overdo it. In the beginning it can feel like you’re hardly producing enough milk (a few drops of colostrum here and there) but your few day old baby’s stomach is extremely small so not as much is needed. This time can be vital in getting your baby acclimated with the action of breastfeeding and it’s encouraged that you start trying to nurse within the first few hours of giving birth. The more you breastfeed, the more milk your breasts will produce but this doesn’t mean you should pump every minute of your off time in an attempt to stock-pile breast milk in your freezer. Over-pumping can lead to clogged ducts from too much pressure put on the breasts, so do yourself a favor and just reserve a small amount.

…..don’t give up. You can do it (but even if you choose not to, that’s okay too)!

Breastfeeding can have some great benefits for both you and your baby. It has been proven that breast milk contains powerful nutrients and antibodies that can boost their immune system and increase the ability to fight against ear infections, viruses, asthma, flu, diabetes, and more. Mothers are given a unique opportunity to further bond with their baby as they nurse and breastfeeding can even help new mothers lose weight post-pregnancy. Sure, breastfeeding can be difficult and stressful during the beginning transitional period for new parents, but trust us when we say, it can get easier! If you have any questions or concerns about breastfeeding or your newborn’s early development, don’t hesitate to contact Children’s Wellness Center at 404-303-1314. Be sure to stay connected with our Children’s Wellness Center team on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ for more pediatric tips and news topics.

Camp Physicals for Children & Teens

May 6, 2016

Camp Physicals for Children & Teens“No more pencils, no more books;” if there’s one thing kids get most excited about when it comes to school, we’d bet it’s summer vacation! With their newfound increase of free time, summer months are a popular time when many kids pack their bags for the great outdoors, by attending summer camps. As their parent, you send your children off to camp knowing they will be cared for and well looked after by their counselors but what can you do to help your child stay safe before they leave? While not all summer camps have the same pre-participation requirements for their campers, the Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians want to share the importance of camp physicals for children and teens and what you should know before you go to help them have a healthy, safe, and fun-filled summer.

Even if your summer camp doesn’t require a camp physical prior to starting camp, we’re firm believers in parents bringing their kids in to see their pediatrician for extra peace of mind. Kids get to participate in a lot of activities when they’re at camp, some indoor-related and others outdoor-related, including swimming, hiking, rock climbing, archery, canoeing, rafting, to name a few. Camp physicals let the people in charge of your child’s supervision know that they are indeed healthy enough to safely participate in these types of physically-engaging sports and activities. If there is a particular underlying health concern or pre-existing condition, like asthma or diabetes, that would make it unsafe for your child to participate, then they should most certainly know that beforehand so these health issues don’t worsen over time or have your child spending their summer in chronic pain or discomfort.

Camp physicals determine one of three things:

  • Your child can participate in a camp activity without limitations
  • Your child can participate in certain camp activities (not all) but has limitations due to a health concern
  • Your child should not participate in camp activities

When you bring your child in for their camp physical, we’ll start with reviewing your child’s and family medical history as this helps us to identify potential health problems, like heart issues, or injuries that can be recurring like sprains, muscle tears, or broken bones. We’ll discuss medications that your child may be currently taking or has taken in the past, conduct a physical exam to check their heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, eyes, throat, vision, etc., to see if there are any indicators that your child’s participation in summer camp activities could be unsafe to their health, or worse, life-threatening. To conclude the camp physical, we’ll determine if your child is all clear to enjoy their summer camp experiences or help implement a treatment plan for a medical concern we may identify. The key here is to make sure your child gets to camp safely in hopes they return home with a summer full of great memories.

Sports Safety 101

May 4, 2016

sports safety 101 for kidsFor many parents, there’s nothing quite as enjoyable as being able to cheer on your child as they participate in a sport they love. Sure we may have grandiose dreams that one day they’ll make it to the Olympics or land a contract with a professional team, but have you taken time to consider what it realistically takes for our kids to succeed in sports? Whether your child is about to start their first spring sports activity or has several years under their belts, the Children’s Wellness Center providers would like to remind everyone about sports safety 101 and ways we, as parents, can help enrich the lives of our kids with the help of sports.

Knowing when your child is actually ready to start a particular sport is a good jumping point to consider. When we use the term “ready,” we mean the stage in their growth and development when their physical, mental, and social skills are on par with that sport and the basic requirements needed to participate. Popular spring sports this time of year are soccer, baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse, swimming, etc. but each of these are distinctly different and require a specific set of skills that will not only better equip children to actively participate, but also give them more enjoyment and encouragement to succeed. Generally speaking, many kids five years old and younger may not have the basic motor skills, behavioral maturity, and coordination for certain team sports, so introducing them to activities that involve active play, caters to shorter attention spans, and offers chances to improve skills at their own pace are all good first options (so think along the lines of running, swimming, and throwing/catching to start). By age six, children have a basic understanding of how to adapt to the requirements of basic level sports like soccer, tennis, gymnastics, martial arts, skiing, etc. – it’s at these early stages, and even up until age 12, that kids learn the rules of the game and increase their skill development within a particular sport.

Say your child has found “the” sport they’re most passionate about – what should you keep in mind then? For us, we believe it should be their safety. Sports-related injuries are something all athletes risk facing whenever their actively involved in any sport but certain factors can be detrimental to your kid’s health. Overuse injuries, overtraining, and burnout are the three general risks parents should be made aware of when preventing sports-related injuries:

  • Overuse Injuries – as the most common type of children sports injury, this type of injury happens from overworking the body and starts as general wear and tear (injuries to the bones, muscles, and tendons). Our kids may ignore pain during, or after practices, and continue to play through the pain rather than take the time needed to rest and allow injuries to properly heal. This not only creates consistent pain for your child but can lead to more severe or long-term health related concerns. In the same respects, it’s also recommended that your child not be limited to playing the same sport year-round. Yes, we want our children to focus on improving their skills over time, but letting them try more sport options helps to reduce the risk of overuse injuries that can become exasperated from daily, repetitive physical demands.
  • Overtraining – there is a common thought that the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Yes, training and practice can be the keys to sports success, but at what cost to your child’s wellbeing is it worth it? Long hours of practice, little recover time, and playing multiple sports during the same season can all contribute to overtraining and possibly overuse injuries in the future.
  • Burnout – what’s the point of playing a sport as a kid if they’re not having any fun? Sports can be both mentally and physically demanding – so much so that as our kids get older, sometimes they can grow to really dislike participating in something they once were very passionate about. Once they’ve reached the point where they’d rather be any place else besides their practice or game, this is what we call burnout. Burnout doesn’t just have emotion effects but it can also include physical ramifications like chronic pain, fatigue, and overuse injuries that contribute to the desire to choose another sport or quit altogether.

Sure we may not always be able to shield our kids from getting hurt while playing a sport, but it’s our duty to provide the necessary tools they need. As their parent, they need encouragement and unconditional support. We sometimes tend to project our goals and dreams onto our kids, but try to keep in mind that they have their own goals and dreams too. Sports should be fun and a time when good values, like sportsmanship, teamwork, and discipline, are instilled in kids beyond what they learn in the home – not a time to criticize their efforts or put unnecessary pressures on them. At the very core, kids are kids (not small adults) and should have the freedoms to discover what sports they love and have the opportunity to succeed in whatever way works best for them as an individual.

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