Safety & Tips
As parents, your child’s safety is of the utmost importance. In the following sections, you’ll find tips on healthy eating habits, keeping your child virus-free during the school year, participation in after school activities, sleep recommendations for children of all ages, how to maintain proper safety during the holidays, and more.
After School Activities
Avoid "overscheduled" children
Keep in mind that childhood is not a dress rehearsal for adulthood. It is a separate and unique time of life that should leave time for children to find delight in simple things, like making a playhouse out of a box, or staring at the clouds to decide what they look like. Getting your children involved in sports and activities promotes physical activity, learning to play with peers, and learning the value of teamwork, but be careful not to do too much too soon. There should be ample time for homework, family time, unstructured play, and time to simply “be.” One or two nights per week with one weekend activity is appropriate for elementary school-aged children. In middle and high school most activities are 4-5 days per week, but consider giving your child a season “off” and make sure they are not running from one activity to another.
Participation in physical activity, whether it is puddle-jumping in the rain or playing soccer, must be an integral part of a healthy childhood. Make sure you choose an appropriate activity for your child. A child who is overwhelmed by team sports may enjoy swimming, dancing, tennis or karate. Parents, you know your child best: choose an activity that suits your child, not one in which you would like to see her participate.
If your child plays team sports, make sure you are a positive parent on the sidelines. Cheer for all children for their successes, and avoid shouting directions to your child on the field. Praise effort, not outcome, and emphasize the fun. Insist on positive coaching. If your child’s coach motivates by yelling, negative feedback and criticism, find a different team for your child.
Back to School Tips
Once summer comes and goes each year, it can be a bit stressful to get together all that is needed to ensure a successful year. Beyond buying school supplies and meeting teachers, we’ve gathered a few tips to ease the process of back to school time and increase the likelihood of a happy and healthy school year:
Before school starts:
Check the requirements on what is needed for children to begin school, such as a physical for children who participate in team sports. Check with your district, and then contact us to schedule an appointment if needed.
Ensure your child is getting an adequate amount of sleep.
Regardless of whether you have a toddler, teenager, or both, sleep is an essential habit to stress to your children. Though it may be hard to tell what the right amount is for your little one, if he or she seems to be ready to wake up in the morning, has energy for the school day and afterward, and is generally cheerful performing daily activities, you should be right on target. If your child is well organized and willing to prepare for school the night before, consider allowing some extra sleep in the A.M.
Promote healthy eating habits.
Childhood obesity rates are skyrocketing and nutrition is a very important lesson to teach at a young age. Make sure your child has enough brain power for the school day by serving a healthy breakfast, which includes proteins, each day.
Carry the proper backpack.
Provided that children are using their backpacks properly, there is no good evidence linking childhood use of backpacks to scoliosis and/or back pain. Although back pain may be the last thing your child is thinking about, as a parent, it’s important to ensure their comfort to prevent future injuries or discomfort. The right backpack should have wide, padded shoulder straps, a padded back, and a waist strap to provide extra support.
Pay extra attention to keeping busy kids healthy.
Getting your children involved in sports and activities promotes physical activity, learning to play with peers, and learning the value of teamwork—all of which are valuable lessons to be carried on into adulthood. However, we like to remind our patient families to be careful not to do too much too soon. Leave ample time for homework, family time, unstructured play, and time to simply be a kid!
Beware of lice.
Lice are perhaps the most sinister part of back of school woes. Remind your child that sharing hats, combs, or pillows is not a healthy habit and can cause discomfort and time away from school. Girls with long hair should always have their hair pulled back and up in a braid or a bun to help prevent them form getting lice.
Holiday Safety Tips
The holidays are an exciting time of year for children. To help ensure they have a safe holiday season, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Before placing your tree in a stand, cut a few inches off of the trunk to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
Turn off lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children. Children under age three can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1¼ inches in diameter and 2¼ inches long.
Be sure to keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counter and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child’s exploring hands. Avoid table runners or tablecloths that hang over the edge of a table that encourage young hands to pull on them. Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
Always use a fireplace with caution, and avoid use of all “airway irritants” around children. Airway irritants include scented candles, potpourri, wood-burning stoves/fireplaces, and cigarette smoke. Also, please make sure the fireplace is safety proofed if there are small children in the home.
Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots. Put the number for poison control in your cell phone for immediate availability. Traveling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child’s stress levels. Trying to stick to your child’s usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child enjoy the holidays away from home and reduce stress. Wash your hands frequently and make sure your children do the same. Good hand-washing is the number one defense against the spreading of germs.
HAVE FUN! The holiday season is a time to enjoy your children and the magic they bring to your life. Tell them just how special they are. Our staff wishes you and your family a happy and HEALTHY holiday season!
Sleep Recommendations for Your Child
Sleep is very imperative to every child’s well-being and is often one of the most-discussed topics concerning child healthcare. There are many questions a majority of parents have regarding sleep patterns, feeding times, avoidance tactics, and much more. The recommended amount of hours your kid should sleep is based on their age; however, every child is unique, and so sleep needs may vary. Regardless of if you have a toddler, teenager, or both, it’s important to establish a bedtime routine that encourages good sleep habits.
Learn more about sleep recommendations for:
Does your baby sleep through the night? A majority of parents would say “No.” Most newborns may sleep up to 16 hours or more a day in 3 to 4 hour intervals, and have different phases of sleep including: drowsiness, light sleep, deep sleep, and extremely deep sleep. As babies grow, their periods of wakefulness will increase and adapt to the rhythms of life. For the first couple of weeks, infants may sleep up to 5 hours at a time as this is how long they can last between feedings. We recommend infants sleep in a close but separate sleep surface (i.e.-crib, pack & play, bassinet, etc…) for at least the first 4 – 6 weeks of life. Each baby is different in regards to how long he or she will sleep through the night.
Preferably, your baby should be placed in a crib before falling asleep. The goal is for babies to fall asleep independently, and learn how to go back to sleep if they should wake up in the middle of the night. Always keep safety in mind when it comes to your child’s sleep routines. For the first weeks, most parents place their child’s crib or bassinet in their own bedroom. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), it is not recommended or safe to have your infant sleep in bed with you as you can risk suffocating or strangling your baby.
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
One of the greatest fears a new parent can have is worrying about SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), also known as “crib death.” Studies have revealed that there’s a greater frequency in households where the baby slept in the parents’ bed. SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants 1 month to 1 year old, and takes the lives of about 2,500 each year in the United States. From 1992 to 2001, the SIDS rate in the United States fell by over 50%. The reason for this dramatic decline has been attributed to the “Back to Sleep Campaign”. The campaign focused on encouraging parents to put infants to sleep on their back, not stomach. The Task Force on SIDS stresses the importance of sleeping on the back and on a firm sleep surface with no pillows or comforters, nor crib bumpers. For more information on SIDS, visit KidsHealth.org.
Establish a consistent sleep routine right from the beginning by placing your infant in the crib for sleeping as this will help signal to your baby that this is the place for sleep. However, keep in mind that this may take a few weeks for your baby’s brain to know the difference between nighttime and daytime.
Side and tummy sleeping is NOT recommended. Infants should be placed on their back every time they are put down to sleep.
Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime as the infant falls to sleep (pacifiers should not be introduced to breastfeeding babies until breastfeeding is firmly established). If the infant refuses the pacifier, it should not be forced.
Do not place pillows, blankets, bumper pads, or plush toys in the crib or bassinet as this may interfere with your baby’s breathing.
Avoid items with cords, ties, or ribbons that can wrap around a baby’s neck, and objects with any kind of sharp edge or corner.
Remove hanging mobiles as babies can get tangled in in them.
Look around for objects that your baby can touch from a standing position in the crib such as pictures, curtains, window blind chords, etc.
Avoid stimulation with feedings and diaper changes in the evening as this may help regulate your baby’s body clock toward sleeping at night. It is also important to establish a regular consistent bed time routine which may include a warm bath as well.
Turn the lights down low and resist the urge to play or talk with your baby as this will signal to your baby that nighttime is for sleeping.
If your baby is fussy, it is perfectly fine to rock, cuddle, and sing until your baby begins to fall asleep.
Contact your doctor if your child has any of the following symptoms:
If you’re concerned with how much or how little your baby is sleeping.
If your baby appears overly irritable and cannot be adequately soothed.
If it is difficult to disturb your infant from sleep and mostly seems uninterested in feeding.
On the younger spectrum, the average toddler (ages 1 to 3) sleeps roughly 10-13 hours a night and takes 1 to 3-hour naps during the day. However, the sleep habits of children can vary considerably and still be considered “normal.” Though it may be hard to tell what the right amount is for your little one, if he or she seems to be ready to wake up in the morning and is generally cheerful performing daily activities, you should be right on target.
Typically at this age, some toddlers experience separation anxiety, so it is important to enforce bedtime routines and stick to them in order to promote effective sleep habits. There are certain conditions such as your child being ill, which requires your extra care.
Establish a bedtime routine to help your child relax and get ready for sleep.
Avoid making the mistake of thinking that keeping kids up will make them sleepier at bedtime. Children often have a harder time sleeping if they’re overtired.
Don’t force your child to nap, but do schedule some quiet time.
Comfort your child if he or she has had a bad dream.
Be sure your toddler’s room and your house is safe.
Avoid letting your child watch television, or play video games before bedtime as it may disturb their sleep.
Make bedtime the same time every night.
Read stories nightly.
Make sure your toddler’s room is quiet and at a comfortable temperature all night long.
Regardless of your child’s age, sleep is an essential habit to stress to your children. The brains of older teenagers secrete the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin an hour later than when they were in their early teens, which in turn, stalls the onset of sleep and robs them of an hour or so of shut-eye. Unfortunately, this stage of sleep they are missing is most commonly REM sleep, the final and most restful phase of the sleep cycle.
Teens need about 9 hours of sleep per night, but many don’t get it. Early school start times in addition to the busy schedules of school, homework, friends, and after activities, often leads to chronic sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation may often lead to other things such as your teen having a difficult time focusing, short-term memory loss, anger problems, weight gain, and worst of all, having trouble in school.
One of the best solutions is to remind your teen to make sleep a priority as it is vital to their well-being.
Keep his or her room cool, quiet, and dark to help them relax.
Have them avoid any caffeine before bedtime.
Ensure that your teen maintains a consistent sleep schedule.
Have them avoid watching TV or using the computer or telephone for at least one hour before going to bed.
Keep cell phones and computers out of your teenager's room at night.