July 3, 2017 6:49 pm
Every family needs to take a break from their daily hustle and bustle every once in a while, and everyone does this in a different way. For some families, camping can be an enjoyable and refreshing way to spend a vacation. But before you hop into your RV or tent, our pediatricians at Children’s Wellness Center have a few tips to help you keep your kids safe and healthy on your family camping trip.
- Take plenty of preparation time to learn about the area where you’re going. If you’re not an experienced camper, try starting with day trips and working your way up to a weekend or a full week.
- Especially during summers in the South, be mindful of the heat. It’s easy for kids to get overheated, so if you plan to enjoy hiking during your trip, plan your hikes in the early morning or evening when the sun is cooler. When the heat is at its peak (10am – 4pm), spend most of your time in the shade. At all times of the day, practice good sun safety for kids.
- Teach your children safety measures in case they get lost on a hike. For example:
- Give them a whistle and teach them the universal signal for help (three blows).
- Teach them how to identify landmarks on the trail. Every so often while you’re hiking, have them turn around and look at the trail they’ve passed, so they’re familiar with their surroundings.
- Tell them that if they get lost, they should stop, stay where they are, and whistle/yell for help.
- Dress kids in brightly colored clothing so they can be spotted easily.
- Pack for all types of weather by wearing layers. Be sure to also pack clothing that protects you against rain and wind, like polyester and lycra instead of cotton. And remember, temperatures can drop significantly at night, even when it’s hot during the day, so make sure you’re prepared with a hat, fleece jacket, or other warm clothing.
- Insect repellent can protect your child from many pests’ bites and stings, but there are special considerations when you’re using it for children. For all the details, check out our blog about how to use insect repellent for kids.
- If you’re in an area where ticks are common, tuck the bottoms of your children’s pants into their socks to help keep the ticks from biting. Even with this extra measure, though, you still need to use insect repellent and to check your child for ticks at the end of each day.
- Be mindful of the animals that live in your camping area. Here are a few tips:
- Before your trip, research the wildlife in the area where you’ll be camping. Learn their habits, how to avoid disturbing their homes, and what to do if you encounter them.
- When you’re looking for a place to make camp, survey the area and look for signs that you could be in a highly-traveled area for animals. For instance, bears may be attracted to areas with a lot of berries. You should also look out for evidence of insect nests in the area.
- Teach your children about the wildlife they may see, and tell them to never approach or try to feed an animal they don’t know.
- If you’ll be enjoying a lake, river, or other body of water during your camping trip, make sure you have adequate life jackets that are approved by the US Coast Guard. These life jackets will be marked, and they’ll be listed as type 1, type 2, type 3, or type 4. Type 1 is the best option, while type 4 provides the least protection. In addition to having life jackets that fit your kids well, be sure to follow our other water safety tips.
- Bring your own bottled water. Natural sources of water are often contaminated, so if your supply runs out and you need to drink from a natural source, have a water filter and/or dissolvable iodine tablets. Teach your children to never drink directly from a natural water source.
- Teach your children what poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac look like, and explain that these plants should not be touched. If your kids do come into contact with one of these plants, wash the area with cool water immediately.
- Explain to your children that even though berries they see in nature might look like the ones you buy from the grocery store, they might be very dangerous, so they should never eat them. Bring plenty of healthy snacks for kids so they’re less tempted.
- Kids are particularly prone to scrapes and bruises, so be sure to bring a well-supplied first aid kit.
- If you’re traveling in an RV, remember that your children should use seat belts and car seats at all times when the RV is moving, just like you would in a passenger vehicle.
In our modern era of technological saturation, camping can feel like a breath of fresh air (quite literally). Just be sure to prepare and educate yourself beforehand in order to make your family’s vacation as safe and enjoyable as it can be. For other pre-camping safety questions or to schedule a well check visit for your child before your vacation, contact Children’s Wellness Center. Plus, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
June 22, 2017 3:52 pm
For children and adults alike, what you eat plays an incredibly large role in your overall health. But kids have their own unique set of nutritional needs, and as a parent, your goal is not only to give them the healthy food they need today, but also to teach them how to eat healthy when they become independent, too. There are countless sources of pediatric nutrition advice floating around, but not all of these sources are correct or reliable. To answer your questions and guide you in your efforts to keep your kids healthy, our board-certified pediatricians at Children’s Wellness Center are responding to some of the most common childhood nutrition myths that you may have heard.
Myth #1: When you start introducing your baby to solid foods, begin with vegetables rather than fruits, because the baby will be less likely to develop a “sweet tooth.”
If only it were that easy to prevent your child from ever craving unhealthy foods! In reality, it doesn’t matter in what order you introduce your child to fruits, vegetables, and grains. But when introducing your baby to solid foods, we do recommend that you begin by introducing one single food at a time, and waiting three days before switching to another single new food, and continuing in this manner until your child has tried at least ten individual foods. This will allow you to keep an eye out for reactions and to know which food caused it if it does happen.
Myth #2: Growing children need all the calories they can get, and any baby weight will be lost in puberty.
Childhood obesity has, sadly, become an epidemic in our country. While it’s true that kids need plenty of nutrients because of the many changes their bodies are going through, it’s crucial that they get them from the right sources to maintain a healthy weight for kids, like produce and healthy meats rather than processed foods and “junk food.” At Children’s Wellness Center, we measure your child’s body mass index (BMI) at every well-child visit starting at age two, and can offer you guidance about whether your child’s weight is healthy and any changes you may need to make.
Myth #3: Breast milk and formula do not have enough protein for babies, so you need to supplement it with pureed meat.
Fortunately, formula and breast milk both contain as much protein as your infant needs. We typically recommend starting to introduce other sources of protein, like meat, beans, cottage cheese, and yogurt, at around 8-9 months of age, after your child has already become familiar with solid foods.
Myth #4: If it looks like my child is overweight, I should put them on a calorie-restricted diet.
Because children need all types of nutrients for their unique development, it’s not a good idea to self-diagnose your child as overweight or obese, or to design a weight loss diet yourself. If you aren’t sure whether your child’s weight is healthy, schedule a Well-Child Visit at Children’s Wellness Center, and we will be happy to evaluate your child’s health to determine what changes (if any) should be made to his or her diet and exercise regimen.
Myth #5: Babies should always remain on breast milk and/or formula until they are six months old.
While six months is a common age for infants to be ready to start trying purees, it’s all a matter of your baby’s individual development. As a general rule of thumb, your child is probably ready to start with purees when he/she can sit in a high chair and keep his/her head up independently. If your child starts to open his/her mouth when others are eating nearby, reach for others’ food, or get hungry more often, it may be time. In some babies, this happens closer to four or five months. Ultimately, because this timeline varies so much from baby to baby, you should speak with your pediatrician for more information. But don’t force your infant to pick up purees too quickly. If you try it and your baby doesn’t seem ready, simply wait a week or two and then try again.
Myth #6: My kids don’t need to eat or drink Vitamin D because they’re getting as much as they need from the sun.
The importance of Vitamin D is highly underestimated, especially when it comes to kids. So as a parent, if your child is no longer on formula or breastfeeding, you should be sure to incorporate Vitamin D-rich foods and drinks like fortified milk and yogurt, as well as eggs, canned tuna, salmon, and fortified cereals. And remember, too much sun exposure can also have plenty of health risks, so it’s best to apply sunscreen every time your child goes outside, rather than intentionally exposing your kids to the sun to produce Vitamin D. For more information, read up on sunscreen safety tips for kids.
Myth #7: If my child is a picky eater, I just need to wait for him/her to grow out of it.
In many cases, “food defiance” is a phase that kids outgrow, but sometimes the bad habits can stick around, and as a parent, you just need to know what tricks to try. First of all, lead by example so that your child can see you getting a balanced and varied diet. Children also tend to want to eat what is on their parents’ plates, so this is a great way to get them to try new foods, too. Second, help your children get excited by and interested in food by letting them help you cook. And finally, try mixing in the foods you want them to eat (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.) with foods they already like, such as peanut butter, yogurt, and more.
Every stage of your child’s life comes with a new set of nutritional requirements, and we certainly understand how difficult it can be to keep tabs on it all, especially when you have multiple kids who are in different age groups. But our providers at Children’s Wellness Center are always here to help and to answer your questions. To talk more about how to give your child the best nutrition you can, call Children’s Wellness Center or schedule an appointment for your child. Plus, for more pediatric health and safety tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
June 5, 2017 11:28 am
With our beautiful summer weather, your child is probably excited to get outdoors to play and swim, especially now that most schools are out for the summer. But as a parent, you want to make sure they’re enjoying the weather in a safe and healthy way. One of the most important factors to keep in mind is sun protection. Everyone knows that sunscreen can protect children and adults alike from sunburns, skin cancer, and other issues caused by too much sun exposure—but only if it’s used correctly. That’s why our board-certified pediatricians and other providers at Children’s Wellness Center have put together a collection of sunscreen tips for parents.
- Babies under the age of six months have very sensitive skin, so they should truly be kept out of direct sunlight. However, if you know they will be getting some sun exposure, use sunscreen on any exposed areas of their skin.
- When you’re selecting a sunscreen for your family, use these guidelines:
- Find a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays (often labeled as “broad-spectrum”).
- Choose a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above. Studies have shown that it is not necessary to use a sunscreen with an SPF higher than 30.
- Look for a sunscreen that is labeled as “water resistant.”
- For areas that are particularly sensitive to sunburns on a child like the nose, tops of the ears, and shoulders, use a sunscreen that includes zinc oxide or titanium oxide.
- Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before your child goes outside, to give the product the time it needs to absorb into the skin and become effective.
- Use sunscreen every day before your child goes outside, regardless of the weather. As many as 80% of the sun’s rays can still get through clouds, even in the winter.
- While it’s best to use a “water resistant” sunscreen, any sunscreen needs to be re-applied every 40-80 minutes (depending on the specific product), as well as after your child has been swimming or sweating.
- Don’t assume sunscreen is your only defense against the sun. For true protection, combine proper sunscreen use with other summer child safety measures, such as these:
- Keep as much of your child’s skin covered as possible in lightweight yet tightly woven clothing.
- Look for clothing that is labeled with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 15 or higher.
- Have your child wear a hat with a three-inch-wide brim to shade the face, ears, and back of the neck.
- Try to avoid taking your child outside between 10am and 4pm—the hours when the sun is at its strongest.
- Have your child wear sunglasses that provide at least 99% UV protection.
- Before you start using a new sunscreen for your child, put a little bit on a “test spot” of his or her skin to see if the skin becomes irritated. If so, try a different sunscreen. You may want to choose a hypoallergenic product like those offered by Neutrogena or Aveeno, especially if your child has sensitive skin or pediatric allergies.
- Remember to protect your child’s lips, too, by using a lip balm that contains sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.
- There have been claims about toxic chemicals in sunscreen being absorbed through the skin. While you don’t want your child to ingest sunscreen, there have been no proven problems from proper sunscreen use, and yet the benefits of using sunscreen have been proven time and time again, so don’t shy away from sunscreen as long as you use it correctly.
- It’s not a good idea to use a product that combines sunscreen with insect repellant for children. Sunscreen should be re-applied frequently, while insect repellant must be used sparingly for children, so to avoid getting too little sun protection or too much insect repellant, purchase these two products separately.
- Remember to check the expiration date on your sunscreen bottle before using it, and if you notice any clear changes to the consistency or color of the sunscreen, it’s time to replace it.
Parenting is all about finding balance. Too much sun exposure is harmful, but so is keeping your child indoors and away from the fun and refreshing exercise he or she can get outside. That’s why knowing how to properly use sunscreen is such a powerful tool—it lets your family enjoy the many benefits that the great outdoors have to offer while dramatically cutting down on the risks. If you have questions about your sunscreen use, contact Children’s Wellness Center for guidance. Or, for more child safety tips and health tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
May 15, 2017 2:16 pm
Just a quick web search for “childproofing” will give you countless ways to make your home safer. But as thoroughly as many parents prepare the inside of their home, they commonly overlook the largest area: their yard, garage, and other outdoor spaces. Our board-certified pediatricians at Children’s Wellness Center in Atlanta are passionate about keeping children safe and healthy, so we’ve put together a list of measures recommended by trusted sources (our own pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatrics) that you can take to help your children enjoy the outdoors safely.
- Ideally, install a fence and make sure your child only stays within the fence, so that he or she cannot run out into the road. If a fence is not feasible, set a very specific border that your child understands not to cross, such as a certain seam in the driveway or a specific tree.
- Children should be supervised by an attentive adult at all times when they are outside, even if they are only permitted to play in the back yard.
- Some plants can actually be poisonous for children, so make sure all the varieties of plants in your yard are not toxic. It’s also a good idea to teach your child not to eat anything from a plant they’ve found outside, in case they encounter a dangerous plant at a friend’s house or at a park.
- Make sure all pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and other lawn care chemicals are in a locked cabinet that is out of your child’s reach. You should also make yourself familiar with the instructions on your lawn care chemicals about how long you need to keep children off your lawn after using the product.
- If you have a grill, make sure it is secured when it is not in use so it will not tip and fall over. Teach your child not to touch the grill, and make sure propane grills are stored in such a way that your child cannot reach the knobs.
- Go through the materials stored in your garage and identify any that are potentially dangerous for children, such as paint, antifreeze, gasoline, and most other automotive fluids. Lock these products in a secure cabinet your child cannot reach, and always remember to return the products to this cabinet as soon as you’re finished using them.
- Keep all tools in a safe area where children cannot reach them, and make sure all power tools stay unplugged when they are not in use.
- As with your grill, make sure all furniture in the garage or outdoors is not a tipping risk. If it could tip over and injure your child, secure it to the wall or the ground in some way.
- If you have an automatic garage door, check that the automatic reversing system (which senses when a child is in the way of a closing door and stops the door from continuing to lower) is working properly. Remember to check this on a regular basis.
- Try to keep your lawn as level as possible and fill in any unused holes in the soil.
- If you have any type of pond, swimming pool, or fountain in your yard, make sure it is fenced in or blocked off in a way that your child cannot fall into it, and follow other water safety tips for children.
- If you have a swing set or other playground equipment, follow these safety steps:
- Surround the area with mats or soft fill materials (like shredded rubber or sand) and extend it at least six feet around the equipment.
- If you are installing your own playground equipment, follow all instructions closely and make sure you install it on level ground.
- Check occasionally for any loose nuts and bolts or other issues, and cap all bolts and screws.
- Do not have any type of rope, clothesline, jump rope, etc. attached to playground equipment.
- If you have a sandbox, make sure it is made from safe, intact materials. It is common to use old railroad ties, but these often have splinters and may contain unsafe chemicals as well.
- Make sure any sandboxes are covered when they are not in use so they don’t bring in unwelcome insects or animals. However, if it rains outside, wait for the sandbox to dry out before covering it, because the moisture can leave bacteria growing in sandboxes.
- If you are using sand around playground equipment or in a sandbox, try to avoid sand that contains tremolite. While manufacturers are not currently required to label sand as containing tremolite, the best choice is to only purchase natural river sand or beach sand, and to avoid sand that is made from crushed limestone, marble, or crystalline silica, as well as any product that looks dusty.
- Although trampolines may be fun, even the proper safety equipment does not fully prevent injuries in children, so the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend having a trampoline at your home.
- If you have a tree house, inspect it regularly for damage and wear, including splinters and loose parts, and make sure the tree it stands in is sturdy as well. Keep the boards close together, install a safety gate at the top of the ladder, and attach non-slip materials on the rungs of the ladder.
When you first begin looking around your home and making a childproofing to-do list, it can feel overwhelming. But just relax, take it one step at a time, and look for tips like those listed above that can let you know about tasks that may otherwise slip your mind. For more child safety advice, health tips, and more, follow Children’s Wellness Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and schedule your child’s next well child visit with us via our convenient patient portal.