Families always need to put safety first. Sadly, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign has some scary statistics that conclude Halloween is one of the most dangerous nights for kiddos.

By following basic safety tips, Halloween can be and should be an enjoyable experience for children and parents.

Halloween Safety Tips:

Walk Safely:

  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. 
  • Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
  • Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
  • Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.  Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
  • Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

Trick or Treat With an Adult:

  • Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in group.s

Keep Costumes Both Creative and Safe:

  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  • Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers. 
  • When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls

Drive Extra Safely on Halloween:

  • Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  • Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  • Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
  • Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

Read More at safekids.org…

The “3 Try” Rule:

What is it?

Not allowing children to refuse a food unless they have tried it on three separate occasions.

Although the first few times you use this rule may be difficult, many find that kids are much more willing to try new things, because they may like it eventually.

What are the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables for children?

  • Overall Nutrition
  • Weight Management
  • Intestinal Health
  • Academic Performance
  • Disease Prevention

Tips & Tricks:

  • Let your children pick out their own fruits and vegetables at the grocery store
  • Make your children part of the preparation process
  • Hide vegetables in foods your children actually like

The summer is quickly slipping by, and soon children will be heading back to school. The following health and safety tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) should help parents get their littles ones off safely and securely to school.

Making the First Day Easier 

  • Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. This may be at any age. Teachers know that students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
  • Point out the positive aspects of starting school. She’ll see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh her positive memories about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time.
  • Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your student can walk to school or ride on the bus.
  • If it is a new school for your child, attend any available orientations and take an opportunity to tour the school before the first day.
  • If you feel it is needed, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on the first day.

Backpack Safety

  • Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
  • Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight.
  • Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
  • If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs, they may be difficult to roll in snow, and they may not fit in some lockers.

School Bus Safety

  • If your child’s school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus. (If your child’s school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school system to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts).
  • Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
  • Your child should not move around on the bus.
  • Remind your child to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required.
  • Make sure your child walks where she can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see her, too).
  • Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.

Car

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt and/or an age- and size-appropriate car seat or booster seat.
  • Your child should ride in a car seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a belt-positioning booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat.
  • Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age). This means that the child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at the knees and feet hanging down and the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat; the lap belt is low and snug across the thighs, and not the stomach.
  • All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it.

Bike 

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
  • Use appropriate hand signals.
  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.
  • Know the “rules of the road.”

Walking to School 

  • Make sure your child’s walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
  • Identify other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school. In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider organizing a “walking school bus,” in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.
  • Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Bright-colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.

Before and After School Child Care 

  • During early and middle childhood, children need supervision. A responsible adult should be available to get them ready and off to school in the morning and supervise them after school until you return home from work.
  • If a family member will care for your child, communicate the need to follow consistent rules set by the parent regarding discipline and homework.
  • Children approaching adolescence (11- and 12-year-olds) should not come home to an empty house in the afternoon unless they show unusual maturity for their age.
  • If alternate adult supervision is not available, parents should make special efforts to supervise their children from a distance. Children should have a set time when they are expected to arrive at home and should check in with a neighbor or with a parent by telephone.
  • If you choose a commercial after-school program, inquire about the training of the staff.

Healthy Tips and Tricks- Allergy Edition!

Spring is often everyone’s favorite season; however, it can also bring with it lots of sneezing and runny noses.  Many parents first suspect their child may have seasonal allergies in this most beautiful season, and if you are in doubt as to whether your child is among those that suffer with either seasonal allergies, or other types of allergies, the following information from the American Pediatric Association may help.

Here are some common clues that could lead you to suspect your child may have an allergy:

  • Repeated or chronic cold-like symptoms that last more than a week or two, or develop at about the same time every year. These could include an itchy, runny nose, nasal stuffiness, sneezing, throat clearing, and itchy, watery eyes.
  • Recurrent coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, and other respiratory symptoms may be a sign of asthma. Coughing may be an isolated symptom; symptoms that increase at night or with exercise are suspicious for asthma.
  • Recurrent red, itchy, dry, sometime scaly rashes in the creases of the elbows and/or knees, or on the back of the neck, buttocks, wrists, or ankles.
  • Symptoms that occur repeatedly after eating a particular food that may include hives, swelling of face or extremities, gagging, coughing or wheezing, vomiting or significant abdominal pain.
  • Itching or tingling sensations in the mouth, throat and/or ears during certain times of the year or after eating certain foods, particularly fresh (raw) fruits.  Typically, however, cooked forms of the food are tolerated.

COMMON ALLERGENS ON THE HOME FRONT

  • Dust mites (microscopic organisms found in bedding, upholstered furniture and carpet as well as other places)
  • Furred animals (dogs, cats, guinea pigs, gerbils, rabbits, etc.)
  • Pests (cockroaches, mice, rats)
  • Pollen (trees, grasses, weeds)
  • Molds and fungi (including molds too small to be seen with the naked eye)
  • Foods (cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish)

HOW TO MANAGE ALLERGIC NASAL SYMPTOMS

  • Nasal allergy symptoms can be caused by a variety of environmental allergens, including indoor allergens such as dust mites, pets, and pests as well as outdoor allergens such as pollens.  (Molds, which can be found indoors and outdoors, can also trigger nasal allergy symptoms.)
  • Allergy testing should be performed to determine whether your child is allergic to any environmental allergens.
  • An important step in managing allergy symptoms is avoidance of the allergens that trigger the symptoms.
  • If your child is allergic to pets, the addition of pets to your family would not be recommended. If your child has allergy symptoms and is allergic to a pet that lives in your home, the only way to have a significant impact on your child’s exposure to pet allergens is to find the pet a new home.
  • If your child is allergic to pests present in the home, professional extermination, sealing holes and cracks that serve as entry points for pests, storing foods in plastic containers with lids and meticulous clean up of food remains can help to eliminate pests and reduce allergen levels.
  • Dust mites congregate where moisture is retained, and food for them (human skin scales) is plentiful. They are especially numerous in bedding, upholstered furniture, and rugs. Padded furnishings such as mattresses, box springs, and pillows should be encased in allergen-proof, zip-up covers, which are available through catalogs and specialized retailers. Wash linens weekly and other bedding, such as blankets, every 1 to 2 weeks in hot water. (The minimum temperature to kill mites is 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If you set your water heater higher than 120 degrees, the recommended temperature to avoid accidental scald burns, take care if young children are present in the home.)
  • If your child is allergic to outdoor allergens, it can be helpful to use air conditioners when possible. Showering or bathing at the end of the day to remove allergens from body surfaces and hair can also be helpful. For patients with grass pollen allergy, remaining indoors when the grass is mowed and avoiding playing in fields of tall grass may be helpful during grass pollen season. Children with allergies to molds should avoid playing in piles of dead leaves in the fall. Pets tracking in and out of the house can also bring pollen and mold indoors.

MEDICATIONS TO CONTROL SYMPTOMS

Your child’s allergy treatment should start with your pediatrician, who may refer you to a pediatric allergy specialist for additional evaluations and treatments.

  • Antihistamines – Taken by mouth, they can help with itching, watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing, as well as itchy skin and hives. Some types may cause drowsiness.
  • Nasal Corticosteroids – Highly effective for allergy symptom control and are widely used to stop chronic symptoms. Safe to use in children over long periods of time. Must be used daily for maximal effectiveness.
  • Allergy Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may be recommended to reduce your child’s allergy symptoms. Allergy shots are prescribed only for patients with confirmed allergy. If allergen avoidance and medications are not successful, allergy shots for the treatment of respiratory allergies to pollens, dust mites, cat and dog dander, and molds can help decrease the need for daily medication.

MANAGING ECZEMA (ATOPIC DERMATITIS):

  • Frequent application of moisturizers (at least twice daily) is important.
  • Steroid creams are very effective. When used appropriately, they are very safe.
  • Antihistamine medication may be prescribed to relieve the itching and help break the itch-scratch cycle.
  • Long-sleeved sleepwear may also help prevent nighttime scratching.
  • Soaps containing perfumes and deodorants may be too harsh for children’s sensitive skin.
  • Launder new clothes thoroughly before your child wears them. Avoid fabric softener.
  • Use laundry products that are free of dyes and perfumes and double-rinse clothes, towels and bedding.
  • Lukewarm soaking baths for 10-20 minutes are good ways to treat the dry skin of eczema. Gently pat your child dry after the bath to avoid irritating the skin with rubbing. Then, liberally apply moisturizing cream right away while the skin is still damp.
  • Sometimes eczema, particularly when severe, may be associated with food allergies (e.g., milk, egg, peanut). Further evaluation may be needed to identify the triggers.

 

Is it Time for a Pet?

 Every parent at one time or another, has their child request a pet.  If you decide to get a family pet as a companion for your child, wait until he/she is mature enough to handle and care for the animal-usually around five or six.  According the American Academy of Pediatrics, young children have a difficult time distinguishing between an animal from a toy. If the child is not careful, they could accidentally hurt the animal or cause the animal to lash out and bite the child.   The American Academy of Pediatrics has listed the following guidelines for pet care:

Remember that you have ultimate responsibility for your child’s safety around any animal, so take the following precautions:

  1. Look for a pet with a gentle disposition. An older animal is often a good choice for a child, because a puppy or kitten may bite out of sheer friskiness. Avoid older pets raised in a home without children, however.
  2. Treat your pet humanely so it will enjoy human company. Don’t, for example, tie a dog on a short rope or chain, since extreme confinement may make it anxious and aggressive.
  3. Never leave a young child alone with an animal. Many bites occur during periods of playful roughhousing, because the child doesn’t realize when the animal gets overexcited.
  4. Teach your child not to put her face close to an animal.
  5. Don’t allow your child to tease your pet by pulling its tail or taking away a toy or a bone. Make sure she doesn’t disturb the animal when it’s sleeping or eating.
  6. Have all pets—both dogs and cats—immunized against rabies.
  7. Obey local ordinances about licensing and leashing your pet. Be sure your pet is under your control at all times.
  8. Find out which neighbors have dogs, so your child can meet the pets with which she’s likely to have contact. Teach your child how to greet a dog: The child should stand still while the dog sniffs her; then she can slowly extend her hand to pet the animal.
  9. Warn your child to stay away from yards in which dogs seem high-strung or unfriendly. Teach older children the signs of an unsafe dog: rigid body, stiff tail at “half mast,” hysterical barking, crouched position, staring expression.
  10. Instruct your child to stand still if she is approached or chased by a strange dog. Tell her not to run, ride her bicycle, kick, or make threatening gestures. Your child should face the dog and back away slowly until she’s out of reach.
  11. Wild animals can carry very serious diseases that may be transmitted to humans. You (and your family pets) need to avoid contact with rodents and other wild animals (raccoons, skunks, foxes) that can carry diseases ranging from hantavirus to plague, from toxoplasmosis to rabies.
    • To avoid bites by wild creatures, notify the health department whenever you see an animal that seems sick or injured, or one that is acting strangely. Don’t try to catch the animal or pick it up.
    • Teach your child to avoid all undomesticated animals. Fortunately, most wild animals come out only at night and tend to shy away from humans. A wild animal that is found in your yard or neighborhood during the daylight hours might have an infectious disease like rabies, and you should contact the local health authorities.

Following these guidelines and you and your family should have many happy years adding a pet to the family!

March is “Read Across America” month!

 

Early language and literacy development begins in the first three years of life.  This development is linked to a child’s earliest exposure to language, books and stories. The interactions that young children have with literacy materials, such as books, paper and crayons, and with the adults in their lives, are the building blocks for reading, writing and language development. Early literacy skills unfold simultaneously as children master other domains of developments, such as social and emotional skills.

 

We read stories to the children every day. Reading introduces new ideas and encourages children to develop a love for books. As children listen to us read, their own early reading skills begin to develop.

 

Research has shown the important role families play in helping children learn to read, and eventually write. The single most important thing you can do is read to your child every day, even if only for 10 minutes. When your child sits next to you as you read, they begin to connect books with good feelings. By taking the time to read to your child every day, you are doing the very best thing to help your child grow up to be a successful reader.

 

Here are some  additional ways to help support your child’s literacy development:

  • Choose colorful, repetitive books to read.
  • Let your child help turn the pages as you read the story.
  • Point to pictures on the pages and discuss what you see. For older toddlers, ask questions about the story.
  • Show your child the words on the page.  Move your finger from left to right across the page as you read.
  • Be an expressive reader.
  • Let your child see you reading adult books or magazines for enjoyment. This will also help them understand that reading is fun.
  • Visit the library and let your child help as you choose new books to read.

Mostly, just have fun and show your child how much you value books and the time spent reading with them!

Helping to Prevent the Spread of Flu

We haven’t reached the end of flu season yet, and this year’s flu strain has been a strong one!  The CDC has some very helpful information about this strain of flu and some prevention tips:

The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. According to the CDC, flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.  The CDC recommends that everyone who is eligible to receive the flu shot should get it even if it is only providing marginal coverage this year.  Take everyday precautions—like washing your hands, covering your cough, and staying away from sick people—to protect your health. The CDC also recommended that people at high risk of complications who develop flu should receive prompt treatment with antiviral drugs.

Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent the flu.

1. Avoid close contact.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2. Stay home when you are sick.

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

3. Cover your mouth and nose.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

4. Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Practice other good health habits.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food

 

 

Holiday Safety Tips

  • Don’t leave purses or valuable in plain site in your cars.
  • Lock your cars.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Park in well lit areas.
  • If you feel uncomfortable, have store security walk you to your car.
  • Don’t leave purses/wallets/cell phones unattended in shopping carts.
  • Don’t have packages delivered to your home and left on the front porch, make sure they have to be signed for.

 

Ways to Foster Gratitude in Young Children

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, November is an excellent month to stress the character trait of being thankful to children.  Thankfulness is often a tricky concept for a child to understand, but with some simple steps parents help children understand the importance of being thankful.

 

The following article by Jeffrey Frosh and Giacomo Bono may help parents understand some of the fundamentals of teaching thankfulness to young children.  

Be a role model

 Children want to be like their parents.  Parents provide the blueprint for what a child says and does and in what contexts. Expressing gratitude through words, writing, and small gifts or acts of reciprocity are all wonderful ways to teach children how to become grateful.

 

            Thank your children when they do something kind or good.

Whenever your child does something nice for someone else, take the time to thank them.  Everyone feels better when someone thanks them-even your child.

 

Have kids help. It happens to all of us: You give your child a chore, but it’s too agonizing watching him a) take forever to clear the table or b) make a huge mess mixing the pancake batter. The temptation is always to step in and do it yourself. But the more you do for them, the less they appreciate your efforts. (Don’t you feel more empathy for people who work outside on cold days when you’ve just been out shoveling snow yourself?) By participating in simple household chores like feeding the dog or stacking dirty dishes on the counter, kids realize that all these things take effort.

Find a goodwill project.

Plan a way your child can actively participate in helping someone else- even if it’s as simple as making cupcakes for a sick neighbor.  As you’re stirring the batter or adding sprinkles explain to the child you are making something for someone to make them feel happy.  When your child sees you giving to others, it inspires them to do the same.

 

Insist on thank-you notes.  

The simple act of taking the time to write a thank you note (or draw a picture) is not only good manners, but teaches your child the importance of thanking someone for doing something nice for them.

 

Be patient. You can’t expect gratitude to develop overnight — it requires weeks, months, even years of reinforcement, but it is worth all the time a parent has invested in helping their child develop this important character trait.

 


Trick-or-Treat Tips to make Halloween a
“Frightfully Good Time”

Fall has arrived, and with that comes cooler temperatures and of course, Halloween.  We grew up with fond memories of fun-filled neighborhood “Trick-or-Treating.” Halloween can and should be an enjoyable experience for children and parents.  To ensure that our children also have wonderful Halloween memories, we offer these basic safety tips:

  • Think SAFETY first. Plan your child’s Trick-or-Treating route ahead of time. Trick-or- Treat in familiar neighborhoods.
  • Costumes should be flame-retardant and short enough to prevent tripping.
  • Avoid any costume accessory (ie: mask, hood, etc.) that can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Children or the adult should carry a flashlight; costumes and bags should have reflective tape or stickers.
  • Shoes should be comfortable and fit properly.
  • Children should only carry flexible props, such as knives, wands, swords, ninja items, etc., that won’t cause injury if a child accidentally falls.
  • Children under 12 should trick-or-treat and cross streets with adults.
  • Children over the age of 12 who are trick-or-treating should carry a cell phone for emergencies.
  • Remind children to stay on the sidewalk and not cut across yards.  Lawn ornaments and landscaping may have hidden hazards that do not show up in the dark.
  • Only trick-or-treat at homes with lights illuminated.
  • Unsupervised children should never enter a home or apartment.
  • Cross streets at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.  Remind children to look both ways when crossing the street.
  • Children should walk, not run while trick-or-treating.
  • Drivers need to be mindful that little ones can dart quickly into the street.
  • Remind the children to not eat any candy until the parents have inspected to ensure it is safe:  hasn’t been tampered with or contain products that can cause an allergic reaction.
  • Throw away any suspicious food, candy or small items that present a choking hazard.

Trick-or-Treating should and can be one of the great adventures of Halloween for children!  By following the above safety rules, Halloween will be an evening full of laughter and fun memories to last a life time.