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8 Ways to Boost Your Immune System When the Kids Go Back to School

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It’s back-to-school time. While this means getting back to learning and reconnecting with friends, parents everywhere know that kids are basically walking garbage cans, and schools are where they gather close together and spend hours of time sharing their space — and their germs.

Of course, they then come home and happily share their germs with the rest of the family, including their parents. So, how can parents boost their immune systems and prevent themselves from getting sick when the kids go back to school? Here are some top tips for boosting your immunity.

Wash your hands

When it doubt, wash your hands.

“Wash your hands as often as possible for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap,” Dr. Kristine Arthur, an internist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SheKnows. 

While washing hands is mostly about keeping germs out of your body, it’s still a super-important habit to get into as fall and winter roll around, and if you can keep those germs away, you’ll be way better off when your kids start bringing viruses home, she says. 

Change your work habits

Moving around more while you work (especially if your job is sedentary) can help your overall general health and can keep your immune system in tip-top shape, Arthur says. She suggests squeezing in a walk as often as you can, parking farther away from your building and taking the stairs. 

“If you are able to stand up while typing, try to do it as much as possible, as studies show that prolonged sitting every day can be as bad for you as smoking,” she explains. 

Eat more zinc-containing foods

Dr. Christopher Hollingsworth, a surgeon at NYC Surgical Associates, suggests adding a few vital nutrients to get your immune system at its best. 

“Oysters are very high in zinc, which is utilized extensively by your body to produce all the biochemicals needed to fight infection,” he tells SheKnows. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent snack food that is high in zinc and in antioxidants — and taste great toasted and salted, he adds.

Exercise — but not too much

Physical activity can help boost your immune system, but excessive or repeated strenuous exercise can dampen your immune system, as shown in a study published in the European Journal of Sport Science in 2018.  

Garlic up your dinner

If you love garlic, your immune system is in luck. “Garlic influences your immune system to fight infection aggressively as well as reduce inflammation,” Hollingsworth explains. 

Add more citrus to your shopping cart

Ah yes, that good old vitamin C. Turns out it’s not only in some of your favorite foods, but it’s excellent for your immune system.

“Vitamin C has long been associated with improved resistance to infection,” says Hollingsworth. “The cells that gobble up bacteria in your body need vitamin C to function properly.”

Keep your hands away from your face

Even just reading this will probably make you want to touch your face. But don’t.

Emergency physician Dr. Chirag Shah tells SheKnows that we shouldn’t touch our eyes or face throughout the day or at least wait until we have freshly washed hands and should teach our kids to do the same. 

“One good way to increase the risk of getting sick is touching something dripping with infectious droplets and then sticking the droplets right into your eyes or nose,” he explains. Ick!

Decontaminate your kids

You don’t really have to subject your kids to a decon shower, but Arthur suggests having your kids wash their hands immediately after coming home from school, and you might even consider having them change into clean clothes once they walk through the door. 

It seems inevitable that once your little germ magnets go back to school, they’ll eventually bring home some germs to share with you and the rest of your family. While it’s a good idea to keep the above tips in mind, frequent handwashing is so vital — especially before you sit down and eat food. 

So wash up, parents! And keep your kids on a steady diet of handwashing too. Hopefully, you’ll keep those back-to-school germs far away. 

 

This article was written by Monica Beyer from SheKnows and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Keep Your Kids From Getting Sick Once School Starts

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If you’re a parent (or even if you’re not), ideally, you’ve had a break from colds, flu and stomach viruses this summer. But as back-to-school time approaches, parents may start to get concerned about what that means for their kids and their health. 

We wish we had a secret formula to shield our kids from all the germs and to keep them healthy, but when a bunch of children are together for hours a day, sicknesses spread like wildfire. What we do have, though, is access to health experts who told us all about ways you can help keep your kids from getting sick this school year.

Allergies

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reminds us that children in pre-K through fourth grade need their parents to advocate for them and talk to the teacher each year about allergies. Let them know what kind(s) of allergies they have and make sure a health plan is in place. As they get older, they become better at speaking for themselves, but it is always important to remind them and encourage them to do so as well as make sure they know how to use medications in an emergency.

Sleep

Sleep is a big way to keep your child’s immunity strong — teens should get about nine hours of sleep each night, and younger kids need about 10 hours per night, Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SheKnows. To get your kids settled and ready for bed on time, Posner suggests having them “avoid screen time about an hour before bedtime,” as it helps them fall asleep faster.

Diet

Kids should have a well-balanced diet that includes lots of veggies, some fruits, proteins and a lot of water, Posner says, adding that they should avoid junk food — including sodas, juices, fast foods and candy.

Kids should also be eating yogurt, as it contains probiotics, which are “healthy bacteria your body needs to keep your immune system strong,” Sara Siskind, a certified nutritional health counselor, tells SheKnows.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in shellfish, salmon, mackerel and herring can “help white blood cells produce a protein which helps clear flu viruses out of the body,” she explains.

Stress

For our older kids and teens, Dr. Shayla Sullivant, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, stresses how important it is that we check in with our kids on their mental health. One way to do this is by asking them how they are doing and letting them know you are worried about them if you see drastic changes in behavior, she explains.

Similarly, Dr. Mildred F. Carson, a board-certified pediatrician with over 15 years of experience, tells SheKnows that the right amount of sleep and a proper diet will also help your child cope with the stress a new school year can bring.

Regular exercise

Regular exercise is important “to keep your immune system strong so that the body is more able to fight off infections,” Carson says, adding that even 15 minutes a day can be beneficial. 

Other helpful reminders

Even though it sounds basic, Posner says washing hands is the biggest deterrent when it comes to getting sick. Kids should wash their hands before they eat, after they play on the playground, and after they use the restroom, she says. It’s important to make sure they are using warm water and soap and washing for at least 20 seconds in order for the handwashing to be effective.

Sneezing into their elbow (per instructions from President Barack Obama) will help contain germs, and not sharing drinks or food are all things our kids need to be reminded of constantly. 

There’s no doubt that kids are natural germ-spreaders. It takes a bit of extra work to follow the guidelines to protect you and your family, but it’s worth it to make it through the school year with fewer sick days.

 

This article was written by Katie Smith from SheKnows and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How Hot Is Too Hot for Your Kids to Play Outside?

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Summer is here, and many of us want to be outside and enjoy the beautiful weather while it lasts — especially if we live in a cooler climate. However, it important to remember our children can get very hot in a short amount of time, especially when they run around and play. But how hot is too hot?

To find out, we spoke with some doctors about when it’s too hot for our kids to be outside in the summer months, what we can do to protect them before going out in the warm weather and signs to look for if we think kids might be getting overheated.

It varies depending on your child’s activity level

Activity level plays a huge factor, Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SheKnows. If it’s 100 degrees and your kids are swimming, playing with water toys and in the shade, going outside is perfectly fine if you are keeping a close eye on them. However, If they are running around in direct sunlight, a lot of kids will overheat — even if the temperature is just in the 80s, says Posner.

A good rule of thumb is, “If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your kids,” Dr. S. Daniel Ganjian, a pediatrician at John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SheKnows. 

Pay attention to the heat index

Caitlin Hoff, a health and safety investigator for ConsumerSafety.org, says you shouldn’t just pay attention to the temperature on the thermometer. Make sure to keep an eye on the humidity by looking at the heat index factor too. 

“When the heat index is 100 degrees or more (over 90 degrees with 60 percent humidity), heat exhaustion is much more probable without safety measures taken,” Hoff tells SheKnows.

Age does matter

Younger children are more susceptible to heat exhaustion because “they produce less sweat” and “are less likely to feel and understand the dangers of extreme heat,” Hoff says.

Never skimp on water, shade or sunscreen

One of the most important things to remember is to keep your kids out of direct sunlight for long periods of time in the summer. They need shade, plenty of water and sunscreen whenever they are outside, Ganjian says. He also recommends dressing your children in light, long-sleeve clothing and always applying a safe sunscreen on children over 6-moths old (and then reapplying it every two hours and after water play). For babies under 6 months, Ganjian says they should avoid sun exposure all together. 

Warning signs to look for

Posner and Ganjian both say to pay attention to the warning signs of overheating, which include fever, decreased number of wet diapers, cranky behavior or being overly tired. If you notice these symptoms, they suggest a lukewarm bath, plenty of fluids and a call to your pediatrician.

There is a lot to enjoy outdoors during the summer months, but it’s best to take the necessary precautions to make sure you and your family stay safe.

 

This article was written by Katie Smith from SheKnows and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Tips for a Child to Overcome Dental Phobia

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

If you are out of the house for more than 8 hours a day, it can be quite difficult for you to control your kids’ dental anxiety, fear or phobia. TV, YouTube and conversation with other kids can be prospective sources of such phobias. However, it is very important for you to remove such apprehensions of the child for their own good. There are many emergency dental specialists in Brisbane, who can cure oral health issues among kids with anxiety without causing them any additional pain.

Dental anxiety can happen for a variety of reasons. Some children are afraid of their first visit to the dentist mainly due to a fear of the unknown. For others, a past experience can be responsible for a child’s refusal to visit the dentist’s clinic. However, there are a few steps you can do that can help your child.

Recognize the Fear: Talk to your child and observe its behaviour. Note down the causes of phobia you see. Once you understand them, it will be easier to find ways to get out of them.

Find a Good Dentist: While looking for the right dentist focus your search on a person who is specialised in treating anxious patients. Call them first and try to understand whether the communicator on the other side is accommodating or dismissive. The moment you are assured of the doctor’s attitude, you can decide to pay a visit along with the child.

Discuss the Cause of Anxiety: If your doubts are not completely gone after calling the clinic, it is time for you to talk them over with the doctor. Try giving the dentist a direct call to clarify all your suspicions. Confirm an appointment, only if you are completely convinced that the treatment procedure is tailored for children. Pain is the reason most children are afraid of the dentist as cartoon and TV have shown the dentist as a person who is always drilling teeth which is only a small part of what a dentist does.

Accompany Your Child for The Visit: Never send an apprehensive child for a dental appointment alone. Always accompany them. If possible, get the appointment at a time favourable for you to be with them. The child will be more confident if a parent is around.

Resort to Relaxation Exercises: Controlled breathing and different other exercises can help the child remain calm during the treatment. You can find the relaxation exercises on different relevant websites. Distractions can also be helpful in keeping the children relaxed during the treatment. As an accompanying parent, you can try and distract the kid. Note that most experienced dentist will know how to distract the child and make them feel comfortable.

It is always a tough exercise for a working mother to juggle between work and understanding child psychology. Hope the tips offered in this post will be of much help to the parents.The dentist is one of those things that your child might never enjoy as people rarely do. This hygiene will allow them to have a great smile and avoid costly dental procedures later in life.

 

This article was written by Emily Green from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

What to Do If Your Child Chips, Loosens or Loses a Tooth

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Don’t panic if your child chips, loosens or loses a tooth. But do allow a dentist to assess and repair the damage without delay, says pediatric dentist Trista Onesti, DDS.

“A quick response can mean the difference between preserving and losing the tooth. And early tooth trauma can cause problems with adult teeth as your child grows,” Dr. Onesti says.

Common tooth scenarios: chipped, loose or lost

If your child fractures or chips a tooth, call your dentist instead of the emergency department. Most dentists have an emergency hotline you can call when an accident occurs outside of operating hours. Acting quickly is important.

When an adult tooth is knocked loose, a dentist will need to secure it quickly. He or she may need to secure the tooth with stabilizing wires or dental material as soon as possible. Contrary to popular belief, there are also important things to consider if a baby tooth is knocked loose.

If your child loses an adult tooth, someone must re-insert it as soon as possible. Whoever is nearby — a parent or coach, for instance — should gently, but quickly clean the tooth and push it back into the socket. Many people don’t know that you have less than an hour to do this before the likelihood of saving the tooth long-term is jeopardized.

How tooth trauma can affect kids later

Early tooth trauma can have long-term effects. Down the road, a child may have nerve damage that relates to early tooth trauma.

“Sometimes the damage is immediately apparent, but other times it may develop over months or even years,” Dr. Onesti says.

Trauma can provoke inflammation, which may damage the tooth’s root or nerve over time. If this continues, a root canal may be needed down the road; in some cases, it may even be necessary to extract the tooth. Therefore, it is important to inform your dentist of all previous traumatic incidents so he or she can evaluate with the necessary X-rays.

The bottom line: The best way to protect your child’s teeth — now and in the future — is to get him or her to the dentist as quickly as possible when tooth trauma occurs.

 

 

This article was written by Children’s Health Team from Cleveland Clinic and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Getting Your Kids To Brush Their Teeth Appropriately

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

As a working mother, how many battles do you face with your kids over brushing teeth? Maintaining the oral hygiene and care is very important for both your kids and you. As a mom, you need to take care of yourself and at the same time, set an example to follow. Seeing you brushing your teeth, your kids will follow healthy and hygienic activities. Make it a point to brush your teeth twice a day, after getting up in the morning and before going to bed.

Some more tips to ensure that both the mom and kids have healthy teeth and gums are:

Change brushes regularly: You should not keep a toothbrush for too long. The American Dental Association recommends changing your toothbrush every three to four months. So, as a mother it is your duty to make a resolution to change the toothbrush of the whole family with every season. Check your children’s toothbrushes, if these have broken and frayed bristles, then time to let go. When purchasing the toothbrushes, look for the ones with the ADA seal of acceptance.

Brush for two minutes: Make brushing a fun-time for your family. You can share the washroom with your kids and set a time for two minutes. A study says, the average time the working moms spend on brushing is 45 seconds. So, distract the 45-second rush by brushing together with your kids for two minutes, twice in a day.

Be gentle with the teeth: Do not brush too hard otherwise it might damage the gums. A gentle brush to remove the leftover food that bacteria loves to eat is enough. Practice proper brushing technique: You should first place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Then gently move the brush back and forth in short strokes. Then, brush the outer surface, inner surface, and the chewing surface of the teeth. Lastly, clean the inner surfaces of the front teeth then tilt the brush vertically and do quite a few up and down strokes.

Store the brush properly: Make it a habit to store the toothbrushes upright. You can buy a toothbrush holder for the family and let the brush dry in the open air. You should not keep your brush in a closed container, where there is more opportunity for the germs to grow.

Do not brush right after you eat: If you feel like cleaning your teeth after drinking or eating, then you should wait at least for an hour before brushing. While you are waiting to brush, you can drink water or chew ADA approved sugarless gum.

Following these tips, you can ensure dental health for both your kids and you. Clean and healthy teeth give you the radiant smile, which keep you going both in the workplace and at home. This can even save money as dental work can be extremely expensive. Do not put yourself in a poor financial situation due to lack of personal hygiene with both your children as well as yourself.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

These Simple Tips Can Trick You Into Eating Healthier

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“There’s no shame in buying pre-packed, pre-cut veggies ― riced cauliflower, cut-up broccoli florets, pre-made zucchini noodles, pre-chopped and pre-washed kale,” said Andrea Moss, holistic nutrition coach and founder of Moss Wellness. “Same with frozen veggies. Anything that gets you to eat veggies and makes it easier for you to do so is a win.”

If your schedule doesn’t leave a lot of extra time to prepare those foods, many stores offer fruits and vegetables that are ideal for on-the-go folks. 

Bonus points if you can complete this task on a Sunday and get your food ready for the week. Another food prep hack from Moore: If you prep soup for the week, store in the freezer in a clear bag, making sure it’s flat so it’ll save you space for more goodies. 

“If you have a whole pineapple, you’re less likely to eat it than if you go ahead and cut it up into smaller pieces,” she said.

Marisa Moore, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Atlanta, encourages her clients to wash the fruits and veggies they buy when they get home from grocery shopping and then chop them up into bite-sized pieces.

Do the dirty work first

Making this tip effective at home and keeping those better options to the front means you’re more likely to grab healthy food to munch on for a snack or add that food to a meal you’re already cooking. Plus, since you can have your eye on it, the food is less likely to go bad and you won’t be deterred from buying fruits and vegetables in the future (this is a common annoyance for people trying to eat healthy, according to several of our experts). It’s a win-win. 

“We focus on making it as easy as possible to make great choices by making the most nutritious foods highly visible, while indulgent options are just a little harder to find,” he said. “Because we know hydration is important, water is the first thing you see in our refrigerators. Seasonal fruits are placed in bowls on open counters while packaged snacks and sweets are relegated to drawers or opaque jars.”

To encourage their employees to eat healthy, Google uses a similar strategy. Scott Giambastiani, the company’s global food program chef and operations manager, told HuffPost that the offices offer less healthy options, but they’re tucked away in favor of healthier foods.

″Put healthy food where you can see it [in the fridge] and keep foods you want to cut back on in the fridge drawers,” said Katie Serbinski, the registered dietitian behind Mom to Mom Nutrition. “You can even go a step further and store healthy foods in clear containers or bags, so you can easily see and grab them without having to rinse or wash, assuming that step has been done ahead of time.”

Having healthy snacks ― fruits, vegetables, grains ― visible and within reach can change your snacking habits, according to the food and health experts we interviewed. 

Fruits (and other healthy items) to the front

We chatted with dietitians and nutritionists about simple ways you can arrange your fridge, prepare your food and store your snacks to promote a healthier lifestyle. Here are their tips. 

Looking to eat healthier? With a few subtle changes in your kitchen, you might just be able to trick yourself into making it happen. 

Trinette Reed via Getty Images

We talked to experts about simple ways you can prep, store and arrange your food to get the most out of a healthier lifestyle.

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Preparing food (washing, cutting, etc.) as soon as you get home from the grocery store can encourage you to munch on healthier snacks and put together more well-balanced meals. Also, keep the healthier food in clear containers so you always know what you have in stock.

Dorling Kindersley: Dave King via Getty Images

Divide the fridge into sections (and CLEAN IT.)

Many people keep fruits and vegetables in the crisper drawer of their fridge and fill their pantries with boxed and canned goods, but how many of us really go beyond that? 

Molly Lee, holistic health coach and founder and director of Energizing Nutrition, said that further organizing your fridge and the rest of your kitchen can make it easier when you’re cooking.

“Have different sections for different categories of food,” she said. “It prevents cross contamination, but it also is organized so you can make a well-balanced meal.”

If you have kids who can pack their own lunch or grab their own after-school snack, consider having a drawer in the fridge and/or a section of the pantry just for them, suggests Serbinski. You’re establishing both independence and good eating habits. 

Also don’t forget ― seriously, don’t forget ― to clean your fridge.

“A tidy fridge is an inviting fridge! Throw out those leftovers weekly,” Moss said.

Consider revamping your dishes (and don’t forget about mason jars)

Lee told HuffPost that “organization is the key” when it comes to a kitchen that will help you eat healthier, but having an appealing kitchen can also help. 

“If you have chipped plates or you don’t have the right equipment, it’s not going to be pleasurable to make food,” she said. “A beautiful bowl, plate and mug that you love can really go a long way for making sort of a ritual.”

Don’t sleep on mason jars, either.

“You just stack your favorite ingredients,” Lee said. “You can stack greens, nuts and seeds, chickpeas, tuna or leftover chicken or feta cheese, and it’s easy. Plus, it looks beautiful and you won’t forget about it because it’s clear.”

For those with a sweet tooth, Lee suggested adding organic Greek or plain yogurt to fresh berries and low-sugar granola (make sure it’s naturally sweet, not made with a ton of added sugar).  

Don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to indulgences

Whether you’ve got a sweet tooth or are always craving something salty, ridding yourself of all your cravings doesn’t always work. For a more realistic balance, Moore suggests having only “one indulgent thing” in your living space at a time and leaving the rest at the store (that midnight snack craving won’t be as difficult to overcome if you’ve only got one option).

Lee sticks to encouraging her clients to eat “the highest quality of your favorite dessert.” Think organic dark chocolate or raw honey, perhaps mixed with another healthy snack.

“It’s more expensive so you really savor it, and it tastes really good because it’s using really good ingredients,” she said. 

However you deal with those cravings, a good rule is to somewhat fool yourself and tuck them away somewhere.

“Maybe you have chips or you have cookies in the back of the bottom shelf,” Moore said.

Out of sight, out of mind, and hopefully out of your healthier lifestyle.

 

This article was written by Taylor Pittman from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

What Nutritionists Give Their Kids For After-School Snacks

“An afternoon snack at our house is usually either a smoothie or fruit with protein, such as apples with peanut butter or orange and cheese slices. Other favorites include yogurt-based Popsicles, trail mix or homemade popcorn.” ― Kath Younger, a registered dietitian and blogger at Kath Eats Real Food 

“For an after-school snack, my kids have enjoyed fresh fruit like banana or any combination of cut-up cantaloupe and grapes and berries (e.g., raspberries, blueberries or strawberries) plus warm cashews. They’ve also enjoyed Triscuits and cheese, and plain low-fat yogurt with berries, or unsweetened applesauce and a sprinkle of cinnamon.” ― Elisa Zied, a certified dietitian nutritionist and author of Feed Your Family Right!

Fruit

A group of nutritionists shared the general guidelines and kid-approved picks they use in their own homes for after-school snacks.

But how do you choose a snack for your kids that will fill them up enough to stop the “when’s dinner ready?” nagging without spoiling their appetites or loading them up on empty calories. 

The lag between lunch at school and dinner at home can feel like a lifetime to kids. The after-school snack, therefore, is a time-honored tradition in many homes. 

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Jupiterimages via Getty Images

Nutritionists share the go-to snacks they feed their kids.

“Since my kids are 12, 10, 7 and 5, they do a pretty good job of getting their own after-school snacks from the fruit bowl or the snack cupboard containing: graham crackers, peanut butter, pecans, raisins, prunes and peanuts in the shell. The big thing I encourage is drinking water or herbal tea with a drizzle of honey. They don’t get much time to drink many liquids at school. Tea with honey helps them drink more to stay hydrated in the winter and chilly spring when they aren’t ‘hot and thirsty’ like in the summer. Plus the honey soothes their sore throats when they have colds and has antioxidant polyphenols, which may help boost their immunity to prevent future colds.” ― Serena Ball, a registered dietitian and health blogger at Teaspoon Of Spice 

Tea

“I’m a big believer in the concept of small, frequent eating. Many schools start lunch too early in the day and don’t have opportunities for eating after that. If kids are starting lunch at 10:30 a.m. and don’t have dinner until 6 p.m., after-school snacks should be an option. I prefer to fill them up on vegetables and fruits during this time of day, with moderate amounts of proteins and fats that can be obtained from a slice of cheese, peanut butter or milk. Generally, kids don’t eat enough produce, so my children are typically offered sliced bell peppers or cucumbers with hummus or cheese.” ― Rick Hall, a clinical professor and registered dietitian at Arizona State University

“Some of our favorite after-school snacks are cut-up vegetables (carrots, peppers, celery, tomatoes) and hummus as a dip.” ― Katja Leccisi, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of How To Feed Your Kids: Four Steps To Raising Healthy Eaters 

Hummus

“My kids love apple “nachos,” which are sliced apples, melted nut butter with a sprinkle of dried cranberries and chia seeds.” ― Lauren Kelly, a nutritionist and author of The Everything Wheat-Free Diet Cookbook

“I always offer an after-school snack to my boys each day. If I don’t, the cries of ‘Mom! When is dinner going to be ready?’ start earlier than my sanity can handle. I try to focus on a balance of protein and carbs, offering a variety of choices throughout the week, and I try to make sure it includes fruit to help boost their fruit/veggie count for the day. That may mean a combo of cheese and apple slices, peanut butter and banana or even something like a simple trail mix of whole-grain cereal, raisins and nuts.” ― Regan Jones, a registered dietitian and founding editor at Healthy Aperture

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Natalie Board/EyeEm via Getty Images

Apples with peanut butter or cheese is one snack option.

“I have four kids ages 10 to 17, and I give them various snacks. I sometimes make organic air-popped popcorn with Himalayan pink salt and Barlean’s butter-flavored coconut oil.” ― Rebecca H. Lazar, a registered holistic nutritionist and founder of Real Health and Fitness

Popcorn

“My kids love chocolate avocado mousse and of course peanut butter chocolate chip energy bites!” ― Kelly

“The old-fashioned favorite is homemade cookies (ginger, chocolate chip or oatmeal) with a glass of milk or hot chocolate.” ― Leccisi

Treats

“After-school snacks can be tricky because you don’t want them to eat so much that they’re not hungry for what’s probably their main meal of the day … When my kids played sports, after school they needed a heartier but high-carb snack such as a fruit smoothie with Greek yogurt, oats, a few nuts or peanut butter powder, a grilled cheese sandwich or a bowl of cereal with fruit and milk.” ― Bridget Swinney, a registered dietitian and founder of Eat Right Mama

Carbs

“After school, my kids will grab a yogurt or a few cookies, but I generally serve them dinner around 4:30 p.m. so they aren’t snacking for hours between getting home and having their next meal! That’s my strategy, but I work from home, so this method won’t work for everyone.” ― Abby Langer, a registered dietitian and founder of Abby Langer Nutrition

“A favorite is fruit and yogurt, either separately, as a dip, or in a sort of ‘parfait.’” ― Leccisi

“I make low-fat Greek yogurt dips with fresh or dried herbs. The herbs provide potent antioxidants and lots of flavor without added salt. My daughter also loves red bell pepper slices or baby sweet peppers with dip.” ― Melissa Halas-Liang, registered dietitian and founder of SuperKids Nutrition

Yogurt

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Tea can help with hydration.

“My daughter is 13 and prefers to make her own snacks. Her two go-tos are half a baked sweet potato drizzled with natural peanut butter and a side of mixed berries or apple slices with almond butter and cacao powder sprinkled on top.” ― Jacqueline Carly, an integrative and functional nutritionist and creator of Get Planty

Sweet Potato

“My daughter isn’t a big milk fan, so I often make low-fat milk and add a little sugar and vanilla extract. I use a tiny handheld milk frother. It makes it seem fancy but it takes seconds to make and it’s easy to wash. I’ll serve that with any fresh or frozen fruit (served cold).” ― Halas-Liang

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A baked sweet potato can be the base for a snack.

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Milk

“Sometimes I’ll make a vegan chocolate protein shake with banana and almond butter or another type of smoothie … Other snacks are cut-up fruit, or Siggi’s Icelandic yogurt with organic granola added as a topping.” ― Lazar

Protein Shake

“If we are on the go I’ll split a peanut butter sandwich between my toddlers. I always try to pair a protein choice with either a fruit, vegetable, or whole grain so the snack isn’t too filling, but is just enough to hold my children over until dinnertime.” ― Katie Serbinski, a registered dietitian and founder of Mom to Mom Nutrition

Peanut Butter

“A classic is a peanut butter sandwich. Other favorites include fruit pieces like apple or pear with peanut butter as a dip or spread and crackers with cheddar cheese and fruit pieces (apples, pears or clementines), with some olives and pickles on the side.” ― Leccisi 

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KidStock via Getty Images

Air-popped popcorn can be a fun snack.

Sandwich

“If my teenage boys are really hungry, I’ll make an organic mozzarella sandwich with whole-grain spelt bread.” ― Lazar

Soup

“I meal prep soup every week, so sometimes they’ll have a cup of that if it’s ready at the right time.” ― Alaya Wyndham, an intuitive holistic nutritionist

Car-Friendly Food

“I have three kids, and they all have slightly different food preferences. We generally pick them up with the minivan, at least in the winter months, so I choose snacks that are both nutritious as well as non-messy. For my 3-year-old, I often bring shelled pistachios in a snack cup or a banana. My 6-year-old son is ravenous by the time we get him, so I’ll bring him a cheese stick and a granola bar or goodnessKnows snack squares, something with protein. My almost 9-year-old is a carb lover and also gets car sick easily, so I bring her some type of cheddar cracker or veggie chips. She also really likes dried seaweed. When it’s hot outside, they tend to be more thirsty than hungry, so an organic juice, like Capri Sun, is often what I’ll bring them.” ― Frances Largeman-Roth, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Eating in Color

‘Mini Meals’

“Snacking has definitely taken on some negative connotations since typical snack foods tend to be synonymous with foods high in fat, sugar and salt. However, I am actually a big proponent of snacks as a way to maintain energy levels and satiate hunger between meals. I think of snacks as mini-meals, meaning, smaller portions but still containing a healthful variety of foods. When it comes to after-school snacks, I generally stick to the following criteria: no more than 200 calories, at least 2 grams of fiber per serving, low in saturated fat (percentage daily value of 5 percent or less per serving), low in sodium (140 milligrams or less per serving), low in added sugar (6 grams or less per serving) and at least two food groups per snack.” ― Ilaria St. Florian, a clinical dietitian at Stamford Hospital

These quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity. 

 

This article was written by Caroline Bologna from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Choosing A Pediatrician: What New Moms Need To Know

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Whether you’re a first time mom or recently relocated for work, choosing a pediatrician is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during your child’s early life. They’ll help guide you through those worrisome early days when it feels like you’re doing everything wrong, reassure you, and patch your child up when things get a little bumpy.

But how do you choose a pediatrician if you don’t have a team of fellow moms to help you out? These 4 simple guidelines can help you determine if you’ve found the right fit.

Observe The Office

As with most places, you can tell a lot about a doctor by looking at their office. That means if you walk into a practice and things are dirty or look old, that’s an immediate warning sign. Similarly, you should avoid offices that are still clinging to paper records rather than transitioning to electronic medical records.

Offices that use electronic records make fewer mistakes because doctors don’t have to interpret illegible handwriting and all records are immediately on-hand and searchable. It also makes it easier for your pediatrician to collaborate with other specialists.

Of course, it’s not just the technology you should be evaluating; décor matters too. Beware of waiting room couches and other hard to clean furniture. Out of date, repeatedly photocopied paperwork is also a warning sign, as are old toys and poor office signage. If you can’t find the practice because it lacks a legible sign, has signage featuring former doctors’ names, or has a sign that’s old and peeling, keep moving. Doctors who are invested in their practice care about little details like having quality signage and a clean, welcoming office space. Simply put, a great pediatrician can see the big picture.

Talk Philosophy

First time parents often think pediatricians are primarily there to offer medical advice, but their role is greater than that. That’s why it’s important to talk about parenting philosophy with potential pediatricians before settling on one. For example, some pediatricians feel very strongly about working mothers, while others are very encouraging and know a lot about local childcare programs. Similarly, some are emphatically pro-breast feeding and will put a lot of pressure on mothers to breastfeed, while others are more nutrition-focused.

If specific issues like returning to work or nursing are concerns for you, raise them with potential pediatricians from the start. A great pediatrician will support your choices while emphasizing safety and healthy child development. Leaving your kids with their grandparents while you work? Many pediatricians support family-based care, but know that older relatives might be out of the loop on proper childcare practices. The right physician will help you address these concerns productively and even offer to meet with grandparents, while one whose values don’t match yours may warn you away from your choice without discussing it.

Support From Specialists

While most children will thrive regardless of their pediatrician, children with specialized health needs may need equally special support. Finding a pediatrician in your area who has the appropriate training, then, is absolutely vital. In fact, it could become a lifelong relationship, as has been Jeff Vetor’s experience.

Vetor has a condition known as pulmonary stenosis, but like many people with childhood diseases, as well as those with developmental and intellectual disabilities, he continues to see his pediatrician, as few doctors are trained to handle what was formerly a life-limiting condition. As more people survive these conditions into later adulthood, though, we may see a greater capacity among general practitioners to handle congenital health issues previously restricted to specialized pediatricians.

Rejection Criteria

Finally, but importantly, you’ll want to discuss patient rejection criteria with any potential pediatrician. Some pediatricians have a few basic rules, such as not seeing unvaccinated patients, while others have less structured rules like rejecting patients whose parents are especially difficult. Just remember that when you’re interviewing pediatricians, they’re also interviewing you.

You may not have a mommy network to guide you through the pediatrician selection process, but that doesn’t mean you’re totally alone. With the amount of information on the internet today and a few smart questions, you can find the right doctor for your family. But start early – it can take a while to go through the interview process. You’re making a big decision.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Get Kids (of Any Age) to Sleep

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Getting your baby to sleep through the night is a major win—but it can be just the beginning of an ongoing battle for bedtime. From toddlers fighting lights-out to overscheduled teens racing against the clock, there’s always something stealing kids’—and parents’—rest. Here’s how everyone can get the heck to sleep.

Toddlers (Ages 2 to 4)

The Battle: They’re stalling.

Preschoolers are infamous for delaying bedtime by begging for one more kiss or one more story. It’s one of the many ways they test their parents’ limits. “They know exactly which buttons to push and how much to push them to get their parents’ attention,” says Iqbal Rashid, MD, assistant professor of sleep medicine at UCLA. But stalling reduces lights-out time, meaning less total sleep (which can make your toddler even crankier in the morning) and less time for your child’s brain to convert what he learned that day into a long-term memory. “Your 3-year-old is going to function better at preschool the next day if he’s able to make those neural connections at night,” says Brooke Nalle, a pediatric sleep consultant at the Seleni Institute in New York City.

The Fix: Make a bedtime chart—and stick with it.

A standard routine can reduce the chaos of bedtime: “Repeating the same three or four activities in order every single night will help keep kids on track,” says Jodi Mindell, PhD, professor of psychology at Saint Joseph’s University and associate director of sleep medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Establish the routine with a chart on which you check off tasks like taking a bath, brushing teeth, and reading a story, so when your child asks for a last-minute Lego session, you can kindly point out that—oh, well!—it’s not on the chart. Maggie Strong, a mom of three in Charlottesville, Virginia, has another trick to keep her 3-year-old from stalling endlessly: bedtime passes (index cards decorated with stickers). “One pass is for the bathroom before bed, and one is for a hug,” says Strong. “Once she uses the passes, she can’t leave her bed again.” Bedtime passes can also provide extra motivation for kids to stay put: If they don’t use the passes at night, they can redeem them in the morning for a small treat. That stash of toys from the dollar store will be so worth it.

The Battle: They go to bed but refuse to stay there.

There’s nothing like waking at 2 a.m. to see your toddler peering at you in the dark. Many little escape artists leave their rooms because, suddenly, they can. Blame the independence that comes from moving from a crib to a “big kid” bed. “It takes a high level of development to understand the imaginary boundaries of a bed,” says Mindell. Other kids wake up and can’t fall back asleep without Mom’s help. “Parents tell me, “I have to hold my child’s hand so he can fall asleep, and then he’s up every other hour at night looking for my hand,”” says Nalle.

The Fix: Make them comfy sleeping on their own.

It’s tempting to let your kid crawl into bed with you. “But if you give in, you reinforce that behavior,” says Rashid. Quietly walk your child back to her room. It might take a few painful nights, but it’s important to be consistent, says Rashid. (If she really won’t stay put, you can install a safety gate in her bedroom door to discourage wandering.) Try finishing the night with “sweet talk”—recapping your favorite parts of the day or talking about what you’re looking forward to—“so you end on a positive note,” says Harvey Karp, MD, author of the Happiest Baby on the Block books.

Big Kids (Ages 5 to 10)

The Battle: Your sleep schedules are completely out of sync.

Says Rashid, “Some of us are morning larks, and others are night owls, and sometimes there’s a mismatch in the family.” You might have a third grader who wants to party past 9 p.m. and sleep through breakfast, messing with your “Early to bed, early to rise” motto. Or you might be a night owl, but your kids are cock-a-doodle-doing at 5 a.m., stealing your precious prework shut-eye.

The Fix: Shift the schedule—then keep it consistent.

“You can try to shape their schedule so it’s more in line with yours,” says Nalle. Gradually push back (or bring forward) meals, baths, and bedtime, first by 15 minutes, then 30, then 45, then 60. This can be a month-long process, but it could help oversleepers perk up earlier or buy you an extra hour of z’s in the morning. Some families invest in blackout curtains to shield their kids’ rooms from early-a.m. sun. For kids who might be tempted to bounce on your bed as soon as their eyes open, Mindell suggests putting a night-light on a timer and saying, “When the light switches on, that’s when you can wake us up.” Until then, they can quietly play in their room or watch TV. Once you develop a schedule that works for everyone’s sleep needs, it’s crucial to stick with it, even on weekends, says Nalle. “If kids really want to sleep late, let them do so on Saturday, but by Sunday, return to your regular wake and sleep times.” Exposure to sunlight resets your body clock, so taking a brisk walk on Sunday morning or having breakfast in the sunniest spot in the kitchen should keep everyone on schedule.

The Battle: Their nightmares wake everyone up.

As children get older, “fears can become a big thing,” says Karp. “They start listening to your conversations and hearing the news. They realize there’s an entire world out there.” If they were scared by something they saw on TV, says Rashid, kids can reconstruct it during sleep in the form of nightmares, which usually happen in the late-night-to-early-morning hours. Nightmares are not to be confused with night terrors, which typically happen an hour or so after kids zonk out—though they are frightening to watch, kids usually don’t remember them in the morning.

The Fix: Use night “magic”.

Sleep deprivation and poor-quality sleep are common causes of both nightmares and terrors, so first make sure your child is getting enough rest. Then use creativity to fight the demons. For younger kids, Karp suggests putting “magic” water in a bottle and spraying it at night to keep monsters away. Rashid recommends that older children write down nightmares in a notebook, in as much detail as they can remember, but with alternative, happy endings. For example, if your child dreamed she was drowning, she could write an ending in which she becomes a mermaid. If nightmares are constantly getting in the way of daily functioning, consult your pediatrician to see if something else—like bullying—is going on.

Tweens and Teens

The Battle: They’re over-scheduled and skimping on sleep.

With soccer, debate team, band practice, and dance—not to mention endless homework—it’s no wonder tweens and teens are constantly sleep-deprived. Plus, raging hormones and social stresses, like fitting in with friends and dating, can keep teens up at night. “Anxiety trickles into bedtime,” says Nalle. “Whatever they were carrying around all day suddenly floods their minds.”

The Fix: Hack the routine.

Puberty shifts the internal clock toward a later sleep time, says Rashid. So instead of trying to enforce a too-early bedtime, adjust schedules however you can. One mom drives her daughter to school in the morning rather than waking her for the earlier bus, which gives her daughter an extra 45 minutes of sleep. Others find that if their kids do homework during lunch or even before school, it means they get to bed by 11 p.m. rather than 1 a.m. To de-stress after busy days, teens can try showering 30 to 45 minutes before bed, flipping through a magazine, or doing 10 minutes of meditation (the free Headspace app can help) to clear their minds for better sleep.

The Battle: They’re staying up late, staring at their screens like zombies.

The phenomenon of teens staying up all night watching YouTube and Snapping with their friends has been called “vamping,” as in acting like a nocturnal vampire. The screens themselves add to the problem: The blue light beaming from phones and tablets “is strong enough to block a good chunk of melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy,” says Jess P. Shatkin, MD, author of Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe. Sleep deprivation is particularly dangerous to teens because it blurs their ability to concentrate, which can lead to risky behaviors like drowsy driving or drug and alcohol use, says Mindell. And a 2017 study in the journal Development Psychology found that children with TVs or video-game consoles in their rooms did worse in school and weighed more.

The Fix: Remove the temptation.

Make it a family rule that everyone’s phones and tablets be put to bed—that is, plugged into a communal charging station—on the kitchen counter at least 30 minutes before lights-out, suggests Mindell. To make sure stealthy teens don’t hide their laptops under the covers, some parents switch off the household Wi-Fi, making it harder to get online. Alyceson Weinfeld- Reyman, a mom of two in New York City, literally takes matters into her own hands: She takes her 16-year-old son’s phone away at 10:30 on weeknights and keeps it in her room so he can’t grab it back.

You can also help wean teens off that sleep-stealing screen glare by enabling the “grayscale” function on Androids and Night Shift mode on iPhones (both found under Settings) and adding the f.lux download to computers. All three reduce blue light, so melatonin is allowed to flow, says Shatkin. To help transition from the digital world to the dream world, encourage bedtime rituals (drinking decaf tea, reading) to prep for sleep. “Bedtime routines aren’t just for toddlers,” says Nalle.

 

This article was written by Michelle Ruiz Andrews from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.