schoolSummer is quickly coming to a close, with a new school year just around the corner. Once the kids are back in school, time seems to fly by even faster. Between practices, homework and extracurricular activities, it seems hard to even find time to breathe. And when time gets tight, your health is often the first thing neglected. But it is important for both you and your children to keep a good diet, get enough sleep and stay organized throughout the year. Read on for tips to keep your family’s mental and physical health in check this upcoming school session!

Keep a good diet

When your family gets busy, it becomes much easier to run through a fast food restaurant or grab a bag of chips instead of making a healthier meal or snack. Eating healthy while on the go is possible; it just requires a little more planning.

Your kids will snack on what you make available to them, so opt for healthier options like granola bars, nuts, string cheese and yogurt. Buy lots of fruits and vegetables that your family enjoys, then wash and package them into snack bags as soon as you get home so they are ready when you need them. Pair with to-go packages of ranch dressing or peanut butter for an extra punch of flavor.

Healthy meals require the same kind of planning. Every weekend, sit down and decide what your family will have for dinner in the upcoming week based on your nightly schedule. Purchase your groceries based on that meal plan and do as much prepping as you can when you get home from the store. Slow cooker meals are a great option because they can be set in the morning and ready when you get home from work.

Get enough sleep

The key to “catching Zs” is training your brain to expect sleep at certain times—and then listening when your brain tells you to sleep. In order to make the most of your time asleep, it is important to keep a good sleep schedule. Your body cannot function well by “stocking up” on sleep on the weekends and barely sleeping during the week; it is better to aim for 8 to 10 hours of sleep each and every night. Encourage your kids to create a bedtime routine (like washing their face and reading a book) and do it every night before bed. This will signal to their brains that it is time for sleep, making it easier for them to fall asleep quickly.

Once your body settles into a sleep schedule, it is important to stick with it. On the weekends, try to wake your children within 2 and 4 hours of their weekday wake up time. This will keep their body clock in check. During the week, make sure your children manage their time well during the day so they can go to sleep around the same time each night. Set a time every evening for your kids to do their homework so they are not tempted to procrastinate and do it in the middle of the night.

Stay organized

The school year comes with many responsibilities and activities that can become overwhelming if you don’t stay organized. Depending on your personal preferences, either purchase a paper planner or download a planner app on your phone to keep track of family events and children’s activities. Encourage your children to keep their school planner updated with homework, projects and tests so they don’t fall behind in their classes.

When purchasing school supplies for your kids, buy each of them one binder for every class, preferably each a different color. Have them keep their notes and assignments for each class separated in the different binders so they will be less likely to misplace items. Each quarter or semester, help your kids clean out their binders and recycle any papers they no longer need.

Chances are, each of your kids are involved in at least one extra curricular activity or sport, all requiring different equipment. Set aside one bag for each activity and have your child keep all of his or her equipment for each activity in the assigned bag. If everything stays in the bag, it is easy to grab as they’re walking out the door and reduces the chance of them forgetting a shoe or shin guard.

If you notice that your child is having an extremely difficult time eating healthy, getting sleep or staying organized, contact your family physician, as it may be a sign of a more serious disorder or illness. If you have questions about keeping your children healthy during the school year, please give Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow a call at 618-235-2311.

 

 

online safetyToday, children are using the Internet at younger and younger ages. As exciting as this new technology is for young kids, it often raises safety concerns for parents. The Internet provides many social-learning and educational opportunities for children young and old, but the Internet is also a safe haven for child predators and identity thieves. It is important to equip your children with online safety knowledge to make smart and safe decisions on the Internet when they are young so they will carry those skills with them through their teen years and adulthood.

When children are first starting to use the Internet, parental controls are the best way to ensure they only see what you want them to see. Each Internet service provider (ISP) has their own parental controls, but most allow parents to block kids from viewing certain sites as well as monitor which sites their children visit. Bookmarking your children’s favorite websites to the taskbar makes it easy for kids to find what they want and keeps them from ending up on a site they shouldn’t use. Some websites and online programs also have their own parental controls. For example, Netflix allows users to create separate profiles for children that block their access to certain adult shows. Additional parental control software can be downloaded to a computer for even more protection. Some parental control programs charge users money, but a lot of great software can be downloaded for free, such as Kiddle and Qustodio.

Although there are many avenues for parental control on the Internet, social media is a different story. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) gives parents control over the information websites can collect from users under the age of 13. Although this act was implemented to protect children, it has also created the avenue for websites to forgo parental control options in favor of simply prohibiting children under the age of 13 from creating a profile without parental consent. For example, Snapchat and Instagram have no parental controls within the app. It is best to block kids from downloading these apps until they are 13, and have extensive discussions with your child about the dangers of communicating with strangers on social media.

If your kids are on these platforms, it is important that they keep their accounts set to private. This setting ensures that only people whom your child approved can see their posts or send them messages. Stress to your kids to only accept users who they know and trust. If a profile seems sketchy or unfamiliar, do not accept their follow request. Snapchat recently launched a map feature on its app that allows users to see their friends’ locations in real time. To turn this feature off, make sure your child’s profile is in Ghost Mode.

In the digital world we live in, it is status quo to share almost everything about our lives on the Internet. When your child enters the world of social media, it is crucial that they know what things are okay to share and what information should remain private. For example, kids should never share their address or phone number on a public post. Just as you have told your children not to talk to strangers in real life, make sure they know that rule is just as important to follow on the Internet. There are many online safety classes and videos that can supplement the conversations you have with your child about staying protected on the Internet.

Trying to keep your children off the Internet is impossible, no matter how hard you try. Although there are parent control settings and programs to monitor your children’s Internet history, communicating with your child about their online activities and educating them about Internet safety are the most important and effective ways to keep him or her safe on the Internet. You cannot control everything your children see online, but you can raise them in a way that prepares them to handle most any situation life throws at them—even on the Internet!

 

parenting after divorceThe American Psychology Association estimates between 40 and 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce, the majority of which occur in families with children under the age of 18. Although everyone reacts to divorce differently, and parenting after divorce can be difficult, statistics show children of divorced parents are 15 percent more likely to experience prolonged emotional and behavioral issues than children of non-divorced parents. To minimize the trauma for their children, divorced parents must take purposeful steps to create a safe and nurturing environment for co-parenting after the split.

Right after the split, divorced parents must attempt to resolve their lingering problems and create a feeling of respect. Although you are no longer in a marriage together, you are still parents together. You will still have to make many important joint decisions about your children and how to raise them, which requires the ability to listen and compromise.

Depending on the circumstances of the divorce, mutual respect between you and your ex-partner may be easier said than done. Parents who want to co-parent eventually but have a complicated relationship with their ex-spouse often start out by “parallel parenting.” In this arrangement, both parents assume total responsibility for the children when the kids are with them, making all executive decisions. There are few expectations of joint decisions or contact with the other parent. As time goes on and hard feelings fade, parents may move toward a style of “cooperative parenting” in which parents communicate in a business-like manner regarding the children and coordinate co-parenting schedules. Each parent listens to and considers the other parent’s opinions when making any decisions regarding the children. Cooperative parenting is ideal to establish consistency for the children.

Parents must foster a routine that is stable and consistent for their children. Create a schedule that includes both parents’ respective times with the kids and stick to it. Make sure each party is on time for pick ups and drop offs and keep the same meeting place each day. This allows the kids to get into a routine and create a “new normal.”

Now that you are spending as little as half of the time you used to spend with them, it is important to give them your full attention when you are with them. Children undergoing a divorce often feel they are to blame or that their parents no longer care about them in the way they used to, so it is important to dispel these feelings and make them feel just as loved as they were before. Continue to do the things you used to do with your children and start new traditions together. In turn, it is imperative to also let your children have special moments and routines with their other parent as well. Try to not get jealous when your child talks about spending time with your ex-partner. Instead, rejoice in the fact that your children are still loved unconditionally by both parents.

Regardless, none of the above will last without honest and open communication between both parents and children. Parents must move beyond petty disputes to make decisions about what is best for their child. As time passes and parents meet new love interests and possibly remarry, it is imperative to have honest conversations about how stepparents will fit into the parenting picture. What role will they play in the children’s lives? Will they have a say in parenting decisions regarding the children? These questions should be addressed early to avoid confusion and hurt feelings later.

Every relationship is different, and so is every divorce. What works for one divorced couple may not work for another couple, and vice versa. Above all, it is important to find what works for you and your ex-spouse and continue doing it. If you are having issues determining a new balance after your divorce, reach out to a family or divorce counselor. No matter what relationship issues or ugly history you have with your ex-spouse, focus on your common goal of creating a loving environment for your children that includes both parents.

Have more questions about how to help your child through your divorce? The Association of Childcare Physicians can help.

If you have questions about children in divorce, or any other overall wellness concerns, please give Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow a call at 618-235-2311. If you believe your child is struggling emotionally with the divorce, visit our website to set up an appointment today.

sun safetyAfter an unpredictable winter that far outstayed its welcome, it is finally sweet summertime. While this change in season brings a great deal of joy, adventure and excitement, it also brings a number of dangers especially centered around the harmful UV rays from the sun. These dangers are no reason to miss out on summer fun; however, they are important sun safety factors that parents and babysitters should be well aware of. Stay safe this summer with these simple tips before you head out in the sun.

Shield the Sun!

Don’t let fun in the sun cause excruciating pain or permanent damage to your children’s skin. The easiest way to do this while still enjoying the summer is with sunscreen. When selecting a sunscreen to slather on your kids, be sure to use an option with at least 30 SPF. Further, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects from both harmful UVA and UVB rays. If your baby is 6 months old or younger, do not use sunscreen and simply keep your child out of the sun’s harmful rays as much as possible.

The key to applying sunscreen is doing it evenly and often. These are two of the biggest mistakes that plague parents everywhere. Even application is key! With growing popularity of spray-on sunscreens, it is important to remember that simply spraying is not enough. Many experts believe the lotions offer better coverage because it’s easier to see where it’s being applied to the skin. In order to get the best coverage and protection, it is important to rub both spray on sunscreen and lotions into the skin. Following the first application, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours. This is one of the most common mistakes when it comes to sun protection. Parents and kids get caught up in the fun of the day, forget to reapply then are in for a not-so-fun surprise a few hours later. Always remember to apply evenly and often.

Sunscreen is not the only form of protection against the sun. Clothing is another wonderful option to protect loved ones from overexposure to the sun. This is the best option for infants because of their continually developing skin that is more susceptible to sunburns. Clothing is thick enough to protect from the sun as long as you cannot see through it. Hats are another fantastic way of protecting faces from the sun. Today, many clothing manufacturers also make clothes that are UPF rated and offer wonderful sun protection.

Skin is not the only part of our bodies that can be severely damaged by the sun. Eyes are just as susceptible to sun damage as skin, but the affects cannot be seen immediately like a sunburn. Make sure the kids are sporting sunglasses as they have fun in the sun. A fun bonus is that they will want to wear their sunglasses if they get to pick out their favorite pair at the store. Kid’s sunglasses are affordable and come in countless colors and styles. If the little ones lose their sunglasses, they’ll be cheap and easy to replace. Add a hat to their outfit when playing outside and it enhances their protection!

Timing also plays a role in preventing sun damage. When planning a day of fun in the sun, the American Skin Association states to try and avoid the window between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. This is the time when the sun’s rays are the strongest. We understand that is a large chunk of the day and recommend planning to overlap at the beginning or end of that window. Ideally, plan to avoid being outdoors for the full six-hour window in full sun. This is an added bonus because 10am-4pm is typically the hottest time of day. Look at this period as a time to cool off and relax indoors and possibly put the toddlers down for a nap.

It’s inevitable that sunburns will happen, but what is the best way to treat them? Unfortunately, there is no cure to the pain. Cool baths, aloe vera gel, ibuprofen, and moisturizing cream can all lessen the pain and aid in the healing process. Please give us a call if you have a concern about your child’s recent over-exposure to the sun and we can help with a treatment plan to make the healing process go smoothly.

Refer to these helpful tips and have a wonderful, safe summer in the sun! If you have further questions about summertime and sun safety, please give Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow a call at 618-235-2311. Association of Childcare Physicians also offers online appointment scheduling for your convenience.

 

Anxiety in Your Tween or TeenIt’s likely that someone you know has suffered from anxiety or depression. Often, it’s difficult to spot a person with anxiety because they may just seem shy, introverted or simply quieter than others. Anxiety in your tween or teen is one of the most common emotional problems that can cause crippling behavior, sometimes demonstrated by withdrawing from others but also by tantrums, meltdowns, and compulsive actions.

Are you noticing your teen or tween worrying more than ever before? Is it social anxiety, an anxiety that causes your child to miss out on birthday parties and school dances? Or, do they have illness anxiety, worried that they will become sick and thinking that every cough and sneeze will turn into the flu? Anxiety may be fueled by different triggers in each child. Here is a basic explanation of anxiety and treatments to help your child relate, and live, with this condition.

Because the origin of a child’s anxiety can vary greatly, a common term called GAD, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, will be highlighted in this article. This condition is characterized by persistent and often unwarranted worry about day-to-day things. The worry can start at breakfast time because the bowl of cereal wasn’t healthy enough, or it can be focused on the classroom assignments at school that day. Whether it’s performance-related worry or fitting in socially, it’s a constant anxiety that things will go wrong. Because children that have anxiety often focus on “perfectionism”, the anxiety can cause extreme studying and/or practicing. The anxiety puts a lotof pressure on your tween or teen, and you’ll probably hear yourself saying to them often, “don’t be so hard on yourself.”

Children with anxiety will also often need reassurance from you about what’s causing the anxiety. Does your child incessantly ask you questions about “whether or not” something will happen? For example, if your child doesn’t like presenting in class, does he/she often go over the assignment repeatedly and then worry that it’s not good enough? And even though the teacher indicated that the material would not be presented out loud in class, is your child certain that it’s going to happen anyway? This constant reassurance is needed to help ease the fear and the worry that’s bubbling within them.

Often, if a child has GAD they will also be a bit more rigid and irritable when confronted with a fear. Emotionally, anxiety can be exhausting to the child, often causing physical symptoms as well to include restless behavior, fatigue, upset stomachs and headaches. If you notice that your child is losing weight, lacking sleep and complaining about headaches or stomachaches due to anxiety, it’s time to schedule an appointment with us to discuss options. Unlike adults with anxiety, children don’t usually recognize or understand that it’s their fears causing them such physical stress.

The fears children with anxiety feel are typically based on tangible, real life issues. Maybe your child had the stomach flu when younger and now even the thought of throwing up is too much to bear. So, your child has adopted a behavior that includes washing her hands repeatedly, excessively, until they begin to bleed. This compulsive behavior of washing hands frequently stems from her anxiety.

There are treatments to consider once your child has been diagnosed with a particular anxiety or general anxiety disorder. GAD is often treated with behavioral therapy by a therapist or counselor. The therapist may provoke anxieties and then teach her ways to manage the worry. Another option, cognitive behavioral therapy, teaches the child to recognize how her thinking may be contributing to her anxiety, helping her comprehend that the anxiety response is out of proportion to what’s triggering it. In some cases, serotonin reuptake inhibitors are recommended or anti-anxiety drugs are prescribed in addition to therapy sessions.

When anxiety becomes so profound that it’s interfering with the child’s life, their overall wellness, and affecting the entire family unit, it’s important to seek help. Untreated anxiety tends to worsen over time and can also lead to depression in older children and adults, ultimately causing more issues. If you have more questions about anxiety symptoms and treatments for your child, please give Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow a call at 618-235-2311 or visit http://childcarephysicians.com to set up an appointment today.

car seat safetyBringing home a new baby is one of the most exciting (and scary!) times in a parent’s life. We want everything to be just perfect for our new bundle of joy, and safety is usually at the forefront of our minds when thinking about our new baby. Even though the baby won’t be moving around for months, we often have already baby-proofed every inch of the house from outlets to cabinets, and friends at the baby shower spoiled us with the latest monitors and crib toys. One of the very first shower gifts we use is the car seat to bring our sweet baby home!

The United States Department of Transportation has a division called the NHTSA – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This department offers handy information for parents and caregivers alike, answering questions about car seat safety, school bus safety, teen driving and more. You can find them online at https://www.nhtsa.gov/parents-and-caregivers. Fortunately, car seats and boosters offer protection for our babies and toddlers each and every time they take a ride in the car.

The NHTSA has links to car seat types, offering parents information on the four main types: rear-facing, forward-facing, booster seat, and the standard seat belt for older children and adults. All car seats have a variety of seat backs and harness options. Keep in mind that not all car seats fit in all vehicles, so it’s important to do your research when selecting the best car seat for your specific needs.

Rear-facing car seat.

This type of car seat is best for the youngest of children, and also ideal when bringing your baby home from the hospital. It offers a safety harness which helps in the event of a crash because it cradles and moves with your baby to reduce physical stress. Babies usually outgrow a standard, rear-facing car seat by 9 months. Since it’s recommended that your baby be in a rear-facing car seat until the age of two, there are other options available when choosing a car seat for your family.

Many manufacturers offer convertible rear-facing seats to accommodate your child as he/she grows. The convertible seat can eventually be changed to forward-facing with a safety harness and tether. The benefit? It can be used with children of various sizes to ideally keep your child in the rear-facing mode longer, which is the safest position for your child. When you are ready to switch to forward-facing, you can use the same car seat, thus making the convertible seat so desirable. All-in-one car seats even offer the booster seat option to use later.

Forward-facing car seat. This particular car seat offers a harness and tether that reduces your child’s movement if a car crash happens. The forward-facing car seats also offer convertible seat options that switch to a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat, a combination seat that switches for forward-facing, and an all-in-one option for a booster seat.

Booster seats.

In the blink of an eye, your newborn will appear in your rear-view mirror as a bustling toddler and they will need to be secured in a booster seat. Booster seats work well because they position the seat belt properly on a smaller child’s frame. Some booster seats come with a high back that is designed to boost the child’s height and provide neck and head support. The backless booster seats are designed to boost the child’s height so the seat belt works properly. Backless booster seats do not provide head and neck support, though. As stated earlier, many booster seats come as an option in the all-in-one seat systems.

Car seat belt.

For older children, when securing a seat belt, it should lie across the upper thighs and be snug when crossing the shoulder and the chest. This restrains your child properly when involved in a car crash. A seat belt should not cross the stomach area or go across the neck or face of your child.

As children grow, your car seat needs for them will change. Make sure your car seat fits your child’s size, weight and age. When purchasing a car seat, make sure it’s one you can easily install correctly and transfer when using multiple vehicles. On the NHTSA website, you can find and compare seats, research installation help, and look for inspection information. Many public service offices, like fire stations and police stations, offer free clinics to help either install your car seat or check that it’s installed properly.

If you have additional questions about car seat options and resources for your child, The Association of Childcare Physicians can offer suggestions to put you at ease. There are many makes and models of car seats available, offering the safety you require. If you have questions about car seats or any other overall wellness concerns, please give Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow a call at 618-235-2311. If it’s time for a check-up, visit our website to set up an appointment today!

sleep training your newbornIn the early weeks of a newborn’s life, a parent’s number one priority is caring for the new baby’s every need, with frequent feedings, diaper changes, and snuggles. Usually around the third or fourth month of a child’s life, a sleep pattern starts to emerge. But, what if it doesn’t? What if those months of sleepless nights start to catch up to you, and your baby hasn’t figured out how to sleep soundly either? It’s time to start looking at techniques for sleep training your newborn before they become a toddler.

Believe it or not, many new parents unwittingly have set bad sleep habits for their newborn. An article in Parents Magazine states that if your 6-month old is still actively waking in the night, it’s definitely time to initiate a more rigid sleep program. It will benefit everyone in your household, including your new baby that needs sleep to achieve optimum health. Following is a 7-day plan that can be helpful for your newborn (or even older child) when trying to achieve a better sleep routine.

Day 1: Set up a Routine

It’s easy to understand why most babies get their nights and days mixed up. In the early days of their life, they are mainly eating, sleeping, and soiling their diapers! Taking long naps during the days will only encourage more restless nights. Research today concludes that even early on, babies can be taught the difference between day and night, but it’s our job as parents to set the schedule.

To begin, wake up your baby early tomorrow and get in the routine of waking up at the same time each day. It also helps to position their crib or bed near a window, with the blinds up. By taking advantage of natural light, if they do wake up at night and see it’s dark out, they will begin to understand it’s time to go back to sleep.

When it’s almost time for bed, begin the same rituals. Quiet time, pajamas, reading…this will also help your baby transition into a nighttime of restful slumber.

Day 2: Keep practicing

Routines don’t happen over-night. You may need to slowly introduce feedings at certain times and a sleep/wake schedule. Does a nighttime bath soothe your baby? Maybe introduce this as a routine event. It’s important to take cues from the baby to see what they like and dislike. What’s important is to keep the nighttime events relaxed, while any daytime feedings and experiences are more lively and playful. This will help your child begin to see the difference between the two timeframes.

Day 3: Pushback begins

After months of restless nights, expect an unfavorable response during sleep training in the beginning. Crying will happen. As parents, it’s treacherous to hear them cry. Experts want to also reassure parents that psychological harm is NOT happening when all other needs are being met for the child during this time. The younger the infant, the easier this entire process will be. Children 6 months and older tend to cry it out more because they’ve been accustomed to the old routine. If the crying is too much to take, go in the room periodically for reassurance but limit the visit to 5 minutes each time that first night. It’s also important to keep him in his crib, keep the light off, etc.

Day 4: Hang tough

The longer it takes to fully implement the new sleep routine, ultimately the harder it will be on all of you. If that first night was an epic fail and you just couldn’t let your little one cry it out, picking him up and a rocking him until he fell asleep in your arms, try, try again. If you are inconsistent with the program and eventually give in each time, your baby will realize this and cry even longer, expecting you to appear in the bedroom like you’ve done every night before.

Day 5: Is it working?

Typically, it takes 3-5 days for babies and toddlers to adjust to this new routine. If there is still crying or restlessness, lengthen the response time. The Parents Magazine article states that checking on the baby is really for the parents’ benefit. If you notice you are fueling your child’s reaction each time you go in, peek in through the door instead but do nothing else.

Also, at about 12 pounds or 3-4 months, most infants are ready to give up night feedings. If night feedings are still happening, keep them quiet, quick, and comforting. Don’t sing to them and turn on the lights so that they can soon fall back to sleep after the feeding.

Day 6: It’s working!

Your sleep routine has been irregular for quite some time, so those first few nights of your baby sleeping blissfully (or waking up but able to fall back to sleep on her own) will seem surreal at first. On Day 6, it’s time to relax. Dress him in warm pajamas so you don’t have to worry about kicking off covers, turn the monitor down some so you only hear it if there’s really distress in the crying. If you DO hear crying, don’t rush in. At this point your child should be able to calm himself.

Day 7: Now it’s your turn

You have your sleep back, and have given your child the important gift of sleep. There will be setbacks, even for children who are typically good sleepers. You can always fall back on this program that worked when your child was young, expecting an easier transition the second (or even fifth!) time around.

Have more questions about your child’s sleep pattern? The Association of Childcare Physicians can help.

If you have questions about ways to help your child have a restful night’s sleep, or any other overall wellness concerns, please give Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow a call at 618-235-2311. If it’s time for a check-up, visit http://childcarephysicians.com to set up an appointment today.

 

winter safety tips for kidsWinter is a magical time of year: snowflakes, hot cocoa, warm mittens, sledding, skiing and more. What isn’t so magical is getting hurt from being out in the cold for too long. Keep your child safe this winter season with these winter safety tips for kids from the Association of Childcare Physicians:

  • How to Dress

When spending time outdoors, remember to dress your child warmly. Dress them in several thin layers to stay snug, dry, and warm. Don’t forget to cover extremities with hats, gloves, and boots, as they are more likely to get frostbitten. For long car rides, dress babies and children in snug, thin layers rather than bulky coats.

  • Avoiding Hypothermia

Hypothermia is defined as “having an abnormally low body temperature, typically one that is dangerously low.” This occurs when a child is exposed to cold weather without proper winter clothing. The risk for hypothermia greatly increases when clothes get wet. Warning signs for hypothermia include shivering, clumsiness, lethargy, slurred speech, and declined body temperature. If you suspect hypothermia in your child, call 911 right away. While waiting for help, seek shelter indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap the child in warm layers.

  • Preventing Frostbite

Frostbite tends to affect extremities like the toes, fingers, nose, and ears when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. Warning signs include red and tingly skin, which may become gray and painful, and ultimately white, cold and hard with no pain. To prevent frostbite, avoid going outside when the temperature or wind chill is below -15 degrees Fahrenheit. When your child does go out to play, dress them in warm layers. If their clothes get wet at any time, bring your youngster inside to change. If frostbite does occur, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten area in warm (not hot) water. You may want to administer acetaminophen or ibuprofen during this process, as thawing the skin is painful. If blistering occurs, seek medical attention immediately.

  • Winter Health

Cold air and winter winds are typical causes for nosebleeds. To soothe dry and irritated nasal tissue, try using a humidifier in your child’s room at night. Saline nose drops and petroleum jelly can help prevent nosebleeds by keeping nasal tissues moist. Viruses also tend to be more common during the winter, so it is important to stay on top of your child’s health by encouraging frequent hand washing and proper sneezing/coughing techniques.

  • Sun Protection

Many people associate sunscreen with summer time, but applying sun block is just as important during the winter. In fact, it might be more important to be diligent about protecting your skin during the winter, as the sun’s rays can reflect off snow and cause sunburns. Extra moisturizers are also important, because skin can become dry and cracked over the cold, blistery winter months.

  • Winter Sports Safety

While playing outside in the snow seems like infinite fun to children, it’s best to set limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Supervise young children when they are using winter equipment such as sleds, skis, and snowboards. Hills and slopes should be clear of debris and obstructions. Your child should always wear appropriate safety equipment when playing outside, and supervision is especially important when playing on fast moving sleds and snowboards. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye!

The Association of Childcare Physicians hopes you have a happy, healthy (and warm) winter this year. If you have questions about keeping your child safe in the cold weather, please give Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow a call at 618-235-2311. If it’s time for a check-up, visit http://childcarephysicians.com to set up an appointment today.

Food Allergies During the HolidaysHolidays are a time for fun, cheer, and delicious food! However, for some families, food allergies make holidays less than “holly-jolly”. Food allergies can range from mild to severe, but all reactions are equally scary. Mild reactions may involve stomach cramps, hives, or an itchy throat. More severe allergies include anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal if not treated immediately. With such dramatic symptoms, it’s no wonder holiday dinners are a source of anxiety for those living with food allergies, especially if those individuals are children who don’t fully understand their condition. If you or a loved one has a child with food allergies, consider these tips when approaching the holiday season:

  1. Educate

Ignorance is the greatest threat to a child with food allergies. Well-intentioned family members, teachers, and friends would never knowingly put a child at risk, but may unwittingly expose the child to an allergen. That is why it is so important to stress the severity of the food allergy and explain what it means. For example, if a child is allergic to tree nuts, explain which nuts are considered “tree nuts” (pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc.). It also helps to go into detail about how severe the allergy is. Some allergies are less severe than others, but anaphylactic allergies can be life-threatening. Explain that cross-contamination could be a danger, and that all ingredient lists should be thoroughly examined.

  1. Take Precautions

Even after explaining an allergy, it is always better to be safe than sorry. When attending holiday dinner functions, bring along a few dishes you know are safe for your child with food allergies. If your child’s classroom is having a holiday party, send along a special treat that your little one can enjoy instead. That way, they don’t feel left out, but are safe from allergens and cross-contamination. Always keep your child’s allergy medicine and/or epinephrine injector available, in case of emergencies, and be aware of hospitals that are nearby. It may be beneficial to teach family members and friends what to do in case of an emergency, for future reference.

  1. Supervise

Depending on the age of your child, they may or may not recognize the severity of their own allergy. Older children may be able to steer clear of unsafe foods, but younger children may not understand their food allergy. Children are tricky; they may seem perfectly safe sitting in the front room playing with other children, but all it takes is a few seconds and a bowl of mixed nuts on the coffee table for an emergency to occur. Because of this, it is important to keep an eye on your child. Plan with your partner, or another adult, to take turns supervising the child. You don’t have to hover, but keep a watchful eye on their activities. That way, you still get time to socialize, while still making sure your child is safe.

  1. Keep Calm

Even though the holidays can be stressful for parents with allergy-prone children, it is important to stay calm, cool, and collected. If you are anxious and worried about your child’s food allergies, it will rub off on them. It is vital that your child not fear their allergies, but rather be knowledgeable and confident about them. Talk with your child ahead of time about what to expect. Walk them through what they can and can’t eat. Always have an action plan prepared. Try not to scare the child, but rather prepare them so they can enjoy the holidays and stay safe at the same time.

The Association of Childcare Physicians understands you may have concerns about your child’s allergies and we are happy to answer any questions you may have about their health. It is our goal to keep your child happy and healthy! To schedule an appointment or physical, please call Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311 or visit childcarephysicians.com.

Stay Well When Your Kids Get SickDuring cold and flu season, it’s pretty much inevitable that someone you know either at work, school, or in your household will get sick. Especially in the close quarters of your home, having a child battling a cold or flu virus means it’s important to be diligent about staying healthy. As their caregiver, staying well means taking care of their needs as they arise and doing everything possible to stop those nasty germs in their tracks so no one else gets sick.

In the well-insulated rooms of your home, germs can spread easily in tight spaces, which can cause colds and flu to hang around the home longer. Follow these tips to help stay well when your kids get sick and keep everyone happy and healthy.

Child sick? Wash your hands often. It’s also a good idea to have your son or daughter wash their hands if they are moving around beyond the comforts of the couch. A thorough washing of the hands includes soap and water for at least 20 seconds, in between fingers and under fingernails. Additionally, it’s never a good idea to touch your hands to your face, especially if a loved one is under the weather.

Clean the surfaces in the home. If your child has been snuggling on the sofa all day long with a bad cold, take extra steps to limit the spread of germs: make sure the remote has been cleaned prior to using it, pillowcases and blankets are washed, and other surfaces are disinfected. Hard surfaces like countertops, handles, doorknobs, and tables can all aid in the spread of germs if they aren’t cleaned properly. Some germs can live for up to 24 hours! Clean with a disinfectant of your choice or use ¼ cup of bleach mixed with 1 gallon of water for a DIY formula.

As a caregiver, take it easy. We tend to worry when our little ones are sick. Let’s face it: it’s often hard to sleep at night when our child has a cold and is coughing at night, disturbing their sleep and a peaceful house. Generally, our immune system protects us from illness, but it can be challenged when we undergo stress, our sleep is affected or our healthy-eating regimen is comprised. To keep your immune system intact, eat right, drink lots of fluids, and get plenty of rest. Include a regular exercise routine for the best results and to stay healthy. It’s also a good idea to limit the stress in your life, not just when illness hits but as a general practice. Some experts believe in the power of Vitamin C, however; there’s no real proof it does anything other than possibly shorten an illness if you do become sick.

Limit contact as much as possible. Limiting contact with a sick child or loved one may sound like an impossible task, but certain things can be done to help keep you, the caregiver, well. If possible, let the child with an illness stay in their own room to sleep and relax. Offer them all the amenities needed like snacks, plenty of water, a trash can and reading material. Keep guests at a minimum, such as grandparents and friends, so the germs are contained as much as possible. Even if your child feels better snuggling with you at night, it’s in everyone’s best interest to limit those snuggles (at least to the primary caregiver).

Flu shots do make a difference. Want to know one of the best ways to keep germs from traveling around the home? Get a flu shot. It’s one of the best ways to stay well. The vaccine is different every year, so schedule a flu shot with our office if you haven’t already done so. Please give our office a call if you have questions about this year’s flu shot.

If you’re already feeling under the weather, remember the following:

    • Cough or sneeze into the bend of your elbow
    • Wash your hands after you blow your nose
    • Steer clear of healthy people in your home until you’re feeling better
    • Remember to not share glasses or utensils if you start to feel under the weather

Cold and flu symptoms can take up to 10 days before diminishing. If you have questions about your child’s symptoms, notice anything unusual about their virus, or if he/she refuses to eat and drink for more than just a couple hours, please give us a call. If it’s time for a visit or check-up, contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311 or visit http://childcarephysicians.com to schedule an appointment. We look forward to seeing you and hope you have a healthy fall and winter season.

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