Thursday, September 18, 2014

Protect Your Charge From A Poorly Packed Lunch

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], about one in six Americans suffers from food poisoning each year. On average, this can result in about 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 fatalities. Because many of these illnesses occur when food is poorly packaged and maintained, parents and caregivers are urged to pay close attention when preparing lunch for kids.
            If packing a lunch that contains perishable items [lunch meats, eggs, yogurts, refrigerated puddings, etc.], be sure to use freezer packs. This will allow the food to remain cool, disabling the spread of bacteria on food. Another alternative to freezer packs could be frozen juice boxes. By freezing the juice boxes the night before, they become solid enough to keep the food cool and they will have defrosted by lunchtime.
            Aside from using different “cooling” options, be sure that lunches are packed in insulated lunch boxes. This will help maintain the original temperature for a longer duration. While paper lunch bags are common, perishable food items could be dangerous to eat by lunchtime when packed in a non-insulated bag. If packing hot foods, use an insulated container to maintain the temperature. To achieve better results, allow boiling water to sit in the container for a few minutes prior to filling it with food. Don’t forget to remind kids to leave all lids on food until lunchtime to ensure that no outside germs or bacteria sneak into the containers.
            After enjoying a great lunch, remind kids to throw away all leftover food, including plastic bags and disposable containers. Do not reuse any packaging aside from tupperware that will be cleaned when kids arrive home. Bacteria or other foodborne illnesses could linger from the time kids eat lunch to the time their lunchbox gets unpacked. After ensuring that proper protocols are met for a safe lunch, remember to make sure the lunch is healthy for growing kids!

Idea from: HealthDay

Friday, August 22, 2014

Caring For Kids In A Gluten-Free Environment

Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for healthy living. The damage is caused by a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, possibly oats, and hidden in foods that you wouldn’t have even guessed. While the disease can begin at any age, it usually appears during early childhood. In the midst of kids being picky eaters, restricting their diet further can make meal planning more difficult. Below are a few tips to help care for a child with celiac disease.

      1.      Monitor junk food. There are now gluten-free Oreos, s’mores, cake mixes, and donuts. Just because these foods do not have wheat in them, that doesn’t mean they are healthy choices. They are compatible for a gluten free diet and give opportunity to have a treat.
      2.      Monitor iron intake. Kids on gluten-free diets are at elevated risk for iron deficiency because a great source of iron is usually found in wheat flour. Newly diagnosed people suffer from iron deficiency because of intestinal damage. Red meat, dark meat poultry, beans, baked potatoes, and shrimp are good iron-enriched foods to try.
      3.      Stock the pantry with gluten-free essentials. A quick lunch or easy dinner can always be prepared by keeping gluten-free pasta, soy sauces, and a bag of chickpea flour for breading chicken or fish in the cabinets.
      4.      Plan for playdates and birthday parties. Kids with celiac disease can’t enjoy a standard slice of pizza or piece of cake. Before outings, contact the host and ask what kinds of food will be served. If possible, volunteer to bring a dish so that there will be something gluten-free on the menu.
      5.      Make sure the school has a 504 plan. 504 plans are written agreements between families and the school to ensure that appropriate accommodations are made to suit the student’s nutritional needs. Sample plans are available online.

Excerpt from: US News

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Hot Car Is No Place For Kids

Think about the last time you had a hectic day. You were probably changing plans, adjusting schedules, and you may have forgotten a thing or two. Believe it or not, these are some of the distractions that have caused people to forget children in the back seat of the car. In some cases though, an adult left a child in the car purposefully while running into a store for a quick errand. Since the early 2000’s, more than 600 child heat related fatalities have occurred. Tragically, we have seen seemingly competent parents have a chaotic day and forget a child in the back of the car or miscalculate the time needed to “quickly” run into the store. Is this a risk when being pulled in so many directions?
            It only takes 10 minutes for a car to heat up 20 degrees. While some assume that cracking a window helps, partial ventilation does little to keep a car cool. With temperatures even in the 60s, the car can reach well above 110 degrees quicker than one thinks. Unfortunately, a child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s and once a child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, heat-related death may result. Heatstroke can happen when the temperature outside is as low as 57 degrees.
            The legal consequences for leaving a child in the car vary state by state. Each state has a law for the duration of time a child can be alone in a car depending on their age. In PA, “A person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle may not permit a child under six years of age to remain unattended in the vehicle when the motor vehicle is out of the person’s sight.” If a child is harmed while left alone in a car, punishments include, but not limited to, a $500 fine, or imprisonment.
            Some helpful tips to help remember a child is in the back seat include, placing a stuff animal in the front seat, leaving your purse or cell phone in the back seat next to the child, or keep a musical toy playing in the back seat to maintain awareness. Even if you think your errand will be a quick transaction, it is never a good policy to leave kids of any age unattended in a car.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Drowning: A Summertime Danger

Drowning is a summertime liability, especially for kids. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second most common cause of death in children and ranks fifth overall for unintentional injuries in the US. Uninformed bystanders assume that someone who is drowning will draw attention to themselves; however, drowning can be eerily quiet. When children are in water, they tend to make noise. A quiet child, therefore, should be the focus of attention. Here are some signs of what drowning could look like
  •  A drowning person’s mouth bobs below the surface, with little time to come up for air 
  •   A drowning person won’t speak because breathing is the priority
  • When drowning, the arms are pushing down against water, making it hard to wave 
  •  Drowning struggles happen in 20-60 second intervals, before going back under

The second form of drowning that is rarely discussed is called dry drowning. People with asthma or breathing problems are more at risk. Dry drowning occurs after a problematic incident where water has been forced into the lungs. Severe cases can result in death within 1 to 24 hours. Here are some signs of what dry drowning could look like:

  • Continued coughing for many hours after the water incident
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  •   Chest pains
  • Extreme fatigue or tiredness
  • Paleness of face

Dry drowning can occur when someone has been knocked down by a wave or jumped into the water with their mouth open. If diagnosed early, the treatment involves supplying oxygen to the lungs and jump starting the breathing process.
Effective ways to avoid drowning accidents include teaching proper swim techniques such has holding the nose when jumping into a body of water, the importance of arm and leg coordination, and breathing styles. The most effective way to avoid a drowning accident is to never take your eyes off the kids, especially when they are in water. That also means, no texting while with children near, or in, water.

Excerpt from:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Keep Summertime Professional

Summertime is a very relaxed time of the year. With warm weather plans filling nanny and family schedules, people tend to become more informal. In order to remain orderly during the more “casual” months, try implementing these professional habits into your daily routine:

Keep off hour activities private.
Employers are proactive when researching their employees to gain further insight. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Check all privacy settings to insure no one has access to private content. Any unprofessional sightings can result in negative consequences.

Be productive during downtime.
When charges are napping, it’s easy for a caregiver to become relaxed and neglect other job duties. When the opportunity for downtime arises, try walking around the house to tidy common areas, prep for upcoming mealtimes, or throw in a load of laundry.

Avoid unnecessary accidents.
Caregiver belongings have become a new danger in the home. Beach bags and pocketbooks contain pill bottles, electronics, sharp grooming items, and harmful chemicals such as sunscreen, nail polish, or makeup. Keep all personal belongings up and out of reach of charges.

Schedule action packed activities.
Research local events and consider creating a weekly calendar for charges. Being outdoors and visiting local attractions help make the most out of the summer months. Try taking a trip to the zoo, aquarium, amusement park, local museum, and maybe a day trip down to the beach.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Art Therapy for Kids

Art therapy helps children easily express themselves in a more artistic, and creative, way. When children are younger, they tend to have a difficult time expressing themselves verbally. As a result, they sometimes act out or become frustrated. Using pictures and art allows for kids to create an alternative means of communication.
            In everyday life, art therapy is used to help kids with mental health, learning disabilities, emotional problems, or illness. It also helps kids deal with loss or grief. While they may not fully understand the scope of a situation, art will allow them to express what they do understand, opening the door for conversation.
            Art therapy can also be used to help children achieve self-awareness. They have the opportunity to express their feeling and perceptions about the world. Through art therapy, kids can help get a better understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, interests, or concerns.
Next time a charge appears frustrated, or is having a difficult time expressing emotions, try using pictures or figures that resemble feelings. Studies show that art therapy is helpful for children of all ages and races.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Playground Precautions

The warm months have arrived, which means it’s time for fun-filled days on the playground. While the playground is full of laughs, giggles, and friendly conversations, it is also the scene of many summertime injuries. Every year, hundreds of thousands of kids are injured on the playground while parents and caregivers are just feet away. Here are a few helpful tips to make trips to the playground fun times to remember:

Check for deep mulch. Mulch and wood chips are packed on playgrounds for a reason. If kids fall, the soft texture will reduce the risk of injuries.

Check anchors. Ensure that swings and monkey bars are stable in the ground.

Check clothing. Be sure all shoe strings are tied. Tangled strings cause many kids to fall while playing.

Touch before playing. The sun can cause playground equipment to become very hot, which could lead to burns on kids’ sensitive skin.

Now that the ground is prepped, the equipment is secure, and temperatures are just right to play, go out and enjoy the summer months. Enjoy the next three months of long days playing in the park, before you know, fall will be knocking on the door!