Ignore the Flashing Screens: The Best Toys go Back to the Basics

The American Academy of Pediatrics finds the best toys for children’s development are those that foster play between a caregiver and child.

As digital media-based gadgets increasingly fill the children’s toy aisles, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns families against using them as a replacement to the traditional hands-on toys and games that fuel the imagination and aid in healthy development.

The AAP offers families and physicians guidance in an updated clinical report, “Selecting Appropriate Toys for Young Children in the Digital Era.” The report focuses on toys for children from birth through school age.

“Toys have evolved over the years, and advertisements may leave parents with the impression that toys with a ‘virtual’ or digital-based platform are more educational,” said Aleeya Healey, MD, FAAP, a lead author of the report. “Research tells us that the best toys need not be flashy or expensive or come with an app. Simple, in this case, really is better.”

Ideal toys are those that match children’s developmental abilities, while encouraging the growth of new skills, according to the AAP. Toys are key to developing children’s brains, language interactions, symbolic and pretend play, problem-solving, social interactions and physical activity – and are increasingly important as children move from infancy into toddlerhood.

“The best toys are those that support parents and children playing, pretending and interacting together,” said Alan Mendelsohn, MD, FAAP, co-author of the report and associate professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Population Health at NYU Langone Health. “You just don’t reap the same rewards from a tablet or screen. And when children play with parents – the real magic happens, whether they are pretending with toy characters or building blocks or puzzles together.”

Electronic toys by themselves do not provide children with the interaction and parental engagement that is critical to healthy development, according to the report. Many of the new “interactive” media — including videos, computer programs and specialized books with voice-recorded reading — make claims about educational benefits in advertisements that are unsubstantiated, according to AAP.

The clinical report also covers safety considerations when choosing toys, and the appropriateness of toys for children with special needs. The AAP provides suggestions for how pediatricians can incorporate toys in the office setting.

The AAP recommends that parents and caregivers:

  • Recognize that one of the most important purposes of play with toys, especially in infancy, is not educational but rather to facilitate warm, supportive interactions and relationships.
  • Understand the most educational toy is one that fosters interactions between caregivers and children in supportive, unconditional play.
  • Choose toys that are not overstimulating and encourage children to use their imaginations.
  • Use children’s books to develop ideas for pretending together while playing with toys.
  • Be aware of the potential for toys to promote race- or gender-based stereotypes.
  • Limit video game and computer game use by young children. Total screen time, including television and computer use, should be less than 1 hour per day for children 2 years or older, and avoided in those younger than 18-24 months. Children younger than 5 years should play with computer or video games only if they are developmentally appropriate, and they should be accompanied by the parent or caregiver.

“The more we know about early brain development, the more we understand the need for play that is based on human interaction,” Dr. Healey said. “There is no screen, video game or app that can replace the relationships built over toys.”


From American Academy of Pediatrics.

12 Tips for Teaching Children Gratitude

Tired of bickering, jealousy, and selfishness? Kids are naturally materialistic and self-serving – but the good news is that gratitude can be taught. And from gratitude flows joy.

Tricks for Teaching Children Gratitude and Creating a More Joyful Home:

  1. Surprise them! Avoid too many choices: Surprises help children see something as a gift, not an entitlement. Having too many choices breeds unhappiness– you are always wondering if you could have something better. One night, we tried to have a conversation with our children about where we might go for our summer vacation. Within five minutes, Disney World was not good enough. Everyone had a better idea, and no one was going to be happy with whatever we came up with. I put a prompt end to that conversation, and about a week later, I announced that I had a big surprise– we were going to Mt. Rushmore! I showed off my plans for our national park camping vacation, and they couldn’t have been more excited. Our low-budget road trip turned out to be a fabulous success.
  2. Talk about the best parts of your day: Find some time each day to talk about what you are thankful for– perhaps at the dinner table, before bed, or while you are driving in the car. Ask your children, “What was the best part of your day?” For older children, try keeping a gratitude journal. Gratitude journals have been shown to be an effective approach to helping children be happier: One study had 221 sixth- and seventh-graders write down five things they were grateful for every day for two weeks. Three weeks later, these students had a better outlook on school and greater life satisfaction compared with kids assigned to list five hassles.
  3. Teach your children their past: What are your family stories of hardship and perseverance? My husband’s great-grandmother ironed for a living– her iron is now a bookend in our house, reminding our children what hard work really means. As a child, my grandmother washed dishes for ten cents per week during the depression. We keep her picture in our study, and tell our children her story. Not sure of your past? Just take a family trip to the history museum, a battlefield, or other historic site. You will return home grateful.
  4. Help your children serve someone who does not “need” charity: It’s great for kids to participate in scout food collections and other community charity programs, but these events only occur a few times per year and you rarely meet the people you are serving. Find someone in your everyday life for your children to serve regularly, even if this person doesn’t really need charity. We have a neighbor who lives alone and appreciates our left-overs so she doesn’t have to cook for one person. Our kids love to bring her food. One night they were all griping about how they didn’t like the dinner I made, until I asked them to bring a plate to our neighbor. Suddenly all the complaining stopped and they were out the door with her food, eager to have the opportunity to serve her.
  5. Focus on the positive, all day: I tell my children several times each day, “Attitude is a choice.” Choosing to have a positive attitude is actually our #1 house rule. It’s an all-day effort to constantly turn around the whining, jealousy, and complaining and instead focus on positive. “I’m thirsty!” needs to become, “Mommy, may I please have a drink?” “Where are my shoes?!” has to change to “Daddy, can you please help me find my shoes?”
  6. Say “Thank you:” Teach young children to say “thank you” as part of a full sentence, for example, “Thank you, Daddy, for making dinner.” Encourage school-aged kids to say thank you throughout the day, especially when you help them get ready for school or drive them to activities. Have them thank coaches for practice and music teachers for lessons.
    Struggling to get your children to say “thank you” without reminders? For ten years I reminded my children to say “thank you” when they were served at a restaurant, but I just couldn’t get them to do it without prompting. Now, if they forget to say “thank-you” they have to seek out their server and personally thank them before leaving. No more reminders necessary…
  7. Lead by example: How many times per day do you say “thank you”? Have you told your children what you are thankful for today? Our children are watching our every waking move. We can’t ask them to be grateful if we are not. Come home and talk about the happy parts of your day, making a conscious choice not to complain.
  8. Teach “‘Tis better to give than to receive.” Even toddlers can buy or make gifts for others: Take young children holiday shopping at the dollar store. Challenge them to pick out gifts for others without buying something for themselves. It’s hard!
  9. Make time for chores: Most children have about four hours between the time they get home from school and bedtime. During those four hours, they have to accomplish homework, extracurricular activities, dinner, bath, and bedtime. It’s hard to find time for chores. Without chores, children just can’t understand what it takes to run a household– they will take clean laundry and dishes for granted. Find age-appropriate chores for your children, even just 5-10 minutes per day. Consider leaving time-intensive chores for the weekend, such as yard work, bathroom cleaning, and linen changing.
  10. Let big kids take care of little kids: They say you can’t really understand what it takes to raise a child until you have your own children. Perhaps, but giving big kids responsibilities for little kids will start to help them have an attitude of gratitude towards their parents. Pair up big kids with little kids to get chores done or get through homework. School aged children can read books to toddlers or help them get dressed. Your older children will gain self-confidence and a sense of responsibility, and the relationship they build with their younger siblings will last a lifetime.
  11. Give experiential gifts, not stuff: Too many toys? How about gifting a membership to the children’s museum, a soccer registration fee, or a camping trip? Experiential gifts build relationships, not materialism.
  12. Monitor your children’s media: Our children are bombarded with age-targeted marketing that they are too young to resist or understand. Media fuels materialism. It is our job to carefully monitor their media so that they aren’t dragged into marketing and made to feel incomplete or unfulfilled.


By Kathleen Berchelmann. Kathleen Berchelmann, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician at Mercy Children’s Hospital, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The University of Missouri School of Medicine, and an official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Kathleen and her husband are raising six children. Copyright © 2015 Kathleen Berchelmann M.D., FAAP The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

How to Plan a Balanced Thanksgiving Meal for Picky Eaters

​​Thanksgiving — a holiday full of elaborate food traditions — can be extra challenging for parents of picky eaters. Who wants a holiday dinner turned into a battle zone filled with whispered bargaining? Fortunately, with a little planning, you can create a balanced Thanksgiving meal the whole family will enjoy!

Here are some tips to appease picky eaters without sacrificing nutrition, straying from Thanksgiving traditions, or creating a lot of extra work.

  • Choose at least one food you know your child will like. Whether Thanksgiving will be served at your house or if you will be going to someone else’s home to celebrate, make sure to offer or bring at least one food that you know your child will like. This way, your child is guaranteed to eat something during the meal; it also shows your child you care about his or her preferences when planning meals.
  • Engage your child in meal planning. Ask your child if he or she would be interested in helping you plan the Thanksgiving feast. Let him or her know you plan to offer at least one protein, a grain, a vegetable, and fruit. You can tell your child about any foods you are definitely planning to include (i.e., turkey as a protein and stuffing as a grain), but ask if he or she has ideas for the other food groups. For example, “What kind of vegetable do you think we should include? How about a fruit?” Then, together find recipes that use those foods as ingredients. A child who helps choose a food that will be offered is much more likely to actually eat it.
  • Engage your child in meal prep. Invite your children in the kitchen to help prepare your Thanksgiving meal. For example, ask your toddler to help clean the vegetables, or your school-aged child to help mash the potatoes, or your teenager to boil the cranberries. When kids help cook food, they often sample what they are preparing, and are more likely to eat their masterpieces later.
  • Use food bridges. Once a food is accepted, find similarly colored, flavored, or textured “food bridges” to expand the variety of foods your child will eat. For example, if your child likes pumpkin pie, try including mashed sweet potatoes on his or her Thanksgiving plate.
  • Make it look, smell, and taste delicious. Many times kids think that they won’t like a food before they actually try it. By making a Thanksgiving dish look, smell, and taste delicious you up the odds that your child will try it out, like it, and come back for more. Do this by adding fragrant ingredients such a nutmeg and cinnamon to cooked apples, for example, or preparing a veggie tray with the vegetables arranged in the shape of a turkey.
  • Keep the mealtime relaxing and enjoyable. Focus on enjoying your time together celebrating this day of gratitude. Know you have prepared a balanced meal and taken many efforts to engage your children in the process — increasing the chances of there being at least one food they will like. You have done your job. Try not to worry if and what your child is eating.

Source: Section on Obesity (Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Holiday Mental Health Tips

The holidays can be a happy time of year for many people, as they gather with family and friends, exchange gifts and celebrate traditions. But the changes in family routines and extra demands on time can also cause some added stress, especially for children and parents.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers some tips to help your family enjoy the best of the holiday season:

  • During the busy holiday time, try to keep household routines the same. Stick to your child’s usual sleep and mealtime schedules when you can, which may reduce stress and help your family enjoy the holidays.
  • Take care of yourself, both mentally and physically. Children and adolescents are affected by the emotional well-being of their parents and caregivers. Coping with stress successfully can help children learn how to handle stress better, too.
  • Make a plan to focus on one thing at a time. Try a few ideas to balance the hustle and bustle of things like shopping, cooking, and family get-togethers during the holidays: Stop and pay attention to what is happening at the moment, focus your attention on one thing about it, and notice how you are feeling at the time. Withhold immediate judgment, and instead be curious about the experience.
  • Give to others by making it an annual holiday tradition to share your time and talents with people who have less than you do. For example, if your child is old enough, encourage him or her to join you in volunteering to serve a holiday meal at your local food bank or shelter, or sing at a local nursing home. Help your child write a letter to members of the armed forces stationed abroad who can’t be home with their own family during the holidays.
  • Remember that many children and adults experience a sense of loss, sadness or isolation during the holidays. It is important to be sensitive to these feelings and ask for help for you, your children, family members or friends if needed.
  • Don’t feel pressured to over-spend on gifts. Consider making one or two gifts. Help your child make a gift for a parent, grandparent, or other important adults and friends. Chances are, those gifts will be the most treasured ones and will teach your child many important lessons.
  • Most important of all, enjoy the holidays for what they are–time to enjoy with your family. So, be a family, do things together like sledding or playing board games, and spend time visiting with relatives, neighbors and friends.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2017). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


National Family Literacy Month

Did you know the single greatest indicator of children’s success is the literacy level of their parents? Did you know that parental involvement in their child’s reading has been found to be the most important determinant of language and emergent literacy?

November 1st kicks off National Literacy Month. First designated in 1994, the event is meant to bring awareness to the importance of family literacy through the encouragement and education of both parents of and caregivers for children, and focuses on the powerful lifelong learning ripple effect they can ignite simply by participating in their children’s literacy practices.

Here is what research has demonstrated regarding that ripple effect:

  • Success in reading is a gateway to success in other academic areas.
  • The earlier parents get involved in a child’s literacy the better, and the longer lasting the effects. Parental literacy involvement continues to be a top predictor of achievement into the teen and adult years.
  • A day focused on literacy can promote literacy across an entire community.

Here are some innovative ideas for celebrating National Literacy Month:

  1. Get Older Siblings Reading to Their Younger Siblings. It’s great practice for big bro or big sis to explain big words or summarize the story, and it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate a love of reading to little bro or sis.
  2. Practice Reading “Popcorn” Style. Each family member can read a page or two and then “popcorn pass” to the family member of their choice.
  3. Take Turns choosing the book or the book reading location of the night.
  4. Plan Themed Reading Nights. Pitch a tent in the living room and “camp out” while you read, or build a “bear cave” fort and read books about bears. Let your imagination take your themes to the next level.
  5. Incorporate Fun Accessories. Make your own bookmarks or sand timers. Invest in kid-friendly reading lights.
  6. Involve Distant Family and Friends. Books can be read aloud over FaceTime or Skype. Record your child reading their favorite book and send the video to loved ones.
  7. Read and Watch. Choose a book that has been turned into a movie. Read the book first and then schedule a family movie night to see the book come to life on the screen.
  8. Schedule It. Reading should be an activity as important as our kids’ various practices, lessons and play dates. If it’s on the calendar, it will become a higher priority.
  9. Book Swap. Get other families involved in a periodic book swap where kids can lend and borrow books from friends in the neighborhood or other social circles.
  10. Dinner Talk. Books can be a topic of discussion at family dinner. Ask family members to share about the latest books they’ve enjoyed, or how the plot is twisting in their latest chapter book.

From “20 Ways to Celebrate National Family Literacy Day,” by Jessica Slusser. For more information, visit the Getting Smarter website.

Halloween Safety Tips

​Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help ensure they have a safe holiday.

All Dressed Up

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes. Makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of skin to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises on the big day.​
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Review with children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they ever have an emergency or become lost.

Carving a Niche

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and not on a porch or any path where visitors may pass close by. They should never be left unattended.

Home Safe Home

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

On the Trick-or-Treat Trail

  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind trick-or-treaters:
  • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
  • Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out of driveways.
  • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
  • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

Healthy Halloween

  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days and weeks following Halloween.​

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Easing Infants & Toddlers into Halloween Fun

If you are celebrating your little one’s first, second, or third Halloween this year, it is important to know how to make the night safe and fun for even the tiniest monsters!

Here are 8 Tips for a Smooth and Safe Halloween with Little Ones:

1. Allow for plenty of time to fright-prep.
As a parent, you know your child best. Keep a look out for fears and anxieties about Halloween. The best way to handle fear and get a toddler ready is to discuss what’s going to happen. Reading books and stories to your child about trick-or-treating—and Halloween in general—are great ways to help that discussion. You might even want to have your child practice in his or her costume before the big day. Toddlers need to know that Halloween is just for fun and the scary stuff is all pretend. If your little one doesn’t want to partake in Halloween, then let that be okay. There is always next year, and 12 months can make a big difference!

2. Play with pumpkins.
Allowing your baby or toddler to squish his or her hands around the insides of a pumpkin can be a great sensory activity. For little ones who “hate getting dirty,” there are plenty of no-carve pumpkin decorating options to try.

3. Go out before dark.
Infants and young children thrive on routine, and it is easy for Halloween festivities to throw those routines off-track. If your schedule permits, try trick-or-treating while it’s still light outside so you can stick to your child’s regular bedtime. If your child is sleeping, try putting a “please knock” sign on your door for other trick-or-treaters.

If Halloween doesn’t start until after dark where you live: Check your local newspaper or recreation center for Halloween activities offered earlier in the day.

4. ​Watch for tripping-toddler hazards.
Even on their best days and in the best conditions, it is still a struggle for some toddlers to walk without falling. While you won’t be able to prevent all of the tumbles, choosing a costume that is not too long or too bulky will help a great deal. Be sure to check the forecast before you go out and try to include layers if needed. Also remember to help your little one climb up and down any steps and porches.

5. Always have a “Plan B” costume.
From leaky diapers to spit up to toilet training accidents, this age is always reason to pack a backup costume and plan for the unexpected. If potty-training is still a new thing and there’s a narrow window between “I have to go” and an accident, you might want to rethink a complicated costume. There is also no harm in putting him or her in an easy-on, easy-off diaper.

6. Be ready to pack it in early if needed.
A house or costume that’s too scary, a trip or a fall, or just a hard day can send your child into the temper-tantrum zone. But all is not lost! If your toddler quickly loses interest in trick-or-treating, see if he or she would prefer to answer the door and hand out candy to all the “big kids” instead. Plus, it can help you reinforce those important sharing skills!

7. Take precautions with added sugar.
Although Halloween and sugar often go hand in hand, the AAP recommends limiting the amounts of sugar kids get each day. This may not be an easy task when most Halloween treats are packed with added sugar and artificial colors your little one doesn’t need. Look out for snacks and treats that may seem “healthier” but still contain added sugars—flavored yogurts, flavored milks, sugary cereals, granola bars, juices, and fruit gummy snacks. Other options for trick-or-treating toddlers, or those who choose not to give out candy, include crayons and notepads, stickers, stamps, chalk, bubbles, tattoos, playdough, or stuffed animals.

If your baby is six months or older and is just starting solid foods: You can get him or her into the Halloween spirit with some pumpkin purees. Whether canned, frozen or fresh, pumpkin is packed with nutrients for your growing baby—beta-carotene, vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C, calcium, and more. Other fall-themed options include butternut squash, sweet potato, or roasted apple purees. You can even mix in a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to add in fall-inspired flavors.

Ideas for older toddlers: Seasonal treats may include soft bites of roasted apples or apple sauce, baked sweet potato fries dusted with cinnamon, apple zucchini muffins, pumpkin-inspired smoothies, or fruit ice pops made with fun Halloween molds.

​​8. Watch for any treats that can be a choking hazard.
Keep an eye on what your child has in his or her mouth at all times while on the trick-or-treat trail—it’s so easy to get distracted! It’s best to avoid eating while walking or running. Once your child is ready to enjoy treats at home, keep in mind that babies and toddlers should not have any hard candies, caramel apples, popcorn, gum, small candies (jelly beans, etc.), gummy candy, pumpkin seeds, or anything with whole nuts. Candy wrappers, stickers, small toys, or temporary tattoos can be a choking hazard, as well. As all parents know, babies and toddlers will put just about anything into their mouths!


By Dina DiMaggio, MD, FAAP. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2016). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


The 4 Bs of Bedtime

​​​​The reality of habits is that (a) they can be hard to break and (b) they are not always bad. Take away one habit and you often need to find something to take its place. In the case of the bedtime breast or bottle, be reassured that we don’t intend to leave you empty-handed once you take away your baby’s primary source of bedtime comfort.

These 4 Bs of bedtime will provide you with a soothing substitute that has proven to be one of our most tried-and-true routines for bedtime success — both for babies and older children.

  1. Bathing. Baths are a soothing, hygienic, and decisive way of separating the evening’s eating activities from sleeping. No way around it—only the unbelievably fatigued child will sleep his way through a bath. That means that when feeding time is over, your child will get the message that eating is not in any way, shape, or form a cue to go to sleep.
  2. Brushing. Whether you choose to brush your child’s teeth (or gums) right after the last feeding or just before the actual bedtime itself, we strongly encourage you to get in the habit of having a toothbrush (or washcloth or gauze) be the last thing in your baby’s mouth at night (other than, perhaps, a clean pacifier during the first year as an added method of sudden infant death syndrome prevention).
  3. Books. We’ve found nothing more suitable as a breast/bottle stand-in than books at bedtime. Since you don’t want food or drink to become your child’s bedtime source of comfort, books can serve as the perfect cue that it’s time to cuddle up and go to sleep. Think about what happens when you’re tired and you try to read? Bingo—you fall asleep. When it comes to lifelong healthy habits, we can’t think of a better one.
  4. Bedtime. Short of drugging kids (which we don’t condone, no matter how tired or tempted you might be), it’s mighty hard to force a child to fall asleep. We suggest you stop trying and instead stick to implementing a routine time for your child to get ready for and get into bed. Once you’ve set the stage so that bathing, brushing, and books signal bedtime, you should just let your child fall asleep independently. Sure, this may involve some additional challenges, protests, and even the need to consult additional parenting resources (of which, we can assure you, there are many), but in the end we have always found that if you do a good job of making the bed, your child will learn to lie in it.

    Author: Laura A. Jana, MD, FAAP and Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP. Source. Food Fights, 2nd Edition (Copyright © 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Finding Time to Be Active

See if this scenario sounds familiar—your child has come home from school with 2 hours of homework, including studying for a math test the following day. He also needs to start working on a science fair project. And don’t forget the clarinet lesson that’s on his calendar as well. There seems to be barely enough time to fit in dinner and a bath.

No wonder some kids feel that they just don’t have time for physical activity. Their schedules are filled to overflowing, and when they’re overbooked, it’s easy for physical activity to fall by the wayside.

As a parent, you need to intervene to make sure your child has time for all the things that are important. Whether he’s overweight, physical activity needs to be a priority.

Sit down with your child and structure his time after school so he can fit in everything that’s most essential. For example, in planning the following day, you might say something like, “You have a block of after-school time tomorrow. Maybe the time immediately after school isn’t the best time for homework, because it will take up the daylight hours you could be outside playing.Why don’t you think about choosing to play outdoors for 30 minutes or an hour after you get home? Then we’ll go to your clarinet lesson, and once you’ve eaten dinner and it’s dark outside, you can do your homework. The evening is the time when you used to watch TV anyway, so it’s a good time to get your homework done. And let’s think about rescheduling your clarinet lessons for the weekends.”

As a parent, you can help your child find the opportunities to be active. If you’re creative, the time will almost always be there.


Source: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Obesity: A Road Map to Health (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Choosing Healthy Snacks for Kids

​​While meals make up the majority of a child’s nutritional intake, most children eat at least one snack per day. While many of the most commonly offered kids’ snacks tend to be of lower nutritional value than meals, snacks still can support—or even enhance—your child’s overall healthy eating plan. Here’s how:

  • Use snack times as a way to increase fruits and vegetable intake. Most kids do not eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Snack times offer a great opportunity to increase access and exposure to these nutrient-dense foods. Consider pairing them up with dairy products or dairy substitutes (such as grapes and cheese) lean proteins (such as celery and peanut butter), or whole-grain cereals and bread (such as banana sandwich on whole grain bread).
  • Keep a range of healthy foods handy at home. It is much easier to make easy, healthy snacks when you keep a few key items stocked at home. Ideas include different types of raw vegetables and fruit, yogurt dip, hummus, and cheese sticks.
  • Avoid processed foods and added sugars. Processed foods (made in a factory and sold in bags and boxes) do not have many nutrients and often have a lot of added sugar and salt. In addition, children may become hungry faster after eating processed foods.
  • Teach your children to eat a rainbow of colors. Arrange your children’s foods to show the beauty of fresh, brightly colored foods. Talk about the farms where food comes from and the farmers who help grow it.

Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics. The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.