First Day of School Checklist

As you and your child prepare for the first day of the new school year, use this checklist to help make sure you have taken care of the necessary tasks and learned the information you need.

  • Is your child registered? (If he attended the same school the previous school year, he is already registered.
  • When is the first day of school?
  • What time does school start?
  • How is your child going to get to school? If your child is biking, does he know the school rules for bicycles? If he is walking for the first time, with whom will he walk? Have you reviewed safety precautions with him, regarding traffic and strangers?
  • Does your child know his teacher’s name?
  • What will his daily schedule be like?
  • Will he need to bring a snack? What kinds of snacks are allowed and encouraged? Does he need to bring something to drink, or can he buy something? Will water be available?
  • What time is lunch? Can your child buy it at school, and how much will it cost?
  • What clothes will your child need to wear? Are there any re­strictions on what can be worn? Will he need a different set of clothes for physical education or art classes?
  • Does your child need to bring pencils, paper, notebooks, and other supplies? (Often, the teacher will announce these require­ments on the first day.) Does your child have something in which to carry his books and supplies back and forth to school? Will he have a place (besides his desk) to keep his things at school?
  • Have you filled out all health forms or emergency contact forms that have been sent home?
  • Have any new health problems developed in your child over the summer that will affect his school day? Does the school nurse know about this condition, or is an appointment set up to discuss it?
  • If your child will need to take medication at school on the first day, have arrangements been made for this?
  • Does your youngster know where he is going after school (e.g., home, babysitter)? Does he know how he will get there? If you will not be there when he arrives, does he know who will be re­sponsible for him, what the rules are, and how to get help in an emergency?
  • Does your child have your work telephone numbers in his backpack?

Source: Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 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.


School Lunches: You Can Make a Difference

Meal planning for schools is a complicated process. Menus have to allow for a wide range of tastes and restrictions. Budgets are limited. Foods that are available at lowest cost and require the least preparation are often high in fat, sugar, and salt.

According to the School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children set up in 1996, school lunch menus backed by federal subsidies must conform to the current guidelines for health. When it comes to fat, this means that meals may contain no more than 30% of total calories from fat and no more than 10% from saturated fat.

National School Lunch Program: School Requirements for Menu Improvement

It also means that schools taking part in the National School Lunch Program have been required to take the following practical steps to improve menus:

  • Adding more fruits, vegetables, and grains to menus
  • Balancing menus by using foods from each of the 5 groups
  • Reducing overall fat content by serving more vegetarian main courses, less beef and pork, and fewer fried foods
  • Varying menus by serving more ethnic dishes, such as pasta and tacos

Team Nutrition

To back up efforts at the lunchroom level, the US Department of Agriculture set up Team Nutrition, a program to improve children’s eating habits and raise their awareness about the links between food and health. Team Nutrition’s goal is to improve children’s lifelong eating and physical activity habits by using the principles of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This plan involves schools, parents, and the community in efforts to continuously improve school meals, and to promote the health and education of 50 million schoolchildren in more than 96,000 schools nationwide.

How to Get Involved & Make Your Child’s School Healthier

There’s also a push at the state and local levels to help children eat better. In many communities, children at grade-school level are learning not only how to cook food but also how to grow a variety of produce. Courses combine food production and preparation with valuable lessons about history, economics, social science, and math.

If you’re not satisfied with the choices available in your child’s school cafeteria, get involved in your school’s parent-teacher organization and brainstorm some healthful alternatives, as parents and teachers all over the country are doing.

Even if you haven’t the time or resources to revamp the school cafeteria, you may be able to see that the salad bar offers a good selection of raw vegetables and low-fat dressings. Vending machine choices can also be modified to eliminate high-fat and empty-calorie munchies and provide healthy snacks that include more fresh fruit and low-fat dairy products, as well as water and 100% fruit juice instead of sodas.

Try to get your child’s school to stock healthy choices in the vending machines. Although school administrators fear that they will lose money if they make these changes, schools that have provided healthier options have not lost money or have seen their revenue increase. ​


Source: Bright Futures: Nutrition, 3rd Edition (Copyright © 2011 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.


Back to School, Back to the Doctor

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No matter what grade your child is about to enter, there’s the yearly back-to-school checklist of to-dos:

  • Shopping for school supplies
  • Filling out permission forms
  • Scheduling your child’s yearly pediatric well-child visit

While it may not seem as urgent, a yearly physical exam by your family’s pediatrician is an important part of your child’s health care. The back-to-school season is a convenient time for putting the exam on your family’s schedule.

Your Patient-Centered Medical Home
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advocates that every child and youth receive care through a patient-centered medical home. Within the medical home, care is provided continuously over a long period of time so that as a child ages and develops, his or her care is never interrupted.

Adolescence, for example, is a time when vital changes are taking place. It is important to have your child see the pediatrician during the transition years from later childhood to puberty.

The annual pediatric exam also offers the doctor time to provide wellness guidance and advice. In addition to monitoring heart and blood pressure and testing for diabetes, pediatricians can use this annual visit with your child to discuss diet, exercise options, pediatric vision screenings, and testing for cholesterol and anemia.

Building a Medical History
The continuity of regular physical exams is invaluable. Having a long-term history with a child or adolescent gives the doctor the awareness of the child’s progress and development over time. This helps the doctor detect emerging problems, as well as being informed by the detail of the patient’s history, such as important past illnesses or injuries the child may forget to mention on the sports physical questionnaire.

That detail includes immunization records. A school entry form will generally include a check box asking whether all vaccinations are up-to-date, requiring the parents to remember whether or not they are. The family pediatrician will have accurate records to assist you in filling out these forms.

Examining the Young Athlete
The doctor’s annual exam of a young athlete should be similar to one for any other child but most pediatricians will also address some sports-specific issues, including injuries, nutrition, training and exercise programs, and even attitudes in the course of the exam.

The other side of the exercise issue is the student athlete who is already involved in an exercise and training program. Overuse and overtraining injuries continue to be huge problems.

The Need for a Thorough Physical Exam (beyond a sports-specific exam)
Back-to-school check-ups, as they are commonly called, are often the only visit most kids and teenagers have with their pediatrician every year. The annual physical gives the pediatrician a chance to give the child a thorough physical exam and address any emotional, developmental, or social concerns. It is also a good chance to address important questions, especially with teenagers, including adolescent issues of drinking, smoking, drugs, sexual activity, and depression.

Children involved in school athletic programs often receive a sports-specific exam through the school. The time frame for getting this exam should be at least 6 weeks prior to the start of the sport’s season. This allows ample time to work up any new health concerns or rehab any lingering injuries before the season starts, without delaying clearance of the athlete. However, school sports physicals alone tend not to address the child’s overall health.

Getting the Balance Right
A healthy childhood and adolescence calls for balancing home life, school, social activities, sports, and extracurricular pursuits. This is not easy, especially during a time when the child is passing through the years of growth, learning, exploration, and emotional and physical development. This is all the more reason to set aside one day during each of those years for your child to see the pediatrician.


Adapted from Healthy Children E-Magazine, Back to School 2012. 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.


Connecticut’s Top 10 Hiking Trails

Connecticut today is crisscrossed by hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

According to the Connecticut Office of Tourism, “these hikes run through high land and low, across difficult and easy terrain, and they offer unique insight into the geology, flora and fauna of the state. They also serve as blissful, highly satisfying getaways from the noise and crowds of daily life.” The Top 10 Hikes in the state are:

Mattabessett Trail, Meriden
Mattatuck Trail, Wolcott
Mine Hill Preserve, Roxbury
Farm River State Park, East Haven
Devil’s Den Preserve, Weston
White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield
Appalachian Trail River Walk, South Kent
Tunix Trail, Barkhamstead
Bigelow Hollow State Park, Union
Steep Rock, Washington

CLICK HERE for more about all of these cool places for adventure!

Fun Family Rituals

Here are some fun family rituals to add to your family’s calendar:

Family video night. Rent a movie, order in a pizza, make popcorn. The only difficulty may be agreeing on something the whole family wants to watch (and is appropriate for teens and younger children). Again, alternate choices among family members.

Sharing the Sunday newspaper over a special breakfast. This is a ritual with Mom and Dad in mind. Or what about all going out to a restaurant for brunch?

Buy a special dessert to transform dinner into an occasion, and not just on birthdays, wedding anniversaries and graduations. Celebrate family members’ achievements. An unexpected high grade on a test at school or a promotion at work deserves a cake—with candles and an inscription. Be creative!

Spiritual pursuits bring many families together, whether it’s attending services or saying grace together at the dinner table.

Sit around together flipping through old photo albums or watching vintage family videos and home movies. You’ll relive fond memories and give one another hiccups laughing at the sight of certain members’ now-outdated hairstyles and assorted fashion faux pas. “Wow, Dad: Really nice leisure suit.”

Take a car ride. Where? Anywhere. Take the slow, scenic route and stop off at whatever looks interesting.

Go bowling together. Golf and miniature golf are two other examples of individual sports that you can do together.

Build a fire in the fireplace, or at a camping ground, or on the beach, and share stories.

Cook dinner together, with each member of the family taking part.

Play board games, cards, dominoes and so on.

Communal chores or collaborating on a household project can be a lot of fun.


Source: Caring for Your Teenager (Copyright © 2003 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.


How to Build an Essential Summer First Aid Kit

Every year the summer arrives with full force in my ER: cuts, ticks, poison ivy, infected bug bites, sunburns, eye injuries, broken bones, and all other kinds of summer fun gone wrong. Luckily, you can easily treat or prevent much of the summer craziness if you are prepared.

Being prepared means you need a “Dr. Mom” first aid kit and know how to use it. Although pre-made store-bought first aid kits are a good start, these kits typically lack many items you’ll need for your family.
Shopping List for Your Summer First Aid Kit

So to help you get ready, I have prepared a shopping list below for your summer first aid kit. Get it built now, so that you spend your summer having fun, not in the ER.

  • Pre-made first aid kit: It’s cheapest and easiest to start by buying a pre-made kit, because otherwise it is difficult to find small packages of all the different kinds of gauze, tape, and antibiotic ointment you will need. Find a large kit with a sturdy container with extra space to hold all the things you will add to it. Or, get a small duffle bag or backpack to hold your first-aid kit, and start by putting the pre-made kit in the bag. Be sure the pre-made kit includes Band-Aids, gauze, tape, antibiotic ointment, and anti-itch or steroid ointment.
  • Water bottle for cleaning out wounds: The first thing you’ll need to do with a crying kid is clean out their wound. And the nearest water source is probably too far to walk. You can use your water bottle to treat dehydration, too.
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine): Benadryl is probably the most important over-the-counter medication to have in your first aid kit—it’s a first line treatment for insect bites, hives, and other allergic reactions that can be deadly. Some premade kits will include Benadryl tablets, but if you have young children be sure to include a bottle of liquid, Children’s Benadryl or the generic equivalent. Benadryl is also a great treatment for an attack of seasonal allergies.
  • EpiPen: If you have a family member with a history of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), ask your physician for a prescription. I keep mine in the outside pocket of my first aid kit for quick, easy access.
  • Numbing spray: Wound numbing spray can be purchased over-the-counter at any pharmacy and can really save-the-day when a child is burned, sunburned, or has a painful cut or scrape.
  • Prescription medication: Ask your physician for an extra prescription for any medication you use frequently, especially asthma and allergy medications. Keep the extra supply in your car first-aid kit. You’ll be grateful when you can stay at your child’s sporting event rather than head home for an inhaler or other medication.
  • Ibuprofen and Tylenol: Most pre-made kits include these standard pain medications, but you will have to add the liquid kind for children.
  • Dramamine, nausea medication: There’s an easy fix for vomiting, car sick kids—nausea medication. Don’t leave home without it. You’ll kick yourself for not having it while you clean the vomit out of your car.
  • Sunblock: The worst sunburns occur when you least expect it—at sports events, or while doing yard work. Have some 30+ sunblock ready to cover those little spots on your ears and neck that your hat doesn’t cover. Include some SPF lip balm or ChapStick, too.
  • Bug spray: The best protection comes from a repellant that contains 30% DEET. Insect bites are annoying at best, but at worst they get scratched and infected. We are seeing a growing number of insect bites that become infected with the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA, which is difficult to treat.
  • Afrin nasal spray for nosebleeds: Although I generally don’t recommend Afrin nasal spray for congestion related to allergies or illness, Afrin is a quick fix for a nosebleed. This medication causes the capillaries in the nose to constrict, thereby limiting the blood flow to the nasal mucosa and stopping the bleeding.
  • Hydrocortisone ointment: This inexpensive over-the-counter medication will treat almost anything that itches—insect bites, poison ivy, etc. If you stop the itch, the kids won’t scratch, and you reduce the risk of secondary infection.
  • Flashlight/headlamp: If you don’t have a reliable light on your cell phone, include an LED flashlight or headlamp. You can buy these very affordably now, even at the dollar store. A flashlight is not just for nighttime injuries—you’ll need a bright light to get a good look at splinters, or look in kids’ mouths, ears, etc.
  • Baby wipes: Even if your kids are out of diapers, a pack of baby wipes is infinitely useful in the car, especially for keeping hands clean and wiping noses.
  • ChapStick: ChapStick or lip balm can sooth cold sores, lip injuries, and sunburned lips in addition to regular chapped lips. You’ll be glad you have it when you child complains about their chapped lips for the sixth time in ten minutes while you are on a family outing.
  • Clean towel: A nice clean towel is perfect for setting up your first-aid station while you dress a wound or remove a splinter. It’s also useful for containing bleeding on bigger injuries. Consider a highly absorbent microfiber towel that can be stuffed into a small space.
  • Feminine hygiene supplies: Besides their obvious uses, tampons and maxi pads are very helpful for wound management and are an essential part of any first aid kit. Did you know that the modern tampon was invented in the 1800’s for management of bullet wounds? An OB-style tampon can very effectively treat a persistent nosebleed. The smallest OB tampons fit nicely in the nose. Bleeding wounds can be easily controlled with a maxi-pad held in place with an ace wrap.
  • Premade finger splint: Not sure if that finger is broken or not? Just put it in a pre-made finger splint until you get your child to the doctor. You can buy premade finger splints at any pharmacy.
  • Alcohol wipes: I mostly use these for sterilizing my first aid kit instruments, such as tweezers and scissors. They are also useful for cleaning skin before trying to remove splinters.
  • ACE bandage: Although a first line treatment for sprains and strains, ACE bandages are also useful for holding bandages in place on bigger wounds, and holding splints on fractures.
  • Small scissors: For cutting dressings to the right size, cutting medical tape, opening packages, trimming fingernails and hangnails, etc.
  • A bottle of Gatorade: Very useful for hypoglycemia, dehydration, etc. Also useful as an occasional bribe for an over-tired, hungry child.
  • Ziploc bags: Ziplocs are essential for keeping track of teeth that fall out or are knocked out. Did you pull a tick off your child? Stick it in the Ziploc bag for later identification. Certain kinds of ticks are more likely to carry pathogens that cause Lyme disease and other illnesses.
  • Tweezers & small magnifying glass: I mostly use these for removing splinters, but occasionally they are necessary to remove bugs from ears, fishing hooks from fingers, etc. Of note, tweezers are NOT the best way to remove a tick—tweezers often cause you to remove the tick body and leave the head in the skin. The best way to remove a small deer tick is to scrape it off with a credit card. You can clean the credit card first with your alcohol wipes. Here’s more on how to remove a tick.

Keep Your First Aid Kit in Your Car

You’ll never have to remember to pack it. If you need something while you are at home, just go out and get it. If you have more than one family car, consider making a first aid kit for each car.

From HealthChildren.org. Copyright © 2014 Kathleen Berchelmann M.D., FAAP. Kathleen Berchelmann, MD, FAAP, 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.

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.

Stay Safe this 4th of July

​The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) continues to urge families NOT to buy fireworks for their own or their children’s use, as thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured each year while using consumer fireworks.

Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks — devastating burns, other injuries, fires and even death. The AAP is part of the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks, a group of health and safety organizations that urges the public to avoid the use of consumer fireworks and to only enjoy displays of fireworks conducted by trained professionals.

​Fireworks Safety Tips for Families:

  • Fireworks can result in severe burns​, scars and disfigurement that can last a lifetime.
  • Sparklers can burn at more than 1000°F and account for 10% of fireworks-related injuries overall. So, even sparklers should be avoided.
  • It is better to be a spectator than a doer! Families should attend community fireworks displays run by professionals rather than using fireworks at home.
  • The AAP recommends prohibiting public sale of all fireworks, including those by mail or the Internet.​​

Take a Reading Adventure!

It’s not too late to join the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge to get started on your reading adventure!

• Discover book lists for kids of all ages
• Earn rewards for your reading
• Enter a summer sweepstakes
• Get weekly surprises (print outs, games, videos and more!)

Plus, check out the interactive map to see how your friends and neighbors are doing in the Challenge! Visit the Summer Reading Program website today to sign up!

Keep Kids Healthy & Safe this Summer

It’s summer, and for kids that means it’s time for sports, swimming, biking and picnics. And while active outdoor time is healthy and fun, experts say it’s crucial for parents and kids to brush up on some seasonal safety tips.

According to the experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the summer poses its own set of risks. In order to help parents keep kids happy, healthy and safe all summer long, they are offering these timely tips:

SUN SAFETY
Sunburns are not only unpleasant, they are damaging to skin health. Minimize your family’s exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation by dressing your children (and yourself for that matter) in cotton clothing with a tight weave, sunglasses and hats with a brim or bill. Stay in the shade whenever possible and use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater, even on cloudy days, and reapply it every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Always keep plenty of water on hand when you’re playing or exercising outside. Unless kids are exercising vigorously for extended periods, plain water –not sports drinks –is the best way to rehydrate.

WATER SAFETY
Drowning is a leading cause of death among children, including infants and toddlers, but parents can make swimming safer for kids with the right safety equipment, instruction and supervision.

“While swimming lessons are helpful, they are not a foolproof plan. Parents should never — even for a moment — leave children alone near open bodies of water,” says Dr. Thomas K. McInerny, the 2013 president of the AAP.

Home swimming pools should be surrounded by a fourfoot- high, non-climbable, four-sided fence with a selfclosing, self-latching gate. Parents, caregivers, and pool owners should learn CPR and keep equipment approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, such as life preservers and life jackets at poolside.

TRAMPOLINES
Even with netting, padding and adult supervision, experts say that home trampolines are dangerous.

“Trampoline injuries are common, and can be potentially catastrophic,” says Dr. McInerny. “From temporarily debilitating sprains, strains and contusions to cervical spine injuries with lasting consequences, the risks associated with recreational trampoline use are easily avoided.”

Thousands of people are injured on trampolines annually. Encourage your child to get exercise in safer ways.

BIKE SAFETY
Children should wear a helmet on every bike ride. Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime. Get your child a helmet specific for biking. Football helmets, for example, are made to protect the head from other types of injuries.

Teach your children traffic and bike safety before allowing them to bike in the street. For example, they should always ride with traffic and use hand signals. If your child doesn’t have the skills necessary to use hand signals without swerving, he or she shouldn’t be riding in the street.

By taking proper precautions, you can maximize the fun this summer by keeping kids healthy, safe and sound.


Provided by StatePoint Media.