​A Word about Bedtimes​

Children often have more trouble with bedtime during any stressful period. Try to keep normal nighttime routines for younger children. Put a family picture by their bed for “ex​​tra love” until morning. Bedtimes can shift some for older children and teens, but it is a good idea to keep it in a reasonable range so the sleep-wake cycle isn’t thrown off. Too little sleep makes it more challenging to learn and to deal with emotions. Remember to turn off cell phones and other mobile devices an hour before bedtime.​

For more information, read: “Brush, Book, Bed: How to Structure Your Child’s Nighttime Routine”

Feeling Overwhelmed with Parenting Demands?

Feeling Overwhelmed with Parenting Demands? If you’d like to take a step back ― if you are feeling maxed out ― but don’t know what to do, read on.

Here are some strategies to help you build resilience. (And no, they don’t involve spending lots of money). These opportunities focus on what you can do right now at home. Right now, in your neighborhood. Give yourself permission to reduce your stress and be happy―in whatever ways work best for you.

Change your perspective.
People sometimes experience anxiety after letting their worries take over. Are you releasing your tensions in unhealthy ways?

  • Break down big problems into smaller parts. This means tackling challenges head on yet doing so one at a time. This is often called compartmentalizing. Imagine putting each cause of stress inside separate plastic containers. Now visualize closing the lids. Segmenting challenges decreases stress because it spurs the realization problems can be dealt with individually, while the rest can be “stored” for another time.
  • Know how much power you give to each stressor in your life. Sometimes stress comes from real danger, but in most cases, the amount of stress we feel has more to do with how we think about the obstacles in our way. Take an accounting of how much influence you are giving to each challenge you are facing.

Reach out to others for help.

This is not a sign of weakness―in fact it is the opposite. Licensed and certified psychologists, social workers, and other mental health professionals can offer support and suggestions for big and small setbacks. A trusted pastor, rabbi, imam or other religious figure can help you with some faith-based strategies, as well.

If you are looking for help for yourself or someone else, you may be tempted to call someone who advertises in a local publication or who comes up from a search of the Internet. While you may, or may not, find a competent therapist in this manner, it is wise to check on credentials. Competent therapists hold advanced academic degrees and are trained in techniques for treating anger management. They should always be licensed to practice in your state.

Look for therapists affiliated with local universities or mental health facilities. You can also check membership listings on the websites of professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies or the American Psychological Association.

Ask yourself these key questions whenever a challenge pops up:

  1. Is this a real tiger or paper tiger? (Yes, a tiger!) Remember, humans are built to successfully flee ferocious carnivores. Our internal stress response launches us into survival mode―a period during which it’s nearly impossible to think clearly. You’ll solve problems more effectively if you are able to recognize most problems don’t represent immediate danger. Once you recognize that, you’ll be able to more effectively calm your thinking and determine what you need to do next.
  2. How will I feel about this problem tomorrow? Next week? Next year? Do you know the musical, Annie, and its famous song, “Tomorrow?” This show-stopping tune reminds us that our struggles nearly always ease with the passage of time. “The sun will come up tomorrow;” a good reminder when trying to keep things in perspective.
  3. Is this “good” situation permanent? OK, maybe this is a bit glass half empty. But sometimes―without meaning to think self-defeating thoughts —we do. We get nervous we’re unworthy of success. In the worse cases, we might even sabotage our good fortune. Don’t do this to yourself! Come to appreciate all the wonderful events in your life. You’ve earned it.

Give yourself a safe space to express feelings.
Writing―in any form―is a powerful way to lower stress and develop a more resilient mindset.

  1. Writing allows you to let go of controlling emotions. Once they’re on the page, our thoughts and feelings are no longer at the forefront of our minds. We’re able to worry less by writing more.
  2. Writing alters memories of stressful events. Research shows writing about stressful experiences, for example, has improved the health of many different people. Putting pen to paper has been proven to not only decrease stressful memories but improve how people cope with them. This is why reviewing your old writing, for example, can be a great way to reflect on the lessons you’ve learned along the way.

Remember: You don’t need to write every day. Writing can simply be a tool whenever you need to release tension or make sense of an emotion. Writing―in any form―shouldn’t add stress to your life! Write for yourself, not for others.

Give back. It feels good to give.

The ultimate act of resilience―to make yourself feel stronger―is to reach out to other people when they need support. (Read that line again—it can be lifesaving!) When we give, we learn it feels good to help. We’re then more likely to accept support when we need it.
Helping others also helps us in these essential ways:

  1. It boosts our well-being. It’s been studied! When we volunteer, we put aside our troubles and gain perspective. Perhaps, we determine our difficulties aren’t so bad after all. Giving back also comes with a welcome reminder: You matter, and you are valued.
  2. It gives more opportunities for family time or solo time. Volunteer solo or with your family. From local food pantries, to religious institutions, to your son or daughter’s school, the opportunities to volunteer are everywhere. Some people even manage to turn the act of volunteering into a family vacation.

Practice what you preach.

Think about working on some challenging homework with your kids. How often do you hear them say, “I can’t?” As parents, we can correct this self-defeating language with “You can. Let’s work on it.”

  • Add in “yet” to the end of your own self-defeating thoughts. When so many of our own thoughts begin with words like “I never” or “I can’t,” we close the door for progress. We undermine hope. Just like you do for your kids, work to add the transformative word “yet” to the end of your thoughts. “I can’t solve this problem” becomes “I can’t solve this problem YET.” Hope and possibility are are then restored with one simple word.

Yet, another upside to taking care of yourself.

Taking advantage of these techniques has a wonderful, unexpected upside: by controlling how you handle stress, you model how best to manage challenges for your children. And that will no doubt help them build a more resilient mindset, too.


Source: American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Copyright © 2019). 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.

Simple Ways to Entertain & Boost Your Baby’s Development at Home

During social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, you may be looking for new ways to entertain and play with your young child. Thankfully, all you need is loving attention and some basic household items.

Try these time-tested activities, suggested by age, and let the fun happen!

Newborn to 3 Months

Puppet Play. Make a hand puppet using a sock. Move it up and down and back and forth where your baby can see it, doing a silly dance and singing silly songs. You can even have the puppet give her kisses!

Footloose. Gently dance with your baby positioned over your shoulder. She will enjoy the movement and at the same time will learn to tolerate the slight pressure against her tummy.

Pat-a-Cake. Hold your baby’s hands and gently clap them together to play a game of pat-a-cake:

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man (Take baby’s hands through the motions)
Bake me a cake as fast as you can
Roll it (Roll her hands around each other) and pat it (Clap)
and mark it with a B (Guide her finger to write a B in the air)
And put it in the oven for baby and me (Kiss your baby!)

​Can’t Smile Without You. Lie down on the floor,tummy down facing your baby. Try to get her to smile by sticking out your tongue, smiling at her, and making other funny faces. You may even hear your infant’s first giggle!

4 to 6 months

Little Piggy Game. Hold your baby’s foot up and wiggle each toe while teaching the classic “This Little Piggy” poem in an animated, singsong way. Don’t forget to give your infant a tickle at the end!

This little piggy went to market (big toe)
This little piggy stayed home (second toe)
This little piggy had roast beef (third toe)
This little piggy had none (fourth toe)
And this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home (little toe)

Mustang Sally. Sit on the floor with your baby sitting on your raised knees. While holding on to her, slowly move your legs side to side and sing “Ride a Little Horsey.” When you say, “don’t fall down,” slide your feet forward!

Ride a little horsey
Down to town
Oops, little horsey
Don’t fall down!

Crocodile Rock. Hold your baby securely, tummy down on your chest. Rock your body from side to side and sing a song like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

Homemade Toy: Stacking Baby B​locks
Collect different-sized clean milk cartons, small boxes and toilet paper rolls. Stuff each with newspaper or tissue paper. Fold the ends down to create blocks ​​and cylinders, then close them with masking or duct tape. Use a variety of fun colors of contact paper or duct tape to cover each block.​

Free Fallin’. Stack up some blocks and encourage your baby to bat at and reach for them. Most infants absolutely love to see and hear the blocks tumble to the ground!

7 to 9 mon​ths

Fly Me to the Moon. Carefully lift your baby up over your head and back down while playing or singing a song like, “Fly me to the moon!” If your child seems fearful, move more slowly and talk in a calm, soothing voice.

See You Later, Alligator. With your baby seated in front of you, hide a rattle under a blanket or behind your back. Shake the rattle while hiding it and see what happens. If your baby loses interest once it’s hidden, reveal part of the rattle and ask, “Where’s the toy?”

If the Hat Fits. Sit just in front of baby, place a colorful hat on your head and say, “Look! The hat is on my head.” Then remove it and say, “Now the hat is off.” Next, put the hat on and off your infant’s head! Encourage your baby to reach for the hat for more play.

The Humpty Dance. Sit your infant on your lap, either sitting up or tummy down, and gently bounce your legs up and down. For more fun, do this while using a rocking chair!

10 to 12 mo​nths

Be-Bop Baby. Seat your baby upright on the floor, legs separated just enough to place a medium-sized ball between them. Show your baby how to roll the ball in your direction, then roll the ball back. Continue taking turns.

Marching On. While seated, stand your baby on your thighs. Hold your baby’s hips and slowly make stepping motions by moving your legs up and down, one side at a time. Sing your favorite song.

You Light Up My Life. Shine a flashlight on the wall. Once your baby sees the light, move it slowly from one side of the room to the other and up and down to encourage visual tracking.

Homemade Toy: ​​​Baby Dr​ums​
Cover an oatmeal box or coffee can with colorful contact paper and use plastic baby spoons as drumsticks. (Or, sim​ply give your child a saucepan and a short wooden spoon.) ​

Beat It. Show your baby different ways to tap a drum using the palms of your hands, your fingertips, or a baby spoon. See if your baby can imitate you.
12-24 mon​ths

The Big Squeeze. Take colorful kitchen sponges and cut them into fun sizes and shapes to fit into your child’s hand at bath time. Show your little one how to sink a sponge underwater, watch it fill up, then hold it up and squeeze the water out.

​Homemade Toy: Toddler Tambou​​ri​ne
Tape two sturdy paper plates securely together halfway around using colorful duct tape. Fill the tambourine half-full of dry cereal, tape the paper plates together the rest of the way, and shake!​

Mr. Tambourine Man. Show your little one how to shake and tap a tambourine to make noise. Add more ways, like tapping it against your hip, over your head, and in various directions.

Poking Fun. Show your baby how to press numbers on an old phone or peck on an old keyboard. Glue different textures of fabric at the bottom of each section of an egg carton or old ice tray. Let your baby feel the various textures.
Remem​ber

You have the knowledge and tools to make play a fun and stimulating part of your baby’s daily routine. Keep it simple, be flexible, and do what works for you and your child.


By ​​​Anne H. Zachry, PhD, OTR/L​​. Source: Adapted from Retro Baby (Copyright © 2013 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.

Teens & COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities During the Outbreak

Social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 can be especially hard for teens, who may feel cut off from their friends. Many also face big letdowns as graduations, proms, sports seasons, college visits and other long-planned events are cancelled or postponed.

Here are a few ways you can help your teen through this difficult time.

Work together to create a new normal

Help your teen create a healthy and productive routine:

  • Stick to a schedule that works with online learning. Set a time to wake up, exercise, shower, get dressed, have breakfast, or whatever they need to start the “school day.” If it helps, allow your teen to sleep in a little later than normal. Like they would be in class, phones should be off while doing schoolwork. Keep the TV off during school hours, too, and limit time watching the news. Plan mini breaks and a 1-hour lunch break.
  • Make dinner a transition time between the “school day” and the evening. Dinner is a great time to gather the whole family together to talk and share a meal. Try fun conversation starters, such as, “My favorite part of today was…” or “Today I am grateful for…”. This may be the time your family may choose to observe a quiet moment together. Help them keep their usual sleep time routine so they are ready for learning each day.
  • Allow “down time.” It’s normal for teens to crave more privacy from their family. Give them space for some quiet time, creative time, music time, or to virtually hang out with friends. This can help ease any feelings of being isolated from their friends or difficulties with routine-change.

Communicate honestly & openly

  • Share information about what is happening in a calm and factual way to help ease their concerns about the virus. Discuss facts about COVID-19 and correct misinformation when you hear it. Reinforce the basics, like the importance of frequent hand washing and avoiding touching their face.
  • Stress that staying home saves lives. Talk about how social distancing is an important way they are helping slow the spread of the virus and protecting those most at risk. Have a strict “no cheating” rule and stress that it is NOT okay to hang out with friends in person or play outdoor sports like basketball and softball.
  • Help your teen look forward by helping them shift away from what was lost and identify ways to move on with plans and goals.

​​​​Watch for signs your teen ma​y need more support

Teens who feel sad, depressed, hopeless, nervous or angry, during the COVID-19 pandemic may need more support. Ask your pediatrician if your teen’s social and emotional health can be screened in an e-visit. During the visit, the doctor will ask whether your teen has been​​ bothered by problems such as feeling down, depressed or hopeless in the past two weeks. The doctor also might ask if your teen has lost interest or in pleasure in doing things. ​

Be aware of the signs of mental health problems in teens such as frequent irritability, changes in weight or sleep habits, repeated thoughts about an unpleasant event and conflicts with friends and family.​

Stay safely connected

  • Reach out virtually. Allow your teen to stay connected to friends and loved ones during social distancing by phone, text, video chat, or social media. (Remind them to check their privacy settings so they are not posting too much personal information online.) Playing games online with friends can also be relaxing and enjoyable for your teen. But be sure to agree on screen time during school days.
  • Help others connect. Many teens have expertise in using technology and can teach parents or grandparents how to video chat or use social media. This is also an opportunity for them to bring you into their virtual world.

What about media use?

While limits are still important, it’s understandable that under these unusual circumstances, your teen’s screen time will li​kely increase. Work together to come up with a plan that includes both online and offline time. Our Family Media Plan tool can help. Allowing your teen to be a part of making a media plan can help them stick to it.​

Support family & community

  • New responsibilities. Routines have changed, and your family may need extra help in caring for younger children or keeping the house clean. Talk to your teen about ways they can play a bigger role. For example, can they help plan or cook dinner? How about teaching their siblings a new dance or fun game?
  • Virtual guests. Ask your teen to help you come up with creative ways to stay connected with family and friends on a regular basis. Try hosting a “virtual dinner” by setting up a laptop or iPad at the table with the invited guests. Or use a video conferencing platform like Zoom to have an online party where everyone can see each other.
  • Family projects. Suggest your teen take the lead in projects that involve the entire family, like organizing family photos or recreating the family’s history. This is a great topic for calls to grandparents, who may be able to describe challenging times in the past, and how the family coped with stress.
  • Declutter and donate. Encourage them to clean out their room, the basement, or declutter the garage and prepare items to donate to charity.
  • Volunteer within the community. Following social distancing and local regulations, suggest your teen look online for local opportunities to serve. Show acts of kindness by making someone’s day better with a phone call, text, or social media post. Volunteer to help tutor children of neighbors or friends online.

Risky times for risky be​haviors

As schools move t​o online learning, teens may have more unscheduled time. This can leave them more likely to experiment with risky behaviors. Be sure to talk with your teen about how this is an especially important time to avoid vaping and smoking, for example. Experts warn these habits may harm lung health and immune function, potentially increasing COVID-19 risk. ​

​Mind and body he​alth

Help your teen find ways to keep their mind and body healthy, such as:

  • Go for a walk or a run outside, either by themselves or as a family. Remind them of the social distancing rules and to stay 6 feet away from others.
  • Read a book or visit the library online where there are thousands of e-books, audiobooks, and musical recordings. Research new hobbies or skills to learn.
  • Do video workouts. Many can be found online, and some park districts are offering access to virtual exercise classes, too.
  • Watch movies or TV shows together as a family or virtually with friends.
  • Create a video blog of life during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Start a scrapbook showing what it was like to be a teenager during the outbreak, or a family journal where each family member can take turns describing the day’s happenings.
  • Take a virtual tour of a museum, or walk through the Grand Canyon with Google Earth. Challenge your teen to research 10 places they might like to visit someday and show you why.
  • Get plenty of sleep!

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). 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 should we feed our baby if we’re running low on money?

How should we feed our baby if we’re running low on money?

Lost jobs and business during the COVID-19 outbreak has left many families struggling to pay for groceries, including infant formula. Food pantries and public support programs such as WIC and SNAP are available, but may not cover everything a family needs to stay healthy. Also, families who find themselves suddenly in need may not qualify for some of these public support programs.

The AAP strongly believes that good nutrition is essential for a healthy future for infants and small children. Putting their needs first is critical, and there are ways to make this more affordable.

  • Here are some tips to help families struggling to afford infant formula:
  • If your child is younger than 12 months of age, ask your pediatrician’s office if they can urgently get you a small supply from the local formula representatives or a local charity. Some formula companies have patient assistance programs that your pediatrician can help you find. Your local WIC office may also be able to help.
  • If possible, buy formula online or in the largest sizes available at retail stores, and watch for sales. Remember to only buy formula from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies. Avoid formula sold by individuals or on auction sites.
  • For most babies, it is OK to switch between different milk-based formulas, including store brands, unless your baby is on a specific, highly hydrolyzed one such as Alimentum or Nutramigen. If you are unsure, talk with your pediatrician.
  • Never water down formula! Always follow label instructions or those given to you by your pediatrician. Watering down formula is dangerous and can cause nutritional imbalances in your baby and lead to serious health problems.

Can I give my baby alternative milk products if I can’t afford infant f​ormula?

Whole cow’s milk and dairy alternatives are not recommended for infants under 12 months of age. It is best to stick to breast milk and/or infant formula throughout your baby’s first year, except in a very brief emergency. Food banks, local WIC offices, and other community resources are usually able to help in a food emergency. Keep in mind that eligibility for public support programs like WIC and SNAP may change, so keep in contact with these agencies to make sure you can participate.

Toddler formulas are not necessary for infants over 12 months of age. Cow’s milk or fortified soy milk products are less expensive than formula, meet a toddler’s need for milk products, and provide adequate minerals and protein.

Can I make my baby’s food myself?

The AAP strongly advises against homemade formula. Although recipes for homemade formulas circulating on the internet may seem healthy and less expensive, they may not be safe and do not meet your baby’s nutritional needs.

However, you can make your own baby food when you start your baby on solids, at about 6 months of age. There is no need to rely upon pre-made baby food that may be more expensive. If you make your own baby food, be sure you include enough protein and iron, two key nutrients for your child’s growth. Also do not give honey to an infant under 1 year of age and avoid foods that are choking hazards.

Remember

Your pediatrician cares about your child’s health and is available even during the COVID-19 outbreak. Always feel free to talk with your pediatrician about any concerns you have with feeding your baby.


By Steven A. Abrams, MD, FAAP, a board-certified pediatrician, Director of the Dell Pediatric Research Institute, and a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Texas at Austin. 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.

Talking to children about COVID-19

There’s a lot of news coverage about the outbreak of COVID-19 and it can be overwhelming for parents and frightening to kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents and others who work closely with children to filter information and talk about it in a way that their child can understand.

These tips can help:

  • Simple reassurance. Remind children that researchers and doctors are learning as much as they can, as quickly as they can, about the virus and are taking steps to keep everyone safe.
  • Give them control. It’s also a great time to remind your children of what they can do to help – washing their hands often, coughing into a tissue or their sleeves, and getting enough sleep.
  • Watch for signs of anxiety. Children may not have the words to express their worry, but you may see signs of it. They may get cranky, be more clingy, have trouble sleeping, or seem distracted. Keep the reassurance going and try to stick to your normal routines.
  • Monitor their media. Keep young children away from frightening images they may see on TV, social media, computers, etc. For older children, talk together about what they are hearing on the news and correct any misinformation or rumors you may hear.
  • Be a good role model. COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate and neither should we. While COVID-19 started in Wuhan, China, it doesn’t mean that having Asian ancestry – or any other ancestry – makes someone more susceptible to the virus or more contagious. Stigma and discrimination hurt everyone by creating fear or anger towards others. When you show empathy and support to those who are ill, your children will too.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). 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.

Co-Parenting Through COVID-19: Putting Your Children First

Parenting is challenging enough when both parents live in the same home. When they live apart, as after a separation or divorce, things can get even harder. Parents may disagree on such basic issues as sleep, nutrition, and discipline with added layers of negative emotions like anger, frustration, and sadness. All of these can interfere with effective communication and problem-solving.

While a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic can add to the stress of co-parenting, it can also help parents overcome their issues and work together to safeguard the children they both love.

Special considerations for two-household families

Ideally, co-parents should have a plan i​n place to help them problem-solve in time of crisis. If they do not, they may have no idea how to talk calmly or make decisions together under stressful conditions. Many problem-solve the same way they did when they were together. They may argue, withhold, and possibly bully, when what they need to do is stand back and unselfishly ask themselves, “How can we work together to keep our child safe?”

Until this crisis is over, physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 may require divorced or separated parents to temporarily change the way they share their children’s time as they normally would.​​​

Key questions ​to ask​

Here are some questions that can help co-parents talk through the possible need to adjust their child’s visitation schedule:

  • Is it truly in the child’s best interest to continue to follow the parenting plan that is in place, sending the child back and forth between homes?
  • Is one parent better able to support home schooling than the other? For example, is internet service equally available at both homes?
  • Does one parent have a job that involves more contact with the public and therefore more risk for household members?
  • Who else lives in the home, and how much contact do they have with the public?
  • Is a household member in a high-risk group: over the age of 60, suffering from underlying medical conditions, or immunocompromised?
  • Does one home have more space or better access to safe outdoor spaces where children can play and get exercise while keeping the recommended physical distance?

Notice that these questions do not take previous parenting plans into consideration. Instead, they ask parents to honestly consider what changes must be made now to keep their children and others in the home safe.

This becomes especially difficult when parents worry about giving up any time with their child for fear it means their son or daughter may prefer the other parent, or that the other parent is manipulating the situation. Another sticky question can be whether more child support must be paid if the parenting plan changes. Also, many parents worry that if they allow the parenting plan to be adjusted, they will never get the time back.

​​​How co-parents can work together

  • Keep communication open. Answer all forms of communication (phone calls, texts, emails, etc.) with your co-parent in a timely manner.
  • Don’t keep score.​​
  • Enter each conversation with finding a solution together as your goal.
  • Stay socially connected while physical distanced. Schedule virtual visits between your co-parent and your child. Set a time and make the child available for video calls.
  • Once this crisis is over, set aside extra time so that the non-custodial parent and child can become comfortable together again.

Remember

Everyone is having to adapt to some uncomfortable changes during this pandemic. It has disrupted childcare, school and work, shifting the patterns of our lives. Reassure your child that we will get through this, that some changes are only temporary, and most importantly, they are loved.


​​​​By: David Hill, MD, FAAP & Jann Blackstone, PsyD​. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). 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.

Is it OK to call the pediatrician during COVID-19 even if I’m not sure my child or teen is sick?

Is it OK to call the pediatrician during COVID-19 even if I’m not sure my child is sick?

Yes! You should always feel free to call your pediatrician’s office, even during our current coronavirus pandemic. Your pediatrician cares about the health of your baby, child or teen and is happy to talk to you about anything from medicines and illnesses to injuries and behavior issues. This is why we entered medicine – and we want to hear from you! Now more than ever, it’s very important that families stay connected to their pediatrician and their medical home.
In the office

Even though families are staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are still important reasons why you may need to bring your child into the office, including:

  • Newborn visits after a baby is born.
  • To stay up-to-date on immunizations.
  • For hearing and vision screenings.
  • To monitor growth, blood pressure, and other vital signs.
  • To check labs such as for strep throat​ or anemia.
  • To check on developmental milestones.
  • To treat infections or injuries.
  • Adolescent health concerns such as menstrual care or depression​ screeing.

​​​Pediatricians are taking​ steps to make sure it’s as safe as possible for visi​ts that need to happen in person. Some offices have separated “sick” and “well” areas of their clinic or are having newborns come in early in the day, before any other patients. Calling ahead is important so your pediatrician can advise you on the best way to come in.​​

For other kinds of appointments, many pediatricians are now offering video visits. Call your pediatrician’s office to see if this is available for your child or teen.

What to do if your child or teen gets sick

​If your child has been exposed to COVID-19, or you are concerned about your child’s symptoms, call your pediatrician immediately.​

Sometimes it’s hard to tell how sick your child is. Luckily, a trip to the hospital is usually not needed for a simple cold or cough, mild diarrhea, constipation, temper tantrums, or sleep problems. Call your pediatrician for any concerns you may have about your child’s health.​
Emergencies

If you feel you need to call 911, trust your instincts and call. Otherwise, it’s generally a good idea to check in with your pediatrician first. Sometimes they can help over the phone or will help coordinate other kinds of care for your child without going to the hospital.

Most of all, do not avoid calling your pediatrician or worry that a trip to the clinic or hospital will put you or your child at higher risk for COVID-19. Doctor’s offices and emergency departments are still seeing and treating patients and are following all recommended steps to keep patients and families safe.

We are here for you

We know parents are really scared. But pediatricians are still here, ready to help you care for your child. If your child or teen ​is sick or injured, or struggling emotionally, pick up the phone and call your pediatrician. We are working hard to make sure we can care for your child, while still keeping everyone safe. ​


From American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020) by Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP, a practicing pediatrician, author, and mom in Atlanta. Dr. Shu is co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn and Food Fights. A frequent guest on national and local television, radio, and web-based programs, she is serves as medical editor for HealthyChildren.org, is the Living Well health expert for CNN.com, contributes medical information to BabyCenter and WebMD.com, and serves on the Parents magazine advisory board. ​Last Updated: 5/1/2020. 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.

Getting Children and Teens Outside While Social Distancing for COVID-19

​Because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19​) pandemic, many schools are now closed for the rest of the academic year. You may have created a schedule for your family while everyone’s home. Ideally, it includes some outdoor time.

But what can you actually do outside with your children while staying at a safe distance from others? Think nature exploration!

Read on for some tips to help you and your children get a healthy dose of nature while still practicing good social distancing.

Exploring nature while social distancing

Nature all around us. Nature exploration with proper social distancing can happen in your yard, a table-top garden, or even virtually (though not with all of the benefits).

Bringing out baby. Even infants and toddlers can play and learn in nature. If you will be in public spaces, it may be safest to keep them in a carrier or a stroller. If they are in your own private space, it’s fine to have them explore even more.

  • Nature sculptures can be built with twigs, leaves, cones, rocks and more by sticking the collected items into a play dough base. Help your child put objects in the play dough and notice what kind of patterns are created by different items.
  • Biking with the family in your neighborhood can be a good option if you can keep your distance from others during your ride. If you have a child bicycle trailer, get some exercise while enjoying the outdoors with your baby in tow.
  • ​Playing in mud is very fun for young children and helps them develop their senses and motor skills. You can give your child old pots, pans, utensils, and other household tools to move, pour, and squish the mud for imaginary play.

Challenge older children and teens. Stay engaged with the outdoors as a family. Take advantage of this time to bond over activities everyone enjoys.

  • Hold a nature scavenger hunt for the family. Include categories like plants, trees, animals, birds. Who can create the longest list of the signs of spring that they find? How many different flowers can you photograph?
  • Create a nature journal so they can describe what they see from a comfortable spot outside. Encourage them to write how that makes them feel or draw what they see.
  • Have a ball. Kicking a soccer ball or playing catch together can be fine if you are apart from each other and don’t share any sports equipment with others outside your household.

The benefits of being outside

Getting outside provides more than a fun break for children and teens. It is also good for their physical and mental health and development. For example, children and teens who spend time enjoying nature can be:

Physically healthier. Children play harder outdoors than indoors. Especially without the structure of preschool, school or afterschool activities, children especially need opportunities to move. Children who spend more time outdoors have improved motor development. More outdoor time is linked with lower obesity rates.

More engaged in learning. Playing outside promotes more curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. Studies have found that children who spent more time in nature exploration had improved learning outcomes.

More positive in behavior. Research has found that when children spent time in natural settings they had less anger and aggression. Impulse control also improves. This might be especially important when normal routines have changed for children.

Mentally healthier. Stress and depression are reduced for all people who spend time in nature. Children show increased focus and reduced symptoms of for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Reme​mber

Take advantage of the healing power of nature—in your own backyard or on a walk. Just remember to follow local public health guidance and keep at least 6 feet from others outside your family. Wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer once you return from your adventure. Getting outdoors, being in nature, and moving our bodies is good for everyone!


Article by Danette Glassy, MD, FAAP and Pooja Tandon, MD, FAAP. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). 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.

Social Distancing: Why Keeping Your Distance Helps Keep Others Safe

As the spread of COVID-19 continues, communities are being asked to reduce close contact between people. This is called social distancing, and it’s an important and effective way to slow down the spread of this virus. Here’s why.

“Social distancing” for all fa​milies
Because COVID-19 spreads from person to person, reducing the ways people come in close contact with each other is essential. Social distancing means staying home as much as possible and avoiding crowded, public places where close contact with others is likely. This is why stay at home orders are in place in so many communities, canceling events and gatherings of more than 10 people and closing shops, restaurants and bars. It’s also why many schools have moved to online learning. For essential trips like grocery shopping, the CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering​ and staying at least 6 feet away from others.​

Self-isol​​​ation
COVID-19 can spread from person to person even before symptoms start. So, if someone in your family starts to feel even slightly ill, run down, tired, or achy, it’s important to stay home and practice “self isolation.” This means limiting contact with others. If more severe symptoms develop, like a fever, cough or shortness of breath, call your doctor. They will let you know if a COVID-19 test is needed, and what the next steps should be. If it is believed someone in your family has COVID-19, quarantine will likely be recommended.

Quara​​ntine
Self-isolation and quarantine both mean you have no contact with the public. However, quarantine is the term used for those who were exposed to a person with COVID-19 but have yet to test positive. These people are asked to stay away from others for 14 days or longer, to make sure they do not spread the virus during this “pre-illness” or incubation period.

Why social distan​cing is important?
Social distancing is an essential way to slow down the spread of COVID-19. And it’s important that you follow the social distancing recommendations in your community, whether you’re in one of the high-risk groups or not.

​With schools closed and people working from home, it may be tempting to get kids together for pl​aydates or sleepovers, or to think that gatherings of more than 10 people are safe. But social distancing only works if we all participate. And slowing down or preventing the spread of the virus will save lives.​​​​

​Remem​​ber
The spread of COVID-19 has been rapid and federal, state, and local governments are doing whatever is necessary to protect all of us from getting sick. While most people who become infected will have symptoms similar to a cold or the flu, and children seem less affected by the virus than adults, we all are responsible for protecting those at higher risk. Steps like social distancing may feel like an inconvenience, but it’s the best way right now to protect our family, friends, and neighbors who may be vulnerable.

If you are concerned that someone in your family may be at higher risk, you can contact your doctor to discuss what preventative measures may be appropriate for you.



Written by Corinn Cross, MD FAAP, is an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) spokesperson, an active member the academy’s Council on Communications and Media, a Member-At-Large of her local California AAP Chapter-2 and a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). 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.